career, LIS, psychology, self care, technology

Fatigue.

It’s only been within the last 48 hours (last night) that I’ve recalled the fact that in my youth, I turned to writing because it calmed me. It stabilized me. I’ve recalled that out of realizing that I’m falling behind in my studies while I’m spending hours writing, although seriously, I only need to concentrate on my one University class, and no(ne of the) others.

In the abstract, in the ideal, I want to put my best effort forth for my XML class so that I don’t waste the money I invested. However…given the last week, no — given the last three weeks — I can see my priorities shifting. I was going to say, “I can see my mental state deteriorating,” but I’m not sure that’s true (entirely). It’s likely more or less normal to be disturbed at this time, with heat waves and fires and smoke and lockdown and politics and COVID-19 (although I think our own continued lockdown re: COVID-19 is voluntary).

I suppose I can be thankful for being as functional as I am, right now. At least I can still write, and I can still make art. Though yesterday, I was working on my assignments for my University class (not XML)…and it’s very clear that I’m experiencing fatigue, and it’s impacting both my motivation to work, and my ability to focus. This class is dry…and I’m wondering if a life of desiccation is what I want. (Apologies to my Professor.)

Late last night, I was able to get some studying done…though it is, honestly, seeming unimportant right now. I’m still 10 pages away (at least) from the end of my lecture, which isn’t…great, but I’ve gotten through the first 14, so that’s something. The thing is…the XML course series is about coding, but it’s on a different level from my Web Design (HTML5/CSS3) course. It takes work to understand what the code means, particularly for me, with XPath (which is a foundational skill for XSLT). XSLT is helpful in crosswalking data from one metadata schema to another, or for converting an XML document into another form of output (like HTML). This will inevitably come up, if I become a Metadata Librarian. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Nor does it mean I could have predicted it.

In practicality, I have an assignment due today, but am struggling with feeling overwhelmed. This may be due in part to the fact that I haven’t finished the reading for this week (and am also otherwise behind, in the series). And, well, the crazy weather. And the craziness in general. Let’s not forget that I’ve barely been out of the house in the last seven months, and we still can’t open the windows because of smoke.

I also see that it’s been a week since I’ve last drawn, I still haven’t gotten back to Middlesex, I’m stalling on my Japanese language lessons, and though I’ve got the seeds of three watercolor paintings in me right now (all with a little bit, to a modicum of work already done), they need some more planning and/or experimenting.

The logical thing to do is to get back to those last 10 pages of the lecture, and then at least try the assignment. However, I know I don’t want to.

If I’m going to read something to get my mind off of things, however: I might as well try reading that, first, and seeing if it helps anything. The fact is that I planned on signing up for these courses in large part so that I wouldn’t have the free time and energy to ruminate about lockdown. I’ve completed four of them already. I am likely OK.

I have been told that if I do get to work on my Art instead of my XML class, that will be acceptable, so long as I do the Art. It’s not…the worst idea…

art, psychology, self care

A break before the second pass

Apparently, word has gotten around that we’re having a heat wave — and fires — here in California. It has been going on for about ten days. On the 16th, or sometime around then, a dry lightning storm passed through in the middle of the night, and that was the beginning of the wildfires that are now burning.

Right now there is nothing immediately endangering me (thankfully), but it has not been a pleasant time; and we are expecting another lightning storm to come through overnight, meaning that we need to be ready to evacuate. “To where?” is a good question.

Tonight we had a break in the heat and the smoke, likely brought on by the remnants of the tropical storm that is moving in. The heat and the smoke are made worse by the fact that COVID-19 is still alive and well, and we’re still Sheltering-In-Place. That means that we’ve rarely been outside for 6 months, and now it’s hot and the air is hazardous.

If we knew that people were actually making a concerted effort both to be responsible and to stop the spread of the virus in the time we were giving them, it might be more tolerable, but it didn’t have to be this way. On top of that, I’ve heard of the virus spreading in evacuation centers.

I ended up basically withdrawing from Project Management. The class wasn’t taught well, and I’ve never even supervised one person, let alone managed anything in a large organization with work departments. On top of that, another class started which has to take top priority.

I believe my goal in the first place was partially to distract myself so that I wouldn’t have the free time or energy to worry (and also partially so that I wouldn’t have to go back to Public Service), but right now there are things that are more important than busy work, like my mental health. It also isn’t optimal to be taking classes which require computer use, when it’s too hot to have a computer on.

I need to take care of my health, first. Everything else falls in after that. I’ve gotten to the point where I know I need to care for myself…and my environmental concerns about the use of toxic paint, pale in comparison to the need I have to preserve my mental stability.

In short, I’m thinking of using my watercolors, again. With only two courses on my schedule, no work, and my essentials provided for, I should have time for this.

I have been trying to stay up at night and sleep during the day, but right now…I’m pretty sure it’s just my medication kicking in. That stuff can knock me out even if I have caffeine in the daytime (I didn’t do that today, though). I’m going to sign off before I become incoherent…

LIS, self care

Another day done; another night, begun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

beading, Business, career, craft, jewelry, money

Finding a niche?

It’s a little after 12:15 AM in my part of the world, as I begin this entry. I’ve had time to send emails out both to my Vocational program, and to the Career Center liaison for my University. At this point, it’s looking pretty clear that I should be strengthening my Metadata and Cataloging skills, and looking for a job using those skills.

I also should complete the upload and edits for my ePortfolio, given that I apparently did not save all the information from it before taking it down. (Just making it, was grindingly stressful; I’m not surprised that I didn’t even want to look at it, after I had graduated.)

I am feeling pretty optimistic at this point, though. I went over a job skills document from my Master’s program, and have found that “Customer Service” is not a top skill in demand from most employers. I have, that is, been looking in the wrong sector for employment, if I don’t want to have to deal with everyone, all the time.

Of course, it has taken experience and self-knowledge to understand why Public Service is toxic for me: I am not what the general public infers I am, from my appearance. Everyone makes inferences. They’re usually wrong. They usually assume they aren’t. I’ve only had one patron ever correctly guess the origin of my name (taken broadly).

I’ve meant to ask M if not being seen as a person is exceedingly common for people like us (even without gender issues)… I didn’t even know what I was missing until I found someone who let me tell him who I was, instead of projecting who I must be, onto me. I had to have been 18 or 19 by that time.

Even though I am essentially about to lose my job — unless the Union is successful — I’ve not stopped spending money. I am ambivalent about this. On one hand, I don’t want to go into a mindset of impoverishment — especially as making money requires at least an initial investment. On the other, as an individual, I’m going to need some income to tide me through; unless I know that I’m going to be able to be hired before my savings run out.

Becoming wholly dependent on my parents again…could happen. Though I obviously don’t really want that (I’d be in deep trouble if they both passed), I will likely not have to worry about a lack of shelter or food, with them around.

The thing I’m thinking about doing, is selling jewelry and taking classes, building myself up until I can become other-than-self-employed, again. I’m giving myself until late August to get my mind together enough to decide where my next step will land. Right now, I’m still trying to tell where I am.

And unfortunately, I am attached to the jewelry I make. That’s what photos and diagrams and samples are for, though. I think that maybe I just have to remind myself that I barely wear jewelry as it is. The jewelry I’ve bought is jewelry I can’t make, or would rather not specialize in making.

There’s just so much time spent in the design phase, though. Design (and research on techniques), purchasing parts and tools, keeping things organized and findable. The part of beading that isn’t construction of that one piece, itself…do I really want to charge for that time?

There’s also the question of selling my portfolio pieces. I believe I’d have to, in order to make enough money to make continually buying new stock, sustainable — or at least, only a minimal loss. (“Minimal loss” is where I was when I was beading as a microbusiness for my family and friends, a long time ago.) Of course, though: I’m comparing this to a paraprofessional position at 26 hours a week. It shouldn’t be impossible to earn something at closer to 40, even if it isn’t quite that much.

That is the difference between beading as a hobby, and beading as a job: the amount of return I would need. Maybe I should map out how much I would need to continue operations and stay in the black (pay my bills: which are largely for supplies, books, classes and computer maintenance) every two weeks, or every month, and see how much I’d need to sell to reach that amount. I’d need to make more jewelry than will earn that, realistically; and I can’t tell how long it would take for my storefront to surface.

But hey…people do make at least some income off of stuff like this.

Of course, though…if I’m taking classes, and applying for jobs, and reading in my field, I possibly won’t be able to maintain a 40-hour week unless my work moves into evenings and weekends. I’ve heard people who run small businesses say as much; that their weeks are more like 70-hour weeks.

So maybe I should place my emphasis more on finding a long-term position, or just creeping back into the black (as versus the red)? It actually would be more of an investment to study, but it might not pay off for a while, with the economy the way it is.

I think M would tell me to stop overthinking it and just do something. I’m not the best at that…

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

Priorities…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

career, LIS, work

Creative outlets and work don’t have to align…

Haaah. You know what? I’ve realized that even when I don’t feel particularly creative, I still read to others as, “very creative.” Over Easter we had some visitors, and I got still more encouragement to sell my jewelry. That was, particularly…great. I mean, seriously…my beaded jewelry collection, right now, reflects multiple iterations of design that I’ve undertaken over the years. It’s why I was reluctant to get rid of one of my pieces (a sunstone and gold-finish piece, which I don’t think I’ll ever be able to exactly reproduce).

It was also really nice to be with some chosen family, whom I ended up interacting with more than extended family. That was Sunday. Yesterday (Monday), I hit a craft store looking for a specific type of storage unit — which they didn’t have. (Or, let me say that they didn’t have the brand I was looking for, which I know will match my current storage: they had store-brand versions, which I was concerned wouldn’t have the same dimensions.) What they did have were Kite Beads (kite-shaped), SuperDuos (squashed-diamond-shaped), GemDuos (diamond-shaped), and some other bits of tastiness like this. (It’s an expression, albeit one I just made up; don’t eat your beads!) Those three types of beads, by the way, all have two holes (four openings).

I also found a miniature macrame board (which I had been looking for, for a while), and a sticky bead mat that may just save me from hunting for beads on the floor.

Yeah, I didn’t intend that. But it was a cute little haul.

What I’ve found, though, from the tables I’ve been making, is that it’s relatively more expensive (per quantity) to get beads from a craft store, than it is to get them from a bead store. However, getting the macrame board and the bead mat were relatively cheaper. And if I want (or need) to go super-cheap and basic with my supplies, there is always General Bead in SoMa.

I’ve also been finding additional fields to add to the tables I have now — particularly where it comes to quantity and price per quantity. It’s kind of getting unruly, like scrolling off the right side of the page. I also am getting farther away in time from my Database Management class, so I’m wondering how we actually created the tables in the first place, for the project for that class. I know I had a hand in it; I’m just not sure what I did. (Not that Database Design is likely to be a task undertaken in any established library…but I’ve found that I do have access to at least two places where I can deal with setting up databases, entering data, and querying those databases.)

I’ve also just gotten through my MARC 21 unit, which is showing me that Cataloging (of books and other Library materials) is essentially database work. That’s not something I knew, early on in my training, but I can recognize it now. (Should I go back and take more classes in Cataloging, beyond August??? Maybe it depends on whether I have gainful employment by then, huh?)

I…have also found that training in JavaScript is not a waste of time (though I wouldn’t have known it without reading through stuff at the Career Center). However, if I get into Technical Services with any library, I may be put in charge of metrics and data visualization, which I can’t say I’m confident about. I’d have to take a class in it.

My last (completed) math class was in Statistics, and it was in undergrad. I did try to take Accounting, but I (seriously) got the flu and had to miss a four-hour class (or otherwise infect everybody), and didn’t know how to recover from that, so I dropped. I also began Calculus, but dropped early enough that I don’t know how I did (though I got the concept of derivatives okay).

The hard thing about this is that I’m not highly confident in my math skills, particularly where it comes to working things out by hand. I know I did it for years; I also know that my Math training was so intense that I didn’t have time to check my work. I can use basic Excel formulas fine, but…Algebra (minorly — I just need a refresher) and advanced Trigonometry are likely my weak points. I see that I can brush up on this online, however — and at a place where I’m already a member. For free. (I was never really taught what sin, cos, tan, sec, csc, cot, actually could be used for, in real life.)

At this point — after having gotten my degree — I’ve found a bunch of Advising information online. Of course, I don’t know that it existed at the time I went through the program. (Actually, I’m fairly certain it didn’t; there was a massive reboot of the website just as I left.) Anyway, there are certain job tasks outlined for differing sets of job types…and there are a number that deal with my skill set, particularly where it comes to Web authoring.

What I have found is that I’m relatively well prepared to work in an Academic setting, as I’ve been dealing with the Technical Services angle. Tech Services encompasses Collection Development (what items to gain access to, based on community needs and library mission), Acquisitions (budgeting and invoicing [?]), and Cataloging (describing items with the aim of increasing access). I’m interested in the first and last of those…though Cataloging is seriously full of rules. I’m no longer surprised that libraries are looking for people to do this work; I don’t think most people would want to do it. In fact, the system I’m in now mostly outsources this work, which is part of the reason I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.

However, if one is highly accurate and can tolerate micromanagement (I can deal with both of these — after all, needles are my friend), you know, it’s ideal. Not to be facetious, but there is a lot of Information Work that depends on adhering closely to standards. This is to ensure interoperability and ease of data transfer. Web work is not an exception to this; only, on the Web, bad code won’t run properly. In Cataloging, poorly-formed code is just poorly-formed or inaccurate code (so far as I can tell) — it’s not earth-shattering, like, “NOTHING WORKS WHAT DID YOU DO?!” as happens in Web Programming (which is probably the reason Git exists).

What’s interesting to me about this class I’m in now, is how much I don’t remember from Intro to Cataloging. The big deal about learning this after University is getting access to two different resources: the RDA Toolkit, and WebDewey. (Both of them are subscription-based, and I have experience with both.) I don’t recall at this point what we used to find Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Classification (LCC), though it’s probably in one or another of my bookmark files…or I might be able to just run a quick Google search and find something. I seem to remember them being available, possibly for free.

What’s weird is that I expected hardly any job openings to be available for Catalogers, but it seems there is still a place existent where one can make a living. It does seem like the work is being borne by general Librarians, though…which I’m not sure they would want, to be honest!

So the project now is to figure out whether I want to work in Public Services (it seems fun and different, but I know I’m not a naturally social person), or in Cataloging and some of the other back-end stuff like Web content management, Catalog Maintenance, or Metadata (“metadata,” is, “data about data,” and encompasses a few different types: Administrative, Technical, and Descriptive). I did aim to be a Metadata Librarian…it’s just that I need to widen my scope, a bit. A lot of the work I’m doing now would best have been done a few years ago… I bet if I had talked to someone back then about my misgivings with the program (and Intro to Cataloging), I wouldn’t have been put off the career track. However, next to my Management core class, and later on, Database Management, Intro to Cataloging was one of the toughest classes for me to get through. It might have been due to teaching style, though.

Would I be good being a Cataloger and doing beadwork as my hobby of choice on my off-hours, maybe to relax and make a little play money with (but not necessarily to teach)? I believe the answer is, “yes,” but I haven’t been a Cataloger, yet…