beading, beadwork, Business, personal, self care, spirituality

I think I’ve found what I’m going to be doing…

…for the next year, until the vaccine. (Of course, predictions of what I will do are sketchy, at best.) I’ve gotten back into making beaded jewelry; mostly, glass beadweaving, and micro-macrame. I have some stone components, but it isn’t the direction I seem to be going in, wholly.

I’m also trying to taking care of myself when I need to; particularly, where this comes to exercise and hygiene, with other forms of self-care (like maintaining my spaces). Then there’s my class. After that, I can deal with what comes up…particularly, giving XSLT another shot (and hoping there aren’t any gigantic disturbances, this time).

My University class…well, that’s basically…group work. Meaning, I don’t have a lot of control over it. I’m not entirely certain how to communicate with the others as well; I’ve been away from the LMS for so long (about two years, now) that I am not sure others are getting my messages. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about my grades, as I’ve already graduated. The others, do.

I was mistaken about the timeline for the end of my University class: I have just a bit more time than I thought I did. What I don’t have is extra time to arrange an internship, if I want to pay the University to supervise it for me. And, I mean…is it worth it? On top of that, do I need to take it now? And, could I not find a use for, say, a database project, myself?

I’m scaling back my Academic commitments, particularly because I did not finish two of my last private online courses (the ones which happened around the orange sky days). I know I’ll have to deal with XML again at the beginning of the year (and hopefully pass it, this time), but without an additional University commitment, and barring any unforeseen disasters, I won’t have to deal with anything else.

That will free up my time to design and make jewelry. I’ve been engaging in the former, more than is normal for me (recently). Though, of course, even saying that makes me feel guilty. I tend to spend more on production than I gain through sales. It’s an issue. But, “minimal loss,” is a better goal than, “bottomless pit.” Of course, there’s the profit-margin aspect…which is difficult to even think about at this point, because I haven’t kept complete records of quantities spent and quantities gained.

People sometimes get surprised when I say I make jewelry, because I don’t tend to wear jewelry. At least I didn’t, for the majority of the time I was on the last two jobs. Wearing jewelry attracts male attention that I don’t want, and I’m more apt to want big muscles than to actually…you know, dress up. Not to mention that my last two jobs have been so dirty that I didn’t want to wear good clothes or jewelry.

The jewelry I design isn’t necessarily congruent with the way I’ve decided to present myself, although it does really make me look good. The thing I get tripped up on is that when I wear what I make, and dress up, I feel very, “ethnic,” and I don’t know where that places me, socially. I’ve spent a lifetime being seen as “exotic”, so it’s probably, well…predictable that I would have complicated feelings around that.

The thing is, when I dress up, I don’t intend to make myself look like something I’m not. It’s probably been over a year since I straightened my hair, and no one would ever think me to be white (aside from one internet troll, who was probably just trying to get a rise). People from similar racial and cultural backgrounds can find me familiar (even children), but aside from those people, I probably come across as an unknown amalgam.

There is a bit of relative safety, though, in looking like a beautiful woman. Many treat me with privilege more often that way, than they do when I’m in menswear, and I believe that others are also more apt to protect and empathize with me. Generally, if I can be mistaken for a man or mistaken for a woman, I’m attended to with more privilege than when I am ambiguous (when the feedback turns curious and hostile, especially if others believe me to be younger than I am). However, I know that when I’m mistaken for a woman, the person I really am slips under the radar. I become invisible. To the outside, I may be hypervisible; as regards personality, no one expects to find me there.

(Then again, no one ever expects to find me, there.)

Yes, this does remind me of femme positionality…but am I femme? I don’t believe so. Fluid, is more like it.

I guess when you’re a designer, there’s no rule that states that your personal aesthetic has to match your normal outward presentation. They’re two different things, and they interrelate in a complicated way. Not everything I produce will be “me” in the sense of displaying who I am; in the same sense, almost all of it, does. What comes out of me might allot to, “who one might be if society were not a factor.” And that’s beautiful. That’s vulnerable and open to display. It’s honest.

It’s also broader than the face(s) I put on for society in order to attain my own personal aims (like being passed over), which I still have mixed feelings about. I know a lot of enby people who have a way they want to be treated, which doesn’t happen unless they look a way that they really don’t want to look. And if they look a way they do want to look, they aren’t treated the same way.

I can relate. I honestly want to look femme — a muscular femme that’s mixed with the type of female power and knowing, that I see coloring my own masculinity. The thing is, I also don’t want to constantly have to defend my own boundaries. It’s easier when men leave me alone, especially granted that pretty much no random man off the street impresses me. They get blinded by how I look, and tend to assume I am who they want me to be, rather than giving me agency over my own self-definition and my own desires.

If were granted the latter two, I don’t think I’d have a problem. I need to be able to be myself, regardless of whether that self would seamlessly fit into their lives. I need to be respected enough so that when I say no, it’s believed and honored. I need it to be okay for me to be all of myself, not just the parts that fit into some cultural definition of ideal, “womanhood,” that I most likely don’t share.

I am, that is, human. Like you. And like you, I’m complicated and I have my own desires and needs and thoughts that don’t revolve around other people. That don’t revolve around men; that don’t revolve around you. The way I look has nothing to do with who I am. It has to do with what comes at me. If you knew what comes at me, and you felt what I felt from the inside, you would understand why I am the way I am.

And why I have no time for people who assume they know me because they can see me; who think my body parts mean things they do not.

No, I don’t know what this is. I don’t have a name for it. But this is me, and has been me, for a very long time.

…and yes, I am sensing the feeling I get when I see the color, indigo. Which is ironic, as I believe I was supposed to be an “Indigo Child.” I also just purchased some “Denim Blue” crystal beads, of which I am now reminded (they’re so dark a blue that they’re almost gray; the color comes out in direct sun and among other blues, violets, and blue-greens)…but that, that gets into aesthetics, which gets into philosophy and spirituality…

Is that what “aura colors” are? Matching up the feelings you get when you see the color, with the feelings you get when you sense yourself (or others) at your (or their) most clear and true and powerful…?

There’s also the idea that jewelry is art. That each piece has its own personality. Like a story, it maintains the imprint of its author, but should not reflect directly back upon her character. Everyone sees something different in art pieces, and art pieces can reflect any facet of human experience, as filtered and arranged through the maker and reconstructed by the viewer (and the wearer). It may be a puzzle with no correct answer. Be open to hearing multiple versions of reality. The multiplicity contributes to the reality of the beauty.

And no, I honestly have no idea why people like my work. ;) I don’t even know why I like my work…I don’t know why it’s good; I just know it is.

Maybe I should work on a philosophy as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. If I knew, on a large scale, why I was doing what I was doing when I was doing it…maybe that would help me stay motivated to keep doing it. Like a Mission Statement, you know? If any of that Business training I went through, has any value at all…

I mean, it can’t all be about money. If it were just about money, there are other and more efficient ways to get it, that help other people more. I know aesthetics factor into this. Being able to feel like I have something, also factors in, as silly as it is with little bits of colored glass.

Color is a very large…and elusive, mysterious component of why I continue to bead. There are entire books written on color in beadwork, though the two I have which expressly focus on it, don’t do it justice. I question whether a print book can ever do it justice. You really need to get in there with your hands and just work. Then you see what can be done.

Maybe I should actually write a book, on color in beadwork.

I’ve been making efforts to get out from in front of this computer and engage in non-virtual activities as much as possible; though sometimes, as you can see, writing actually does help enrich my life, by drawing out thoughts I didn’t know I had.

I also have a tendency to feel guilty about working creatively, which is counter-productive when it comes to actually making money…but…I’ve just now realized that there is, at least, spiritual and aesthetic value in colorwork. There’s also value in making oneself beautiful, even if you’re like me and have a hard time with the attention. Isn’t beauty of value?

I don’t know yet how to balance these things…maybe become stronger in my assertiveness in order to be able to realize my own beauty without feeling violated?

Be who I am, right? Just be, totally, who I am; that is beautiful enough…

jewelry, personal, psychology

Recap, and envisioning my future self.

Okay, so…that bit of time when I was up until after midnight this last Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, and had to wake early Wednesday? I’m still feeling the aftereffects. (Of course, it is only Thursday. The days seem to be going slower for me, recently.)

I fell asleep by accident at 8 PM last night (Wednesday), then woke up at 3:30 AM (today, Thursday) from the local fox screaming in the backyard. (It’s probably a girl; we read that vixens scream to attract mates.) At that time, I realized I had missed my 9 PM medication…by 6.5 hours…and got up to take it. I also had to eat a little bit to avoid becoming sick from the meds — plantain chips. (It must have worked, as I didn’t get nauseous, and I wasn’t nauseous when I woke up.)

Then I brushed my teeth and got back in bed, to wake up at 9 AM for the live meeting of my current course. That was relatively difficult to get through; I went back to bed at 9:50 after it ended, skipping produce shopping for today.

So…I think that will have to wait until tomorrow, to avoid being on the road during rush hour. We did go out, though I basically had to eat two meals to stay up. The only way I am staying up right now is that I drank a caffeinated soda. I’m also eating some chocolate, which is likely not a coincidence.

I still haven’t written about last weekend, though…I wonder if I wrote anything by hand? I know I did, some. Any names mentioned here would have to be altered or omitted for confidentiality reasons…but basically, my dad’s cousin had a family gathering, and I got to meet family whom I had met maybe once before. There’s a lot of history that precedes me here; some that precedes my father; it’s not proper for the blog, but whose family history is…?

In any case, it was nice to meet people, though I kind of wish I had been more up to the task of being social. Because I’m a shy person by nature, I did do a little tatting at brunch to withdraw a bit. I am amazed at how many people know what tatting is! It’s sweet when they find you and recognize what you’re doing. <3

I’m also starting to really love tatting, or at least the fact that it’s extremely portable, and calming. I find that I can listen and be aware of my environment at the same time as I’m paying attention to what my hands are doing. Having my attention nominally on my handwork, though…it means that I’m not expected to talk.

I guess it’s kind of like the smartphone in the hands of the kid sitting next to me; it gives the impression that one is occupied, though I find that tatting doesn’t take up as much cognitive attention (as versus fine motor attention) as the phone does. I gave him some visual cues to signal that I could talk, but he was absorbed in his phone. I assumed that he didn’t want to talk as much or moreso than myself, so I left him alone.

So…after that, we headed off to Monterey. I still have most of a bag of candies from there (okay, about 60% now)…it’s kind of hard to visit Monterey and not come home with salt water taffy. The time we spent down there, we were with one of my aunts. It was nice to talk with her one-on-one, though I wish I had said more than I did. I just happen to be a listening kind of person, I guess.

Also, we visited the aquarium, which was interesting and cute. There were two high points for me: one were the birds (including the aviary [where I saw someone unsuccessfully try to entice a Snowy Plover into his hand: the plover just looked at him, about eight inches out of reach] and the Pigeon Guillemots in a separate exhibit); the other was the diving beetle exhibit!

Okay, so the two Pigeon Guillemots whom we saw in an exhibit were playing with the people looking at them by acting cute (trying to swim up to us, even though the glass obviously blocked them). I’m thinking they had learned that if they interacted with people (even people behind glass), they could get us to do things. :) They went away when I looked up to try and figure out what they were. I think they thought I was signaling disinterest (they couldn’t see the sign I was looking at), though I was really just a little embarrassed by how cute they were (and that I couldn’t give them any fish).

The diving beetles, though…that was just amazing. It was crazy seeing all the little beetles swimming around underwater! They have two paddle-like legs, and a bubble of air under their shells, and they just…swim. It’s amazing. I’ve never seen diving beetles before! (They were at the end of the Viva Baja exhibit.)

So…the places we stayed were also really nice, although I think there was some covert racial bias we encountered outside of the hotels. It’s hard to tell if it was that, or just a couple of instances of poor service.

So I don’t forget myself, I should mention that I visited a gallery/boutique on Cannery Row where I was able to purchase a black ceramic ring with a metallic polish. It reminds me very much of a hematite ring I had (and loved) in high school, and kept until it finally got a stress fracture. I found out later that hematite isn’t the greatest material for rings, as rings have to be hard-wearing, and hematite is vulnerable to stress fractures from rapid temperature changes, and also to fractures from shock (say, by putting one’s hand down on a table).

It doesn’t take a lot to crack hematite. It reminds me of another stone, fluorite, though fluorite is orders of magnitude more fragile than hematite (I’ve chipped it just by trying to bend a wire I’ve strung it onto). Opal is another one of those stones that is extremely easy to damage…it has acquired a reputation for bad luck because it’s so difficult to set.

Anyhow, the ring itself is really nice. The ceramic itself is a very hard, strong, and durable ceramic called a, “gem ceramic,” made from zircon. The last time I wore it to work, I found a shiny black chip trapped under the ring, and realized upon examining the ring for damage that the chip had to have come off of the paint from the shelving cart I had been handling.

I was just really amazed at the fact that my purchase decision was so easy — in lieu of getting a graduation ring, I got this. It has, however, also made me want to expand my earlobe piercings again. I stopped and let my piercings shrink down because I wasn’t sure I would want to go to large-gauge jewelry. However, at this point…this ring really matches the aesthetic I was going for. I’ve also worn plenty of my own jewelry, and I think it’s really okay that I wear jewelry which is different from the jewelry that I make. It’s a style decision.

Right now, I’m thinking that I’m okay with going up to 10 gauge, and with purchasing earrings at that size (as versus making them). Of course, at the moment, I’m closer to 20 gauge — standard earwire girth. It will take months to safely expand my piercings again, but I’m up to it. When I originally got pierced, it was at 14 gauge, I was young, and I told myself that I wouldn’t go up in gauge until I was very sure I wanted to.

Hey, it’s been about 15 years, and I’m pretty sure I’m good with it, now! Also, if I’m going to be a Librarian or Information Professional, I pretty much don’t have to worry about bias instigated by my jewelry. A lot of younger people wear this style, though it started (here, at least) with Generation X. I’m from the generation that followed.

So recently…I’ve been able to get more of a handle on dealing with my own style. For instance…I’ve decided to keep my hair long, and to wear it with its natural curl. I’ve found that if I clip my hair back, it puts less strain on my scalp than it does when I wear my hair pulled back. We have also been visiting some beauty supply stores, and I’ve found a type of shampoo and conditioner (by “Shea Moisture”) that is gentle enough to use frequently. It does seem to be a very good thing for me to use sulfate-free shampoo.

I do need to trim my ends, but I also found a styling aid that makes it much easier to comb. I’m considering — once I get my sleep stuff under control — taking a shower in the morning and washing my hair every day or two, so that I can wear it long and curly, without having slept on it first. I also finally have a decent hair dryer which I can use to target my roots, so I don’t get too cold, and so that I can avoid mildew growth. Hair care is the major reason for me to cut my hair short: I have a type of hair that is very high-maintenance (thick, wavy, and curly), and in the past, I didn’t want to be burdened with it. However, now I know that having it long is a choice, not a requirement.

I also now have enough makeup to practice, as well; though I need to wash my powder brush. There’s that, and the fact that I have to keep my body hair trimmed, if I want to wear sleeveless shirts and dresses. Then there’s the exercise which I want to get back to so that I can tighten my body up again and regain some leanness and hypertrophy (and energy). I really don’t have anything against being larger; it’s just the belly and the health drawbacks (and the specter of the weight gain from my medications not ceasing) that are causing me to work on myself.

I almost can’t believe how much identifying (and finding a community) as gender-nonbinary has freed up so much of my energy, and ceased so much of my angst about conforming or not conforming to standards as either a man or a woman. It’s enabled me to just release it, instead of being trapped in a two-gender dialogue between compulsory femininity and rebellion against compulsory femininity.

I used to hear trans* men say similar things (a great sense of freed-up energy and sense of well-being) about their lives after transition to male, though (which made me want to transition, before I realized I wasn’t them; thus, their solution wouldn’t work for me), so I want to emphasize that the happiness, liberation, and sense of calm comes with finding your authentic self, whoever you are, and finding your own way to engage with the world, over all the noise that tells you that you shouldn’t be you. It has nothing to do with the specific identity of the point you find to be happy at.

For me, getting to this point has had to do with finding what makes me happy, and negotiating out a way to do that, with the world — regardless of others’ opinions of whether or not what I’m doing is, “correct,” (against what standard?) or whether I’m being, “trans enough” — because, cis and trans are relative and culturally contextual terms. In my case, I know I’m going to stand out (firstly, because of my race), no matter what I do, and regardless of whether I want to. My thought is that I might as well aim to become a person I am proud to be: my authentic self; and then let things play out as they will. No regrets.