craft, creativity, jewelry design, small business planning, work

I write too much…

Yeah…I think it’s understandable why cyberspace has been so quiet, recently. As for what’s going on over here…I’m still dealing with a problematic creative pattern (grab onto a project like a pitbull and not let go until my body gives out, then avoid it the next day because my body doesn’t want to go through that again)…though I have realized that I have another beadweaving pattern I originated, which I had forgotten about until putting the earrings in as placeholders over Xmas.

Like I’ve said before: I make a lot of jewelry, I don’t necessarily wear a lot of jewelry. I’ve had these piercings for a while, but I still get a little…worried, that they’ll close up with disuse. I probably don’t have to worry about that quite so much, given that they were originally pierced at 14g. Yes, I do miss my surgical steel rings, but putting them back in means that either I forego wearing regular earrings, I constantly wear a nut on the back of all my earwires and deal with possible migration, or I fabricate custom 14g earwires for everything I wear…and trust me, silver isn’t that cheap. 14g wire is pretty expensive, that is, just from the sheer weight of it.

I do realize that if I want to run this jewelry thing as a microbusiness with significant returns, I’m going to have to work more. A lot more. Just slightly prior to Xmas, though, I did encounter the beginnings of a depressive episode, which is likely what has slowed me down over the past couple of weeks. (I’ve just realized that I’ve only been out of classes for three weeks, so far!) I had wanted to sew face coverings to give out over the holidays…but for multiple reasons, prime among them a very late start due to having my attention taken up with my University course, that didn’t happen.

“A very late start”…unless I jumped into making face coverings at the moment I thought of doing so and worked as hard and as fast as I could and sent them out as soon as I could, I would be late. And even then, I probably would still have been late. University conditions you, not to be late; that it can mean failure, to be late. (Unless you’re working with accommodations.) Of course, University matters because they’re reporting your grades to the Federal Government, which impacts any future Financial Aid. Making money through selling jewelry has no such penalty for lost time. Except, well: lost income.

I think that the realization that I wasn’t going to make the Xmas deadline/buying rush (for either gifts or sales) was probably the beginning of the episode — or the beginning of my noticing it, at least. I notice in my backfiles some information about OCD, as well…which was probably what was most easily visible. You deal with this stuff a while, and it gets easier to recognize when you’re experiencing symptoms.

Then there was the fact that I had hoped to be up and running with my beadwork, in time for the Xmas buying season. That, obviously, didn’t happen — although I did clarify some things for myself, like why I’m doing this, and what my goals are. I made the move to decide that there is, philosophically, value in the creation of beauty.

What’s really…interesting, is that when you’re working with an inclusive gender definition, it can be difficult to create gender expressions which are clearly intended for that definition. I mean…you make nice things, and those who want to, can wear them.

I’ve heard fairly commonly that people in the nonbinary community have a tendency to be slotted as cisgender men and women, though by this time, the trope is…well, used. No longer upsetting, that is, because you know it’s coming…and you know that the people saying it have their own issues to deal with. And I, at least, know enough NB people that I see a difference between cis and NB, even if nothing earth-shatteringly different appears on the outside. (Two things that do appear from within, are acceptance and understanding.) The thing is: nothing should have to appear different on the outside, for a person’s gender identity to be respected.

Right now…I’m in a stage of breaking out of being intentionally gender-neutral. In specific, there’s nothing wrong with pink. Or violet. Even if I’m biologically female. Even if mostly women will wear these. It’s OK. Nothing at all says that I have to or need to sell specifically to NB people (and if that had been part of my business plan, I would likely need to alter it — we’re not that incredibly common).

I’m hoping to use these colors, soon…and maybe I should do it. I mean, really plan on doing it. Like, purchase some stuff and set aside some blocks of time, to do it. That infers — well — planning…which I may be able to work out with one of my extra A5 notebooks, or by using a printed spreadsheet.

The thing I’m dealing with now is the tension between working on designs I have already created beforehand, and experimenting with new supplies and techniques. The latter takes a lot of time, but can involve totally new practices (which is exciting); the former allows me to refine previously set patterns and experiment specifically with color (but not so much with form).

If I look at it now…I have several designs I’ve come up with totally on my own, which I know I came up with totally on my own. I’m not sure it’s worth it to go through the actual process of registering copyright, especially as the designs are refined and change, over time (a.k.a., constantly). It might be good enough just to mail myself copies of the schematics in preemptive defense, although I know copyright law says I’m good from the time of creation.

Ah, the concept of intellectual property. How…how annoying are you. Or maybe I should say, “concept of intellectual property, how easily you are misused….”

career, psychology, self care, work, writing

Loneliness? Withdrawal.

There are a lot of things I could write about. The question is, what do I write about? What do I feel safe putting out into the world, at this point, which isn’t time-sensitive? Or, which wouldn’t put myself, my property, my employability, or my family at further risk? HA HA! you say. HA. HA.

I mean, there’s a lot I could write. Whether it’s self-serving to broadcast it or not, is another question. And actually, when I look at it that way, it’s obviously safer not to mention anything. So why this drive to do so?

Actual loss. Fear of further loss.

I suppose it’s obvious that I’m feeling a bit isolated, although I do still have my family. I just am worried that everything I have and have built will be taken from me. In reality, I have one thing that has already been taken, and that is my work and my income.

There have also been a lot of people dying recently, which hasn’t helped. I lost two of my older relatives within the last several months (I can’t remember when).

Right now we’re in a severe weather event…meaning my possessions (which I would use to further gain an income) are at stake. And if any of us get sick, I could lose one or both of my parents. That would likely mean either dealing with relatives (which I don’t want to do, I’m sure you can understand), or moving out-of-state to a place where floods are normal and I may only be able to get a job in which I can’t avoid feeling prostituted.

They say I don’t, “like people.”

I’m not a, “people person.” M told me this, today, and I realized that I have no idea what it is to, “like people.” I didn’t know that I didn’t, “like people,” because I didn’t know what, “liking people,” meant. I still don’t know what, “liking people,” feels like. I can’t conceptualize it, or its motivations. That’s probably me being on the “Spectrum”, though.

Yes, I realize there is more than one, “Spectrum.” I’m talking about high-functioning Autism. I know I am on that Spectrum, but not to the degree that I would be considered, “Autistic.” I was evaluated and told I had nothing to gain from a diagnosis because I had already aged out of all the early interventions that would help. That is, a diagnosis would just be a stigma to me with no benefit. (Of course, that’s before I entered my Vocational Program, which may have done better to heed a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder…)

M and I also spoke about how I internalized **** that happened at work (that I still remember), and I know I don’t know how not to internalize it. I don’t know how I can live with just ignoring hostility and disrespect. When, “no,” is seen to mean, “you’re not trying hard enough, wheedle some more,” instead of, “NO. Stop it and leave me alone.”

And I know that I can be openly aggressive, when people persist in attempting to push my boundaries because I say, “No,” and they want to force, “Yes” (which brings up trauma around sexual harassment)…though I’m not sure how to value my aggression. On one hand, I’m standing up for myself when my messages are rejected as though I said nothing (or worse than nothing); on another, getting sued or losing my job every time a misogynist ***** comes along, wouldn’t be the best thing?

And then there’s the question of whether I should grit my teeth and try and be polite (and be dishonest to be polite, which has not been my way) when my emotions honestly make me want to do much worse (and wish I was a 240-pound 6-foot-plus man so I could do so).

But these guys (they’re almost all guys) can’t see the warning signs. Maybe they think no one they categorize as a woman can or should ever get angry, let alone at them, and they assume from visual pattern-matching that I’m a (heterosexual, cisgender) woman. Or, as they would put it, “girl.” Which can make me angry, depending on the level of respect and self-definition they afford to people they see as, “girls,” which usually isn’t a lot.

So. No service jobs.

Do what I …love?

M wants me to find what I love to do and then do it, regardless of how much income it pulls in. And not focus on my shortcomings, because it is not in my nature to be a good social services worker. Which is, you know, never the reason I started working at the Library.

Right now, I’m thinking: Beadwork and Writing. And maybe Cataloging or Metadata Librarianship, or Taxonomy development. Maybe later, Translation. Maybe also later: Web Development.

I’ve come to what feels right (at least in theory) about what to do with the Creative Writing tangent. I’m not going to hide my work until I have a full manuscript (to try and sell First Publication Rights to a Publishing House). I’ll be developing this in a mixture of online and offline work, with the possibility of self-publishing and Web distribution, later.

I think that doing things that way will maximize the benefits I’d accrue, and the accountability to do the work. What I wouldn’t accrue would be in-house professional editing, academic prestige, and help with marketing and distribution. (But hey: I’ve seen some pretty interesting self-published books.)

The question is also, distribution to where, when it seems most book sales take place online now, and work is increasingly becoming digital in nature. Also: editors can be hired, and making a name for myself online before fully entering the stage, is marketing.

Digital Publishing, Print-On-Demand. Financial Models.

There is a metadata schema (TEI, or Text Encoding Initiative), which I could use to code an electronic text in XML. Doing that would give me practice in coding (and navigating) TEI-XML using an XML editor and XPath.

Of course, how to convert XML to HTML is something I don’t yet know how to do; I only know that it’s possible using XSLT. Neither do I see any advantage or efficiency to this, other than teaching myself XSLT, XPath, and TEI-XML. I mean, I might as well hard-code in HTML, to begin with.

I also see that Kindle doesn’t support TEI; I’d likely have to then convert my HTML into a proprietary format of Amazon’s. Or import a DOCX. That’s if I want my work to be able to be purchased and read on Kindle. On the other hand, nothing says that I have to use Word to develop the text; just to submit it — if I go that route. My issue is suspected ugly code after conversion.

That’s only if I want to take payment for the download. Which isn’t my only financial model, but it probably is the one which, along with Print-On-Demand, would generate the most income. And income is nice, for work done.

And then, POD may outlast any digital encoding scheme. I probably would also only have to submit a DOCX for that, as well. I could use InDesign, but it’s probably not needed or expected. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing any fancy formatting.

There’s also the option of just posting at WordPress.com for free public access + the sale of extra materials (tangential short stories, illustrations). The site templates are pretty awesome on my tablet, and it would be easier to keep it updated, as the host takes care of the back-end maintenance. The major drawback is sanitization and censorship, plus the cost to remove the ads…none of which I would like to engage in. I mean, I have to bleep myself regularly here. It’s a big reason I moved offline.

I believe this is not an issue if I’m self-hosted. However…then I have to be a Full-Stack Developer plus being a Web Content Producer. I know; I’ve done it.

Yeah, so…write the thing first, right? ;D

art, color, occupational hazards, work, writing

Not getting much done :)

It’s OK. I already have my degree. ;) Actually, though: when I planned on taking two classes for the month of August, I didn’t factor in natural disasters on top of a pandemic. I also didn’t factor in the knowledge that I might figure out what I wanted to do, while I was unemployed.

Yesterday when I woke up (and I woke up several times), the sky was orange, and I had a scattering of ashes all over my computer and desk (only some of which I’ve yet cleaned up). Pretty much nothing got going until after noon, though I was able to initiate Week 1 of XSLT and Week 4 of Vocabulary Design. It just wasn’t enough to hold my attention, however. (It would have been better if I had caught up on Week 3.5 and 4 of XML when I had the surprise week off…)

I do kind of wonder if I should be back in the Visual Arts, though I have to realize that is a dream…which won’t come to fruition, without practice. I would have more time to practice now, except I’m filling that time with building professional job skills to get me out of the service sector (what I’m calling front-line work with the public, although I believe according to some U.S. government sources [I can’t remember the website, unfortunately], all work that isn’t either farming or manufacturing is categorized as “service” work).

What it’s looking like, however, is that I may be in for a future of gig work. That is, I need to get my portfolio completed and online (and updated), because it will likely be key in helping me obtain gainful (and desirable — for me) employment. I should also likely hone my LinkedIn profile, for the same reason. Maybe start a Behance profile, or create an in-depth online portfolio including images and written work, aside from my Library work.


The place I’ve been laid off from, has just opened recruitment for “Librarian” positions…but the thing is, I don’t really want to work there, now. Especially not, now. Basically, the only thing it’s got going for it is that it’s not a long commute (depending on the branch). I realize that my application may be submitted without any effort on my part due to the fact that I was laid off, but seriously:

Like I’ve said, I have OCD and a germ phobia at baseline, and guardedness around the public as a starting point. On top of that, I’m not even very social; I have issues with strangers constantly misrecognizing and underestimating me on sight, which leads to their testing me; and we’re in the middle of a pandemic; and as such, Public Services in a Public Library is not where I want to be. There are too many stressors.

Before I was laid off, I was losing weight due to stress. Losing weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing; especially in my case where I have medication-induced weight gain; but when it’s for the wrong reasons and uncontrolled, it is a physical indicator that something needs to change. That it’s not just mental anymore. And it’s not fake. My job (was) physically making me sick. That, with more power and responsibility, doesn’t look good for anyone.

Though I guess I can just say that, if I get called in for an interview. It’s not a good fit. In fact, it’s a terrible fit. I don’t like being expected to care for and about people who disrespect me (by the people who disrespect me), and disrespect (at times ramping up to abuse) occurs on a daily basis in Public Libraries. At some point I’m led to wonder if I was a time bomb in that situation, waiting for someone to say something in precisely the wrong way at precisely the wrong time, which could tempt me to lash out — not just because of what they said, but because of my entire history and set of stresses, leading up to that point. (My awareness of the fact that others are ignorant of my situation, and that they don’t deserve to be punished for a lifetime of other people’s slights, has prevented a number of these incidents.)

And no, no one expects that from me, because I’m female, hence they label me as a “girl” and think I would never get to the point of violence against anyone but myself. My problem (and it is my problem) is that I have layers of accumulated rage around people constantly assuming I am someone I’m not. And sometimes it has to get to the level of my protective facade cracking for them to see that they’re wrong, and that they need to back off.

That’s too far, for me. I don’t like being in that place.

The problem I have here is that my alternative is hormone therapy which will gradually cause me to appear more male (or, alternatively, suddenly more male). The problem is that there’s only one other safe option, and it still doesn’t fit. I’d be satisfied if people could just stop seeing me as a body or role, and approach me as a human. But that seems beyond the grasp of most people.

If I do have a masculine gender identity, which I’m in no way sure about, it’s based more in what I see in the natural world than anything I’ve seen in this culture. Suddenly appearing male also comes with its own set of stigmas and dangers, especially because my skin is dark and because I’m not a typical (heteronormative) man; and both of those things, tend to threaten people (though at this moment, I’m kind of wondering if women threaten, “people”, and that’s why it seems so important all the time to reduce them to their bodies).

This is to the point that I have a hard time seeing myself as a man, at all — though I tried to, at one time. The thing that I share with (most) men is that constantly being seen as a woman isn’t something I want, and that could escalate out of control; given the fact that most of reality insists on seeing me as a woman. Which is, in fact, why I write: disembodied text doesn’t carry the same social cues.

I suppose that is what I gleaned from my time as a Library Assistant. No more public service. At least, if I can help it. If my housing and food depend on it, I can do it. Like, if I’ll be homeless otherwise, I’ll take Public Service. But it won’t make me happy.

Yeah, I didn’t intend to get into that. Anyhow…the art thing…and the writing, thing. Right.

(I go into some of this stuff with you all because I wouldn’t be able to function as a writer, without being honest with myself and with you. Thank you for putting up with it.) ;)


Right now, I’m intending to look for an alternative to Aureolin. This is cobalt yellow, a fairly toxic pigment by ingestion. This concerns me now because I keep noticing myself accidentally dropping water into the carpet when changing out water or washing brushes. I’ve lived with carpet long enough to know that not all of that comes out, and that it might only start to come out, with shampooing.

In any case…today I went back to my palette and swatched out everything that was on there, plus everything I intended to use, that wasn’t. (There are a number of paints which I’ve found inferior to what I’ve decided to utilize, including several different Viridians and Prussian Blues, plus a granulating Pyrrol color [it’s either Scarlet Pyrrol or Pyrrol Scarlet, which are two different colors in two different product lines].) Cobalt colors…I would say I have a love/hate relationship with them, but really, it’s just Aureolin that I have some misgivings with, at the moment.

There are several other cobalt colors, including Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Cerulean Blue Chromium (you don’t want to eat Chromium, either), Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Blue/Violet, Cobalt Yellow, etc.

How they got a yellow out of that, I don’t know; what I do know is that on top of its toxicity, Aureolin is rumored to discolor over time (which was proven over on handprint [check out PY40, which is Aureolin’s (not Aureolin Hue’s) pigment number]).

The reason I even have it on my palette is that it was required for my Beginning Watercolor class, as a green-leaning yellow. Once I had been initially exposed to it (transdermally, and this in the effort to avoid touching it [my glove got wrapped around the tube, which spread the seeping paint all over the tube: I didn’t realize it until taking off the glove to try to remove the jammed lid with my bare hands — and I was in the field]), it didn’t seem like a big deal to keep it on the palette, and I already knew how to mix with it. However, basically everything else I have, appears safer than Aureolin.

Of course, that’s only apparently.

I am actually fairly interested in color families which I see over and over again at this point, like the Pyrrols and Perinones and Ultramarines and Hansas, etc. (I found an Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet Deep from M. Graham which are…fairly gorgeous, even though the violet would compete with Dioxazine Violet. The major difference I see right off is that Ultramarine Violet Deep has less tinting strength and is a more delicate pigment, in general [think, “fringed gentian,” though a little pinker]…whereas Dioxazine Violet can easily overpower the rest of a painting.)

I am also curious about the Cadmiums (apparently, there’s now a “Cadmium Green”; looks like a bunch of convenience mixtures), but if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I know (and have been concerned) about cadmium poisoning: it’s not pretty. I did read about it recently in Toxic Archipelago by Brett L. Walker, a book about industrial poisoning in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras in Japan, after having accidentally run across the Wikipedia article on itai-itai (which freaked me out a bit), and having found limited English-language resources about it, online (I believe one of them was a map of the Jinzu River Basin?).

My major issue here was about not being required to use Cadmium pigments in my painting classes, as soluble cadmium salts can be absorbed transdermally. The trick, for me at least, seems to be finding insoluble salts that I won’t absorb, and can wash off of my hands. Not that I’ve tried, yet…

Chapter 4 of Toxic Archipelago, Engineering Pain in the Jinzu River Basin, focuses on cadmium poisoning. (Most copies I’ve found of this book are e-books. I don’t know why [and the e-book version of this on Amazon costs more than the printed one] — but searching WorldCat, you may be able to find a copy close to you. Note that I can’t be responsible if you get sick from a library book [although I believe most libraries are quarantining items to wait for any COVID-19 to die]. Just saying…)

What I learned from reading this is that there were a number of concomitant factors involved in the genesis of itai-itai byou (lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease,” the Japanese name for cadmium poisoning) including Vitamin D deficiency and large numbers of childbirths (most who contracted it were older women [e.g. postmenopausal] who had a lot of children and shaded themselves from the sun). This contributed to osteoporosis and osteomalacia. So I am aware now that I probably don’t have to worry so much about contracting itai-itai itself, but Cadmium is still a heavy metal, toxic, bioaccumulative, and a carcinogen…not great, but not necessarily a death sentence to use.

That being said, I know a lot of artists who have been through battles with cancer, and who have known other artists who have had cancer.

Also, some of the newer pigment families (e.g. Hansas, Pyrrols) were specifically created to be less toxic, to the best of my knowledge.

In any case…Hansa Yellow Light is radiant and gorgeous (this is M. Graham’s “Hansa Yellow” I’m using; check out PY3 on handprint), and I’m thinking of using that plus the Green Golds (there are at least two formulations of this: Winsor & Newton’s “Green Gold” (PY129) approximates Daniel Smith’s “Rich Green Gold” (PY 129) [DS’s regular “Green Gold” is something I’ve never seen before]), in order to brighten greens. I had some success with that, tonight…and according to a tiny bit of research and experimentation, it looks like I’m on the right track.

Hey, maybe I don’t need to replace Aureolin. I could use these three, instead.

Having done all this work, it’s fairly obvious which paints I would really want to get from the Daniel Smith lineup. Things that would be difficult to mix, for which I don’t have a lot of representation. There are some really nice earth tones, in particular.

I’ve read that a number of other companies (Schmincke Horadam, Winsor & Newton, Sennelier, Da Vinci) sell dot-card sets, but I think I’ve done enough dot cards, for now!

The other thing I’m thinking of is re-introducing Holbein Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) to my palette; I had begun to use Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep (PY110), but…it’s actually duller than the Holbein! (I had heard things about brush-handling qualities of Holbein watercolors as versus basically all the other major brands, which drew me to remove it from use…but it’s cleaner and brighter.)


The other thing…writing. Right. If I’m going to be a writer, it would help to decide what to write about...which…well, it’s obvious that I’ve got something right here in this post, but it’s difficult to see as though I stood outside of myself. I don’t have a lot of people to bounce this off of (I get misread a lot, even by friends, because I’m not forthcoming about things they do or concepts they have, which I perceive as wrong — even when it comes to my self-definition and my privileges to define what does and does not happen within my own house. So I just end up not dealing with them, and not inviting them over).

There’s the opportunity to write about art at the same time as I practice art, which would enable me to double-task the artwork! Then again, I took up Librarianship because I wanted to double-task my reading, and we see where that ended up. :) I neglected ten years ago to see that Librarianship was about people, not about books.

If I did want to be all about books, Writing basically requires extensive knowledge of the field one writes within, and it’s said (like Art) to be lonely work, though I’m well-suited to that. (Editing, on the other hand, is said to be interpersonally intensive.) Cataloging is also apparently a fairly solitary activity, though it would seem…technical, I guess.

(For me, “technical” is better than “social”…)

I’ve got a long way to go if I want to be a professional illustrator or artist, but I think I do have an angle on things that is not-mainstream, and which is valuable.

I wonder what would happen if I created, and successfully published, a graphic novel, or an illustrated book?

career, personal, self care, work, writing

Reasons not to go back

Right now I’m really kind of frustrated with myself for not knowing what I want to do with my life, although that’s not entirely true: I don’t know what I want to do in my life to earn a living. For most of my life I’ve been relatively independent and relatively alone. Working with other people in bureaucratic structures — only being responsible for a portion of the work to be done, and I get to pick which portion (to an extent) — is alien to me.

It doesn’t help that I’m hooked up with a Vocational Program which is backing me with the expectation that the job I picked out 10 years ago with zero work experience and little knowledge of what the job entailed, is still something I want to do. I knew getting into it as a Volunteer and then as a Library Aide, that I was pushing my comfort level where it came to cleanliness. I was also pushing my comfort level where it came to dealing with the public, once I started to deal with the public.

As a Library Assistant in Public Services, I was pushing that comfort level every day I went to work, and as I said before, there’s a difference between (temporarily) reaching out of your comfort zone in order to grow, and being unnecessarily ill-equipped for your (permanent) position.

From what I have seen, however, there are a good number of people working in Libraries who would rather not deal with difficult situations. These are not people you want to have backing you up (or, very possibly, not) when something goes down and you have to enforce a rule or deal with escalating personal abuse. I don’t want to be one of those people.

I’m not saying that the work isn’t tolerable most of the time. Most of the time, it is. Most people are respectful, and just happy you’re there. Some people are even very forgiving when you’re trying your best to help them, even if you have trouble doing so. However: depending on where you work, there are distinct issues with distinct patrons, and you don’t know what you’re getting, each time the phone rings.

One of my ex-coworkers said to me when they first became a Library Assistant, that it was, “like being an adult babysitter.” I was also told that the most difficult part of the job for me would likely not be the technical aspects of finding information, but rather having to discipline patrons. I should have listened on both counts.

What’s more, I likely should have become a Library Assistant sooner, so that I could get out of the path before dropping money on a degree in the hope of working as a Public Librarian. Would I have been happier, had I gone (earlier?) into a career in Publishing or freelancing? I’m not sure.

I also haven’t had a clear idea of what I would be getting into with either Digital Services or Cataloging/Metadata.

I’ve gotten through the first few weeks of XML…which is also pushing a comfort zone (specifically the one that has to deal with implicit trust over networked resources), though that just has to do with privacy and potential data loss, as versus potential sickness, or potential harm.

The risks here are more abstract, and the people who can and do go through the steps to accomplish them, fewer. That doesn’t mean zero risk. It means distanced risk. When people won’t walk 100 feet to ask their question to the appropriate staff member (the one that can help them), however, distance means something.

Cataloging, Classification, and Metadata at least have me using my mind to contribute (or at least contribute access to) knowledge, rather than having me use my mind to protect myself. I really don’t like being in survival mode when I’m wanting to actually do something of use. “Trying to survive today,” isn’t really an equivalent for me, to contributing to society.

I guess I should try and remember that, when it comes to the question of whether I ever want to work as Reference staff, again.

In any case…I’ve mentioned this before, but right now I’m looking at freelancing as regards writing or editing. Writing, being a more solitary occupation, is more likely to be something I can comfortably do. (That means I’ll want to generate article ideas and pitches; and also, be reading prolifically.) Editing is more social, from everything I’ve read to this point. If I don’t want it to be social, the route to take is to work on a contract basis as a Proofreader or Copy Editor (also, possibly, Fact-Checker).

If and when I can learn enough of another language to the point that I’m functional in that language, I might also want to look at translation: particularly, book translation. The course I’m in now has a lot of material on abstracting and indexing, which is also applicable in Publishing and with library aggregators and vendors.

God, I want to learn Japanese language.

So I’m looking at:

  • writing
  • abstracting and indexing
  • (book) translation
  • metadata
  • cataloging and classification
  • copy editing
  • proofreading

…with either Publishers, library aggregators and vendors, East Asian Libraries (usually Academic), Academic Libraries, or the open Web. (I need to research that last one: to whom would I pitch articles?)

There is actually a theme to all those things, isn’t there? Taking something that has been written, and producing abstract data describing it, or translating its contents into machine-readable data, or making sure that the knowledge contained in it is findable, readable, and accurate. Hmm.

I should revisit this in a few months…

career, creativity, LIS, philosophy, work, writing

Changing tack?

What I’m wanting to write about, at this point, is the process initiated when one realizes that the self-concept they had as a younger person no longer fits as well as it used to. This is particularly difficult when that self-concept has become ingrained in one’s identity, and when one never expected it to change or morph into something else.

In particular…I know I’ve built the groundwork for creating things, but I might be better served in my own life and identity by not primarily judging or gauging myself as, “a creative.” That isn’t necessarily…fully true, though; the creativity and curiosity may just be finding a different method of revelation.

However: it is the case that it’s seriously a significant shift to get back into making physical art. As well, the stories I told myself as a 17- to 20-year-old to explain my situation, are not necessarily the wisest things to refer back to in order to explain the rest of my life, no matter how “creative” they were. Maybe it works when the average life expectancy is 36 (or 25)…not so much in modern times.

I mentioned this to M and D, recently, and they said it was a sign of growth. That interpretation helps, as versus interpreting it as a sign of failure. I’ve just realized that accumulating arts and crafts supplies doesn’t mean much when I don’t use them. And if I don’t use them, that’s just wasted money (and space) spent in trying to prop up an identity which no longer fits. In Buddhism, I believe this is known as clinging (upadana?), which is a cause of unnecessary duhkha, or, “suffering,” interpreted loosely.

At this point, in regular life, I suppose I can say that I’m in at least four classes, though I only paid for two of them. When all the work from those two classes was completed, last week, I decided to give myself Sunday off: I had been putting classwork as first priority since the past Monday.

I don’t precisely remember what I did on Sunday, but somewhere in there, I was able to get some reading done in Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan. I’m pretty sure that happened early Monday morning (today’s Tuesday, right?). Like, until about 3 AM, Monday morning. (I got through Chapter 3, setting myself up for Chapter 4, where itai-itai byou [lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease”; a.k.a. cadmium poisoning] is introduced…which is the major topic of interest which got me started on Bad Water, which then led me back to Toxic Archipelago as a book to read, prior.)

After I finish Bad Water, assuming it can hold my attention, I can move on to Radiation Brain Moms & Citizen Scientists. All three of these books are based upon ecological disasters in the Japanese archipelago (the last in relation to the Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi disaster), though I think Bad Water is more of a political analysis of culture after the ecological disasters in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras. So far, Toxic Archipelago has heavy (albeit at times, forced) Buddhist themes, which I hadn’t expected.

My sleep hygiene hasn’t been the best, recently: I’ve been getting up for breakfast, then going back to bed and sleeping until late afternoon, and staying up very late. (You know it’s bad when it’s 12:45 AM, and you’re thinking about what else you can do.)

So…I’ve really got a lot of reading I can do. Aside from these three books, I have Rethinking Information Work, 2nd ed., which may help me if I want to enter a field in private industry, rather than working in an Academic or Public Library system; and Essential Classification, 2nd ed., which will help me if I become a Cataloger or Metadata Librarian. Both of the latter books, however, are really technical. Right now, though: I’m aiming for Cataloger and/or Metadata positions in Academic libraries.

One of my courses is entirely self-paced, and that’s a Spanish course which M purchased for me. I’m still in the first lesson, because other things (paid classes which I’m taking in tandem with a cohort of students) took priority late last week. I’m still torn as to whether I should be learning Spanish or Japanese languages…my interest is largely within the latter realm, but I might need a second “Western European language” to work in at least the Academic Libraries I’ve been looking at. I’m just (much!) closer to facility in Spanish than I am in Japanese; M says that the requirement for Spanish is likely because a lot of the patrons around here speak and read the language.

Basically, right now, I have a lot of time. My folks are telling me that I should have time during the next year to year-and-a-half to redetermine what I want to do with my life. I’m actually thinking about becoming an academic researcher…though a lot of this is being addicted to content, and specific, deep content, at that. I’m pretty much amazed that Toxic Archipelago seems to only be in nearby Academic (not Public) Library collections…

There is, that is, the possibility of becoming a Subject Specialist in some topic related to the Pacific Rim. Right now, the majority of my knowledge centers around the West Coast, Hawaii, and Japan. Through Hawaii, there’s connection to other areas in Polynesia, and to Japan…is that what I want, though? Do I want to center my studies on Asian American experience and culture? Or do I want to learn Japanese language and be able to more deeply appreciate other areas which are written of in Japanese?

Or, you know, learn a different language (Native Hawaiian)? Or focus on other English-speaking areas in the Pacific Rim, like Australia and New Zealand?

One of the things I’m realizing is that it’s going to be really difficult, given the speed of technological change and the potential rate of global sea level rise (particularly looking at the accelerating melt-rate of Greenland’s ice sheet)…to be able to predict what will be stable decisions, as regards the future.

So…I’m not quite sure what to do, except do what I love, now. Especially as, at this point, no one can really tell what the future’s going to hold. The major issue for me is that the majority of my life so far has been preparation for the future, not living for the present. It’s kind of hard to get out of that, though being reminded of one’s own mortality…you know. It will kind of force one’s hand.

At the moment, my engagement is taken up with study, and it isn’t bad study. I am, for example, learning how to wrangle quantitative data (which I didn’t really get in my Library Science program), and I’m learning more about Subject Access. I know, however, that the latter will require far more effort than just this class; I’ve been through six others, so far, only two of which were within my LIS program.

So basically, right now…I believe I’m undergoing a sort of transformation from artist to scholar…particularly as the vast majority of material I read is nonfiction. As for what I can do with this…

Writing?

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…

career, LIS, money, personal, self care, work

Not that I wasn’t expecting it,

but still, being notified that you’re likely about to be laid off, is kind of a shock. I got the news a couple of days ago. Right now, I’m still in the process of rebuilding my ePortfolio (when I can remember it exists), working on my class, and trying to keep my head above water. Which…is harder, when you have to take time out of self-care, to study.

I do wish they could have warned me before I started the Professional Development class which is of most use in Public Service (which I’ve been trying to get out of)…but the letter was dated June 2. They’re very good at withholding information.

I probably shouldn’t get into that.

I still haven’t told my Vocational counselor, though that would likely be a next best step. That, and working on this class and my DBT Anger Management workbook.

The week hasn’t been all bad. I had a meeting which turned out to be very positive and thought-provoking, even though I was having a hard time being present for some of it. I also have some other classes which I’m considering taking through the Winter.

The thing is that I’m really a bit torn between taking courses which are based around the Resource Description Framework (which is very much for a Metadata/Technical position and would likely keep me away from the public entirely, but may require a Computer Science background), Cataloging, Collection Development (the latter of which, has to be a lot of reading and statistics), and, basically, Marketing positions (which have to do with Web publicity).

M says I am trying to do too much, and to take things one step — and one class — at a time. I’m thinking about going ahead and reading Essential Classification to see if straight-up Cataloging is something I want to do. It might also be a good primer for July (when Subject Analysis and Collection Analysis are given). The RDF class series starts in August (with an introductory XML class), and I’m not sure I’m going to go through with all of it. It was recommended to me by a colleague, but one who doesn’t know me very well at all…

So…yes, I’m basically planning on doing some other things for income, fairly soon. If I can not be too bitter about being in this class.

The hard part of this is knowing that getting a new job can be a 40-hour/week position in itself, and so how much do I devote to caring for myself, to making jewelry and masks aside from that, to continuing education, and to job search (and self-assessment)?

Maybe by the end of August (when I can take Collection Development and XML in tandem), I’ll be able to tell whether Metadata or Cataloging work is best, for me…if I look at job openings for the skills I have, with an LIS and Humanities (not Computer Science) background.

So:

June

  • Complete class on Mental Health and Libraries
  • Read Essential Classification
  • Work on ePortfolio
  • Work in Anger Management book
  • Update LinkedIn

July

  • Take Subject Analysis
  • Take Collection Analysis

August

  • Take Intro to XML
  • Take Intro to Collection Development

I think that’s as far out as I should plan, right now.

Wow, that was actually…productive…

Business, career, jewelry, libraries, psychology, self care, work

Relax, kid. You have options.

I remember now, something I learned in Library School: you don’t have to do the most difficult thing possible for you to do, just because it’s difficult. Challenging myself constantly may not be the easiest route forward, in life. Yes, I’m talking about COVID-19 and myself working in a public service position based on gathering and sharing, with chronic OCD and a germ phobia. All that has to happen is for someone to cough on me. That’s all that has to happen.

If I were living alone, this may not be such a big issue: but I’m living with two parents over the age of 65, which puts them at high risk. Given that I still need them to support me (I still can’t drive)…that’s not great. Also given that my sibling is an ocean away and that my nearby family is not known for their mental stability (it’s hereditary, except I’m taking care of my dysfunction instead of denying it)…also, not great.

Right now…I’m at a relatively unique place: a juncture at which I’ve never before been. I’ve got job experience, extensive training, schooling. My debt is taken care of, due to family. I’m still with a program designed to help people like myself (I am legally disabled — though I didn’t realize my OCD alone would grant me protections). I question now, however, how much that program has been or will be able to help me further (aside from assistance with learning to drive…or obtaining a job which is not public service).

I know for a fact that they weren’t aware of the reality of working within a Public Library system when they recommended I try it, for example. I had run-ins with two creeps early on (one of whom was a known stalker), which I was entirely unprepared for. But that’s normal, for a Public frikkin’ Library.

Essentially…I have a lot of freedom, right now. God knows how long that will last, but right now I have the ability to pretty much do what I want. Over the last few weeks of the quarantine, I’ve started to get back to what comforts me: making things. It takes my mind off of the stress. I really don’t know everything about how it works; I just know it does. Today I received an order of cords in the mail…kind of makes me want to cry, but not in a bad way. It’s nice to have the money for these things.

I still need to re-register for a seller’s permit (which will enable me to pay tax at point of sale of finished items instead of at point of purchase of materials)…but I can see an extended market for face coverings right now, as well as for jewelry (although I am very aware that jewelry is not a life necessity: it’s a luxury, and people may not have much money for luxuries in the near future). The key thing here…is that if I get (or maintain) a relatively stable part-time job in order to finance the making, I could bloom that income.

Right now, I know what I have saved, and I know a bit about what I could earn. The question is whether I could emotionally tolerate the work: I’d rather work with objects or data, not people…but the position I’m in now is almost entirely composed of working with people. Then there is the fact that working with data most likely means working with numbers (at least if I’m dealing with Big Data)…not my favorite thing to do. That leaves, objects…from which, I’m learning a surprising amount. (Not least, I’m recalling my Geometry — which was one of my favorite topics when it came to Math.)

As well…the surge in physical productivity I experienced recently…that only happened once I tried to commit myself to language as an art form. Then I realized that I didn’t want to do it. There are reasons for this…prime among them is the fact that language in many ways could be said to attempt (and repeatedly fail) to encase reality. I know about this personally.

It’s much easier to exist outside of the confines of language, for me. Working with other languages highlights the biases of English…however, both Spanish and Japanese (the two non-English languages I’ve been most closely acquainted with) have their own strong biases (gender in the first case, hierarchy in the second), and I’d expect the trend of cultural quirks to continue across the myriad of world languages I don’t know about.

Working with images…or literally with fabric or glass, it isn’t the same thing. Color reaches people on a much more basic level than words do. As for why or how, I’m still not certain — or perhaps the part of my mind that can think and type in words, can’t comprehend what the rest of it, knows. (I wouldn’t be surprised.) But there’s way more to me, than just language; and I’m wishing to explore that, at this point.

This reminds me of a game I heard of recently…I’m not sure whether or not it’s Gris, but there are no words spoken in the game…which has really fantastic implications for the way it is received globally and cross-culturally. This is the same reason I was initially into MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging) encoding — everyone had to learn it, it wasn’t language-specific; but right now, as I’ve heard, it’s one of the oldest legacy technologies and is set to be replaced by Linked Data…

Gah, now I’m getting technical and not knowing how to describe this. But Linked Data also works across different languages and vocabularies.

That does give me more of a sense of peace, than not. On that point, I wonder if I should be a member of IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions). Even if I only had the opportunity to work in New Zealand or Australia or Singapore, those could be good options.

I think that with the Library work…I’m going to aim to become a Cataloger. It will keep me working with items (as versus people), and maybe it will be easier for me. If I can’t find a job within a Library system itself, I can work for a company that provides pre-cataloged items to libraries. If not that, hey — it isn’t like item description, organization, and retrieval is any less of a problem, anywhere else.

And I do have some coding skills…

Maybe I should invest in that. I could help with website development for bead shops desiring a Web presence, for example…

art, art media, career, drawing, LIS, psychology, self care, work

Soft graphite. Ooo.

It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself the time to be on here. Gosh, what’s changed…?

My waking hours, for one thing. I’ve been turning in relatively early, waking up around 5:30 AM, staying up for about three hours, and going back to sleep. Then I wake up around noon…and possibly go back to sleep, for a few hours. Then get back up again for dinner. (Hey, I didn’t say it was healthy.)

I’m…feeling considerably better about my job, having started a book on anger management (which indirectly contributes to conflict management), and having begun to read in a book on Linked Data. I’m about halfway through the latter…and it is more technical than I had given it credit for. I have the rest of the weekend to get through it, which I’m thinking should probably be a priority, so that I can be informed at the same time as some of my peers.

But yes…neuroplasticity is a great thing. It’s good to know that I’m not necessarily stuck with the limitations I have, right now. I can see that the incident which caused me to rethink being in this job happened because neither I nor the other person had full control over our anger; the hostility expressed did not actually have anything to do with the person towards whom it was expressed; and the tension ramped up until we both aborted.

If, however, one of us can get control over our emotions, that can change the dynamic and the range of outcomes: particularly if the other person doesn’t know how to do anything other than fight. And that can help keep me feeling safer and more comfortable, in my current job.

Meaning…yes, it is work, but the work is being social. Some people thrive on that; I don’t. It’s good to know that, especially as so many Public Libraries want to hire “people persons.” I may, in short, be better off in an Academic Library environment (as so many people have told me), and/or as a Technical Services employee. But I don’t have to immediately think about getting a different job.

After having written this post, I believe that I should add MA or MFA in Fine Art to my list of things to consider, should I ever get into an Academic Library setting where I need a second Master’s. I’m related to someone who did Art as an undergraduate degree without going through Community College first; I did Art as an AA. He had more theory; I had more practice. But it’s enough to know that I could learn about Art History on my own, and try for at least an MA in that.

The prospect of having encyclopedic knowledge of Art History is appealing, though I do realize that the degree can take a very long time. It isn’t so bad if it’s subsidized. It also isn’t so bad if I do wind up with that encyclopedic knowledge!

As for what to do while I am awake…my little A5 journal is helping with that. I’m listing (and checking off) tasks. As of April 15 (four days ago, now — I started this post two days ago! what the hey?!), I completed (and washed and ironed) 9 face masks. With orders now in California and Hawaii (the two places I am usually found) making face masks often mandatory to go outside, it looks like I’ll need to make more of them. I’ve already had two separate occasions where I’ve been asked to make more; even if indirectly.

22-pencil set of Mitsubishi Hi-uni pencils, from 10B to 10H
“Hi-uni” pencils from Mitsubishi. Range: 10B to 10H!

I also — now that I know I’m not aiming to make comics (at least not professionally) — went and bought a set of art pencils. I can draw, “not-for-reproduction,” that is. I guess it’s the difference between Fine Art and Graphic Art. (I don’t know yet where Illustration falls in there, really; but it could be like the difference between Cataloging and Metadata Librarianship: you don’t really, “get it,” until you study it. Then you can kind of grok the difference between Subject Classification and coding in JSON-LD. Which…probably means nothing to most people who aren’t me. Moving on…)

I don’t know how I’m going to like the “Hi-uni” brand pencils. The reviews say they have less tactile “feedback” than the Faber-Castell 9000s I’ve otherwise been using (I think this refers to how well they grip the page) — but just the fact that the cores are different-sized according to the hardness of the lead, is alluring. (Softer cores are wider; harder ones, narrower.) Someone is paying attention to how the pencils are used, that is, and to the strength of the cores.

I’ve tried a lot of graphite pencils and sticks…how they feel to work with is just really variable. I’m not sure if it has to do with the qualities of the clays used for matrix, how old the clay is (I’m recalling the shattered pastel incident), or what (pencil cores are generally made of graphite plus clay, with the proportions determining hardness) — but graphite can be really nice or really…irritating. I’ve experienced my share of super-slippery pencils and graphite sticks that seemed to barely make a mark (even if they were supposedly soft)…to the point that I’m only going to go over some of the graphite crayons/sticks/pencils I’ve tried. And no, I’m not getting compensation for this. At frickin’ all.

Cretacolor Monolith woodless graphite pencil set, ranging from HB to 9B
These come in the Cretacolor MonolithBox — or did, when I obtained these (2016 or before). The blue 4B graphite stick is supposed to be water-soluble, but I’ve never tried it.

The above is a brand of graphite stick that I do really like (Cretacolor MONOLITH), which would be perfect except for a couple of things. The first thing is the random hard bit one occasionally finds embedded in the stick while drawing, which incises the paper and leaves a permanent mark. I think the only way to get rid of these is to sharpen them out, but that leads to a lot of otherwise unnecessary sharpening (as versus just grinding the bit into the paper and hoping I never have to erase: the marks left may be white marks, after all, not black). The second thing is that because these are round and lacquered, they aren’t designed to facilitate using the entire broad side of the stick — just the side of the tip, and the tip itself.

An example of a different type of “graphite crayon” are the LYRAs:

LYRA graphite crayons in 2B, 6B, and 9B
LYRA graphite crayons in 2B, 6B, 9B.

In the right hands (generally speaking, not mine to date), these can be very delicate. However, because of the sheer size of these things (approximately 1cm wide), they’re great for working on huge images — like, ones you have to lay out on the floor or the wall because they’re too big for tables. I’ve found that I really don’t need something quite that hardcore — or, at least, haven’t, since I last dealt with the Art Department (though I did have a friend who absolutely would have used these). They also either need to be sharpened with a knife or a huge pencil sharpener (the latter of which, LYRA sells).

(No, I’m not responsible if you cut yourself with a knife trying to sharpen things.)

The nice thing about these is that there’s nothing to stop one from peeling off the wrapper and polishing one side down on newsprint, to use the broad side to draw with. (The shape is that of a hexagonal prism.) Of course, it’s also possible to find cheap little rectangular graphite sticks which are just fine for this, too — but those have been some of the more slippery/pale, and frustrating, incarnations of graphite that I’ve dealt with.

And no, I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, except not buy them. The thing is, the LYRA graphite crayons are a bit too long to use sideways; I’d end up breaking them into two or more parts. If, however, that would get me to use them (as versus keep them in a baggie for the future, as I have), I suppose it’s OK.

So the Hi-uni set I got (put out by Mitsubishi, of all corporations — and yes, I believe that’s the same as the car company: the logo matches) has 22 grades of graphite, ranging from 10B (softest) to 10H (hardest), with the extra two being HB and the ever-enigmatic F. I would have gotten every other grade from soft to medium (say 10B, 8B, 6B, 4B…to 2H or 4H), but it was significantly cheaper per-pencil to get the set. Also, the place that carried them was out of a number of pencils I would have liked to have gotten, open-stock.

I’ve just tested out the Hi-uni 10B…it’s super-expressive, and super-soft, even somewhat crumbly. I haven’t applied any image adjustments to the below, even though the sun is now going down…because of this, it looks dim.

Hi-uni 10B graphite marks, image un-adjusted
Without image adjustments

With an exposure adjustment applied, though, it’s super-high contrast. This may, actually, negate the need to work in ink, if I did want to make prints. (I’ve actually been watching a lot of The Owl House, which is a new cartoon show on Disney; if you look in the backgrounds, a lot of the lines of the surroundings are textured like this. Also, looking at Ducktales (2017), it’s pretty evident where the background artists used personal flourish in illustrating the characters’ surroundings. Ducktales (2017) has more of a brush-pen thing going on, though.) :)

Hi-uni 10B graphite marks, with Photoshop's exposure image adjustment
With Exposure image adjustment

And yes…it was hard to write with that pencil, especially given that I didn’t sharpen it to a point (as I knew it would be worn to a nub pretty much immediately). I had to keep rotating the pencil to keep those letters legible. The 10B is pretty creamy, as well…which has me wondering about the others.

One of the reasons I got the Hi-uni is the fact that I’ve got a lot of textured paper, which I haven’t been using. I’m particularly thinking of a Maruman Zuan sketchbook which I obtained in a Japanese-American market in Southern California (honestly, I probably could have obtained it in San Francisco’s Japan Center, if I’d looked). It has a really, really nice texture on it. It’s something I think I’ve been missing, recently…likely due to the fact that I’ve been working mostly with pen and ink, and on smooth paper.

There is also a pack of tinted Pastel paper I have…which allows one to use lighter-value materials on it as well (like, “General’s White Charcoal,” or white/tinted pastel). The only drawback is the absolute need to use fixative for those light marks (even though it will likely turn some of them clear). I have some. I suppose I could be considered lucky. But that stuff is noxious. Everyone who has ever suggested we try to use it, has noted its toxicity, and advised us not to breathe it in. Meaning: use a respirator, go outside, and don’t breathe the mist.

I’ve resorted to using Aqua Net before (it’s the paranoid guy’s fixative), which I can use in the shower as though it’s a spray booth: open the window, close the door, and evacuate while the solvent dissipates…but like I said. Noxious. Even Aqua Net in the amounts needed to “fix” a painting or drawing, smells horrible. I’ve also heard that it will yellow over time, whereas Artist’s fixative should not.

But at least graphite isn’t quite as vulnerable to smearing as charcoal or pastel…and there are also the oil pastels (which bind the pigment, instead of leaving it loose so that it needs a fixative), the most significant of which, in my mind, are the Neocolor I series by Caran d’Ache. I’ve used these before because they have brilliant colors and exceptional opacity. Now, whether they are still the same colors, today, if I were to find my drawings…that, I don’t know! What I know is that my yellows and reds showed up on top of black paper. I’m not certain how these would react to a fixative; though it may be that they wouldn’t need it. Nor do I know how they would intermingle with graphite.

My favorite pencils…well, if there could be a “favorite” brand, more than a brand more useful for one type of application or another…are the Faber-Castell 9000s (in the photo way down at the bottom of the post). However, I got these a very long time ago. I’m up for trying something different…and for giving myself something for making it through all those masks and studying! I’ve gotten to the point of realizing that not all art supplies are alike, which even applies down to the level of a pencil.

Random pencils
Case in point: the “ECO PENCILs” above, are Tombows. I was almost put off of graphite altogether, because of those little guys…they just feel a little slick to me, though they’re better than nothing.

The pencils in the above photo are mostly nothing special; the green pencil is a KIMBERLY from General Pencil Co. (the same people who make General’s Charcoal): I didn’t realize that the label was facing downwards when I took the shot. The Derwents are good in the hard and middle grades (I’m seeming to recall something about random hard bits in these, too), but I haven’t tried their softer ones (I was using the Faber-Castells for that job, at the time). The two Tombow ECO PENCILs, I avoid unless I’m being either experimental, or too lazy to look for my good pencils. I found them in Honolulu for like $1.25 each (or something) after I realized I had failed to pack any pencil whatsoever…which is not great when you want to do ink sketches with underdrawings. The Prismacolor TURQUOISE…I don’t really remember how it behaves, and offhand, it doesn’t stand out.

I’ve, today, been looking for a lost Faber-Castell PITT graphite stick in 9B or 10B — I don’t recall which. I haven’t been able to find it, though I did find (by surprise) a Koh-I-Noor TOISON D’OR 1900 8B pencil, back from the time when 8B was one of the densest graphite grades one could find (circa 2016 — you’d be lucky to find a 9B, and you would not find a 10B). It’s got a great feel on sketch paper — toothy, not slippery, and a velvety dense application. The thing about the TOISON D’OR is that this pencil has varnish which has in the past migrated to my fingertips…at least, if I didn’t dream that. I have trouble distinguishing fantasy and reality, sometimes.

No, I’m not kidding. I remember purple fingertips, but my memory can be unreliable.

Swatch and appearance of Koh-I-Noor brand Toison d'Or 1900 8B pencil
You know how hard it is to get the swatch and the pencil in focus at the same time?

This 8B TOISON D’OR also smudges very, very easily. That can be a good or bad thing, depending…though if I wanted total smudgelessness, I’d use ink. (Granted, that doesn’t always work!) There’s also the trick of laying down a piece of paper under your hand, if your habit is to rest your hand on your work: it keeps the side of your hand from turning black, and all your black points from turning everything else grey. I’m wondering if glassine paper is any better for this, seeing as how it’s basically like waxed paper…I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s an easy experiment. (Glassine paper is used to separate images which might become damaged from friction in storage, like pastel, charcoal, and graphite works. I’ve had to use it before, particularly when I needed to archive my work after the Art program ended.)

The other thing I’m pretty happy about is this:

Eraser kit containing eight different erasers and a pencil sharpener in a tin. Above it rest two short Faber-Castell 9000 2B pencils.
Erasers!

This is a kit I’ve been able to put together out of bits & bobs. The tin is from a craft store, about the size of a deck of Tarot cards; the pencil sharpener is from an artist supply. The erasers are (mostly) from a sampler pack found online, though I think the black Tombow MONO eraser, I got in Honolulu. The 2B Faber-Castell 9000s live in there with them, and they kind of sit around on my nightstand until I decide to use them.

As for anything in there that I liked by surprise? Yes. The “foam” erasers. I don’t even know what they are. They just work really well. :) The one on the upper left reads “SAKURA KUREPASU” on the side, which I’m thinking refers to Sakura Cray-Pas, the manufacturer. Interestingly enough, the ARCH foam eraser also reads, “SAKURA KUREPASU”.

Phew! That’s a lot about pencils! And I just realized, I didn’t even get into stick erasers…or eraser shields (the latter of which, make life so much easier). Or tortillions and blending stumps. Or mechanical pencils and lead holders. But if I’m going in a more fine-art direction than a graphic one…that stuff may come up (granted that I have only seen the fabled lead holder, not ever used one).

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

Priorities…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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