career, LIS, psychology, self care, technology

Fatigue.

It’s only been within the last 48 hours (last night) that I’ve recalled the fact that in my youth, I turned to writing because it calmed me. It stabilized me. I’ve recalled that out of realizing that I’m falling behind in my studies while I’m spending hours writing, although seriously, I only need to concentrate on my one University class, and no(ne of the) others.

In the abstract, in the ideal, I want to put my best effort forth for my XML class so that I don’t waste the money I invested. However…given the last week, no — given the last three weeks — I can see my priorities shifting. I was going to say, “I can see my mental state deteriorating,” but I’m not sure that’s true (entirely). It’s likely more or less normal to be disturbed at this time, with heat waves and fires and smoke and lockdown and politics and COVID-19 (although I think our own continued lockdown re: COVID-19 is voluntary).

I suppose I can be thankful for being as functional as I am, right now. At least I can still write, and I can still make art. Though yesterday, I was working on my assignments for my University class (not XML)…and it’s very clear that I’m experiencing fatigue, and it’s impacting both my motivation to work, and my ability to focus. This class is dry…and I’m wondering if a life of desiccation is what I want. (Apologies to my Professor.)

Late last night, I was able to get some studying done…though it is, honestly, seeming unimportant right now. I’m still 10 pages away (at least) from the end of my lecture, which isn’t…great, but I’ve gotten through the first 14, so that’s something. The thing is…the XML course series is about coding, but it’s on a different level from my Web Design (HTML5/CSS3) course. It takes work to understand what the code means, particularly for me, with XPath (which is a foundational skill for XSLT). XSLT is helpful in crosswalking data from one metadata schema to another, or for converting an XML document into another form of output (like HTML). This will inevitably come up, if I become a Metadata Librarian. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Nor does it mean I could have predicted it.

In practicality, I have an assignment due today, but am struggling with feeling overwhelmed. This may be due in part to the fact that I haven’t finished the reading for this week (and am also otherwise behind, in the series). And, well, the crazy weather. And the craziness in general. Let’s not forget that I’ve barely been out of the house in the last seven months, and we still can’t open the windows because of smoke.

I also see that it’s been a week since I’ve last drawn, I still haven’t gotten back to Middlesex, I’m stalling on my Japanese language lessons, and though I’ve got the seeds of three watercolor paintings in me right now (all with a little bit, to a modicum of work already done), they need some more planning and/or experimenting.

The logical thing to do is to get back to those last 10 pages of the lecture, and then at least try the assignment. However, I know I don’t want to.

If I’m going to read something to get my mind off of things, however: I might as well try reading that, first, and seeing if it helps anything. The fact is that I planned on signing up for these courses in large part so that I wouldn’t have the free time and energy to ruminate about lockdown. I’ve completed four of them already. I am likely OK.

I have been told that if I do get to work on my Art instead of my XML class, that will be acceptable, so long as I do the Art. It’s not…the worst idea…

art, career, creativity, libraries, money, psychology, writing

Rediscovering myself

Or: maybe getting degrees in Art and Creative Writing, weren’t unfortunate mistakes.

It has been almost seven months since I last set foot in a Library as an employee. With that amount of time away, it has become fairly apparent to me that Librarianship is not my life’s work. It’s a way to stay housed, fed, and clothed. It’s also a way to earn enough money to work on my art, have time and reason to read literature, and have enough resources left-over for a computer.

But it’s not my life’s work. It was never meant to be. It finances my life’s work, the latter of which, I was meant to get back to after I finished my degree.

Today, I did something (else) personally significant. (The first thing was to get back to my art, which required breaking through an environmentalist barrier [or alternately, excuse] which may have only been significant, to me.)

I began again to read fiction. Specifically, I’ve had Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides facing me on my bookshelf for months. I stopped reading it at the point I realized that the main character’s intersexuality was being blamed on an episode of incest. Yeah, that could be…rather insulting. I guess it’s what happens when an author feels the need to explain every point of the story logically, even when they don’t understand the situation or the mechanisms pertaining to it.

(I should disclose that I don’t actually know that incest is not the vector that leads to intersexuality, but I strongly suspect it isn’t.)

I need to be sure not to mimic, that.

Anyhow…I started back in on this, trying not to judge it too harshly. It’s been going relatively well. Cal is a sensitive-enough narrator that it’s easy to empathize with him and put the author’s construction of the scenario out of my mind.

I’ve had a thing against fiction ever since the English Department tried to initiate me into multiple doctrines I disagreed with, in Undergrad work. I think they were trying to prop up their opinions/value systems/historical illusions/current delusions with the use of Fiction, while seeming to forget that Fiction is usually fabricated of what many authors would overtly call, “lies.” Having been raised to be an extremely conscientious and honest person, this was incompatible with my outlook and with my ethics.

Well, I found something else that was compatible with my ethics (wanting to sustain a comfortable living while not charging money), and that was Librarianship. Or, so I thought.

I didn’t quite realize how extremely political the situation I was getting myself into, was. It’s not like I don’t consider myself left-wing. I’m solidly left-wing. However, I see people behaving as though they are left-wing, even with multiple layers of hypocrisy (and doormat) riddled over the top of that, because (it seems) they want to feel as though they are “good” people. And they seem to think that their politics make them, “good.” It’s as if they can’t have a positive self-image unless they believe something about themselves that is not only unhealthy, altruistic and unrealistic, but at its root false and untenable.

That is, politics can help lead people to places of inauthenticity, and lack of self-esteem and fear of self-knowledge, can bind them there.

The sad thing is that in my journey through both undergraduate and graduate work, I’ve found myself bouncing back and forth between professors so conservative I’ve wanted to intentionally shift the ground under their feet, and professors (and some co-workers) so “liberal” that I had a hard time taking them seriously. Especially when I was living at my first University…I found it troubling when the University itself tried to be so “liberal” that staff made stupid decisions and seemed to dare anyone to challenge them (lest the challenger be seen as a conservative bigot; and not, for example, a concerned member of the primary University community, which should have been the students).

In any case: I did begin to read again, today. You could call it “recreational” reading, or you could call it study of the craft of literature. It’s probably both. I realized that if I did want to write fiction (and a lot of the ideas I have do suit themselves better to the provisional-belief model of fiction, rather than the cemented, well-thought-out, realistic [or, irresponsible] ideals of nonfiction), it would help to have some recent, real-life examples.

It would also help for those examples to be taken from published monographs, and not — for example — short stories of the type published in Literary Magazines. The latter are much less of a time and emotional investment, but they are also generally of lower quality than full-length books, due to the fact that many writers get their start in Literary Magazines. LitMags are designed more to show you the next new up-and-coming authors; not necessarily, finely-honed professional pieces.

I’m hoping that this time when I’ve gotten into fiction, I’ll be able to put out of my mind the politics of the authors. This is with the hope that I also will be able to put self-judgment out of my mind as I write my own work. A major reason I stopped writing: I had tried to analyze my own writing as I would analyze the writings of anyone else I had read…and I got a rather disturbing picture.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that my analysis was, “true,” or, “fact.” There are always multiple valid ways of interpreting the same text (though the interpretation often says more about the interpreter than the text s/he is interpreting — when both are the same, however…). It means that my then-self-destructive mind was able to weaponize it as something with which, to take me down.

Of course, back then, I was very young. I didn’t know how not to overthink things. I also wasn’t at the age where I could set self-judgment aside for the sake of expression. There’s a point one reaches in one’s life where one realizes that there are always going to be spots in one’s character that one dislikes. That doesn’t mean one should stop living. To do otherwise is perfectionism, and perfect is the enemy of good.

Seriously. That kind of sums up everything of the place I’m at, right now.

So, I’m back into reading, which should help me get back into writing. I’m also back into art; specifically, painting and drawing. I feel…like this is where I’m supposed to be. And it doesn’t have to be a holy calling, like I dreamed it was when I was a youth. It’s just what I’m good at, and what I’m drawn to. It’s what I actually want to do; what I would do if money were not an issue.

When my XML instructor mentioned practicing with XSLT during all of our down time, I knew it was not what I wanted. My free time has been pre-established as creative time. My priority is creativity, not coding.

I don’t want to get into a place where I have to spend my entire life circling around computers, cataloging, classification, indexing, abstracting, coding, technical writing, etc., all of which seem to center around obeying rules. I don’t want the need for money to cause me to forget who I am and stop me from creating.

I don’t want, that is, to become a non-creative person, or to be pushed into that lifestyle because I’m afraid to strike out on my own.

Right now…I’ve just given myself long enough (two weeks) without too much pressure, to see what I really want to do. Of course…I have two classes going. I’m thinking of dropping the nonessential one — the one that ends in three weeks — and foregoing the technical certificate I had planned on obtaining. We’ve been talking at my house about how the threat of death that could come at any time, causes one to think about what one really wants to do with the time they do have.

Apparently, that’s entirely appropriate. My thought is that I don’t want to go out of this world having spent all of my life doing schoolwork; constantly preparing, never putting my skills to use. Even when I’ve gotten the chance not to do schoolwork, I’ve chosen to do it.

But…in reality, I may be better off using my skills at Writing and Art to piece together a living, than becoming an Information Professional. Without a doubt, the return is less. But I might actually be happy in aligning my interests and my activities; as versus compromising my values for the sake of income which I then can’t enjoy, because I’m too busy with my current work and Professional Development to develop my own set of creative skills.

Language. Reading. Art. Writing. Stories. These are themes I see which…I’m relatively motivated around. They’re things I honestly take pleasure in, even with the psychological risks. I’ve realized that if I can boost myself to the point where I am not afraid to make things from my own experience, and to say what I think; to depict what I wish, regardless of whether there is historical precedent; I may be equipped to take this path on. And, possibly, succeed at it.

The only reason I took up a job in the Library (besides the fact that I didn’t want to be constantly told I didn’t belong; little did I know how much the social difficulties of still being constantly automatically slotted would impact me) is that I thought it might encourage me to read, which would encourage me to write.

I still have neither witnessed nor ever taken part in a successful Reader’s Advisory interview. (Not that I didn’t try.) That is…Fiction collections in the Library in which I used to work, are relatively opaque. They never became less so. The best bet I have of getting into the modern literary world, is just to start reading. Middlesex may be as good a place to start, as any.

In this period of release…I realize how fundamental it is to me, to write. I realize I gain intrinsic pleasure from writing, and from painting and drawing — at least, when I do it in my own way. That feeling: of doing something I want to do, that I honestly derive joy from, that I’m better off for after having participated in the work; is missing in my career. I wouldn’t know what I wanted to do, without having extended time away from work…and being able to choose my actions, in reality. I’m aware it’s a privilege that most don’t get.

But this isn’t over, yet. I just need to make my own way. I hear that, as intimidating as it is, it’s not unusual…

LIS, self care

Another day done; another night, begun

Today has been all about cleaning. The rooms I’m responsible for look much more habitable, now. :) What I still have left to do is bathing, so I don’t get dust into my sheets when I actually do go to bed. Whenever that is. (I didn’t get to sleep until 4 AM last night.) The most trying part of this is washing my hair…which is, itself, a complex issue, not likely relevant to this blog. Let’s just say I don’t want to do it.

I told my folks about what had been going on with burning in my esophagus when I breathed, and they were quick to point out that it was likely heartburn. That, in turn, could be caused by eating at night. Which could result from staying up so late.

Heartburn has been such a rare visitor to me, that I didn’t know what it was…or, I did have it, and haven’t known it. Knowing what it is, helps ease fears about COVID. (Throat irritation while breathing can cause coughing, and it’s difficult to distinguish between burning in the windpipe and burning in the esophagus.)

The flip side of that is that I’ve been sleeping with my head elevated for the past several days in order to keep acid out of my throat. It works, but it’s just a bit uncomfortable.

Anyhow…yes, I am kind of proud of myself for organizing this stuff. It was pretty messy in my bedroom. I also now have space to study in the old office — I moved a couple of huge pads of paper off of the tiny desk in there, so now I have a work surface. Or, at least, something to put a keyboard on.

I’m also kind of proud of myself for finishing my Statistics work, and being able to prioritize taking care of myself and the house, over homework. (It is an achievement.) That being said, I now have about half a week to get in my work for both Project Management and XML, which both have crazy high numbers of things to do. However…Project Management is pretty low on my list of priorities, right now. Ironically.

I did get back into a University class for this Fall, so that’s all set up. I believe I have about a week until that starts up, and I’ll be focusing on XML and that class, primarily.

Actually, I’ve been reading in G. Kim Dority’s Rethinking Information Work, and I can see that a lot of the classes which I think might be fun, are actually unnecessary if I go into Metadata or Cataloging Librarianship. Which…it is like a puzzle, really, trying to figure out what goes where.

I know I’m going to stay on the XML track for a couple of months, but after that, I’m not entirely sure I need to be studying Linked Data (more)…it just might be engaging, though. And it could help me get a (paying) job.

It does help to have priorities, doesn’t it? In any case, after the next couple of months, I should be able to see how much using XML actually satisfies me.

Aside from this, I really want to get back to my beadwork and my sewing. Having extended time for that (and my own reading) might happen in a couple of months, if I don’t move ahead with Linked Data training. Along with that comes the possibility of actually making some money, as versus just spending it. The hard part is, I know that the money I’ll be making off of that will be minimal…but it will be something.

Whether it will still be “something” after I subtract my expenses, has yet to be seen, but I’m working as a hobbyist and not as a business, at this point.

Ah, wow. Today has actually been satisfying. I think I’ll go take that shower, now…

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads, self care, writing

D was right…

I need to make a “short list” of things I can do. I had to look it up, but a, “short list,” in this context, is basically high-priority activity. Highest priority, recently, has been working on a paper for my Subject Analysis course. Of course, that’s easier to align my energies to than to actually do, but I have forgotten that I know how to research, and I know how to write — and how to learn. I spent a while today working on this paper, and luckily, I only have less than a page of new content that I’ll need to add (depending on what my instructor specifies — I may not have to add any).

It wouldn’t be so stressful, except for the fact that it is the largest single assignment in the class, and it’s due soon. I also know myself, and I know that I freeze up with big projects and deadlines which are too close to complete the ingest and synthesis processes. However, that anxiety has pushed me to do some review and some research today, which led in turn to gaining things to write about in this paper. So it’s very good that I didn’t put it off, because by the looks of things, I may be done by tomorrow.

Then I can get back to Statistics (which I’ve been putting off, as the projects only have “soft” due dates), and…well, maybe I can get some beadwork done.

I have a couple of beading projects which are basically frozen, right now — though the beads that came on the 21st did give me what I needed to finish one project pretty much seamlessly. The piece uses a lot of violet and green iris beads, maybe too many; I received a set of 4mm green iris fire-polished (FP) beads which will work great where I have placeholders, right now.

Yeah, using opaque pastel mint green FP beads didn’t work out great, once I could piece together what the chain would look like. :)

So…now I need to re-weave the front portion and re-string the sides and back. That may be easier said than done, as I had a difficult time keeping the pattern straight when stringing it, the first time. It would also be interesting if I had less flashy druks (these are your basic round pressed-glass beads); right now this thing is reminding me of New Orleans and Mardi Gras (only the beads will break, if they hit the ground).

There’s also the issue of what thread to use. I’m thinking either C-Lon Micro (for toughness) or K.O./Miyuki (for width), mostly because I have a bunch of both, and because I know that Nymo (which was industry-standard about 20 years ago) is prone to fraying with extended use. FireLine (gel-spun polyethylene) is another good option…the reason I’m not using it at the moment is that I’m not sure what weight I have (the last of my 4-lb. test, I used on the trial necklace), and I know for a fact that it doesn’t knot well.

Things that don’t knot well…are difficult to tie off?

Well, it’s also relatively expensive, and limited in color choice. The reason to get it is for durability (this is the one thread which I know from experience, will stand up to beadweaving with bugle beads [which have sharp edges], for example); the inability to split the thread; its lack of stretch; and its fineness.

I can hear you wondering about WildFire, which I’m thinking would also stand up to sharp glass edges. In my (limited) experience with WildFire, I’ve found it to be a bit thick — and white — meaning that this thread will show up in beadweaving. I’ve seen people color it with permanent marker, which I wouldn’t advise: “Permanent” markers aren’t that permanent, and I’ve seen some of the damage at least Sharpies can do to their substrate.

I’m thinking of a particular post I think I saw several years ago, where the artist in question had drawn pages and pages of comics using black Sharpies, and what was left was faded out and brown. I think it may have been this blog post. For what it’s worth, I think I’ve also seen corrosion of the surrounding paper around Sharpie marks, but I’m not sure about that: I can’t directly and precisely recall the images or writings. Nor can I recall where I would have been using Sharpie heavily, other than in one Painting class and one Drawing class.

I’ve been gradually replacing my vial labels which were made with white masking tape and Sharpie — I’m now using washi tape, as I’ve found the white masking tape has adhesive that degrades and sticks even when the paper component is removed. Many of these labels are really hard to read. (I mean, sure, the vial only cost maybe $0.45, but still.) As for when I wrote that stuff…I’m sure it pre-dates my spreadsheets, because prices and quantities aren’t always recorded. It’s just like, “2,” for: “there are two strands in this vial.” These days, I know that the strands I was recording likely had 45-50 beads on them…back then, did I?

Anyhow, WildFire does come in colors besides white and black, now, and FireLine does as well. I may have been out of the circuit a while, but I’m finding photos of jewel-tone FireLine from one online outlet? Hmm. Kind of scared to research that…

So there is that thread component to the one “Mardi Gras”-looking necklace, that I have to take care of.

Then there is the Pacific-looking pearl necklace. I ended up getting a through-drilled pearl for the center of this (not a big deal to replace it, as it wasn’t Baroque)…mounting a half-drilled pearl wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be. Particularly, if you’ve got a 1 mm hole and you’re trying to fit a threaded up-eye (a ring with a screw on it) into the hole…that thread may just lever off the top layers of your pearl, as versus drilling downward.

I know. It’s sad. I do have a bead cap I can cover it with, but only in silver. As for silver wire — who sells 1mm-wide wire? Ah: that’s 18-gauge, from a quick lookup. Regardless, I don’t have wire that thick in either silver or silvertone, and the bead caps (the little “hats” that can cover the damage, in this instance) are silvertone.

Well. That was me messing up from inexperience, right there.

There’s also a bronze-and-green necklace which I should just finish, regardless of the fact that I won’t be able to sell it because it’s a prototype. It also has a damaged pendant — a through-drilled stone donut which fractured when the unnecessary drill holes were being put into place. Right now, it’s being held together by wire and cord. I posted about this project on a different blog, a very long time ago, but it has been stalled, likely for years. That’s majorly due to the fact that I was thinking my design wasn’t “creative” enough.

But I need to separate out what’s in that bin, and get things back to their proper places, so that I can move on — and see what I actually have.

Then there is the Citrine/Smoky Quartz necklace, or necklace/earring set, I’m not sure which at this point. I think that one’s in a box of its own.

On top of that, I have a woven bracelet which is now too short for me…about halfway done. I was planning to weave a button for the closure, but had concerns that people would see it on me and want one like it. That’s a problem, because the button is not my pattern. It just tops things off, really really well. I have the instructions (from a magazine) and the components…the rest of it is me (inspired by Julia Pretl’s ladder-stitch work in Beaded Collars). And I think I can do it better than last time (particularly at both ends), especially with more extensive choices for beads I can use. (I just…hate to cut apart all that FireLine!)

Really…what would happen if I didn’t use bugles? I need to spend some more time in design with that one, I’m thinking. Particularly since I don’t like the bugles bunching up. What they were doing was making wide, parallel lines across the wrist, and there’s more than one way to do that. (Three-drop peyote stitch? I could incorporate a pattern, then…)

Design is just one of those things which…well, no one really taught me how to do. I’ve just found out that it’s much quicker to go through multiple design iterations in pencil, and then make the work, than it is to try and build something from an idea, without having fleshed it out first.

Aside from that…I think the only other in-progress project is something I was attempting to make out of various pinks and violets. It would be woven and bead-embroidered, meaning I’m hoping to capture a cabochon in a seed-bead bezel, which I’ve only done once before (and that was a Swarovski Rivoli).

Yeah, that one: save that for last?

That’s enough, I think. Seriously. Gah.

creative writing, culture, politics, writing

Priorities, Version 3

In beginning to write this post, I took it upon myself to dig up past versions of my priorities. There are at least three other versions in this series. I seem to have circled back around to the first one. In the second, I began to consider doing what was easy (refreshing Spanish language) instead of what I was motivated to do (learning Japanese language). That…hasn’t lasted. All it took was trying to read a few kids’ books and seeing references to, specifically, “black slavery,” that pushed me over. Before I go on too long, I’ll leave a link to the third post in the series (ironically titled, “Version 2”).

I have had so many political and social and religious issues with Spanish language, and U.S. missionary and imperial politics in relation to Latin America, and exploitation of immigrant workers here — I’m not even kidding. It triggers me. I know that Japanese isn’t the same way with me, though it could easily be different if I were, say, Okinawan or Manchurian or Korean. I’m not blind to that. But Japanese language is marginally psychologically safer for me at this point, even though I’m aware that it’s still not a great thing to be of African descent, in the area.

The latter, combined with the lack of legal protection specifically against male sexual violence, has caused me to consider not ever visiting; though there are some people who aren’t racist who are (or have been) here — issei (first-generation immigrants) — who have encouraged me to go. Of course, though, they haven’t been marginalized for doing nothing except looking different. After a while one gets used to the listless, hollow stares that plagued me as a youth. That, though, is different than being actively characterized and fetishized as subjugated and inferior (or a possession) and made into a spectacle.

Of course, I do know how often people of Asian descent have to deal with that, here. I am still a part of my family, after all. I’ve also had to deal with it in my life, because no one thought to introduce me to the idea of racism (other than the knowledge that I would have to work twice as hard to be seen as equal), as a child. (Of course, neither did they introduce me to the idea that I could, and likely would, intimidate others by being underemployed.)

This is a reason why I left off of my last major writing project, when I did. I’m repairing it, though. All I have to do is address it, and complicate it, and humanize it; and possibly, I can get around just perpetuating my erroneous youthful thought.

That last paragraph may be for insiders. I’m not sure I should get into it openly, right now. It has to do with racial dynamics combined with age dynamics and gender dynamics (sometimes also with economic dynamics). If you still don’t get it…I might get into it, later. Or you might see it in a book. One or the other. Actually, probably a lot has been written about this, though I’m not sure if it’s been written from my angle.

Though I do seem to have hit a useful vein of content, here…I never intended to be a feminist writer, or, “that nonbinary author;” there’s more to me than just how my gender and sex and race and ethnicity and mental state have combined to produce conflict in this life. But hey, a lot of it is connected. And writing is a great medium to work out conflict, which…due to the complexity of the situation, I may need help with.

Also, if I take all that stuff away, what’s left visible is not even the tip of the iceberg.

I had wanted to try for Spanish to, I don’t know, not be trapped in my own cultural bubble, or not be another person who wants to become a manga superstar. (So far as I know, the sentiment is — or was — common among youth in Japan.) But. It’s pretty apparent that I grew up being influenced by Japanese anime and manga. As far as I can remember, it’s what first exposed me to the language, both in spoken and written form. Of course…there are some weird politics around learning Japanese. Maybe it wouldn’t have affected me so much after the people who just wanted to understand their J-Pop had left, which should have happened after I’d passed my introductory classes.

I didn’t keep on, to that point. Nor did I foresee a desirable future in tolerating the same environment — or dealing with what had been my world of, “Japanese culture,” (i.e. hostile nikkeijin “family” and “friends”) for the rest of my life. (I believe I’ve been told more than once by others, that they, “wanted to be Japanese,” which makes me wonder what they meant by that — and how it was that they felt their culture was inferior.) But those dynamics could have been the reason I would have been required to wake at 5:30 AM if I wanted to major in this stuff. Anime and J-Pop were trendy at the time I was trying to learn, and the Internet had just opened attention to international music that otherwise wasn’t available. However, there’s a lot more to Japan and Japanese culture, than pop culture.

I don’t want to get into race politics right now, but having to deal with unaddressed discomfort based on the makeup of the language class, the students’ seriousness, and their reasons for being there, were largely the reason I stopped taking foreign language classes. Cultural isolation was also part of the reason I left my first University. (Little did I know that cultural isolation would also be the reason I would have trouble in English classes, and also later in my Master’s program.) Then there’s the complex nature of manga-styled art online, which I don’t even feel I can address, here.

I’m thinking that it’s apparent I have a lot to draw off of — and a lot of conflicts that I’ve avoided at the cost of creative growth. The issue I’ve had is, basically, not wanting to deal with this, as I have suspected others don’t have to. Of course, you avoid conflict too far, and soon you don’t have a life worth living. And the people who will drive you out, don’t know; probably wouldn’t understand if they did know; and likely, it wouldn’t make a dent in their lives.

But like I said, writing is an excellent medium with which to work out conflict. Moreso for me, than my other arts. The key is to avoid getting bogged down in the work and so myopic and single-minded about the only possible consequences, that the issues you’re working on drown you.

Another reason I stopped. However, I’m in a much better place, this time around. I’m also thinking that my priorities have again shifted to this:

  • Work
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Japanese language acquisition

…with the subtle switch that puts my writing over my reading, in importance. I still haven’t decided whether to work out the story I’ve started in literary or comic format. I’m leaning towards literary, just because I’m a surer author than illustrator.

Some tougher stuff has happened at work, but it hasn’t developed into anything major, yet. I don’t know that it will, and I don’t know that it’s worth thinking about at this moment. However — it would be good not to push aside my writing. The writing requires the reading. The reading is helped by my work. And…Japanese is just something I want to do, which will enrich my life.

I think I’ve just realized, that is, how central writing is to my life, the calming effect that reading entails with me (when it isn’t offensive), and I’m re-centering Japanese where it comes to acquiring a second language.

Outside of this…I have my watercolors (including ink work), and my quilting, now (including origami-based design). Neither of them is really important, but both of them work with color and can get my mind off of the heavy thought that comes from reading and writing. I also have my beads, but I am not feeling this is the time to schedule overt time for them…

career, creative writing, creativity, work, writing

Records, Distractability, and Commitment

I’ve rediscovered one of the major reasons I have continued to write. If I don’t, I have a tendency to forget what has happened. Days blend into each other; I lose my sense of self; I lose continuity.

It was only through writing responses to others in my field that I realized the fact that I can use my Creative Writing degree to run Creative Writing groups, should I become a full-fledged Librarian. At the time of my realization, I also found that there could be a purpose for getting an MFA in Creative Writing: It would teach me how to teach Creative Writing, or at least give me the experience so that I could do so, better.

Of course, though: writing is just one of the multitude of activities I could be pursuing in my off-hours. It’s something that I do already, and something it could be said that I need to do. Along with this goes the need to be reading, which is also something that…well, you know, greatly helps if you’re a Librarian.

This has got me thinking back on the graphic novel project that I had been musing over…and have started to write out. It’s possible that I could work this out in a literature format (which would ease demands over certain things like only involving what I am confident in being able to draw), but I still have no expectations over being able to make money with it.

Traditional publishing is not an easy thing to break into, as an author. But if I’m employed in a library, am well-read, research my Publishing Houses before targeting them, keep up my writing practice, and have an BA in Creative Writing…all of those things should increase my chances of acceptance.

There is the question, I’m asking myself right now, as to whether my medium has to be that thing I need to do, like I need to breathe or eat. In that case, writing is it. I basically can’t avoid writing, and expect to hold who I am, together.

Then there are the other things.

There’s study and continuous learning related to my primary career, which is — for now — Adult Services Librarianship (or aiming for that, at least). In addition to reading broadly, there are competencies that can best be approached by study. Then there is second language acquisition…which, at least, keeps things fresh.

My barrier to Spanish language acquisition is lower by miles than my barrier to Japanese language acquisition. As I have a lot of other things I want to be doing, and I’ve realized some of the skewed viewpoint I got in my Middle and High School language classes, I’ve decided to give Spanish a shot. Even though it is basically fraught with political, social, and religious land mines for me.

However, if I want to study the legacy of colonialism on Central and South America (and the Philippines), it’s a good language to have. Not to say that colonialism only hit there, but looking at postcolonialism in, say, Africa, is likely going to be more difficult for me (unless I learn other Western European languages). It’s a start.

Then there is the problem of what can’t be communicated through words. I’m not a good enough poet at this point to be able to verbally elicit what I mean through methods other than prose. As a youth, I didn’t have the vocabulary to really say (audibly) what I needed to say. Of course, I can study poetry now — maybe some of it will rub off on me, and I know where to find it — the issue is dealing with the idea that I’m participating in frippery while the world is going down the toilet.

That, however, forgets the power of words and the inspiration they can elicit. I might be able to inspire many people to help — and they might do more work than I would able to do, if I directly applied myself. So, I suppose, I shouldn’t think of reading, or writing, as purely recreational or useless (even if it is fiction or poetry).

There’s also the point that writing is hard; emotionally speaking. Especially so, where it comes to writing about things one has experienced which are so damaging and idiotic, one may wonder why they take up any space in consciousness at all. I am generally not one to write farces, but I can see their use. Black humor may come into play, in the future. I’ve never considered it a weapon in my arsenal…but times may call for it.

Aside from this…I am so easily distracted. There are tons of things I want to do that I just don’t find time to do, because I’m too busy making up more things to do.

For example, I picked up a set of templates for English Paper Piecing (EPP), recently…whereupon I then designed a different pattern, even nicer than I had envisioned. So right now, I have three different designs for quilts, going on in my head. I should likely do something with that: one is based on EPP, one I drew on graph paper, and the third, I generated from paper-folding.

Do I know what I’m doing? I don’t think I know what I’m doing.

Well, maybe some part of my brain, knows what it’s doing. The color aspect of this…is likely why I continue to be drawn. That, and the similarity of quilts to mandalas. There’s also the geometry thing; I suppose I can’t forget the geometry thing. Math and color? Is that where my brain needs to be to unwind?

I also suppose that there really isn’t any reason why I can’t, or shouldn’t, use watercolor to help design these things. So much of it has to do with color placement and interactions. I mean, a quilt top is basically not much more than a pieced-together sheet, if it’s all the same color…

I’ve also realized that a lot of the books I find, I can use maybe 10-12 pages out of 60. Those 10-12 are really valuable, though. I may have to start keeping files (or more of a file) of the parts of books I can use…

All that to say…I’m formulating ideas about what’s necessary in my life, and what isn’t. It should help me divide my time and energy, so that I can get it all done.

I just hate to have Art take a back seat to language. The fact is, though: I try to write on a regular basis (hopefully, daily). I’m much less committed, with Art. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, for me…it’s just a surprising thing.

I’m going to save analysis of this entry for another day…

art, libraries, organization, self care

Priorities, Version 2

This is written in continuation of a prior post from November 1 about current priorities as regards my time and resources.

I’m thinking it may be of use to identify where current evidence suggests my priorities lie, prior to describing where I wish my priorities lay; and a map of how to get from one state, to the other.

  1. Work
  2. Writing
  3. Reading (in English)
  4. Organization
  5. Watercolors
  6. Rest

There are three possibilities I can see coming up which may compete for resources:

  • Driving lessons and practice
  • Ceramics classes/studio time (to start in Spring)
  • Silversmithing classes/studio time (to start in Summer)

I don’t see work reducing in priority too much, but learning to drive will likely cut into that. It’s a skill I need to know which is way overdue. Writing also will likely not reduce too much in priority. I’d like to read more. My focus on organization will likely slow down as things…you know, get organized. I’ve wanted to work on watercolors, more; I’ve also found someone giving free watercolor classes. And rest, well…that will come up as I get exposed to pathogens.

I haven’t been engaging Japanese language study pretty much at all, recently, which makes practice in writing…well…practicing writing wrong. Though I did today, out of nowhere, recall the kanji for “hand”: 手

There is also study for essentially Professional Development which I left off on, and should get back to: particularly, in Reader’s Advisory, Virtual Reference, and Online Searching. After that is done, it would help to start looking at materials for how to conduct Library programs.

I’m thinking the priority schedule will start to look something like this:

  1. Work
  2. Driving lessons and practice
  3. Reader’s Advisory study
  4. Writing (Art experiences, sexuality + gender)
  5. Reading (in English)
  6. Watercolor

I still want to add in Ceramics. I believe this will take time away from work, as my work schedule is likely to be more flexible than the Lab schedule. As the Spring quarter starts, my priorities may look more like this:

  1. Work
  2. Driving practice
  3. Writing
  4. Ceramics
  5. Watercolor

…and that’s mostly because I find I write more meaningfully when I don’t push myself to write. Watercolor may actually fall away if I’m also dealing with Ceramics.

You’ll notice “studying Japanese language” is missing. I’m just not sure where to put it:

  1. Work
  2. Driving practice
  3. Writing
  4. Ceramics
  5. Reading (in English)
  6. nihongo wo benkyou suru (studying Japanese language)
  7. Watercolor

I still feel kinda torn about the Spanish thing.

The other day, someone dropped off a pamphlet in Spanish that I could read well enough to know that it was an evangelical text. While I was happy to be able to decipher this (four years of programming was not wasted), the fact is, my being able to read an evangelical text is not a personal benefit.

Before I read Adolfo Best-Maugard’s A Method for Creative Design (originally composed in Spanish), which in turn was recommended by a teacher of mine (I’m pretty sure I know how she identifies, but I don’t know that I can write the term on wordpress.com — those of you who know what I’m talking about, know), there was nothing I was motivated to read in Spanish language. (I did, however, find an interesting Reference book on Latin American Literature in a nearby library, which piqued my interest.) I suppose that this would be a disappointment to my middle school and high school Spanish teachers, but the fact is that no one exposed us to books in Spanish, other than our textbooks. If my memory’s correct, we might have even read Pablo Neruda in English class, not Spanish — though that sounds too ridiculous to be accurate. I hope it’s not accurate.

I’m trying not to get into politics or religion, at the moment. Though español brings up issues with both, really strongly, and really negatively, for me. In a lot of ways.

If I were only going to use it within the U.S., that would be one thing…but I would expect relations with Latin America to be on the rocks right now.

The problematic parallel to rigidly gendered nouns in Spanish language is the hierarchy inherent to Japanese language. The way one person addresses another, or refers to oneself in context with that other, is dependent on the hierarchical relation between them. Though, I’ve mostly encountered respectful people when I have engaged with people in Japanese-American society. (Kids and teens, when I was the same age, don’t count.)

I guess if I want to see if it’s worth it to learn Spanish, I could reach out and start reading some kids’ materials, or something…I’ve heard that it isn’t best to try and learn multiple languages at the same time.

Just…I don’t want to have wasted those four years! And I’m so close!

It’s also more practical…

art, beadwork, career, libraries, work, writing

Tension: adult priorities, student habits

I’ve realized that I don’t have to start with words, if I want to make a story. Especially if I want to tell it using graphics. I have been looking through notebooks, and sketchpads, old blogs…records, you know. It may be that accessing the visual part of my brain may relate more of this (very internal) story than trying to code it into language, which sounds as though it goes against logic when I’ve historically used words over images to access inner realities.

But cartoons don’t have to be stereotypical. They often have been, but they don’t have to be.

Right now I’m dealing with the story in my mind growing more distant, and feeling more inconsequential, than I’m used to. I’m coming off of four days in a row of training at work, though (most of which was spent on-desk), which…makes it hard to get out of work-mode. I realize I have some anxiety about being the first (actually, now, second) point of contact for the public, but I’m getting more confidence around it. It’s also to the point where I don’t want to avoid the work, because I know that just makes it harder to engage again.

I guess it’s like fighting a phobia through exposure.

I also am finding…by giving this a chance, I’m also opening the possibility to convince myself that I like doing this. A lot of what I’m doing now is what I’ve been building up to over the last decade; what I’ve seen Librarians doing but have been forbidden to try (due to my job description). It’s not the end point, but it is nicer to be able to help people in many of the ways I couldn’t, over all those years.

Of course, it’s not as though my old work situation was perfect; but there are a lot of ways to approach work, and I haven’t found any of the various ones I’ve seen to be, “better,” yet. I’m talking here about workplace politics. It helps to be a bit agnostic about these, I’ve found. Although, granted, that’s probably (in itself) a position.

Anyway…didn’t mean to get into work stuff, but today was my last day of training (as has yet been scheduled). I’m finding that this is a really great job if you love to read. My biggest deficit at this point is likely dealing with Reader’s Advisory, as I have my own interests, and haven’t read a novel cover-to-cover in quite a while.

I should try that again.

My thing right now is wondering how much of my time that’s going to take up, outside of work but for the purpose of work. Of course…if I became a novelist myself, which…I would think to be beyond my capabilities at the moment: it would also be good training for that.

The program I attended in Undergrad really only prepared us for short-story writing. Novels are reserved for the MFA. (At one time, it seemed distant.)

And then…there is the obvious point of getting back to my Art as a generative measure for my writing, among other things. The issue, majorly, is…moving into a phase of my life where I have work, and then I have hobbies. The work is being a Library Assistant (for now). The hobbies are now primarily my writing, my art, and my beadwork. Reading also has to fit into there, somewhere; and Japanese language acquisition should also have some space, if I’m going to continue in a Public Library position. That’s on top of necessities such as cooking, driving, and exercise.

The question is what I cut out so I have time for my priorities, based on a future life path; and what to do if those priorities ever become dissatisfactory. There is also the question of what I am doing now, not what I want to or think I should be doing. What do I like to do as versus what I think I should like to do, based not on who I think I am, but who I am. It’s hard to gauge when I’ve had a schedule like I’ve experienced in the last two months (for the past four days, I’ve been working six hours a day…which is new, for me).

I’m aware this is a delayed entry into adulthood (“psh! Six hours a day?”), and that I’m lucky to have had so much free time for so long. At the same time, though, I have actually been working (even though some say being an Aide isn’t a, “real job,” which I now find to be an insult to Aides everywhere). I’ve also been in school for the vast majority of the time I’ve been employed, so I have had assignments, and things I had to do: at least to keep my GPA up, so that I could continue on to get my Master’s. That was so that I could be cleared to eventually become a professional on a national scale (note that the requirement for a Master’s in a Library- or Information-related field to be able to apply for Librarian positions, is an ongoing debate in the Library world).

Yes, that was stressful. But it’s over, and there’s only a necessity of doing it once.

I may also have the detraction of being over-educated, though that likely isn’t bad in any way other than having too many options. That in itself can also be a problem, though: I have heard of a study stating that the more options people have, the less satisfied they are with having settled on any one of them.

Maybe the painful choice here is in deciding whether to be an intellectual, or whether to be a maker (maybe I can be both). I caught all kinds of negative attention when I was young, partially because I was perceived as more intelligent than others. So although people like Cornel West and Malcolm Gladwell continually attract my attention and respect (though I still haven’t read anything by either of them, I’ve only seen the interviews), becoming like them…there’s a risk to it. Of course, though, most who think in public would know that, and have gone on beyond, despite it. Adults who still have the minds of children shouldn’t be permitted to control the lives of others, that is.

I still think it was cute when one of the kids I helped, commented that I was, “really smart,” because I knew about manga and could pronounce Japanese! (When kids are kids, and are supposed to be kids, it’s different.) I suppose it’s possible to be knowledgeable about a lot of things, yeah?

Maybe the problem actually is being multi-faceted — and being at a junction between consuming and producing, not knowing where to place my priorities. I have been writing this based on the assumption that I would need to either do one or the other, but reading broadly was recommended in my Creative Writing program. It would also enable me to write Nonfiction.

I also realize how important it likely is, to know a language which is not English: it means that one gets a window into how life is outside of the English-Only-speaking-world. That, in turn, is useful in building resistance to political propaganda. These things mean that:

  1. Library Work
  2. Reading
  3. Writing, and
  4. Learning Japanese (a life goal since Middle School)…

…are my core four things.

I am not sure to what extent I’ve just hit my limit, with beadwork. I can check my records to see when it was that I started to buy beads and make jewelry, again. The thing is, it’s an expensive hobby — and I don’t know that I’m committed enough to it to keep buying materials, or to deal with the legal end of it. Designing is one of those things that is fun, but I don’t need to be putting as much resources into designing as I have been — particularly as I still don’t know how to do all the basic beadweaving stitches.

I would still do micro-macramé, though. I just would. That means seed beads and cord. I have those. I think it’s just the gemstone and metal stuff that I see as unjustified.

So that’s:

  1. Micro-macramé
  2. Beadweaving

Drawing and painting can also be expensive, but they allow a greater latitude for storytelling (which was something I was purposely avoiding when using beadwork to get back into the creative process). When I was going back over my sketchbooks…I realized what I was doing when I was drawing from life. I was finding things that interested me, and then trying to express, via drawing, why they interested me. That, in itself, means that color is indispensable for my practice. This also means that markers and paints, in particular, ought to be something I really consider using — or, not throwing away, if they’re still good and usable.

Particularly: there are five media that I’m interested in at the moment:

  1. Pen and ink
  2. Alcohol markers
  3. Acrylic markers
  4. Gouache
  5. (Transparent) Watercolor

That also implies pencil and eraser, though I have those. These can all be combined with each other in order to make mixed-media standalone or sequential art pieces. So there, we have Language, Form, Line, and Color.

Anyhow, I’m reading back over this entry, and I’m thinking that my proposed activities look diverse enough! I wonder how this compares to past Priority lists…

…and what to do with everything else…

creativity, technology, work

Priorities?

There are a number of things I could and should be doing with my time. Due to constraints, I’m prevented from disclosing everything, right now: but I was able to download my certificate from the last of my short courses, today. I feel that I should go back and review, but at the same time, I’m not really that driven to do so.

I do feel that it’s very probable that I should not be a full-time Cataloging Librarian, although I know some say I would be really good at it. The problem is, the work itself is something I don’t like.

So…what I was saying earlier on this blog — that by August, I’ll know if I want to be a Cataloger — has indeed come to fruition. Although I wouldn’t count out a library job that happens to include it, I know I wouldn’t want to do it as my primary work. Up next is getting back to JavaScript, which so far I haven’t really begun. This is largely because I pretty much hate having to review. I can get back to it, though.

Once I have a handle on at least one Web Programming language, I’ll know if I want to work in Tech — specifically, Full-Stack Web Development. Like I was saying earlier…I think I’d be really engaged in working on Front-End Web Development, including Web Design and User Experience, but Back-End is something I know I don’t particularly like. I’m fairly certain it has to do with the same reason why I feel such a constraint when writing online — that it’s very linear and rule-bound and — well — technical, in a mathematical-logic sort of way. (If it violates logic, that is, it isn’t possible.) It’s just different to work by hand. It’s something that isn’t as tightly bound to logical reasoning.

One of the big reasons I got into Digital Services, though, is that I’m fairly certain that communications and learning are going to move more in the direction of multimedia, and away from just plain text as you can read in books. Because of that, I felt it was worth my while not to just focus on books.

Even text as read online, in e-books — there is a logical jump from reading paper books to reading e-books, and then wondering, with the abilities of a computer, why we’re only replicating print. We could do video, music, image (in larger format than print), interaction, animated illustration and design, gamifying, community-building, and eventually immersion. I think this is the direction in which we’re moving as a society, and it could lower barriers to learning for a lot of people who experience difficulty with traditional instruction (i.e. books, text, lecture).

Of course, I’m not an Instructional Design Librarian — though what I’ve just written makes me think about becoming an Emerging Technologies Librarian. I don’t think I have the undergraduate background for it, though (English!), and I’m also not sure I have the risk tolerance for constantly trying out new technologies (and partitioning my hard drive to routinely restore the operating system, and keeping several levels of backups).

I mean, I’m really into the Arts and Humanities (I think Digital Humanities could be interesting) — I don’t have a Hard Sciences background, so I’m not sure I’ve gone through the intellectual rigor necessary for understanding the possibilities of new technology. I just have the brain to dream up what one day might be (and to some extent, already is) — not whether it’s possible with current technology (or will be possible).

Anyhow. Like I said, there’s a lot I could be doing, and up next is getting back into Web Programming. Also, Japanese language. Also, beadwork and tatting. Also, writing. Also, job search. Also, watercolor. Also, sewing, embroidery, and designing embroidery patterns. I should really prioritize these things, but with everything in flux, I’m having a hard time. Maybe I can try, though:

Not necessary:

  • Beadwork (can use this as second income)
  • Tatting
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Watercolor
  • Drawing
  • Block printing
  • Art study (currently: embroidery design) — books

More necessary:

  • Web Programming study (useful at work) — digitally and books
  • Japanese Language study (useful at work) — by hand and digitally
  • Writing in English (skill retention) — by hand or digitally

Essential:

  • Job Search (finding better work) — digitally (at Library)
  • Learning to drive (finding better work) — activity
  • Learning to cook (to feed myself) — activity
  • Customer-service study (useful at work) — books

And looking at this, getting another fountain pen and ink is like…well, why?

Why, indeed. Maybe I can do it as efforts toward making a Bullet Journal, and my Bullet Journal could be my excuse to be creative while still working towards getting done what I need to get done…

LIS, self care

Procrastination, intimidation

I kind of can’t believe how much I do not want to work on my homework. Despite that, I know it’s the best thing for me to be doing, right now. At…11 PM at night. Maybe not. I’ve learned that doing unwanted, intensely focused work at the expense of sleep and while half-awake, breeds resentment. Right now, the best I can do is plan.

Tomorrow…and the day after…I can work through the assignments. We basically have one more week of this course — until the end of the month. I’m okay with fitting two weeks’ worth of work into one. It generally looks like a lot, but it’s only been four to five hours of work a week. My deal is that it’s tougher with the time delays between weeks, that cause me to forget and have to review material. I don’t like having to go back over things.

My Sunday and Monday are free — except possibly for gym and showering on Monday, or the Japanese market, also on Monday (I’ve found a type of manju that reminds me of moon cakes, and am missing it). I have nothing important to do this Tuesday night (that’s not always true), or Wednesday night. I can then complete Week 4’s work on Thursday and Friday (though I may need Thursday for general grocery shopping), saving Sunday for unexpected catch-up. The course ends officially at the end of Sunday, June 30. That gives me…seven days, four of which are totally open. If I’m right, my class on Library of Congress Subject Headings should start the day after, on July 1. I can tolerate this discomfort for one more week, can’t I? I’m sure LCSH can’t be this bad.

I just…am really resistant (not to mention, discouraged), right now. If I push myself, it may turn into deep-seated seething rage (do you know how much living I’ve missed because I had to study?), and that…I don’t want. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the sheer volume of information that’s being put out at me; it’s intimidating. Or, maybe it’s more the sheer number of links that I have to deal with, which each have an unspecified amount of information behind them. It’s one of the downsides of using electronic resources.

I realize that I pass if I just try — there’s no pressure to get anything right — but seriously, I hate trying to do things when I don’t have enough information, or I have it and can’t compile it, and have to struggle for air. I hate showing that I don’t know what I’m doing. But maybe the sheer difficulty of this work is the reason why we are being graded on just trying, rather than on the accuracy of our answers.

It’s about 11:30 PM my time, right now. Seeing how I woke up at 5:30 this morning (I blame exercise from yesterday — I totally popped awake, then), I should probably get some rest so that I can get to studying, tomorrow.