craft, design, psychology, sewing

Bipolar mania for now

…I’d say it’s better than the opposite, but I’m not quite sure.

I’m pretty sure I’m going through some kind of mood cycle. My sleep has been relatively disturbed for the past week…and aside from that, I’ve had some telltale signs of being in bipolar mania.

On the morning of Tuesday the 28th — I think it’s recorded here — I woke up at about 3:30 AM after four hours of sleep, got to work, and didn’t feel tired (even though I had to nap twice, later). On the morning of Thursday the 30th, I didn’t get to bed until about 4:45 AM, and didn’t feel tired for most of that time — as I had forgotten about medication until about 3:30 AM (over six hours late). On the night of the 30th, I didn’t get to bed until 1:15 AM because I was caught up in brainstorming a removable nose bridge design for the face coverings I’ve been making.

I’ve been attempting to redesign the coverings I’ve been producing…and I’m having some promising openings. The problem is that I may be overthinking it…trying to find ways to squeeze more than one covering out of a 3-yard package of bias tape (which is, oddly enough, probably cheaper in terms of time, than sewing fabric strips) — which requires math. I have a mental model now, though. For my future reference, this is the model using the double-fold bias tape for ties, and creating a pocket for the metal portion at the center of the covering.

For that I’ll need one of my awls, and to hand-bind a couple of eyelets within the tie. It’s relatively important that the flaps which protect the wearer from the metal, start right at the end of the metal component, so nothing shifts.

I also have a backup plan in case this doesn’t work: just sewing in a pocket (single-fold bias tape, or a piece of quilting fabric) on the inside of the covering, without necessarily altering anything else. The hard part about this is trying to keep metal away from people’s eyes in case of an accident, even though in my best trial fitting tonight, the bridge is right below the eyes. (Then again, I didn’t grow a nose bridge for a very long time, so I’m not really sure my face is representative of anyone else.)

I’m not sure these are good enough to sell, but they’re definitely good enough to experiment with. The thing I’m concerned about right now is how much longer than 4″ to make the metal component of the bridge; whether to just make it 4″; to weave a wire component for the bridge; not to put the bridge in at all…

The difficult thing for me is basically not being able to just go and automatically sew without thinking about it — which is my normal method of getting myself to do things. I had gotten up …well, at this point, yesterday (August 1) with the idea of doing some work on the coverings. I was a bit daunted, however, by the need to resolve the issue of vapor coming up around the nose and into the eyes with the coverings I had accomplished. (This is an issue where glasses and sunglasses are concerned; myself and the majority of people around me need to take glasses into consideration.)

I’m also not sure at this point whether I should be quilting the layers of fabric together, as it seems that not quilting them would be a better solution to catch the moisture coming out of the breath. Without the quilting, the breath travels through the first layer, disperses, and then travels through the second layer. With the quilting, the breath is pushed through both layers at once, which I’m thinking might be less efficient (though I don’t know). I do realize that coverings are to protect everyone else from the wearer; still, do I sacrifice heightened efficiency for ease of care?

I already know that these things need ironing after they dry, but I also know that there are still design issues to work out, which have to be dealt with before the question of, “how to iron them,” comes into play.

One issue is that I want to gather the sides of the covering more closely…within about a 2″ space (maybe 2.25″), with the upper tie going around the nape and the lower tie going around the crown. I’m hoping that the vector of force will keep the covering itself, in place.

The other thing is that M has requested repeatedly for the coverings to be larger. I’m not sure why, but right now I’m looking at an 8.5″x3″ footprint on the face (without the lower portion of the covering being extended to its full 6″ (or is that 5.5″?). I’ll have to see what that looks like and how it performs, in a future model.

For me, the prior size works fine (the cutout blank being 6.5″x9.5″). I don’t think my head is that small, but I do have a short face. Then again, M was also the person who requested the felt interlining which makes it feel as though one is breathing through a blanket.

I don’t even want to go there.

Anyway, just thinking about this is kind of a headache. I also kind of don’t want to be selling these, for liability purposes: “This face covering is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.” Although — all of that is true, and I could just say that. “Use at your own risk,” is the other disclaimer, though I’m not sure if that’s legal…

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. :)

Business, money, psychology, sewing

Motivation, money, and living

Ah, man. Yesterday, I dove back into mask-making. The system I’ve got is…well, let’s say I’ve got a lot of design iterations. I also had to clarify whom I was making the masks for — myself and those I loved, or those who would pay me for them? Am I looking, that is, for self-fulfillment and productivity, or for piecework wages?

I consulted with M yesterday, who encouraged me to make them for myself. It’s easier for me to work, when I know I can benefit from what I make. I know that I’ve made 10 so far that have gone to other people (who can’t or don’t want to sew), and those were some of my best ones…at the time. As a consequence…I have been feeling kind of like I’m running in place. I don’t mind having given the ones to my sibling, but then I had a surprise order of four (from another person), when I hadn’t even agreed to sew them or sell them.

I feel…also, now, that it’s probably a better bet to keep my day job and use income from that to support my crafting, than it is to leave my job and actually do this to make money (if I have a choice). In an 8-hour day at my job, I can make $160. That’s…not guaranteed to happen, if I am running a micro-business. What’s sad is that where I live now, $20/hour, working full-time ($3200/month), isn’t a lot. It may barely make rent; but rent is exorbitant, here (expect $2000/month). I forget how much of a percentage of one’s salary is supposed to be maximum for going to housing…I can look it up, though. It’s probably not 60%. (Ah: Knowledge Graph says it’s about 30%.)

And yes, I am thinking of moving out of the suburbs and to an agreeable rural area (and just depend upon the Web for purchases and incoming business and metropolitan/global contact). What’s positive is knowing that the Bay Area isn’t the only place I can live, with comfort. There are other Asian-American enclaves in other places in the country. Especially if I’m not going to be visibly transgender (right now I can almost blend in [in the Bay Area, which is ethnically diverse] except for when I speak my mind), I have options.

I will also be able to travel, I should remind myself. I had been thinking of moving out to Tucson, AZ, because of the annual gem and jewelry convention. It draws people from all over the country — and I would think a lot of other crafters live out there. But I don’t necessarily have to live in the desert, to visit Tucson. I could move elsewhere, and fly in for a week. I’m also mostly getting my materials online now, anyway.

I’m actually thinking of moving to the Pacific Northwest, or south to the Central California coast, or overseas. I had thought of Seattle, but I don’t think that would be, financially, much better than here. Then there’s the Southwest, and the Rockies. I’ve been told to steer clear of the Sierras, though I do love it up there: the people, it’s said, can be hostile to difference (though that was said to me in 2001). There’s also Hawaii…but the cost of living there, is also high, and earnings are low (at least on Oahu, which I’m not sure is representative of anything). The trouble with living in Hawaii is getting things shipped to you, and being dependent on that.

There’s also a place in the Appalachians where one can go for intensive craft training…not that I can remember the link offhand, however.

Maybe I should be researching this stuff, before I have to. What I do know is that I kind of don’t want to stay here forever, unless some of the infrastructural and societal problems are addressed. People actually do live in the rest of the world, in short. Probably not surprising to most of you, but for a long time I’ve felt trapped in this area because of the stares my family gets, even just going other places in California. (Apparently, more tolerant people migrate to the large urban areas.)

The most I’m thinking of doing with a microbusiness, at this point, is breaking even. I’ve purchased a lot of fabric. Partially this was because my godmother seriously wanted to buy masks from me, and it brought up the possibility that I could make money off of this, at least in the short term (also possibly in the long term). The problem is, I’d have to first invest in materials. This is where the Economic Stimulus package steps in, much of which is going to favorite ethnic-minority- and/or woman-owned small local businesses.

So…I have a lot of fabric, right now (the scraps of which, will go to my quilting). I’ve been asked if I’m “giving (masks) away”; given that I’ve spent a good deal out of my own pocket and earnings ($420), and it has taken about an hour to make each mask (that’s at least $10 per mask in design, labor, and materials, before markup); no, no I’m not, “giving them away.”

Though maybe I’d feel better, if I did. Then I wouldn’t feel obligated to keep to a timetable (which I’m not following). Luckily, I don’t have to break even, because I am still employed — and living with my parents. How long that’s going to last? I’m not sure.

I’m sounding bitter, I think. But then, my mood hasn’t been the best, recently. It’s likely that I’m experiencing something that has a component of bipolar mania (it runs in my family), which would help explain the amount of money I’ve spent recently, the lack of sleep, and the irritability and anger. I’m not sure if the anti-germ paranoia falls in with it, but not wanting to go back to work (even for a few hours during which I could be exposed), probably does. It’s that whole, “vulnerability,” thing.

Given that, it may be best that I don’t go in to work in a couple of weeks…but I’ll know more about my state as that date approaches. It’s not even a given that the workplace I’m scheduled for will be open at the time I’ve signed up. The issue is that revoking a commitment to work is a big deal, in this system. But in January, when I signed up, COVID-19 wasn’t even on the radar, here. My point was to clear my 12 required Sundays of the year before the most opportune slots were taken, though I have been working so much that I only have one more to go, now.

I think I might be happy working in a small community library, though. I don’t know how it would be…outside of an urban or suburban area. But I’m hoping it would be less stressful. I’m not sure if I should get into detailing, why…

But I hope that it’s different, elsewhere. Because it’s a mess, out here.

And, yeah…well, I do realize that I’m sounding a bit conservative, relative to my past self. It’s probably just related to disillusionment. I think my parents have said they have gone through the same thing as they’ve aged. It still doesn’t mean that I’m anywhere near Republican, but then, even most Republicans probably don’t like where that party is headed. (I work in a Library; I’ve seen it.)

Maybe that’s an upshot to working in a Public Library, huh? You learn to separate people who have emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems from sane adherents of praxes which just differ from yours. Which…makes it easier to consider their beliefs, values, and philosophies as valid (for them, in their circumstances), or to examine the sources of one’s own beliefs, values, and philosophies as one also questions the sources of others’. I do think it actually is a diversity issue, only I’m approaching it from the side of a minority. (It doesn’t make sense to only ask empowered people to do the work.)

I’ve just…been in areas where the people have been ultra-hyper-liberal, and it’s really alienating, sometimes (often — especially when racism’s still present). Of course, I also can get alienated when people don’t see political bullying where it’s happening (because they aren’t women or minorities), as well. So…I mean, I can see why people don’t talk about politics. No matter what, someone is going to go, “guh?”

I have, however, just recently gotten involved in civic participation. It’s kind of empowering, especially when one expects to have no voice. I probably wouldn’t have done that, in turn, without having been a member of a professional association.

I didn’t intend to write about this, today. It just sort of happened.

In any case…yes, I’ve been working on my sewing, again. :) I’ve incorporated the quilting I may have been talking about in earlier entries — a line of stitching about 1/3 of the way in on each side — and yesterday I actually wore the things to test for comfort and fit. I know the best way to tie them, now; that I can wear my glasses with them; and that they are breathable.

They do, however, have to be tied correctly in order to function and not cut off the nasal passages: the upper tie around the nape, and the lower tie at the upper back crest of the head. There’s also some issue with air leaking out of the top of the mask, around the nose and eyes.

However…it’s probably better than nothing. Given that their greatest role is to keep virus from being exhaled/coughed/sneezed onto someone else, they probably work pretty well. I can actually feel the condensation in the fabric…so I know the mask is catching that.

I also found that cutting things to be aligned with the grain of the fabric, greatly eases the task of creasing these things with the iron! Not to mention, that I realized my difficulty with sewing the Kona cotton, most likely had to do with cutting my ties cross-grain: I experimented with that yesterday, and it was fine. Smooth sailing. It’s so crazy.

On top of that…given what I know now about fabric grain, I know to cut along the grain as much as possible (not upward across the bolt), and to get yardage in at least 1-yard increments. 18 inches is just too tight to try and fit in two 9.5″ wide panels, and I don’t want to turn my panel to cut cross-grain, unless I absolutely have to.

beading, craft, fiber arts, macrame, seed beads, self care

Recovery

Today has been a good day in light of the fact that I felt terrible, last night, and apparently got terrible sleep. I’ve been dealing with mood issues; last night it was irritability and anger. I recognized my thoughts being warped. I hijacked the train of thought with ice cream, which stopped the rumination (brain freeze may do that), and went back to bed, then woke around 5:30 AM. I stayed up several hours, then went back to sleep, to wake in the early afternoon…or, approximately around the time the mail came.

Unexpectedly, I got a delivery of beads…which was nice! It’s amazing how happy little colored bits of glass can make me. :) So I spent some time going through that order and putting things away…I realize that I probably need to make some kind of official system so that I know (or can predict) where things are. I bought a bunch of beading needles specifically because I had stashed away all of my unused fine needles in a single place I couldn’t recall (!).

Of course, I found them later. :) After the order had gone in. Right now, the new ones are stashed with them (in a now labeled compartment on top of my toolbox) in an empty medicine bottle. It’s a good way to keep them from being damaged. This time, I got a bunch of twisted wire needles (they’re great for what I’m doing, where the size of the thread may prohibit using a standard needle), and some size #11 and #12 solid beading needles. To note: apparently, the grading of solid-metal (standard?) beading needles and twisted-wire beading needles is not the same. Below, I’m just talking about the solid ones.

Typically, for what I’ve historically done: size #10 is the biggest I would want to go to when doing something like beadweaving, where you’re dealing with multiple thread passes through the same hole, and you’re dealing with size 11° seed beads or larger. (Remember, bead sizes have higher numbers, the smaller they are; so an 8° is larger than an 11° but smaller than a 6°.)

Needle size #11 is a bit more versatile, being slightly thinner, and size #12 is for fine applications. Higher than that — up to size #13 or #15, and the needles’ eyes get very small (meaning they need finer thread: 4-lb. FireLine comes to mind, but I haven’t tried it with a #13 in a very long time [if at all]), and the needles themselves can be a bit more fragile (though the last time I had a needle break on me was years ago [they get brittle when repeatedly drawn through tight openings: the phenomenon is known by the term, “work-hardening,” and happens in metalwork as well] — usually it’s the bead breaking, instead).

I’ve only rarely had to use a #13 or #15. Maybe never, a #15. :) I know of applications where I might need a #15, but I haven’t had to face that yet, thankfully! Of course, I do know that for other beaders, more delicate may be their style…I wouldn’t work all in tiny beads for no reason, though. That’s because tiny, tiny seed beads (smaller than size 15° — I have some, but haven’t used them [I’m thinking they may be great for lace]) can be hard to see, and my vision isn’t fantastic at the outset. I’ve started to actually need my glasses, just to avoid eye strain on the daily.

Of course, twisted wire needles are a different animal; these are just lengths of fine wire — usually brass or steel — that have been folded in half and twisted together. The benefit of these is that they’re flexible, their eyes are huge compared to standard beading needles (they compress when drawn through a bead), and, being blunt, they make it nearly impossible to harm oneself. As I mentioned above, though: their size grading is distinct from that of standard beading needles. I don’t know much about their sizing system currently, which is why I’m holding back, here.

If I were teaching — I’m not, but if I were — I would teach with twisted wire needles, or with self-needles (stiffened thread ends; the stiffener can be nail polish, Fray Check, probably even a glue that dries clean and hard. Just make sure it’s dry before you snip the end off the thread). When working with sharp needles and pins…drawing blood is an inevitability. Eliminating sharp objects is one of the best ways not to get stuck, or not to have to deal with blood…which can get dangerous in a group situation. I try to assume biohazard from the start.

Anyhow…I have nice needles, now. :)

I’m also feeling a bit better about work, which tells me that my freaking out about it is probably related to mental health issues (germ phobia, paranoia, feeling unsafe in public), much more than anything objectively existent. It’s nice to be aware about these things. I know that people often don’t like to talk about this stuff, but it makes me feel better to know that there is a reason (or are reasons) why my thinking can become distorted, as versus no explanation. I think mass panic would try even a healthy person, and it’s been made fairly clear to me that my having to deal with one or more mental disorders, is not my fault. So I’m feeling safer, today. Well: tonight. :)

My family and I have done a lot of work around this.

Hmm. So…I’m pretty sure that it was right after I put everything away, that I started practicing micro-macramé again. I know that I need to practice with this stuff if I want to know what I can do with it. I also need to practice, in order to discern what it is I’ll actually use. And if I don’t want to practice with it, it isn’t worth buying more of it.

So…today, I was working on a sample with C-Lon Fine. I actually put some beads onto the cord and practiced knotting below those, too…which came out surprisingly well. I’m getting more skill with the cords, and with my tension. I’ve noticed that I don’t have to pull everything absolutely tight for the knots to hold, and that sometimes it’s better that I don’t.

I also started a sample using Standard C-Lon, with the same pattern and same number of starting cords as the Fine sample, trying to see the difference in scale…I only got so far, though, before my hands started to hurt too much to do more. (In turn, I worked with this today because I knew I’d lose my callouses if I avoided knotting for much longer.)

I’m doing this in part to see the difference between Fine and Standard gauge…the thicker the cords get, the more colors they come in. The thing is…the Fine can really easily accommodate size 11° seed beads…which I love. They’re what I started out with, and what I have the largest collection of. They’re also really tiny and delicate. Way tiny, to an adult sensibility! I can also fit two strands of the Fine through a 4mm Fire-Polished bead…if the one I used, is a 4mm, and not a 3mm. I’d have to get my calipers out, to be sure…the one I used for the sample was purchased years ago, possibly decades ago.

I just didn’t want to use anything that I’d use in a real piece of jewelry…those things can become precious because of scarcity. This is also why I’m using some pretty questionable color combinations in my knotting: there are some colors that are so high-risk that it’s hard to think about what they would actually look like, in jewelry! Though…I do think some people love high-risk color combinations. :)

The Standard sample…I haven’t tried yet, with beads. But I don’t think the Standard cords will accommodate beads smaller than 11°, though I know for a fact that they accommodate 8°s and 6°s, very, very well. What I didn’t expect: I think the Standard sample is taking up cord much faster than the Fine sample, did…

personal, psychology, self care

Shelter-in-Place Day 63: hair-trigger

I’ve really broken my pattern, recently. In some ways this is good: I’ve gotten back to redeveloping a site that — well — needs it, after having been apathetic about it for months. But as for working creatively — for the past two or so days, I’ve just been recovering from staying up all night between May 14 and 15 (see my last entry).

I wouldn’t be surprised if what was going on there was mania (or at least hypomania). Some other family members and I have been experiencing a parade of psychiatric symptoms since the onset of lockdown. The good thing is, we’re aware it’s happening. So…the sudden decrease in motivation (relative to a burst in both creativity and motivation which could both have been manic symptoms, and not normalcy) may be something I just have to ride out.

A different thing? I’m considering cutting off my hair (again). I know it’s pretty, but I haven’t been taking care of it. Right now I’m trying to balance keeping my scalp clean and healthy, and keeping my hair looking nice…and it’s tiring. Neither one of the goals are being achieved.

I haven’t been using dandruff shampoo because, 1) it has sulfates in it (sulfates make my hair hard and dry, and have to be dissolved with a vinegar rinse — which obviously, stinks); 2) a potential side effect of its use (which I’ve learned to expect, over years of medications) is “temporary hair loss”. WHAT. I spend years growing out my hair and now the dandruff treatment may cause it to fall out? Oh, but it’s only temporary. It’s not like it will never grow back. It’s not like bald spots are worse than the dandruff, right?

The dandruff itself might just be symptomatic of not washing my hair enough, or of not enough oxygen reaching my scalp. I’ve had the same thing (nearly the same exact thing) going on with my face when I haven’t been taking care of myself and washing and exfoliating enough. (Lockdown grossness, but it’s true.)

Not to mention that I don’t even want to comb my hair these days, because that means I’ll have to wash it again to regain my curl pattern…and it takes an absurdly long amount of time to wash this hair, even when I leave in oil, and forgo conditioning. To get my hair all the way clean, I basically have to strip it of all the oil, and that leads to hardness, fragility and breakage. Then breakage leads to snarls and tangles, which lead to more breakage. Because my hair is thick and curly, it’s then also very difficult to successfully redistribute natural oil throughout (I can’t, for example, use a brush: it doesn’t penetrate). It’s why I almost always comb my hair in the shower now, instead of doing it dry.

If I cut my hair short, it would be shiny and well-conditioned (while using less product), and I could take care of my scalp and take short daily showers (instead of long showers after periods of inadequate hygiene — which are encouraged by the fact that no shower cap will fit over my hair, even if I twist it down [and twisting it down tends to rip it out]). The biggest drawback to this, besides my head being colder (likely necessitating hats for some time), and middle-aged and old men messing with me (like I should care what they think, it’s not like they have a chance anyway), is that I’ll likely need to take showers in the morning, in order to reset the orientation of my follicles after having slept on my hair. (Of course, with everything going on, I’m probably also going to need to take showers when I get home, as well.)

Then there’s the amount of time it takes to regrow this stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if my hair moves from side to side more than it grows downward. Luckily…my curl pattern has finally matured, so maybe I could actually see some texture in it this time (as versus when I was a teen and cut my hair close, and most of what it did was stand on end). The fall-back position is just slicking it back, Mystique-style, which isn’t that far from always pulling it back in a ponytail or bun.

I also have some nice styling oils and co-wash products which I didn’t have access to, as a kid; and a diffuser to dry my hair, before I go in to work. In addition…I don’t have to trim it ultra-short. I’ve found out what it does at a long length…it’s possible that I could cut it to maybe two to three inches (as versus half an inch), and keep some curl and play in it, especially if I dry it with the diffuser.

As long as the curls are stuck together (as when I comb my hair in the shower or style with my fingers), I don’t have a huge problem with volume. It’s as soon as I comb it, that things happen. The curls separate, and then I’ve got an Afro on my hands. Of course…that’s what I dealt with for most of my childhood, just pulled back. I had a terrible time with trying to keep that stuff orderly, and probably failed, most of the time. It wasn’t until I cut my hair off that I realized I could style it without controlling it. (It wasn’t until I cut my hair off, for that matter, that I realized I actually grew hair from my temples: it was formerly all ripped out.)

The other drawback of cutting my hair short is that it draws attention to the fact that my throat is fuller than I would like. This wasn’t an issue for me the first time I cut my hair off — I was a rail — but this is twenty years later, after medication-induced weight gain. Of course, if I cut my hair short, I could shower more often, which means I could exercise with fewer drawbacks.

M says that I wouldn’t be happy with short hair. I don’t know why, but she says to think on it. Of course, she was also the person who said I wouldn’t like cutting my hair short for years when I wanted to cut it, as a teen (and now can’t remember that she told me I couldn’t cut it until I was 16, then 18; when I turned 18, then she wanted to stop me again). I think she’s more attached to my hair than I am, and I don’t know why. Have never known, why. But I know that in this family, I’m known for my hair. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve been hesitant to even consider testosterone: male-pattern baldness. Indicating a loss of identity.

In the meantime…I’ve got to do something about my scalp hygiene and the dryness of my strands. I’m thinking of going back to using a co-wash for a while, and seeing how that turns out. If I did it frequently, it’s possible I could keep my hair clean (and combed, and orderly), while at the same time not-dry…and not taking up most of an hour’s worth of running water (this still really angers me). Of course, though, this also necessitates drying at least my roots after getting out of the shower (it takes a while, but if I don’t do it, I risk getting sick and/or having mildew and mold growth in my hair).

Yeah, this is my decision, isn’t it.

Maybe I should wait and go to an actual salon to get my hair cut, instead of relying on M to do it…

art, creativity, painting, psychology, spirituality

And that’s the way you develop.

Well, I did do something emotionally and psychologically significant, today. I used gouache. For a very long time, I had been hesitant to get back into making art, namely because the act of creation is a spiritual one, to me. I’m thinking I might have an inkling as to…how to manage that now, though.

In short: we co-create what we support. I had been concerned about the ramifications of image-making while I was still in the Art program…particularly because I made a dystopian painting (which I don’t like to look at; I think I know where it might be, but am not really wanting to see it right now) depicting some troubles which have come to pass. I would be surprised if all of them have…but either I’m really sharp and just not in denial about the state of the world, or there is something else going on.

I’m thinking that the second is more likely. I’m also…thinking that there’s a lot more going on than I know about (on both sides of this veil…I haven’t locked out the possibility of others), which it might behoove me to investigate.

One of the problems in co-creation is that people don’t realize they’re doing it. What we give attention to, what we celebrate: it creates what is made in the world.

This is me getting spiritual. It’s resounded with me since I started being okay with being creative again…which was needed, because of the mask thing. When I was making them, I knew that there were energies contained in them…I’m hoping that they can help support the people they’re for, or at least…if they need healing, help to heal.

So far, at least, everyone I know has seen my creative rebound as a good thing. Thing is, it comes with…it comes with stuff. Basically, stuff that I had trouble coping with, as a pre-teen and teen. I was sensitive; to the point that the sounds of our upstairs neighbors fighting, and the sounds of ambulances on the freeway at night, would trouble me.

Right now I’m wearing my ring…which I just resumed wearing, a number of days ago. I should have a timestamp on a message referencing the situation from when I was thinking about getting back into this, and got a go-ahead from my counselor. (The ring is a marker or reminder of my commitment.) I essentially have a number of beliefs which are real enough…but easily dismissed as, I don’t know, weird innately feminine stuff, or psychosis (meaning, “detachment from ‘reality’,” not, “wanting to kill people”). I don’t remember a lot of the terms used for mystics from the mid-to-late-1800s-on, though I’ve studied that era and that topic within that era.

There were a number of movements: Spiritualism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy…in addition to the blooming of the Western Mystery Tradition and Occultism, which led to the modern New Age and NeoPagan movements (though I see much less of the latter, these days, than I saw in the earlier 2000’s).

In any case…although I’ve come to recognize the output of some “New Age” publishers as commercially-based more than being grounded in intellectual rigor (though this is not necessarily the fault of the authors, more than a publishers’ underestimation of their potential market)…there might be something to the deeper currents, there. But one needs to be careful about what one takes as truth. Mistruths can lead to mistaken beliefs, which can then basically poison further inquiry into reality and its nature. You want to start with your feet on solid ground (for some reason, I’m wanting to continue that sentence with: “…not a sinkhole”).

Basically…and no, I haven’t read The Secret, and no, I don’t know if this is the premise, but: I’m thinking that what we imagine as our future lays tracks toward that future (regardless of the valuation we place on our imaginings). That means that if we’re invested in ignorance and greed and violence and horror and pain, if we repeat and reinforce those connections in our own bodies, we send a line out toward the set of futures that are built on that. If we imagine something else…we’re at least not drawing ourselves closer to what (it could be said) we don’t want to happen.

That doesn’t mean to be so focused on happy dreams that one is blindsided by horror and tragedy. That doesn’t mean to take risks for no reason. But that means that if we can’t imagine a better future, we can’t make a better future. Of course, “better” is subjective, especially if you’re deranged. But there are always fewer of those than there are, otherwise. And on the whole, we get through things like this.

My thinking is that this, “we”…it’s bigger than I’ve thought. And it includes those whose forms have been returned to the Earth, as well as those who never had forms here.

It makes me feel better. That doesn’t mean it’s true. But it’s plausible enough to explore.

Imagination wasn’t made to reproduce and reinforce what already exists. That’s my key out of my hesitance towards using my own creative abilities, I think. I have the ability to interpret and envision what I want to come into being; to break the banal cycle. And…I don’t have to do it literally or photographically. The energy is what matters.

I actually don’t even have to plan what I’m doing. The work grows on its own as it reveals itself.

A lot of this is getting in line with my subconscious (or unconscious) mind…which seems to know something about what it’s doing.

People say that creativity isn’t innately linked with mental illness, as there are creative people without mental illness, and mentally ill people who aren’t creative. I happen to be a person, though, who can’t be creative (now) unless I allow myself to be. Allowing myself to be entails taking my thoughts seriously; which results in being aware of, and living through having, odd beliefs. And it’s hard to acknowledge those odd beliefs and at the same time, never speak about them to anyone else.

Of course, when you base your life on your weird idiosyncratic beliefs that you can’t get rid of…well, you become an artist, I guess??? :D Or a psychic or medium. Or a writer. Or all of them.

But, like so many things in life, I’m thinking it makes it easier if you commit and follow through.

An aside: I was making more masks yesterday with the steam setting on the iron, for once in my life, and then I wondered just why I hadn’t used it thoroughly, before. To save water??? To keep the cheap iron that will likely be dead two years from now, from getting kettle fur? The steam setting works so much better!

Also as an aside: I’ve found out that the Kona cotton does feel more substantial as a lining, than does regular quilting cotton; not talking about batiks…but I didn’t know that until I made masks with all three different materials. Hence, I didn’t know what I was talking about earlier. I’m gaining more experience, and as a result, my outcomes are improving.

Anyhow. To get back to what I opened with: gouache is opaque watercolor…a lot of it, beautiful. I also have a good deal of it which is not toxic, which is a bit better than I can say for my transparent watercolors.

I had been bumbling around my paintbrushes and acrylic inks (granted that I’ve decided to hold off on using the Ecoline colors, for now), when I found a jar of Daler-Rowney Pro White ink. So I have two of these, now; considering that I could get the lid off, this time, and I could mix the paint, and it wasn’t off-color. I have no idea what pigment is in there, at the moment, but the jar had an AP seal, not a Caution Label; so I’m thinking it isn’t Lead White.

Of course, I tried painting with this, and it was seriously underwhelming (translucent) when used with a brush, especially when contrasted with Titanium White gouache, on top of tinted paper. The Pro White ink starts out okay, then fades as it dries. I’m not even sure it’s worth posting an image of it. I might try again later with a dip pen nib, instead; or, a glass pen might hold the ink better. If it is really that bad, though, even after all that? I’m not sure I’ll be getting it again.

So, I was basically just playing around with some Holbein Permanent (Titanium) White gouache, after I found that the Daler-Rowney was translucent…and that I didn’t know what was in it. Some white pigments, I’ve heard (like Zinc Sulfide, which is different from Zinc Oxide), will eventually change color. Titanium White, won’t; and it’s the most opaque white that I have used.

A bonus is that it’s relatively safe when used in painting, as the particles are bonded to some degree to the paper or other surface. There isn’t free dust flying around which can get into one’s lungs and cause disease — unless one abrades the paint. This, along with extreme color mutability and variability of point of contact with the surface, is one of the reasons that I’m attracted to the medium.

A bunch of squiggles in gouache.

In addition…I pulled out two non-toxic paints which I really enjoy working with: Yellow Ochre, and Peacock Blue (a Phthalo convenience mixture), both Holbein. The rest of my time was spent with these three (I also accidentally introduced Zinc White, which is more translucent than Titanium), making yellows, blues, and greens; in a tinted-paper art journal with a Size 1 round brush.

What’s funny is that the marks I make, and the colors I use, themselves suggest subconscious meaning or the basis of a new work…meaning, that to get ideas, I’ll…well…likely want to work in an Art Journal. Never never thought I’d say that (but maybe I’d been secretly hoping it)!

In the past, I had been intimidated about filling out an art journal…but now I see it’s just a place to experiment, play, and generate ideas. It doesn’t have to be full of “great” artwork, whatever that means.

I basically have got to stop telling myself, as well, that I shouldn’t do artwork that is simple. I can see what I did last night as foundational…watching the work unfold; making compositional decisions that might be more or less, “on it”; practicing working through the scale of underwork to overwork; mixing colors and seeing what they turn out to be; practicing brushwork.

I particularly was attracted to the toned paper journal because it wasn’t either black or white, and I knew that this paper (Strathmore Toned Gray) is quality enough to accept moderate doses of wet media.

And, interestingly enough: with the frame of mind I’m in, the purpose of my actions is expressed through my actions, regardless of whether anyone sees it or not; regardless of its critical acclaim. The work is accomplished in doing…

career, LIS, psychology, writing

Where to go from here

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Maybe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that’s a neat little bundle.

personal, self care

Hygiene, exercise, pride

I have meant to write in for the past couple of days, though in practicality, most of yesterday — after an emergency meeting and clothes and produce shopping — was lost to sleep. I still haven’t really begun this next section of my coursework, on Library of Congress Classification (LCC; a form of classification used mainly in Academic [College and University] Libraries)…but on the upshot, I’ve been taking care of myself better, now that the classes don’t hold my future on the line. That really is the silver lining to this.

Well…”silver lining.” These classes are optional. I shouldn’t stress myself out too much over them…especially since right now I’m seeing work in a Public Library as more within reach (as versus Academic). Or maybe I’m just saying that because learning LCC is HARD. The class I’m in puts it much more within reach than I would be on my own, but it still requires neuron growth. Neuron growth can be intimidating and uncomfortable, especially at the beginning of the process.

Instead of staying home to work on this, I went to the gym. I’m really glad I did. I see now why my prescribing doctor has wanted me to exercise: not only is it going to help me distinguish between “awake time” and “sleep time” (I was much more awake afterward than I would have been if I had stayed home to study), but I need to be getting activity in order to stop and reverse the weight gain caused by one of my medications. As well, the recent injury I’ve sustained is likely to be related to my current weight as versus the strength of my ligaments and tendons.

Today, then, I started with cardio and moved on to lunges and squats (a bit gentle, as I’m still healing), then to abs, and then I started spot-training my delts (shoulders), which was the only machine work I did today (I can lift 20 lbs. overhead; my deltoids are among the weakest muscles on me). I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve realized that it’s really OK for me to want to be buff again. It’s something I was discouraged from, a while back, and I’ve gotten to the point of realizing that the person who was discouraging me really had his own things going on that had nothing to do with me. There’s more to the story, of course, but not so much for public consumption.

Later that day, I went with someone to a makeup store, and got a foundation — which helps me feel better about my skin. Right before dinner, I took a shower and washed my hair (from the gym), and did a deep scrub on my face, followed up with an awesome moisturizer. That…is going a lot better, as well. I’ve realized how attractive it is to work out and be clean at the same time, and to maintain my self-care even when I don’t have to. It isn’t about other people, after all; it’s about me, and it’s becoming about how much I value myself.

That also means that I don’t have to be conventionally, “beautiful.” I can do what I want to, when and in the way that I want to.

So…I’m introducing myself to (or being introduced to) the concept of taking pride in my personal hygiene. I think it’s probably because I’ve recovered enough, and have enough spare time, to do more than the minimum to get by. I kind of wonder what it’s like to live with me while I really — for example — need a shower; and I don’t want to make my family have to tolerate that anymore. I want to be a person who is not a chore to be around, even with the people closest to me.

That much is said; more could be said about getting ready to face the day (basic hygiene — brushing teeth, washing face, showering, using deodorant) even when I’m not planning to go out of the house — or brushing and flossing, even when I know I don’t have to. People with my condition (separate of being gender-nonbinary) tend to have problems with self-care, and I am intending at this moment to break that stereotype. Of course, I haven’t yet started the routine…but I think it will be OK.

I want to use makeup again. And I’ve realized, that’s also OK.

Since school has ended…I’ve had the time and energy to put into things like being more social, and caring for my dwelling and my personal care. I did go to a meeting recently…expressly to be social, because outside of online and work and family, I don’t have much of a social life. That meeting is easier than most to deal with, because we basically all understand each other.

I actually had a kind of profound realization that I’m attracted to people who exhibit an unusual combination of gendered traits…and that there are people who very naturally exhibit (and aspire to) those mixtures. It’s possible that I haven’t had an intimate relationship (that I was involved in) for a very long time, because I am attracted to certain people, who both understand me, and whom…well, whom I can appreciate.

It’s different, that is, to be with someone who has no experience having a gender they are not seen to embody, as versus someone who can actually let me be me, and who can understand that what I look like doesn’t determine who I am; that even if others find my voice associated with women, that doesn’t mean I have to agree. Who understands that I don’t have to see myself as a man or a woman (or “boy” or “girl”) in order to exist, and to be worthy of respect and love. Actual love, not just being an object of fascination or possession or abuse.

Have I gone into this on this blog, before? I don’t think I have…

creative writing, personal, planning, psychology, spirituality, writing

Feeling a little heartsick right now.

I know I should get some rest. What I’ve been doing is scanning WordPress while thinking about one of the first people I fell for — hard. This was never quite requited, in part because I was barely out of my teens when it happened, and the guy I was crushing on was 25 at the time. I mean, it basically would have been cradle-robbing if anything occurred. And I was too **** shy.

This was one of those local rock-stars who every woman in the area (even the lesbian ones), flirted with.

It was hard, for me.

I haven’t gotten in contact with him for a reason I probably shouldn’t share…and I’m wondering if I should use this experience as fodder for fiction. It would enable me to write out my emotions without saying too much that reflects on others.

My main problem at this point is trying to figure out from what time the story is told. It ties in with what I had been talking about before with being unable to distinguish reality from stuff one’s brain creates…I know that if I place the story early on in my protagonist’s life, they won’t have the perspective to know what’s going on. That means the protagonist has to be mature and looking back/reminiscing…but from when?

Also: in my own life, I’m being reminded of what happens when kind people suddenly enter one’s life. I may be dealing with a current crush there, too. I…just don’t know what to do about it when it happens. Or when this later person reminds you of earlier people who had the same trait that drew you…which sounds like an appropriate time to start the story.

Friggin’ bodhisattva magnetism…

art media, comics, creative writing, creativity, sequential art, tatting

Stories and creativity

Sorry for being offline for a bit (about a week, for this blog). There’s been some stuff going on…though I don’t trust myself to remember a week’s worth of history, all right now. The good news is that I did complete my Dewey course, fine. Of course, though…the new course also just started, and I’m not particularly in the mood to study, right now. It is the third course of four that I have planned, and should help me if I need to do original cataloging of items in a College or University library (I’m interested in working at a Community College library as an introduction to Academic Libraries).

The other day, a work friend and I were talking about beadwork, particularly bead embroidery and loomwork. I have kind of gotten excited about the prospect of sharing bead-related joys with a friend. I would like to take some beads in to show this person…the thing is that I’m dealing with a number of impulses for media in which to create. I have tatting — which is new to me; beadwork; embroidery; sewing; and markers.

Ah! That’s right! I bought a set of alcohol markers recently. They’re basically artist-quality, though I went through the set and divided the cost into the amount. They’re Blick brand, and work relatively well. They did cost $44 for the set, but there are 24 markers in the set, meaning that each marker is $1.83 — a very good cost for the quality of these, at least if the tips of the brush tips don’t end up breaking off. (Generally, one can buy artist and illustration markers for between $3 and $5 each, open-stock).

The major thing with these is that I need to erase graphite underdrawings before going over them with markers. Otherwise, the graphite smudges. I was using marker paper for my trials, though, which means that the graphite had very little to cling to. Also, it helps when your fineliner has time to dry before you overlay it with marker!

I have a premise for a graphic novel series, though I’m still not sure of the primary conflict and range I should undertake for it. There are a few different stories I have in me: one is about mental illness, one is about intra-family racism, and one is about gender variance.

So…that’s a lot. I don’t think I’ll be able to pack it all into one story. I also don’t think I particularly should try to pack it all into one story, though I could link them all by putting them in the same universe (and have series crossovers or spinoffs). Right now, the story I have foremost on my mind is the one about experiencing mental illness, being unable to distinguish “fantasy” from “reality,” learning how to function, and the sacrifices that come with functionality.

The biggest problem I can see here is people asking how I know what I do; but that’s not really their business. There’s also the issue of what happens if I start to have an impact. I have not seen many books focusing on the inner experience of mental illness, at this point, but then again — after I graduated with my BA, I basically stopped reading fiction.

Ah, I also really want to get back to learning Japanese language. I have been exposed to animations and comics coming out of Japan (the challenge of reading them made them more interesting); also, selected comics like Deadpool or Trinity (though the latter was nonfiction, about the invention of the nuclear bomb).

Anyhow, I think I feel okay with getting back to my study, now. I’m feeling a lot better about it.