career, personal, technology, writing

Yeah, I’m up.

It’s been a while since I made any entries to this site, and right now I’m not sure I should be writing. It’s well after midnight, and the events of the past day — well, they’ve been disturbing enough that, for one thing, I’m up at midnight (though several months ago, this would not have been “a thing”); for another thing, I just took medication about four hours late, which means I may just have blown tomorrow up where it comes to getting anything done.

To catch you all up: in the interim, I’ve gone off of one of the medications which caused me one of the most irritating side-effects I’ve had to deal with, which was slow incremental weight gain over a number of years. I had to be on it when I was working at the Library, because I wouldn’t have been able to handle working with the Public, without it. (I’m thinking that anyone who works [or has worked] directly with the Public, knows what I’m talking about.) But I haven’t had to do that for over a year, and I realized that now might be an opportune time to go through withdrawal…which I’ve done. I don’t think my mood tonight has to do with that, but my sensitivity to criticism and harassment may well have increased.

Concomitant with anything having to do with that medication is sleep disturbance. I naturally tend to get about four to six hours of sleep a night. On the medication I’m still on, I tend to get 12-14. The fattening medication was meant to help me be functional in the daytime, but due to the fact that I lost structure during Pandemic Lockdown, I was taking it irregularly, and hence I was regularly waking up at 4 to 5 in the morning. No, I don’t know why. That’s the reason I stopped, though: in addition to the fact that I’ve gained enough weight that it’s now disturbing for me to look at myself.

But anyway, I’m in a bit of a self-destructive, angry mood…which is why I’m still up writing when I know I should be in bed.

To get across what happened without pointing fingers…pressure has increased where it comes to getting a paying job, as versus working on the beadwork enterprise (which is much less efficient when it comes to earning money, and may be best as an avocation for an unmarried person). I’m not sure if it was intended to come off as it did, but it pretty well ensured that I felt like **** for most of the day. Especially as I feel like the vast majority of my life has been spent doing what other people have wanted me to do. Then they tell me to do what I want to do, which I have absolutely no practice at being able to tell, having been told what to do all my life, and they get upset when I don’t know already what I want to do.

Constantly pushing me about what I want to do isn’t going to make me know what I want to do. The only thing that’s going to help with that, is experience. I can’t make myself know what I don’t know, which is something I learned while trying to investigate the whole gender identity thing. Maybe four years from now, I’ll have a better idea; but in the meantime, we’re stuck with experiments. I’m sorry.

Anyhow. I’ve spent the vast majority of today attempting to line up at least one route of learning, which is in line with what other people want for me. We’ll see if I’m ever able to get into my email inbox. I couldn’t do it, tonight: I’m thinking someone at Admissions & Records has to manually approve something, or the server has to catch up. If it isn’t up by early next week, I’ll call in.

The reason I’m writing in to this blog is that I’ve realized that writing is one of my core interests and strengths…which I had started to develop, here. It seemed out of place to put it up on my beadwork blog, and I haven’t yet really committed to an archive of creative writing (though a long time ago, I did set up a spot, with — you know, a theme…maybe I’ll develop it and share the URL here once it’s built up. Personal writing and Creative writing are good bedfellows). You may notice that a lot of my older Pandemic writings are no longer visible; I still have them, but they aren’t Public, right now.

I’ve been in a kind of limbo between beader and writer and blogger. Being in business kind of makes self-expression a negative thing; but if I go into Writing, people will actually appreciate the fact that I can think and express my thoughts. That’s why communication exists, after all.

Of course, if I’m not financially dependent on the beadwork, that limitation totally goes away. Unless, that is — I end up in an environment where I have to conform, again. But it’s a very good question, to what extent conformity is valued in a world of thoughts. It’s certainly not the reason I got into Writing; the distance I am from that is so incredibly far that I don’t even know of an appropriate metaphor.

I mean…language doesn’t exist so that we can speak again the thoughts of the past, any more than Art exists to copy the “Old Masters” or Music exists to replay Bach over and over again.

Well…I guess if I’ve gotten anything out of tonight, it’s that I might actually have a chance at some of these jobs, at least in the future. I had been concerned with obtaining training in Computer Science: Information Technology was what I was overwhelmingly matched to, when I took a short assessment, tonight. Out of everything, it looks like what I can leverage most would be Web Development, Game Design, and Computer Programmer…

Or, that would be the interesting stuff. :) Well, Programming hasn’t really been that interesting to me, but I’ve never had a good class in it. HTML? CSS? I’m down with that. But that’s not programming; that’s markup and stylesheets.

I should add that I don’t know the mechanics (i.e. algorithm) of the assessment tool, so I probably should take its predictions with a grain of salt.

The thing is…I know a good deal about languages; human ones, I mean. The sheer opacity of technical language is…well, it’s a barrier. Possibly an intentional one. But human languages…I’m skilled with English, I can understand Spanish at times, and I’m interested in Japanese (and am learning to decode it by ear). That…sounds more like a linguistically-oriented person, to me. The thing is, much of my communication is through writing or media.

Which fits in well with the, “Artistic,” attribute I found pinned on me from the assessment. I also scored highly in, “Realistic,” and, “Conventional.” I don’t know where that came from; but maybe I would be a different person if I wasn’t harassed as a youth. I guess some of my habits are conservative (sewing, beadwork), but that doesn’t really reflect on my politics at all. What it does reflect on is concern over being forced out of a group for being different, which can cause a person not to acknowledge or express their difference. (Does fear of expulsion define conservatism?)

I did see job ads tonight which dealt with multimedia…which I’ve been wanting to get into, and may now be at a place at which I can. But do I need to understand how to edit video (.mp4), or should I be focusing on game scripting…? (The latter sounds more enjoyable, but the former opens more jobs.) I need to research more job ads, on this: I’ve been looking at Copyeditor positions, and that…looks very doable, to me.

It could be worth it to focus on translation, eventually…but that requires eventual facility in a language…and I’m still not sure where to learn Japanese beyond an introductory level, let alone where I can practice it.

Why was it that I originally wanted to learn Japanese? I know I was exposed to anime, manga, and video games…I also wanted to learn the roots of what had influenced me as a child. Hmm.

Anyhow…I seem to have calmed myself down. Maybe I can go take a rest, now…

technology

All I did was turn it off for the night

Tech…it’s so great when it works, so irritating when it doesn’t. I’m just getting used to turning my computer back on and needing to update four things before I can use it. And — having to look up how to update something before I can update it, because no one bothered to introduce the topic of how to run routine updates.

Sorry, that probably sounds…”irritating.” :P (I know the word I want to use; just can’t use it, here.) But as I was waiting for my computer to become usable again, I actually completed a back-stitched seam for a quilt top. And started another one. After I searched all over my house for my glass head pins. It took that long.

T H A T _ L O N G.

Well, I guess I don’t need my needle to finish loading before I can get it caught in my finger, now do I.

And, now my fan has decided to be loud. Great.

See you later. Or tomorrow. Or never. You know, I can’t tell. I need to install some other updates.

art, technology

Solving technical difficulties

I had almost forgotten about those text-only posts about the drawing inks and watercolors! Well…let’s see. I do work over the weekend, but midweek I might have time for playing with this, some more. The drawback to posting (color) scans is that I have to use a machine with which I’m not highly familiar.

Then there’s the fact that I trained on Photoshop, but don’t want to pay $20/month to have permission to use it. I think I mentioned somewhere a while ago (maybe on a defunct blog) that I had been using PS Elements — until some update made it suddenly stop working. Was that intentional? I don’t know. But it didn’t make Adobe look good.

Of course, this is part of a long argument propounded by former Photoshop users. There are other solutions, but they take retraining, and their UX is often not as intuitive. Then there’s the fact that Adobe has probably made strides to make sure they get into the classrooms.

I do have half a mind to hook up my drawing tablet again. I took it off for my own reasons, but it reminds me that there are alternatives to Adobe. Not necessarily all open-source…not that open-source is bad, but I wonder what else is out there.

Having worked with watercolor paints recently made me realize something: one of my earlier instructors who was a Digital Illustrator, was right in that he said that digital art was made to emulate physical media, but it wasn’t a replacement for it. I haven’t been through all the art programs out there, but I wonder if anyone has replicated the blossoming of color that happens with good watercolor paint, in wet-in-wet painting. I bet someone has (it’s probably on a Mac, though).

Of course, if I’m photo-editing, I can probably do that better on the computer than in the darkroom (particularly because I don’t know how to process film, and the thought of developing photos has always put me a little on edge).

There is the possibility of getting a Mac tablet and Apple Pencil…but it’s seriously a lot of money. I mean, I’d have to work out a plan and timetable to save up for the thing, and I don’t even know if I’d like it. I guess that’s why there are Apple Stores.

Of course…if I’m going to do that, I could save up for a Mac first, and if I don’t like how the Apple Pencil works upon trying it out, I can apply the savings to a Cintiq. The price has gone down since I last checked.

(Really, Haru? You’re really entertaining this?)

Then there’s this stuff about scanning or photography.

This is kind of too much to think about, right now. I have, however, located a couple of models which would work…the question is…is it that important to me.

That depends on how much time I actually spend making artwork. It hasn’t been much, recently. If, however, I spent as much time painting as I did writing — trying to work on it every day, you know — that…that would be great.

And yes, I do need to give myself permission to make my life not all about my career. Though there is the possibility, I found yesterday…of helping to run the art displays at one or more libraries, which would give me valuable experience if I wanted to work in or run a gallery (and thus get back into the visual art world). It wouldn’t pay — it’s a volunteer position. But still…that’s really interesting, you know?

There is more I have to say about…languages. I realized the other night that while I may have been taught the basic mechanics of Spanish language, no one ever really encouraged me to do any recreational reading in Spanish, or to use the language outside the classroom. That (and the missionary angle of most of my teachers) has very obviously impacted my regard for it.

Also — I’ve realized that if I learn Spanish instead of Japanese — this would give me much more time to work on my Art. (I’ve also realized that the evangelical pamphlet that someone donated the other day, was likely written to be easy to read. I found a book by Neil Gaiman in the Spanish Children’s section the other day, which I couldn’t well read. I could read it well enough to know that it was likely disturbing.) ;)

Relearning Spanish also doesn’t mean that I won’t ever learn Japanese.

Anyway…it’s almost midnight, and I’ve got an early morning, tomorrow. More has happened…but I should get some rest.

art, drawing, graphic design, technology

Handwriting to drawing to painting

I’m not sure how much or whether I have mentioned on this blog, a thought about the interrelatedness of writing by hand, and of drawing. It’s something that was reinforced for me when visiting an art store today and emerging with a couple of little markers.

Whenever I start drawing, it seems kind of inevitable that I would be drawn into practicing my handwriting in Japanese language. I have a relatively solid grasp of kana (phonetic characters) and a very introductory knowledge of kanji (ideographic characters). The thing is…it’s very, very tempting to try and practice getting stroke quality, size, type, proportion of each character in such a way as it becomes beautiful at the same time as it contains meaning.

Of course, this is likely related to my interest both in Graphic Design and calligraphy, painting, and some spiritual bents such as Zen Buddhism. The last three, in particular, are very related historically in an East Asian context, along with poetry. I wouldn’t have known that without having researched the topic of art and writing within Zen, for a graduate project…but I’m fairly sure that this also pre-dates Zen and goes back to the literati in ancient China.

Okay, and that gets really complicated, with the introduction of Buddhist dharma (way of existence) into China, and the mixture of Buddhism and what are now called Daoism, Confucianism, etc. That was introduced into what is now Korea and from there, Japan, though there were multiple transmissions. (Buddhism is not native to East Asia; so far as I know, it originated in South Asia [now India], and traveled through Central Asia into China — but my sources are skewed due to the fact that I currently can only read English-language versions of the history of this. English-language versions of, “what Buddhism is,” by people who only know other English-language versions, are generally imperfect at best, warped and misunderstood, at worst.)

My point is basically that there’s a large historical precedent for my interest in this, and that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these values were passed on to me by the cultures of family and friends (at the least). To get deeply into that goes into some personal spiritual beliefs (or lack of them), which I’m not even all the time sure on (see the Dao De Jing/Tao Te Ching for a reference to why I may not talk about this — it’s a short work), but it gives me some stability. An inkling of it.

Anyhow…I read somewhere that the expression of the writer/artist with ink and brush was supposed to be a reflection of the one who wrote it, although at times an artist would get someone else to do the calligraphy for him. (Most of what I’ve read goes over male artists/poets/calligraphers; that doesn’t mean they all were, but it’s what I’ve seen.)

I believe that it is because of the high value placed on literacy and writing in at least Japan, that the language has turned out as beautiful (and complex) as it is. There are thousands of kanji (ideographic symbols borrowed from Chinese language) to learn to read and write, though there are also patterns within the kanji (like their formative elements, or “radicals”) that give clues to their meanings and readings.

I did start this post talking about the interrelatedness of writing by hand and of making art. My concern is that when people shift from writing with their hands, to writing by typing — only — that the practice which allows drawing to grow from writing, and painting to grow from drawing, is avoided. I do have some concern over the fact that most of us — unless we make a conscious effort otherwise — will likely be writing mostly by using a keyboard, and facing a computer screen. Not by hand, with paper (or any surface) and whatever instrument you use to write with, which could be pencil or marker or pen or brush or charcoal or something else. Something that will make a mark. Anything that will make a mark.

There’s a freedom to any of the latter in that you can express yourself not only in how the text is encoded, but in how it is drawn, and also that you can draw other things that are not letters or punctuation! My drawing, really, started in the margins of my notes and writings for school, as a young teen. I got bored. I found a way to express myself which no one could take away from me, without also taking away my learning tools.

Coincidentally, it was also close to that time at which I started to learn kana. I was into anime, particularly Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon, and I wanted to know how to read the text in the Japanese-language books I had to accompany the series. This was also, particularly, because I knew there were a number of seasons and movies (most of them, actually) which had not been translated into English. The only contact I had with these movies and series were the anime books (these must have a name; they’re an entire genre) and untranslated VHS tapes which I found through local venues.

I’m guessing that for me — at least, right now — writing in Japanese is closer to art, than writing in English. That is changing a bit, as I experiment with incorporating more cursive into my handwriting (which inevitably makes it messier than my regular [legible] print; or my regular cursive, where my “r”s are a bit…hard to identify). It’s probably also because writing in Japanese is less familiar to me. But I think I need a bit of a challenge in my reading — and not from English sentences being indecipherable. (It happens in college readings, sometimes. I’ve had textbooks like this. I’m not kidding. SENTENCES WHICH MAKE NO SENSE.)

I have, off-and-on, heard arguments or concerns about Japanese youth losing the skill of reading because of the popularity of manga (comics). I’m not so much concerned about that at this moment, but rather the loss of artistic skill and development which may loom because of a digital revolution in which no one can even write (well) by hand, anymore. It’s already a given that a lot of schools in the U.S. no longer teach how to write in cursive, making the reading of things like old ledgers written in Copperplate script, difficult to read. (I can barely read Copperplate. How much worse must it be for kids who didn’t learn cursive in Kindergarten?)

I also wonder how much I have bought into that in the past, because I did have to spend so much of my time in front of a screen. Something that no one told me, though, is that going to school online does mean that you have to take copious notes (even when the Professor gives handouts). Which are best done by hand. It’s hard when you haven’t written quickly and legibly in a very long time. And, I’m finding, it’s likely harder to draw when you haven’t written by hand at all in a very long time.

I’ve been writing by hand recently, though (which I’ve referenced in earlier posts here), and…it is easier to edge back into mark-making by just trying to write correctly in Japanese. I am not entirely certain why, except for the fact that I now can tell when they’re right (or at least when they’re beautiful), and when they aren’t. I do believe that a lot of that is due to my art training. Before someone close to me dropped out of Japanese-language class, the teacher saw my writing trying to help them on their homework, and said I had “nice handwriting.” So…I don’t know what that’s worth, except that I know I’m not going way into calligraphic territory. It’s legible. That’s good.

So far, I’ve not personally focused on this Inktober thing, but it is kind of inspiring to see all the works people are doing. I’ve also been able to get into acrylic paint markers…which, alongside my Pitt pens and alcohol markers…they’re alluring because of the use of color, for one thing. Opacity also helps, and it’s absent in other water-based and alcohol-based markers. I wouldn’t consider myself into graffiti in any way, but there’s something in the graphic qualities of marker that’s there for me.

I’m thinking that if I get deep enough into this…work in paint may come easier to me. I realized that Acryla gouache is what I was seeking, in a hybrid between acrylics and watercolors which I could utilize on paper without abusing my watercolor brushes (gesso is rough) — say for miniatures. (I still love Shahzia Sikander.) There’s also the possibility of using gouache mixed with acrylic glazing medium, or the (gasp!) use of transparent watercolors mixed with gouache.

I haven’t tried any of that yet, though they’re all creative possibilities. Right now what I have to deal with is how to get my markers out so I can see them, and how to combine transparent, opaque, and permanent inks…

…and paints. If I try, I’ll find out what works, and what doesn’t. As I’m learning, a lot of art (or at least design), seems to be about that. That, and not getting hung up on what other people say art should be…

art, craft, seed beads, self care, technology

Taking account: Humanities/Social Sciences/Arts/Crafts…yeah,

I’m not a Hard Sciences person, and I shouldn’t try to be one for the sake of being like my dad. I’m not him.

Today, instead of JavaScript training, it’s back to tiny tiny beads for me, and macramé. Micromacramé. Nanomacramé? ;) I have been using size 11° seed beads, 3mm Czech fire-polished beads, and C-Lon Micro, which are all very tiny, and kind of made for each other.

I didn’t even realize before breaking back into my 11°s that they’re basically about 2mm across. Using a pattern that looks like a macramé version of Daisy Chain (without the roundabouts), I’ve been able to tinker my way to a smaller version of what I was working on last with standard C-Lon and 8° beads. I don’t know if I’ve posted images of it here, yet — or if that was on an alternate blog (which is down, for now).

Right now I’m not even sure as to whether I should go back to Photoshop. I think I would post a lot more images if it were easier to modify them…though what I’m using now has a lot of options (and likely more technical options than at least PS Elements), it isn’t the most intuitive program. Its UX isn’t great.

I’ve been reading Adolfo Best-Maugard’s A Method for Creative Design (first published in 1926). It’s been interesting, though at this point (30 pages from the end of the book), I don’t think I’ll purchase it. There is some interesting content, but the book is based on a pretty idiosyncratic viewpoint which I’m not sure I buy into. I mean, it’s interesting to read, but whether I accept the author’s argument is something else.

There’s also this thing about the context of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that seems to resonate with me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author was influenced by Spiritualism, which was active around the same time period. Both reflect a desire to seek out what is common between all the world’s peoples, at an early stage of globalization.

Best-Maugard essentially analyzed world or “primitive” art and broke down many of the designs he found into simple constituent elements which could be rearranged into various two-dimensional representations. What’s disappointing for me about this book is that it seems he is only teaching a method based on one form — the spiral — meaning that there is a lot more that he holds back. I would have preferred a longer edition with fewer drawings, explaining or demonstrating further these other primitive forms. As it is, I haven’t so far seen him speak about the latter; only that they exist, and that he isn’t going into them.

Anyhow: as much as I appreciate the fine arts, and love the color mutability possible in painting…painting isn’t easy for me at this point. I’ve been attempting to get back into it…but for some reason…flowers aside, I’m not drawn to common subjects, like portraits or landscapes or figures. I just don’t see the point. I can appreciate art made with these subjects, but it’s not my art.

That could be me coming from a writer’s background, too. In writing, conflict and tension are the main drive behind the narrative: in fine arts, it seems people reproduce (or create) the placid and agreeable a lot of the time, and I haven’t been able to reconcile these two modes or methods.

One of the things that has struck me is that it’s possible my native method is more lexical; as stringing different colors of beads on colored thread and tying those threads together, echoes the form of language or parallel processing. It’s just a thought: I’m not even totally sure about it yet.

But one thing I realized today is that I really did not want to get back to my JavaScript training. I got to my course, looked at it, and decided to do something else. I know I focused on Digital Services in school, but I think the experience of training under that method has made it clear how little I like to interface with computers in computer-language. It’s not quite arcane; it’s more binary.

And the beads were staring me in the face (I bought maybe 14 little 7.5 gram vials recently: no point in getting a whole lot of any one color when I hadn’t seen them), and I had bought a lot of tiny C-Lon, so I just went and got the stuff out. No reason to get the stuff if I’m never going to use it.

For some reason…dealing with beads and cords and color…it’s relaxing. Whereas work on the computer is more often than not, tension- and anxiety-inducing. Not to mention that it’s likely in the process of destroying my eyesight.

Before going to an online Master’s program, I thought it would be OK to be on the computer more. But being intensively on the computer for 6+ hours a day is something I don’t think I could tolerate.

But really, the Digital Services path only really determined seven to eight classes out of the twenty I took.

Yeah, I guess that’s a lot. Like, a third.

Maybe what I need is really to decompress and stop taking classes for a bit. It would be ironic if taking these classes taught me that I didn’t like the subjects the classes were about.

It really wasn’t too bad, until I took Database Management and Fundamentals of Programming. Then…I was like, “what did I get into?” I also don’t have a Computer Science or IT background (or even a Hard Sciences one after high school, although I still love Geology and Astronomy), so I’m at something of a disadvantage in the digital field. I know that if I want to stay current in Web Development, it will take constant acquisition of new skills to keep up with the pace of technological change. I’m not sure that I care enough to actively choose to do that for the rest of my life.

Maybe that’s why the people in those positions get paid so well.

At this point, I’m clearer that I am a Humanities and Social Sciences person, although I don’t think Sociology is where I want to be. I attempted that for a couple of years in my undergraduate training. It was depressing.

Psychology was easier and more engaging, but I never really went deeply into it. History was amazing — particularly World History. I loved that: being able to fit pieces of thoughts together into a coherent image. I also loved Ethnic Studies, even though I took classes just different enough from my own position to be able to expand my view. Though I somewhat regret not having taken Japanese-American Literature, I also know that I’m immersed enough that nothing in an undergraduate class on it would have been new to me.

I also regret not having bitten the bullet and taken Japanese Language & Literature as my undergraduate major. I don’t regret having honed my English writing skills, but I am irritated that people devalue good writing so much. There is also the issue of being able to ever find work or a way of being in Japan in which I wouldn’t be exploited, being a dark-skinned female (kokujin, or “black person,” is still an accepted term in lieu of amerikajin, even if the “black person” is also “American”) with no plans on marriage or children…but yeah, insider stuff.

It was likely my experience with my birth family — and trying to be included in an Asian clique — which caused me to lean against learning Japanese language, though.

I could get further into that, but I won’t.

In any case…I’ve been finding people just kind of randomly on the Reader who do things that no one else does. Like the person who paints silk scarves, or the person encouraging me in tatting. There are a few of us who do regularly post on beadwork, but not many. I get many more “Likes” on my painting posts than on my beadwork posts…but that doesn’t mean I should work on my painting, instead.

Seriously. I think more people can just connect with painting, whereas bead weaving or beaded micromacramé is relatively niche (which is a good thing so far as niche markets are concerned, but)…

It’s just kind of tough to be disconnected. I should probably go out of my way to join a beadwork forum or two, though as my specialization is beaded micromacramé at this point…yeah, that’s…that’s kind of special. (I was inspired with the macramé bug by someone working with cords and gemstones, though what I do is much different from their work.)

I wonder if giving resources would help others get involved in the hobby? I’ve been reluctant to do so, for my own reasons…

creativity, technology, work

Priorities?

There are a number of things I could and should be doing with my time. Due to constraints, I’m prevented from disclosing everything, right now: but I was able to download my certificate from the last of my short courses, today. I feel that I should go back and review, but at the same time, I’m not really that driven to do so.

I do feel that it’s very probable that I should not be a full-time Cataloging Librarian, although I know some say I would be really good at it. The problem is, the work itself is something I don’t like.

So…what I was saying earlier on this blog — that by August, I’ll know if I want to be a Cataloger — has indeed come to fruition. Although I wouldn’t count out a library job that happens to include it, I know I wouldn’t want to do it as my primary work. Up next is getting back to JavaScript, which so far I haven’t really begun. This is largely because I pretty much hate having to review. I can get back to it, though.

Once I have a handle on at least one Web Programming language, I’ll know if I want to work in Tech — specifically, Full-Stack Web Development. Like I was saying earlier…I think I’d be really engaged in working on Front-End Web Development, including Web Design and User Experience, but Back-End is something I know I don’t particularly like. I’m fairly certain it has to do with the same reason why I feel such a constraint when writing online — that it’s very linear and rule-bound and — well — technical, in a mathematical-logic sort of way. (If it violates logic, that is, it isn’t possible.) It’s just different to work by hand. It’s something that isn’t as tightly bound to logical reasoning.

One of the big reasons I got into Digital Services, though, is that I’m fairly certain that communications and learning are going to move more in the direction of multimedia, and away from just plain text as you can read in books. Because of that, I felt it was worth my while not to just focus on books.

Even text as read online, in e-books — there is a logical jump from reading paper books to reading e-books, and then wondering, with the abilities of a computer, why we’re only replicating print. We could do video, music, image (in larger format than print), interaction, animated illustration and design, gamifying, community-building, and eventually immersion. I think this is the direction in which we’re moving as a society, and it could lower barriers to learning for a lot of people who experience difficulty with traditional instruction (i.e. books, text, lecture).

Of course, I’m not an Instructional Design Librarian — though what I’ve just written makes me think about becoming an Emerging Technologies Librarian. I don’t think I have the undergraduate background for it, though (English!), and I’m also not sure I have the risk tolerance for constantly trying out new technologies (and partitioning my hard drive to routinely restore the operating system, and keeping several levels of backups).

I mean, I’m really into the Arts and Humanities (I think Digital Humanities could be interesting) — I don’t have a Hard Sciences background, so I’m not sure I’ve gone through the intellectual rigor necessary for understanding the possibilities of new technology. I just have the brain to dream up what one day might be (and to some extent, already is) — not whether it’s possible with current technology (or will be possible).

Anyhow. Like I said, there’s a lot I could be doing, and up next is getting back into Web Programming. Also, Japanese language. Also, beadwork and tatting. Also, writing. Also, job search. Also, watercolor. Also, sewing, embroidery, and designing embroidery patterns. I should really prioritize these things, but with everything in flux, I’m having a hard time. Maybe I can try, though:

Not necessary:

  • Beadwork (can use this as second income)
  • Tatting
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Watercolor
  • Drawing
  • Block printing
  • Art study (currently: embroidery design) — books

More necessary:

  • Web Programming study (useful at work) — digitally and books
  • Japanese Language study (useful at work) — by hand and digitally
  • Writing in English (skill retention) — by hand or digitally

Essential:

  • Job Search (finding better work) — digitally (at Library)
  • Learning to drive (finding better work) — activity
  • Learning to cook (to feed myself) — activity
  • Customer-service study (useful at work) — books

And looking at this, getting another fountain pen and ink is like…well, why?

Why, indeed. Maybe I can do it as efforts toward making a Bullet Journal, and my Bullet Journal could be my excuse to be creative while still working towards getting done what I need to get done…

LIS, technology

The “fun” part of work?

Seeing my Vocational counselor recently got me to realize that while I’m aiming for an entry-level Librarian position (professional), or a Library Assistant position (paraprofessional), my intent at the beginning of all of this was to go into either Cataloging or Web Design.

Because of issues with Cataloging which I’m now familiar with as persistent and known cultural problems (particularly within DDC and LCC, the two major classification systems in U.S. libraries [at least if BISAC hasn’t crept up and taken more ground from DDC than I know]), but which struck me out of the blue as a cultural minority student, I switched out of Cataloging early on to focus on Digital Services. Particularly, I wanted to learn coding in a situation where I wouldn’t have to worry about being stigmatized or harassed or seen as a non-person because of being female.

While I didn’t go all the way into the Web Programming path…I can see that the latter was what I have been thinking of, when I think of needing to know current versions of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, PHP, MySQL (not to mention mastering command-line interfaces), etc.

Maybe it’s not so bad; I mean, I can understand a lot now that I couldn’t, before. My current LCC course builds on a lot that I was introduced to in Library School (like MARC encoding), that I wouldn’t understand otherwise. It’s similar with my Metadata knowledge and the database stuff I had to go through. The last was really difficult, but I now at least have had an introduction to it.

I’m thinking and hoping that the Master’s program was intended just to be an introduction to the current terrain…and not that it was meant to make me fully capable of engaging with it on my own (because I don’t feel ready to do that, yet). I also need to remember, though, that in the real world, teamwork happens. I probably will not need to know everything, myself.

At least, I hope not.

Tonight, I’ve been catching up on Social Media — maybe, “catching up on,” isn’t the right phrase — maybe, “using,” Social Media (as versus, “not using,”) is closer to the reality. While I was in classes, I basically put social interaction outside of family, school, work, a couple of groups, and blogging, to the side; and otherwise limited my interaction. Now that I’m out, there is this emphasis on, “networking,” and I’m realizing how many ties with people I’ve made over the years (although in a lot of cases, they’re rusty ties).

I’ve also been checking in on the Career Center for my alma mater. I think I underestimate myself, my network, and my strengths. Somehow it isn’t surprising: I have a tendency to set very high standards for myself (not to mention that I have a tendency to doubt I can reach them). The major drawback to this in my case is that if I think I have no chance at success, I have a tendency to avoid engagement.

I mean, on one level, that’s really a survival strategy — it’s way harder to get through a class when you’re lost, especially when you’re part of a team (and the team isn’t helping you, and you feel like the slackers who mooched off you in high school, but you really don’t know what you’re doing). On another level, that type of thinking keeps me from trying things that I might be able to do but am afraid I can’t (like taking Project Management or Cybersecurity, both things I know I need to know, but which I am leery of taking in a University setting where my GPA is on the line).

I seem to remember hearing something like this from several years ago, coming out of MIT…how students were punished for failing, when they should be supported for risk-taking — and students who played it safe and took easy classes (resulting in high GPAs) were lauded.

During my time in the Master’s program, I tried to take a middle road and not do something that seemed too easy. It’s part of why I went for a tech-oriented path: I figured that I should learn something moderately difficult, instead of something I could puzzle through on my own.

Of course, going for entry-level Librarian jobs…that isn’t so tech-heavy. It leans more into Customer Service, Psychology, and Politics…

…which, of course, are also difficult, just in a different way. Majorly, they are difficult in ways that have to do with people. Which…isn’t where I thought I’d end up. But without knowledge of a solid Programming language, at this point, and without Cataloging knowledge…or experience in the field (or even really knowledge of the field), I’m at a disadvantage.

Hmm. That means get to know the field! Right? Fill in those knowledge gaps!

And remember that an entry-level Librarian job is just entry-level. It’s not forever.

career, LIS, personal, technology, work

It seems I can’t avoid talking about work.

Well, today was fun. It’s been so long since anything bad has happened to me in particular that I’ve begun to get good with working Circulation. Even shelving has been good. It’s really invaluable to be working with the people I’m working with, and to know I have options. Plus, I’m only working about half-time. Even though I’m not at this point doing any eight-hour days, it’s kind of like a game to see how long and in what ways I can maintain my stamina.

I’m not sure if I’m calming down, now that I don’t have a GPA on the line…actually, that’s probably a lot of it! The stress that I have now is more, “life stress,” (that is, “soon-to-be-money-stress,”) as versus, “school stress.” However, in a good situation, I would still have to wait an average of six months before getting a first job as an Information Professional.

I think I would likely have less stress now, had I planned for this phase of my life better, starting a decade or two ago. There are things I realize in retrospect that I could have done differently — like taking a work-study position at my undergraduate University library, or taking a light job in an Academic Library in addition to the Public Library job, or shadowing Cataloging staff and seeking out connections, or maintaining contacts with other students on IM or LinkedIn.

However, it’s relatively obvious to me, when stepping back to observe the entire situation, that I started out in a relatively structurally disadvantaged position (due to uncontrollable historical, combined with current, circumstances). To some extent this has been alleviated by vocational services focusing on equity, which is the reason why I’m in a career now…but I don’t even think that they really encouraged me to take on extra work, or to get into the working world as an intern, while I was still a student.

The latter would have been basically expected of me, but I didn’t have a great hint of this until looking into the Career Center at the end of my program. Trouble is, I believe I was meant to look into the Career Center, possibly before my program even began.

I’m not sure what more there is to say about that, at least that wouldn’t be oversharing.

Right now I can see a few different paths before me. One is being a Reference & User Services Librarian in a Public Library. I have a relatively good idea of what work in this position is like. The second path is becoming a Cataloging Librarian, which is something that my co-workers say I might be well-suited to because of my attention to detail. The third path is becoming a Web Developer or Web Designer.

These three paths have differing skill sets. Particularly, as a Reference Librarian, I would need to work on creating library programs, and work on my customer service and information search skills. As a Cataloger, I would need to work on my Descriptive and Subject Access Cataloging and Metadata encoding and parsing skills. As a Web Developer, there are several more technologies I would need to know with which I would need to acquire a working skill: at least JavaScript, PHP, Drupal, and SQL.

Basically, Reference Librarianship is the nearest possibility to me, but that is likely because general entry-level “Librarian” jobs seem to often be Public Service positions. Metadata Librarianship or Cataloging Librarianship is a little more distant, mostly because I was aiming for a track which, I see now, prepared me for Web Design and Development. Web Development is farthest off, and not something I can adequately do in the immediate future. It is, however, something I have a good start on, and can develop.

Right now, I’m in the middle of the MARC 21 unit in my class. It’s good information, though mostly review to me. The big deal about is is that to work as a Cataloger, one basically has to have a knowledge of Subject Access Cataloging (determining content and assigning descriptors and call numbers), Descriptive Cataloging (describing an item), FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), MARC 21, Authority Records, and at least Dublin Core, if not other metadata schema like TEI or MODS.

But…it kind of sounds like I know a good deal about that, already. Come Fall, I should be done with my four-course, post-Master’s (a.k.a. Professional Development) run, and may actually be set up with the knowledge to start (or continue) in a job that requires Cataloging. If I had a job that pulled enough money, I would also be able to make up any deficits with additional training. Because a lot of this work is being outsourced, I would likely want to look into the people working in Technical Services, and their contacts who work for companies which serve libraries.

Web Development needs ongoing focus and training. Comparatively, it’s easier for me at this point to look forward to Cataloging or User Services! The big thing is that learning for this path never ends and, from my current perspective, seems as though no amount of study may ever be wholly sufficient. Moreso than with the other two paths, this path contains a moving target. I initially got into this because I wanted to make websites; however, is the effort worth the product? I’m not certain, especially as I have had a major downtick in my drive to publish online, recently.

Yeah, I guess…that’s a big thing.

The other thing is the fact that I have realized I’m a relatively versatile person with a lot of interests, who likes challenging themselves…which…well. It doesn’t really rule out too much. Maybe I could get a job as a Technical Assistant while working as a Page somewhere else, just get my foot in the door to Tech Services and Cataloging?

Yeah…maybe this entry won’t make sense to most people…

career, creativity, self care, spirituality, technology

Creativity and awareness.

For the past three days, I’ve been having issues with lethargy, and late today I realized what may be causing it. Hopefully, tomorrow won’t be as bad. I’ve just been through a couple of days of early-morning work and an early-morning class…I need to prepare for this, better.

I did reach the point, yesterday, of becoming annoyed enough with the books and magazines and catalogs laying around everywhere, to put them away. At this point, I know that I do want to rearrange them. The major issue is the fear of not being able to find anything after they have been rearranged.

There is also the possibility of getting a long and low bookshelf. Because of earthquake concerns (I’ve lived through two major earthquakes: Loma Prieta [1989] and Northridge [1994]), the tall bookcase that I have, which has most of my books on it, isn’t in my bedroom. There is too much of a danger of it falling over, either onto the bed or into an escape route.

However, there is another reason the books aren’t here: it’s dust. Apparently, because I spend so much time in the bedroom (asleep), things collect dust quickly. This isn’t so much of an issue for the office, which is where I have a few bookcases in use…most of them are storing things I haven’t immediately used, however, like my Writer’s Thesaurus, and various anthologies from my undergrad degree.

A while ago, I did start going through things to figure out which books I really wanted and would use; but after filling a couple of boxes (and clearing a couple of shelves), stopped. Maybe I need to get back to that.

If I can clear a deep shelf, I can move the majority of my craft books, “to keep,” back down there. The issue is that most of them are too tall to fit on the shelf they’re on, currently. To be honest, I can’t even recall why I put them there, except to sort them away from their default position.

When you work in a library, you learn that location can be imbued with meaning. It is possible for me to use that space as a library, considering that the computer no longer has to live there, and that what is there is basically now an archive.

It would make sense for me to go through my images and work, though I think all of that stuff is already backed up to an external hard drive. I just don’t live in that room as much as I used to. I also do have a low (“altar”) table with floor pillows and the like, from the time when I was meditating.

I really don’t know if I’d like to get back to that; I’ve already been through the disillusionment thing with Buddhism (that being my realization that Buddhism is an organized religion run by people who have politics and faults, and that it may not be “true”), but I also have a non-denominational meditation book that I could deal with, if I wanted to. (I got it years ago when I read a bit of it at the library and knew I would want to read it, even if it got deleted.)

As part of my illness “recovery”, I am supposed to be exercising and meditating in order to reduce my dependence on medication, and abate some of the side effects. It’s been a long time since I could even think about doing that, however — I had to get through grad school. It’s also really a pain to sit seiza (on one’s knees) or in Lotus (half-Lotus?) position on the floor, for long periods of time. I suppose it does connect me with the past; I just don’t particularly know if it’s something I even want to be associated with, anymore.

Of course, this is me on the other end of over two decades of medication, and without a lot of the credulousness that I had, before it. It’s really clear to me that what I’m on quiets my mind, and seems to eliminate the need for creativity in trying to explain what’s happening. It’s very apparent, and has been, to me, that I move closer to an atheistic position when I’m on a higher dose of one medication in particular (which I’m on, now)…this being why I currently consider myself either a Pantheist or Panentheist, not Pagan or Buddhist. Hindu beliefs have been on the edge of my thought, but I’m not deep enough into studying them to particularly understand them wholly.

In any case…I probably need to explain Pantheism. Pantheism (not, “polytheism,” as the last person I tried to explain this to, assumed) is the belief that the Universe is divine and the body of the Divine. Panentheism believes that the Universe is the body of the Divine but that the Divine is also more. I don’t think too much about which camp I fall into, partially because it doesn’t really ultimately matter (reality and truth exist whether or not I acknowledge them); also because both sets of beliefs are pretty fringe.

But…I think this actually is the best explanation I can give for the way my mind works, when it comes to religion. I have more of a feeling of sacredness when I go into the mountains, than anything. It’s one of those, “this is beautiful and could easily kill me,” feelings. Definitely high-alert, definitely respectful. When you’re out someplace like in the Sierra, you know — or at least I’ve known — that if I die, it’s more than likely my fault (or the fault of someone with me, like when the idiot kids were rocking boulders in the talus pile) and not the wildernesses’.

As a kid, I wouldn’t get out into wild areas very often because family did not like being away from the comforts of civilization. Now that I’m older, I will have more of a chance to explore wild places on my own or with friends, but to be honest, it’s not something I seek. I don’t like putting my survival on the line for no reason.

Anyhow…one of the items on my altar table is a box with little tumbled stones and mineral samples in it. Sadly enough, this is about as close as I get to monoliths, right now.

There is also my little bunny fetish from when I was a kid. I was totally into bunnies as a kid. A “fetish,” in this terminology, is a stone that holds personal significance. Mine is a little black carved thing, from a Zuñi artisan whose name I’ve likely lost. However, given its source, and what I can remember, I believe it has been blessed.

I used to carry it around, which is what initially got me into fetish pouches, which is what got me into beadwork. But, back on topic: the rabbit fetish represents creativity.

Right now, I don’t know where I stand with that. I could activate and begin feeding and carrying this fetish again…but somehow that seems a bit creepy. :) Or metaphysical, at least.

I did read a couple of blog entries about not worrying about monetizing one’s passion (which, in this case, has been related to my beadwork). The reason I cleared off a great deal of the craft table is that I wanted to paint again…something I haven’t done in months, as I haven’t seen it as profitable. I didn’t know how to start, so I got out my “Dusties” box and started playing with graphite crayons and willow charcoal.

One thing I did learn: don’t be afraid to make apparently nonsensical details and unclosed lines when working abstractly. ;) They’re what make things interesting. :) I was also attempting not to fight the urge to follow the ghost lines that appear before I may trace over them.

On second thought, maybe I should be meditating. It may help me endure the terror I feel while creating long enough for me to actually make some things.

I’m pretty sure I want to use gouache in the near future, but I don’t entirely have a topic yet. Water, fire (or, “flowing things,” reminiscent of some Southeast Asian styles I’ve seen), and landscapes came up when I was working yesterday, though. Broken lines merge into negative space merge into organic overlaps. It happens.

And tools affect outcomes. Particularly, charcoal sticks are great at mark-making, but they can’t necessarily flood a page, and all of your color is black to grey.

I still need to test out my Sennelier Prussian Blue (transparent) watercolor against Daniel Smith Prussian Blue, the latter of which fades in intensity after months in direct sun. It will be weeks before I’ll see if there is any difference in permanence, though the sooner I swatch, the sooner I’ll know.

I’ve also realized that I should likely broaden my job search beyond the library field. The nature of what I’ve learned has applications in the wider tech and information fields, and though this is a bit terrifying, it means I have a potential way out of what is strictly the Library. Most people who are working…need to be creative in their job searches. I can do that, too.

There are several places where I can look for at least an interim job before dealing with libraries: fabric stores, bead stores, art supply stores, for three categories to start with. I’ve realized that my involvement with these things is okay, possibly even good, and may become useful.

It would also likely be good to continue on with my JavaScript course. I was looking over my books from my Library and Information Science program, and…I have a large number of tech-oriented books. If I want to be in a tech field, learning more technology is essential. It’s probably not wrong to be unsure at this point if I do want to be in a tech field…so long as I don’t let that stop me from doing what I do want to do, and trying out what might be helpful. If I hate it, that’s one thing; but personal uncertainty (do I want to be in Tech because D was in Tech?) is going to happen, regardless…