beadwork, color, craft, creativity, fabric, jewelry, organization, sewing

Update and quilty love

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting myself organized. That is, I’ve been heavily trying to implement organization; not to say that I’ve been succeeding at it.

It’s kind of crazy, in the colloquial sense (though there really isn’t a formal definition for the term, that I know of). Right now I have four journals in progress, not including this blog, separated by topic. I have a journal on Creative Process, one for working notes, a Bullet Journal to (attempt to) keep myself on task, and a regular journal. In addition to the sketchbook for random scrawling, and the sleep records. Eventually I may want to combine some of these…but do you know how tedious it is to copy over information from one place to another? (Let alone, drawings…)

I’ve been working on my jewelry, which has been going well; and working on face coverings. Most recently, I’ve begun to work on experimental models in…well, both…to see if what I’ve envisioned, I can bring to fruition. Because I’m investing so much in this from myself, it’s kind of scary when I succeed. But…success does happen, and I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do if I’m really successful…

I should actually want to be successful, right? :) It’s just that success…for me, requires risk: curiosity and authenticity. Authenticity requires putting myself out there, and putting myself out there means…well. When I was younger, I learned that by throwing up a false screen of myself, I could deflect attack to that false identity and remain safe despite others’ hostility. Even if it was in my face. Being authentic requires both commitment and courage…and I guess I’ve just relatively recently gotten out of the realm of being a front-line service worker, meaning that I’ve learned to uphold a false identity to deflect attack for a very long time.

The problem with that, is forgetting who you actually are, which I had to deal with from the beginning of Middle School through the middle of Undergrad. And I didn’t really recover from it until getting my Master’s and losing my job. So in a way, if I’m going into business for myself, or if I’m working in a gig economy, I actually do have more latitude for authenticity. There are actual possible rewards for authenticity…which is not the case when you’re trying to avoid being yelled at because someone else happened to dislike something in your facial expression.

The issue is finding people who will respect and accept who I am…and just leaving the naysayers (the people who say I should keep my head down and not cause trouble because I’m lucky to be included at all) in my dust.

Yeah, conformity is a big…very big part of why I’m not salaried right now. (Along with the obvious.) I am somewhat aware that the way I’ve been talking about this could lead people to think I have horrible thoughts. I don’t. I just have different thoughts. The current climate has just made it so that it has become very…I think we all are very aware that the current climate is unsettled and not benign. I have a hard time believing that most any person of color feels safe, at the moment. Of course, if I didn’t watch the news or read newsfeed articles, it might be different.

I just happen to be someone who thinks what no one is saying. Then I wonder why they aren’t saying it. And, I mean, I was almost a Sociology major: I have an idea of why no one is saying it. That doesn’t make me feel any better. But there is the saying that Evil Never Dies…while far too many good people, do.

What gives me hope is knowing that I’m not really alone. I also realize that I have power I’m not utilizing at the moment…except for places like here, and in the businesses that I support. Also with the people I help, and who help me. Maybe I should focus on this. Someone a while back told me to, “seek kindness, because it’s out there.” I don’t remember exactly who it was…but I have been reading recently about the idea that we control the content of our own thought.

I don’t know how much I believe that. Both as a person who struggles with anxiety, and who has experienced depression and detachment from reality; and as a person who has been targeted for God-knows-what reason (which probably relates to race and gender, therefore assumed sexual orientation; if a Black trans* woman who had dealt with trauma had originated the idea that we, “control the content of our own thought,” I might be more inclined to believe her).

That is, the experience that goes into the formation of an academic opinion, matters. It is all that matters. (Yeah, I’m questioning if that’s hyperbole, or not. I’m unsure.)

And academia — Higher Education — I’ve found, is severely skewed in its viewpoint toward majority-White culture. Which I wouldn’t have fully realized if I had dropped out like I wanted to after the ice-bath culture shock of my first semester. It took me years to come back.

Anyhow.

There are a number of reasons for my recent absence from weblogging. I think a lot of it — besides the immediate risk — has to do with getting more serious about doing my beadwork for a return. When it was just me and this blog was all about what was going on in life and my reflections, and my (occasional?) opinions and my projects (that weren’t going anywhere, relatively), it was much easier.

I haven’t found a good balance yet between being open online and holding back what I might want to hold back if my primary business were online. Right now…I really don’t even know how much of an option I have to conceal anything, which might work in my favor. If you have nothing to lose, at least you know where you stand. I’ve been there before.

But yeah, that was high school and college. And yeah, there was a lot of suffering there. But I made it, I’m alive, and I’m here. And it was worth surviving. You get better at this “Life” thing, the longer you’re in it. Even if you are melancholy in your reflections for much of the rest of it.

Anyhow. Organization.

The past four days have felt longer than usual. Until very recently, I was holding myself to an earlier bedtime and earlier wake time. That kind of continued off the rails last night. I did get to bed before 2 AM, but barely. Then I woke at 7 AM and stayed up for a couple of hours before crashing again and waking in the early afternoon.

So both today and yesterday, I’ve been working on an old version of a face covering which was found originally on the CDC website. I’m pretty sure it’s no longer there — I tried a while back to find it. It was one of the basic pleated ones that you saw a bunch of people making to distribute at churches…though I’m not sure if my method of dividing the fabric (fold in half, press, fold edges to center line, press) is new or not. I would think, “not.”

What really drove me to do this is that I’ve got some flat aluminum wire which I can use over the nose bridge if I sew down a bias tape channel at the top. I hadn’t tried it…so yesterday was full of experimenting with a mask face I had made and then abandoned months ago.

Along with the aluminum wire, I also needed a steel file to round off and de-burr the edges of the segments I cut off of the coil. That…worked surprisingly well. I didn’t quite realize just how soft aluminum is!

Right now, then, I’ve got two models that I know how to make. I’m actually using an old 400-thread-count bedsheet to make the inner linings…I’m hoping to use three layers, total, with the outer one being an attractive fabric, and the inner two being sheets. I tried fashioning one of these tonight with a Kona cotton lining and realized fairly quickly that I should probably take out the Kona cotton, as the thing is a bit more difficult to breathe through with three layers, than I’d like. The point isn’t to suffocate the wearer; it’s to catch water droplets on their breath.

The other change I can see trying immediately (in the next iteration) is to use a Grunge fabric instead of a Kona cotton for the ties. I’m hoping this will take down bulk in the seams.

I was kind of disturbed that I had forgotten so much about how to make these things…

As for the jewelry: I have worked out a new updated pattern for a set of earrings I made for myself a very long time ago. 2015, to be exact. So long ago that I had to change what went where, because the newer version is made with newer beads, which don’t have the exact same form as the beads from 2015. In specific, I was using two-hole Lentil beads from the time at which two-hole beads were a new thing. They have a wider thread spacing (and are wider overall) than the newer two-hole lentils I obtained.

Yeah. Almost caused an issue, until I found that 5mm rounds could be used instead of a 3x5mm rondelle plus two 2mm (possibly 1.5mm, I’m not sure) faux pearls. Unfortunately…5mm is an “off” size and not widely available. I do have a supplier, but they are based in Czechia, and stuff takes a long time to get from there to here.

It will make more sense if and when I show photos.

But yeah…there are a lot of wonderful colors in fabrics and in beads, that I’ve been immersed in for the past week. I believe that color work is the main thing that drew me to beadwork and held me close. I took a Color Dynamics class a very long time ago — almost when I was fresh out of Undergrad — and was kind of shocked when I found that it was pretty much in the vein of painting.

Painting hasn’t really been my thing, though I have painted, and do like to paint. Subject matter is what gets to me: because the subject is the color and color interactions, color mixing, texture, etc., not the depiction. There’s also the fact that a lot of paints are toxic, which feels negative to me. I’ve gone over that point many times on this blog by now, however.

On that point: I keep getting fabric from Bay Quilts, which is struggling. They’re really great and really sweet. Their prices are very reasonable, and they have a good selection of fabric online (AbbeyShane is to credit for this: this is apparently a two-person operation with her mother, Sally), though it is by no means their entire selection. Before the shutdown I visited them in person, but because of COVID, they have had to move the bulk of their sales online.

I just washed a new load of their material tonight, after having let it rest and quarantine for about two weeks (I’m paranoid, what can I say: everything is quarantining unless it’s in a wrapper I can throw out, and even then). These fabrics really, really do make me want to quilt — not just make masks. There’s just something warm and inviting about a lot of quilting fabric.

I don’t really understand it. I mean…seriously. It’s like I don’t understand so much why I love little glass beads. Or why fabric or beads would be more attractive than paint, so much…

As much as I would like to keep this quilting store as my own treasured little secret…the shutdowns with COVID have really impacted them. We are 10 months into various shutdowns and restrictions, here. I can’t buy up as much of their fabric as I want to in order to keep them in business, so the next best thing is raising the signal about their existence. If they stay in business, it benefits me because I’ll continue to be able to buy from them. If I make stuff from their fabric, it benefits them because I’ll contribute to a viable income stream for them.

(No, they are not compensating me. They don’t even know I’m writing this up.)

If you are so moved, please go check out their online store. It’s pretty cool. :)

Oh, and: all the opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not reflect on Bay Quilts. :) Thanks, all.

creativity, personal, philosophy, psychology, spirituality

I’m going to act like I posted this before midnight

It has been almost three weeks since I have posted anything on this blog. During that time…there has been a lot happening. Not all of it am I prepared to share my innermost thoughts on, nor do I see an immediate tangible benefit to doing so. Because I’ve been like this for a few weeks…I’ve had something of a hesitance to write online.

It’s fairly obvious why I would feel some relief right now. Not enough to feel entirely safe, given the ugly and dangerous reality of the wider circumstances, but somewhat better. In particular, I felt better today. Of course. It was a dose of sanity. Of hope. A reset to the idea of rightness; that it could exist, that it did exist.

Of course, to mirror but reverse an idea from the Dao De Jing that has come up on my Reader: if you can see wrongness, you create rightness.

I haven’t felt totally safe since elementary school, to let you know. I have heard that this is a mental abnormality: that it is “normal” to feel safe in this world; that the feeling of the world not being a safe place…apparently ideally shouldn’t happen. But the world is the world, and to me the bare fact is that living in the world isn’t safe, and probably never has been safe. That safety is an illusion granted by privilege. The most apparent alternative to living in the world is being dead, however, and so you take what you can get.

About a week ago, I set an intention to focus just on self-care: cooking, eating, sleeping, exercise, and hygiene. To my surprise, after I set that intention…I gained the energy and motivation to work on my crafts. And not, you know, deride them as “just” crafts. They are crafts. But they’re elevated, now. I know I’m using quality materials. I know what I create has value. I know my workmanship and responsibility is sound. I know I’m not wasting my time. I know that just because a lot of women do it, that doesn’t make it trivial. The approach is different.

At first, it was just working on the face masks. I found a tutorial by Marcy Harriell (see below) which I’ve successfully altered to fit my face (at least), and…well, I’ve been waiting for a mandatory mask order to come down. It’s not like anyone’s going anywhere anytime soon anyway, but anyhow…it’s nice to be prepared.

(You see what I did there.)

Face mask tutorial by Marcy Harriell, as it has been passed along like a game of Telephone, through the Interwebs…

That, again, was why I had set my intention on being more active in our cooking. My being incompletely capable of taking care of myself was just adding an extra layer of stress to the Corona pandemic plus rule-by-meme. So…the thing I can do about that, is participate. And learn.

I’m pretty good at learning, after all.

The other thing I’ve been doing, aside from research on dealing with this whole potential self-employment thing — and washing my hands too much — is working with seed beads. I still don’t know why I love little glass beads so much. They don’t have a lot of intrinsic value…but they are pretty.

And I really don’t know why I place value on aesthetic pleasure. It…makes no logical sense to me. Aesthetic pleasure, period, doesn’t make sense to me. But maybe that’s just my left brain not understanding what my right brain is doing. My right brain has a mind of its own, however, and my left brain has never been able to completely crush it.

What I do know is that the art of making things is probably a core, fundamental trait of humanity. We live with the culmination of the accumulation of knowledge and technology that has been passed down to us over the ages. In that way, we’re incredibly lucky and privileged.

In the same way…have we forgotten our wisdom?

The development seems to go: data is the source of information; information is the source of knowledge; knowledge is the source of wisdom. (I don’t know where experience factors in there; it wasn’t so much on the plate in my Information Science program.) I forget who hypothesized this. However, it’s very clear what happens when the train is hijacked so that information is proposed which is based on biased, unclear, deliberately obfuscated, or no data…and people run with it.

I am constantly surprised, both in myself and in others, how much we tend to trust that the information which comes to us is fundamentally sound. For me, this is especially in regard to books. I still remember reading a Physical Anthropology text in High School which I assumed was true because I found it in my school library and I thought that I could trust that what was written — and what was in the library — was based on sound knowledge.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned that it was not a good idea to trust information in books just because of the manner of delivery of the message. Nor was it a good idea to trust information in the library just because it was in the library. There are reasons not to trust old Physical Anthropology texts. Primarily because they tended to forward the myth that 1) there were, “races,” 2) that some, “races,” were superior to others based on form, 3) that different, “races,” were intrinsically different in some way which explained what could alternately be explained by, a) culture, and, b) a legacy of structural and institutional racism — or, a history of treating people categorically differently based on their appearances.

(Which, by the way, also implicates sexism. But due to length, that’s probably another entry.)

These are things that even today we have a hard time arguing against, because everyone has been taught this. (Not to say that everyone believes it.) It is part of what Sociology understands as, “hegemony,” or the currently-accepted view of the world which holds in place its underlying power structures.

Of course, though, my school library wasn’t quite good enough to teach us about Intellectual Freedom and the idea that, “the solution to a bad book is a good book.” That American libraries lean away from censorship, in general; that, “the books on the shelves should be at war with each other.” That it was the reader’s task, not the library’s, to decide what they would accept and what they would reject. That it’s good to operate on the premise that no author is unbiased (after all, they had enough of an interest to write a book; it’s hard not to have an opinion on an obsession). That it’s good to question why this author wants me to believe what they’re saying — which may be a hidden proposition.

Then again…it’s known in the Library community that many school libraries are run by people who are not professional Librarians. I suppose there is a reason to require a degree.

But all of that has to do with the left brain — reason, logic, analysis; you know. Fact-checking. Reality. There is — at least — another entire side to the brain that has to do with things that are ineffable, indescribable; drives that we don’t understand, or that we don’t want to understand; maybe, don’t have the ability to understand. That which makes living so vibrant, and can be subverted to such catastrophic ends. Things like religion, devotion, life purposes, identity. Any one of these topics is rife to set someone off if they’re challenged on them.

A major problem here, however, is that the brain seems set up to believe its own hype. It’s rare to find a person who is willing to state that their own beliefs may be (or are) mistaken, though it’s exceedingly common to find fault in others’ beliefs. Both of these things cannot be simultaneously true for everyone, everywhere, all the time — at least, if you subscribe to the idea that we all live in the same world. (That idea can be — has been — questioned.)

These things, like identity, are also answers to very personal questions. I know; I’ve been through the wringer with them. At this time, at least, though…I can see the urgency here. Who am I? What do I want out of life? Why am I here? Does the world inside my head match up with what’s outside? Where am I totally off? How can I tell if my thoughts are accurate?

It goes on.

I’m not sure if these are Existentialist questions, but they very much sound like them, to me. The reason I’m unsure is that I have hardly been able to tolerate reading Existentialist authors to the point where I really understood them. Sometimes you just don’t want to understand, you know? Sometimes it just hurts too much, to try and see things the way the author saw them, because then you see their pain, the way they’re trapped. And you can’t do much of anything about it, or for them.

And then there is the question of whether these questions have arisen because of a relative vacuum of wisdom…particularly where it comes to the obliteration of traditional knowledge. And I don’t know if that’s linked to the intentional obliteration of cultures that we’ve experienced in this country. But filling that gap by worshiping the next thing that comes along, is extremely dangerous.

But that drive — to devote oneself to something or someone — I entirely understand. I also understand how that drive can be manipulated, how emotions can interfere with disentanglement.

I’ve spent a fairly large portion of my life trying to comprehend the problem of evil, as I was harmed in my formative years by people who treated me poorly and at the same time claimed goodness and righteousness for themselves. As an adult, now, I have a fairly clear picture of what evil is. I lament what had to happen in the world for that picture to become clearer.

What I can say is that, unfortunately, my mind — as driven to pessimism as it is; as much as I may protest — can envision some fairly dark scenarios as regards what is not yet existent, and what may never be existent. I can see, that is, what some people wish this world to be — or, perhaps more to the point, don’t care if they turn it into. (It would take an actually malevolent person to intend to poison the water table, that is, or to intend to treat people as livestock, rather than doing it as a means to some end [like money]. As horrific as evil is, I’m coming to the opinion that evil at least does not begin as an end in itself. But then again, I don’t read a lot of True Crime, and I don’t have the relevant psychology to understand from within.)

There is the frank self-centeredness that allows some people to treat other people as tools to be used and discarded; the mental prisons that so many are trapped within. Wealth, power, control, destruction. For what reason? Or are there simply no ethical ground rules that cause one to value the lives of others, simply for the sake of those lives? Not for their use in one’s own personal game, not for the sake of one’s own fame and fortune, not for the use of them in attempted violent overthrows to put one into power? Life is holy. Do we not understand that?

And if one knows one is being used in this way, to be discarded, why does one tolerate it?

Right now: where I’m at, we are dealing with a trifecta of crises. There is the coronavirus pandemic. There is recent terrorist activity. There is a major economic downturn. They’re all interrelated and hazardous in their own ways. They’re all either due to, or made worse by, an abdication of responsible leadership which started a long time ago…if it ever began.

In this situation, I can’t be sure of what lies in the future. We have had a recent outbreak of a variant of SARS-CoV-2 titled L452R, due to a superspreader event in a local hospital which infected…I can’t even remember how many people. The number keeps rising. The latest count I find says 92.

In the face of possible death, for myself, for my caretakers: maybe accepting the fact of mortality is best. In light of that, perhaps it is best to look forward to living the most full, enjoyable, brilliant, vibrant life possible. While still, of course, keeping ourselves and each other, as safe as possible. Right now I have the possibility of doing what I love. Out of sheer love. It doesn’t take much. I don’t have to go out. And we have another year to weather, of calls to make, of video chats through which to nurture each other.

If this is the tail end of my time here, I’m not going to waste it.

Caring about each other, caring for ourselves — isn’t that the nature of love? Our lives are precious, and we don’t know how long they’ll continue. Right? Our ancestors must have known this. When the life expectancy is only 35 years…yeah, I mean…you take what you can get, you enjoy what you have, you trust that what brought you into being will not extinguish you…and if it does, you won’t be around to care. It’s odd that I would see that as a positive scenario, either way…but I’ve been suicidal, before. I’ve had a long time to think about this.

I’ve had time to prepare, to put my thoughts in order, to realize a mission. Even if I haven’t yet completed whatever I’m supposed to do, I know there’s a reason I’m here: even if I have to continue that mission after death. And I know now that there was truth to my visions as a youth. I know that I have value as myself. And I can walk further along the path of love and curiosity and do what I’m led to. The spirits don’t show me everything at once. They will only show me the next step. And I…can take the next step.

All of this is more than most people are granted. It’s just…how wonderful is it to be able to give oneself permission to be vibrant? To live?

Living…the task of living, is work. And it can be scary. But it can also be filled with joy.

If we trust.

craft, design, psychology, sewing

Bipolar mania for now

…I’d say it’s better than the opposite, but I’m not quite sure.

I’m pretty sure I’m going through some kind of mood cycle. My sleep has been relatively disturbed for the past week…and aside from that, I’ve had some telltale signs of being in bipolar mania.

On the morning of Tuesday the 28th — I think it’s recorded here — I woke up at about 3:30 AM after four hours of sleep, got to work, and didn’t feel tired (even though I had to nap twice, later). On the morning of Thursday the 30th, I didn’t get to bed until about 4:45 AM, and didn’t feel tired for most of that time — as I had forgotten about medication until about 3:30 AM (over six hours late). On the night of the 30th, I didn’t get to bed until 1:15 AM because I was caught up in brainstorming a removable nose bridge design for the face coverings I’ve been making.

I’ve been attempting to redesign the coverings I’ve been producing…and I’m having some promising openings. The problem is that I may be overthinking it…trying to find ways to squeeze more than one covering out of a 3-yard package of bias tape (which is, oddly enough, probably cheaper in terms of time, than sewing fabric strips) — which requires math. I have a mental model now, though. For my future reference, this is the model using the double-fold bias tape for ties, and creating a pocket for the metal portion at the center of the covering.

For that I’ll need one of my awls, and to hand-bind a couple of eyelets within the tie. It’s relatively important that the flaps which protect the wearer from the metal, start right at the end of the metal component, so nothing shifts.

I also have a backup plan in case this doesn’t work: just sewing in a pocket (single-fold bias tape, or a piece of quilting fabric) on the inside of the covering, without necessarily altering anything else. The hard part about this is trying to keep metal away from people’s eyes in case of an accident, even though in my best trial fitting tonight, the bridge is right below the eyes. (Then again, I didn’t grow a nose bridge for a very long time, so I’m not really sure my face is representative of anyone else.)

I’m not sure these are good enough to sell, but they’re definitely good enough to experiment with. The thing I’m concerned about right now is how much longer than 4″ to make the metal component of the bridge; whether to just make it 4″; to weave a wire component for the bridge; not to put the bridge in at all…

The difficult thing for me is basically not being able to just go and automatically sew without thinking about it — which is my normal method of getting myself to do things. I had gotten up …well, at this point, yesterday (August 1) with the idea of doing some work on the coverings. I was a bit daunted, however, by the need to resolve the issue of vapor coming up around the nose and into the eyes with the coverings I had accomplished. (This is an issue where glasses and sunglasses are concerned; myself and the majority of people around me need to take glasses into consideration.)

I’m also not sure at this point whether I should be quilting the layers of fabric together, as it seems that not quilting them would be a better solution to catch the moisture coming out of the breath. Without the quilting, the breath travels through the first layer, disperses, and then travels through the second layer. With the quilting, the breath is pushed through both layers at once, which I’m thinking might be less efficient (though I don’t know). I do realize that coverings are to protect everyone else from the wearer; still, do I sacrifice heightened efficiency for ease of care?

I already know that these things need ironing after they dry, but I also know that there are still design issues to work out, which have to be dealt with before the question of, “how to iron them,” comes into play.

One issue is that I want to gather the sides of the covering more closely…within about a 2″ space (maybe 2.25″), with the upper tie going around the nape and the lower tie going around the crown. I’m hoping that the vector of force will keep the covering itself, in place.

The other thing is that M has requested repeatedly for the coverings to be larger. I’m not sure why, but right now I’m looking at an 8.5″x3″ footprint on the face (without the lower portion of the covering being extended to its full 6″ (or is that 5.5″?). I’ll have to see what that looks like and how it performs, in a future model.

For me, the prior size works fine (the cutout blank being 6.5″x9.5″). I don’t think my head is that small, but I do have a short face. Then again, M was also the person who requested the felt interlining which makes it feel as though one is breathing through a blanket.

I don’t even want to go there.

Anyway, just thinking about this is kind of a headache. I also kind of don’t want to be selling these, for liability purposes: “This face covering is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.” Although — all of that is true, and I could just say that. “Use at your own risk,” is the other disclaimer, though I’m not sure if that’s legal…

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.