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…

craft, fabric, libraries, sewing

Sewing? Who the…wha…abt…sorry, I’m tired.

I’ve spent long enough working on masks today, that I think I need a break. Right now I’ve got another batch of batiks and Kona cotton (though the latter is for ties; it may be too insubstantial for filtering) in the hot-water-shrinky-washer, so it’s not a great time for a shower…

I find it amazing, though, how much of sewing is pressing. I hadn’t really thought of it, before. In any case, today was largely spent picking fabrics, laundering them, pressing them, cutting shapes out of them, pressing them again, figuring out how to make pleats in a rational manner, ripping out bad work…and then, sewing. Sewing takes the least energy of all these things! (I found out that creasing the fabric in the center, then along 1/4 lines, makes it much easier to lay out the pleats…ideally, I’m working with a 2″ joint, but it was wider this time, as it was my first try.)

So, right now, I’ve got one mask. That’s one more than I started the day with, and because it is teal, it does look like a hospital mask (which I’m not fond of). But still. It actually catches the moisture from my breath, which is what I think it’s supposed to do. Plus, I now know what I’m doing (and where I might improve on the design, with the limitation that I’m working with a bunch of Fat Quarters, for the most part).

In specific, I’m thinking of overlapping the ties over the pleats at the sides of the mask…which will require longer ties, but I can fit four of them into a Fat Quarter, along with two mask panels. It would take down the bulk at each corner.

Work on the Nepali Blouse has stalled; it was more important to work on the I’m-not-gonna-give-you-Corona-mask. But there’s a lot to sewing that I realize now, I remember. Even threading the bobbin and the machine. It’s a different machine than I’ve ever worked on, though I did once take a Sewing Machine essentials class, so I remembered the direction in which to run the thread…(IIRC, I make a “p” with the thread if the bobbin is drop-down, and a “q” if it’s a side-loaded bobbin…don’t quote me on that, though).

I’ve also restarted reading, as I’ve realized that this is the one big thing I need to be doing, that I’m not doing. Reading, practically, anything. I did just start Radium Girls last night, and got through the 10th chapter…it’s fairly gory. Having…well — painted — myself…I know how cheap camel-hair brushes are, and wonder what the outcome would have been if the radium dial workshops had used brushes that actually would have kept a point…not to mention the lingering question of why specifically, “girls,” were recruited to perform the task of ingesting radioactive pigment with no protection.

Anyhow. I realize there may be a lot of questions as to how to access eBooks, so I had to run through getting access for myself. (It would help to know that, at least!) I still haven’t tried all the platforms, though, and I can’t try all the devices.

Right now…the fabrics are out of the wash, and in the hot-air-shrinky-dryer. Maybe I have it in me to go and sew again? Or maybe I should give it a rest and get some rest, to preserve my health…

Yeah…I’ve been up, for a while. Take meds, brush teeth, wash face, then read more Radium Girls and go to sleep when it gets disturbing enough… ;P

career, illustration, LIS, personal, planning, self care, work

Priorities…

Huh. Well…today was the second day of COVID-19 isolation. I spent much of today asleep because of having a gritty throat, last night — it just wasn’t worth it to get up, like normal. Of course, that means that I really don’t know how much I’ll sleep, tonight. For what it’s worth, I don’t think what I got a touch of (which is probably the same thing M is fighting off) was the coronavirus — a wet cough isn’t what one gets with that, and I don’t have a fever.

What is weird is that over the last month or two, I’ve been accumulating materials that I can now, use. So I have some time to get stuff done. Largely, reading: I should get through my reading on Virtual Reference, and Online Searching, at the least. Reader’s Advisory, and possibly Library Programming, I can get into after I look over the first two books. (I will likely not need to know about Programming any time soon, though. Maybe not ever, at this point.)

Last night, I was busy planning classes. The upshot? I can complete all of them by next Spring, and at that time get on with finding a job as a Cataloging or Metadata Librarian. The downshot? I’ll have less free time and less money. However, at the end of it, I’ll have the skills to gain an entry-level job as a Cataloger…at least, it would seem. I should be scanning job ads for these positions, and look for any additional qualifications I’d need.

On top of that…I’ll want to get back to developing my portfolio online. That’s already set up; I’m just updating it, now.

I’ll also want to continue with Japanese language study. That will likely be important, especially if I’m dealing with an Academic Library position. I have a number of books I can use, and a number of online sites to help.

I can also review my HTML and CSS, as I’ll need the coding skills in my not-too-distant future.

That’s…pretty much, enough. As for what I’m doing during the rest of the time…I realize that I could work on the blouse I haven’t been working on for months, if not years; I could also work on quilt piecing or embroidery or illustration. But that’s, seriously, just to relax. Aside from the illustration, it doesn’t really go anywhere — unless I want to be employed by a fabric store, likely again in a public service capacity (which is what I’m trying to get away from).

Given that, some low-commitment stuff like embroidery actually sounds good.

I will definitely be continuing with my writing, but that will mostly be offline and by hand, so I won’t have to constantly weigh whether what I’m writing is worth (the risk of) publishing, or not.

As for whether I’m going to continue with my Adobe training (or subscription)…I’m not sure. It’s a significant financial drain, and it’s useless except for publishing images online or in print (or teaching myself Graphic Design). It also depends on what I do on my own in my free time. It’s possible I could create some PDFs to distribute, here…which might be fun. It would also give me some practice in working with Adobe CC — in case I do end up needing to get back to my roots in writing, and learning how to professionally edit. This is useful.

I’m hoping, however, that I won’t have to get back to Creative Writing as a career. I’ve spent the last 10 years building a place in the Library world. Although Creative Writing is good as an avocation and is complementary to needing to read as a Librarian, depending on it for my livelihood is more risky — and a lot more work for less return, I suspect — than I would like. If, however, I remained a part-time Library Assistant (and not a full-time Cataloging or Metadata Librarian), it could be a useful and enriching addition to my repertoire.

I kind of feel like I need a map, for this…what kind of map, though, I’m not sure. I do have huge paper and markers, though. :)

I also I have an as-yet-unused daily planner. It would be useful to try and plan out the coming days and weeks, possibly using Bullet Journal notation…

art, career, comics, creative writing, illustration

So scripts are easier to write than prose

…At least, so far. I have three solid pages of comic scripting to lean on in my drawing practice, and I’m very glad that I drafted out the core synopsis — though now I realize how limited it is. I’m wondering if working back and forth between image and text will help develop the story…my intuition says yes.

The major issue I’m having with the script is narration: lots of narration. (I’m very proficient at revealing story and character through monologue.) However, there are other ways to convey the same information. The thing about scripting, though, is that it’s minimalistic; so I didn’t have to craft a bunch of flowery prose for what is basically the next step up from an outline.

Working between image cues and words…I might be able to turn some words into images, or convey what the words convey, visually. What I’m getting at may not be really making a lot of sense right now, but please give me some leeway — it’s 1 AM here.

I’ve decided to keep some violence in this version, even though I’m not a fan of violence. Without it…the story feels like it’s a bit fluffy and seeking goodwill from the majority by downplaying the consequences of being different. With it, however, it’s solidly geared towards an adult audience, though I have at least two characters of complicated gender, now. That stuff didn’t really come into its own here, except within the last 20 years. (I do know, however, at least two seniors of complicated gender.)

I have actually finished reading the book I mentioned before, on getting published: this was The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman. There is a ton of information in this book, though I would say it probably is geared toward an English-speaking U.S. audience (and of that audience, particularly New Yorkers). I haven’t checked out all the leads in it personally, though (for one thing, there are too many to do so in such a short time), so I can’t be sure.

That book, however, led me to What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, & Business of Book Editing, edited by Peter Ginna, which looks like it will be pretty interesting. It is basically an anthology in which the writers are Editors, and gives a window into what being an Editor could be like (with the caveat that these roles are wildly varied). I’m not far into it, yet.

Now that I mention that…I think I’ll read some more before sleeping, and plan on doing some illustration work for tomorrow. Working intensively with text really makes me want to break out of it some way, and it could be the thing to spur me on to getting back to my artwork…

Business, career, comics, LIS

Expansion and direction: reading, writing, and editing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s clear to me, now.

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

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 media, paper crafts, self care

Books and reading. Ecology, health, and…origami?

The last two days have been relatively chill. I had another two hours of driving instruction today, which went much better than the previous session. What has helped, as well, is reading. I’m not sure why, but it does calm me down a bit.

Right now I’m reading What the Eyes Don’t See, by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, to get another angle on the Flint, Michigan issue from 2014 (aside from The Poisoned City, which was my introduction to literature on water quality and attendant government corruption in the U.S.). I started it today, and I’m about 1/5 of the way through.

I’m also in the middle of a book called Amity and Prosperity, by Eliza Griswold, which is about fracking in the Appalachians and the plight of residents who had sold their mineral rights, and subsequently lost their clean groundwater and clean air along with their property value, which made it so they didn’t have the resources to leave.

All of these books reveal how the EPA has recently not done its job. Ostensibly — I haven’t heard or read an official announcement — I would think part of that job would be to protect public health. If one were to believe the books and the people the books are about and written by, there’s a lot of evidence that it isn’t doing that. What is it (or has it been) doing? Apparently, trying to cover up what it isn’t (or hasn’t been) doing.

On a lighter note, I’ve also begun reading Origami Design Secrets by Robert Lang, which is basically about how origami is an expression of mathematics as well as design. It’s a relatively huge book (basically a textbook and also a workbook), which I would think could be used in Math classes.

Before I began this entry, I pulled a bunch of the old — really old, really cheap — origami papers I have, and brought them with me to the bed. I’ll have to use the lap desk if I fold them in bed, but it may allow me the comfort of being at least partially warm.

The books I was reading prior (Collapse, by Jared Diamond; and The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert), I’ve basically stopped. I can’t really say why except that I can’t really do anything about us being in the middle of a mass extinction, and by myself, I can’t do much if this country or world decides to self-annihilate.

It may be more worth it to focus on the way out of the problem as versus bemoaning the existence of the problem in the first place, or focusing on possible metaphysical hell scenarios that come with the combination of spirituality plus guilt. It’s easier to just admit we don’t know what happens after death, than it is to fabricate a nightmare about what will happen if we don’t do things right. And in this, there is a difference between what science and data tell us is possible, and stories our imaginations have wrought…which often cannot happen in reality because they violate the rules of logic, or presuppose factors that don’t exist.

On possible solutions, there is a book that caught my eye called Drawdown, by Paul Hawken, which is about ways to help pull carbon dioxide out of the ecosystem in order to reverse global warming. I haven’t read it yet, but it has reminded me that with the pace of change in technology; and with funding, invention, research, and quick action; things may not be as hopeless as they seem.

I say, “quick action,” because I’ve also been reading With Speed and Violence, by Fred Pearce, which is about the way climate change over much of Earth’s history has not been slow and gradual, but sudden and at times extreme. The reason it seems to us like it would be slow and gradual, is basically that humans haven’t been around long enough to witness (or witness and remember, at least) the changes — barring issues like the Mt. Tambora eruption (if it can be called that, more than an explosion) of 1815, which caused the “Year Without Summer.” There is a book about this that I know of (I believe it was the one by Klingaman and Klingaman). The person who told me about it didn’t have anything good to say. :)

As for how I learned about Tambora…that may have been from Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond — the same person who wrote Collapse. I can’t be sure about that, though, due to the fact that I read Guns, Germs, and Steel in undergrad, and that was around two decades ago. (I honestly don’t even know if we still have the book.)

Presently, there are issues like changing ocean currents, melting polar ice, and changing weather patterns, which could wreak havoc if they were to happen suddenly, unexpectedly, and before we could adapt. The major issue, as I see it, is famine. When that’s on a global scale, it gets really scary. When there’s a shortage of natural resources, what tends to happen is war.

I learned from a separate source that melting permafrost could release now-frozen methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If this occurred…it could be really bad, depending on how much is released. The major decisive factor is whether we reach the point where global warming leads to more greenhouse gas release, which leads to more warming and more release, etc. As a runaway cycle, it could mean the end of life here as we know it: and we shouldn’t treat this planet as disposable, like we’re going to find another one…which is what it looks like the Space program is seeking.

We don’t want a repeat of what happened to Venus, which has a thick atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide, extremely high atmospheric pressure, sulfuric acid rain, and surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead. (I know there are extremophile microbes which give me hope that some life might be able to adapt and survive, but the ones I’m thinking of live in volcanic vents, and I don’t know that those get to the +850° F surface temperatures that exist on Venus.)

While Venus may at one time have been able to support life, the chances of that now appear slim.

It’s one thing for I, myself, to die. It’s another thing to take most of the world out with me. Of course, there’s not all that much I can do as one person, but there are some things. Actually talking about it to forward the conversation, may be one thing…as well as educating myself so that I can act, when needed.

And, of course, taking care of myself, so that I don’t self-destruct before I can be of any use.

Although it does feel a little funny to get back to origami after having left off of it as a child…I know for a fact that I can connect it to both quilting and the creation of mandalas. I don’t know quite why, though. I’m hoping that the huge book I got will shed some light on the underlying order.

Plus, it’s just great to see a textbook on paper-folding. :)

I also, though, tonight got the urge to paint, again. That’s, generally speaking, a freer process than consciously utilizing or being constrained by mathematics or language. I don’t have a project lined up, except maybe testing out those Prussian Blue and Viridian paints from separate lines (so that I can donate the tubes I’m not going to use).

And yes, I do have mixed feelings about even this. Given that this post has been about water quality and ecology, I am sure the painters in my audience know what I’m talking about. The way paints are still made, though, it would be…very difficult to insist on using a totally non-toxic palette. When I go there, what first present themselves are inferior pigments, of the like of Prangs. Even there, though; what is harmless to humans is not necessarily harmless to everything else.

I haven’t worked it out, yet. I haven’t worked out whether it is even possible — at all — to live without harming another being. Though, it might be possible to live without harming another being, intentionally…that is, never intending to harm another.

And then we get to the ants and roaches and things of that sort…and we get to never intending to inflict suffering upon another, as versus never intending to harm. Or we question what, “harm,” means.

I’m sure I could get into some more mental gymnastics, here, but this is the major reason I’m not Buddhist.

No. Really.

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…

libraries, work

Getting used to work

Man. I went out to a branch early this morning in order to take a shift as a Library Clerk. I didn’t totally realize until I got there that it was an Opening position, and that I didn’t know what Clerks did prior to opening. Or, at least, I hadn’t done it before, myself. Oops.

I have filled Clerk positions (basically Circulation), but not the Opening or Closing variants of that. (My actual position is Library Assistant, but I have the ability to sub in a couple of other categories.)

About two hours in, I get summoned to a different branch. That means I have to call someone to get me and shuttle me to that other branch. I agree because I’m starting to know the people at the branch where I’m needed, we’re overstaffed where I’m at, and I realize I wasn’t mentally prepared for a Clerk job plus two back-to-back Storytimes flooding the library with patrons.

Not that I dislike Storytimes; they’re just a bit chaotic. The setting itself was unfamiliar to me; I’ve only served at that branch one or two times, before. Plus, I don’t really know the patrons that well.

So…it isn’t really a secret that I, probably like many others, have been getting a little frustrated with the unpredictability with which being a Substitute is disposed. I’ve been trying to manage it by picking my time slots and work sites early, but then that gets upset when there are surprise critical staff shortages elsewhere in the system, and I get called to fill them and have no way to get there other than calling someone else.

I don’t really blame the people who have to reassign me, but I’m learning how to respond and set myself up so that they understand that I need a day off, when I need a day off. Even when I don’t have important plans. The issue I had been having is being called on (often woken up) every day I hadn’t agreed to work, and being asked to come in to work that day. You can imagine, it’s kind of frustrating. That’s not to mention being woken up at 7 AM, five out of every seven days in November, because I didn’t change the default setting for robo-calls from the system.

At least they’re offering to pay me, right?

So after lunch (which I took in the car), I get to work and print out a form so I can get compensated for my travel. It is, in comparison to where I just came from, very quiet. Towards the end I start dealing with boredom, and looking up authors I know about from PBS. If I read the books, I can review the books, and that counts as work, right? It’s not like I’m reading at the desk, I’m just collecting the things so I won’t have to go and look the things up again after I’m off.

Am I getting too comfortable?

I know that the people there must be very fatigued; there has been some kind of (biological) virus circulating. It has affected at least two sites I’ve been to. They actually really did need me at the second site, but it was freakin’ quiet towards the end of my shift. Like, “stare at the computer screen,” quiet. Like, “do some library-related research,” quiet.

I’m concerned that I’m putting too much effort into my book reviews. I’m actually reading the books. Like we all expect Librarians to do; just like we have expected everyone working in a Library to be a Librarian (before we work there, ourselves). But there’s no way for any one person to have encyclopedic knowledge; or perhaps, if they do, that should really be recognized, because it’s a rarity.

Someone notified me about the, “Reader’s Bill of Rights,” which I looked up and appreciated, especially for, “the right to not finish.” I kind of wish I had done that with my last book, so I wouldn’t have wasted my precious moments of life bound to a book that wasn’t what it was advertised to be.

The good point, though, is that now I know to pay attention to Dewey classification, as well as topicality. I don’t expect you to know what I mean by that, because I don’t have the specific meaning of that specific (and complex) Dewey number. But there’s a difference in focus between a book on water quality that is in the 300s (which I know best for the social sciences), as versus the 600s (which is known for medicine). The drawback to using an electronic copy, in our present system, is that the Dewey number is not in the item record. A person has to bridge back to the paper copy to find it.

Anyhow, it’s over. I don’t have to read it again. And I can go through all my other library books to see which ones I’ll actually want to read (next). I have found some interesting stuff…not all of it apocalyptic.