career, LIS, psychology, self care, writing

Learning to die

No, I haven’t yet read Learning to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton (2015). I don’t know how much it applies here, but…it may apply.

Just to let you know, I’m really pushing myself to get back on here and write. I have been keeping an offline journal, for myself…it’s just a bit harder to scan than this blog, though. As regards re-learning a cursive hand, I’ve decided to stop trying to force myself, as it isn’t as legible as my printing. It pretty much looks worse, too…which kind of evades the point.

Things are still kind of tense with me. Since my last class ended, I’ve had nothing that I’ve really been forced to do. I have two more classes which are about to start up, which at least will give me weekly projects to complete…on top of going back over my Portfolio, which it’s obvious (to me) I don’t want to do, but may be key in gaining future employment. Especially if I’m going for a technical position.

Right now I’m at a juncture between Web Development and Metadata or Cataloging Librarianship…the latter two being focused on the organization of information, the former meaning ability to communicate with a computer so it does what I want it to do (which is display information in a readable [and just maybe, hopefully, pleasant] manner*).

*”That’s for the UX people to figure out!” you say.

I should get back to the book, Careers in Writing, by Blythe Camenson. Because…right now, I’m actually thinking about writing for money. I think I’m in too deep with the content angle of Librarianship (after all, I have an Art and an English degree) to switch over totally to being a Web Developer.

Web Development as a career has the possibility of taking over the rest of my life. While it would be good money (if I were competent, which is not guaranteed, with an Art and an English degree), there are things I want to do besides help other people publish online. I might not have enough time for myself if I go for Web Development; it requires constantly staying on top of new technology. I’m pretty sure I’d get fried.

Right now, I’m angled toward Cataloging…and I’ll see where I stand, in a bit. I’m set up to take a class on Statistics, which will help as a foundation for text- or data-mining. Text- and data-mining help in determining the “aboutness” of a digital, text-based document. I’m also in a Subject Classification course, which will help me efficiently determine the subjects of texts in a more cognitive way.

That’s…barring any calamity which may happen between now and August. I took my in-person Spanish test about a week and a half ago (and didn’t pass: not even close; they must have been desperate; it’s like, “just tell me if I need to be at the level where I use this every day, so I can tell whether or not to even entertain this”), and so…I have until Thursday to have to still be on alert to anyone (including myself) becoming sick. (It’s now Monday morning, here.) M had mentioned an irritated throat on Sunday night, which…is not great, but there’s nothing I can really do about it; and the best she can do is rest.

What is scary is that COVID-19 can apparently infect and kill, very quickly (there was one victim in the news who was infected and died within 3 days — which I consider to be on the level of Ebola). At the time I was asked to take the Spanish test, I was unaware that there was a concurrent spike in new viral transmissions in our county. That fact wasn’t available until the hospitals started to fill up.

I am very concerned about hospitals having to make decisions about who gets treatment and who doesn’t, based upon pre-existing conditions…which could easily stray into eugenics, if it is not already eugenics. Especially, now. I doubt that they’re separating out the cases who got the disease by being personally and voluntarily irresponsible from people who were staying at home and doing their best.

Anyhow.

The thing to do, in this case, is likely to prepare myself to be independent as quickly as possible. That means…I should be driven to help cook, at the least. At the moment, I still don’t have the facility to drive, which matters in my area. Those are the two major life functions that I haven’t had to engage. Well, and there’s a third: paying bills. And doing taxes.

If everything turns out fine, that’s great: but if it doesn’t, I might be a little better prepared than otherwise. Maybe it would help me relax a bit (as versus panic)?

The problem I’m facing is a lack of information…and that information (whether or not we are all still safe) will only be revealed with time. And past that point in time, it’s uncertain again. (In actuality, the situation may be constantly uncertain.) My major blessing in this case, should it come, would only be that it would not be my direct fault that my mother became ill — this time.

But yeah…I wasn’t really briefed on the situation before we went out, either; and I have a feeling my parents were both shielding me from the information because they know that I have issues with germ phobia in the first place. I don’t really want to tell them that I didn’t even want to take the test. But we know the level at which I have to function now, in a bilingual environment…and I’m not at it.

I’m honestly not even sure now that I’d be at the level of functioning I’d need to be, as a Spanish-language Cataloger. Which is good to know. (Seriously, I look at some of the subject headings we use in English, and I don’t know what they all mean.) If I want an Academic Library job, though, proficiency in Spanish is likely the easiest route to solidify that “second language” requirement.

And no, I don’t know if it’s good or bad that when I read in Spanish, I immediately start to translate into English. It’s a very different dynamic than with Japanese language.

If we can make it through this…if I can look back on this from the future and see a learning opportunity and not a harbinger, my parents have told me that I don’t have to worry about getting another job immediately. It’s safer to hang back until we either have a treatment or a vaccine.

The thing is, right now, I don’t know how long any of us will be able to survive (especially given the fact that this virus likes to mutate). But I don’t predict the future well, which has always been a blessing — given that I tend to neuroses. I stopped writing fiction because I knew I tended to get carried off with my own stories, have I told you all that?

It might actually be time for me to write down my own, “wisdom,” so much as it may be. Just codify it. Whatever form it takes, just get it out. Then decide what to do with it, later. Decide if it’s true, later. Or leave it to others…like my sister, who told me that I have my own story and it deserves to be told…

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…

culture

Restarted Japanese language study.

Yes, that’s right. I finally got around to attempting to read in Spanish, again, when I realized that the cultural content of what I’m reading differs between languages. Without getting too personal as to what I read and why I decided to stray from Spanish and get back to Japanese…well, let’s say that Japanese is, culturally speaking, less foreign to me. I have more personal use for it.

Plus, there’s the whole race + gender thing (which makes reading in a colonial language emotionally hazardous to me). And the religion thing. One of the things I appreciated about Japanese at the beginning is that it allows one to claim their own gender, as versus having it simply projected onto one by others. Of course, that doesn’t say anything about what happens to openly non-cisgender, non-heteronormative people in Japan. Do I want to get into studying that? Or do I already know?

The basic reason for learning Spanish, for me, is that I’ve sunk a lot of time into it, already, and I may need a Western European language if I want to be a mainstream Academic Librarian (as versus an East Asian Studies Librarian). But hey, who said marginalized was worse, right?

Ehhh…

In any case…I’m getting back into it. I’ve realized that learning Japanese is like learning any other non-mainstream language. Like if I was from any other small Asian country, and wanted to learn the language of my family and heritage…which most of the rest of the U.S. doesn’t care about.

I blew through a couple of course segments last night, and feel set to continue on this way (maybe setting a time for study), especially now that I know I have decided to forgo Spanish. Also — I’ve actually gotten into new vocabulary now (as versus review), and counters aren’t as bad as I thought.

“Counters”…they’re bits of words that modify the pronunciation of what is being counted. They’re prolific in Japanese, and the major reason I backed off, a while ago.

Well, besides kanji.

I can just say — I’m glad I didn’t throw out all my textbooks. Though I have no idea where my Japanese-English dictionary went…

art, technology

Solving technical difficulties

I had almost forgotten about those text-only posts about the drawing inks and watercolors! Well…let’s see. I do work over the weekend, but midweek I might have time for playing with this, some more. The drawback to posting (color) scans is that I have to use a machine with which I’m not highly familiar.

Then there’s the fact that I trained on Photoshop, but don’t want to pay $20/month to have permission to use it. I think I mentioned somewhere a while ago (maybe on a defunct blog) that I had been using PS Elements — until some update made it suddenly stop working. Was that intentional? I don’t know. But it didn’t make Adobe look good.

Of course, this is part of a long argument propounded by former Photoshop users. There are other solutions, but they take retraining, and their UX is often not as intuitive. Then there’s the fact that Adobe has probably made strides to make sure they get into the classrooms.

I do have half a mind to hook up my drawing tablet again. I took it off for my own reasons, but it reminds me that there are alternatives to Adobe. Not necessarily all open-source…not that open-source is bad, but I wonder what else is out there.

Having worked with watercolor paints recently made me realize something: one of my earlier instructors who was a Digital Illustrator, was right in that he said that digital art was made to emulate physical media, but it wasn’t a replacement for it. I haven’t been through all the art programs out there, but I wonder if anyone has replicated the blossoming of color that happens with good watercolor paint, in wet-in-wet painting. I bet someone has (it’s probably on a Mac, though).

Of course, if I’m photo-editing, I can probably do that better on the computer than in the darkroom (particularly because I don’t know how to process film, and the thought of developing photos has always put me a little on edge).

There is the possibility of getting a Mac tablet and Apple Pencil…but it’s seriously a lot of money. I mean, I’d have to work out a plan and timetable to save up for the thing, and I don’t even know if I’d like it. I guess that’s why there are Apple Stores.

Of course…if I’m going to do that, I could save up for a Mac first, and if I don’t like how the Apple Pencil works upon trying it out, I can apply the savings to a Cintiq. The price has gone down since I last checked.

(Really, Haru? You’re really entertaining this?)

Then there’s this stuff about scanning or photography.

This is kind of too much to think about, right now. I have, however, located a couple of models which would work…the question is…is it that important to me.

That depends on how much time I actually spend making artwork. It hasn’t been much, recently. If, however, I spent as much time painting as I did writing — trying to work on it every day, you know — that…that would be great.

And yes, I do need to give myself permission to make my life not all about my career. Though there is the possibility, I found yesterday…of helping to run the art displays at one or more libraries, which would give me valuable experience if I wanted to work in or run a gallery (and thus get back into the visual art world). It wouldn’t pay — it’s a volunteer position. But still…that’s really interesting, you know?

There is more I have to say about…languages. I realized the other night that while I may have been taught the basic mechanics of Spanish language, no one ever really encouraged me to do any recreational reading in Spanish, or to use the language outside the classroom. That (and the missionary angle of most of my teachers) has very obviously impacted my regard for it.

Also — I’ve realized that if I learn Spanish instead of Japanese — this would give me much more time to work on my Art. (I’ve also realized that the evangelical pamphlet that someone donated the other day, was likely written to be easy to read. I found a book by Neil Gaiman in the Spanish Children’s section the other day, which I couldn’t well read. I could read it well enough to know that it was likely disturbing.) ;)

Relearning Spanish also doesn’t mean that I won’t ever learn Japanese.

Anyway…it’s almost midnight, and I’ve got an early morning, tomorrow. More has happened…but I should get some rest.

art, libraries, organization, self care

Priorities, Version 2

This is written in continuation of a prior post from November 1 about current priorities as regards my time and resources.

I’m thinking it may be of use to identify where current evidence suggests my priorities lie, prior to describing where I wish my priorities lay; and a map of how to get from one state, to the other.

  1. Work
  2. Writing
  3. Reading (in English)
  4. Organization
  5. Watercolors
  6. Rest

There are three possibilities I can see coming up which may compete for resources:

  • Driving lessons and practice
  • Ceramics classes/studio time (to start in Spring)
  • Silversmithing classes/studio time (to start in Summer)

I don’t see work reducing in priority too much, but learning to drive will likely cut into that. It’s a skill I need to know which is way overdue. Writing also will likely not reduce too much in priority. I’d like to read more. My focus on organization will likely slow down as things…you know, get organized. I’ve wanted to work on watercolors, more; I’ve also found someone giving free watercolor classes. And rest, well…that will come up as I get exposed to pathogens.

I haven’t been engaging Japanese language study pretty much at all, recently, which makes practice in writing…well…practicing writing wrong. Though I did today, out of nowhere, recall the kanji for “hand”: 手

There is also study for essentially Professional Development which I left off on, and should get back to: particularly, in Reader’s Advisory, Virtual Reference, and Online Searching. After that is done, it would help to start looking at materials for how to conduct Library programs.

I’m thinking the priority schedule will start to look something like this:

  1. Work
  2. Driving lessons and practice
  3. Reader’s Advisory study
  4. Writing (Art experiences, sexuality + gender)
  5. Reading (in English)
  6. Watercolor

I still want to add in Ceramics. I believe this will take time away from work, as my work schedule is likely to be more flexible than the Lab schedule. As the Spring quarter starts, my priorities may look more like this:

  1. Work
  2. Driving practice
  3. Writing
  4. Ceramics
  5. Watercolor

…and that’s mostly because I find I write more meaningfully when I don’t push myself to write. Watercolor may actually fall away if I’m also dealing with Ceramics.

You’ll notice “studying Japanese language” is missing. I’m just not sure where to put it:

  1. Work
  2. Driving practice
  3. Writing
  4. Ceramics
  5. Reading (in English)
  6. nihongo wo benkyou suru (studying Japanese language)
  7. Watercolor

I still feel kinda torn about the Spanish thing.

The other day, someone dropped off a pamphlet in Spanish that I could read well enough to know that it was an evangelical text. While I was happy to be able to decipher this (four years of programming was not wasted), the fact is, my being able to read an evangelical text is not a personal benefit.

Before I read Adolfo Best-Maugard’s A Method for Creative Design (originally composed in Spanish), which in turn was recommended by a teacher of mine (I’m pretty sure I know how she identifies, but I don’t know that I can write the term on wordpress.com — those of you who know what I’m talking about, know), there was nothing I was motivated to read in Spanish language. (I did, however, find an interesting Reference book on Latin American Literature in a nearby library, which piqued my interest.) I suppose that this would be a disappointment to my middle school and high school Spanish teachers, but the fact is that no one exposed us to books in Spanish, other than our textbooks. If my memory’s correct, we might have even read Pablo Neruda in English class, not Spanish — though that sounds too ridiculous to be accurate. I hope it’s not accurate.

I’m trying not to get into politics or religion, at the moment. Though español brings up issues with both, really strongly, and really negatively, for me. In a lot of ways.

If I were only going to use it within the U.S., that would be one thing…but I would expect relations with Latin America to be on the rocks right now.

The problematic parallel to rigidly gendered nouns in Spanish language is the hierarchy inherent to Japanese language. The way one person addresses another, or refers to oneself in context with that other, is dependent on the hierarchical relation between them. Though, I’ve mostly encountered respectful people when I have engaged with people in Japanese-American society. (Kids and teens, when I was the same age, don’t count.)

I guess if I want to see if it’s worth it to learn Spanish, I could reach out and start reading some kids’ materials, or something…I’ve heard that it isn’t best to try and learn multiple languages at the same time.

Just…I don’t want to have wasted those four years! And I’m so close!

It’s also more practical…

organization, personal, work

Languages and migration: a.k.a. Too much free time

As of last Friday, I completed my initial three weeks of full-time training. I went in to work one time this week to be signed off. Other than that, I haven’t been practicing. I’m kind of scared that I’m going to lose some of what I’ve learned…though a few days on desk for the amount of time I have experienced on a daily basis, should kick that right back in, for me.

I could also be reviewing my notes, from those last three weeks. Even with my attempt to write down only that which I did not know or recall, I filled up enough pages that I had to buy a bigger binder. Don’t worry, it’s done…and apparently a Kokuyo 20-hole binder for A5 paper will also fit Maruman 20-hole A5 paper. Don’t quote me on that, though.

Right now we have a guest, which has me thinking on the actuality of the possibility of taking a job nearer to them. This has caused me to remember plans for joining them, and the potential relevance of my learning Japanese language. It’s almost useless where I am now, but would be used daily at the place to which we’re considering moving.

So…this week has given me the opportunity to check out what I actually will want to do for the foreseeable future. Let’s say the next 5 years. This would impact me especially where it comes to furthering my acquisition of a second language. I have a choice between español (Spanish) or nihongo (Japanese), for a language I would have a head start in picking up. Which I choose, depends on where I expect myself to be in the future.

Based on my experience in learning Spanish language in middle and high school…I would say that most of my discouragement in learning the language, aside from a certain integral component (the fact that all nouns have a gender, which profoundly impacts me as a person who now considers themselves gender-nonbinary), has been in not wanting to be like my teachers. That sounds kind of harsh, but in my experience (in three out of five teachers — and one of the other two teachers was a native speaker, until he got fired) there was definitely a certain type of person — in my school district — who became a Spanish-language teacher.

Nor am I really confident in my Spanish-language skills. But I know enough so that when I start to read something written in Spanish language, I can get the gist of what’s meant. My major difficulty is then with vocabulary. There is also the point that the people I’ve known who have natively spoken Spanish, have been a lot more down-to-earth than my past teachers.

It wasn’t quite until I began reading things in English that looked like they had originally been written for Spanish speakers, that I started to take interest in the language again (I had originally chosen Spanish over French because it was more widely applicable in the Americas; these two languages were the only two I had access to in my regular public school setting). Then there is the issue of International Relations which are just being trashed with Latin America right now…it wasn’t great to be estadounidense in Central and South America before: I don’t expect it to be easier, now.

On the other hand — with Japanese language…the biggest barriers are now 1) kanji (Chinese characters integrated into Japanese writing), which I have not systematically studied; 2) counters; and, 3) practice partners. Apparently, as there is such a shortage of sounds within nihongo itself, differing counters are appended to differing types of objects being counted, in order to tell what the number applies to. There’s that, and the fact that the pronunciation of a number changes, depending on the counter paired with it.

This comes up early…which kind of makes me fear that people in Japan test foreigners by asking them to count things appropriately. (Counting things in a basic way is understandable, but generally only done by small children.) That, in turn…doesn’t have me thinking that nihonjin (Japanese-from-Japan) are really welcoming to foreigners. There’s that, in addition to the fact that I’ve lived the experience of a hapa (mixed-race) nikkeijin (Japanese-of-foreign-birth)…and have experienced issues with racism from within my own family, ostensibly caused by the race of my non-Japanese parent. I say, “ostensibly,” because no minority brings the experience of racism upon themselves. Others visit it upon them, whatever their excuse.

Having said that, I’ve also experienced racial tensions all through my life in University…so I suppose it may come with the package of this rebirth.

The issue for me — when I was taking Japanese-language classes — was the bizarreness factor of being in class with a bunch of anime (Japanese animation) and J-pop (Japanese pop music) fans who just wanted to understand their lyrics or lines…and myself, who wanted to know more about my heritage, and what had helped give form to me.

In short, my drive to learn nihongo, early on, was a drive to understand more about myself and my social, cultural, and historical context. I knew I did like Japanese pop culture (and appreciated what of Japanese culture I did participate in due to family influence), but I didn’t know why. I have a lot more of a clue about that, at this time.

I just can’t see giving up Japanese language study for Spanish, just because Spanish is easier (being closer to English). Spanish would give me a better window into European cultures and American Indigenous cultures…the thing is, I’m not heavily interested in European cultures, compared to my interest in China, Japan, Korea, or Tibet. (I don’t know much about Southeast Asia at this point, but I can see myself curious about that, once I get a baseline understanding of the more northerly territories. There’s also Polynesia, though French may be of more use, there.)

Finding information on American Indigenous cultures is so far from my present capability that I really don’t know how long it will be before I can even source words from the people I want to hear from, or tell whether it would be recorded en español or in their specific native languages. I suppose it makes sense that I would be more interested in regions connected to my diaspora.

Anyhow. I…have restarted my nihongo practice via my library. I can work through the 12 classes, and then see where I am. After all, it’s not like the español knowledge is just going to evaporate. It has hung around for two decades, after all.

And Japanese is so beautiful when written. It just will take some practice to learn. And I have time.