craft, creativity, jewelry design, small business planning, work

I write too much…

Yeah…I think it’s understandable why cyberspace has been so quiet, recently. As for what’s going on over here…I’m still dealing with a problematic creative pattern (grab onto a project like a pitbull and not let go until my body gives out, then avoid it the next day because my body doesn’t want to go through that again)…though I have realized that I have another beadweaving pattern I originated, which I had forgotten about until putting the earrings in as placeholders over Xmas.

Like I’ve said before: I make a lot of jewelry, I don’t necessarily wear a lot of jewelry. I’ve had these piercings for a while, but I still get a little…worried, that they’ll close up with disuse. I probably don’t have to worry about that quite so much, given that they were originally pierced at 14g. Yes, I do miss my surgical steel rings, but putting them back in means that either I forego wearing regular earrings, I constantly wear a nut on the back of all my earwires and deal with possible migration, or I fabricate custom 14g earwires for everything I wear…and trust me, silver isn’t that cheap. 14g wire is pretty expensive, that is, just from the sheer weight of it.

I do realize that if I want to run this jewelry thing as a microbusiness with significant returns, I’m going to have to work more. A lot more. Just slightly prior to Xmas, though, I did encounter the beginnings of a depressive episode, which is likely what has slowed me down over the past couple of weeks. (I’ve just realized that I’ve only been out of classes for three weeks, so far!) I had wanted to sew face coverings to give out over the holidays…but for multiple reasons, prime among them a very late start due to having my attention taken up with my University course, that didn’t happen.

“A very late start”…unless I jumped into making face coverings at the moment I thought of doing so and worked as hard and as fast as I could and sent them out as soon as I could, I would be late. And even then, I probably would still have been late. University conditions you, not to be late; that it can mean failure, to be late. (Unless you’re working with accommodations.) Of course, University matters because they’re reporting your grades to the Federal Government, which impacts any future Financial Aid. Making money through selling jewelry has no such penalty for lost time. Except, well: lost income.

I think that the realization that I wasn’t going to make the Xmas deadline/buying rush (for either gifts or sales) was probably the beginning of the episode — or the beginning of my noticing it, at least. I notice in my backfiles some information about OCD, as well…which was probably what was most easily visible. You deal with this stuff a while, and it gets easier to recognize when you’re experiencing symptoms.

Then there was the fact that I had hoped to be up and running with my beadwork, in time for the Xmas buying season. That, obviously, didn’t happen — although I did clarify some things for myself, like why I’m doing this, and what my goals are. I made the move to decide that there is, philosophically, value in the creation of beauty.

What’s really…interesting, is that when you’re working with an inclusive gender definition, it can be difficult to create gender expressions which are clearly intended for that definition. I mean…you make nice things, and those who want to, can wear them.

I’ve heard fairly commonly that people in the nonbinary community have a tendency to be slotted as cisgender men and women, though by this time, the trope is…well, used. No longer upsetting, that is, because you know it’s coming…and you know that the people saying it have their own issues to deal with. And I, at least, know enough NB people that I see a difference between cis and NB, even if nothing earth-shatteringly different appears on the outside. (Two things that do appear from within, are acceptance and understanding.) The thing is: nothing should have to appear different on the outside, for a person’s gender identity to be respected.

Right now…I’m in a stage of breaking out of being intentionally gender-neutral. In specific, there’s nothing wrong with pink. Or violet. Even if I’m biologically female. Even if mostly women will wear these. It’s OK. Nothing at all says that I have to or need to sell specifically to NB people (and if that had been part of my business plan, I would likely need to alter it — we’re not that incredibly common).

I’m hoping to use these colors, soon…and maybe I should do it. I mean, really plan on doing it. Like, purchase some stuff and set aside some blocks of time, to do it. That infers — well — planning…which I may be able to work out with one of my extra A5 notebooks, or by using a printed spreadsheet.

The thing I’m dealing with now is the tension between working on designs I have already created beforehand, and experimenting with new supplies and techniques. The latter takes a lot of time, but can involve totally new practices (which is exciting); the former allows me to refine previously set patterns and experiment specifically with color (but not so much with form).

If I look at it now…I have several designs I’ve come up with totally on my own, which I know I came up with totally on my own. I’m not sure it’s worth it to go through the actual process of registering copyright, especially as the designs are refined and change, over time (a.k.a., constantly). It might be good enough just to mail myself copies of the schematics in preemptive defense, although I know copyright law says I’m good from the time of creation.

Ah, the concept of intellectual property. How…how annoying are you. Or maybe I should say, “concept of intellectual property, how easily you are misused….”

art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

personal, psychology, self care

The reason why I was in classes

It’s been a little less than two weeks since classes have ended, and I’m noticing warning signs that I’m headed into a depression. Though, truthfully — at an early stage, who can tell? It might be a number of other things.

To be honest, though, I feel like my OCD is going into overdrive, and that’s why my mood is collapsing. I need to be actually making things, or doing something to occupy my mind, to tone down the paranoia (I wouldn’t be surprised if my amygdala were responsible [I wonder how ironic it is to be angry at one’s own amygdala] but I don’t really know).

I mean, there’s, “appropriately concerned,” and then there’s, “overtly paranoid.” In the middle of a surge in the middle of a pandemic, from the inside of a mind that has had to deal with obsessive thoughts around contamination for the last 26 years or so, which for a long time have felt normal (though questionable enough now to voice)…it can be hard to really understand the difference between appropriate concern and irrational hyper-concern.

I would think people would say that it isn’t possible to be too concerned: but trust me, it is. When you wash your hands to the point of their cracking and bleeding so that they no longer form a barrier against the thing you’re scared of touching, that’s overdoing it.

I’m at the point where I’m pretty certain that I would not be functional in a job right now, and my Vocational program is an unwelcome intrusion in my life. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with things coming into the house, when I’m not even the main person touching those things. I’m having a hard time touching fabric (and letting that fabric touch other fabric) which has last touched another human besides myself, two weeks ago. Can I then safely put any of that up to my face and breathe through it? We’re talking about viral half-lives, not viral extinctions.

This is not…well…I guess I can understand now why this illness alone qualifies me as disabled.

It doesn’t help, though, when there is some validity to the paranoia, and my paranoia in fact may help keep me alive (which is likely the reason it still exists in humans). That doesn’t mean it’s easy to live with, or that it isn’t instigating other mental disorders like depression. Anxiety — let alone constant anxiety — can do that.

I’m thinking I need to be doing something — anything (that isn’t drugs or eating or sodas or shopping sprees…or, sleep) — to be dealing with this. Even video games might be a step up, though I question how much a certain favorite game is going to alleviate the pain. :) Somehow, being trapped in a constantly morphing prison full of death doesn’t sound like wholesome fare when I’m feeling like this. Kudos if you know what game I’m talking about.

Of course, though: I was supposed to exercise earlier, and just didn’t. I got involved in something else. I did take Vitamins B-Complex and D, however…which should help. (I’ll take them again, tomorrow.) So should actually getting some sleep…it’s 12:50 AM here, at the moment, though I got out of bed sometime around 1:30 PM, if my memory’s correct.

Yeah, maybe tomorrow…I’ll make a point out of working with the beads (not the masks, unless I’m really OK with it) and getting some exercise and taking a shower. Even though I don’t really…feel like exercising. But that’s probably normal, when you haven’t exercised in weeks. My weight has been edging up due to inactivity and my medications. If I can consistently hold to 5 or 6 lbs. below my current weight, average — the weight I was at, at the beginning of lockdown — that would at least be a start. (I tend to set my goals too high, and then get demoralized and never even really try to reach them.)

Or maybe I should just designate a time to work out and stretch and get my heart rate up — and shower — every other day or so, without worrying about the weight component. The issue is that I work out and then crave sugar. That worked when I had a 20-year-old metabolism; not so much, now. Somehow I don’t think that eating the equivalent of two dinners, after working out and walking everywhere, is going to fly, now.

Of course…no, I haven’t tried walking everywhere…but there’s nowhere to walk to for any purpose, around here. It helps to walk when there are, you know, things within walking distance…but such is not the case at this point.

And, I suppose, it is possible that we’ll all make it through this, alive. It’s telling that I never even thought of that, until just now…

career, psychology, self care, work, writing

Loneliness? Withdrawal.

There are a lot of things I could write about. The question is, what do I write about? What do I feel safe putting out into the world, at this point, which isn’t time-sensitive? Or, which wouldn’t put myself, my property, my employability, or my family at further risk? HA HA! you say. HA. HA.

I mean, there’s a lot I could write. Whether it’s self-serving to broadcast it or not, is another question. And actually, when I look at it that way, it’s obviously safer not to mention anything. So why this drive to do so?

Actual loss. Fear of further loss.

I suppose it’s obvious that I’m feeling a bit isolated, although I do still have my family. I just am worried that everything I have and have built will be taken from me. In reality, I have one thing that has already been taken, and that is my work and my income.

There have also been a lot of people dying recently, which hasn’t helped. I lost two of my older relatives within the last several months (I can’t remember when).

Right now we’re in a severe weather event…meaning my possessions (which I would use to further gain an income) are at stake. And if any of us get sick, I could lose one or both of my parents. That would likely mean either dealing with relatives (which I don’t want to do, I’m sure you can understand), or moving out-of-state to a place where floods are normal and I may only be able to get a job in which I can’t avoid feeling prostituted.

They say I don’t, “like people.”

I’m not a, “people person.” M told me this, today, and I realized that I have no idea what it is to, “like people.” I didn’t know that I didn’t, “like people,” because I didn’t know what, “liking people,” meant. I still don’t know what, “liking people,” feels like. I can’t conceptualize it, or its motivations. That’s probably me being on the “Spectrum”, though.

Yes, I realize there is more than one, “Spectrum.” I’m talking about high-functioning Autism. I know I am on that Spectrum, but not to the degree that I would be considered, “Autistic.” I was evaluated and told I had nothing to gain from a diagnosis because I had already aged out of all the early interventions that would help. That is, a diagnosis would just be a stigma to me with no benefit. (Of course, that’s before I entered my Vocational Program, which may have done better to heed a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder…)

M and I also spoke about how I internalized **** that happened at work (that I still remember), and I know I don’t know how not to internalize it. I don’t know how I can live with just ignoring hostility and disrespect. When, “no,” is seen to mean, “you’re not trying hard enough, wheedle some more,” instead of, “NO. Stop it and leave me alone.”

And I know that I can be openly aggressive, when people persist in attempting to push my boundaries because I say, “No,” and they want to force, “Yes” (which brings up trauma around sexual harassment)…though I’m not sure how to value my aggression. On one hand, I’m standing up for myself when my messages are rejected as though I said nothing (or worse than nothing); on another, getting sued or losing my job every time a misogynist ***** comes along, wouldn’t be the best thing?

And then there’s the question of whether I should grit my teeth and try and be polite (and be dishonest to be polite, which has not been my way) when my emotions honestly make me want to do much worse (and wish I was a 240-pound 6-foot-plus man so I could do so).

But these guys (they’re almost all guys) can’t see the warning signs. Maybe they think no one they categorize as a woman can or should ever get angry, let alone at them, and they assume from visual pattern-matching that I’m a (heterosexual, cisgender) woman. Or, as they would put it, “girl.” Which can make me angry, depending on the level of respect and self-definition they afford to people they see as, “girls,” which usually isn’t a lot.

So. No service jobs.

Do what I …love?

M wants me to find what I love to do and then do it, regardless of how much income it pulls in. And not focus on my shortcomings, because it is not in my nature to be a good social services worker. Which is, you know, never the reason I started working at the Library.

Right now, I’m thinking: Beadwork and Writing. And maybe Cataloging or Metadata Librarianship, or Taxonomy development. Maybe later, Translation. Maybe also later: Web Development.

I’ve come to what feels right (at least in theory) about what to do with the Creative Writing tangent. I’m not going to hide my work until I have a full manuscript (to try and sell First Publication Rights to a Publishing House). I’ll be developing this in a mixture of online and offline work, with the possibility of self-publishing and Web distribution, later.

I think that doing things that way will maximize the benefits I’d accrue, and the accountability to do the work. What I wouldn’t accrue would be in-house professional editing, academic prestige, and help with marketing and distribution. (But hey: I’ve seen some pretty interesting self-published books.)

The question is also, distribution to where, when it seems most book sales take place online now, and work is increasingly becoming digital in nature. Also: editors can be hired, and making a name for myself online before fully entering the stage, is marketing.

Digital Publishing, Print-On-Demand. Financial Models.

There is a metadata schema (TEI, or Text Encoding Initiative), which I could use to code an electronic text in XML. Doing that would give me practice in coding (and navigating) TEI-XML using an XML editor and XPath.

Of course, how to convert XML to HTML is something I don’t yet know how to do; I only know that it’s possible using XSLT. Neither do I see any advantage or efficiency to this, other than teaching myself XSLT, XPath, and TEI-XML. I mean, I might as well hard-code in HTML, to begin with.

I also see that Kindle doesn’t support TEI; I’d likely have to then convert my HTML into a proprietary format of Amazon’s. Or import a DOCX. That’s if I want my work to be able to be purchased and read on Kindle. On the other hand, nothing says that I have to use Word to develop the text; just to submit it — if I go that route. My issue is suspected ugly code after conversion.

That’s only if I want to take payment for the download. Which isn’t my only financial model, but it probably is the one which, along with Print-On-Demand, would generate the most income. And income is nice, for work done.

And then, POD may outlast any digital encoding scheme. I probably would also only have to submit a DOCX for that, as well. I could use InDesign, but it’s probably not needed or expected. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing any fancy formatting.

There’s also the option of just posting at WordPress.com for free public access + the sale of extra materials (tangential short stories, illustrations). The site templates are pretty awesome on my tablet, and it would be easier to keep it updated, as the host takes care of the back-end maintenance. The major drawback is sanitization and censorship, plus the cost to remove the ads…none of which I would like to engage in. I mean, I have to bleep myself regularly here. It’s a big reason I moved offline.

I believe this is not an issue if I’m self-hosted. However…then I have to be a Full-Stack Developer plus being a Web Content Producer. I know; I’ve done it.

Yeah, so…write the thing first, right? ;D

career, creative writing, creativity, self care, writing

Maybe not to the level of a Professional Editor…

Yesterday, I was able to take a couple of my more creative posts from here, and begin writing out second drafts. Of course, I woke up at about 1:30 AM yesterday morning…and stayed up until 8:30 AM…writing. Right? The time can pass very quickly, when I’m doing that. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m relatively okay with hearing the clock announce the hour on the hour, every hour…

The only reason I didn’t keep going with the writing, was concern that my body wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. I wrote, in total, about eight pages in longhand…in one of my worst-quality notebooks, so I wouldn’t feel bad for having wasted paper. ;) I haven’t heard of anyone getting carpal tunnel syndrome from writing by hand (neither has anyone else around me), but I could feel things starting to turn against me (particularly, tension in my wrist), so I stopped.

That writing session was very therapeutic. I was actually feeling — I don’t know, “normal” (?) later today. I am thinking this was because I was able to get through my “block” and write out what I really wanted to write out. I was able to do that, in turn, by realizing what was holding me back: the fear of being a unique individual person with a voice and influence. That is, someone who has value and power and can contribute to society and breathe life into ideas.

There do happen to be forces which would not like a person like myself to be empowered. But it is not worth it to be another person who tries to blend into the background and hopes to go unseen. That’s not…quite…living. That’s not my taking my full place at the table of Life.

I also looked at what my potential future would be — psychically speaking — if I obeyed my fear. I didn’t really like where that was taking me, so I wrote. For seven hours.

After all, bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it’s experiencing it and doing the work, anyway.

If I look at the breakdown here, I have a little over two pages as a second draft, and six pages as rough drafts of various passages which grew from other material. Those rough drafts, in turn, will serve as seeds for further second drafts when I go back in to rewrite. I expect the pattern to continue; it hasn’t let me down, yet.

Right now, I’m waiting for the freshness of all the new material to wear off, so that I can return and rewrite it again with updates. I’ve decided to do this by hand at this point; revision feels like a different process when I work things out manually, than when I work on the computer. I’m old enough to remember when we used to write out our essays for school on binder paper in pencil, and then copy the finished drafts over in ink…also on binder paper.

Using a word processing program, one may begin a passage and have the option of never coming back to it to actively review or change it, again. Having to copy it over again, to physically form each letter of each word, forces you to pay attention to it — and to how it could be different.

Editing is a different process with a digital file than with a notebook. Or…with looseleaf. I know that to edit what I just wrote, I’m going to have to photocopy out the relevant text, where I can then mark it up and re-copy it over in a newer form. The only other way to do it is to work on another paper surface at the same time as I have the rough draft open. Or, tear out the written pages of the previous draft.

Yeah…did I think this through? Not really. But I wanted everything in one place, and there are drawbacks to that, as well as convenience and — possibly — organization.

There is one thing I’ve learned, however: and that is, while I may have written a lot, do write a lot, and will likely continue to write a lot…I haven’t edited, so much. I think a lot of that has to do with the blog format, where I’ve been depositing a lot of my daily writing: although I am moving back to analog for most of my more sensitive thoughts.

Having friends on social media has gotten me to realize the fact that there’s a difference between having and maintaining friendships, and having and maintaining an audience: your friends don’t necessarily want their direct personal messages to you to go unanswered while they see a proliferation of content on your channel. (Let’s not forget that on social media, the user is the product…which has been made clear to me from the fact that WordPress seems to neglect to upload my posts to my own Reader; depending on how many posts I’ve made, in what pattern, in which recent time frame.)

There’s also the fact that until recently, most of my other (nonacademic) written work has been journaling. Keeping a journal is good to maintain the practice of writing anything at all — which is essential when you want to track your thoughts for a big project, especially. Or, when you’re trying to break out of writer’s block, and you need that gentle daily nudging to surface the reason you aren’t writing what you really want to write. (It can take a while to get bored of, “today the world is ending again,” you know. But even what the writer doesn’t say [and I pay attention to what I’m not saying], sends a message to an alert and introspective person.)

When you want to write, and you want that writing time both to be quality (as regards content) and to last…you can run out of things to write about, if you’re just recording your day. It’s like recounting what happened at work or school to someone else, after-the-fact. If you can break from that diary form and go into something either more informed, or more imaginative, or more daring, there’s a lot that can be generated.

That is…Literary Arts exist. Or: language can be used in multiple ways; not just to recount and represent objective reality. Which…well, parallels my recent experiences with Visual Arts. I’ve also wondered why I would be learning Japanese language (or writing at all), if I were afraid to use it to actually communicate.

Anyhow, for now I’m working with Creative Nonfiction, which may drift into straight-out Fiction. But anonymization and embellishment should come toward the end, I believe. Not that I’ve had so much practice with that, recently…but it will give me practice in Editing.

Which I haven’t had a lot of since my undergraduate days, mind. The obvious thing to do is to join one or more Writers’ Workshops, in order to get back into the practice of giving feedback on others’ work — if I want to be an Editor and not a Writer. But it’s fairly clear that I’m much more suited to Writing, temperamentally speaking, that Editing. Everything I’ve read says that Editing is more interpersonally intensive…and one of my Professors of old told us, it wasn’t actually a creative field.

That doesn’t sound like me. I’m more solitary, studious, quiet. And I’m not a bad writer, actually: especially when I get angry enough to be absurd. My problem is breaking the insular wall which protects me from the rest of the world, and actually joining the rest of the world.

career, LIS, portfolio, psychology, self care, technology

Life without obsessions or compulsions?

I think I’m new to this.

We have moved into Week 9 in my class…not a huge deal, but it reminds me that there are only 5 weeks after this, left in the semester! It’s time to start thinking about next semester.

I’ve also found that it is still possible for me to take a Virtual Internship even though I’ve already graduated: one of the articles I’ve just read (extracurricular) says that as much or more could be learned through internships and practicums, as through classes. I may want to join my Alumni Association to keep access to the job search board, as well…but I’ll get to that, when it’s time.

I have about a month and a half to decide if I want to take a class on XML in the Spring…or hold out and try a private course, again. I’ve located one which looks like it will fit my needs…if it doesn’t, I know a place that gives an XML course every Fall. However: I can take up to 11 more units, there…maybe I want to save them for PHP, JQuery, or Drupal, and go ahead and do XSLT/XQuery, privately. Then I can re-take it in the Fall at the University, if I need to.

Also, I found a book on XML/XSLT/XQuery, which I can use to boost my skills. I haven’t read it yet, but the last book I read of the series (on Linked Data) was very understandable, and the branch of my association which puts them out…has a very good reputation.

Putting that all together: that looks good, actually. So I review over the winter, re-take XSLT/XQuery in Spring, and get the book on XSLT/XQuery for practice, afterward. For now, I can see what I can do about an Internship…and take some lessons on JavaScript. (It probably also wouldn’t hurt to review my Relational Database textbooks.)

After Spring, I can look at PHP, JQuery, and Drupal; though those aren’t skills as much in demand for my targeted positions. XSLT, though, it looks like I’ll have to learn (at some time — if I want to become a Metadata Librarian, which is what Cataloging Librarianship is turning into).

I think the major thing holding me back is frustration at having to use my, “slow mind,” as versus my, “fast mind.” I’m used to things being easy to scan and read — I can skip over information and my mind will close the gap — and Programming…really requires me to slow down and parse things as I come across them. I have to stop and think about what each symbol or nested tag means, that is…and reading in English is usually so easy for me that I don’t have to do that.

(It is, however, not easy when you’re reading subordinate clause after subordinate clause after subordinate clause…and then you start to think, “what am I looking at?” and you’re looking at an extremely complicated sentence. Maybe I should try and rephrase the lectures, or something.)

Reading in Spanish and Japanese is usually so easy for me that I don’t have to do that, and I’m not particularly great at either of those two other languages, at this point. However, at least I can decipher parts of the code. Whereas when I see something like //@lang, I have to actively remember what those symbols mean, and put together what they mean, in context with each other. That can be frustrating, when you’re expecting to do better (even though you only saw this code for the first time, six days ago).

It’s not easy, although W3Schools makes it look easy. And I’ve found out that maybe it actually is not best to depend on my instructor explaining things to me. I know how to find information on my own, that is; and some of it is clearer than the lecture.

I really…need to figure out what to do about these internships, though! Like, do I need to sign up for the Internship course, pay the tuition, and then work for free for 14 weeks (in exchange for experience)? You know?

Well, anyway: I can contact my Vocational team about that. I’ll need to get it set up by the end of the year, regardless.

And that means, to get the freakin’ Portfolio back online, before someone asks to see it.

I can do that. I can actually do that, soon. And for now, it’s a finite project.

Alright.

The title of this post relates to the fact that although I have been washing my hands more than normal, I believe my other obsessions are becoming less dominant. Thus, I could write, but I don’t have to write; I could make jewelry, but I don’t have to; I could paint or draw…but don’t have to. I forget the last day I was in a Japanese language lesson, or at which I sewed anything. Aside from these things, I realize that I don’t totally know what to do with myself when I have a lot of free time, and nothing that I’ve zeroed in on to do now, now, now, now.

They’re all parts of me, but they don’t define me.

Having choices is not necessarily the easiest thing, eh?

psychology, self care, writing

It’s OK.

It’s been a little over a week since I wrote here last, and more than that since I did what I did last night, and got a proper night’s sleep. Now, I’m awake…the sky is blue (! how long has it been since that happened?! or, well, since I’ve been awake to experience it), and I’m a little lost as to what to do with myself.

So, I’ve turned to my blog. :) Of course, after a week or so of messed-up sleep, I haven’t wanted first to turn back to my studies. I have, however, wanted to get back to my beadwork…

…and I’m hoping that the Messiah-complex that I might have been experiencing (not to self-diagnose, but it sounds familiar [to a point]), is wearing thin. I’ve reached the point of realizing that everyone’s on their own journey, not just me; that my story is one of innumerable stories not being told. Which makes me curious…

But that also means that I don’t necessarily…have to write down my experiences. I still can, but there is no obligation or mandate for me to do so. I mean, it’s possibly actually okay for me to do what I want to do, with my life.

It’s probably a good sign, psychologically speaking, that I’ve reached this point.

Maybe I’ll bead. :)

psychology, spirituality, writing

Stumbling into dystopia

Not to be, well — depressing — but I can feel depression setting in.

I’ve noticed an increase in my symptoms recently, particularly where it comes to difficulty concentrating, the ability to sleep, depressed mood, paranoia, heightened “spiritual” content to my thoughts, and catastrophic and magical thinking.

Of course, from inside, these all appear understandable, given the situation. Hey — they may appear understandable from outside. The issue is that things are bad, and my mind is making them worse. By doing things like making me think I have a calling as a writer and a duty to share my perspective…even if that leads to bad consequences for me. Because this is bigger than me, isn’t it?

The issue is, how much bigger? Are we dealing with local stupidity and greed and craziness, or is this a Universal conflict between good and evil? And maybe it’s not even just two groups. Maybe it’s a system of spirits, and I happen to be a member of a group associated with Creation (and, apparently, expression and language). And we have here beings who don’t care about the continuation of life on this planet; who don’t care about other humans; who don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own accumulation of wealth and power. If this is not Evil, what is Evil?

Today it’s actually slightly cooler outside (at the moment) than it is inside, which is more than I can say for the past three days. Because of us, this planet is becoming a Hell. And we don’t know how much time we have to change that, left (if we have any, at all; we don’t know, but the best we can do is not give up) — at least if you’re looking at things like climate, “tipping points,” such as the point at which the permafrost melts and trapped methane gas is released into the atmosphere…which is a 25x stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

And what then, is supposed to happen to cities like San Francisco or Honolulu, when the Antarctic and/or Greenland ice shelves fail and melt? If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet fails, the global sea level could rise by ten feet.

I’ve been getting used to being active at night, due to the heat in the daytime…meaning, today, that I got out of bed after 4 PM to eat dinner as my first meal, instead of at 9 AM for breakfast (when my alarm went off). Of course, part of this is bad synchronization of my medication to my bedtime: I took one medication (a sedating one) after midnight, instead of 9 PM; and I know that when I do that, it predisposes me to wake in the late afternoon or early evening. Even if I do wake up at a reasonable time before then, my body just wants to go back to bed, where I fall asleep. For hours.

Not to mention that I couldn’t fall asleep until after 2:30 AM. Just, could not.

Still, the lack of daylight — which has been going on for days, as we couldn’t vent the windows to cool down the house, due to the smoke from the multiple fires around the state — has an effect on me. I’m thinking it has an effect on everyone.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of writing…and not much else, except reading for my class and studying Japanese language (mostly, at this point, writing). I haven’t been posting my writing online because I’m having issues with paranoia, which — given the current climate, and not just the literal one — could be justified.

Oppressive, is the word. This climate is oppressive, and writing — in my case — is for the expression of thoughts that may not be able to be easily spoken. There are good reasons they can’t be easily spoken.

I’m also not sure to what extent re-engaging with fiction, or my actual thoughts (as unrealistic and idiosyncratic as those may be), is affecting this. Nor do I know whether the thoughts are symptomatic of the disease, or whether they’re driving it. I’m not sure if even entertaining my thoughts are leading to a decrease in my mental health.

Although, it is good to be able to get those thoughts out, so that they don’t just fester in my subconscious (or unconscious). At the same time, I think just being in this country at this moment is scary. But if we make change, we’ll have to make it together. One person can’t do it, alone.

I know I’m not the only one going through this. I’ve been dealing with my class where we were supposed to split up into groups of 4 or 5 for our Final Projects, by tonight. Over 1/3 of the people in the class still have not hooked up with anyone. Seriously???

I’m also glad that I know at this point that grades aren’t the most important part of life, but Withdrawing is not currently an option for me. Even if it was, I question whether it would be the best route: I may be becoming depressed because I don’t have enough to do. If I Withdrew, something worse for my life than failing the course, would have to have happened. And there’s a lot that is worse than failing a stinkin’ course.

Anyway. I’m getting kind of weary of this. And I’m not the only one. I can tell from the number of people I see congregating, maskless. The issue we have here — the biggest one — seems to be that people can’t act for the good of society writ large. “If masks will protect everyone else but not me specifically, why should I wear one?” they ask. Because that, “everyone else,” indirectly includes you. But people don’t get that, and I get the feeling that they don’t care about other people’s lives, either.

It’s a pretty sad state when your neighbors don’t care if you live or die. It’s possibly sadder if they don’t even care if they live or die. Faith is not meant to make a person lazy.

I do know that we here in California likely only have another month of heat to worry about (November comes after October, after all)…but then comes flu season. Which — if you look at it, maybe won’t be so bad if people are keeping away from each other, and we’re still able to maintain good hygiene. There is fatigue to be factored in there, however. We’ve been at this for seven months, now.

…And, the little I’ve read, says to brace for another year of this — that it will be likely around mid-2021 by the time we get a safe and widely available vaccine.

So we have to, essentially, survive another year. Alright.

art, color, painting, self care

Sleepiness and swatch tests

Aw, man! Okay, so…my sleep schedule is bizarre, but maybe it won’t have to be, for much longer. It looks as if the heat wave has broken. Today the skies were gray instead of orange; that is an improvement. I also had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to change clothes, because it was so cold. Right now I’m writing this from bed in full pajamas, because it’s so cold.

Which is weird, when three days ago it seems like it was over 100° F. Right now, it’s 64° F, outside.

And I’m tired, even though I slept over 12 hours. It could be eye strain — I don’t think I’ve had a change in lens prescription in years. (I had to put off an optometry appointment because of the pandemic.) It could also be related to the smoke, or the fact that I am working at night and sleeping through the morning (although I went to bed before midnight last night, and woke up like it was morning, two hours later. Then I conked out at 3:30 and slept into late afternoon). It could also be because I missed the medication that I take for wakefulness…because I slept until 3:30 PM. That’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it?

A photo of four different Daniel Smith paints in various shades of green.
These watercolors are the four swatches in the top right of the immediately following image:

Anyway, my green paints and two new brushes came yesterday! :D I had to limit myself — out of enthusiasm, I have a tendency to overbuy (especially when I can’t see or test what I’m buying)…although now I know that painting is likely a good thing for me.

I have found that art is particularly…what’s the opposite of crazy-making? (“sane-making?”) “grounding?” for me. I’m finding watercolor to be also a relatively rewarding pastime in itself.

For some reason, I’m really into color; I can’t explain why, though…aside from the ability to witness how colors mix and merge. Painting has been an organic outgrowth of drawing, for me. I couldn’t cleanly, densely, and easily mix and dilute colors in drawing (the closest I’ve come to that is with markers), and nor could I have total freedom over the size and shape of my color applicator. That all changes, with painting.

A sheet of paper which contains all watercolor paints I might currently use, along with a freeform painting at the bottom right corner.
The left three columns are what is on my palette right now. Everything else either isn’t, or is a retry at getting a good gradient (or, in the case of French Ultramarine, a comparison with the other Ultramarines).

There’s something about the ability to achieve solid blocks of color and fluid gradients, that I really like. Also, the tactile issue is something that my sibling brought up — which could be why I’m not as drawn to computer art. The above swatches (and the little play painting in the corner) were all done with a Neptune #6 round brush. It’s really soft, and holds a lot of water. It will also soak up water if you dry it out a little before touching it to a pool of extra paint on your paper. For most of these, I was using the belly of the brush, not so much the tip.

I haven’t intentionally altered any of the colors here, though the light coming in the window was so yellowish and dim that I had to turn on overhead lighting today (when I took these photos and swatched out the four new greens in the upper right corner).

Right now I have about 45 colors which I’d consider using (there are some in the photo which are used twice). Of those swatched here, I’d eliminate W&N Mars Black (fifth column, third row) as Holbein Lamp Black (third column, seventh row) is smoother; and M. Graham Scarlet Pyrrol (fifth column, sixth row), as it granulates, and is very close to Winsor Orange – Red Shade (second column, third row).

Generally, I tend to prefer paints that have even dispersion and good flow…there are a number of paints I have which didn’t make it to this sheet, because of weird formulations causing a lack of leveling, or poor flow, or grains where I don’t want them, etc. This is just personal preference, however.

Gah, I’m tired. :) (Maybe I can go to sleep and wake up refreshed in 2-3 hours?)

Oh, right. I wanted to show you the Daniel Smith dot card swatches. The below were done with a very small flat…probably a Robert Simmons’ Sapphire, but I’m not sure and am too tired to look, right now. :) You can probably tell that I was tending to use too little water on my brush, for most of these…

Most of the Daniel Smith dot card set, painted out onto a sheet of paper.
Most of a Daniel Smith dot card (168 dots). I probably painted out more like 120 swatches (talk about tedious. No, I haven’t counted them.) There were four cards in the set, and I worked with approximately three.

I’ve swatched out everything here except for the special colors (like the Duochromes, etc., on the fourth card) and colors which I expressly knew were associated with asbestos (Tiger’s Eye, Burnt Tiger’s Eye [though I believe that in Tiger’s Eye, quartz has replaced the asbestos component], and Serpentine). I did, however, swatch out Kyanite, even though I know it’s fibrous by nature (I am not sure, but I don’t think it’s related to asbestos). I was curious. :)

What I find interesting about a lot of these is that a number of the gem colors (I suspect they’re PrimaTeks) are sparkly — particularly, Sugilite Genuine — though maybe I just got a lucky sample.

If I was going to add to my palette, swatching out both of these was a good idea, to avoid overlaps…a tedious, painstaking, good idea. :) It’s very apparent to me right now that I have a high-key palette going already…so maybe I shouldn’t really worry too much about getting bright colors. (I can always mix them down; there’s also the fact that the paints I’m using often seem to dull as they dry.)

As for the brushes…I ordered two, both Robert Simmons White Sable. One was to replace M’s very old and worn 1/2″ flat, the other was to replace a #8 Robert Simmons Sapphire flat that I killed, somehow. (The ferrule is loose. I only know of one way that would have happened. Never leave your brushes standing in water!)

Okay, I believe…that I am going to sleep now…

art, psychology, self care

A break before the second pass

Apparently, word has gotten around that we’re having a heat wave — and fires — here in California. It has been going on for about ten days. On the 16th, or sometime around then, a dry lightning storm passed through in the middle of the night, and that was the beginning of the wildfires that are now burning.

Right now there is nothing immediately endangering me (thankfully), but it has not been a pleasant time; and we are expecting another lightning storm to come through overnight, meaning that we need to be ready to evacuate. “To where?” is a good question.

Tonight we had a break in the heat and the smoke, likely brought on by the remnants of the tropical storm that is moving in. The heat and the smoke are made worse by the fact that COVID-19 is still alive and well, and we’re still Sheltering-In-Place. That means that we’ve rarely been outside for 6 months, and now it’s hot and the air is hazardous.

If we knew that people were actually making a concerted effort both to be responsible and to stop the spread of the virus in the time we were giving them, it might be more tolerable, but it didn’t have to be this way. On top of that, I’ve heard of the virus spreading in evacuation centers.

I ended up basically withdrawing from Project Management. The class wasn’t taught well, and I’ve never even supervised one person, let alone managed anything in a large organization with work departments. On top of that, another class started which has to take top priority.

I believe my goal in the first place was partially to distract myself so that I wouldn’t have the free time or energy to worry (and also partially so that I wouldn’t have to go back to Public Service), but right now there are things that are more important than busy work, like my mental health. It also isn’t optimal to be taking classes which require computer use, when it’s too hot to have a computer on.

I need to take care of my health, first. Everything else falls in after that. I’ve gotten to the point where I know I need to care for myself…and my environmental concerns about the use of toxic paint, pale in comparison to the need I have to preserve my mental stability.

In short, I’m thinking of using my watercolors, again. With only two courses on my schedule, no work, and my essentials provided for, I should have time for this.

I have been trying to stay up at night and sleep during the day, but right now…I’m pretty sure it’s just my medication kicking in. That stuff can knock me out even if I have caffeine in the daytime (I didn’t do that today, though). I’m going to sign off before I become incoherent…