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

Another heat wave. Stationery, art, and metaphysics?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

career, LIS, technology

XML excitement :P

I’m writing this now because I’m determined to get to bed before 10 PM local time. I’ve been staying up way too late (even if I was doing homework), and I know I need to keep my immunity up. There is basically no excuse for me, not to do so. There is nothing more important right now, that is, than not getting sick. (I’ve been having slight irritation in my esophagus for the past two days, and I know it’s likely from not getting enough regular sleep.)

Over the past five days…a number of things have happened. For one thing, I’ve started to get into my XML (eXtensible Markup Language) training, which is actually really fun — kind of like a video game, except I’m learning. I know it’s just the first week, but I’m considering getting deeper into this than I had planned.

My main issue is choosing between training paths, where those paths diverge: the first being Digital Humanities and the electronic publishing industry (or the Publishing industry in general, which appears to be becoming decentralized); the second being Linked Data and metadata specialization. The second path — well — I already know that I’m interested in it. The thing is that I’m interested in Digital Humanities, as well.

The tracks just lead along different life paths…speaking of which, I did get back into Rethinking Information Work (I stopped waiting to transcribe my self-assessment), and just got my copy of Jump Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. My fear is that I’ll be moving forward along a path so quickly that I don’t know where it’s leading.

However, not moving forward because I don’t know where I’m going is a repeat of those nine years I spent as a Shelver, where I was trying to figure out where I was going, without actually having the experience to be able to tell what I wanted, and why. Then I moved forward and discovered a bit about what it was like to work as a paraprofessional in Public Services in a Public Library…which was likely not a great fit for me, and I don’t know if it ever will be. (Sometimes students are warned away from Technical tracks in Library School; it would have been of use to me if someone warned me away from Social tracks.)

Linked Data, anyhow, is very forward-looking and oriented towards information organization (and the integration of Library work with the rest of the world of Information), while Digital Humanities seems to have more to do with coding, and getting things produced, visible, and online. (I also should not neglect to say that my Metadata Professor [who was excellent] didn’t hold one of the classes I’ve been considering from that track, in high regard.)

The spread of high technology, however, should it become ubiquitous and inexpensive (it is not yet so in my country)…it makes me question the future of paper books. I may have mentioned this here before; I know I wrote about it, but I don’t recall where (by that I mean, if it is in hard copy or digital or cloud storage).

I see the future of information dissemination and sharing moving in the direction of video, animation, digital interaction in the form of socialization and gamification, inclusive of music and art, and possibly still text…but I think text is going to be at least a bridge and transitional stage.

After all, text at least can be, if not often is, the basis of videos and animation — in the form of scriptwriting. There’s also storyboarding, but if you don’t have notations about the story, it’s probably going to be harder to envision it to make the storyboards (though not necessarily; my own writing grew out of comic work where I was drawing the images first without thinking about the story, and the story basically emerged from what I had drawn, or was in the process of drawing).

That is, a lot of these media are story or narrative (or lecture), with something else added on top. Now, whether that something else needs to be added, or takes relative advantage of its format: that is a different question!

The major issue is that most people, at least where I am at, do not read above a 6th-grade level. This means that when we’re publishing our thoughts in text, that just de facto is going to be read by a limited segment of the population (at least, should we write above a sixth-grade level, which I’ve done for as long as I can remember).

This means a couple of things, one of which is obvious: it is a very important skill to be able to understand complex concepts and explain them clearly and accurately in simple language (although that’s basically the main concept of teaching). The other thing is that if we don’t do this, it seems to enforce a gap between the educated and everyone else (and then, “everyone else,” or a faction of that group, gets resentful — and you have a situation like the present one in the U.S., or in at least one other place in the world I can think of in the 20th century).

Of course, at times concepts just can’t be explained engagingly in simple language. I’m thinking of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. That was engaging, but I couldn’t take more than three or four pages of it at once, and ended up not reading most of it. I mean, it is possible to be simultaneously incredibly interesting and boring, even though you know it’s pretty much the direct teaching of one of the most brilliant people of our time. (And, yes, he did after that, publish A Briefer History of Time, the title of which…was kind of funny, because you know right there that he was referencing losing readers with the prior book.)

I’ve had the experience of trying to read notes on “crosswalking” data (for example, Bibliographic data) from one system to another, for example, and it was so dense and filled with so many external references and systems that I haven’t yet worked with (but which are now obsolete), that I couldn’t understand it. I would link it, but I doubt anyone here would understand it (or perhaps, care), either. The major issue is trying to make the language of the standards so general, so as to fit as many situations as possible, that the reader of those standards can struggle to grasp what is actually being referred to (especially if they aren’t immersed in the usage of the concepts on a daily basis).

Anyhow — XML is…it’s really simple, though it can be difficult to get one’s head around, at first. And I am just in the first week of class, so I likely shouldn’t be jumping the gun where it comes to being excited about it…but I can understand it, to an extent, right now. I have had some HTML/CSS training (which is related but different), so that helps. I just find XML and Linked Data to be comparatively brilliant solutions to creating widely-understood coding. I can also merge my knowledge of Cataloging in here…which is almost the first time I’ve really flexed those skills outside of my Cataloging classes.

(I should note to myself that I need to collect at least shortcuts to all the different places I have Cataloging/Metadata-relevant materials stored on my machine, if not just reorganizing the hard drive.)

I’ve also realized that I don’t have to learn everything at once, which is mostly a relief. (I can learn some things at a later date, that is.) My major issue is overloading my COVID-19 free time with too many classes…

career, craft, money, personal, psychology, self care, writing

Dealing with passivity…

…or tiredness, lack of energy, lack of motivation. Whatever it’s called, it’s irritating. It actually is a reason I started reading, again: it’s not that big a jump between staying in bed, staying in bed and reading, reading at an actual desk, and getting out of bed. It just kind of eases the transition for me. Plus, reading doesn’t really demand much energy, in comparison to making something or writing.

Right now there are a number of books I can get back to (or begin)…which is good. In particular, I’ve found a new one called Me, Myself, and Us, by Brian Little, which seems to be about psychological adaptability. In particular, what I’ve read so far has to do with concepts about the self, and how it helps with psychological resilience if one can have more axes of definition when it comes to self-conceptualization, rather than fewer.

Hence, if I can define myself as many things, any perceived failure of one self-concept will affect me less. Multidimensionality has an obvious upshot, here. Less obviously, though: for me, it’s difficult to maintain practice in and cover all my areas of interest (beadwork, sewing, reading, writing…and, right, librarianship…etc).

Being able to perceive others through a number of different lenses should also enable me to avoid becoming upset because of automatically imputing a motivation to their behavior (the latter of which, may say more about my own psyche than the other person’s).

Right now I have a hard copy of this book which was delivered on the 31st of July. Because I am paranoid about germs, I’m going to let it rest until this Friday: seven days was the maximum quarantine period I’ve seen mentioned (or rather, I stopped looking after I hit, “a week”), although three days: 72 hours, was a minimum.

A note: Please do your own research if you need to know COVID-19 quarantine periods for books. What I’m saying here (or in any of my posts, really), isn’t representative of the ALA or any other Library association or federation — just me and, in this case, a limited amount of research leading to an overall impression, which should not be depended upon as life-saving advice.

A while back, I mentioned that M and D had said that my period of unemployment (and class-taking) during this pandemic would give me an opportunity to see what I really wanted to do. There’s…really a lot I want to do, and some things I just need to. (And maybe, some things are just, “busy work.”)

What I’ve found that I do enjoy, is reading and writing. The thing is: I can’t do that all the time. I can’t pretend that all of life can be contained in words. It’s obvious, in my case, how much language can constrain and entrap thought; editing out of, “reality,” (or a reality surrogate, more specifically) what people have historically chosen not to recognize. However, a great amount of learning can still be accomplished through language. Organization of thought can also be well accomplished, especially when we choose not to force a concept onto reality that does not fit.

Right now, I have sewing and beadwork as non-verbal outlets, but they require such a large shift away from verbal thought that it’s difficult for me to make the switch. That may be more of a reason to do it, I’m not sure.

There’s also the sad fact that neither beadwork nor sewing nor writing nor reading can be depended upon alone, for a stable and livable income. Librarianship can; but the field is in a heavy state of flux right now. It’s questionable how long the courses I’m in, or planning to take, will continue to be relevant. Editing is also a possibility, though the Publishing industry is also dealing with competition from the Web; and as such, is also in a state of flux.

Okay, I’m…running out of energy, right now. I only slept for 5 hours, last night. How I woke up at 9:30 AM, I don’t know…

Business, career, culture, LIS, writing

Writing as an outlet? as a profession?

I began this post late last night, then found myself wandering off-topic — into stationery, of all things. As I had, the prior morning, woken up at 3:30 AM and stayed up past dawn, and it was by that time around midnight — and I was actually tired, I decided to give it a rest. Or give myself a rest, that is.

I’ve been meaning to tell you all that my instructor let me know that Statistics won’t help much with data-mining. Well. :) My instructor also let me know that I had accidentally overlooked 2/3 of the assignment I turned in on Sunday…so I still have some work to do. Luckily, the class isn’t over for a couple more weeks, and all the due dates are, “soft.” The major thing I’m dealing with is how to account for multiple variables — that is, which variables to use at what time to get what information; and how to label data points.

As well — I’ve been questioning just how important it is for me to keep myself in at least 1-2 classes per month through the end of the year (though I should note that I’ll be in Vocabulary Design, likely until December). It is possible, that is, to learn via reading and study (and writing), as versus being in a class. What I won’t necessarily get are exercises and quizzes and due dates (or Certificates).

However…I’ve saved a bunch of material from my first Cataloging course (the one I didn’t do too well in), and I could easily review…at least, the part that has to do with Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Library of Congress Classification (LCC). A lot of the material for that is available online — and I should review it. Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), though — the tools for that are available only for a fee. I could do it, but it would just be practice; I’ve already taken a refresher course on that with the American Library Association (ALA).

There’s also the alternate option of getting onto LibraryThing…which uses an old version of DDC which is out of copyright (LibraryThing calls it the Melvil Decimal System, or MDS). I believe the DDC is currently copyrighted by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). DDC is used by Public Libraries and some smaller Academic Libraries, in the U.S. Most large University Libraries, from my experience, use LCC: their collections are simply too huge for the limited number of divisions in DDC.

Yesterday morning, I started working through Rethinking Information Work by G. Kim Dority, and started the “Career Journal” she recommends. So far, I’d recommend the book to Information Professionals who are looking at job options (I know I’m not the only one laid off — or facing the possibility), just for the number and diversity of resources listed at the end of each Chapter, and in the Appendixes. (I’m on Chapter 2, and still have to transcribe my self-assessment.)

One of the resources recommended by Dority in an annotated bibliography is The Start-Up of You, by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Hoffman helped begin LinkedIn, the social-networking site. I’m still amazed at how many people don’t know about it. I was forced to sign up in 2012 when I began my Library Science program, but I knew of it before then.

Then again, back then, the Internet was almost my primary social medium.

I wouldn’t rank The Start-Up of You too highly, at this point (I’m beginning Chapter 3). So far, there has been a lot of talk about successful capitalists (I assume they’re capitalists) and how we can learn from them; and pushing of LinkedIn. I’ve been around a bit too long to really…take that seriously. I mean, the conflict of interest is very apparent (as my own bias, here, also likely is).

However, it does bring up the idea that my perspective, thoughts, and intelligence are likely my largest assets…when it comes to differentiating myself from, “my competition.” And research, if I’m looking at Writing as a field, is largely reading. Reading comprehension and writing are two things I do relatively well. Not perfectly, yet; but in comparison to many, I think well (even if I am, now, relatively hesitant to divulge where I disagree).

That is basically my largest, “competitive advantage.”

The thing is…it’s very apparent right now that the world doesn’t need another person to agree to everything and say it’s all fine, when it isn’t. That’s an abdication of responsibility. The kids in Flint, MI, don’t stop being poisoned by lead in their drinking water because someone says, “it’s fine.” Radium poisoning from occupational exposure doesn’t stop happening because someone says, “it’s fine.” Coronavirus deaths don’t stop racking up because someone says, “it’s fine.”

I think we can see a pattern, here. We don’t need to be told that things aren’t as bad as they are — we need reality to be addressed. Not someone’s faith-based fantasy. There is a distinction to be made between fantasy and reality, although the lines seem to recently have become blurred. Or, maybe in the U.S., to some people at least, they’ve always been blurred.

And yeah, that is the first time in a long time that I’ve actually written something like that. But things can only go so far before people start speaking up about them.

And no, I do not represent my community of practice in saying any of this. This is all me.

I’ve realized that I never really did a review of Toxic Archipelago. Brett Walker, at the beginning of the book, says that it goes to a really dark place. It’s really not as dark as Kate Moore’s Radium Girls, however: I believe Walker likely tried to protect the reader from the harshness of the realities of the situations described in the book.

For example, describing kidnapped Korean labor working in Japanese coal mines during WWII as, “forced labor.” I guess that sounds nicer than, “slavery,” even though Koreans still face discrimination in Japan today, and were the subjects of cultural imperialism (at least during the time of the 1910-1945 Japanese Occupation), which is not so different from what I know. (I also outright know that there is a lot I don’t know.)

But then, one could make the same case about modern U.S. prison labor: how things went from outright slavery to Jim Crow and then to the school-to-prison pipeline. To not delve into those other two topics (cultural imperialism and discrimination), right now.

That’s a really deep rabbit hole to get into, though, and I’m not as fully informed as I would like to be on it should I comment (further, at least), so I’ll stay away from it, for now. Though, the topics of Korea-Japan relations, and cultural imperialism (in and by various countries), and the U.S. prison system, all look like topics rife for research.

While it’s cathartic to be able to actually write these things, I’m aware that communicating anything in the realm of opinion inheres risk. (Communicating things in the realm of fact probably also inheres risk, these days.) However, if my value is in my viewpoint and my ability to articulate why my view is what it is; that’s also something to be aware of.

I have actually started a project journal, as well. Right now I’m not limiting it to either fiction or nonfiction, though I believe it will likely begin as a mixture and become more fictionalized as time goes on. If my past attempts say anything about this, it will definitely become more complex…which causes me to wonder if I should actually make an outline, or let things wander where they may…

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, libraries, LIS, personal, psychology

Retrospective

Granted, I’m not entirely sure what’s going to come out of me as I write my first post in five days…just try to bear with me. One of the things that has been on my mind, is employment. Particularly, working in the private sector of the economy, as versus governmental infrastructure. (In the United States, Public Libraries are governmental institutions, as it is not possible to maintain a liberal democracy with an uneducated public.)

Or…being able to specialize and work in a job in which I know the answers to questions, as versus working in a public service position where all day, I’m asked questions I don’t immediately know the answers to. Maybe I just need to work on my phrasing, like, “Let me see if I can help you find an answer to that,” rather than, “I don’t know, but I’ll try” (which is how I feel, a lot of the time — even though, a lot of the time, I can help them find their answer).

Yes, it’s true: “librarians” don’t possess encyclopedic knowledge about the world. We just know how to navigate the world of information in order to find sources in which your questions might be able to be answered. (I put “librarians” in quotes because not everyone who works in a library is a Librarian — but everyone who works there is assumed to be, by many, many people. Kind of like some people assume the title of, “Public Servant,” to be a hierarchical statement, which it is not. The people at the DMV are not slaves. Neither am I.)

That also doesn’t mean we’ve read all the books. That’s one of those things I learned as a Library Aide (i.e. Shelver), from the professional Librarians.

And I’m kind of tired. I mean, seriously. I’ve only been in this position for nine months (2.5 of which have been on lockdown), and the amount of time I’ve spent having to draw off of my own resources because of system downtime and the like…it’s incredible.

Well — I have been on lockdown for over 70 days, which has caused me to realize how much stress I do have about going in to work. I’ve just been doing it because I’ve felt I had to. Like there was nothing better.

To be honest, a lot of getting into this field had to do with salary, emotional safety, and health benefits — along with the fact that writing, for pretty much all of my undergraduate years, had been one of my only constants (the other was my family). That, in turn, happened because during my freshman year — at a different University — I realized that being asked to write nothing for months, and then turn in a huge paper at the end of the quarter, wasn’t working for me.

I was also aware of being gender-different, somewhere in there, though I didn’t quite realize it until I met people who identified as transgender (and actually figured out what the “T” in “LGBT” meant, and that it was separate from issues of sexual attraction). I’m not sure when that was, exactly: I wasn’t keeping a journal, back then. It’s kind of like I can’t tell if I was actually required to write a 60-page paper at the end of the quarter, or if it just felt that way.


But there were so many things that threw me for a loop in early college. Not kidding. Sociology was one of them. And I did really love my Astronomy course. And my Japanese language classes.

The problem was the extremely high ratio of freshmen to everyone else on the campus (I went despite knowing there was a 60% freshmen turnover rate, which was my fault). There were also unresolved problems with infrastructure, culture, and the fact that at the time I graduated (from a different [commuter] University), pretty much all of my debt had been accrued while I was living in the dorms or apartments, from my first 5 quarters.

Still: living on my own was a really liberating experience, for me. I can’t say I now approve of everything I did, because I obviously was being impacted by an undiagnosed mental disorder at the time; but just to get away from my parents and everyone who knew me (well, most of them), that was instrumental in being able to figure out who I was. Because at the end of high school, I really didn’t know.

Looking back on it, I would have done better to go to Junior College first, and then transfer into a University program after I had better self-knowledge. And, you know, a plan. That wasn’t what happened, though.

Then there is the fact that through most of my College and University years…I’ve been going through without Advisement. I didn’t know how important it was at my first University (where it was not mandatory), and I don’t really remember much of it at my second University. Then, in Grad School…if I had not withdrawn and later returned, I might have had access to a student advisor. Junior College (which I returned to after Undergrad and before Grad School) is the place I remember having people who would actually try to help me figure out a life path.

As it was, no one signed me up for an advisor when I re-entered the system in Graduate work. I tried to get one and was told that the program I had been told about didn’t exist. There was also another feed I was supposed to be signed up for when I re-entered, which I only found out I was missing out on during my last semester when I tried to graduate.

Having worked in a Library for 10 years, I was also repeatedly told by my parents that I, “didn’t need an Internship,” when it was recommended by my school to take at least two or three before graduation. I do have experience, but all of it has been within the same County system, and all (aside from schoolwork, which had me branching out into an Archive) within Public Libraries.


So…you can see my path has been kind of fraught. Not to mention that my upper-division courses in Undergrad were focused on Fiction writing…which is known not to pay the bills. (I didn’t know it at the time I entered the major, however.) That is why I went into Librarianship, because Librarianship, at least, could earn a decent income, and I could double-task my reading. By that, I mean that working in a Public Library requires at least some reading, and writing your own fiction most definitely requires reading others’ work.

(Not that it really…is pressing on me to write a novel, anymore. Things might change if I went back to reading fiction. There’s just so much that I haven’t seen come out, which I could give life to. But if I don’t read it, I don’t notice the gaping holes in content.)

Earlier on, I also had my eye on San Francisco Public, which was one of the only places in the country, at the time, to cover Female-to-Male reconstructive chest surgery. Otherwise, it was a $7000 out-of-pocket expense. Regular health insurance wouldn’t cover it (though this was around a decade ago; some HMOs will cover this surgery, now).

I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted; and I’ve ended up not taking the option, as I’ve realized that what’s going on with me is more complicated than, “being a man.” I’m not really a man. I also knew — as someone with a disability requiring lifelong care (no, I don’t mean my gender issues) — that in an era before the Affordable Care Act, I actually needed health care. At the very least, I needed mental health and pharmacy coverage: the medication I was put on to treat one of my diagnoses (at its worst, it’s life-threatening if untreated), was extremely expensive.

Of course, the patent has expired and now we’re into generics for that one medication, so it is no longer a huge price gouge. But for a time, it was — or would have been, had I been kicked off of my medical coverage after I aged out of the system and had to reapply with a, “preexisting condition,” which the same HMO had diagnosed. At the time, it was legal to charge exorbitant rates if one needed health insurance and wasn’t totally healthy…which undermines the reason behind health insurance existing, but I digress.


During my college years, I did read: and I read a lot. The thing is…I hardly read a lot, on my own. I did it to fulfill assignments, and to learn; with the major exception being learning about Buddhism and Occultism in my University Library. (They actually had Gems from the Equinox!) The problem I can see here is that my reading choices reflect my own hangups and concerns about the state of the world. So…they aren’t the most enjoyable things to read. They are, however, oddly comforting. (Even A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking, gives me some respite: if the end of life is actually an end, that means I don’t have to deal with this world being messed up for an age or so, as doctrines of reincarnation, rebirth, or Hell, suggest.)

At this point I know that people getting killed off by disease, for example, has been a norm in enough of the rest of the times and peoples of the world, that I shouldn’t really be surprised if it becomes a norm, now. Also, heard about the end-Permian extinction (a.k.a. “The Great Dying”)? There was about 9x as much carbon dioxide (from vulcanism) in the air as there is today (if I recall correctly: from The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, by Stephen Brusatte). Most life on the planet died off. But as a biosphere, we made it through, somehow.

What’s going on now…dense population centers and ease of global transportation have made it easy for microorganisms to spread. Whereas before, an outbreak like COVID-19 may have occurred, the effects would have been localized. The virus causing the illness may have died out (it’s never a good idea for a being dependent on its hosts, to kill them off — did I read that in The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton? And if so, was he talking about us?).

The conditions we have put in place, however, have enabled, “one weedy species,” to take hold, and instead of the disappearance of Panamanian Golden Frogs, it’s affecting our species directly, this time. (The quote is from The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, page unknown. [Sorry, I decided not to mark up the book until later…])

I wonder if I do read a lot.


Well. I have, in the past. But obviously, not widely enough. It was in high school that I realized I didn’t know how to write female characters. That should have told me something; what it did tell me, I’m not sure. Perhaps, that I was not a woman.

But I believe, from this point looking back, that this development (or lack of one) was largely in relation to not having been exposed to effective, original, fully-developed woman characters with emotional range in the majority of the books I had to read as I was growing up (the major exception being the “Dragonriders of Pern” series by Anne McCaffrey, though I didn’t really see those characters as being gendered, and I didn’t have to read them).

I mean, yeah, we read Ellison and Hemingway and Golding. But name an influential female character in Invisible Man, or Lord of the Flies, or pretty much anything by Hemingway. They aren’t there.

Then there is Anne Rice, whom I may get titters at for having read when I was a teen. (She used to write erotica under the name, “A. N. Roquelaure”…it’s disturbing. Seriously. My University Library had some of it — I made the mistake of reading it.)

Now that I think of it, though: Akasha in The Vampire Lestat was a main player (even though she was likely literally insane). Same with Claudia, though I can’t recall ever actually having read Claudia’s story (I think it was contained in Interview with the Vampire, which I never read…it was kind of painful, being one of Rice’s earlier books). And there is Gabrielle (Lestat’s mother), who comes in as a deus ex machina at the end of Vampire Lestat.

Then there is Violin, which was more interesting to me. Nor have I read her “Mayfair Witches” series. Now that I look it up on Wikipedia, I wonder if I want to…ugh.

Also, the fact that she is a female author writing these things…I would suggest could contribute to the idea that women, you know, can have personalities. But there is the question of why so many of her main characters are male, as well: Louis, Lestat, Nicki, Armand, Marius.

Maybe she had the same problem I did; just having been exposed to so little material that writing female characters who matter, and have personalities and lives and power, and who don’t circle around men, becomes difficult. Also, as a lot of this stuff blends with history…the womens’ stories may just have been too painful to write (though I can see that angle coming in with the Mayfair Witches saga).

So I guess there is stuff out there…it may just not be anything “classical” (unless you’re looking at Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and the like, which…seriously, I hated having to read. Almost as frustrating as getting to page 400-out-of-600-something in Moby Dick [after which, I gave up], but not quite).

Maybe I underestimate the amount I’ve read…maybe majoring in Creative Writing and being around a huge number of prolific readers, can do that to you?


The question I started out with at the beginning of this post was, “If I’m not going to be a Librarian, what am I going to be?” That is still not clear. What this post has clarified for me, though, is that maybe I actually do have a good shot at being a Librarian. Even if I have a side job for a while, working in a bead store or for a small fabric store. Just out of love.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have to set up my own database, but if I do, I’ve had practice at it, already. But what’s clear is that I’m getting a bit old to be consciously attempting to follow in my Dad’s footsteps. I don’t have to be a Web Developer if I don’t want to be. (He wasn’t even ever really a Web Developer — he just worked intensely with computer systems.)

There is a course that has come up, which I’m pretty sure will be useful for me; at least, if I continue in the role that I’m in now, or become a Public Services Librarian. It has to do with dealing with customers with active/untreated psychiatric disorders. (It happens very, very often in Public Libraries.) Essentially, this class will help with any role that puts me into the front line of contact with the public — or into managing front-line workers.

That would apply in a good number of places; and would keep me safer where it comes to dealing with the public. In self-defense they teach how to kill people who are attacking one, but not how to effectively de-escalate a situation which hasn’t yet reached that point (like, if you don’t want to kill them or hurt them or touch them). The latter, I have to learn somewhere else. Which…is ridiculous, but hey. Some people specialize in the latter. It probably isn’t martial arts masters.

Public Services Librarianship isn’t my final goal, but it may be an intermediate step. From here, I think I’d be happy in Technical Services: specifically, Cataloging and Information Retrieval (including Metadata Librarianship), or Collection Assessment and Development — which will probably go by different names, if not different job functionality, by that time.

Particularly, there has recently been a merge between Technical Services (which also includes Acquisitions), Information Technology, and Management Sections which has happened within my professional association. So…however things go in the future, it does look like what I’ve been dealing with and interested in, may actually be possible from within the same Section. Whether that will trickle down to the division of labor within American libraries, is yet to be seen…

beading, color, glass beads, macrame, seed beads

Hue and identity

I was up early this morning (I mean, really early), and took a look back through my beads. I was trying to figure out which color families I used most in the jewelry I’ve made. The answers are fairly evident: pink, violet, blue, green, yellow, and brown. Very little red (red is an incredibly difficult color to use), or orange…though a little yellow and orange, or burgundy, really do make the other colors “pop” and look more evident, through contrast.

A swatch of beaded micro-macrame made with C-Lon Fine cord.
Just practice: I didn’t think out the carrier cord color (the brown one) which shows in Vertical Double Half Hitches.

So…I have an idea of the aesthetic direction I have had, and that I want to move in. For a little bit, I’ve been trying to break out of…well, my own style, and identity. That’s probably because I didn’t know what it was, or that it was significant. And desirable.

Hmm. At my current age, I’m learning to appreciate myself, my identity, and my own aesthetics, more. I wonder if I’m discovering who I am.

I’ve found a lot of soft colors to have hit my palette recently, though they weren’t as prominent when I was a youth. I probably wasn’t secure enough to use them, then…though what my favorite colors were as I was growing up…ah, I remember. Teal and purple.

Those are still pretty much, mainstays, though I have a bit of an overpopulation of blue-greens. :) It just gives me a base from which to expand into other colors.

I probably wouldn’t have even thought of doing this, except for having purchased a lot of quilting cottons recently. Lots of blues, ranging from blue-violet to blue-green, aqua, a tiny bit of green. Violet, and magenta…and a touch of orange and yellow.

It probably is an identity thing. Or a taste, and identity, thing. I have known people who never dressed in any color, except black. It could be a superficially similar thing. A while ago, I was on a bronze and green kick, as I tried to avoid especially gendered colors.

What I found, though, is that I do have a gender; it’s just generally misunderstood. That misunderstanding does keep me safe within society to an extent, but I’ve decided, at this point, not to let distress at others’ viewpoints not matching mine, dictate what I wear. Or what I do. Or who I am, or express myself to be. There is no requirement that I cause my aesthetics to align with society’s for the sake of readability. Who says I owe society readability?

So yes, I…am using pink, again. I find it interesting as, at this moment, I’m recognizing that my color range is from magenta through violet, blue, and green; it kind of peters out and stops at yellow and gold…which sounds like a color scheme. Hmm. I do have a color wheel.

As I look at one of the tools in a book called, Beaded Colorways: Creating Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes, by Beverly Ash Gilbert (2009), I recognize this as an Expanded Complementary palette. Beaded Colorways, at least when I got it new, comes with a set of color wheels in the back of the book…which are really interesting, if you’re into color. The drawback is that the book only comes with two basic underlays: a Saturated Palette, and a Pastel Palette. As I look at them, the Pastel Palette ranges toward white in the center, while the Saturated palette trends towards black, in the center. I’m thinking this may be a Munsell Color Scale…? Yes. Now that I look it up, that looks accurate.

I am not entirely certain what inks these wheels were printed with (as I’ve said before, CMYK printing [as most home color (computer) printers rely on] cannot replicate all colors we can see). The major drawback to the Munsell system, in my eyes, is that it kind of de-prioritizes complex neutrals: which would be gained by layering or mixing two or more of the fairly pure represented colors. It’s possible in online models, but to print this would be…extremely expensive.

The really complex glass bead colors (like a blue transmitted color [looking through the glass] with a gold luster finish [nearly metallic shine which may or may not be colored] and red reflection [off the surface of the bead]: leading to a purple-appearing bead with a shiny finish)…these wheels can only hint at. They help, they do. A lot. I wouldn’t have known what I was thinking of, without going and finding these, to put words to my thoughts. The bare fact is, though, that printed paper books and glass beads cannot have a one-to-one representative correspondence. There are too many other factors to take into consideration.

And, like I said: there are complex colors…things that can’t be transmitted via LCD screen.

A swatch of Cavandoli knotting in orange, red, and blue-green.
I know it doesn’t match. I do. :)

I did realize, however, why it was that I just chose not to use certain colors in my jewelry. They just aren’t…me.

As to why that is, what that means, I don’t know. Not at this point. But I’ve found color to have definite psychological impact.

There’s also the fact that both my practice of macramé and of beadweaving…and, I suspect, quilting…heavily rely on color interactions. And…no, I don’t know why color draws me so much. I just know it does.

Yesterday, I was practicing knotting with horizontal and vertical half-hitches. The samples I’ve made (so far) are the two photos in this entry. I’ve found that it is, certainly, OK to use colors that stand out and draw attention to themselves, if I’m working on jewelry or face coverings. It’s really OK. :)

I had to stop working on these last night, and for most of today, because I’m pretty sure my skin can’t take it yet, with the way I’m knotting. I also, apparently, only got six hours of sleep, last night…so that’s not a lot of time to regenerate. My fingers still hurt.

I’ll be OK. For now, though…maybe, sewing?

beading, color, craft, jewelry design, macrame, seed beads

Cooling down…this stuff calms me.

Tonight, but technically, yesterday…I put in some more time with learning macramé. I had noticed that I was getting a bit greedy about supplies, and realized that this was likely because I wasn’t using what I had, I was just dreaming about it. I also didn’t know what I needed if I were going to buy something, because I hadn’t used what I had.

So, today, in lieu of buying more, I worked at knotting and color adventures. Also — the day before, which I didn’t record yet here — I worked on a model of a new pearl necklace. I’m now iffy about selling it, although I think I could get a good price. I just got kind of attached to it, as it features the first half-drilled pearl I’ll ever have used (I designed the necklace around that pearl, which I selected undrilled and in-person from a lonely Aloha Pearls vendor who had come all the way from Hawaii).

That pearl cost me $21 itself, if I count the fee for half-drilling it (which I think was around $8). The reason it cost so much? It’s 9mm in diameter, natural mauve, off-round; with excellent liquid sheen. Though it is slightly irregular by Fine Jewelry standards (which is why it was only $21), I’m not a Fine Jeweler, and it’s round enough for me.

In contrast, I got what I think was 18″ of small (5-6mm long) pink rice pearls (beautiful sheen and color, skilled drilling) from a different vendor, for $8, and I’ve used maybe 1/4 of the strand in this necklace. The lesson for me here is to buy quality pearls that have been handled lovingly, and are selling at good prices, in-person…because finding them is rare, and mixing colors and sizes can turn out beautiful. Most places which I’ve seen specialize in pearls, are going for huge, gaudy, perfectly-round pearls…which isn’t my aesthetic. It’s okay to have a beautiful central pearl and set it off with variety.

At the Aloha Pearls booth, I was also looking for something special about the energetic “feel” of the pearl I chose (which I consider special due to the sacrifice of the oyster), but I don’t really expect others to understand that.

The necklace in-process reminds me a lot of the tropics, and is one of the first times for me to recently have utilized controlled chaos in design: in sections, I used end-drilled pearls which stand off of the chest and whose orientation can’t be predicted. I still don’t know if I’m going to knot the strand to protect the pearls themselves from loss or abrasion…it would interfere with that randomness, unless I left the strand unknotted (and subject to movement, which could lead to damage) in the areas where I’m wanting the complexity.

Tonight — a few hours ago on Wednesday the 13th, that is — I was practicing Cavandoli (tapestry) knotting, and playing with color combinations in the alternating-square-knot technique I photographed, last post. I’m getting a better sense of when and how to use the C-Lon TEX 400 (this is the version that is nearly 1mm wide)…as I used it tonight for my Cavandoli practice, and found it so robust that it didn’t want to take a mounting knot. It didn’t want, that is, to bend. I’ve experienced the same with other C-Lon thread (the heavier it is, the more it happens), but due to the gigantic gauge of the TEX 400, the effect is magnified.

I was using Joan R. Babcock’s first book (now in its Second Edition), Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Tips and Techniques for Knotting With Beads. It’s a very good book, apparently self-published, but that doesn’t matter at all in craft books when the author can teach, and teach well; and the reader most of all wants to be taught, and taught well. In that case, word-of-mouth (like this) can generate goodwill and interest, regardless of whether a big Publishing House takes up the project, or not.

I haven’t yet made any of the projects (which I’m taking as classroom assignments, at this point), and am only practicing right now, as Babcock suggests in her book. She teaches some fundamental skills in the beginning which aren’t covered as comprehensively in most other macramé books (specifically, beaded micro-macramé books) I’ve seen.

I’m not certain if this is because they are not straight rope-and-hemp macramé books, but most straight macramé books (like the ones that will teach you to make hanging planters) I’ve seen hearken back to the 1970’s…which is relatively recent, and not precisely what I want to be doing. I have a feeling that there’s knowledge and technique from before the 1970’s that is being, or has been, lost.

This is why when I found Macramé Pattern Book: Includes Over 70 Knots and Small Repeat Patterns Plus Projects, by Märchen Art Studio in the craft section of a Japanese-language bookstore, I was sure to sweep it up: a view from outside the English-speaking world might have a relatively unique perspective. (The book was published first in Japanese language, then translated into English two years later.) Also, I know there are some interesting and/or novel techniques in Japanese-language beadwork books that I’ve found, which are not covered in any English-language books I’ve seen.

Babcock’s explanations and illustrations (and tips!) are very clear, even though I wished at various points to highlight passages I kept having to refer back to (particularly in reference to cord orientation, and whether a half-hitch loops above or below the carrier cord [it matters]). According to the Web, she’s an experienced teacher, and it shows.

Obviously, my first try at this in years isn’t the prettiest thing (which is why I’m writing this at what is now 1:15 in the morning without images), but I learned a lot from it. That’s probably an understatement: the learning part, I mean.

I found that the different gauges of thread or cord matter in regard to what you’re using them for. I experienced what it’s like to see a color harmony and magnification when pairing Chartreuse with a green-leaning yellow cord (“Antique Gold”) — which I doubt will come out accurately in a photograph (it didn’t come out on my monitor when I saw it online). I learned just how different the same gauge cord looks, when slightly brighter, and with slightly less green. I found that pairing a thread with a bead which is approximately the same color, doesn’t necessarily look monotone. I found that more rectangular-profile Japanese 6°s, like Miyuki rocailles, can actually work better for a sinnet application than Czech 6°s, which are rounder. I learned that the thread will tell me when I’m doing something different, when I don’t intend to: strange cord positions are obvious with a thread as stiff as TEX 400. I learned how to add an additional length of carrier cord. I also found that I probably shouldn’t always shy away from color-lined beads (although they’re known to be vulnerable to fading or other color change, over time).

And now I want to deal with this a different way. To know what I need, I need to work. To be satisfied, I need to work. And I have the time to do it, now. I will make time to do it, now.

I was not compensated in any way for writing this.

philosophy, psychology, spirituality

Motivation to approach clarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s what I’ve been reading.

Anyhow…right, this ICE-T thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that’s just a problem in discernment.

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