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…

beading, creativity, psychology, self care

I’ve gotta say… (Trigger warning: mention of suicide as an extreme of cultural erasure)

…that going through a job search without limiting myself to either libraries or self-employment, is infinitely more hopeful. I’m not, you know, hemmed in by the limits of my own imagination, there. I’m actually dealing with reality (even if the reality is someone illegitimately looking for personal information).

Last night, I started disassembling strands of beads and loading them into labeled vials. I’ve been looking around online for quality sellers, and I’ve found at least one new one. (I also found a seller who I am going to be careful about ordering from, again — though they did give me two strands of beads which are gorgeous, after washing. The thing is: they required washing.) I’m also collecting information on shops I knew from a while back, and compiling them into a spreadsheet. Not all of them are still great (if they ever were any better, more than having name recognition).

This is after I realized that I just didn’t have the tenacity to get through itemizing another receipt…gah. But there is one left from the middle of May (of this year), that I really should work on. I didn’t, because for one thing, there are about 30 different items on the list. That store in particular, though? I’ve seen a price spike there, recently, and I’m not sure if it’s because of limited stock from the global shutdown. Less stock, more demand, same rent, higher prices. Basic microeconomics…

I do think that I still am dealing with a fear of being creative, though it’s not as strong as it historically has been. That’s why it was easier to store and categorize things, yesterday, than it was to actually build anything. And, yeah, I guess it was easier to play with MS Excel (and look for jobs?) than it was to build anything. Planning on running a jewelry microbusiness really isn’t going to go anywhere if I don’t actually, you know, make things.

And then there’s the question of the value of making things if I have to let those things go in order to create more things of value. In that way, value is produced…but unless I charge enough, I don’t get to see much of it. This is what has happened with my making face coverings. I began doing it for myself and my parents, then basically needed to give some to my sibling and sell some to people who can’t sew. So I have maybe 12-14 for myself and my parents, now (it takes at least one hour to go from start to finish), even though I’ve likely put at least 24 hours into making them, in total. Likely more, if I count fabric choice and acquisition and preparation and design.

And I actually, probably should make more. It’s comforting to have something ready when I need to go out.

The entire creativity/fear thing…it’s pretty…well, I’d say it’s pretty commonplace, given that there’s actually a book called Art and Fear (by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which I’ve read), but…you know. Fear of the unknown, and all that. (Fear of generation? Fear of response?) I’m not sure if the unknown is better than the stories my mind has made up to fill the yawning gap in my knowledge, at this point.

I don’t even want to get into the stories. They sound like either fiction or craziness. And they can get me targeted by other people whose own crazy latches on. But the stories are very creative. As for whether or not I publicly engage with those narratives: does that equate to whether or not I engage with my creativity? I know it makes it, “feel more real,” when it’s not just myself who knows it…

But if the problem with disclosure is the fact that if I’m not believed, I come off as crazy; and if I am believed, I come off as possibly harmful (depending on one’s ideology); that makes disclosure pretty much, a “no,” proposition. If it’s reality: lack of disclosure of reality doesn’t make it any less real. My open acknowledgment of reality doesn’t make that reality come into being. Not talking about it just makes it less tangible, and produces fewer outward reminders.

It also keeps things, “living,” instead of, “dead,” if I’m thinking back to my books on Daoism. Red Pine may have said something about that (I have a copy of his translation of the Taoteching).

The question is, now, whether to live my life as though this core belief (the reasoning behind my pushing myself to be creative) is true, or whether to question it and lose my mooring. Do I have a calling, that is, and am I ambivalent about having it? Or just afraid to exert it? (The latter is true: there is power here; I believe I question whether I am right [or have a right] to exercise it.)

I’ve had some time between beginning this post after midnight this morning, and now — it’s nearly midnight again — to actually write some things in my private journal about this topic. I’ve realized that I’ve grown out of rehashing the narrative I was speaking of, above. It’s not new anymore. What to do about now, is what I have to deal with.


How, that is, can I lower my barrier to producing? How do I get out of idea generation and back into making — into construction? And how do I keep capitalism from sucking the life out of myself and my work? What do I do if I find out that one of my suppliers is doing something that violates my ethics?

Maybe I should just make the stuff I want to make, first. Without regard to whether they’ll be taken from me — just make them. If I were to do that, I could be motivated on the mask aspect again. I’d also have to set a firm boundary on what I will and won’t sell — if the goal is to be productive.

Pearl necklace in green and violet.
From February 2019. The pearls are mostly from The Bead Gallery in Honolulu, HI.

For the pearls…I know I don’t need them. (Who needs pearls?) I also know that I can make some gorgeous jewelry. Maybe if I spent less time in research (reading, YouTube), and more time figuring things out on my own, I will be able to more easily turn out what has been on the back burner for weeks, if not months (or years). I should also list my projects in-progress (kind of like what’s on Ravelry), so that I can keep track of what my beads and cords are doing, and how long they’ve been sitting there.

A set of pearl trident drop earrings in gold and mauve.

Right now I can think of at least five major undone/in-progress projects, plus one which I need to re-knot and lengthen, and two samples which I may cut apart to gather more beads (they were made as I figured out technique). Then there are projects I’ve envisioned and simply haven’t done (like more pearl earrings of a type which…I’m not sure I’ve yet shared on this blog; you can see them to the left), and a successful trial which is waiting for…something, to be made into earrings (below).

An in-process photo of an earring in purple, blue and orange. It looks like a banner, with glass beads making an eye-spot below it.
This one’s waiting for something. May 2020.

And maybe I should just terminate some projects, like things I began simply to learn how to do them, which have become dull and rote (and ugly), at this point. (I try not to make technique samples out of what I’d actually use in a piece of jewelry, because of the fairly common fear of running out of needed supplies. Unfortunately, that means I get samples which look like flags, and discourage further interest.)

There’s also the fact that I believe I turned to art and writing when speech was not enough, or when I felt I couldn’t speak. On that front, it’s even more vital that I don’t take down these avenues of expression, as well. Especially as, to reference the above, there is power in expression. I have known people who didn’t want the world to know they existed. (Problematically for me, I can understand that.) I don’t want to end up in that place: because I know there are people in this world who don’t want me to exist; but as a second-best choice, they don’t want anyone to know that I exist. And I don’t want to make their job easier for them, because the ultimate in silencing is suicide.

There are people who would like that. Not everyone is a good person.

I don’t want to let the world push me to that.

There is something about pearls and glass…the way they’re made. I’m going to try to avoid waxing poetic about this, here, but maybe there’s a reason (beyond the fact that they look nice, and at least can be affordable) that I’m using pearls and glass in my work. I think that my reasoning would be obvious.

But then, maybe it’s like I recognize that most flowers contain both sexes, meaning the plants themselves contain both sexes…and no one claims them to be ugly or unnatural for it. But flowers are generally seen to relate to women, moreso than men. Why?

Fire-polished beads with seed beads and fiber, knotted together in a bracelet. The color scheme ranges from iris green to red-violet.

And it’s essentially midnight, again. Hello, June 14th. There are things I want to do and things I have to do. Tomorrow…I have homework. At least, there’s some structure there.

I might want to set up work hours for myself — for my own beading and sewing projects — in addition to the job search, and my study.

I received two precious little pearls from Hawaii, today. Made my day. :)

beading, Business, career, craft, jewelry, money

Finding a niche?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

career, LIS, money, personal, self care, work

Not that I wasn’t expecting it,

but still, being notified that you’re likely about to be laid off, is kind of a shock. I got the news a couple of days ago. Right now, I’m still in the process of rebuilding my ePortfolio (when I can remember it exists), working on my class, and trying to keep my head above water. Which…is harder, when you have to take time out of self-care, to study.

I do wish they could have warned me before I started the Professional Development class which is of most use in Public Service (which I’ve been trying to get out of)…but the letter was dated June 2. They’re very good at withholding information.

I probably shouldn’t get into that.

I still haven’t told my Vocational counselor, though that would likely be a next best step. That, and working on this class and my DBT Anger Management workbook.

The week hasn’t been all bad. I had a meeting which turned out to be very positive and thought-provoking, even though I was having a hard time being present for some of it. I also have some other classes which I’m considering taking through the Winter.

The thing is that I’m really a bit torn between taking courses which are based around the Resource Description Framework (which is very much for a Metadata/Technical position and would likely keep me away from the public entirely, but may require a Computer Science background), Cataloging, Collection Development (the latter of which, has to be a lot of reading and statistics), and, basically, Marketing positions (which have to do with Web publicity).

M says I am trying to do too much, and to take things one step — and one class — at a time. I’m thinking about going ahead and reading Essential Classification to see if straight-up Cataloging is something I want to do. It might also be a good primer for July (when Subject Analysis and Collection Analysis are given). The RDF class series starts in August (with an introductory XML class), and I’m not sure I’m going to go through with all of it. It was recommended to me by a colleague, but one who doesn’t know me very well at all…

So…yes, I’m basically planning on doing some other things for income, fairly soon. If I can not be too bitter about being in this class.

The hard part of this is knowing that getting a new job can be a 40-hour/week position in itself, and so how much do I devote to caring for myself, to making jewelry and masks aside from that, to continuing education, and to job search (and self-assessment)?

Maybe by the end of August (when I can take Collection Development and XML in tandem), I’ll be able to tell whether Metadata or Cataloging work is best, for me…if I look at job openings for the skills I have, with an LIS and Humanities (not Computer Science) background.

So:

June

  • Complete class on Mental Health and Libraries
  • Read Essential Classification
  • Work on ePortfolio
  • Work in Anger Management book
  • Update LinkedIn

July

  • Take Subject Analysis
  • Take Collection Analysis

August

  • Take Intro to XML
  • Take Intro to Collection Development

I think that’s as far out as I should plan, right now.

Wow, that was actually…productive…

career, color, craft, design, fabric, sewing

Needing to work my own way.

I did get some work done, today. It’s worth noting that I didn’t get anything done before I decided that it was OK to trust my perfectionist urges and pre-wash/pre-shrink my fabric. This was largely due to puzzling over it…for days…and then reading instructions that M had printed out for a different pattern: to wash and dry the fabric as hot as was feasible, at least 2-3 times before cutting it.

Everything has been washed and dried on medium-high or high twice, depending on how I felt things would bleed or dry (there is, for instance, a lot less of the orange and yellow fabrics, meaning I knew they would dry quickly).

Previously…M and D had said it was OK to cut the fabric without pre-washing, but to cut the pieces a little larger to account for shrinkage. I’ve been cutting everything out to 9.5″x6.5″, to allow a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides and give me a nice even 9″x6″ panel to work with when it comes to the proportions of the mask proper. It also helped that my quilting ruler has markings specifically at 9.5″x6.5″ (I think the entire ruler is 6.5″x19″).

So…there were a few problems with cutting things out without pre-shrinking, first. The first thing is that I’d have to either eyeball the size (which meant I couldn’t trust the seam allowance to be an accurate 1/4″ away from the stitching line when sewing), or spend extra time determining the size of the mask face when cutting (likely using the guides on my cutting mat).

The second thing is that I didn’t know how the fabric was going to shrink, as I imagined the warp and weft would not shrink evenly. That meant that my masks may unpredictably distort once they were finally washed.

The third thing is that if you’re not quilting the mask layers together, they tend to separate in the wash and require ironing to straighten them out again. With two panels of different sizes, those things may never lay flat.

What I did today was undo the pinning and finger-pleating in the two mask faces that were in-progress. These were the two I was working on when I burned my thumb with steam from the iron, about four days ago (this was bad enough to hurt when ice was put on it). The burn was enough to keep me away for a while (physically, I was better the next day, without even a blister; mentally, not so much), but I looked around that area today and saw that there was work in progress. It was enough to get me to work on this, again.

In any case…the finger-pleats were waiting for the iron (all I had to do was plug it in and press), but I realized that I could experiment on them — especially as one of them would never be used by anyone but me (I messed up the integrity of the mask by trimming the seam allowances too close, and had to hand-stitch the turning hole closed [my normal stitching line, 1/8″ in, would have missed the raw edges]).

What I did was run two lines of stitching down the masks from top to bottom, approximately 1/3 of the way in, on either side. I’m not sure if this ruins their feasibility as doing anything to stop COVID-19, but I’m hoping that with washing, the needle punctures will close up and the mask will be functional, and easier to care for than the first model. I’ll be able to see, once it’s completed and washed. My point was to keep those two pieces of fabric from separating.

Anyhow…I have a lot of fabric, right now. The oranges, pinks, and violets have all been laundered and dried (twice), and ironed to get the kinks out of them. I still have to deal with the blues and greens, though they finished drying earlier tonight. They’re folded and awaiting ironing, in the morning. Hopefully, that “morning” will not be 2 AM. ;)

I’ve also learned…not to buy fabric in 1/2 yard lengths, unless I’m just sampling. I know it’s twice as big as a Fat Quarter, but it still makes me feel like those colors are…precious. I guess it isn’t like I didn’t feel the Fat Quarters were precious, in the first place. But those were just the beginning. I’m also using Kona cottons, which come in a gorgeous array of colors which I’m unsure I’ll be able to match via computer screen.

I actually was talking with D about this, earlier: computer and smartphone screens (RGB color) really aren’t the best thing with which to try and represent a color. Especially not, when there are subtle gradations and variations between colors. I don’t think printouts would even work (CMYK color space doesn’t represent the full diversity of colors our eyes can optimally sense — nor does RGB); when doing mail-order, it’s like you try your best to pick a color which you think is right, and then when it comes, you’re pleasantly surprised. Hopefully.

I really don’t even know if the colors I received were the ones I ordered — I didn’t check that carefully. So right now…if I want more of these, I have to go by my receipts and see what I bought when, in which quantity; play the fabric lottery and make my best guess combined with the receipts, or wait until I can see and match the fabric from scraps, in-person. I really don’t recall how to calibrate my monitor so it’s as close to true-color as possible. I know it can be done; I just can’t remember how (if I ever knew).

Intro to Graphic Design was a great class. That’s where I learned the stuff about color spaces, or color gamuts; though that was reinforced with other computer art classes. In turn…this is a big reason why I don’t necessarily want to go digital, with my art. There are just so many restrictions, on the computer.

Anyhow! Today…was a bit fruitful, at least. But I need to keep track of how long I spend doing this stuff! I feel like I’ve been doing it since at least 2:30, until dinnertime (maybe 8:30?).

Hah, man. So right now, I’m focused on this…I’ve got two weeks before I may be able to work again, which will require face coverings. I’m not too hot on it. I don’t feel like the system is taking the danger of workers getting sick, seriously enough. We see multitudes of people all day, not all of them are courteous, not all of them are healthy, and some are hostile. Hostile + sick is a bad combination, because then you can get weaponized sickness.

But…yeah, I’ll deal with that, later.

Luckily, I’m still in with my employment program, and they will be able to tell why I’m incompatible with this job — especially, now (germ phobia [in a dirty environment], elderly parents [whom I still depend on], paranoia [high stress], tactless [vulnerable to being picked on], not a “people person” [people aren’t the center of my universe, and I don’t love them unconditionally]). They may be able to help me find one more suited…which means I should really also devote time to redeveloping my ePortfolio site.

It shouldn’t take a lot of brainpower…though I only have until June 1 to get this done via the Classic Editor (11 days). It’s significantly more difficult to link inline to PDFs in the Block Editor, though I’ve found a workaround.

I didn’t even mention the cords for macramé. I got some pretty cords. Which is another reason why I know the color display on my monitor is off. But…well, I do have the option of buying the other colors…I just won’t know what they are until I see them…

beading, craft, creativity, macrame, metalsmithing, self care, sewing

Handwork: keeping myself together

(NOTE: This entry was largely composed, technically, yesterday: May 8, 2020.)

I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve realized I can’t be concerned about everything happening in the world, at once. The other night, I hit the point of recognizing that I might not make it through the next 60 years…which M recognized as a red flag for depression, and sent me to bed. So right now I’m on alert, and just trying to care for myself.

I’ve also been having some weirdness when I’ve tried to sleep. I keep going to bed, then waking in the very early morning, and napping through mid-morning and early afternoon (though sometimes, as today, that “nap” is actually the majority of my rest).

What I can say…about coping… I’m not doing as well as I want to. Sewing is basically keeping me grounded, though on days like today, when it’s over 85° F outside in the afternoon (and we have no air conditioning), I haven’t been in the mood to press fabrics. I’m learning from experience when to keep my hands away from the ironing board, after having hit myself with steam maybe eight times over the past few days. It’s okay to give my fingertips time to recover!

I’m still working on masks. I haven’t yet gotten back to the blouse…which is okay. I haven’t bet on having a COVID-19 souvenir — at the beginning of this, I was saying that I wouldn’t want to have gone through quarantine and had nothing to speak of at the end of it other than a new blouse. I feel like I’ve done what I could, though; and now, it’s time for me to take care of myself.

That’s more important than further studying. I mean, obviously.

So…what can I say. Life is fragile on an individual basis, but has endured thus far, overall. At this point…I’ve gotta say I’m disconcerted, but I’m not the only person in this. We’ll make it through together, or we won’t, is the feeling I get. But then, I’m fighting off depression; and depression affects cognition.

So far as anything having changed, goes? There have been some developments…particularly where it comes to materials, though I’m not quite ready to get into it, yet.

I’ve basically stopped my language study, having realized that so much of my own purpose for existence is derived from making things…not as much, reading things. Not to mention, the dismay at the effort required for basic communication, as versus my level of facility in English (which allows me to read at a much higher level, where I’m able to spend time deciphering and analyzing arguments; as versus trying to figure out a basic gist of what was intended).

Am I disconcerted in not knowing Japanese? Yes, but right now it isn’t looking like I’d move to Japan if I had a choice, and the necessity of understanding written Japanese just hasn’t been as pressing on me since I’ve had to stay indoors.

I also did have a dream about becoming someone who writes closed-captioning for Public Broadcasting. (I’ve seen a lot of bad closed-captioning.) That was new…but I could do it. I can type very quickly. :)

Since I decided to get back to making things…I’ve been busy, particularly where it comes to design. I was up for four hours early this morning, attempting to puzzle out a hand-fabricated closure for my masks that would work with 3/4″ wide ties, and not tangle in hair. I still don’t have it down. Is that the fun part? ;)

“Fabrication” is a term used in Silversmithing which is often used to designate making something out of metal sheet and wire (or casting, etc.). So far as I know, the term isn’t used as much in beadwork or micro-macramé. Usually when Jewelers use the term, they’re talking about…well, Silversmithing (which includes working with Brass and Copper) or Goldsmithing. Which are the big two categories I know of, that routinely fall under the title, “Jeweler” (with a capital “J”)…so that’s kind of a tautology, I guess.

There are also the Reactive Metals (Titanium, Niobium, etc., which change color with treatment like anodization), but they require different working techniques, and are kind of a specialty. (I’m not sure where bronzework [mostly casting, as bronze is brittle] or pewter-smithing falls in there, but now I’m just splitting hairs…)

I’m actually thinking of getting back into making jewelry (little “j”), again, after having realized I had two choices of pearl earrings today (both of which, I made)…which just have some really nice pearls. I had intended to make a series out of one design, though I haven’t gotten around to it. I already have the parts. I was just a bit disappointed in the fine gold-filled wire I got, though; it doesn’t look very — well — gold. My trial version was brass, and cheap (hardware-store) brass at that, so it leans to a green point. However, it still hasn’t tarnished.

I’ve learned over the years to buy my pearls in-person, as getting them online is the luck of the draw, at best. At worst, your supplier knows enough to know that you don’t know what you’re getting (probably because you’re buying it from them *cough*), and takes advantage of that to send material that wouldn’t sell if you could see it before you bought it.

In particular…be careful to know what you’re buying. A lot of places sell glass and crystal pearls, and while these can even be better for some applications than real ones (because of size consistency — which is important in beadweaving — for instance), you don’t want to be buying faux pearls, thinking they’re real. Or be caught not knowing what a real pearl looks like. For that matter, it’s nice to know what is a natural color and what is dyed…but that gets into some sticky territory. Dyes can migrate to clothes or skin. Natural colors won’t, so far as I know…but the colors are limited (cream, peach, mauve, black, for example).

Of course, these days, the benefit of not gathering in groups likely is more important than getting quality pearls…in which case, you’d want to know your seller, and buy from quality sellers. What I’ve done with some success is to either go to a good bead store, or go to a bead convention (I’d also expect to see them at Gem & Jewelry Expos — I would write some of my contacts [like Aloha Pearls] to ask if they attend); but realistically right now, the danger of being together isn’t worth it.

It’s nice to find good-quality pearls at really inexpensive price points, at conventions. (I found a strand of pretty pink rice pearls for $8, last time.) But right now…the hazard is still there, and we need to have patience. Additionally: if you have a regional Bead Society, I’d think some of the members would know good pearl sources. I forgot to mention how I got into the convention circuit, in the first place! And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on Social Media.

I’ve been playing around with some C-Lon TEX tonight (it’s very heavy upholstery thread)…which has also got me thinking about getting back into micro-macramé. I have enough books and materials. I can teach myself a good amount.

Now, whether I’d have to fill my little torch (no, not a Smith Little Torch) and solder some seams in rings as macramé foundations…which would additionally require firebrick, flux, pickle, and a way to polish them…that could happen if I ran out of closed metal rings and didn’t want to pay to buy more finished ones. But I’m not at that point, yet. The major problem is what to do if I’m polishing a lot of small parts, like this; it can be hazardous to do them one-by-one, but investing in a tumbler would save a lot of frustration. (So far, M has been against this because of the noise factor; but we do have a garage, right now.)

I hadn’t been wearing earrings to work for hygienic reasons, but it may be worth it to make jewelry that I (or others) can wear on my off-hours. And not, you know, denigrate my off-hours as the days on which I don’t dress up.

I’m also considering helping out a small local business…not that I’ve gone to them with that, yet. I just kind of feel for them and their community (which I happen to be a part of).

So yeah, I’ve…apparently, been thinking about a lot. More than I had realized.

I’m also seeing that maybe this is where my heart is. In making things, I mean. I could just be a craftsperson at heart. It would explain why I can’t even really bear the thought of spending the rest of my isolation, reading and studying. It could also explain why “Art” is so difficult, at this point. Comparatively speaking, crafts have inbuilt limitations, which give them foundation and structure. I haven’t seen so much of that in Art, though I do wonder about the possibility of 3-D paintings and such. I’ve seen things approaching it in string sculptures, but Augmented Reality could also be interesting.

As regards choice of media: I did talk with my sibling, who has just told me to be aware of the drawbacks of each medium, but (basically) not to allow that to decide which I work within, as they all have drawbacks (this is my interpretation — or more likely, synthesis).

Of course, we were talking about watercolors (not wanting to discharge toxins into the environment) as versus digital media (cleaner, but like constantly using a pencil)…and I just can’t see giving up the former.

What I can see being impacted by my current inhibitions (wanting to create while also desiring ethical sourcing) is my use of gold…which is sparing, but still. I really don’t even know what happens when people make colored glass beads, and that’s been troubling me. It’s possibly also been the reason I stopped using them. But maybe I don’t have to care about everything, all the time?

I’ve thought up the possibility of — while we’re still closed — creating some designs for a number of the cabochons I’ve collected, over the years. That way, when we open up (we still don’t have a membership at the Art Center, which is good because the membership will go farther now), I can get right on making them.

Business, career, craft, libraries, money

Deciding against Summer Session for now

It’s safe to say that I didn’t accomplish everything today that I set out to do, last night. As I begin this, it’s shortly after 10 PM on April 24…I was mostly asleep, until 5 PM. (I was able to get up for breakfast, but then burning eyes and an overall sense of lethargy had me take a three-hour nap, lest I get sick.)

I also exercised a little, and I met my weight-loss goal for the last two weeks (even though I don’t know how that could happen…but I’m not complaining), so that was positive.

For what time I’ve been up, I’ve been working on more masks — trying to see how many coordinated ones, I can squeeze out of what I have. I wasn’t pushing myself to work quickly. I still have a week before the interim Shelter-In-Place order might be up…and even then, I would say it’s likely we would be staying at home as much as possible.

We know that two to four masks are going out to help others…I’ve picked six out to choose from (which don’t contain the dense batik that may be difficult to repair, or the one with felt interlining which M requested).

I have materials for five lined up, right now; plus an additional two which I need to cut ties for. A call to dinner interrupted those.

I’m getting more into the process of matching things up before I cut them, and getting to know how many masks I can make out of one Fat Quarter. Essentially, one pre-shrunk Fat Quarter (roughly <18″x22″) allows the cutting of one front panel (slightly larger than 9″x6″), one back panel (same), and one set of four ties (2″x 18″ each). It could also render two sets of four ties; or, five panels. I haven’t yet tried fitting three panels next to four ties, because, well, I’m working with fabrics that already have chunks taken out of their corners (or uneven sides).

Though I don’t regret cutting up what I have (it’s important that the cheap batiks get used) — I do regret having bought some colors that don’t really coordinate well. ;) Particularly, pine green. Yeah. What am I going to do about that. And a magenta batik which I’m also not sure what to do with, other than pair it with yellow or gold.

I also have an overpopulation of blues, a number of which are also hard to coordinate because their color is so pure. It’s the same problem I’ve had with virtually all of my drawing supplies, and the reason why painting ended up being so attractive to me.

It’s probably also why I have so many batiks.

Today was the first day I could have signed up for Summer classes…but I’ve decided not to go that route. I don’t know if I’ll regret it, but I’m not too hot on getting back into a Library Science class and being judged on how well I meet the requirements. (A “B” average [3.0 GPA] has to be maintained with my University, or one is blocked out of further training: even with post-grad classes.)

It’s also about $1400 for the one class I would have taken…compressed over Summer Session. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about Cataloging. I don’t know if I’m going to stick with it, and really, I don’t want to blow $1400 on something I find out I don’t want to do. It’s given every semester. I have other options to take before that deep dive, to test the waters.

No, I didn’t plan that analogy — but seriously, I don’t have to shell out that much right now. I just haven’t been overly impressed with my experience of Grad School. Not kidding. I don’t know if I even would have gone, if I hadn’t had financial backing and institutional and family support.

I also likely wouldn’t be looking at Cataloging Librarianship except for the fact that I did enjoy my Metadata class, and people repeatedly and over years, have told me that I would be good for the position(s). However: choosing to do something because it’s something that’s not what I know I don’t want to do, but at the same time, I don’t know what it is: that’s not a positive reason to go into it. I understand that; I’m not sure if the Librarians I know, have understood it (or have thought that deeply about it). It just seems like Cataloging, to them, is the land to which non-People-Persons flee.

In the interim, I’m going to be doing more training. I know a place where I can learn MS Excel online — which I’ll likely be able to use for many things. (Previously, I’ve received training at an Adult School, but I think it was four intensive sessions.)

I’ve finished that one Linked Data book (Linked Data for the Perplexed Librarian), which means I can begin reading Essential Classification and get back to Online Searching (which is, basically, the other end of Classification). Probably, I can also get back into my Reader’s Advisory study, if I get bored (and if I can tolerate the authors’ attitudes, which is not a given, and which is the biggest reason I stopped reading them).

Seriously, I don’t know if Public Librarianship is for me. There’s just…an ideological component which I recognize and am not all the way comfortable with. Probably because I’m uncomfortable with ideologies in general. I mean, yes, it’s great — philosophically speaking — that there’s a place where everyone can go and be treated with respect…do I want to be the person burdened with the task of tolerating everyone as long as they don’t break others’ written policies, however? To respect people who don’t respect me? Who don’t respect people like me? It’s one thing to set policy, another to be the person who has to carry it out.

There are a number of privileges you don’t get to have when you’re a Public Librarian; limitations on who and what you do and don’t accept — or attitudes that make your job more or less difficult to tolerate. Is the job important enough to me, for that?

But that gets back to emotional labor. Something I really don’t want to have to undertake, although in service jobs…well. What choice does a person have? (What are jobs which do not require emotional labor [at least, that aren’t either menial or math-based]?)

I would say, though — I would have more of a choice if I were not a, “Public Servant.” (Which term, many members of the public seem to misunderstand as a kind of hierarchical status.) If I were working for a private firm, that’s different, though maybe not so much as I’d think.

The difference is that I can refuse to serve a person (for any reason Management will allow, given that they also have their own Business cultures — which I know about, having taken Business and Management classes [yes, I know what a Strategic Plan is]) when working for a private company. Working for local government is more convoluted because of our funding being dependent upon local opinion, plus the footholds of government and politics (and that aforementioned ideology).

So…the remaining openings I’m looking at…there are three:

  1. Academic Librarianship
  2. Special Librarianship
  3. Digital Librarianship

…and I probably need to get on looking at non-Library jobs, as well. I think I’ve grown past the point at which I didn’t want to ever accept money from people. It was because all my needs were met, and I didn’t need the money. But faced with the prospect of having to take care of myself…yeah, I’d need the money. Computers don’t come via goodwill. Neither do art supplies. Or housing.

Well, I suppose that if I’m almost 40 and I finally understand what it means to be able to earn the money to buy things I need and want…well, it’s slow-coming, but I guess we all eventually get there…or, we’re taken care of all of our lives. At least, that’s how it’s been, for me: and I can see that I don’t want to have to be taken care of, forever. Because, for one thing, that leaves me in a very bad place if my caretakers are no longer able to help me.

No, I don’t want to end this entry on a downer.

I should continue with my studies, even if they take me somewhere different than I think I’m going. Mostly, for me, right now that’s reading — though I think it is possible for me to take internships through Open University.

I haven’t done any Japanese practice in several days…is it that important? I’ve just reached a point where the program I’m working with has become nonsensical (in terms of examples). I’ve had to look up words because the program can’t see me to know that I’m not understanding what it’s getting at. After I looked the words up, still, I don’t know what it’s specifically getting at…and there is no Teacher’s Manual that I have seen.

I think it would also help me to figure out both job tasks I would like to undertake, and places I (think I) would like to work. I really hate job-hunting because of false leads and cons…that’s what it takes, though. There are also probably a lot of people job-hunting right now, so maybe I should give it a rest…

Fabric store, though. Local fabric store, as a place to work. Or local art or craft store. It could be interesting. I already know a couple of people, as well…and I’d be willing to help out just to figure out what goes on in there, and gain experience…and that could lead to more. Businesses aren’t necessarily as regimented as the environment I’m used to…

— end, 12:35 AM, April 25, 2020

career, LIS, psychology, writing

Where to go from here

BY the time this is published, it will be Sunday, April 5: Day 21 of COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place, for me. Since I got that last monster blog entry done (which was intended as a writing sample to begin a portfolio), I’ve been…well, writing, a lot. Also, reading.

So it is a good thing that I stocked up on international-format notebooks (and black ink), prior to this. My A5 notebook, which I had intended for Creative Writing — it’s turned into a place where all of my journal entries related to COVID-19 are going, for now. They just started in there, then continued.

I haven’t been drawing much at all, over the last couple of days; what I’ve been doing is sleeping, mostly. And…trying again to figure out where to go from here; what I really want to do with my life. I’ve been reading a book I was gifted a while ago and never read; it’s Careers in Writing: Second Edition by Blythe Camenson. If I check the title page verso (the back of the title page, where all the Cataloging-in-Publication [CIP] data is [it’s a Library Science thing])…it was first published in 2008. So by now it’s 12 years old, but to my knowledge there is not yet a Third Edition. I’m about 40% of the way through, and I just started reading it, today.

When I received it, maybe it was the wrong time? Maybe I wasn’t serious about writing? The funny thing is, I look back over my A5 journal, and I see multiple references to not being terribly into fiction! I do read, but fiction tends not to hold me.


That is likely from having gone through the Creative Writing program and having ended it with the unresolved question of why anyone writes fiction in the first place. I’m not sure the answer is altogether flattering. I’m also not sure I want to get into it before I can spend some more time getting my head around it. It may be one of those thought processes that is distorted because my thinking was distorted at the time I came up with the constellation.

In particular…the classical English half of my Creative Writing training was…conservative. I would try not to go to the extent to say, “amazingly conservative,” but that’s the way it felt to me. Undergraduate work was just one of those areas where I was made to feel as though I were an outsider. I don’t consider myself a huge Leftist (I have actively criticized some Leftist “leaders” for being exclusionary and hateful, and may have lost at least one strongly-opinionated friend over it), but I was made to feel that way by professors in the Department.

In particular, one Professor stands out to me, who would not stop talking about her religion in the classroom. Public University. I didn’t pay tuition to be given sermons. That wasn’t supposed to be the point of the class.

The impression I got while in there (I ended up dropping after she de facto called me “Godless”) was that the authors she was teaching were all writing in order to bolster their own religious convictions. (With lies, you know.) It may not have been so bad, but it was all one-sided: in effect, the class ran like she was teaching in a church (from what little I’ve seen of Church — I don’t make it a point to hang out there).

The problem I can see and have seen, both in myself and others, is an inability to separate fantasy from reality. In my own quest to find out what’s true and real (or true enough or real enough), I’ve found that there are a lot of traits in the general population which aren’t based on fact or reason. There are in fact widespread patterns of thought which, were they not widely and institutionally supported and shared, would be considered delusory.

That doesn’t mean delusion doesn’t have its place. If you have a delusion and you know it’s a delusion and you don’t act on it as though it were real, that’s one thing. To lead one’s life by holding onto an obviously untrue belief, however (and this is separate from an inherently unprovable belief), calls up the question of, “why,” and answering that question may be more fruitful and honest than holding onto dogma.

What I can see is that fiction contains a method of playing with temporary, provisional beliefs (to what end, I haven’t figured out, yet). From experience, I know what it’s like to have the elation that comes with being unable to separate fantasy from reality. “Anything’s possible!” Right?

Well, there’s a downside to believing, “anything’s possible.” Along with that type of mindset can come inexact thinking. When you add up a bunch of thoughts that are off-base…you get a network of people who are no longer engaging with reality, and don’t know how to distinguish reality, anymore.

But then, I’m told I have a very high level of, “insight,” where it comes to this. That basically just means that I’m aware this is going on, as versus being unaware of it. In reality, the biggest cue I have that I’m having trouble thinking clearly, is that sense of elation, and, “knowing,” like I’m in a dream; that I know what everything is, and why it’s there. Serendipity is no longer chance, but active involvement of “invisible” forces. I can see this in other people now. I’m not kidding.

This sense doesn’t have to do with content: it has to do with feeling and mood. False beliefs don’t have to be huge ones. It can be as simple as giving someone the benefit of the doubt all the time, because, “they’re really a good person,” when all evidence is to the contrary.

My issue — largely — is not wanting to slip back into a state where I can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t. It may have been that ability that made me a good author in the first place, as I could describe things as though they were real, when the bare fact was that I just had a powerful imagination. (It didn’t help that I liked to write plausible psychological thrillers.) And right now — well, not to get too deeply into it, but the issue was severe enough that I began treatment for it, so that I could think more clearly about my gender issues and how to cope with them.

So right now, I’m a relatively clear thinker, but it’s harder to fabricate lies about the world, and easier to discern things that are being presented as truth, which aren’t. I’m not really sure how this is working, other than either physically inhibiting or down-regulating some inherited trait. But it was obvious enough to me when I started treatment in Undergrad: the thing I majored in (Fiction) became a thing I wasn’t so great at, anymore.


On the other hand, there are an awful lot of things that do hold me, in nonfiction. I have a miniature crafts library (beadwork, Jeweling, micro-macrame, tatting, sewing, knitting and crochet), a bunch of books on Japanese language acquisition, a bunch of South- and East-Asia-area plus general spirituality books, a bunch of books on “how to write,” some books on how to survive writing (or editing) as a profession, my Library Science books…a bunch of books on (especially Asian) art, Graphic Art, some Hawaiian Ethnic Studies books…

In my bedroom is the majority of the fiction I’ve been interested in, but…I haven’t read most of it, even if it did interest me long enough for me to bring it home. I did just today figure out where Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin had been living: downstairs, by the library books. On a shelf I don’t consider mine. (Well.)

In any case, I picked it up, looked through it, realized it wasn’t important to me to finish right now. I kind of wonder if I ever would have read fiction at all, if I hadn’t been exposed to it as a kid (who had nothing better to do).

Though I suppose, now, there is the chance for me to use the excuse that I’m reading it for work. So therefore it can’t be a waste of time! Right?

Maybe?

The thing with LHoD is that it would have been fine with me, until it started getting into anthropological reports. That…just made me feel like the book was a study of myself by an outsider. But this is seriously a perennial problem with anthropology. I’m not sure if excluding the reader (who may identify with the Gethenians) was the intent, or who Le Guin’s primary audience was assumed to be…but I’m thinking that it wasn’t anticipated to be me. (I guess that’s what understanding a semester of Marketing will get me: if it’s offensive to me, that probably means I’m not a member of the target market. My problem is that I’m a person, and not a general reader.)

I’ve read that in order to be a good Reader’s Advisor, it’s essential to read widely — beyond what one is interested in (and into what one may personally dislike) — to get a sense of what is out there. That’s not quite the same recommendation as is given to Authors, who are encouraged to read things in their own genre or field (at least).

There’s a parallel here between Writing, Editing, and Librarianship: all three require reading widely. After having gotten into What Editors Do, edited by Peter Ginna, it’s becoming clear to me that Editing (at least as an Acquisitions Editor) is also interpersonally intensive…in a way that Writing is not. In a way that Technical Services in a Library, or being a Cataloger for a Library Vendor, Aggregator — or Publisher (if that last one exists) — is not. Because of that, it’s possible that if I did go into Editing, I might want to try one of the more satellite, freelance positions like Copy Editing or Proofreading.

I’m also thinking that I shouldn’t throw in the towel as regards my Library Assistant position so easily. Especially as a part-timer with adjustable hours, it’s doable. I’m not sure how I would do at 40 hours a week, though.

Really, the hardest part of it for me is public contact, but that’s basically almost all of the job, right there. I mean, there’s a difference between me pushing my boundaries and growing, and me being unnecessarily psychologically ill-suited for the position. Either it gets better with practice, or past a certain point, it’s never going to get better. I don’t know which of those it is, right now.

So, I’m looking at becoming a nonfiction author on top of whatever else I’m doing. Because of my Library Science background, I know a bit about how to research (and will be learning more about this as the years go on). Right now…I’m thinking about Gender Studies, Comparative Literature (once I get my Japanese down well enough to read with facility), Ethnic Studies, American Studies. Just…off the top of my head. Facility in Japanese language would also allow me to translate.

I’ve also found a relative dearth of serious books on Jeweling (that is, Silversmithing) in the market. I’m not entirely sure why, but I know that Smithing is generally something one learns from a Master/Apprentice relationship. There are some good magazines on this (like Lapidary Journal: Jewelry Artist and Metalsmith), but as for serious one-shot texts? There is one I know of, The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight. I’d also go and look at what else he’s published, and see what he links to from there. Other than that, it’s like people are intentionally hiding their knowledge (though I shouldn’t forget to mention Ganoksin, which is an invaluable online resource).

Before I go…I should mention that there is a Gender Studies MA program that I could have access to; though I’d probably only get into it if I became an Academic Librarian and needed a second Master’s (which the Academy would likely sponsor). So, no worries about that, for now.

So…looks like I’ve identified cultural studies as an area to focus on, in my Writing — and possibly in my second Master’s. I also need to be reading more, and right now am focusing on skill acquisition where it comes to Library Technical Services.

Well, that’s a neat little bundle.

Business, career, comics, LIS

Expansion and direction: reading, writing, and editing

Over the last several days, I’ve been reading a lot. Surprisingly much. Because of this, I haven’t been really in a mental state to write. There’s a difference between being in an absorptive state and a creative or responsive state, for me.

Since getting a handle on a cluster of related skills to reinforce (and these in relation to reading, writing, language, and books), I’ve been researching a number of different ways to make ends meet, if it turns out that Librarianship isn’t something I want to — or healthily can — do full time.

In part because I have an Undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, I have experience which would prepare me for work as an Editor in the Publishing sector. I also have direct experience in writing as an art form (though yes, the majority of this is prose), which would help me publish as a writer in my own right.

The rest of my qualifications rest on what caused me to get the Creative Writing (CW) degree, in the first place — which existed long before I obtained the BA. It goes back to having been an AP English student (which allowed me to skip my basic English class in undergrad, as I had taken the AP test and gotten college credit), and prior to then, having had my aptitude for sensitive description noted by my 5th-grade teacher (which I remembered before I became a CW major).

If I worked in Editing, and/or Librarianship, and/or as a Writer, I could cobble together the means for a livelihood (as I’ve heard is normal for creative types) — even if two out of the three of those (Editing and Writing) were freelance. Librarianship could give me, essentially, a source of steady income and health/vision/dental benefits. Not to mention that Library skills make one good at research; and reading widely, plus knowledge of commercial markets and brand positioning, help with all of these.

Also: getting an MFA would likely open some doors for me in both Publishing and Teaching. Do I want to do it? Certainly so, if money (and time) were not an object.

I haven’t put all of this together, yet, but I’m a bit concerned I may forget about what I’ve been doing over the last several days, if I don’t record it, somewhere.

As an aside, I did find this article from LitHub on how to choose a medium for one’s story. Unfortunately, the amount of material on how to actually tell which medium to start out with, prior to having started, is sparse. And…essentially, difficult to gauge, without experience. As well — the author of the LitHub article wrote scripts for comics; I don’t know if he illustrated them (though his bio says that he at least had been a cartoonist).

I’ve just looked back at what I wrote as a bare-bones introduction to my script, and it really isn’t a big deal to convert it to what would likely read as paranormal fiction. (I must admit, though: I still need to do research on what distinguishes “literature” from “genre fiction.”) I mean, what I wrote isn’t a lot: it’s condensed and not meant to be fleshed out, at this point.

What I did realize, though, last night — was the fact that I could run tangential or side-stories as comics, and the main body of work as prose. I’ve seen some Young Adult (YA) material, existent both as graphic novels and as prose, work like this (though possibly not precisely like what I’m thinking of).

What I’m thinking of, specifically, is the Full Metal Panic! series. Of course, FMP!, as I first heard of it in the U.S., was known for making constant insider Japanese pop-culture references which I doubt would have translated well. Nor have I gone to the effort to read any of the novels. I just know they exist.

There are a couple of other YA series which I know also exist in comic + prose formats. One is Warriors; the other is Maximum Ride. It seems there should be another James Patterson novel + manga series I’m thinking of; is it Daniel X? Hmm. Possibly.

Anyhow…I know I want to get into comics, but I am also thinking that I should aim for a project that’s small and able to be accomplished with limited skills — at least, at first. It’s been a really long time since I’ve made comics, though as a kid I drew my stories out obsessively. (This was before they became long and complex enough to merit MS Word documents.) I do still have copies of this work: on floppy disk! (I also still remember what it was like to try and edit a novel-length document for consistency.)

Like I’ll find a computer that can read 3.5″ floppies and old Word files. Gah.

Anyway, it likely wasn’t even that good, considering I was probably around 17 years old when I wrote it. Not to rag on young people (I know Eragon was written by a teen) — but I wasn’t that good.

The biggest step I could take towards any of these goals is to keep on writing and reading. If I can find an inlet into the Publishing world, it would get me in there sooner, and without incurring an extra $22,000 in debt that I would have to expect, should I go for the MFA.

The fact is, though: I have chosen library work as a primary career option, which at least theoretically should enable me to be exposed to the works I need to be reading. If, that is, I can tell which they are. That in itself is not necessarily easy; Reader’s Advisory is something else I wasn’t really taught about in Library School. As well, the organization of fiction in most libraries, leaves something to be desired. I do have sources to look at, though, which should be able to help me navigate that.

I should also note that I may not want to go for an MFA to get into the Editing or Publishing businesses, without first having had some experience in the field (which may negate the need for extra formal training, or show me if I really don’t want the job[s]). I made that mistake with Librarianship: getting the degree before the practical experience, so I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the degree.

I am also, however, in a position where I may in the relatively near future, be able to run Creative Writing groups (giving me Teaching experience), or network with co-workers and find people who are already established Editors. If I network, I might be able to find someone to take me on as an Assistant Editor, which is basically an apprenticeship position from which I could step up to being an Editor at a Publishing House (or online; and/or freelance).

So…yes. I need to be writing, reading, and looking at jobs in Publishing.

That’s clear to me, now.

And it’s probably faster and more efficient, to network. But I feel like I have to get my knowledge together, first…like understanding the difference between a Copy Editor and a Developmental Editor; fiscal and other pressures on the Publishing industry; knowing just how much reading an Editor needs to do. Things of that nature…