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.

art, career, comics, creativity, self care, self-publishing, work

Creativity and adulthood

It wasn’t that long ago that I took a chance on Ecoline transparent watercolors. I still haven’t gotten to use them. Bright side, I did eventually (tonight) get around to flushing and soaking my Pilot Prera — this is the calligraphy nib fountain pen which was filled with orange-red ink. It was drying out, and I realized I needed to do something before it dried out all the way. It’s not my goal to kill my fountain pens, and the Pilots tend to dry out more quickly than the TWSBI Ecos (though less quickly than the LAMY, which I’ve gotten rid of). The TWSBIs have a silicone O-ring under the cap, which screws on, whereas the Pilots just have caps that slide on.

I’ve intended to move back into sequential art, but either I’m getting distracted (likely by work, which I’m not sure anyone can call a “distraction”), or I’m just…adulting. I keep being called in for work on days I had designated as rest days. Which, I think, is why someone told me that I needed to have “boundaries” in this job.

Today I had to stay home or be miserable for seven hours — I chose to come home and sleep. Apparently, I’ve picked up some kind of bug (D thinks it’s a cold). It’s early enough in the cycle that I’m probably contagious. I’m pretty sure I must have picked it up yesterday at work…honestly the last few days are a blur, though. It’s like a day is missing in there and I’m not sure which one it is. Though I did get to see “Hamilton”. It’s possible that I got exposed that day on public transit, though that means it would have had to incubate for a few days.

I have been finishing reading a book on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which is possibly a reason why I was sick, today. We’re all expected to give reviews or information on books in the library. I’m a little miffed that the author didn’t say what was actually going on with the water until 2/3 of the way through the book. What’s actually disappointing about the situation in Flint, as well, is that it could have been rectified by having A CHEMIST ON STAFF. Seriously. There are also a lot of other ways it could have been stopped, but it seems the government was determined to fail in this case.

Anyhow…I’ve been working a lot and reading a lot and my free time for art has suffered. That’s kind of annoying, considering that I have enough materials and am just lacking in time or prioritization. Something that could have mattered, though: I have been trying to fix up a different site online…I’m paying close to $200/year for it, and it’s been locked from the beginning. It was originally for my portfolio, but I have to do work if I want to make that part of it public (which doesn’t seem like the greatest idea). More likely is that I’ll be sectioning off that part of it and using the rest to play around with having a real website, as versus a subdomain at this one.

As I’m aging, that is, I am finding that my portfolio isn’t going to be a great strength — of much more use is the experience I’m getting, on the job. If I make a professional website and update it regularly, as well, it could be worth more than the portfolio.

I think I’m just going to have to either work my creativity into my job, though, or otherwise carve out time for it. I still have to figure out how many hours a week I want to work, and when and where I want to work. There are a couple of local places I hadn’t considered, until seeing how far (and potentially hazardous) it is to get to other branches. There are going to be at least two work sites within 10 minutes’ drive, and not being able yet to drive myself, this can matter.

Anyhow…my habits suggest that if I want to make comics, I should be reading more of them. I might also want to take a look at bookbinding resources. I have been taught how to make ‘zines, but unfortunately I don’t quite remember how to make a 16-page one out of one sheet of paper. That could just be interesting, if I didn’t want to sew the things together myself. It’s possible, that is, to make a large image and then have it printed on one sheet of paper, then cut and fold to create booklets.

Why would I do this? I’m not entirely sure. Especially given that unless the 16-page ‘zine is printed on a huge paper, I’m dealing with very little real estate where it comes to space on each page.

And yes, I do have an interesting idea to just print out a big long spiel on the back of that paper.

Or to default to 8.5″x11″ paper and forgo bleeds (printing to the edge of the page), then write and insert images and have that printed out and perfect-bound like a college Reader.

…I should get back to sleep. I can feel it.

libraries

Reading ’til I get sick

So…let’s see. I want to get back to my art. I haven’t drawn much within the last few days, which is kind of surprising, after all that worry about getting Copics in colors. What I have been doing is reading. A lot.

Right now I’m in the middle of several books, though the anchor is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. While I was reading that, I got curious about exactly what made the Flint River acidic (was it natural, or human-caused?), so I found a book on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan — The Poisoned City, by Anna Clark. I also have begun reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin.

There are a bunch of other things that have popped up as curiosities as a result of reading Collapse, The Sixth Extinction, Conversations on Writing, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc. For example, I have here a book titled Bad Water by Robert Stolz about an ecological crisis in Japan between 1870 and 1950.

I haven’t looked for Bad Water in libraries, due to the fact that I already own a copy (I believe I found it in a Japanese bookstore, and not in Honolulu)…but the main issue explored was the phenomenon of acid mine drainage, and what happened to the people downriver of a mine when dissolved heavy metals from that drainage contaminated the water they cooked, fished in, grew their crops in, drank, and bathed with. To the best of my knowledge, this is where the term itai itai (“it hurts, it hurts”) originated, as a name for a syndrome that causes decalcification of the bones to the point that they crumble under the weight of the body.

But I haven’t read all the way through the book, yet. It just seemed to fit with — particularly — Collapse, as a human-generated phenomenon that caused an ecological collapse which ended up impacting (and killing) people. Diamond calls it, “ecocide.”

Then there is the entire “fracking” controversy…which I don’t feel ready enough to speak about at this point, but essentially fracking (or “hydraulic fracturing”) is a way to remove natural gas from underground which can make the groundwater toxic. Whether this should even be allowed, is a politically charged conversation in the U.S. On one hand, it reduces dependence on foreign oil reserves. On the other, it can destroy supplies of freshwater.

It does remind me of cyanide heap leaching, which is a way of extracting gold from low-grade ore which causes massive destruction of the environment. The cleanup of this is so expensive that it’s often abandoned and left up to the Federal government. I learned about this in one of my Metals (Jeweling) classes, and it basically (on top of low pay rates, relatively high hazard levels, and necessitation of certain levels of bodily function [e.g. fine motor skills, clear vision]) made me not want to be a Jeweler.

On a different note, I’ve also begun reading Le Guin’s fiction. I have with me The Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven, though I haven’t started the latter. Le Guin, in Conversations on Writing, at least implies, if not outright states, that Virginia Woolf was a large influence on her (from the number of times Woolf is mentioned). This has gotten me curious about giving Woolf’s Orlando a second chance (whereas its opening scene was enough to disgust me, as a younger and more sensitive person). I also have a copy of Middlesex. All three — Orlando, Left Hand of Darkness, and Middlesex — feature gender-shifting. It’s possible that I could use these as the beginning of a reading list.

I’m also reading about Reader’s Advisory service, which is something that library schools tend not to address. That, in turn, is why I’ve begun reading fiction again…I need to know this stuff! I wasn’t doing constant recreational reading during my time as a Library Aide, so I have some catching up to do.

What’s interesting is that the first chapter of Left Hand of Darkness is what has stuck in my mind, the most (out of everything I’ve read recently). It probably has to do with the fact that reading fiction takes co-imagining of the situation described by the text, for the text to actually function.

So…yesterday (Wednesday) I was home and asleep for most of the time, after having stayed up late on Tuesday night (and into Wednesday morning), reading. Particularly…I felt towards the end of Tuesday night that I was starting to get sick with something (coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing), so I stayed home on Wednesday, and slept in, today (Thursday).

Yeah — I really need to regulate my sleep, better.

libraries, work

Passing training!

I’m writing in, not because I’m feeling it, but because some significant stuff has happened, and I think I “should” record it. Yesterday was my first day of work as an official Library Assistant. I completed my training on Halloween, and have to cover a set number of Sunday shifts before the end of the year. It just happened that my two options were both places that I had never even visited, before, so…finding my way around was a bit difficult.

I’ve also been reading, but haven’t yet set up a schedule for Japanese language study — reading and writing, and then speech. Right now I’m on The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and Collapse by Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs, & Steel), which are remarkably similar so far. The first is about extinction as it focuses on species, while the second is about extinction as it focuses on human societies.

As for Ursula Le Guin’s On Writing, I did finish it, and that kinda snarky quip I remembered (that if people didn’t want to be written about as doing bad things, then maybe they should be better people), wasn’t her. I think a lot of the value of that book, since I haven’t to recollection read any of Le Guin’s stories (other than The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and possibly some other shorter works — searching “le guin bibliography” did bring up a page with at least many of her works), was the tracing of her influences. It’s good to read who writers read, sometimes, especially if you like them (or think you might; or they’re in your world, somehow, as someone influential).

I still remember that someone recommended Stephen King’s On Writing, which…I read a small portion of in a bookstore, and very quickly determined that I didn’t want to read any more of it. From what I saw, he has a very “masculine” view of the world, which I don’t really need to expose myself to.

But then, I never really read anything of his, either; I just know that he’s a prolific writer who bases a lot of his work on dreams. And has had his stuff made into movies and TV series…though from what I’ve seen, I’m not really a fan. I think he was recommended to me because I do have to deal with a lot of dreamscape-type stuff in my own work…but I’m still getting out of a masculinist framework of Hemingway’s sort. I also have my own toxic masculinity to deal with; I don’t want to reinforce it.

There are just some books like that, where they’ve been recommended, and I flip through them and can quickly see that the “energy” of the book is just way too intense for me to tolerate. When that’s not grounded in anything real or of consequence (like an author whose name I shall not mention who obviously recalls for me, descriptions of Oppositional Defiant Disorder), it just puts me off. Same thing happens when something routine (like minority characters being understandable as human) is seen as extraordinary due to the time period or prejudice of the author or narrator. I can accept the latter, but some discoveries are so basic to me that I…really lose interest.

It goes back to the fact that there is no one universal, “good book,” that everyone will like. Although reader’s advisory questions often start off with, “I’m looking for a good book, what do you think is a good book,” not, “I’m looking for a book that I will like.” The latter obviously brings in the reader’s subjectivity, and that’s not always easy to navigate, especially when it becomes thoroughly obvious that the Adviser and and the Reader are such different people, that connection (let alone understanding) is difficult. What I would like is not necessarily what you would like. We both need to understand what you’re looking for before we embark on looking for it…

At least I’m reading again, and I can kind of get a sense of a book by flipping around in it, or reading excerpts in addition to reviews. I can also do some studying in my off time, though I know people told me not to worry about that…but also that I was encouraged when I showed that I did actually do my own work to fill my own knowledge gaps…

creative writing, LIS, personal, self care, work, writing

Reading, boredom, and other people’s lives

I am still waiting for the go-ahead from my County to go back to work. It’s a little…unsettling. For the past couple of days, I haven’t been doing much aside from eating and sleeping. I did realize, either yesterday or today, that I could be studying my employer’s website for content, or that I could be reading in any of the literary magazines I’ve just obtained, or working on my Japanese language acquisition. Or: writing, but it’s hard to write when you don’t have a lot to write about.

Actually, it isn’t the case that I don’t have a lot to write about; it’s that I have a number of things that I feel I can’t write about, due to an attempt to respect the privacy of others. If I were to write a memoir, you bet I’d have a lot of stuff to write about. There are people relatively close to me whose lives are like a slow-motion train wreck that never ends. It’s just that when people do messed-up things, you know, often they don’t want anyone else to know about what they’re doing.

I do recall getting a book recently that was talking about just this which was saying that, essentially, if people didn’t want the author to speak badly about them, then maybe they should be better people. I just went to check my shelf and I have several different unread books on writing. One of them is Ursula LeGuin’s Conversations on Writing. I’m not sure if that’s the book I’m now thinking of, but I believe it was a female author.

So…it is the case that perhaps I can start reading again. Not necessarily entirely focused on my job (or my health)…but it has been such a long time since I’ve been able to read things that I’ve chosen for myself (as versus textbooks), that I may have lost the habit of reading for pleasure. Of course, my current job does reward the practice of reading.

I believe the biggest thing in between myself and reading is likely the fact that 1) I trained as a writer first, not as a reader, and 2) print books aren’t animated like the ****ing computer screen. Of course, though, it’s possible that reading physical books won’t have the same degrading effect on my vision that reading the computer screen does.

In any case, I have plenty of free time right now. My concern is that I don’t know when it will end, and I’ll be able to go back to work. I have to pass a number of screenings that I have no input on, get my photo taken, and then get into the substitute interface. I’m just hoping that they didn’t send my affirmation to my work email, which I can’t access from home. I’m also hoping that there wasn’t something missing in what I was supposed to do (or not do) that I now need to rectify…after someone advises me of it.

I also have three more days before our guest leaves, but they’re on a working vacation, so yesterday and today, I haven’t seen much of them. I do need to get a haircut, but with my hair, I can’t bet on that being cheap. I have a hard time spending a lot of money on something like that…but on the other hand, it has been at least 10 months since I last had a trim.

And…my hair is getting long enough that I’m inadvertently getting it into things behind me. Not to mention that I’m finding (and making) a lot of split ends. Maybe I will make an appointment.

Let’s see…

I think having this extended period of nothing to do is worse after having worked three 40-hour weeks in a row. Whenever something like that happens, whether it’s related to work or school, it leaves me without an established routine when it suddenly ends. After, you know, it has been taking up the vast majority of my time. I had to really center my work, and focus on being ready for it day after day, in order to keep going for as long as I did.

Not to mention that I think I was doing better as regards self-care, when I was off of the computer. When I got back on here to do that post about the necklace I made, that was when my routine started to degrade. I need to remember to live for me, not for an audience. I mean, I’ve had times where I was actually making posts that were getting a lot of hits, but that doesn’t happen without posting regularly, for an extended period of time. That takes a lot of effort, and some planning. Especially when I’m including images.

I should note that I did find some Japanese-language readers at Kinokuniya, but I put off buying them because I know they’re above my level, right now. I do need to get back on my Japanese-language study. So maybe I should prioritize reading. Also, soon I should be able to get some materials for the Hematite + Smoky Quartz necklace that is now in progress on the living room table.

I’ve just got to remember that I do have some things in progress, and I shouldn’t just wait for things to come to me; I should do something in the meantime, while I’m waiting.

organization, personal, work

Languages and migration: a.k.a. Too much free time

As of last Friday, I completed my initial three weeks of full-time training. I went in to work one time this week to be signed off. Other than that, I haven’t been practicing. I’m kind of scared that I’m going to lose some of what I’ve learned…though a few days on desk for the amount of time I have experienced on a daily basis, should kick that right back in, for me.

I could also be reviewing my notes, from those last three weeks. Even with my attempt to write down only that which I did not know or recall, I filled up enough pages that I had to buy a bigger binder. Don’t worry, it’s done…and apparently a Kokuyo 20-hole binder for A5 paper will also fit Maruman 20-hole A5 paper. Don’t quote me on that, though.

Right now we have a guest, which has me thinking on the actuality of the possibility of taking a job nearer to them. This has caused me to remember plans for joining them, and the potential relevance of my learning Japanese language. It’s almost useless where I am now, but would be used daily at the place to which we’re considering moving.

So…this week has given me the opportunity to check out what I actually will want to do for the foreseeable future. Let’s say the next 5 years. This would impact me especially where it comes to furthering my acquisition of a second language. I have a choice between español (Spanish) or nihongo (Japanese), for a language I would have a head start in picking up. Which I choose, depends on where I expect myself to be in the future.

Based on my experience in learning Spanish language in middle and high school…I would say that most of my discouragement in learning the language, aside from a certain integral component (the fact that all nouns have a gender, which profoundly impacts me as a person who now considers themselves gender-nonbinary), has been in not wanting to be like my teachers. That sounds kind of harsh, but in my experience (in three out of five teachers — and one of the other two teachers was a native speaker, until he got fired) there was definitely a certain type of person — in my school district — who became a Spanish-language teacher.

Nor am I really confident in my Spanish-language skills. But I know enough so that when I start to read something written in Spanish language, I can get the gist of what’s meant. My major difficulty is then with vocabulary. There is also the point that the people I’ve known who have natively spoken Spanish, have been a lot more down-to-earth than my past teachers.

It wasn’t quite until I began reading things in English that looked like they had originally been written for Spanish speakers, that I started to take interest in the language again (I had originally chosen Spanish over French because it was more widely applicable in the Americas; these two languages were the only two I had access to in my regular public school setting). Then there is the issue of International Relations which are just being trashed with Latin America right now…it wasn’t great to be estadounidense in Central and South America before: I don’t expect it to be easier, now.

On the other hand — with Japanese language…the biggest barriers are now 1) kanji (Chinese characters integrated into Japanese writing), which I have not systematically studied; 2) counters; and, 3) practice partners. Apparently, as there is such a shortage of sounds within nihongo itself, differing counters are appended to differing types of objects being counted, in order to tell what the number applies to. There’s that, and the fact that the pronunciation of a number changes, depending on the counter paired with it.

This comes up early…which kind of makes me fear that people in Japan test foreigners by asking them to count things appropriately. (Counting things in a basic way is understandable, but generally only done by small children.) That, in turn…doesn’t have me thinking that nihonjin (Japanese-from-Japan) are really welcoming to foreigners. There’s that, in addition to the fact that I’ve lived the experience of a hapa (mixed-race) nikkeijin (Japanese-of-foreign-birth)…and have experienced issues with racism from within my own family, ostensibly caused by the race of my non-Japanese parent. I say, “ostensibly,” because no minority brings the experience of racism upon themselves. Others visit it upon them, whatever their excuse.

Having said that, I’ve also experienced racial tensions all through my life in University…so I suppose it may come with the package of this rebirth.

The issue for me — when I was taking Japanese-language classes — was the bizarreness factor of being in class with a bunch of anime (Japanese animation) and J-pop (Japanese pop music) fans who just wanted to understand their lyrics or lines…and myself, who wanted to know more about my heritage, and what had helped give form to me.

In short, my drive to learn nihongo, early on, was a drive to understand more about myself and my social, cultural, and historical context. I knew I did like Japanese pop culture (and appreciated what of Japanese culture I did participate in due to family influence), but I didn’t know why. I have a lot more of a clue about that, at this time.

I just can’t see giving up Japanese language study for Spanish, just because Spanish is easier (being closer to English). Spanish would give me a better window into European cultures and American Indigenous cultures…the thing is, I’m not heavily interested in European cultures, compared to my interest in China, Japan, Korea, or Tibet. (I don’t know much about Southeast Asia at this point, but I can see myself curious about that, once I get a baseline understanding of the more northerly territories. There’s also Polynesia, though French may be of more use, there.)

Finding information on American Indigenous cultures is so far from my present capability that I really don’t know how long it will be before I can even source words from the people I want to hear from, or tell whether it would be recorded en español or in their specific native languages. I suppose it makes sense that I would be more interested in regions connected to my diaspora.

Anyhow. I…have restarted my nihongo practice via my library. I can work through the 12 classes, and then see where I am. After all, it’s not like the español knowledge is just going to evaporate. It has hung around for two decades, after all.

And Japanese is so beautiful when written. It just will take some practice to learn. And I have time.

career, libraries, LIS, planning

Taking stock

Well, all things have their ups and downs. Right now…we’re fine. My shitajiki (pencil board) came in the mail today (seriously, where am I supposed to find these outside of Japantown — in a specific size, no less), and I found my old Bullet Journal. Training for my new job starts on Monday. I haven’t decided which backpack or bag to take with me, yet…though I did try on six pairs of slacks, and found all of them fit. That’s good.

Actually, it’s really good that a lot of things, fit. My biggest problem at the moment is shirts (I have two dress shirts I love which are a little small now), but that isn’t a huge issue. I will also likely need “business casual” shoes, though at the moment I can’t tell how long I’ll be on my feet — so I don’t quite know what to do, there. The Internet says that modest sneakers can be business casual. I have a set that I had been wearing around the house because of an injury, but that’s basically healed now, so maybe I can work with those?

This is kind of…well, I guess one could say it’s a little stressful. If I didn’t have as much time to think and anticipate as I do, it might not be as tense. It also wouldn’t be as tense if they hadn’t told me the dress code only half a week before the start of training.

Well, and starting out full-time and going for a number of weeks in that manner…I don’t think I’ve ever worked a complete eight-hour day (seven hours; maybe), so it will be an experience; and I might well not be able to do much other than eat, sleep, do laundry, and take care of hygiene, outside of that. But I’ll see what happens. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

I also got help with applying for a non-Library position (in Archives & Records) at my last vocational meeting — they want Library experience, which this new job will supply better than my last one. So, even if I find out that being a Library Assistant or Librarian isn’t where I’ll be happiest, there are options outside of these positions. I know now to look for skills and job functions rather than titles, as well.

Here, at home, we’ve been cleaning up. What that means for me is that I’ve been going through my clothes, and through my scattered things like books and beads, vacuuming and dusting. I’m trying to get things into some kind of order before next week hits. I will have weekends off, though: I guess I’ve got to remember that.

Aside from these things…I’ve remembered how much I’ve enjoyed reading, from having made it through Best-Maugard’s A Method of Creative Design. Even though it is a translated work, and thus…likely simplified in its language, I have found that I really appreciate these cross-cultural works. It’s something I’ve liked in Essentials of Buddhism: Basic Terminology and Concepts of Buddhist Philosophy and Practice, and in Articulations of Difference: Gender Studies and Writing in French. I’m not entirely certain what that tells me, except maybe I have metropolitan taste?

Yeah, that doesn’t sound right…maybe the answer is more that I really love Comparative Literature as a field? (Or, I love the people who love Comparative Literature enough to major in it?) Although I didn’t really do Comparative Literature in Undergrad — so I’m not sure. I do recall enjoying one or another Russian Classics author in my English Literature program, but I can’t remember if that was Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or someone else. I think my sibling mentioned that maybe I liked translated works because they were quality enough that someone chose to translate them, which makes sense.

Anyhow…once I get trained, if I devote myself fully to this position and career path, it can’t help but assist me if I take the time to read things that I’ve wanted to read and haven’t had the chance to (like The Sixth Extinction). I mean, for about the past three years my time has been cut down by having had to study: first for the Master’s program, and then for my Cataloging and coding courses. Understandably, I think, I didn’t want to fill the rest of my time with additional study towards becoming a Librarian, especially when I wasn’t certain that it was what I really wanted to do with my life.

But wait, you say: I thought you got the Master’s because this is what you really want to do with your life?

What I can say to that is that I had an opportunity to do this and took it, knowing that if I waited too long, the chance might not come again. It doesn’t mean I’m all about libraries at this point…although I’m probably more about libraries than most people. :) The biggest issue that stands between myself and Librarianship is whether and how much I enjoy working with people, which seems to be the majority of at least a Public Librarian’s job (or at least for those who work in User Services).

And that… I can’t tell that until I’ve tried.

And I’m about to try.

It’s kind of freaking me out a bit, but it should show me whether I do really want to go into Technical Services (this includes Cataloging, Classification, Metadata, Web Development, and Collection Development) or into a non-Library position helping classify and organize (and likely, help retrieve and provide access to) materials.

There’s also the chance that this will give me a needed push into an area I’m not as confident in, and that the challenge itself will energize me. It’s possible. I say that because I’ve seen it happen in me before.

My last day at work, the first open day of the library after a two-day shutdown for Labor Day, saw me running around trying to get as much done at Circulation as I could, because I knew we were behind and I knew this would be the last chance I would get to help, as a Shelver. When there’s too much work, I kind of switch into game mode and try and see how much I can do, how well, and how quickly; according to a standard set of priorities, and keeping track of my stamina and how much time I have left in the day. There’s no chance to give up: I just have to keep plugging away at it, because I know that anything I can get done, will help.

There’s also a book I was guided to a while ago called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which I never really finished. Maybe it would calm me, to get back to that. I’m not sure if it can happen, but I’ve been told that it seems I’m coming out of my shell. Can shy people turn into extroverts? I know someone who says it is possible, because it happened to him (although he’s the second person I’ll know who says they are [or were] really shy, who doesn’t seem that way, to me).

Not to mention that I should likely be gradually taking a tour of the Library website.

Tomorrow (technically, later today), I’ll be getting some larger shirts. Also…we need to get some little doodads so that my dresser drawers don’t fly open during earthquakes.

Yeah, I should…I should get some sleep, shouldn’t I?