art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

beading, beadweaving, Business, craft, creativity, jewelry design, self care

Well, I screwed that up. :)

I did work with my beads today (technically: yesterday), and have a new design and a fresh set of earrings, for it. My major dilemma is whether to show these on the blog, if I want to eventually sell online (which is looking like more of a likelihood, than not). Personal information, professional identity, and all that. I shouldn’t mix my personal blog with business.

The drawback to doing this, tonight: I got so involved in my work that I completely (as in, entirely) forgot to take my evening medication, so I may not be tired until 2:30 AM, or so. As I start this post, it’s a little before 1 AM.

This is the first design I’ve made, that’s layered. I rather like the look, but the major issue will be sourcing a couple of bead shapes, going forward — if I make these to sell, that is. There are a couple of shapes that I’m either having a difficult time sourcing, or my best supplier is on the other side of the globe, and shipping takes 3 weeks in international mail.

Actually — now that I changed my search terms — I’m finding them. I need to look under “drop bead” instead of “teardrop bead”. One of the weaknesses of Web searching is the lack of a consistent vocabulary. The names of beads aren’t an issue in a brick-and-mortar store, where you can see the things…but, well, then there are text-based search engines.

I’ll go to bed now, so I can work on this more, tomorrow. I’m not sure whether I’ll actually need to write a pattern for myself (or at least, take notes and make drawings)…I just find it odd, that I’d come out of the night with three working earrings (of my own design).

That is — I can do this, and maybe should do this. I mean…I’m apparently good at it. I just have to make time for myself to do it, and stop berating myself for taking a less efficient path to sustainability…

art, color, painting, self care

Sleepiness and swatch tests

Aw, man! Okay, so…my sleep schedule is bizarre, but maybe it won’t have to be, for much longer. It looks as if the heat wave has broken. Today the skies were gray instead of orange; that is an improvement. I also had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to change clothes, because it was so cold. Right now I’m writing this from bed in full pajamas, because it’s so cold.

Which is weird, when three days ago it seems like it was over 100° F. Right now, it’s 64° F, outside.

And I’m tired, even though I slept over 12 hours. It could be eye strain — I don’t think I’ve had a change in lens prescription in years. (I had to put off an optometry appointment because of the pandemic.) It could also be related to the smoke, or the fact that I am working at night and sleeping through the morning (although I went to bed before midnight last night, and woke up like it was morning, two hours later. Then I conked out at 3:30 and slept into late afternoon). It could also be because I missed the medication that I take for wakefulness…because I slept until 3:30 PM. That’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it?

A photo of four different Daniel Smith paints in various shades of green.
These watercolors are the four swatches in the top right of the immediately following image:

Anyway, my green paints and two new brushes came yesterday! :D I had to limit myself — out of enthusiasm, I have a tendency to overbuy (especially when I can’t see or test what I’m buying)…although now I know that painting is likely a good thing for me.

I have found that art is particularly…what’s the opposite of crazy-making? (“sane-making?”) “grounding?” for me. I’m finding watercolor to be also a relatively rewarding pastime in itself.

For some reason, I’m really into color; I can’t explain why, though…aside from the ability to witness how colors mix and merge. Painting has been an organic outgrowth of drawing, for me. I couldn’t cleanly, densely, and easily mix and dilute colors in drawing (the closest I’ve come to that is with markers), and nor could I have total freedom over the size and shape of my color applicator. That all changes, with painting.

A sheet of paper which contains all watercolor paints I might currently use, along with a freeform painting at the bottom right corner.
The left three columns are what is on my palette right now. Everything else either isn’t, or is a retry at getting a good gradient (or, in the case of French Ultramarine, a comparison with the other Ultramarines).

There’s something about the ability to achieve solid blocks of color and fluid gradients, that I really like. Also, the tactile issue is something that my sibling brought up — which could be why I’m not as drawn to computer art. The above swatches (and the little play painting in the corner) were all done with a Neptune #6 round brush. It’s really soft, and holds a lot of water. It will also soak up water if you dry it out a little before touching it to a pool of extra paint on your paper. For most of these, I was using the belly of the brush, not so much the tip.

I haven’t intentionally altered any of the colors here, though the light coming in the window was so yellowish and dim that I had to turn on overhead lighting today (when I took these photos and swatched out the four new greens in the upper right corner).

Right now I have about 45 colors which I’d consider using (there are some in the photo which are used twice). Of those swatched here, I’d eliminate W&N Mars Black (fifth column, third row) as Holbein Lamp Black (third column, seventh row) is smoother; and M. Graham Scarlet Pyrrol (fifth column, sixth row), as it granulates, and is very close to Winsor Orange – Red Shade (second column, third row).

Generally, I tend to prefer paints that have even dispersion and good flow…there are a number of paints I have which didn’t make it to this sheet, because of weird formulations causing a lack of leveling, or poor flow, or grains where I don’t want them, etc. This is just personal preference, however.

Gah, I’m tired. :) (Maybe I can go to sleep and wake up refreshed in 2-3 hours?)

Oh, right. I wanted to show you the Daniel Smith dot card swatches. The below were done with a very small flat…probably a Robert Simmons’ Sapphire, but I’m not sure and am too tired to look, right now. :) You can probably tell that I was tending to use too little water on my brush, for most of these…

Most of the Daniel Smith dot card set, painted out onto a sheet of paper.
Most of a Daniel Smith dot card (168 dots). I probably painted out more like 120 swatches (talk about tedious. No, I haven’t counted them.) There were four cards in the set, and I worked with approximately three.

I’ve swatched out everything here except for the special colors (like the Duochromes, etc., on the fourth card) and colors which I expressly knew were associated with asbestos (Tiger’s Eye, Burnt Tiger’s Eye [though I believe that in Tiger’s Eye, quartz has replaced the asbestos component], and Serpentine). I did, however, swatch out Kyanite, even though I know it’s fibrous by nature (I am not sure, but I don’t think it’s related to asbestos). I was curious. :)

What I find interesting about a lot of these is that a number of the gem colors (I suspect they’re PrimaTeks) are sparkly — particularly, Sugilite Genuine — though maybe I just got a lucky sample.

If I was going to add to my palette, swatching out both of these was a good idea, to avoid overlaps…a tedious, painstaking, good idea. :) It’s very apparent to me right now that I have a high-key palette going already…so maybe I shouldn’t really worry too much about getting bright colors. (I can always mix them down; there’s also the fact that the paints I’m using often seem to dull as they dry.)

As for the brushes…I ordered two, both Robert Simmons White Sable. One was to replace M’s very old and worn 1/2″ flat, the other was to replace a #8 Robert Simmons Sapphire flat that I killed, somehow. (The ferrule is loose. I only know of one way that would have happened. Never leave your brushes standing in water!)

Okay, I believe…that I am going to sleep now…

art, art media, painting, self care

“Actually having painted”

Today, I did something personally significant. I worked on a painting. Even though I had intended it to just be tinted test paper, on top of which, I’d draw…it turned into way more than that. I’m not sure if it’s going to stay in one piece, either: I have a mind to cut it into strips and rearrange it in a staggered manner. I’ll try and photograph it before I do, though; it’s almost midnight, so my lighting leaves something to be desired, right now.

Judgments aside, this was the first time I had allowed myself to work with my paints again, in months (if not years). There are some things I did learn…one of which is that I actually do love color, and have more fun with color, even though it’s more risky than doing everything extremely muted. Another is to be careful when trying to mix green with an opaque-leaning dull yellow (Isoindolinone Deep? I hate having so many similar yellows) and Prussian Blue, which is a dull greenish blue. (HAHA mud, HAHA.)

I was trying to make a deep, rich green, but there was too much orange in the yellow and it turned more Olive. A little more Prussian Blue and I got a nice coniferous tone (basically Prussian Blue with a hint of yellow — there wasn’t enough orange to ruin it in that mixture), but it wasn’t quite what I was going for.

Okay, but seriously, it was a lot of fun. I did stay away from Aureolin because I still have some paranoia about pigment toxicity, and Aureolin can be absorbed through the skin (acute transdermal exposure can cause itching; as for what else it does, it doesn’t matter for me, because I can’t undo my exposure — all I can do is prevent more exposure). Aureolin is also apparently severely toxic when ingested, but I make sure I don’t have paint on my hands when I eat or floss or touch mucous membranes. Yes, that means to wash your hands before you use the toilet (as well as after).

I also learned quite a bit about hard and soft edges, and what happens when you drop a color into another, currently-wet color. And how hard brushstrokes can look out of place in a diffuse composition with a lot of wet-in-wet work.

For all of my session today, I was using natural-hair, Yasutomo sumi-e brushes. Only two; and the second one initially happened because I was trying to mix green without dirtying the blue, or washing all the yellow off of my main brush.

That…that says something good, that I didn’t need a lot of brushes. Sumi-e brushes can be used on the side as well as with the tip, and I did really like the dry-brush effects I got on the edges of areas of color. (These round brushes have a core of stiff hair and a ring of softer hair around the outside.) I like using these because they’re relatively absorbent — it’s easier for me to control the amount of paint dropped onto the paper (or to suck up extra paint, if I dry the bristles first).

I do have other brushes to experiment with, but with the exception of other sumi-e brushes (including a hake in two pieces), they’re all synthetic.

I’ve found the Princeton Neptune line to be particularly nice (and the one Neptune Flat I have to be…exemplary, at least in comparison to the old 1/2″ flat intended for acrylics which I had been using), but I haven’t really played around with any of the three major brands I’ve gotten long enough to definitively state qualities, here. (The other two are Robert Simmons’ Sapphire, and Princeton Heritage 4050R.) I also have a couple of Princeton Lauren 4350R brushes, and one Robert Simmons White Sable which is…incredibly soft. I used it for makeup before I used it for painting (but don’t use it for makeup after it’s been exposed to professional-quality paint — again, many pigments are toxic).

Right now, I’m not sure whether to geek out about paintbrushes. I should practice more, first, so I can know (and not just speculate on) what I’m talking about.

Mostly, I had been depending on my Winsor & Newton Cotman flats at the time of my last experimentation, but I don’t think I’d opt for them, if I had to buy new ones. I used them for the most part because it’s just been exploratory practice, they make crisp shapes, they do hold paint, I like the way the flats feel on the page, and they’re familiar and cheap and easily replaceable in case of a loose ferrule.

Loose ferrules, in turn…mean the brush was in the rinse water too long, or too deep (with the water level resting above the end of the ferrule), and the handle got wet and expanded. Once that happens, it’s only a matter of time before the brush comes apart. (This could be an argument for acrylic handles, instead of wood.)

The drawback to Cotman brushes — particularly the flats, I’ve never been drawn to the rounds — is that they drop paint in a way that can be difficult to control (synthetics have this problem as a group, but some newer designs — like the Neptunes — are better at preventing this), and the ferrules loosen easily. Or maybe I’ve just been working them to death. In either case, it’s nice that they’re cheap and easily replaceable. It lowers the barrier of being afraid of destroying a really nice, expensive, brush.

So maybe these are great when you’re just starting out, and learning how long you can keep the brush in the water, and how high you can keep the water in your water cup. There’s generally a trade-off between having to change your rinse water frequently, and keeping your brushes safe. Unless, that is, you never let your brush sit in the water. No brush was left in standing water tonight, as I was only using two.

It also helps to have two rinse-water cups: one for the initial gross rinse of your paintbrush; the second to rinse out the (eventually contaminated) rinse water from the first cup!

Natural-hair sumi-e round and hake brushes — the ones you can get at Western art stores, at least, which are generally either Yasutomo brand or generic/store brands (Utrecht, Blick, etc.) — are also mostly inexpensive. I have seen some Chinese brands off and on in small art supply stores, but that was short-lived.

My Chinese ink-painting brush died sometime in 2016 or before (the bamboo housing cracked, so that the brush tip was held to the handle with glue and string). It was sad. But I used it.

Yeah, I guess I have been concerned about ruining nice things, haven’t I?

I did open a small hot-press Arches block, tonight. It’s the first time I can recall ever having painted on Arches (watercolorists know that this brand of paper is super-expensive, but also recommended, even [or especially] for novices), and…I’ve got to say, it was pretty nice. I was concerned about the pigment balling up on the surface of the paper, but that turned out not to be an issue (even though it looked like it would be — possibly because Ultramarine is a granulating pigment).

I have two other hot-press watercolor paper brands to try out; I believe they’re Fluid 100, and Fabriano. I started in on one of them tonight, but ended up pouring all my energy into the painting on the Arches, which quickly grew to the point that I realized I might have wanted to plan it out better (and not to have ever used black, even though I did so in the expectation of drawing with black and white pen, on top of it).

There’s also the possibility here of using gouache (opaque watercolor) instead of acrylic marker or gel pen. I’ve found I have enough gouache to last a while.

After having used Arches, I also have a little bit of an idea of what to expect…tomorrow, or as literalists would put it, later this morning…

And, note to self: don’t wear your computer (anti-blue-light) lenses when you’re painting; they change the color cast of everything you see…

LIS, self care

Another day done; another night, begun

Today has been all about cleaning. The rooms I’m responsible for look much more habitable, now. :) What I still have left to do is bathing, so I don’t get dust into my sheets when I actually do go to bed. Whenever that is. (I didn’t get to sleep until 4 AM last night.) The most trying part of this is washing my hair…which is, itself, a complex issue, not likely relevant to this blog. Let’s just say I don’t want to do it.

I told my folks about what had been going on with burning in my esophagus when I breathed, and they were quick to point out that it was likely heartburn. That, in turn, could be caused by eating at night. Which could result from staying up so late.

Heartburn has been such a rare visitor to me, that I didn’t know what it was…or, I did have it, and haven’t known it. Knowing what it is, helps ease fears about COVID. (Throat irritation while breathing can cause coughing, and it’s difficult to distinguish between burning in the windpipe and burning in the esophagus.)

The flip side of that is that I’ve been sleeping with my head elevated for the past several days in order to keep acid out of my throat. It works, but it’s just a bit uncomfortable.

Anyhow…yes, I am kind of proud of myself for organizing this stuff. It was pretty messy in my bedroom. I also now have space to study in the old office — I moved a couple of huge pads of paper off of the tiny desk in there, so now I have a work surface. Or, at least, something to put a keyboard on.

I’m also kind of proud of myself for finishing my Statistics work, and being able to prioritize taking care of myself and the house, over homework. (It is an achievement.) That being said, I now have about half a week to get in my work for both Project Management and XML, which both have crazy high numbers of things to do. However…Project Management is pretty low on my list of priorities, right now. Ironically.

I did get back into a University class for this Fall, so that’s all set up. I believe I have about a week until that starts up, and I’ll be focusing on XML and that class, primarily.

Actually, I’ve been reading in G. Kim Dority’s Rethinking Information Work, and I can see that a lot of the classes which I think might be fun, are actually unnecessary if I go into Metadata or Cataloging Librarianship. Which…it is like a puzzle, really, trying to figure out what goes where.

I know I’m going to stay on the XML track for a couple of months, but after that, I’m not entirely sure I need to be studying Linked Data (more)…it just might be engaging, though. And it could help me get a (paying) job.

It does help to have priorities, doesn’t it? In any case, after the next couple of months, I should be able to see how much using XML actually satisfies me.

Aside from this, I really want to get back to my beadwork and my sewing. Having extended time for that (and my own reading) might happen in a couple of months, if I don’t move ahead with Linked Data training. Along with that comes the possibility of actually making some money, as versus just spending it. The hard part is, I know that the money I’ll be making off of that will be minimal…but it will be something.

Whether it will still be “something” after I subtract my expenses, has yet to be seen, but I’m working as a hobbyist and not as a business, at this point.

Ah, wow. Today has actually been satisfying. I think I’ll go take that shower, now…

art, creativity, drawing, illustration, self care

Caterpillars

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting images, in this post. I could, but right now, they’re feeling kind of intimate (no, not in the way I expect the Internet to think). There are two images I have which are especially suitable for posting; however, I’m still in-process. I feel that if I post prematurely, I might disrupt my creative process. That’s why they aren’t here.

Today is Day 38 of COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather be here than have to worry about people coughing at work. Speaking of which, my parents and I all have an off-and-on mystery cough. Fun times.

I realize now that as I near the end of a project, I need to line the next project up, right afterwards. There always seems to be at least a day or two in which I basically stall and don’t know what to do with myself. I had been building up to a seminar on Monday (two days ago) which was basically…well, it was a seminar. Not a great one.

Yesterday (Tuesday)…for one thing, I can’t entirely remember it, but I was working on a design which…well, it’s cute. For some reason, I’ve got caterpillars on my mind.

As I was listening in on Monday, I started doodling (and writing in Japanese) in my notes, until the notes were basically all doodles. The day after, I was working with this design more…to the point that I have a colored design (which doesn’t look quite the same as the black-and-white version…I’m not sure what to do about this).

Right now, I’ve got a caterpillar character design, which grew out of some doodles I did in the Art program…and out of calligraphy practice strokes. I used to make this design and go, “ew;” recently, though, I’ve decided to go with the, “ew,” and see what I can make of it.

The sources of inspiration with this are twofold: one, the animated TV show Final Space, in which there is a character named Mooncake who is named after the main character’s pet caterpillar (from when he was a child). Two, when I was in second grade I had a pet silkworm (for as long as silkworms live).

It grossed M out, but was cute, to me. It would live in a tin and eat the mulberry leaves we had gathered for it. I remember it as being pretty big before it pupated, maybe 3″ long (but I was small back then, too). Silkworms are incredibly soft and fuzzy, especially as one would think all insects to be hard — so naturally, I spent a lot of time petting it. (I don’t think M wanted to touch it — 30-year-old memories, though.) I think there was some talk of my traumatizing it by giving it so much attention. :)

Mine died when I tried to help it out of its cocoon. There is a chemical process which has to happen when the moth is trying to come out. If it gets any help, that chemical process doesn’t happen, and it won’t survive. (No one warned me!)

I haven’t named the drawn character yet, which came from playing with design elements. Only later did I look at actual caterpillars. Luckily, actual caterpillars are so diverse that made-up patterns seem viable. I’m a little enamored with how he seems so fat and vulnerable, and how his ridges originated from hearts. The number of drawing skills I remember, still amazes me — from taking an idea from play, to plotting a line of action and center line, to breaking the image down into basic shapes, 3-D visualizing, visualizing foreground/middle ground/background, and introducing irregularity.

As eye-spots and symmetry are so much a part of this (I have trouble getting away from them), I thought it would be an interesting exercise.

What I have now is good, but it could be better; the majority of yesterday and last night was spent refining the images. By which I mean — redrawing things to see how they worked. The most successful of these had pencil underdrawings, though I still have the images from a more primitive stage.

Up next is likely seeing how a caterpillar would look if it was twisting itself around something, like a twig — in short, not drawing the subject as independent of its background, and not drawing it, “flat.” In doing so, I’m getting away from the original design, but the one that’s developing is more useful. The thing I’m having to do is abandon the original loop pattern that the rest of the caterpillar is based on. Not sure how I feel about that, aesthetically as versus from an engineering standpoint, but it works.

I may do a series of moths and/or butterflies, following this.

Otherwise…I need to get on making masks, again. Demand is high. I could wash what I haven’t used of my Fat Quarters, tonight…there are a bunch of them. I just wasn’t up to working on them today — instead, I got some apparently very poor-quality sleep. Would anyone blame me if I stayed up until 3 AM again tonight, sewing?

Mystery cough, though.

Working without a schedule is so…difficult.

career, illustration, LIS, personal, planning, self care, work

Priorities…

Huh. Well…today was the second day of COVID-19 isolation. I spent much of today asleep because of having a gritty throat, last night — it just wasn’t worth it to get up, like normal. Of course, that means that I really don’t know how much I’ll sleep, tonight. For what it’s worth, I don’t think what I got a touch of (which is probably the same thing M is fighting off) was the coronavirus — a wet cough isn’t what one gets with that, and I don’t have a fever.

What is weird is that over the last month or two, I’ve been accumulating materials that I can now, use. So I have some time to get stuff done. Largely, reading: I should get through my reading on Virtual Reference, and Online Searching, at the least. Reader’s Advisory, and possibly Library Programming, I can get into after I look over the first two books. (I will likely not need to know about Programming any time soon, though. Maybe not ever, at this point.)

Last night, I was busy planning classes. The upshot? I can complete all of them by next Spring, and at that time get on with finding a job as a Cataloging or Metadata Librarian. The downshot? I’ll have less free time and less money. However, at the end of it, I’ll have the skills to gain an entry-level job as a Cataloger…at least, it would seem. I should be scanning job ads for these positions, and look for any additional qualifications I’d need.

On top of that…I’ll want to get back to developing my portfolio online. That’s already set up; I’m just updating it, now.

I’ll also want to continue with Japanese language study. That will likely be important, especially if I’m dealing with an Academic Library position. I have a number of books I can use, and a number of online sites to help.

I can also review my HTML and CSS, as I’ll need the coding skills in my not-too-distant future.

That’s…pretty much, enough. As for what I’m doing during the rest of the time…I realize that I could work on the blouse I haven’t been working on for months, if not years; I could also work on quilt piecing or embroidery or illustration. But that’s, seriously, just to relax. Aside from the illustration, it doesn’t really go anywhere — unless I want to be employed by a fabric store, likely again in a public service capacity (which is what I’m trying to get away from).

Given that, some low-commitment stuff like embroidery actually sounds good.

I will definitely be continuing with my writing, but that will mostly be offline and by hand, so I won’t have to constantly weigh whether what I’m writing is worth (the risk of) publishing, or not.

As for whether I’m going to continue with my Adobe training (or subscription)…I’m not sure. It’s a significant financial drain, and it’s useless except for publishing images online or in print (or teaching myself Graphic Design). It also depends on what I do on my own in my free time. It’s possible I could create some PDFs to distribute, here…which might be fun. It would also give me some practice in working with Adobe CC — in case I do end up needing to get back to my roots in writing, and learning how to professionally edit. This is useful.

I’m hoping, however, that I won’t have to get back to Creative Writing as a career. I’ve spent the last 10 years building a place in the Library world. Although Creative Writing is good as an avocation and is complementary to needing to read as a Librarian, depending on it for my livelihood is more risky — and a lot more work for less return, I suspect — than I would like. If, however, I remained a part-time Library Assistant (and not a full-time Cataloging or Metadata Librarian), it could be a useful and enriching addition to my repertoire.

I kind of feel like I need a map, for this…what kind of map, though, I’m not sure. I do have huge paper and markers, though. :)

I also I have an as-yet-unused daily planner. It would be useful to try and plan out the coming days and weeks, possibly using Bullet Journal notation…

career, fiber arts, libraries, LIS, self care, writing

More of this. Is it a hobby? Is it important? What do I *want* to do with my time?

It’s so hard to get any project done when I keep changing my aims so frequently. And when there’s actual living to be had.

Right now I’m even wondering what the use is of getting my writing in front of people. Like, is it that important that people see it? And if so, is it that important to publish traditionally? Which is, basically, fraught with uncertainties, and usually doesn’t result in large returns. I think I heard in my Creative Writing program that if you send out 100 queries and get two back that aren’t flat-out rejections, you’re doing well.

If all I’m after is an audience, I can easily work that into a website, with a broader distribution. If I want to get physical books into peoples’ hands, there are ways to do that — through PDFs, through printers, through Print-on-Demand services.

Right now, though; I’m going through machinations without addressing the story itself. Why is it important to me to write — or to make public, what I write? Am I writing for myself? For my peers? To change minds? All of those options take different end forms.

Not to mention that I don’t have to make a profession of it, just because I was relatively skilled in it as a youth…I especially don’t have to make a profession of it, if I have a more expedient way of supporting myself.

My latest version of, “what to do with this story,” anyway, is to create a series of related short stories and/or prose and/or “comics” so they can be (potentially) published as a set — though that’s a long shot. Or, I could submit some stories to literary magazines. Also a long shot. And it complicates things if I want to publish everything as a set.

However, putting things into short-story format allows me some flexibility that is missing in longform prose. It would also be easier to make one or two stories into comics, or to just insert some illustrations, and leave it at that.

The major issue I’m having is wanting to do so many things, and being so disorganized that most of it doesn’t get done. I mentioned today in an offhand conversation that maybe I should be doing Fiber Arts. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but it has to do with color, line, needles, beads, knots, and piecework. Now what those things are going to get worked up into, I can’t tell, at this point. All I know is that I have the materials to make…and that there’s virtually nothing I can’t make with the skills — at least, that I would want to make.

It also means that I would be moving fully into Fiber Arts. I know from past experience that knitting is too slow and fiddly for me. Crochet is faster and more forgiving, but creates fabrics, normally, which are full of gaps. Gaps through which, heat can escape — meaning the fabric isn’t very practical.

Sewing clothing out of flat cloth (basically, making something 3-D out of a 2-D surface) is difficult, but interesting. And it allows me to modify patterns (and other clothing) to fit my own form (which would be useful, especially if it’s hard to find clothes that fit).

(It is.)

The major issue with sewing is that it tends to be more expensive and time-consuming than buying ready-to-wear clothing. But then you basically end up with custom garments.

That you may have to hand-wash. Drawback.

But if you resign yourself to hand-washing some things, it opens up the field, a lot.

And…yes, there is the inevitability of drawing blood when sewing, though normally it isn’t much. Just enough to make sure one keeps one’s materials and hands clean. But that in itself is a reason not to run a sewing circle at a Library: sanitation can’t be guaranteed. I just now assume I will pierce myself sometime, if I’m using either pins or hand-sewing needles.

Then there is quilting…which gets weird when you’re a beginner and don’t know why everything is so uneven. Even when I line up the seams. But I think anyone who has quilted, has ended up with weird first pieces. Which I’m on track to do. (Should I keep going and finish the messed-up square? Then frame it as my first messed-up square, because it marks a completion? Any completion?)

I had been looking into alternate job paths again…and I think I’m OK with not overly focusing on writing or editing (though I might do both on the side). It’s possible to work within what are called, “Technical Services,” “Collection Development,” or, “Acquisitions.” All three of these branches are related, and all three deal with materials before they reach the patrons — as versus being jobs that are on the front line dealing with patrons/customers/etc. They also all fall under a common subdivision of my association.

I still have to look further into it, but the point is that I don’t have to throw out my Information Science degree just because I’m not a, “people person.” It’s hard enough to deal with the public, without throwing in the fact that it’s not something I would do if I didn’t feel I had to (it is nice when I am able to help someone, which is most of the time) — but I’ve got to realize that I do have a choice about it. I’ve just got to find the right opening, and prepare myself.

Maybe I should talk with my boss about Cataloging. I have some back-knowledge from University, and I’ve taken several courses after that, to boost my skills (as, unfortunately, I didn’t take it seriously enough in University). She has worked in Cataloging, so she would know what it’s like. She also might know people who would give me a chance. I also have just taken a look at the upcoming Open University schedules…and have found a course which should help, if I want to move forward. I could apply starting on April 24.

Seeing how my other studies are going (Reader’s Advisory, Reference provision, Program Development)…hmm. I might do that. Becoming a Cataloging Librarian could happen. And it would keep me around materials, and away from the public.

Of course, then there are the professional tools that I may want to practice with, before acquiring a job. I’ve just bookmarked both of them…looks like they’ll run me around $850 (give or take) to subscribe to both for a year. The Public Library version of the tool — that, I know how to use. The Subject Analysis part of the tool, I don’t remember how to use. I last saw it in 2017, and didn’t realize what a gift it was to gain access to it. I’ve worked with the free version…which is doable. It’s just harder.

But yes, if I want to become a Cataloger, I should probably be studying this. There’s so much to know, that it would be good to be familiar with it. I believe that my prior failures in this area stemmed from lack of familiarity with the Schedules, and lack of familiarity with both the tools and the body of rules they stemmed from. I can study this.

I can, seriously, study this.

Of course, there’s also all the other Library-related material I’ve acquired over the last six months, which should keep me busy, if I can actually focus on it. Hope — hope, that’s always the thing that drives me forward.

Just — what will I do to relax? How can I not waste my time? There’s so much I could do… but what do I do?

beadwork, libraries, self care, work

Another weekend down. Now what?

Another day in the life of an underemployed part-time Millennial Librarian?

I keep hearing from people that now that I have an MLIS, I’m officially a Librarian…even though I just started my present Library Assistant job last year, have never run a program or done outreach, and…yeah. Well, I am getting good practice at Public Service.

I just did the math, and I’m almost 1/3 of the way to where I need to be, in order to pick up more responsibility at work (and have a stable branch). If I keep going at my current rate, I could apply to be a salaried Library Assistant (or a Librarian) approximately one year from the time I started picking up jobs. To become a Librarian would take some training, though, particularly in Library Programming and Outreach.

I’ve just done some minor digging about possible courses, and have found one that suits my needs. Unfortunately, one other course (Marketing) is not at all what it should be (self-marketing, as versus marketing services and programs), and the second…is going to be a huge amount of work, for a population on which I’m not focused. I’m intending to be an Adult — not Youth — Services Librarian. Taking an intensive tour-de-force through the YA section (and paying out of pocket for it, while simultaneously taking a pay cut because I can’t work at the same time as I study)…it doesn’t sound…enticing. I can do that on my own.

I also have the possibility of jamming that course into Summer Session, but…I don’t really want to. I already have my degree, I work in a Library system, and I’m good at self-educating. I also know that I don’t particularly…like to unnecessarily cram a bunch of reading into a limited amount of time. I have a life, u no.

To be hired as a Librarian in this system, though — I will have to be able to drive, by myself. I’m on my way to that, now. With all the trouble I’m giving them with not being able to shuffle at will from branch to branch now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made Library Assistants have Driver’s Licenses as well, the next time they hire.

It’s starting to feel like I don’t know quite what to do with myself when I’m not at work. It’s unstructured time…and for a very long time, I have not had a lot of unstructured time. (I did graduate a year ago…but after that, I was searching and applying for employment while still an Aide, and after that, was in training; and working a lot, of my own accord.)

Today I was talking with a co-worker about trying to gauge how many hours I really wanted to work, or whether I should take a non-Library job in some area of interest, just for the experience (and not the money, which — if it’s in retail, at least — probably can’t compete with LA pay). Then there is the “hidden job market”…which I guess I’ll just have to go out and investigate. As well as applying for jobs in the Academic sector…which may be my best idea out of all of these, though for most postings I just saw, I don’t have enough experience. How they pay less than my current job, I also don’t know: I thought we were on the bottom end of the pay scale (but maybe that’s a rumor?).

I’m still not sure about what I want to do with the hours and the possibility of getting a second part-time job. I should have a better handle on it in the coming month — I signed up for a lot, so I can see how I tolerate it, and how I feel at home (like if I’m even able to relax; though I do have some decent breaks scheduled, as well).

In March…it’s sad. I have Jury Duty. So…there are at least one or two weeks where I won’t know how much I’ll be working. I can’t accept weekday jobs after Jury Duty starts, or I may have to cancel — and cancelling is a big deal in my system. I’m planning on not worrying much about work for that pay period, though that means I’ll need to tone down my spending. During that time, if I don’t have to go in to Jury Duty, I can practice my driving.

And…yeah. There’s a small window of time in which I should be able to sign up for the class I saw, but it isn’t for a while…it should give me something to do aside from work, though. Otherwise…maybe I can be reading? Or making jewelry or playing with watercolors, or embroidering, or sewing, or designing quilts, or something…

Exercising. Ugh.

Writing doesn’t sound bad…

I didn’t post when I restarted my micro-macramé stuff. But it has been restarted. I got sad about not doing anything with all the little colorful beads and cords. I’m sorry. They were so pretty and they were just sitting there… :o

art media, paper crafts, self care

Books and reading. Ecology, health, and…origami?

The last two days have been relatively chill. I had another two hours of driving instruction today, which went much better than the previous session. What has helped, as well, is reading. I’m not sure why, but it does calm me down a bit.

Right now I’m reading What the Eyes Don’t See, by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, to get another angle on the Flint, Michigan issue from 2014 (aside from The Poisoned City, which was my introduction to literature on water quality and attendant government corruption in the U.S.). I started it today, and I’m about 1/5 of the way through.

I’m also in the middle of a book called Amity and Prosperity, by Eliza Griswold, which is about fracking in the Appalachians and the plight of residents who had sold their mineral rights, and subsequently lost their clean groundwater and clean air along with their property value, which made it so they didn’t have the resources to leave.

All of these books reveal how the EPA has recently not done its job. Ostensibly — I haven’t heard or read an official announcement — I would think part of that job would be to protect public health. If one were to believe the books and the people the books are about and written by, there’s a lot of evidence that it isn’t doing that. What is it (or has it been) doing? Apparently, trying to cover up what it isn’t (or hasn’t been) doing.

On a lighter note, I’ve also begun reading Origami Design Secrets by Robert Lang, which is basically about how origami is an expression of mathematics as well as design. It’s a relatively huge book (basically a textbook and also a workbook), which I would think could be used in Math classes.

Before I began this entry, I pulled a bunch of the old — really old, really cheap — origami papers I have, and brought them with me to the bed. I’ll have to use the lap desk if I fold them in bed, but it may allow me the comfort of being at least partially warm.

The books I was reading prior (Collapse, by Jared Diamond; and The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert), I’ve basically stopped. I can’t really say why except that I can’t really do anything about us being in the middle of a mass extinction, and by myself, I can’t do much if this country or world decides to self-annihilate.

It may be more worth it to focus on the way out of the problem as versus bemoaning the existence of the problem in the first place, or focusing on possible metaphysical hell scenarios that come with the combination of spirituality plus guilt. It’s easier to just admit we don’t know what happens after death, than it is to fabricate a nightmare about what will happen if we don’t do things right. And in this, there is a difference between what science and data tell us is possible, and stories our imaginations have wrought…which often cannot happen in reality because they violate the rules of logic, or presuppose factors that don’t exist.

On possible solutions, there is a book that caught my eye called Drawdown, by Paul Hawken, which is about ways to help pull carbon dioxide out of the ecosystem in order to reverse global warming. I haven’t read it yet, but it has reminded me that with the pace of change in technology; and with funding, invention, research, and quick action; things may not be as hopeless as they seem.

I say, “quick action,” because I’ve also been reading With Speed and Violence, by Fred Pearce, which is about the way climate change over much of Earth’s history has not been slow and gradual, but sudden and at times extreme. The reason it seems to us like it would be slow and gradual, is basically that humans haven’t been around long enough to witness (or witness and remember, at least) the changes — barring issues like the Mt. Tambora eruption (if it can be called that, more than an explosion) of 1815, which caused the “Year Without Summer.” There is a book about this that I know of (I believe it was the one by Klingaman and Klingaman). The person who told me about it didn’t have anything good to say. :)

As for how I learned about Tambora…that may have been from Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond — the same person who wrote Collapse. I can’t be sure about that, though, due to the fact that I read Guns, Germs, and Steel in undergrad, and that was around two decades ago. (I honestly don’t even know if we still have the book.)

Presently, there are issues like changing ocean currents, melting polar ice, and changing weather patterns, which could wreak havoc if they were to happen suddenly, unexpectedly, and before we could adapt. The major issue, as I see it, is famine. When that’s on a global scale, it gets really scary. When there’s a shortage of natural resources, what tends to happen is war.

I learned from a separate source that melting permafrost could release now-frozen methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If this occurred…it could be really bad, depending on how much is released. The major decisive factor is whether we reach the point where global warming leads to more greenhouse gas release, which leads to more warming and more release, etc. As a runaway cycle, it could mean the end of life here as we know it: and we shouldn’t treat this planet as disposable, like we’re going to find another one…which is what it looks like the Space program is seeking.

We don’t want a repeat of what happened to Venus, which has a thick atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide, extremely high atmospheric pressure, sulfuric acid rain, and surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead. (I know there are extremophile microbes which give me hope that some life might be able to adapt and survive, but the ones I’m thinking of live in volcanic vents, and I don’t know that those get to the +850° F surface temperatures that exist on Venus.)

While Venus may at one time have been able to support life, the chances of that now appear slim.

It’s one thing for I, myself, to die. It’s another thing to take most of the world out with me. Of course, there’s not all that much I can do as one person, but there are some things. Actually talking about it to forward the conversation, may be one thing…as well as educating myself so that I can act, when needed.

And, of course, taking care of myself, so that I don’t self-destruct before I can be of any use.

Although it does feel a little funny to get back to origami after having left off of it as a child…I know for a fact that I can connect it to both quilting and the creation of mandalas. I don’t know quite why, though. I’m hoping that the huge book I got will shed some light on the underlying order.

Plus, it’s just great to see a textbook on paper-folding. :)

I also, though, tonight got the urge to paint, again. That’s, generally speaking, a freer process than consciously utilizing or being constrained by mathematics or language. I don’t have a project lined up, except maybe testing out those Prussian Blue and Viridian paints from separate lines (so that I can donate the tubes I’m not going to use).

And yes, I do have mixed feelings about even this. Given that this post has been about water quality and ecology, I am sure the painters in my audience know what I’m talking about. The way paints are still made, though, it would be…very difficult to insist on using a totally non-toxic palette. When I go there, what first present themselves are inferior pigments, of the like of Prangs. Even there, though; what is harmless to humans is not necessarily harmless to everything else.

I haven’t worked it out, yet. I haven’t worked out whether it is even possible — at all — to live without harming another being. Though, it might be possible to live without harming another being, intentionally…that is, never intending to harm another.

And then we get to the ants and roaches and things of that sort…and we get to never intending to inflict suffering upon another, as versus never intending to harm. Or we question what, “harm,” means.

I’m sure I could get into some more mental gymnastics, here, but this is the major reason I’m not Buddhist.

No. Really.