Thank you to any positive energy regarding clearer air
today yesterday. The storm which passed through last night, from which we were expecting more lightning, did not make a bunch of strikes — apparently it has something to do with the smoke being a buffer between the storm and the ground? (They didn’t explain it very well on the news.) The other positive thing is that at about 4 PM, the winds shifted and now we have cleaner, cooler, air. There’s actually the possibility of getting cold, now.
Seriously, at the moment, I’m wondering where I want to go with my life. There’s the safe route, and then there’s the independent…and somewhat unplanned, route. It has just been the goal of the last 10 years to create a safe route, for me. But…do I want to be putting my energy into this, or pursuing other goals?
The safe route is to get an internship or two, study (consistently) enough so that I’m qualified for Metadata and/or Cataloging positions, and gain a stable career as a Metadata or Cataloging Librarian (if that can still exist). It isn’t exciting, really…unless you count being able to utilize high technology as exciting, in and of itself. (Oh, wow, you mean I actually can format my hard drive?) <– don’t do that; you’ll erase everything on your disk, including the operating system.
Right now it’s (gasp!) Tuesday morning, and I wracked my brain over the weekend so much in learning XPath (it’s a language that helps one locate information in an XML file) that, well, I haven’t wanted to get back to studying it for a couple of days. (I totally missed the assistance the teacher gave in the wording of the assignment; otherwise, I could have saved a few neurons.)
The thing is, Metadata and Cataloging can be interesting, but then I really need to have creative outlets. I can do that…but that need is fairly interesting, as I haven’t had it so strongly, since Undergraduate work.
What satisfied that for me, today, was playing around with Posca markers. I haven’t done any artwork with them yet — not recently — but these things are really exciting for me. They’re opaque enough to show up on black paper, and they have a really “graphic” look to them. What one of my ex-coworkers has said is that Poscas are to Europe what Sharpies are to the U.S. I found them on sale in Honolulu, tried out a couple of white ones (different nib sizes) on black paper, and was hooked. (The only thing is that they need to be shaken before use.)
Beyond that, I have been led by these things to look at the names of the colors in Japanese (the ones I’ve bought are all in Japanese, except for the brand name. They do, however, also come with [much more restrained] alternate English labeling). Katakana and hiragana (phonetic characters) I can read and write, but kanji (ideographic characters) — especially the process of writing them — are relatively new to me.
I have a book here called The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course, which is pretty sweet. It’s showing me the stroke order of kanji I don’t yet know how to write, but which I can read and know the meaning of. (I purchased this from Kinokuniya Bookstore. [For some reason, they have both a “united-states” site and a “usa” site, but in SF Japantown, they do also have two different stores: one for literature, the other for pop culture.] I’m hoping that both those sites I linked are legit [they’re both from the kinokuniya.com domain], but be warned.)
You have to have something of a background in Japanese language to use this book, but if you can read kana and know their order (in English, we would call it, “alphabetical order,” but I don’t know what it’s called in Japanese); what the word you’re looking for sounds like; and (optionally) something about stroke number and order, it’s very helpful. (There’s more than one index in the back of the book.)
Yes, I kind of do love Kodansha.
I’m not sure if you remember from a while back…I was debating whether to learn Japanese language (nihongo), or Spanish language (español). This is given that Spanish is closer to English (of which I’m a native speaker), I’ve already had years of training in it (seventh and eighth grade through high school, though I only took it because it was of more utility than French: my only other option at the time), and it’s needed much more in my area.
However, I am ethnically Japanese-American, I’ve also been studying nihongo on my own since sometime in Middle School (and for a short while in Undergrad work), and I would gain exponentially more personal use out of nihongo than español. I’m actually interested, that is, in Japanese texts. Enough so, that I wonder what is written in all the books I can’t presently read. I don’t have that issue with Spanish, and I think it’s just a matter of what was mysterious to me as I was growing up.
Japanese language is, however, much more difficult — although also, to my mind, much more beautiful, at least in written form. I also have much further to go before I gain a working knowledge. Knowing nihongo and not español would limit my job options and areas of usage, should I go for bilingual proficiency.
However: it’s basically a given that I don’t want to live in areas where there is no access to Japanese-influenced (or other East-Asian-influenced) culture. I learned that in Undergrad. It’s just alienating (I went to a college town where the only Asian influence was one Chinese-food restaurant…and, right, a local Christian club. It was that bad).
Okay, let’s get off of that train.
There is the possibility of working in an East Asian Library on a College or University campus, which is fairly…intriguing, to me. However, I’m not sure I have the right skill set, now (even if we block out the fact that I don’t yet know Japanese or Chinese or Korean). I don’t, for example, know much about Project Management, and from what little I do know, it doesn’t look like I’ll want to. But without that knowledge, I may be precluded from applying for certain jobs.
My major issue with investing in Japanese language study is concern about being accepted and respected by Japanese-speaking people, on the first hand, because I’m visibly mixed-race. It’s something that didn’t happen often in my youth, and apparently, some people (like those people from my youth) bring attitudes like that into adulthood. Now, this is a non-issue in Hawaii. It might be an issue in Japan, however.
On top of that, I am culturally not entirely Japanese. I grew up in America, and I have my own ideas of where to take my life, which don’t involve expectations of marriage and children. That could be an issue, as well: I feel like that marks me as nikkeijin (Japanese of foreign birth), as versus nihonjin (Japanese), more than anything else.
Of course, though: it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means I have freedom that many others may not even be able to imagine. The problem, then, becomes finding work, as someone who looks like a woman, who doesn’t conform to local gender roles or stereotypes — or who may be seen as “exotic”, due to gender, race, and nationality. Yes, I do have martial arts training, but when your opponent does too, it doesn’t really mean as much as it would.
From everything I’ve heard, getting a job in Japan may be more about who you know (and your level of literacy), than anything else…and if one is “different”, this may be an issue. (I have said this many times, but it bears repeating: the word for “different” in Japanese language [chigau] is the same as the word for “wrong”.)
What I’ve heard (though have not confirmed) is that people with alternative gender identities and sexualities kind of get pushed off to the side, in society, and need to take on …”hospitality” roles, in order to survive. I’m not keen on this (remember, I’m trying to get out of Public Service in my own career), though I do wonder what people in these categories, see. As someone with a short background in Sociology (I trained in it before I shifted my major to English), it could be interesting, even if it’s poking the hornet’s nest.
So there’s the path of information organization; an alternate one would be to take on writing and editing, seriously — and for money. That is, focusing on content generation, as versus organization. I’ve realized a bit since my last two posts, that a lot of the resources I was mentioning could be enveloped into an online Literary Magazine with links to others’ free content (spread the love) and a possible (paid?) Member’s Area.
I haven’t scoured the internet yet to see what other online litmags have going on (right now my print copies are standbys like Granta, Iowa Review, and Locus — which should just give you some idea of how hard these can be to get [although Pegasus Books have had some lesser known ones]), but I do know that there are some awesome online resources focused on Digital Humanities (one of which is LitHub). The major issue here is that the task is too large to handle, alone — meaning I’d need a team of people, and likely (?!) to pay those people, as well.
LitHub is also hiring, right now, for anyone interested — I don’t believe I have the requisite level of familiarity with present-day literature to be of much help to them at this point. I’ve worked in libraries long enough to know about bestsellers, but I haven’t read them. I’ve been too busy trying to learn how to do my job…which, I question if I need to know, any longer. However, I can see obvious tie-ins between Literary Magazine production (where it comes to literary criticism, or anything else branching off of work that’s already out there), and Reader’s Advisory.
In any case, if I continue to work in Information Services, knowing Japanese would be helpful for a niche market. If I go into Cataloging/Classification/Metadata, it would also be useful for those niche items, should that work get ferried to me.
Really, if I look at this broadly, the only reason for me to go into Spanish as versus Japanese is the fact that I had to learn it, and that it’s useful for people who aren’t me (if we except the fact that getting paid could be said to be, “for me”; even if I’m relatively uninterested).
So that’s settled. I’m going back to Japanese.
There’s also the fact that I in reality can work part-time for a litmag, and part-time as a Cataloger. That would be very interesting…