Business, money, psychology, sewing

Motivation, money, and living

Ah, man. Yesterday, I dove back into mask-making. The system I’ve got is…well, let’s say I’ve got a lot of design iterations. I also had to clarify whom I was making the masks for — myself and those I loved, or those who would pay me for them? Am I looking, that is, for self-fulfillment and productivity, or for piecework wages?

I consulted with M yesterday, who encouraged me to make them for myself. It’s easier for me to work, when I know I can benefit from what I make. I know that I’ve made 10 so far that have gone to other people (who can’t or don’t want to sew), and those were some of my best ones…at the time. As a consequence…I have been feeling kind of like I’m running in place. I don’t mind having given the ones to my sibling, but then I had a surprise order of four (from another person), when I hadn’t even agreed to sew them or sell them.

I feel…also, now, that it’s probably a better bet to keep my day job and use income from that to support my crafting, than it is to leave my job and actually do this to make money (if I have a choice). In an 8-hour day at my job, I can make $160. That’s…not guaranteed to happen, if I am running a micro-business. What’s sad is that where I live now, $20/hour, working full-time ($3200/month), isn’t a lot. It may barely make rent; but rent is exorbitant, here (expect $2000/month). I forget how much of a percentage of one’s salary is supposed to be maximum for going to housing…I can look it up, though. It’s probably not 60%. (Ah: Knowledge Graph says it’s about 30%.)

And yes, I am thinking of moving out of the suburbs and to an agreeable rural area (and just depend upon the Web for purchases and incoming business and metropolitan/global contact). What’s positive is knowing that the Bay Area isn’t the only place I can live, with comfort. There are other Asian-American enclaves in other places in the country. Especially if I’m not going to be visibly transgender (right now I can almost blend in [in the Bay Area, which is ethnically diverse] except for when I speak my mind), I have options.

I will also be able to travel, I should remind myself. I had been thinking of moving out to Tucson, AZ, because of the annual gem and jewelry convention. It draws people from all over the country — and I would think a lot of other crafters live out there. But I don’t necessarily have to live in the desert, to visit Tucson. I could move elsewhere, and fly in for a week. I’m also mostly getting my materials online now, anyway.

I’m actually thinking of moving to the Pacific Northwest, or south to the Central California coast, or overseas. I had thought of Seattle, but I don’t think that would be, financially, much better than here. Then there’s the Southwest, and the Rockies. I’ve been told to steer clear of the Sierras, though I do love it up there: the people, it’s said, can be hostile to difference (though that was said to me in 2001). There’s also Hawaii…but the cost of living there, is also high, and earnings are low (at least on Oahu, which I’m not sure is representative of anything). The trouble with living in Hawaii is getting things shipped to you, and being dependent on that.

There’s also a place in the Appalachians where one can go for intensive craft training…not that I can remember the link offhand, however.

Maybe I should be researching this stuff, before I have to. What I do know is that I kind of don’t want to stay here forever, unless some of the infrastructural and societal problems are addressed. People actually do live in the rest of the world, in short. Probably not surprising to most of you, but for a long time I’ve felt trapped in this area because of the stares my family gets, even just going other places in California. (Apparently, more tolerant people migrate to the large urban areas.)

The most I’m thinking of doing with a microbusiness, at this point, is breaking even. I’ve purchased a lot of fabric. Partially this was because my godmother seriously wanted to buy masks from me, and it brought up the possibility that I could make money off of this, at least in the short term (also possibly in the long term). The problem is, I’d have to first invest in materials. This is where the Economic Stimulus package steps in, much of which is going to favorite ethnic-minority- and/or woman-owned small local businesses.

So…I have a lot of fabric, right now (the scraps of which, will go to my quilting). I’ve been asked if I’m “giving (masks) away”; given that I’ve spent a good deal out of my own pocket and earnings ($420), and it has taken about an hour to make each mask (that’s at least $10 per mask in design, labor, and materials, before markup); no, no I’m not, “giving them away.”

Though maybe I’d feel better, if I did. Then I wouldn’t feel obligated to keep to a timetable (which I’m not following). Luckily, I don’t have to break even, because I am still employed — and living with my parents. How long that’s going to last? I’m not sure.

I’m sounding bitter, I think. But then, my mood hasn’t been the best, recently. It’s likely that I’m experiencing something that has a component of bipolar mania (it runs in my family), which would help explain the amount of money I’ve spent recently, the lack of sleep, and the irritability and anger. I’m not sure if the anti-germ paranoia falls in with it, but not wanting to go back to work (even for a few hours during which I could be exposed), probably does. It’s that whole, “vulnerability,” thing.

Given that, it may be best that I don’t go in to work in a couple of weeks…but I’ll know more about my state as that date approaches. It’s not even a given that the workplace I’m scheduled for will be open at the time I’ve signed up. The issue is that revoking a commitment to work is a big deal, in this system. But in January, when I signed up, COVID-19 wasn’t even on the radar, here. My point was to clear my 12 required Sundays of the year before the most opportune slots were taken, though I have been working so much that I only have one more to go, now.

I think I might be happy working in a small community library, though. I don’t know how it would be…outside of an urban or suburban area. But I’m hoping it would be less stressful. I’m not sure if I should get into detailing, why…

But I hope that it’s different, elsewhere. Because it’s a mess, out here.

And, yeah…well, I do realize that I’m sounding a bit conservative, relative to my past self. It’s probably just related to disillusionment. I think my parents have said they have gone through the same thing as they’ve aged. It still doesn’t mean that I’m anywhere near Republican, but then, even most Republicans probably don’t like where that party is headed. (I work in a Library; I’ve seen it.)

Maybe that’s an upshot to working in a Public Library, huh? You learn to separate people who have emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems from sane adherents of praxes which just differ from yours. Which…makes it easier to consider their beliefs, values, and philosophies as valid (for them, in their circumstances), or to examine the sources of one’s own beliefs, values, and philosophies as one also questions the sources of others’. I do think it actually is a diversity issue, only I’m approaching it from the side of a minority. (It doesn’t make sense to only ask empowered people to do the work.)

I’ve just…been in areas where the people have been ultra-hyper-liberal, and it’s really alienating, sometimes (often — especially when racism’s still present). Of course, I also can get alienated when people don’t see political bullying where it’s happening (because they aren’t women or minorities), as well. So…I mean, I can see why people don’t talk about politics. No matter what, someone is going to go, “guh?”

I have, however, just recently gotten involved in civic participation. It’s kind of empowering, especially when one expects to have no voice. I probably wouldn’t have done that, in turn, without having been a member of a professional association.

I didn’t intend to write about this, today. It just sort of happened.

In any case…yes, I’ve been working on my sewing, again. :) I’ve incorporated the quilting I may have been talking about in earlier entries — a line of stitching about 1/3 of the way in on each side — and yesterday I actually wore the things to test for comfort and fit. I know the best way to tie them, now; that I can wear my glasses with them; and that they are breathable.

They do, however, have to be tied correctly in order to function and not cut off the nasal passages: the upper tie around the nape, and the lower tie at the upper back crest of the head. There’s also some issue with air leaking out of the top of the mask, around the nose and eyes.

However…it’s probably better than nothing. Given that their greatest role is to keep virus from being exhaled/coughed/sneezed onto someone else, they probably work pretty well. I can actually feel the condensation in the fabric…so I know the mask is catching that.

I also found that cutting things to be aligned with the grain of the fabric, greatly eases the task of creasing these things with the iron! Not to mention, that I realized my difficulty with sewing the Kona cotton, most likely had to do with cutting my ties cross-grain: I experimented with that yesterday, and it was fine. Smooth sailing. It’s so crazy.

On top of that…given what I know now about fabric grain, I know to cut along the grain as much as possible (not upward across the bolt), and to get yardage in at least 1-yard increments. 18 inches is just too tight to try and fit in two 9.5″ wide panels, and I don’t want to turn my panel to cut cross-grain, unless I absolutely have to.

Business, craft, creativity, design, money, writing

What is it that I liked about Web Design?

Looking over recent job ads, I find that I have the beginnings of varied job paths — lots of areas to explore. The thing is, they’re lots of beginnings! What I have continuing practice in is, largely, writing. Surprise. ;) There’s that, and various arts and crafts that I’ve tasted…most of which, I’ve loved (I have the dubious distinction of being interested in, and wanting to do, way more than I can allocate time and resources to). The question has been, what it is that I can do with those skills that will make the investment of time, money, and energy, worth it.

I just got the idea of working the arts and crafts (and/or writing) into my immediate future employment plans, by seeking out employment at local stores, like fabric and yarn and art supply and bead stores. (I’ve recently been told that my parents have nothing against my taking a retail job, though that came as a surprise to me.) The thing is, my interest in retail is limited to what I’m interested in…it’s not retail for retail’s sake, it’s retail for community’s sake.

I don’t know if that plan is going to work, but customer service skills are of use in libraries, no kidding. Library training will also help me in customer service, it’s fairly obvious to me at this point.

If I’m planning (or hoping) to be a professional writer, like a copywriter (in addition to being a part-time library worker), it makes sense to keep up a portfolio site. I’m pretty sure I have several months before my creative writing site goes down. (There’s not a lot on it — I haven’t had it in me to generate fiction, recently. I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with not reading a lot of fiction, other than some literary magazine stuff.)

And, of course, what I do with a professional online presence, really depends on my Web Development skills. I’m somewhat torn between self-hosting and using wordpress.com, for that. I have experience with both; wordpress.com is convenient, but self-hosting provides many more options, including the ability to build the site from the ground up.

After I end this last Library Science class, I’ll be able to get back to my JavaScript course, and to my self-study (PHP, JavaScript, MySQL), although I’m aware that the back end of tech work isn’t my favorite place to be. I am also aware that I give up a lot of control if I don’t know how it works, and depend on a third party to moderate my interaction with it.

Granted that there are different levels of moderation. Working on the back-end of a site which just happens to include a WordPress installation, is different from trying to coax WordPress into doing what I want it to do, as my only option. It works, if you’re wholly focused on content, but if you want to tweak and customize everything…it’s more direct to just self-host.

Knowing at least one Web Programming language is the last key to my knowing if I want to work with Web Development at all, as versus Web Design or Web Production. I mean — you know. If we’re talking about the Web and its Webular Webaliciousness (okay, I’ll stop).

I do have issues with wanting to have as much personal control over my creations as I can. Thus, I can see the use in learning the back end of website production…though I think that the parts of making sites that I like…are the design of the site, and the production of content (text, images [when I can use image editors that are intuitive]; I haven’t gone into video or audio, yet). I still get a sense of accomplishment or something, when I see that I’ve built something new, and I feel the need to keep updating. In that case…constructing Web sites is like any other craft for me, only it’s virtual.

In other words, I have fun making the human-facing parts. The technical stuff, like the programming behind the scenes beyond HTML and CSS (which aren’t actually programming languages, they’re markup and styling), I’m not as into, largely because it requires the use of rigorous logic. I’m not entirely…satisfied? with logic. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’d rather be talking to people with complex minds, than talking to a machine which only knows two digits.

That could be it…

(Or maybe it’s a community thing here, too?)

I know there’s some pattern — maybe interest in the Humanities (arts, crafts, writing) versus interest in Computer Science? I’m not getting the connection totally, but it’s almost midnight. How can I expect my mind to function right now? :)

I’ll come back to it later, hopefully. :)