career, libraries, writing

Strengths

I began this post thinking that maybe Librarianship wasn’t a bad place to travel in my career, after all. Then I wrote out a few paragraphs, and realized…no, this…Public Services is something I really shouldn’t do. I mean, really should not.

When I first started a job as a Library Aide, I got a lot of pushback from patrons (including the guy who tried to get out of his fines by doing a “Godfather” impression). I was thinking how, after two to three years, after I learned to expect the unexpected, that mostly ended. Even given that: in reality as a Library Assistant, I was only on the Reference desk for seven months before COVID forced the libraries to close.

That is, I didn’t get the chance for things to become easy. They were never “easy” for me, at the Reference Desk, because that work is basically having to respond to the environment in the moment, never knowing what is going to happen next. It’s fielding random questions that I almost never know the answer to, offhand; and even if I did, best practice is to look it up, anyway. The problem is, when you’re at the Reference Desk, the patrons seem to always expect you to already know the answer to their questions. Because, you know, you’re the Librarian, and Librarians all know everything. Well — no. We know how to help find information, we don’t already know it.

Of course, finding information isn’t the hard part. Even trying to figure out what you really need to know so we can help you, isn’t the hard part.

The hard part is dealing with disruptive and criminal activity (most apparently from what I can tell: stalking), protecting some of our patrons (like youth) from others of our patrons, and routine policy violations: e.g. eating inside; letting one’s “Service” Pitbull sleep in the middle of a walkway around a blind corner where someone can trip over her or step on her or run her over with a 120-lb cart (and we’re trusting her not to bite? Not to bite?); leaving one’s dog tied up outdoors where he’s obviously in great distress and crying loudly for you to come back. For 45 minutes. Or worse, running around loose and unattended.

(Okay, maybe I have a thing about dogs.)

Then there are the people who are lonely and want to sit and talk to the person who is at work and can’t leave the desk (and just assume that she also wants to have a conversation — with them — at that time); or incessantly ask for assistance they don’t need, because they want social contact. As much as I wish I could say that we aren’t paid to be friends with people (which feels one step away from prostitution/consort work), upper Management seems to have no problem with expecting people to do so.

Then there are the people with (usually, assumed) mental problems who behave erratically (and/or ritualistically) and sometimes in a hostile manner, depending on the brain chemistry of the day. Not to mention the ones that will comment on librarians’ bodies (is that worse?), or ask intrusive personal questions. I guess, “because they want to know you.” And they don’t think that maybe you don’t have an interest in giving out facts about your personal life to someone you don’t know.

And yes, I did break up with somebody who insisted on calling me a, “sexy Librarian.” That **** doesn’t help. I don’t get a buzz out of being called “sexy,” especially when you’re simultaneously misgendering and stereotyping me. You are supposed to know better. I imagine you smacking your lips, self-satisfied — I am not the person you want me to be.

That is, there’s a host of interpersonal difficulties that come with being behind that desk, which are made even harder when one gets into libraries for the perceived safety, the inclusivity, and the information; and not, so much, to serve the public (meaning, “everyone who doesn’t violate policy [regardless of whether you agree with policy]”). When that’s compounded with a lack of effective training from Management on dealing with these points (and then chalked up by Management to the employee’s [or Manager’s] personal failing when it isn’t handled well), it’s not a good situation. Especially when one asked for applicable training, and had it denied.

But seriously: it was only seven months. Although that list up there ^ is from 10 years of experience.

Well, actually, maybe it is a good thing that I’m not in Public Service right now, and I really should aim for Cataloging Librarianship. The thing is, I’m not sure to what degree I will be able to both handle a job as a basic, “Librarian,” and also avoid Public Service. Kind of like I’m not sure to what degree I can be a Metadata Librarian and also avoid Computer Programming.

Or how I can learn Computer Programming without my brain screeching out of stress. I’m not a Programmer. At least, not at this point; but I would suspect, not ever. Markup Languages (HTML, XML) and Stylesheets (CSS; I stopped at XSLT) are different, but higher-level functionality (XPath, and I suspect JavaScript) makes my brain hurt. Then there is MySQL and…I think it was, Oracle (that is, an instance of Relational Database Design & Implementation, and language to Query that database). That wasn’t great, either.

And no, I didn’t know what I was getting into before I got into it.

I’m thinking it has a lot to do with all the vocabulary getting mixed up together: entities, attributes, elements, relations, values, etc. And the teachers using the terms like we already know what they mean, when I have to think about the definitions of words within at least three different compound terms just to try to understand a single sentence.

Given that…I realize that, in contrast, I have a lot of insight into social dynamics, even though I’m not a particularly social person. Last night, I was writing a post on my own…facilities, and special knowledge. I realized that my personal experience with disability (my own, and others’), and my mental focus around the area of marginalization in general…probably would help me in a Public Services capacity. (Not so much as a different temperament would, but.)

I do suppose that with everything that I’ve experienced, I’d also likely be good as an Academic Librarian.

What I realized, when I was writing my post, is that I have deep, visceral knowledge of what it’s like to be a multiply-impacted minority in this country. It’s…something that I am not entirely aware of, until weighing the benefit I could bring someone else through my experience, and realize that — for something like Ethnic Studies or Gender Studies (and hey look, there is a Disability Studies [now]), I have direct experience of what it’s like to live through what a lot of people just read about.

That is, I forget that my experience could be influenced by others altering the way they deal with me because of my (ambiguous) race in addition to my sex in addition to my apparent gender (which is not my gender) in addition to my apparent age (which is not my age), while my disability’s stigma (after I reveal I have one) can cause fear in those who are supposed to help, and none of the random sexual attention from men on the job is wanted (that is, I’m not a heterosexual woman, and I certainly don’t want a man who starts off by playing power games based on who he thinks I am [that is, subordinate to him], based on my appearance).

Wow, that’s…clear.

Maybe I should just be a Writer. It’s a solitary vocation. Of course, though, it requires a second income. And also, reading; which is not entirely…something I feel comfortable prioritizing while I’m in classes, but it would feed my writing.

I’m having two issues with my writing, right now.

One, when I spend the majority of my time writing, I cut down on time that I should be spending reading in order to enter into dialogue with other ideas and other writers.

Two, when I write, I write some things that I don’t feel safe publishing (even with the First Amendment; this country can be grievously unfair when it comes to the full protection of minority citizens), and that stops the entire discursive process in my mind. What I know I need to do is write my way through that content, without intending on publishing it, so I can get to what’s after it. Or, develop what I’ve written before. I don’t even necessarily know what I’ve been doing for the last week, but I know I haven’t been working on any of my Creative Writing projects. Or art projects (other than setting up the new palette).

Ah, that’s right: I’ve been working on second language acquisition (which by its nature is very basic) — particularly, new kanji — and my class. Hmm.

Then, there’s the point that major life decisions have come up within the last week.

I’ve also been writing, here, and that takes more time than I realize. One recent post took five hours. I’ve been writing this one, since last night.

I don’t feel so bad, anymore. The thing is, in my evenings, I can write here or in my notebooks, and/or study Japanese language. In the daytime, when my mind is sharper, I should be studying Library Science. Maybe after that, I can read in English and, you know, develop content…though perhaps the book I’m attempting to read isn’t actually interesting to me, right now. Regardless of its disputable topic aligning with my interests.

I still need to be looking at Writing and Editing jobs. Seriously. Even if Editing is an interpersonally-intense vocation, at least I wouldn’t be dealing with the general public. I’d be dealing with approved Writers and other people in the Publishing Industry. Not that that would necessarily be easier…

…but I know Writers. I’ve been around Writers. I’m a trained Writer.

Maybe it would be. (There’s also the fact that if I’m an Editor, the authors of the works I commission probably wouldn’t be as likely to overstep their bounds — because hey, it’s hard to get a book deal. And Editors aren’t designated as, “Public Servants,” which some members of the Public interpret to mean, “sub-human and unworthy of respect.” [And we wonder why minority Librarians are apt to leave the field?])

So right now…I know that I want to be reading and writing, and learning Japanese language (nihongo), and working on my class. That’s enough to plan on — right?

Reading and writing could further my career in the direction of becoming a published Author, which could help me become an Editor or Professor. Learning nihongo could further my career in the direction of becoming a Japanese Language & Literature Professor, and/or an Academic Librarian with a Subject Specialization in Japanese Language and Literature and Creative Writing. And my current class allows me further specialization in Cataloging Librarianship.

As for hobbies: drawing and watercolor, fountain pens/stationery, sewing, beadwork (weaving, stringing, micromacramé) are current…but the only things I’ve been doing recently have been playing with pens and stationery, and trying to organize my watercolors.

As for specializations: we have diversity & inclusion — especially in regard to LGBTQIA, cultural and racial diversity, neurodiversity. Then there are color interactions & color harmonies, which tie together my hobbies. Beaded micromacramé. Jewelry design. Parapsychological thrillers. Library Science.

…and maybe…just maybe, I should work on sewing that blouse I cut out at the beginning of lockdown. Making and altering clothing could be a valuable skill, even if I can’t see myself as a clothing designer, at this point.

And, regardless…it might take my mind off things…

art, color, occupational hazards, work, writing

Not getting much done :)

It’s OK. I already have my degree. ;) Actually, though: when I planned on taking two classes for the month of August, I didn’t factor in natural disasters on top of a pandemic. I also didn’t factor in the knowledge that I might figure out what I wanted to do, while I was unemployed.

Yesterday when I woke up (and I woke up several times), the sky was orange, and I had a scattering of ashes all over my computer and desk (only some of which I’ve yet cleaned up). Pretty much nothing got going until after noon, though I was able to initiate Week 1 of XSLT and Week 4 of Vocabulary Design. It just wasn’t enough to hold my attention, however. (It would have been better if I had caught up on Week 3.5 and 4 of XML when I had the surprise week off…)

I do kind of wonder if I should be back in the Visual Arts, though I have to realize that is a dream…which won’t come to fruition, without practice. I would have more time to practice now, except I’m filling that time with building professional job skills to get me out of the service sector (what I’m calling front-line work with the public, although I believe according to some U.S. government sources [I can’t remember the website, unfortunately], all work that isn’t either farming or manufacturing is categorized as “service” work).

What it’s looking like, however, is that I may be in for a future of gig work. That is, I need to get my portfolio completed and online (and updated), because it will likely be key in helping me obtain gainful (and desirable — for me) employment. I should also likely hone my LinkedIn profile, for the same reason. Maybe start a Behance profile, or create an in-depth online portfolio including images and written work, aside from my Library work.


The place I’ve been laid off from, has just opened recruitment for “Librarian” positions…but the thing is, I don’t really want to work there, now. Especially not, now. Basically, the only thing it’s got going for it is that it’s not a long commute (depending on the branch). I realize that my application may be submitted without any effort on my part due to the fact that I was laid off, but seriously:

Like I’ve said, I have OCD and a germ phobia at baseline, and guardedness around the public as a starting point. On top of that, I’m not even very social; I have issues with strangers constantly misrecognizing and underestimating me on sight, which leads to their testing me; and we’re in the middle of a pandemic; and as such, Public Services in a Public Library is not where I want to be. There are too many stressors.

Before I was laid off, I was losing weight due to stress. Losing weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing; especially in my case where I have medication-induced weight gain; but when it’s for the wrong reasons and uncontrolled, it is a physical indicator that something needs to change. That it’s not just mental anymore. And it’s not fake. My job (was) physically making me sick. That, with more power and responsibility, doesn’t look good for anyone.

Though I guess I can just say that, if I get called in for an interview. It’s not a good fit. In fact, it’s a terrible fit. I don’t like being expected to care for and about people who disrespect me (by the people who disrespect me), and disrespect (at times ramping up to abuse) occurs on a daily basis in Public Libraries. At some point I’m led to wonder if I was a time bomb in that situation, waiting for someone to say something in precisely the wrong way at precisely the wrong time, which could tempt me to lash out — not just because of what they said, but because of my entire history and set of stresses, leading up to that point. (My awareness of the fact that others are ignorant of my situation, and that they don’t deserve to be punished for a lifetime of other people’s slights, has prevented a number of these incidents.)

And no, no one expects that from me, because I’m female, hence they label me as a “girl” and think I would never get to the point of violence against anyone but myself. My problem (and it is my problem) is that I have layers of accumulated rage around people constantly assuming I am someone I’m not. And sometimes it has to get to the level of my protective facade cracking for them to see that they’re wrong, and that they need to back off.

That’s too far, for me. I don’t like being in that place.

The problem I have here is that my alternative is hormone therapy which will gradually cause me to appear more male (or, alternatively, suddenly more male). The problem is that there’s only one other safe option, and it still doesn’t fit. I’d be satisfied if people could just stop seeing me as a body or role, and approach me as a human. But that seems beyond the grasp of most people.

If I do have a masculine gender identity, which I’m in no way sure about, it’s based more in what I see in the natural world than anything I’ve seen in this culture. Suddenly appearing male also comes with its own set of stigmas and dangers, especially because my skin is dark and because I’m not a typical (heteronormative) man; and both of those things, tend to threaten people (though at this moment, I’m kind of wondering if women threaten, “people”, and that’s why it seems so important all the time to reduce them to their bodies).

This is to the point that I have a hard time seeing myself as a man, at all — though I tried to, at one time. The thing that I share with (most) men is that constantly being seen as a woman isn’t something I want, and that could escalate out of control; given the fact that most of reality insists on seeing me as a woman. Which is, in fact, why I write: disembodied text doesn’t carry the same social cues.

I suppose that is what I gleaned from my time as a Library Assistant. No more public service. At least, if I can help it. If my housing and food depend on it, I can do it. Like, if I’ll be homeless otherwise, I’ll take Public Service. But it won’t make me happy.

Yeah, I didn’t intend to get into that. Anyhow…the art thing…and the writing, thing. Right.

(I go into some of this stuff with you all because I wouldn’t be able to function as a writer, without being honest with myself and with you. Thank you for putting up with it.) ;)


Right now, I’m intending to look for an alternative to Aureolin. This is cobalt yellow, a fairly toxic pigment by ingestion. This concerns me now because I keep noticing myself accidentally dropping water into the carpet when changing out water or washing brushes. I’ve lived with carpet long enough to know that not all of that comes out, and that it might only start to come out, with shampooing.

In any case…today I went back to my palette and swatched out everything that was on there, plus everything I intended to use, that wasn’t. (There are a number of paints which I’ve found inferior to what I’ve decided to utilize, including several different Viridians and Prussian Blues, plus a granulating Pyrrol color [it’s either Scarlet Pyrrol or Pyrrol Scarlet, which are two different colors in two different product lines].) Cobalt colors…I would say I have a love/hate relationship with them, but really, it’s just Aureolin that I have some misgivings with, at the moment.

There are several other cobalt colors, including Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Cerulean Blue Chromium (you don’t want to eat Chromium, either), Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Blue/Violet, Cobalt Yellow, etc.

How they got a yellow out of that, I don’t know; what I do know is that on top of its toxicity, Aureolin is rumored to discolor over time (which was proven over on handprint [check out PY40, which is Aureolin’s (not Aureolin Hue’s) pigment number]).

The reason I even have it on my palette is that it was required for my Beginning Watercolor class, as a green-leaning yellow. Once I had been initially exposed to it (transdermally, and this in the effort to avoid touching it [my glove got wrapped around the tube, which spread the seeping paint all over the tube: I didn’t realize it until taking off the glove to try to remove the jammed lid with my bare hands — and I was in the field]), it didn’t seem like a big deal to keep it on the palette, and I already knew how to mix with it. However, basically everything else I have, appears safer than Aureolin.

Of course, that’s only apparently.

I am actually fairly interested in color families which I see over and over again at this point, like the Pyrrols and Perinones and Ultramarines and Hansas, etc. (I found an Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet Deep from M. Graham which are…fairly gorgeous, even though the violet would compete with Dioxazine Violet. The major difference I see right off is that Ultramarine Violet Deep has less tinting strength and is a more delicate pigment, in general [think, “fringed gentian,” though a little pinker]…whereas Dioxazine Violet can easily overpower the rest of a painting.)

I am also curious about the Cadmiums (apparently, there’s now a “Cadmium Green”; looks like a bunch of convenience mixtures), but if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I know (and have been concerned) about cadmium poisoning: it’s not pretty. I did read about it recently in Toxic Archipelago by Brett L. Walker, a book about industrial poisoning in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras in Japan, after having accidentally run across the Wikipedia article on itai-itai (which freaked me out a bit), and having found limited English-language resources about it, online (I believe one of them was a map of the Jinzu River Basin?).

My major issue here was about not being required to use Cadmium pigments in my painting classes, as soluble cadmium salts can be absorbed transdermally. The trick, for me at least, seems to be finding insoluble salts that I won’t absorb, and can wash off of my hands. Not that I’ve tried, yet…

Chapter 4 of Toxic Archipelago, Engineering Pain in the Jinzu River Basin, focuses on cadmium poisoning. (Most copies I’ve found of this book are e-books. I don’t know why [and the e-book version of this on Amazon costs more than the printed one] — but searching WorldCat, you may be able to find a copy close to you. Note that I can’t be responsible if you get sick from a library book [although I believe most libraries are quarantining items to wait for any COVID-19 to die]. Just saying…)

What I learned from reading this is that there were a number of concomitant factors involved in the genesis of itai-itai byou (lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease,” the Japanese name for cadmium poisoning) including Vitamin D deficiency and large numbers of childbirths (most who contracted it were older women [e.g. postmenopausal] who had a lot of children and shaded themselves from the sun). This contributed to osteoporosis and osteomalacia. So I am aware now that I probably don’t have to worry so much about contracting itai-itai itself, but Cadmium is still a heavy metal, toxic, bioaccumulative, and a carcinogen…not great, but not necessarily a death sentence to use.

That being said, I know a lot of artists who have been through battles with cancer, and who have known other artists who have had cancer.

Also, some of the newer pigment families (e.g. Hansas, Pyrrols) were specifically created to be less toxic, to the best of my knowledge.

In any case…Hansa Yellow Light is radiant and gorgeous (this is M. Graham’s “Hansa Yellow” I’m using; check out PY3 on handprint), and I’m thinking of using that plus the Green Golds (there are at least two formulations of this: Winsor & Newton’s “Green Gold” (PY129) approximates Daniel Smith’s “Rich Green Gold” (PY 129) [DS’s regular “Green Gold” is something I’ve never seen before]), in order to brighten greens. I had some success with that, tonight…and according to a tiny bit of research and experimentation, it looks like I’m on the right track.

Hey, maybe I don’t need to replace Aureolin. I could use these three, instead.

Having done all this work, it’s fairly obvious which paints I would really want to get from the Daniel Smith lineup. Things that would be difficult to mix, for which I don’t have a lot of representation. There are some really nice earth tones, in particular.

I’ve read that a number of other companies (Schmincke Horadam, Winsor & Newton, Sennelier, Da Vinci) sell dot-card sets, but I think I’ve done enough dot cards, for now!

The other thing I’m thinking of is re-introducing Holbein Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) to my palette; I had begun to use Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep (PY110), but…it’s actually duller than the Holbein! (I had heard things about brush-handling qualities of Holbein watercolors as versus basically all the other major brands, which drew me to remove it from use…but it’s cleaner and brighter.)


The other thing…writing. Right. If I’m going to be a writer, it would help to decide what to write about...which…well, it’s obvious that I’ve got something right here in this post, but it’s difficult to see as though I stood outside of myself. I don’t have a lot of people to bounce this off of (I get misread a lot, even by friends, because I’m not forthcoming about things they do or concepts they have, which I perceive as wrong — even when it comes to my self-definition and my privileges to define what does and does not happen within my own house. So I just end up not dealing with them, and not inviting them over).

There’s the opportunity to write about art at the same time as I practice art, which would enable me to double-task the artwork! Then again, I took up Librarianship because I wanted to double-task my reading, and we see where that ended up. :) I neglected ten years ago to see that Librarianship was about people, not about books.

If I did want to be all about books, Writing basically requires extensive knowledge of the field one writes within, and it’s said (like Art) to be lonely work, though I’m well-suited to that. (Editing, on the other hand, is said to be interpersonally intensive.) Cataloging is also apparently a fairly solitary activity, though it would seem…technical, I guess.

(For me, “technical” is better than “social”…)

I’ve got a long way to go if I want to be a professional illustrator or artist, but I think I do have an angle on things that is not-mainstream, and which is valuable.

I wonder what would happen if I created, and successfully published, a graphic novel, or an illustrated book?

career, personal, self care, work, writing

Reasons not to go back

Right now I’m really kind of frustrated with myself for not knowing what I want to do with my life, although that’s not entirely true: I don’t know what I want to do in my life to earn a living. For most of my life I’ve been relatively independent and relatively alone. Working with other people in bureaucratic structures — only being responsible for a portion of the work to be done, and I get to pick which portion (to an extent) — is alien to me.

It doesn’t help that I’m hooked up with a Vocational Program which is backing me with the expectation that the job I picked out 10 years ago with zero work experience and little knowledge of what the job entailed, is still something I want to do. I knew getting into it as a Volunteer and then as a Library Aide, that I was pushing my comfort level where it came to cleanliness. I was also pushing my comfort level where it came to dealing with the public, once I started to deal with the public.

As a Library Assistant in Public Services, I was pushing that comfort level every day I went to work, and as I said before, there’s a difference between (temporarily) reaching out of your comfort zone in order to grow, and being unnecessarily ill-equipped for your (permanent) position.

From what I have seen, however, there are a good number of people working in Libraries who would rather not deal with difficult situations. These are not people you want to have backing you up (or, very possibly, not) when something goes down and you have to enforce a rule or deal with escalating personal abuse. I don’t want to be one of those people.

I’m not saying that the work isn’t tolerable most of the time. Most of the time, it is. Most people are respectful, and just happy you’re there. Some people are even very forgiving when you’re trying your best to help them, even if you have trouble doing so. However: depending on where you work, there are distinct issues with distinct patrons, and you don’t know what you’re getting, each time the phone rings.

One of my ex-coworkers said to me when they first became a Library Assistant, that it was, “like being an adult babysitter.” I was also told that the most difficult part of the job for me would likely not be the technical aspects of finding information, but rather having to discipline patrons. I should have listened on both counts.

What’s more, I likely should have become a Library Assistant sooner, so that I could get out of the path before dropping money on a degree in the hope of working as a Public Librarian. Would I have been happier, had I gone (earlier?) into a career in Publishing or freelancing? I’m not sure.

I also haven’t had a clear idea of what I would be getting into with either Digital Services or Cataloging/Metadata.

I’ve gotten through the first few weeks of XML…which is also pushing a comfort zone (specifically the one that has to deal with implicit trust over networked resources), though that just has to do with privacy and potential data loss, as versus potential sickness, or potential harm.

The risks here are more abstract, and the people who can and do go through the steps to accomplish them, fewer. That doesn’t mean zero risk. It means distanced risk. When people won’t walk 100 feet to ask their question to the appropriate staff member (the one that can help them), however, distance means something.

Cataloging, Classification, and Metadata at least have me using my mind to contribute (or at least contribute access to) knowledge, rather than having me use my mind to protect myself. I really don’t like being in survival mode when I’m wanting to actually do something of use. “Trying to survive today,” isn’t really an equivalent for me, to contributing to society.

I guess I should try and remember that, when it comes to the question of whether I ever want to work as Reference staff, again.

In any case…I’ve mentioned this before, but right now I’m looking at freelancing as regards writing or editing. Writing, being a more solitary occupation, is more likely to be something I can comfortably do. (That means I’ll want to generate article ideas and pitches; and also, be reading prolifically.) Editing is more social, from everything I’ve read to this point. If I don’t want it to be social, the route to take is to work on a contract basis as a Proofreader or Copy Editor (also, possibly, Fact-Checker).

If and when I can learn enough of another language to the point that I’m functional in that language, I might also want to look at translation: particularly, book translation. The course I’m in now has a lot of material on abstracting and indexing, which is also applicable in Publishing and with library aggregators and vendors.

God, I want to learn Japanese language.

So I’m looking at:

  • writing
  • abstracting and indexing
  • (book) translation
  • metadata
  • cataloging and classification
  • copy editing
  • proofreading

…with either Publishers, library aggregators and vendors, East Asian Libraries (usually Academic), Academic Libraries, or the open Web. (I need to research that last one: to whom would I pitch articles?)

There is actually a theme to all those things, isn’t there? Taking something that has been written, and producing abstract data describing it, or translating its contents into machine-readable data, or making sure that the knowledge contained in it is findable, readable, and accurate. Hmm.

I should revisit this in a few months…

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