creativity, personal, philosophy, psychology, spirituality

I’m going to act like I posted this before midnight

It has been almost three weeks since I have posted anything on this blog. During that time…there has been a lot happening. Not all of it am I prepared to share my innermost thoughts on, nor do I see an immediate tangible benefit to doing so. Because I’ve been like this for a few weeks…I’ve had something of a hesitance to write online.

It’s fairly obvious why I would feel some relief right now. Not enough to feel entirely safe, given the ugly and dangerous reality of the wider circumstances, but somewhat better. In particular, I felt better today. Of course. It was a dose of sanity. Of hope. A reset to the idea of rightness; that it could exist, that it did exist.

Of course, to mirror but reverse an idea from the Dao De Jing that has come up on my Reader: if you can see wrongness, you create rightness.

I haven’t felt totally safe since elementary school, to let you know. I have heard that this is a mental abnormality: that it is “normal” to feel safe in this world; that the feeling of the world not being a safe place…apparently ideally shouldn’t happen. But the world is the world, and to me the bare fact is that living in the world isn’t safe, and probably never has been safe. That safety is an illusion granted by privilege. The most apparent alternative to living in the world is being dead, however, and so you take what you can get.

About a week ago, I set an intention to focus just on self-care: cooking, eating, sleeping, exercise, and hygiene. To my surprise, after I set that intention…I gained the energy and motivation to work on my crafts. And not, you know, deride them as “just” crafts. They are crafts. But they’re elevated, now. I know I’m using quality materials. I know what I create has value. I know my workmanship and responsibility is sound. I know I’m not wasting my time. I know that just because a lot of women do it, that doesn’t make it trivial. The approach is different.

At first, it was just working on the face masks. I found a tutorial by Marcy Harriell (see below) which I’ve successfully altered to fit my face (at least), and…well, I’ve been waiting for a mandatory mask order to come down. It’s not like anyone’s going anywhere anytime soon anyway, but anyhow…it’s nice to be prepared.

(You see what I did there.)

Face mask tutorial by Marcy Harriell, as it has been passed along like a game of Telephone, through the Interwebs…

That, again, was why I had set my intention on being more active in our cooking. My being incompletely capable of taking care of myself was just adding an extra layer of stress to the Corona pandemic plus rule-by-meme. So…the thing I can do about that, is participate. And learn.

I’m pretty good at learning, after all.

The other thing I’ve been doing, aside from research on dealing with this whole potential self-employment thing — and washing my hands too much — is working with seed beads. I still don’t know why I love little glass beads so much. They don’t have a lot of intrinsic value…but they are pretty.

And I really don’t know why I place value on aesthetic pleasure. It…makes no logical sense to me. Aesthetic pleasure, period, doesn’t make sense to me. But maybe that’s just my left brain not understanding what my right brain is doing. My right brain has a mind of its own, however, and my left brain has never been able to completely crush it.

What I do know is that the art of making things is probably a core, fundamental trait of humanity. We live with the culmination of the accumulation of knowledge and technology that has been passed down to us over the ages. In that way, we’re incredibly lucky and privileged.

In the same way…have we forgotten our wisdom?

The development seems to go: data is the source of information; information is the source of knowledge; knowledge is the source of wisdom. (I don’t know where experience factors in there; it wasn’t so much on the plate in my Information Science program.) I forget who hypothesized this. However, it’s very clear what happens when the train is hijacked so that information is proposed which is based on biased, unclear, deliberately obfuscated, or no data…and people run with it.

I am constantly surprised, both in myself and in others, how much we tend to trust that the information which comes to us is fundamentally sound. For me, this is especially in regard to books. I still remember reading a Physical Anthropology text in High School which I assumed was true because I found it in my school library and I thought that I could trust that what was written — and what was in the library — was based on sound knowledge.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned that it was not a good idea to trust information in books just because of the manner of delivery of the message. Nor was it a good idea to trust information in the library just because it was in the library. There are reasons not to trust old Physical Anthropology texts. Primarily because they tended to forward the myth that 1) there were, “races,” 2) that some, “races,” were superior to others based on form, 3) that different, “races,” were intrinsically different in some way which explained what could alternately be explained by, a) culture, and, b) a legacy of structural and institutional racism — or, a history of treating people categorically differently based on their appearances.

(Which, by the way, also implicates sexism. But due to length, that’s probably another entry.)

These are things that even today we have a hard time arguing against, because everyone has been taught this. (Not to say that everyone believes it.) It is part of what Sociology understands as, “hegemony,” or the currently-accepted view of the world which holds in place its underlying power structures.

Of course, though, my school library wasn’t quite good enough to teach us about Intellectual Freedom and the idea that, “the solution to a bad book is a good book.” That American libraries lean away from censorship, in general; that, “the books on the shelves should be at war with each other.” That it was the reader’s task, not the library’s, to decide what they would accept and what they would reject. That it’s good to operate on the premise that no author is unbiased (after all, they had enough of an interest to write a book; it’s hard not to have an opinion on an obsession). That it’s good to question why this author wants me to believe what they’re saying — which may be a hidden proposition.

Then again…it’s known in the Library community that many school libraries are run by people who are not professional Librarians. I suppose there is a reason to require a degree.

But all of that has to do with the left brain — reason, logic, analysis; you know. Fact-checking. Reality. There is — at least — another entire side to the brain that has to do with things that are ineffable, indescribable; drives that we don’t understand, or that we don’t want to understand; maybe, don’t have the ability to understand. That which makes living so vibrant, and can be subverted to such catastrophic ends. Things like religion, devotion, life purposes, identity. Any one of these topics is rife to set someone off if they’re challenged on them.

A major problem here, however, is that the brain seems set up to believe its own hype. It’s rare to find a person who is willing to state that their own beliefs may be (or are) mistaken, though it’s exceedingly common to find fault in others’ beliefs. Both of these things cannot be simultaneously true for everyone, everywhere, all the time — at least, if you subscribe to the idea that we all live in the same world. (That idea can be — has been — questioned.)

These things, like identity, are also answers to very personal questions. I know; I’ve been through the wringer with them. At this time, at least, though…I can see the urgency here. Who am I? What do I want out of life? Why am I here? Does the world inside my head match up with what’s outside? Where am I totally off? How can I tell if my thoughts are accurate?

It goes on.

I’m not sure if these are Existentialist questions, but they very much sound like them, to me. The reason I’m unsure is that I have hardly been able to tolerate reading Existentialist authors to the point where I really understood them. Sometimes you just don’t want to understand, you know? Sometimes it just hurts too much, to try and see things the way the author saw them, because then you see their pain, the way they’re trapped. And you can’t do much of anything about it, or for them.

And then there is the question of whether these questions have arisen because of a relative vacuum of wisdom…particularly where it comes to the obliteration of traditional knowledge. And I don’t know if that’s linked to the intentional obliteration of cultures that we’ve experienced in this country. But filling that gap by worshiping the next thing that comes along, is extremely dangerous.

But that drive — to devote oneself to something or someone — I entirely understand. I also understand how that drive can be manipulated, how emotions can interfere with disentanglement.

I’ve spent a fairly large portion of my life trying to comprehend the problem of evil, as I was harmed in my formative years by people who treated me poorly and at the same time claimed goodness and righteousness for themselves. As an adult, now, I have a fairly clear picture of what evil is. I lament what had to happen in the world for that picture to become clearer.

What I can say is that, unfortunately, my mind — as driven to pessimism as it is; as much as I may protest — can envision some fairly dark scenarios as regards what is not yet existent, and what may never be existent. I can see, that is, what some people wish this world to be — or, perhaps more to the point, don’t care if they turn it into. (It would take an actually malevolent person to intend to poison the water table, that is, or to intend to treat people as livestock, rather than doing it as a means to some end [like money]. As horrific as evil is, I’m coming to the opinion that evil at least does not begin as an end in itself. But then again, I don’t read a lot of True Crime, and I don’t have the relevant psychology to understand from within.)

There is the frank self-centeredness that allows some people to treat other people as tools to be used and discarded; the mental prisons that so many are trapped within. Wealth, power, control, destruction. For what reason? Or are there simply no ethical ground rules that cause one to value the lives of others, simply for the sake of those lives? Not for their use in one’s own personal game, not for the sake of one’s own fame and fortune, not for the use of them in attempted violent overthrows to put one into power? Life is holy. Do we not understand that?

And if one knows one is being used in this way, to be discarded, why does one tolerate it?

Right now: where I’m at, we are dealing with a trifecta of crises. There is the coronavirus pandemic. There is recent terrorist activity. There is a major economic downturn. They’re all interrelated and hazardous in their own ways. They’re all either due to, or made worse by, an abdication of responsible leadership which started a long time ago…if it ever began.

In this situation, I can’t be sure of what lies in the future. We have had a recent outbreak of a variant of SARS-CoV-2 titled L452R, due to a superspreader event in a local hospital which infected…I can’t even remember how many people. The number keeps rising. The latest count I find says 92.

In the face of possible death, for myself, for my caretakers: maybe accepting the fact of mortality is best. In light of that, perhaps it is best to look forward to living the most full, enjoyable, brilliant, vibrant life possible. While still, of course, keeping ourselves and each other, as safe as possible. Right now I have the possibility of doing what I love. Out of sheer love. It doesn’t take much. I don’t have to go out. And we have another year to weather, of calls to make, of video chats through which to nurture each other.

If this is the tail end of my time here, I’m not going to waste it.

Caring about each other, caring for ourselves — isn’t that the nature of love? Our lives are precious, and we don’t know how long they’ll continue. Right? Our ancestors must have known this. When the life expectancy is only 35 years…yeah, I mean…you take what you can get, you enjoy what you have, you trust that what brought you into being will not extinguish you…and if it does, you won’t be around to care. It’s odd that I would see that as a positive scenario, either way…but I’ve been suicidal, before. I’ve had a long time to think about this.

I’ve had time to prepare, to put my thoughts in order, to realize a mission. Even if I haven’t yet completed whatever I’m supposed to do, I know there’s a reason I’m here: even if I have to continue that mission after death. And I know now that there was truth to my visions as a youth. I know that I have value as myself. And I can walk further along the path of love and curiosity and do what I’m led to. The spirits don’t show me everything at once. They will only show me the next step. And I…can take the next step.

All of this is more than most people are granted. It’s just…how wonderful is it to be able to give oneself permission to be vibrant? To live?

Living…the task of living, is work. And it can be scary. But it can also be filled with joy.

If we trust.

beading, beadwork, Business, personal, self care, spirituality

I think I’ve found what I’m going to be doing…

…for the next year, until the vaccine. (Of course, predictions of what I will do are sketchy, at best.) I’ve gotten back into making beaded jewelry; mostly, glass beadweaving, and micro-macrame. I have some stone components, but it isn’t the direction I seem to be going in, wholly.

I’m also trying to taking care of myself when I need to; particularly, where this comes to exercise and hygiene, with other forms of self-care (like maintaining my spaces). Then there’s my class. After that, I can deal with what comes up…particularly, giving XSLT another shot (and hoping there aren’t any gigantic disturbances, this time).

My University class…well, that’s basically…group work. Meaning, I don’t have a lot of control over it. I’m not entirely certain how to communicate with the others as well; I’ve been away from the LMS for so long (about two years, now) that I am not sure others are getting my messages. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about my grades, as I’ve already graduated. The others, do.

I was mistaken about the timeline for the end of my University class: I have just a bit more time than I thought I did. What I don’t have is extra time to arrange an internship, if I want to pay the University to supervise it for me. And, I mean…is it worth it? On top of that, do I need to take it now? And, could I not find a use for, say, a database project, myself?

I’m scaling back my Academic commitments, particularly because I did not finish two of my last private online courses (the ones which happened around the orange sky days). I know I’ll have to deal with XML again at the beginning of the year (and hopefully pass it, this time), but without an additional University commitment, and barring any unforeseen disasters, I won’t have to deal with anything else.

That will free up my time to design and make jewelry. I’ve been engaging in the former, more than is normal for me (recently). Though, of course, even saying that makes me feel guilty. I tend to spend more on production than I gain through sales. It’s an issue. But, “minimal loss,” is a better goal than, “bottomless pit.” Of course, there’s the profit-margin aspect…which is difficult to even think about at this point, because I haven’t kept complete records of quantities spent and quantities gained.

People sometimes get surprised when I say I make jewelry, because I don’t tend to wear jewelry. At least I didn’t, for the majority of the time I was on the last two jobs. Wearing jewelry attracts male attention that I don’t want, and I’m more apt to want big muscles than to actually…you know, dress up. Not to mention that my last two jobs have been so dirty that I didn’t want to wear good clothes or jewelry.

The jewelry I design isn’t necessarily congruent with the way I’ve decided to present myself, although it does really make me look good. The thing I get tripped up on is that when I wear what I make, and dress up, I feel very, “ethnic,” and I don’t know where that places me, socially. I’ve spent a lifetime being seen as “exotic”, so it’s probably, well…predictable that I would have complicated feelings around that.

The thing is, when I dress up, I don’t intend to make myself look like something I’m not. It’s probably been over a year since I straightened my hair, and no one would ever think me to be white (aside from one internet troll, who was probably just trying to get a rise). People from similar racial and cultural backgrounds can find me familiar (even children), but aside from those people, I probably come across as an unknown amalgam.

There is a bit of relative safety, though, in looking like a beautiful woman. Many treat me with privilege more often that way, than they do when I’m in menswear, and I believe that others are also more apt to protect and empathize with me. Generally, if I can be mistaken for a man or mistaken for a woman, I’m attended to with more privilege than when I am ambiguous (when the feedback turns curious and hostile, especially if others believe me to be younger than I am). However, I know that when I’m mistaken for a woman, the person I really am slips under the radar. I become invisible. To the outside, I may be hypervisible; as regards personality, no one expects to find me there.

(Then again, no one ever expects to find me, there.)

Yes, this does remind me of femme positionality…but am I femme? I don’t believe so. Fluid, is more like it.

I guess when you’re a designer, there’s no rule that states that your personal aesthetic has to match your normal outward presentation. They’re two different things, and they interrelate in a complicated way. Not everything I produce will be “me” in the sense of displaying who I am; in the same sense, almost all of it, does. What comes out of me might allot to, “who one might be if society were not a factor.” And that’s beautiful. That’s vulnerable and open to display. It’s honest.

It’s also broader than the face(s) I put on for society in order to attain my own personal aims (like being passed over), which I still have mixed feelings about. I know a lot of enby people who have a way they want to be treated, which doesn’t happen unless they look a way that they really don’t want to look. And if they look a way they do want to look, they aren’t treated the same way.

I can relate. I honestly want to look femme — a muscular femme that’s mixed with the type of female power and knowing, that I see coloring my own masculinity. The thing is, I also don’t want to constantly have to defend my own boundaries. It’s easier when men leave me alone, especially granted that pretty much no random man off the street impresses me. They get blinded by how I look, and tend to assume I am who they want me to be, rather than giving me agency over my own self-definition and my own desires.

If were granted the latter two, I don’t think I’d have a problem. I need to be able to be myself, regardless of whether that self would seamlessly fit into their lives. I need to be respected enough so that when I say no, it’s believed and honored. I need it to be okay for me to be all of myself, not just the parts that fit into some cultural definition of ideal, “womanhood,” that I most likely don’t share.

I am, that is, human. Like you. And like you, I’m complicated and I have my own desires and needs and thoughts that don’t revolve around other people. That don’t revolve around men; that don’t revolve around you. The way I look has nothing to do with who I am. It has to do with what comes at me. If you knew what comes at me, and you felt what I felt from the inside, you would understand why I am the way I am.

And why I have no time for people who assume they know me because they can see me; who think my body parts mean things they do not.

No, I don’t know what this is. I don’t have a name for it. But this is me, and has been me, for a very long time.

…and yes, I am sensing the feeling I get when I see the color, indigo. Which is ironic, as I believe I was supposed to be an “Indigo Child.” I also just purchased some “Denim Blue” crystal beads, of which I am now reminded (they’re so dark a blue that they’re almost gray; the color comes out in direct sun and among other blues, violets, and blue-greens)…but that, that gets into aesthetics, which gets into philosophy and spirituality…

Is that what “aura colors” are? Matching up the feelings you get when you see the color, with the feelings you get when you sense yourself (or others) at your (or their) most clear and true and powerful…?

There’s also the idea that jewelry is art. That each piece has its own personality. Like a story, it maintains the imprint of its author, but should not reflect directly back upon her character. Everyone sees something different in art pieces, and art pieces can reflect any facet of human experience, as filtered and arranged through the maker and reconstructed by the viewer (and the wearer). It may be a puzzle with no correct answer. Be open to hearing multiple versions of reality. The multiplicity contributes to the reality of the beauty.

And no, I honestly have no idea why people like my work. ;) I don’t even know why I like my work…I don’t know why it’s good; I just know it is.

Maybe I should work on a philosophy as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. If I knew, on a large scale, why I was doing what I was doing when I was doing it…maybe that would help me stay motivated to keep doing it. Like a Mission Statement, you know? If any of that Business training I went through, has any value at all…

I mean, it can’t all be about money. If it were just about money, there are other and more efficient ways to get it, that help other people more. I know aesthetics factor into this. Being able to feel like I have something, also factors in, as silly as it is with little bits of colored glass.

Color is a very large…and elusive, mysterious component of why I continue to bead. There are entire books written on color in beadwork, though the two I have which expressly focus on it, don’t do it justice. I question whether a print book can ever do it justice. You really need to get in there with your hands and just work. Then you see what can be done.

Maybe I should actually write a book, on color in beadwork.

I’ve been making efforts to get out from in front of this computer and engage in non-virtual activities as much as possible; though sometimes, as you can see, writing actually does help enrich my life, by drawing out thoughts I didn’t know I had.

I also have a tendency to feel guilty about working creatively, which is counter-productive when it comes to actually making money…but…I’ve just now realized that there is, at least, spiritual and aesthetic value in colorwork. There’s also value in making oneself beautiful, even if you’re like me and have a hard time with the attention. Isn’t beauty of value?

I don’t know yet how to balance these things…maybe become stronger in my assertiveness in order to be able to realize my own beauty without feeling violated?

Be who I am, right? Just be, totally, who I am; that is beautiful enough…

psychology, spirituality, writing

Stumbling into dystopia

Not to be, well — depressing — but I can feel depression setting in.

I’ve noticed an increase in my symptoms recently, particularly where it comes to difficulty concentrating, the ability to sleep, depressed mood, paranoia, heightened “spiritual” content to my thoughts, and catastrophic and magical thinking.

Of course, from inside, these all appear understandable, given the situation. Hey — they may appear understandable from outside. The issue is that things are bad, and my mind is making them worse. By doing things like making me think I have a calling as a writer and a duty to share my perspective…even if that leads to bad consequences for me. Because this is bigger than me, isn’t it?

The issue is, how much bigger? Are we dealing with local stupidity and greed and craziness, or is this a Universal conflict between good and evil? And maybe it’s not even just two groups. Maybe it’s a system of spirits, and I happen to be a member of a group associated with Creation (and, apparently, expression and language). And we have here beings who don’t care about the continuation of life on this planet; who don’t care about other humans; who don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own accumulation of wealth and power. If this is not Evil, what is Evil?

Today it’s actually slightly cooler outside (at the moment) than it is inside, which is more than I can say for the past three days. Because of us, this planet is becoming a Hell. And we don’t know how much time we have to change that, left (if we have any, at all; we don’t know, but the best we can do is not give up) — at least if you’re looking at things like climate, “tipping points,” such as the point at which the permafrost melts and trapped methane gas is released into the atmosphere…which is a 25x stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

And what then, is supposed to happen to cities like San Francisco or Honolulu, when the Antarctic and/or Greenland ice shelves fail and melt? If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet fails, the global sea level could rise by ten feet.

I’ve been getting used to being active at night, due to the heat in the daytime…meaning, today, that I got out of bed after 4 PM to eat dinner as my first meal, instead of at 9 AM for breakfast (when my alarm went off). Of course, part of this is bad synchronization of my medication to my bedtime: I took one medication (a sedating one) after midnight, instead of 9 PM; and I know that when I do that, it predisposes me to wake in the late afternoon or early evening. Even if I do wake up at a reasonable time before then, my body just wants to go back to bed, where I fall asleep. For hours.

Not to mention that I couldn’t fall asleep until after 2:30 AM. Just, could not.

Still, the lack of daylight — which has been going on for days, as we couldn’t vent the windows to cool down the house, due to the smoke from the multiple fires around the state — has an effect on me. I’m thinking it has an effect on everyone.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of writing…and not much else, except reading for my class and studying Japanese language (mostly, at this point, writing). I haven’t been posting my writing online because I’m having issues with paranoia, which — given the current climate, and not just the literal one — could be justified.

Oppressive, is the word. This climate is oppressive, and writing — in my case — is for the expression of thoughts that may not be able to be easily spoken. There are good reasons they can’t be easily spoken.

I’m also not sure to what extent re-engaging with fiction, or my actual thoughts (as unrealistic and idiosyncratic as those may be), is affecting this. Nor do I know whether the thoughts are symptomatic of the disease, or whether they’re driving it. I’m not sure if even entertaining my thoughts are leading to a decrease in my mental health.

Although, it is good to be able to get those thoughts out, so that they don’t just fester in my subconscious (or unconscious). At the same time, I think just being in this country at this moment is scary. But if we make change, we’ll have to make it together. One person can’t do it, alone.

I know I’m not the only one going through this. I’ve been dealing with my class where we were supposed to split up into groups of 4 or 5 for our Final Projects, by tonight. Over 1/3 of the people in the class still have not hooked up with anyone. Seriously???

I’m also glad that I know at this point that grades aren’t the most important part of life, but Withdrawing is not currently an option for me. Even if it was, I question whether it would be the best route: I may be becoming depressed because I don’t have enough to do. If I Withdrew, something worse for my life than failing the course, would have to have happened. And there’s a lot that is worse than failing a stinkin’ course.

Anyway. I’m getting kind of weary of this. And I’m not the only one. I can tell from the number of people I see congregating, maskless. The issue we have here — the biggest one — seems to be that people can’t act for the good of society writ large. “If masks will protect everyone else but not me specifically, why should I wear one?” they ask. Because that, “everyone else,” indirectly includes you. But people don’t get that, and I get the feeling that they don’t care about other people’s lives, either.

It’s a pretty sad state when your neighbors don’t care if you live or die. It’s possibly sadder if they don’t even care if they live or die. Faith is not meant to make a person lazy.

I do know that we here in California likely only have another month of heat to worry about (November comes after October, after all)…but then comes flu season. Which — if you look at it, maybe won’t be so bad if people are keeping away from each other, and we’re still able to maintain good hygiene. There is fatigue to be factored in there, however. We’ve been at this for seven months, now.

…And, the little I’ve read, says to brace for another year of this — that it will be likely around mid-2021 by the time we get a safe and widely available vaccine.

So we have to, essentially, survive another year. Alright.

art, creativity, personal, philosophy, psychology, self care, spirituality, writing

Part 1. Fear.

In reality, I still have a bit of fear towards my own creativity and the creative process, and it’s something I’m trying to both confront and, “get over,” if that’s possible. I don’t know, however, if that’s the right angle to take; I don’t know if someone simply, “gets over,” a fear of the creativity which at one time led me to spend all Summer writing, from waking to sleep, also then thinking out the story as I drifted off.

(Of course, that also might have been near the beginning of my OCD symptoms…I also have experience with missing time [or blackouts; I’m not sure of the exact difference: I know only that chunks of time are unaccounted for] and very intense waking dreams [when I had to be in school or studying], from this time period.)

Because of that…because of my service to the spirit who was communicating through me, at the time…I have some pretty formidable typing skills, now. :) But the process of the emergence of the story, or the story behind an image; these things I still don’t entirely understand.

There is something still undefined/mysterious for me, about where the “inspiration” for a drawing or painting comes from; how an image communicates to the maker in the process of its creation, and later, to the viewer; to…how both literary and visual arts continually suggest their own content.

My issue…is likely feeling myself to have given myself to this field at an early age. It may be part of my soul; it may be a reason I was made. How do I feel about that?

No, I mean: how do I feel about that? It’s possible for a servant to question her master, even once self-given and devoted. It’s also possible for the master to dissolve into ether and become a part of the servant.

How do I feel about that? And what, then, are the views I put forth? Do I accept my role as an agent of creation, and if so, in what direction? It has been a long road to get back to the place where I’ve felt I was, or could be, internally good, and could be an agent of good.

I was raised, that is, alongside children who thought only they and those like them could be, “good,” and because I was different, I had to be punished. Enough persistent harassment in your formative years, encouraged by adults in high places, and you begin to doubt yourself. I do not think that the spirit I took in was related to the harassment: he wanted me to create, not to set seeds of self-doubt in me so that I would not.

I never reached that conclusion as a child.

And yes, it is difficult to love someone you can’t hold. You have to find some other way to communicate, and to express what you wish to. Maybe I’ve found that: my work, on his behalf.

This is part of what I have meant about being afraid to get into this. If I speak the truth, my truth, and am believed; I am made vulnerable to people who fear unauthorized spirits. If I speak the truth, my truth, and am not believed; I am made vulnerable by people who fear mental illness. Either I am viewed as a creator: as an agent of what I have not yet defined (which I wonder if I even can define, at this point: I may be fated to discover this through my work); or I am viewed as psychologically unstable.

But if this is my truth; if this is part of my core beliefs, my core identity; even if it is not true, it is not possible to evade it by ignoring it. Ignoring it means burying it, and it never goes away, because it’s part of me. It has been since I came of age and submitted…I don’t know how else to put it. I was in love with him, and once I started medication, I couldn’t sense him as well. On my end, I accepted him into myself, rather than lose him.

(I no longer have any pretensions about the psychiatrist who initially prescribed the medication being essentially beneficent. She was not.)

On some level I suspected that he was actually part of me; however…certain recent inspirations have led me to believe that on a high level (on the level of our both being parts of the same Deity) he could be part of me, while on a low level (that of individuality and personality), we could be different.

Concomitant with and following the merger, is my experience with depression, anxiety, psychosis (meaning, separation from reality), sexuality, gender… Particularly at this point in my life, I find myself coping with a lack of sexuality, and a gender identity which is apparently unusual.

The first could exist because of my treatment with antianxiety medication as a youth (which sometimes has the result — in adults — of lack of interest in sex: what does this do when administered to someone whose sexuality is just developing? Can it cause a lack of development?). The second — at least if I am to look back more towards the general culture and its reasoning for sexuality, that is, reproduction (or power-over) — I have little interest in bearing physical children (or in submitting to another human).

I seem to already have a significant other, though where this being is in spatial location (am I kidding? lack of spatial location may define spirits); or who he is, in the sense of character and action — that’s as of yet, not easy to define. (I know the way he feels from the inside…I know he is good and kind; or was to me, when I first knew him at 12-17. How that works itself out is more of an element of play, in the sense of daily activity. The terms jiva and lila are coming to mind, but I don’t know immediately and intricately, how they might relate.)

That is why I renewed my ring (it used to be stone, and now is ceramic). My bond with him means more to me than dealing with people who see me as my surface and my body and extrapolate from that, who I must be (that is, most of the world).

This has been developing from a lack of appreciation of male sexual attention, to anger around that attention; particularly where (other peoples’ desires for) reproduction (or, more specifically: sex [I don’t think they think far enough ahead to consider the consequences of sex]) and power-over come into the picture.

I can see that I may want to get back into my Anger Management reading and also the book, Me, Myself, and Us — both may help with this. They may help, that is, in giving me alternate explanations for why apparently cisgender, straight men, do what they do.

Maybe I should just wear the ring as a matter of habit and tell these people I’m married (and that I kept my own last name). I mean, that might end it. ;)

I’ve reached 12:30 AM in my corner of the world. I should likely get to bed, and I see I’ve somewhat written myself into a corner here, as well. No time like the present, to dream…

art, comics, creativity, psychology, self care, spirituality

Another heat wave. Stationery, art, and metaphysics?

I’ve been largely offline for a couple of days, and that’s due to another heat wave passing through the area. When I associate the computer with work (or back pain…or ill health from being sedentary), it tends to cause me to find reasons not to be on the computer.

Over the long term, this is probably an important self-preservation skill, as regards my physical and mental well-being, but in the short term it means that things either go unlogged, or they get logged in hard copy, which is (understandably) harder to scan for content. Hyperlinks help.

If you don’t want to read about stationery, hop on down to the separator bar, below.

Right now I’m on page 115 of 160 in my journal, and have found myself wanting to finish it. After having tried a number of different brands, I found one I really like using: it’s an 80-leaf A5 Kokuyo Soft Ring notebook. The squishable spine (allowing one to lay their hand flat on the pages) may be a gimmick, but it’s a nice one.

This notebook is very good at avoiding bleedthrough of fountain pen ink, the words on the other side of the page don’t show through to a distracting degree, the paper feels nice under fountain pens (I say this even though my first fountain pen [a Pilot Metropolitan] is still my favorite one), and 80 leaves at an A5 size means that the page divisions suit the length of time I can tolerate writing (clearly) by hand.

The one thing I don’t like about this notebook is that my Pilot Iroshizuku inks tend to smear even after they have dried. I am not certain why this is, but I think it has to do with a coating on the pages.

I’ve also found that the one Noodler’s ink I’m using (Black Swan in Australian Roses [BSAR]) has a hard time drying and needs to be blotted. It also doesn’t show the black tone of the ink very well in this notebook — BSAR’s black component (it’s pink with black overtones) shows up much better on cheaper paper — but this may be due to the formulation of the ink. I’ve had BSAR in a Broad Kaweco Sport for months, and it hasn’t dried out or needed to be refilled even with rare use, which I find curious. I’m not sure if it has to do with the quality of the seal on the Sport, or if it has to do with something in the ink preventing it from evaporating.

Also, though: Iroshizuku’s Yama-Budo competes directly with BSAR; they’re very minorly different in appearance, but apparently not so in formulation. Yama-Budo is, to my eye, a reddish purple; just a little more purple than BSAR. Yama-Budo also doesn’t have the weird drying-time issue, but BSAR might be more permanent if accidentally re-wet. (I’m not sure: haven’t done the test for myself, yet.)

Two other notebooks I enjoy using are the Maruman SeptCouleur and the Maruman Mnemosyne (although I’ve only tried writing in their dot grid layout, so far. I have purchased a lined version, but don’t yet know if I like it: there’s some possibly culturally-specific stuff going on with dividing a B5-size page up into thirds).

I’ve also tried Kyokuto (the Expedient and their F.O.B Coop), but I wouldn’t put anything too…important, in there. The Expedient has issues with bleedthrough of my fountain pens, although I do still really like the Expedient’s dot grid, which falls back enough visually not to worry me. Looking back on it, the Expedient performed well with gel pens (I was using it as a Bullet Journal in grad school) — it’s just not great with the fluid inks I’m using.

These are largely Pilot Iroshizuku inks, some Sailor Shikiori inks, and that one Noodler’s (BSAR), with the Shikiori and Noodler’s reserved for non-Pilot pens (sometimes Pilot pens are only recommended to be used with Pilot inks). I did try out Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts briefly, before I read/saw that it can gel up inside one’s pen. That didn’t happen to me, but 54th Massachusetts gave me problems with nib creep (on a Noodler’s Ahab, no less) and bleedthrough on my pages. (Nib creep is what happens when ink seeps out of the nib when you aren’t using it, and seems to want to cover the nib, of its own accord. I found weird buildup under the nib when I disassembled and cleaned the pen out. Later, I used the same pen with both Shikiori Souten and Nioi-Sumire inks. No issues.)

The F.O.B Coop notebook I have is a Cross-Grid layout, which is basically like a dot grid but with little + and × marks instead of dots. I wouldn’t recommend it except for broad, flex, and stub nibs; otherwise, the crosses distract (me) from the text. Combine that with the fact that I often can see the writing on the back of the page (though never a full bleedthrough, even when I accidentally dropped a bunch of Sailor Shikiori Yodaki ink onto the paper), and that for legibility I need to double-space on this paper (5mm spacing isn’t quite wide enough to give my eye space to rest between lines); and the situation gets a little busy and ugly for my tastes. (I don’t know, however, how this paper would fare if someone were writing in a language that uses a grid rather than lines. I can see the use for the extra crosses, for example, in learning how to write kanji.)

I much prefer the paper in the Kokuyo Soft Ring notebooks (which, in my version, include tiny marks on the lines which give one a sense of space, somewhat like tab stops every 6mm) although I wonder what uses the Cross-Grid can be put to. For example, I could see the Cross-Grid being useful in modeling page layout. The pages really aren’t designed to be torn out for reproduction, however. Neither are the Kyokuto Expedient pages. The Kokuyo Soft Ring and the Maruman Septcouleur notebook pages do have tear lines; so do the Maruman Mnemosyne notebook pages.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get into international stationery. Hmm.

Disclaimer: I bought all of these items with my own funds, I do not represent anyone but myself, and I am not materially gaining anything (no kickbacks, etc.) by writing this.

I’ve been working with a lot of paper. Particularly, journals (including an art journal and a sketchbook I recently decided to use again), books, and watercolor paper. I’ve been going through books focused around art on my bookshelf, which I initially intended to read, and didn’t get around to.

Today — well, yesterday, Sunday — I woke up at 5:30 AM after a few hours of sleep. I don’t entirely remember what I was doing, but I do know that for a portion of that time, I was drawing (because I have the drawings). If my memory is correct, I could have been going through the art books I mentioned, to try and glean what each was about…but I honestly don’t recall if I did that before or after I slept.

I’ve decided to just go ahead and mark these books up. Someone at Goodwill will appreciate them after I’m done (generally speaking, writing in a book greatly decreases its resale value).

The day before that — I think it was Saturday — I did complete painting out the vast majority of the Daniel Smith dot cards I got, however long ago. That was a chore. I probably should have stopped at some point, but I was like, “I only have one more card to go!” Same thing I do with books.

So, generally speaking, I’m succeeding in incorporating more things that I actually want to do, into my life. Making art, learning Japanese language, journaling, reading.

There have been issues coming up from my reading about learning to be stifled (to put it shortly), when creativity is an overall human trait. I’ve been thinking about the necessity of “play,” in, “art,” the freedom kids have in making art, how most of us lose that as we age; and how I’ve found artists and artwork to be generally undervalued. I’m wondering if this is because artists are expected to explain their worth and what they do in verbal language, to which the portion of the brain involved in creating art, has no access.

For that matter, a number of references have come up to learning, “the rules of art,” with one author (a social psychologist and artist) saying we’re better off if we don’t know them and hence aren’t restricted by them; while to others (this was likely an art critic and not an artist), art can’t even be art if no one interacts with it. So on one hand you’ve got Outsider Art, on the other…someone I don’t want to be like, but then there is the constant question of What Art Is, which is the title of a book on the philosophy of Art I picked up, quite a while ago.

I’m guessing I take what works, and leave the rest.

I’ve also begun to look into the books from the bibliography of Rethinking Information Work. They aren’t that great (without discarding 92% of what the book says because I either already know it or it doesn’t apply to me)…with the exception of Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been through decades of introspection and therapy and counseling. You kind of end up knowing yourself better than some random book that wasn’t intended for you, does.

And…yes. I know I want to learn Japanese language, and I know I want to create art. The two are likely linked in that I find fulfillment in creating and decoding texts, and Japanese language — in text — is partially ideographic, which may be triggering a part of my brain that hasn’t been used. (That is, when I write using kanji, I am also writing in pictures, not just sounds. The same could be said of my sketches, my past “comics,” and my art.)

Cataloging, Classification, and Metadata are more like logic puzzles. They stimulate a part of my brain which is already very strong — my analytical and verbal skills. I am not sure if I would have chosen Librarianship as a career without the influence of my Vocational program, but I’m here now, and there are ways forward from this. One of these is Translation; one is Editing, one is Writing. And, of course, there are Library Technical Services, and/or working for a Library Vendor or Aggregator, or otherwise within the Publishing industry.

What I’m learning to do is compartmentalize the times when I deal with rules (as in my career), and the times when I know I can choose my own rules (as in my creating).

I haven’t scanned or photographed anything for a few days, but I’m learning not to become ashamed when my art is comic-style art (and hence to try and do things more realistically); or when my drawings don’t resemble reality. That’s possibly a good thing. It means I’m being inventive. It doesn’t mean I need to be different, to change who I am and what comes out of me, because other people have personal issues with the genres my style is associated with.

I’m not normally a person who deals in faith, but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider an idea that could help me. One of those ideas is that I did not come into being in order to reify what I see around me. My creativity was not given to me so that I could copy my surroundings. I have something to contribute, even if finding it is akin to asking a fish to recognize water.

What I believe isn’t necessarily true. I see the validity in that statement by looking at everyone else and then finding my commonality with, “everyone else.” So there really isn’t harm, not now for me, at least, to try on the provisional belief that maybe I have a soul. Even if I can’t understand the workings of the universe with my primate brain, that doesn’t mean that things are as bad as they seem. I got here once. The Universe provided me with a life.

In a system I can’t control and don’t understand, maybe just trusting — myself, the Universe, and if there is anything Divine, the Divine — will help me through. At least, through this method of creation.

Could it hurt? I mean, with discernment: could it hurt?

career, money, spirituality, work

COVID worries

Yes, I do realize it’s been two weeks since I posted last. Thankfully, I am not dead (at this time), and neither are any of my relatives or friends, so far as I know. The last two weeks have just been really…unsettling. I did complete my course, and signed up for a couple more. Right now…the future is really uncertain, though we can likely say that no one really expected this. Well — no one except the well-informed and future-oriented. Like, you know, epidemiologists.

A pandemic (or maybe I should say, another pandemic — in the Bay Area, we’ve been graced with HIV for a while, now) on a macro scale, was predictable. We were vulnerable to it, and didn’t pay attention, and a lot of people here aren’t taking it seriously even now with hospitalizations spiking. I haven’t even paid enough attention to it, and I have OCD, meaning — in my variant — constant worry about contamination.

That means constant attention as to whether my concerns about cleanliness border on paranoia, are actual paranoia, or are not being paranoid enough. The thing is…my tracking everything that I touch, and my keeping things that are dirty separate from things that are clean, and washing my hands whenever I’ve touched anything questionable…it makes sense in an environment with an invisible killer.

My major concern isn’t about myself, however: it’s about my parents. And I’m thinking their major concern is for me. The thing is that to protect them, I have to protect myself (even if my own mortality is something I feel I have no control over, and I’ve spent the majority of my life being ambivalent towards existence and uncertain about the future).

And yeah, it does pain me to say that. But, you know. It’s harder to survive than it is to die. Always has been. At some point there has to be a choice as to whether I’m going to try as hard as I can to survive, or whether I’m going to give up and take my chances. From what I’ve seen, a lot of people are content with the latter. I’m not sure if they’re thinking God will save them or what. But we’re dealing with a virus. This is mechanical. This is stoppable: but not by God; by us.

So, officially, I’m pretty much laid off right now. It’s probably a good thing; D said that if I hadn’t been laid off, now would be the time to consider quitting. (I actually have been called at least three separate times within the last week by people looking to fill Substitute positions [meaning others have either quit or are out sick or taking vacation]; I actually had to tell the person on the phone that I had been laid off as of tomorrow. Talk about non-communication?)

I’ve applied for one job which is in my actual career track (not Public Service), met up with the people from HR to help them find another position for me, and have gotten a lot of work done on bringing my Portfolio back up to speed. I’ve also identified a niche to become employed within, in the future, which will keep me out of contact with the general public (and right now I’m not sure which divinity or quasi-divinity to thank for letting me know to look towards the future, not the past, in my employment skills — Maitreya? heh). I’m fairly certain that I may have to spend my cash on schooling, but…I may be raining down hard on myself, there.

And today, today — when I finally got out of bed — I realized that there was actually nothing which had to get done immediately or yesterday. I do still need to re-read my Portfolio and make sure that it makes sense and that everything is in place. I didn’t do it before because I was trying just to get the thing uploaded, period.

I’ve also been looking at requirements and job skills for people in my position. The good thing is that I have a lot of free and low-cost options for schooling in what I don’t have — although both M and D are telling me that I’m very capable, now, and that I don’t necessarily need to be taking more classes.

I should probably, however…take stock of what I have, and see how long I can hold out before I’ll actually need to go back to work (which I may be able to do, remotely). I’m not even certain I should be applying for in-person jobs, at this point in time.

It’s just, pretty scary. My concern isn’t about dying; it’s about living without people who have supported me in the past and present. And to protect them, I have to protect myself.

I mean, seriously, that sums it up.

Anyhow…I started out this post thinking about how I didn’t know what to do today. I ended up drafting a page of things to do, some of which (worrying, for one) are more personally deleterious than others.

There are actually a good number of things I could do which would be constructive — and not in the sense of constructing things. Doing the latter…it’s a distinctly different mode than building ideas (or taking them in). It has been difficult for me to give myself permission to just work with my hands, recently; although it is a viable route to increase my income by a little.

I think, that is, that there’s tension in my mind between doing intellectual work and crafting. Of course, right? But…beyond just the surface, here…I’ve been reading Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan, by Brett Walker (2010), and the author’s recognition that what we put out into the environment eventually ends up permeating our own bodies is a salient one. It’s a reason (well, one of them) why I’ve stopped painting, as I’ve been using pigments which I know are toxic and don’t want to flush into the environment. That environment circles back to someone (or as the case may be, eventually everyone), through what the author calls, “trophic cascades.” (I had to look up “trophic.” Do it.) :)

That’s not to discourage anyone from painting, but it is one reason I’ve — personally — stopped, and started to look back at intellectual work as a greener pastime, in my own case. The key to why I’m interested in this line of thought, by the way, is itai-itai byou (it hurts-it hurts disease), which…as I’ve said before, is a disease caused by cadmium poisoning, though this was thorough cadmium poisoning, from mine runoff. Knowledge of this is the major reason I’ve avoided exposure to cadmium pigments as much as possible. It’s also why I warned other students in my painting classes about using soluble cadmium salts; and notified them about the existence of Materials Safety Data Sheets.

As a person who has studied Eastern philosophy for a while, I can recognize a “spiritual” current (and I’m not sure “spiritual” is the right term, as, for example, I wouldn’t necessarily label Buddhist influence as “spiritual” if it fundamentally questions the reality of an enduring self [or “spirit”]) woven through the fabric of the text. But I mean, there’s Daoist and Confucian thought there, too, as well as a belief in spirits which [in the absence of other data] I would likely attribute to Shinto; and the author does explain how these philosophies contributed to the understanding of the ecological conditions of the day (mostly in the Tokugawa and Meiji periods, so far).

I do question his interchangeable use of “reincarnation” and “rebirth;” they don’t mean the same thing in a modern English-speaking Buddhist context (though maybe at the time, in Japanese language, there was no distinction). “Reincarnation” refers to a transmigration of the soul; “rebirth” refers to the dependent arising of another being from the karma (causes and conditions) of another life; the reborn child is not considered to be the same being (or the same “soul”) as the last, as the version of Buddhism I’m thinking of (which version, I wonder?) doesn’t use the concept of self-arising and self-sustaining, individual “soul-ness” or personhood.

And then in my head, I get the, “fragment of God,” angle on this (that myself and all others are unique fragments of God but that some of us vibrate together), which would support the concept of a personal and enduring, “soul.” Just, that angle is also hard to bear, if mortality is supposed to be a relief, and if people are supposed to have the capacity to change who they are, given other causes and conditions.

(By the way, I doubt that anyone else is using the, “Fragment of God,” angle. So far as I know, it’s idiosyncratic to me, and combines a number of strains of thought.)

But all that is metaphysics, and something we are really not supposed to waste time speculating on, if we are Buddhist…leaving open for now, the question of whether or not I am Buddhist. On one hand, I’d openly acknowledge interest in Buddhist systems of thought, and the fact that elements of these traditions (Mindfulness) are helpful where it comes to lived psychological resilience; on the other, just because the techniques work, doesn’t mean I buy wholeheartedly into the beliefs or philosophies or politics that evolved along with them.

I’d probably be in good company with that complexity, however (and possibly, a bunch I’d rather not) — I’m told that Buddhologists and practicing Buddhists take really different tacks to this material.

I think I’ve made it through all the Front Matter and the first two chapters, on Toxic Archipelago — I set it aside for a little over a week because it was notably not in pristine condition when I got it, even though I had asked for a New (not Used) copy. It basically smelled like a library book even though it had come from halfway across the country, and the corners of the pages were marred like someone had put it in and taken it out of a backpack a couple of times. It also looked like someone had used the front cover as a writing board, as it had ballpoint pen indentations on it — though no ink marks. (I’ve worked in libraries for over a decade; I know what new books look and feel like.) Given that it took over a month to come, I decided not to send it back; but I did wipe it down in alcohol, and leave it to rest for over a week.

I do have to say, however, that I seem to be the first person to mark it up (I’m using a Frixion fineliner, so it’s erasable), and the content is interesting, if a bit gruesome. I was referred back to it by the book, Bad Water: Nature, Pollution & Politics in Japan, 1870-1950, by Robert Stolz (2014). Toxic Archipelago is what I was looking for in Bad Water, but Bad Water is more about politics and national identity in Japan following episodes of pollution, while Toxic Archipelago is more about pollution as a key cause and how it was brought about by other causes and conditions in Japan.

(See what I did there.)

And…right now I’m being encouraged to drop the Japanese language study and go back to Spanish. I really don’t want to, but the job I’m after, at this moment, requires reading comprehension in Spanish language. It is a University job, but still: the only reason for me to learn Spanish is because other people near me use it, and because it opens more job opportunities. I have more bad impressions than good ones, of my past Spanish classes. I’m not entirely sure if it’s anyone’s fault.

Maybe the Superintendent’s.

The major thing is that I actually have a personal reason to learn Japanese: I’m fourth-generation, and the ability to speak the language died out in the second (as is usual, I’ve read). Standing between myself and fluency in Spanish is rage at colonialism…which is hard to deal with, even in English. It’s just magnified for me when I have to read and re-read a certain passage, asking myself if the author really meant that, or whether my language skills just are not up to par.

It doesn’t help that I am not sure if Hi-Lo books (high interest, low reading level) are available in Spanish, specifically for adult language learners. Usually, Hi-Lo books are used for programs like Project Second Chance, where you have adults who are learning to read in English for the first time. In contrast…I’ve been told to try reading things out of the Spanish Children’s section, and the content of some of these books, seriously makes me mad. I mean…seriously. Racism. Anyone.

I got through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because I had to. But when there are clear signs that say, “you don’t want to enter here,” do I heed them, or do I look for a different author? I mean, it’s like learning to read English and the first book you come across is …*cough* something by…someone you would struggle not to hate if you knew them. And you know them enough because they’re all over the TV reinforcing social inequalities.

But I guess that’s something you don’t know about if you can’t read Spanish…like the people who are encouraging me on, can’t read Spanish.

I’ll just…maybe think on it. Maybe I’ll try and read some Spanish material for adults. Maybe. If I’m working in an Academic Library, I’m guessing that the collections are vetted and hopefully, decent. They likely are also above my reading level.

But hey — at least I’ll get my intonations right…

art, color, creativity, painting, spirituality

Forgetting stuff and experiencing so much

I think that the entropic sleep schedule I’ve been keeping is starting to impact my memory. (“Entropy”: tendency towards decay or randomness in an ordered system. Apparently, it’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics; but I’ve understood entropy in this way for years, not recalling its origin.) While I do appreciate the fact that my creativity is surfacing, and I don’t mind the willingness to engage spiritual explanations that has come with it, a lot of the insights I’ve been having are things that I may only remember in the future if the memory is triggered by an event.

This is why I’ve been writing things down. While not everything is information which I would feel comfortable making public; if I let other people know about it, that means the information doesn’t die with me. Then there’s the question of whether I even want to get into it, as it took several steps to get this far…which is probably why so many people don’t explain where they’re coming from or how any extrasensory perception is working.

Plus, should it be true, the knowledge could be abused. I’m thinking there are better places to record this than on my blog. Particularly as posting it here would be an admission that it’s just a flight of fancy and not even possibly real. I’ve made that mistake before, at least twice. Let’s not do that again.

What I can say is that the insight I had a couple of nights ago made clear what was actually going on in my spirit contact (and what spirits are). I wouldn’t have been able to get to that point without having a firm base in the belief that we are all connected to divinity (to a greater or lesser extent; some have wandered off or lost that connection).

For some of us, that information may be all that’s necessary to explain what I’m thinking of; I know that in the past, I’ve read some things of a metaphysical nature and had two or three different interpretations ring off at the same time. This, however, has to do with the nature of life, interconnectedness, and co-creation. Kind of as though we are all parts (emanations) of the same being. I’m not sure how far one would get with this…if one tried to maintain the illusion of separateness (as versus oneness with all we are).

I think the illusion of (Existential?) separateness — each separate to the other, to the world, to God (when I don’t put it in quotes, it means the God [of Life] I’ve intuited over years; not the Judeo-Christian one, and I don’t use it lightly) — may be the reason we have so much on our plate now as regards the immediate task of survival.

And it must mean something if so many of us have the potential to link in, even despite feeling crazy for doing it. (I’ve noticed I get a lot of interest for these posts, which must mean I’m reaching someone.)

Right now…gah. I need to write this down somewhere. But right now…well, it’s close to the anniversary of the death of someone close to me. He keeps showing up in my dreams as a young man; much happier than when he was alive. It does make me happy to see him happy. And I’m pretty sure, at this point, that it was him. He just feels…relieved of burdens. Light.

I guess it’s possible to be sad but happy at the same time.

In any case, I am being encouraged on all fronts to continue with the creativity stuff. I have at least four buyers if I want to continue doing the face masks, having sent off six (!) in a care package, already. (If I had known there would be so much demand, I might not have sent as many…!)

I had no idea how rare it is to find a person willing and able to sew, with a good aesthetic eye.

I’ve also restarted watercolors. I’m thinking about cutting known toxic paints out of my palette (or at least cutting down on their use). This is basically to honor the fact that I’m doing this as a spiritual endeavor, and to attempt to avoid harming the planet (and others) by my practice.

I don’t know what category that reasoning falls under…but at least it’s a guide. The biggest issue I have here is that I’ve gotten a beautiful Cobalt Blue (which I still haven’t posted images of), which it would be a shame not to use…at least, last time I used it, I found it could make seriously gorgeous violet tones when mixed with Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet.

The issue is that Cobalt is a heavy metal, and toxic. I know paint companies say not to rinse paints down the drain or into waterways, but the only real way I see to clean this up and not rinse, is to wet the paint and scrub off the majority of it with a paper towel, then dispose of the paper towel in a way so that maybe it goes to a Hazardous Waste facility and not to a landfill. Otherwise, just minimize the use of these colors. I can’t do anything about the brush rinsewater except let it evaporate. (Actually, maybe let it settle, pour the water off, then clean out the bottom of the cup with paper towels?)

(Thanks, you guys.) I totally didn’t have that in consciousness before now. :)

Of course, it seems that a lot of these paints are toxic, even my beloved Prussian Blue. Maybe I should just throw all the dirtied paper towels in a bin…though I probably wouldn’t need the airtight kind that oil painters do.

Anyhow…I have some images of what I’ve been doing, but the color’s not coming out appropriately. I’m not sure why, though right now I think it may be an exposure issue. And, I mean, the color is kind of the point: I’ve been doing mixing exercises (though not formal ones). I also do recall, however: that my eyes can see more than the computer can display. The sun’s going down right now, too.

Yes, yes I am getting a little annoyed with not knowing how to photograph things, :) but like someone close to me has said, the only way you get better at taking photographs, is by taking photographs. Lots and lots of bad photographs. :)

I’ve got to go…

art, creativity, painting, psychology, spirituality

And that’s the way you develop.

Well, I did do something emotionally and psychologically significant, today. I used gouache. For a very long time, I had been hesitant to get back into making art, namely because the act of creation is a spiritual one, to me. I’m thinking I might have an inkling as to…how to manage that now, though.

In short: we co-create what we support. I had been concerned about the ramifications of image-making while I was still in the Art program…particularly because I made a dystopian painting (which I don’t like to look at; I think I know where it might be, but am not really wanting to see it right now) depicting some troubles which have come to pass. I would be surprised if all of them have…but either I’m really sharp and just not in denial about the state of the world, or there is something else going on.

I’m thinking that the second is more likely. I’m also…thinking that there’s a lot more going on than I know about (on both sides of this veil…I haven’t locked out the possibility of others), which it might behoove me to investigate.

One of the problems in co-creation is that people don’t realize they’re doing it. What we give attention to, what we celebrate: it creates what is made in the world.

This is me getting spiritual. It’s resounded with me since I started being okay with being creative again…which was needed, because of the mask thing. When I was making them, I knew that there were energies contained in them…I’m hoping that they can help support the people they’re for, or at least…if they need healing, help to heal.

So far, at least, everyone I know has seen my creative rebound as a good thing. Thing is, it comes with…it comes with stuff. Basically, stuff that I had trouble coping with, as a pre-teen and teen. I was sensitive; to the point that the sounds of our upstairs neighbors fighting, and the sounds of ambulances on the freeway at night, would trouble me.

Right now I’m wearing my ring…which I just resumed wearing, a number of days ago. I should have a timestamp on a message referencing the situation from when I was thinking about getting back into this, and got a go-ahead from my counselor. (The ring is a marker or reminder of my commitment.) I essentially have a number of beliefs which are real enough…but easily dismissed as, I don’t know, weird innately feminine stuff, or psychosis (meaning, “detachment from ‘reality’,” not, “wanting to kill people”). I don’t remember a lot of the terms used for mystics from the mid-to-late-1800s-on, though I’ve studied that era and that topic within that era.

There were a number of movements: Spiritualism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy…in addition to the blooming of the Western Mystery Tradition and Occultism, which led to the modern New Age and NeoPagan movements (though I see much less of the latter, these days, than I saw in the earlier 2000’s).

In any case…although I’ve come to recognize the output of some “New Age” publishers as commercially-based more than being grounded in intellectual rigor (though this is not necessarily the fault of the authors, more than a publishers’ underestimation of their potential market)…there might be something to the deeper currents, there. But one needs to be careful about what one takes as truth. Mistruths can lead to mistaken beliefs, which can then basically poison further inquiry into reality and its nature. You want to start with your feet on solid ground (for some reason, I’m wanting to continue that sentence with: “…not a sinkhole”).

Basically…and no, I haven’t read The Secret, and no, I don’t know if this is the premise, but: I’m thinking that what we imagine as our future lays tracks toward that future (regardless of the valuation we place on our imaginings). That means that if we’re invested in ignorance and greed and violence and horror and pain, if we repeat and reinforce those connections in our own bodies, we send a line out toward the set of futures that are built on that. If we imagine something else…we’re at least not drawing ourselves closer to what (it could be said) we don’t want to happen.

That doesn’t mean to be so focused on happy dreams that one is blindsided by horror and tragedy. That doesn’t mean to take risks for no reason. But that means that if we can’t imagine a better future, we can’t make a better future. Of course, “better” is subjective, especially if you’re deranged. But there are always fewer of those than there are, otherwise. And on the whole, we get through things like this.

My thinking is that this, “we”…it’s bigger than I’ve thought. And it includes those whose forms have been returned to the Earth, as well as those who never had forms here.

It makes me feel better. That doesn’t mean it’s true. But it’s plausible enough to explore.

Imagination wasn’t made to reproduce and reinforce what already exists. That’s my key out of my hesitance towards using my own creative abilities, I think. I have the ability to interpret and envision what I want to come into being; to break the banal cycle. And…I don’t have to do it literally or photographically. The energy is what matters.

I actually don’t even have to plan what I’m doing. The work grows on its own as it reveals itself.

A lot of this is getting in line with my subconscious (or unconscious) mind…which seems to know something about what it’s doing.

People say that creativity isn’t innately linked with mental illness, as there are creative people without mental illness, and mentally ill people who aren’t creative. I happen to be a person, though, who can’t be creative (now) unless I allow myself to be. Allowing myself to be entails taking my thoughts seriously; which results in being aware of, and living through having, odd beliefs. And it’s hard to acknowledge those odd beliefs and at the same time, never speak about them to anyone else.

Of course, when you base your life on your weird idiosyncratic beliefs that you can’t get rid of…well, you become an artist, I guess??? :D Or a psychic or medium. Or a writer. Or all of them.

But, like so many things in life, I’m thinking it makes it easier if you commit and follow through.

An aside: I was making more masks yesterday with the steam setting on the iron, for once in my life, and then I wondered just why I hadn’t used it thoroughly, before. To save water??? To keep the cheap iron that will likely be dead two years from now, from getting kettle fur? The steam setting works so much better!

Also as an aside: I’ve found out that the Kona cotton does feel more substantial as a lining, than does regular quilting cotton; not talking about batiks…but I didn’t know that until I made masks with all three different materials. Hence, I didn’t know what I was talking about earlier. I’m gaining more experience, and as a result, my outcomes are improving.

Anyhow. To get back to what I opened with: gouache is opaque watercolor…a lot of it, beautiful. I also have a good deal of it which is not toxic, which is a bit better than I can say for my transparent watercolors.

I had been bumbling around my paintbrushes and acrylic inks (granted that I’ve decided to hold off on using the Ecoline colors, for now), when I found a jar of Daler-Rowney Pro White ink. So I have two of these, now; considering that I could get the lid off, this time, and I could mix the paint, and it wasn’t off-color. I have no idea what pigment is in there, at the moment, but the jar had an AP seal, not a Caution Label; so I’m thinking it isn’t Lead White.

Of course, I tried painting with this, and it was seriously underwhelming (translucent) when used with a brush, especially when contrasted with Titanium White gouache, on top of tinted paper. The Pro White ink starts out okay, then fades as it dries. I’m not even sure it’s worth posting an image of it. I might try again later with a dip pen nib, instead; or, a glass pen might hold the ink better. If it is really that bad, though, even after all that? I’m not sure I’ll be getting it again.

So, I was basically just playing around with some Holbein Permanent (Titanium) White gouache, after I found that the Daler-Rowney was translucent…and that I didn’t know what was in it. Some white pigments, I’ve heard (like Zinc Sulfide, which is different from Zinc Oxide), will eventually change color. Titanium White, won’t; and it’s the most opaque white that I have used.

A bonus is that it’s relatively safe when used in painting, as the particles are bonded to some degree to the paper or other surface. There isn’t free dust flying around which can get into one’s lungs and cause disease — unless one abrades the paint. This, along with extreme color mutability and variability of point of contact with the surface, is one of the reasons that I’m attracted to the medium.

A bunch of squiggles in gouache.

In addition…I pulled out two non-toxic paints which I really enjoy working with: Yellow Ochre, and Peacock Blue (a Phthalo convenience mixture), both Holbein. The rest of my time was spent with these three (I also accidentally introduced Zinc White, which is more translucent than Titanium), making yellows, blues, and greens; in a tinted-paper art journal with a Size 1 round brush.

What’s funny is that the marks I make, and the colors I use, themselves suggest subconscious meaning or the basis of a new work…meaning, that to get ideas, I’ll…well…likely want to work in an Art Journal. Never never thought I’d say that (but maybe I’d been secretly hoping it)!

In the past, I had been intimidated about filling out an art journal…but now I see it’s just a place to experiment, play, and generate ideas. It doesn’t have to be full of “great” artwork, whatever that means.

I basically have got to stop telling myself, as well, that I shouldn’t do artwork that is simple. I can see what I did last night as foundational…watching the work unfold; making compositional decisions that might be more or less, “on it”; practicing working through the scale of underwork to overwork; mixing colors and seeing what they turn out to be; practicing brushwork.

I particularly was attracted to the toned paper journal because it wasn’t either black or white, and I knew that this paper (Strathmore Toned Gray) is quality enough to accept moderate doses of wet media.

And, interestingly enough: with the frame of mind I’m in, the purpose of my actions is expressed through my actions, regardless of whether anyone sees it or not; regardless of its critical acclaim. The work is accomplished in doing…

career, psychology, spirituality, writing


Well…I’m not sure if this is a really truly great thing or not, but I think it is: I’ve been reading over a couple of books related to Linked Data and Subject Classification, and I’m getting an inkling that this may be my ticket into a real, non-customer-service-oriented job…

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve been thinking about the level of demand there is in Public Libraries for staff to be brave in engaging with people they rather would not. That’s usually because said people create problems for themselves and others, and it gets to the point where staff can’t let the behavior slide. This is, realistically, the hardest part of the job — at least if you’re a person who tries to avoid conflict.

The issue I have is that not only have I been conditioned to avoid conflict (it’s the first rule of self-defense), I’m also not driven toward social interaction, to begin with. That makes the job doubly hard for me, because not only do I not want to engage people who are involved in situational problems, but I am not driven to engage even friendly people — at least, until I know them. I tend to be a solitary person: you leave me alone, I leave you alone. But that’s not an option when you’re responsible for the safety of patrons and preventing abuse of library space.

People have been telling me from the outset that I seem like I would make a good “Cataloger”. Unfortunately…I’ve never seen a Cataloger in action. I do have some good leads as to tools that are useful. And I may end up dealing with that $850 charge so I can play with Cataloging tools prior to actually needing to use them…which is, after all, less than 2/3 of what one 3-unit class might cost me with the University.

I also have been looking into Writing as a field, a typically solitary occupation as well. If I got into Academic Librarianship, Gender Studies is an area I’d be interested in (combined with Ethnic Studies, and Japanese Language and Literature).

Who knew there would be a demand for any of that…but if I were a Subject Specialist working within Academia, all three of those fields would be of interest to more people than myself. Particularly, Gender and Ethnic Studies are also interdisciplinary enough that I could bring in a lot of cultural material. Comparative Literature could use my (potential) knowledge of Japanese language materials and English-language fiction…though I wonder how far I would actually want to get into the latter. Fiction, you know. (I kind of get claustrophobic in other peoples’ minds.)

It has been a great release to stop thinking about, “having to,” compose fiction, as well; though my refocus — knowing I’m more drawn to nonfiction — isn’t complete, yet. I’m still not entirely sure what to do about my illustrations (except keep them as a hobby, or let them grow into Concept Art or Sequential Art, with the emphasis being on Concept Art, for now); and right now, the entire spiritual bent is a relatively newly recurring (even if inspiring) thing. Spirituality is something that I think I had been avoiding, through not writing.

I would say it gets twisted up, but it really only does that when I invest too much time, energy, and effort trying to figure out what’s going on, given partial information — instead of accepting reality on the face of it, or seeking help from others. I overthink things, that is. I’ve had that problem since I was a kid. The problem is letting fragments of stories (or potentialities) get me away from the main idea.

What I mean is that I get flashes of insight and then my discursive mind tends to complicate those insights. I end up going from something plausible into something that’s overtly untrue. That may be a weakness I can’t afford, if I want to be, or am, regardless, a spiritual medium. (Or, I’ll need to keep clear track of what I invent. I’m not certain the spirits had in mind that I would only speak what I know is true, when they began to deal with me…though I have been through most of my life, honest to the point of tactlessness.)

A bent toward truth and facts would also help me if I were an Academic Librarian…at least, unless I were an English Subject Specialist.

On the other hand…if I barred fiction from my practice…what would a piece of spiritual writing look like, from me? The possibility of that is intriguing, though I realize that it would probably also stigmatize me. (But if I had tenure, I wouldn’t have to worry about it, right? Ha!) That…that could be interesting!

What’s also interesting is that I’m talking about writing drawing me away from initial insight, when I’m looking to deal with written language as my primary mode of communication. I also regularly use writing to clarify my own thoughts and make sure things make sense.

I sense I may be confused, here. There’s good reason, that I’m not stating. Here. Yet.

It would be good to revisit this post, in the future.

I shouldn’t lock out fiction, even though it requires an additional avenue of study. There’s a reason it exists. Also, a lot of people read it, and it can be educational. It can be speculative and inspirational, and it doesn’t have to be rigorously verifiable…no one expects it to be.


philosophy, psychology, spirituality

Motivation to approach clarity

Today, since about 2:30, I’ve been working on masks, again. I also happened to catch an episode of “Celebrity Ghost Stories” which was featuring ICE-T, this time. It reminded me of part of the reason why I stopped writing fiction…because reality and fiction were being confused for one another, in me.

Right now I’m on Chapter 48 of the narrative nonfiction eBook Radium Girls; the mediumship show actually recalled that a great deal for me. They both had to do with American industry and the use of women and children in what was basically sweatshop labor. They also both contained bits of information about industrial accidents — if radium poisoning could have been said to have been, “an accident,” given the circumstances, which is unlikely. More likely is that the workers were considered disposable.

How are these things connected? I’ve had the opportunity to think on death, for a while. Amazingly enough, thinking about it makes me grateful for what I have, and have had. While yes, COVID-19 is bad, it’s not quite as devastating as radiation poisoning — especially radiation poisoning that you don’t know is radiation poisoning.

At the time of the earliest deaths…and even some of the later ones, workers didn’t know what was happening. It was only through friendships and networks that they were able to piece together the common element besides slow horrific death, which was employment as radium-dial painters.

They had painted glowing details on watch faces with a paint which included radium, and were encouraged to point their paintbrushes between their lips. Of course, this led to ingested radium, which mimicked calcium to the body and was deposited in the bones, where it then proceeded to continually destructively irradiate them for the rest of their lives (and after), at the same time as it caused anemia and weakened the bones to the point of breakage (or, at times, caused bone cancer — if they lived long enough).

That’s if they weren’t killed by non-healing wounds combined with infection leading to sepsis (or bodily disintegration), beforehand.

So that’s what I’ve been reading.

Anyhow…right, this ICE-T thing.

I…have had some experience with energetic sensitivity. It’s not really like I’ve proven anything, or been tested; it’s just that the experience is there. When I was younger, I didn’t have much of a framework to understand it. I also had a tendency to weave stories out of partial information. That, combined with my propensity to construct psychological thrillers…wasn’t great for being able to actually grasp that some of what I was experiencing could have been objectively real (though in a way not yet understood).

That is, not everything that showed up in my mind, came from, “me.” I’m a bit better with this now, though still not too great at recognizing it in the moment. One thing I am good at recognizing is when my electronics start to fail…it usually doesn’t happen, but sometimes at times of high energetic activity, it does. (Then there are the hallucinations [thankfully, rare these days], and wildlife acting up, etc…)

What particularly struck me is the idea of spirit organization beyond the grave…which makes sense, if we look at what’s on this side.

I’m not sure about any of this, but it would make sense for me to investigate. There has been the thought that even though I know I’m not Buddhist (at this point, at least), even though a “Historical Buddha” may never have existed, that still doesn’t negate the fact that people seeking peace have gravitated to it and worked within and enriched its systems (for example).

I think I’ve gotten to the point of considering that personal identity exists, not just on a local level. (Buddhism argues against immutable personal identity, on a practical level — but then, the eventual aim of Buddhism as a system [or systems], isn’t necessarily something everyone understands or wants. Also: no spiritual system is without flaw.)

I’m not definite with it, but the thought had come to me that maybe in different times and places, people with my same energy have arisen, and they all in some way are, “me.” Then I might live through them, in that way keeping my identity, like the same wavelength of light is always that particular wavelength (even though it combines with other colors to form new visions).

Also…current times and my reading has me really questioning whether it can be true that evil does not exist. The evidence is mounting that it does. I majorly shifted to Buddhism because of its lack of emphasis on, “Evil,” given that the most evil people on the planet are people who like to call other people, “Evil” — and also corrupt institutions which may at one time have actually helped something. Or, may at one time have been gathering places for people who wanted to (genuinely) help something. Not by killing and hurting people.

But that’s just a problem in discernment.

And yeah, I am thinking about reading High Fantasy (Tolkien? C.S. Lewis?) now…