Straightening out my thoughts.

Okay, I’m going to take some time to write, now. Today…well, today…what happened? Shopping, mostly. I did pick up some good things to eat, which is positive. I also tried some French Brie, today. Usually, Brie is a bit strong for me, and textured like compacted dehydrated tofu, but this is creamier and milder. I like it! We also got some pears, and organic grapes, so this is going to be good. πŸ™‚

I was also able to do some reading. I understand now why the reading is given over a week, which makes sense given the density of this chapter.

No work done on the ePortfolio, today. At least — yet. (It’s 9:30 PM right now, though I have work tomorrow, so I shouldn’t stay up until 2 AM, like I can.) I’m hoping I won’t need to drop Collection Management later on, in order to get this done. What I have realized, though, is that it’s possible to draft the majority of a Competency essay in one day. Filling in the gaps is something else, as is tracking down evidence, but the latter isn’t hard. The former is what may require extra work.

I’m aiming to get a first draft of all my essays done, by Halloween. (After that, I have roughly 20 days to edit anything remaining.) Today was the 40th day before Halloween. I have 39 remaining. If I can’t think of anything to do, I should read over some of the ePortfolio examples. I think it would diminish apprehensiveness, and keep me from wasting time.

Just yesterday, I was out taking care of some mental health stuff. I did raise the alert about my last remaining major psychological issue, which I’m working on now. I just hope it doesn’t take up too much of my mental space, when I need my mental space for these next 39 days.

But I can do this, right?

I’ve also gotten the idea to write a biography. I probably, should. In my writings elsewhere, I essentially began this. Maybe I’m feeling pressed for time because I spent two days, basically, drafting this.

That’s probable.

There’s that, and the sleep hygiene thing, where I stayed up late Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and crashed on Thursday. And the Saturday and Sunday prior, I was drafting the narrative. Meaning…what was I doing on the Thursday and Friday prior?

Looks like I was blogging and getting over being sick. That sounds about right! And the week prior to that (Wednesday to Wednesday), I was wiped out with a cold. Less than a week before then, our visitor left.

So it’s not as bad as it looks. What I need to be okay about is not starting new activities to distract myself from working on my ePortfolio and my work in Collection Development. The biographical writing and the blogging on art and gender are the two things that I have done that I haven’t absolutely needed to do, though both have been constructive, even if disruptive.

I suppose I can’t block life out all the way, can I?

And I can deal with it if I have to turn in my interview late (or not at all). I’m already in an Honors Society and I’m in my last semester of classes. A “C” won’t ruin me.

How in the world can I say that? πŸ™‚

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Am I being too tough on myself?

I need to set up a timetable for work on the ePortfolio before I get sucked any further under. Today…well, I can say that I was pretty much out of commission until about 5:30 PM. Looking back on it, I had been running with a sleep deficit, since Monday. Maybe it isn’t that surprising that I slept so long?

I did sit through lecture today, and have started in on this week’s reading (as versus next week’s reading, which is what I was doing, earlier).

I also need to learn to ask people to turn off the TV so I can study, instead of going back to bed because I can’t concentrate on anything over the noise.

So apparently, the next 2.5 weeks will be the busiest of the semester, for Collection Development. I’m not really looking forward to it, but it’s stuff I need to know…and a window into the Academic Library setting, as I’m using my research hours.

I haven’t gotten any work on the ePortfolio done, today, though I did review a key document, yesterday. I’m still dealing with not knowing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, so my energy is diverted to a task which is clearly defined (watch the lecture, read the book, etc).

Tomorrow will be the weekly produce run. After that, I’ll need to finish reading Chapters 3 and 4 of my book so that I’m somewhat prepared for the interview I’m supposed to give someone, of which I don’t know the content, yet. I’m still waiting on confirmation of whether I’ll even be able to talk to this person, yet, and it has to be done within the next two weeks. Even a, “no,” will mean that I can move on to another option.

Well — when I put it that way, it doesn’t look too bad. It’s actually closer to a week and a half.

Maybe I should be giving myself breaks to draw, and stuff like that. Even if it’s just, “I’ll screw around with a pen for 10 minutes and then get back to work…”

Revisions and new possibilities

About an hour ago, I completed a paper for Collection Development. Five pages of content, two of references, and a title page. I was seriously just happy that I got it in a half-hour before midnight.

Oh — and that I was just barely under the maximum word count!

It would be nice if I were able to deal with my ePortfolio, now that I’m back in the world of the living. I really, seriously, need to get over my intimidation on it and just start writing stuff out. It won’t get written if I don’t write it, that is.

The driving factor here, is time. I have two months left to get this done, and the more I don’t work on it, the more it’s going to feel like I’m taking three or more classes, towards the end of those two months.

Realistically, I need to submit an average of at least two essays a week — probably more, now that I’ve wasted two weeks being sick, and catching up on work I didn’t do while I was sick. But I’m only taking one other class; I have time if I have motivation.

The big thing about it is getting back into an academic mode, as versus a vacation mode. The good thing about being in Collection Development concurrently is that the second class is structured, and forces me to get out of bed and engage.

I’ve just taken a look at my ePortfolio, and I’ve realized that any foundational work that I can get done on any Competency, will be good. This is because it makes things vastly less intimidating when I’m not looking at a blank form. And I can always update and edit work that is there.

The other thing that has happened is that I’m using one of my memberships which I have heretofore ignored. It’s encouraging the direction of my energy towards Librarianship, though it also can be a time sink: I spent two days authoring something to help someone. That’s time I could have used, working on my ePortfolio. But it did help. It really helped me, too.

I have realized that I would be a very good fit for a Public (or Academic) Library position. One of my papers is on the intersections of Social Justice, Civil Rights, and Intersectional Feminism, and I found myself shifting back into that mode and speaking on diversity issues. Now I’m involved. πŸ™‚ Ruh-roh. πŸ˜‰

I have realized, however: I’m a very good candidate as a Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, or American Studies scholar, as versus or in addition to having possibilities towards Japanese-language/-diaspora Special Collections, and the possibility of becoming an Art Librarian. I’m thinking, though, that Gender Studies…might be more interesting, and might help the world, more. And I’m not convinced that I need to go back to my alma mater for it.

I still remember someone there saying that I couldn’t have an opinion on gender identity unless I had read Foucault, first. Which is just elitist hogwash. I kind of know something about gender identity, from, you know, having engaged with and lived the problem. Did he? (On that note, I probably don’t even need a degree in Gender Studies to be knowledgeable in the field. I’ve done Master’s level research. I’m in Library Science. I’ve written papers. I have some knowledge of Social Science. I have a grounding in Feminism. My fundamental grasp of the topic is apparent. I can deal with it.)

In comparison…the Web Design stuff is looking unimportant. Weirdly. Though right now I would likely have to work in either general Reference or Technical Services, given my skill set. I want to and may need to extend my reach deeper into Information Organization, however. That includes re-taking Cataloging.

Coming up…I will very shortly have an interview with a Collection Manager, and I need to read Chapter 4 in preparation for that (and I have been advised to read it more than once)…though this week’s Module just now opened up. Chapter 4 is just 30 pages, though — not a problem. I could get the first run-through done tomorrow, if I needed to.

I’m still waiting to hear back from my contact, though; I’m not even sure this will follow through. I might have to interview someone in a different system. Maybe I should get the contact information of an alternate person, from work.

Speaking of which, I’ve gotta be there in the morning. Maybe I should get some sleep and stop running myself into the ground. πŸ™‚

Dreaming? Nonbinary feminine-to-masculine gender reassignment

So, new day. It’s been interesting, thinking on the gender presentation thing, but this isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight. There are a lot of inputs that have been on my mind, recently…not all of which would be right to share, here, because they deal with specific people who are either in my life, or whom I’ve overheard.

One of the issues that has arisen is about seeing transgender positionality as an essentially privileged thing. I can see how the viewpoint would arise; I’ve noticed a definite trend in the demographic makeups of the genderqueer, nonbinary, gender-variant, and transgender groups that I’ve been in. But…I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that gender-variant identity is essentially White. For one thing, that’s not what I’ve observed.

For another thing, it’s probable that White TG/GQ/GV/NB people are more likely to be visible because of their relative ability to transition and relative safety in doing so; whereas TG/GQ/GV/NB people of color may already be marginalized enough so that they don’t feel capable of visibly taking on another stigma.

I know that in my case, I have enough stigmata that my life is pretty complex already, and this is without my changing to a male gender role so far as my public life is concerned. While I do think I would have been better off having been born physiologically male, a future of hormone administration isn’t welcoming…and, I’m looking at physically transitioning to a place where I’m seen as a Black male. A non-heteronormative Black male, at that.

Big deal with this: the U.S. has a prison culture. There are only a few males on the African-American side of my family who have not been in prison. I have not interviewed each of them about the circumstances which led up to their arrest; however, it’s well-known that police will target people of color over White people.

It’s also known that life inside a prison is violent and that rapes do occur, even in same-sex facilities. If it isn’t other prisoners, it could be the guards (particularly in a women’s prison). I don’t believe, if I were to be arrested for doing whatever, that I would be safe in either a women’s prison or a men’s prison (and I’ve had my supposed sexuality used as a weapon against me enough, already).

Which…just brings to light the lack of space afforded nonbinary people in this culture. Bathrooms, until relatively recently, have largely been either men’s or women’s; locker rooms and bathing facilities are men’s or women’s; apparel is either men’s or women’s.

It’s just one of those things. This is not to mention the surgical, “correction,” of those people who do not clearly fit into either the, “man,” box or, “woman,” box, which often causes lifelong scarring (I’m talking about psychological scars, but I would expect physical ones, too, from what I’ve heard and read).

Just in general, it’s a risky thing to transition. Especially if you’re not White. I have and had been attempting to hold solidarity with those people in history who have been gender-nonconforming and did not have the tools to be able to physically transform themselves. It doesn’t mean their identities were invalid, or nonexistent.

Now we have the tools, but society has not yet matured. For some reason, other people’s gender and sexuality are things that a great many people (not to mention, governments and the medical industry) want to control. I am not entirely sure why, at this point.

What I do know is that there is nothing at this point that requires that I change myself to, “make my outside match my inside.” My outside already does match my inside. My problem is that others see me, and the idea they get from my appearance is not at all accurate to who I am.

I would like a beard and a voice drop (just for myself), but the deal with that is that I’m likely to get hair all over — not just on my face. I also would likely get hairline recession, which I don’t want (it’s a reason I went on birth control — I was starting to lose it on my own), worse acne, and I’d lose my curves. I’m still not certain if I would be able to safely and comfortably bind for the foreseeable future. It’s easier after having been on testosterone, but I haven’t heard of it being a sustainable practice.

There is a possible in-between zone, where I could get a full beard and voice drop and then stop testosterone. I’d get back my curves (good? bad?), but then I’d still have the cartilage growth to deal with (which I can’t predict from here), possibly still hairline recession, and coarse body hair. It’s not that great a place to initially aim for, largely because it’s illegible to the vast majority of people…and people don’t like things they don’t understand.

The best-case scenario on testosterone is to get top surgery, stay on birth control or get a hysterectomy, get off of the medication that’s causing my weight gain, and become more physically active so that I can become buff. Of course, still maintaining my line of work (Librarianship) and my other plans for the future. It’s vastly easier to transition when one’s end point is…not something that makes one obvious.

And the fact is, still, that on medication for mood, anxiety, and detachment from reality — I’m essentially asexual, with a few rare instances of wanting to get close to certain people (but not really to have sex with them — a fact which people don’t understand, especially since I’m relatively open when talking about my body).

Also, I had been getting encouragement from one person who thinks I might do well on testosterone. The other day, I could see it. If I retained my long hair and got a beard and started presenting masculine, maybe with some eyeliner…yes, I can now see the possibility in that, and how it might make things make more sense in my life. I need to remember that I’d be transitioning to be a nonbinary masculine-appearing person, though: not to be a man.

On the other hand, there are a lot of other things to consider, like whether I’ll still recognize (or like) my own scent if I go on testosterone. I do know that getting top surgery isn’t anything I’m really hot on, because there’s nothing wrong with my chest. If I did get it, it would be, “because that’s what people do,” or for the sake of convenience and safety, or as a concession to other people. The first and third reasons don’t fly with me. For the sake of safety, though — that’s something different. And I would like to be able to be in public without a shirt.

(I did just remember that new eyebrow filler which will draw hairs on your face. That could be fun to experiment with!)

Why does it seem like my main problem in all areas of my life is having too many options?

Facial hair :)

So…you know how I’ve been sick?

I haven’t shaved my face for about a week and a half. It means I have about 6mm of hair growth. I don’t mean, “down.” I mean coarse hair. And yeah, it is the way nature made me, before anyone starts.

I kind of like being able to visualize a beard. The thing is, if I start testosterone to get more of that…I may lose some of the hair on my head.

And gain it on my cheeks. πŸ™‚

I think I’m starting to understand what was meant by living your life the way you want to live it, because you only get one shot. (Even though, that’s debatable.)

I’ll see what I feel like, tomorrow. I suppose it isn’t like I’m ever going to go bald on my face…like, face-bald or something.

Unless I get alopecia. Could happen.

Pushing back: embracing mortality

I’m wanting to do art so badly these days that the thought has arisen: “I don’t even care if it will kill me.” That’s not something that has come up, before. It did come up last night, and I neglected to write it down…but I don’t think the sentiment is an unfamiliar one, to many. (At least, to many in the art world.)

Of course, examples of early death from exposure to artists’ materials abound. I am reminded of Jay DeFeo, who died of lung cancer a couple of decades after working on her piece, sometimes called Rose, or Deathrose, for eight years. (This piece had been repeatedly built up and carved down, which would have created particulates. I suspect but do not know that she may have used Titanium White pigment in this; the photos I’ve seen are black-and-white.)

I have had a number of art teachers who have fought cancer. I knew someone who died in their 20’s from breast cancer, potentially from grinding down car parts (and refusing treatment). My nearest artsy contact has a rattling chronic cough (though I think they have been exposed to a lot of things besides art supplies).

I suppose the thing to do is to know what you’re getting into, before you get into it. One of my previous drawing teachers did make sure to emphasize the dangers of blowing pastel dust up into the air and then inhaling it. Of course, people still did it, which then exposed the entire class…except for those who brought dust masks and respirators. (Tip: turn the drawing board vertically and then tap it on a hard surface to clear the paper of dust, without raising excess dust.)

I was one of the people who did (eventually) wear a respirator…and the difference of the smell from within the respirator, versus the smell outside the respirator, was not at all subtle. I wore it because I was getting personally disturbed at sneezing, then blowing my nose and seeing blue stuff come out of my sinuses.

And this was working with the relatively safe stuff — we were only using NuPastels. Though now, anything with loose Titanium White in it is likely to get a Prop 65 Warning in California (that is, a label saying it carries a recognized carcinogen) even though the danger of Titanium White is mechanical, particularly where it comes to free nanoparticles: not a toxic one.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I have been careful to avoid certain pigments because of their toxicity. By that, I particularly mean cadmium-based pigments. I learned of itai-itai disease while in the Art program, which is a disease caused by cadmium pollution in water sources. The incidence of itai-itai in this example was caused by mine drainage into the water supply people drank, cooked with, watered their crops with, fished in, and bathed in.

This lead to cadmium buildup in their bodies. Itai-itai literally translates to, “it hurts, it hurts.” I read this a long time ago, and the page I read it on has since changed, but one of the main symptoms is bone softening and fractures, even just under the body’s own weight. (There’s also some stuff about kidney [“renal”] failure in there, but I don’t claim to understand that…I just barely took Biology classes.)

It’s not that important to me to get brilliant opaque colors out of cadmium-based pigments (which are, generally speaking, water-soluble; meaning they can be absorbed through the skin). It’s one thing to take the risk of working, and die; it’s another to die slowly and painfully for an avoidable reason that you can foresee and take precautions about.

If you know ways to keep yourself safer, it’s likely in your own best interest to do it. Although I do know about taking on passive risk. I do understand that self-destructive quality that Freud referred to as thanatos. But there’s a reason to protect yourself as much as you can: and that is, to extend your life on this planet. If making art brings you joy, I would expect that you would want to spend as much time making art as you can, yes?

So don’t sell yourself (or the world) short.

My particular weakness on this point are cobalt-based pigments (particularly, in watercolors). Cobalt is another toxic heavy metal, like cadmium, but has a different range of symptomatology on exposure. The thing is that I haven’t found anything with the same colors, or the same working properties.

Probably the worst I ever got from this was contact dermatitis (itching) when I was trying to reduce my exposure to cobalt by wearing nitrile gloves, and in the process got Aureolin paint (PY40, Cobalt Yellow) all over the tube — and my hand, because the gloves smeared the paint everywhere, and I didn’t see it. Or feel it. When I finally took the gloves off to actually take the lid off the tube (instead of just stretch the gloves), I got the paint all over my hand — and had nowhere but my pot of rinse water to wash it off.

I think that was a lesson in not being overly careful, if doing so creates risks and problems that don’t otherwise exist.

At this point, the only major thing I have about the cobalt colors is that 1) I can absorb them transdermally, and 2) I don’t know how to wash out my brushes while never contacting the paint. Everyone says not to touch the brushes. They don’t give any advice on how to avoid doing so.

Though now that I think of it, that would be a good use of those nitrile gloves — provided, of course, that no water gets into them. Which would negate the reasoning for using them, in the first place.

I’m not sure what’s up with me, tonight. I am feeling better than I was last night, and basically, I’m feeling better than I have for the last week. I think I’ve turned a corner where it comes to my health. It is now, though, almost 1 AM where I’m at! (No wonder I’m having trouble thinking!)

I need to get stuff cleaned up. Particularly: books. And changing these sheets, doing laundry, and getting the dust out of here. I also need to re-read Chapter 2 of my textbook so I know what I’m looking for, when I work on my late assignment. I should be able to complete that, tomorrow, if I’m feeling anything like the way I felt tonight.

Once I get that assignment out of the way, maybe I should realistically look at doing something constructive with my watercolors…I see them every day, and they just get dusty because of my hesitation. (I deal with OCD; they tempt me, but I remember that I need to use caution in handling them…which leads to their not getting used.)

Something like recovering from an illness seems like it will make a person embrace life more strongly. Kind of like contemplating immortality, just to get smacked back into reality by a high fever…

I suppose I have the cold to thank for that…

Recovering from a cold; starving myself of art

Little by little, I’m getting better from whatever this is. I can sit through computer problems in order to write and upload this — barely. And I realize that what I want to be doing now is art. I don’t know why, though I know doing it as a vocation throws me into a group where “success” is not guaranteed and life gets a lot riskier. As someone with a documented disability requiring lifelong care…that’s not great.

I’ve been wondering about what I’m doing with my time while sick (I’ve got a cold or something). “Isn’t this a perfect opportunity to work on something nonlinear?” I ask myself. But then I’m like, no…art is work. That’s why they call it art work.

Apologies if I misspell anything; I’m touch-typing by hand with my eyes closed, mostly. Even though I’ve been getting better where it comes to my sinuses, my eyes still burn. Ordinarily I can tell when I mistype something…I just know that my fingertips didn’t go where they were supposed to. But, just in case.

And yes, I am writing this prior to working on homework for either of my classes. I hate that, but writing helps me keep my head together.

(I’ve since gotten my glasses, and my eyes have stopped burning. Huh.)

I kind of wonder if life would have been simpler, had I never taken a World Religions course. I think it was while I was there that I started to get a loose idea about castes, running parallel to my idea about genders. Try to hear me out; I misunderstand a lot of this stuff, but in a way that brings light to my own situation. Apologies, too, to anyone who has been hurt by this system and is reading this: I’m an outsider here, and so in this case I’m only commenting on what thoughts my World Religions class set off in my own mind. I’m in no way trying to color anyone else’s beliefs. I’m not an expert.

When I was listening to teachings on Hindu beliefs (I was maybe 24 years old?…I don’t have my unofficial transcript here), I was also in a space relative to gender that wasn’t all that easy to inhabit. What I got from that class was the idea that maybe I did have a, “true,” self: beneath all the conditioning that I had been taught about in undergraduate Sociology classes. They taught, basically, that conditioning shapes everything about who we express ourselves to be, and that in effect there is no, “true self,” under that conditioning. The latter view jives with Buddhism (which…I don’t know what I feel about that, now); the idea of having a personal essence or duty derives from Hindu thought (which is older).

My idea was that maybe I did have a, “true,” gender aside from man or woman, and it just wasn’t what most of the world understood or would like; or that maybe I had a, “true,” calling, even though I wasn’t born into a arts/crafts family. We’ve kind of made it an arts/crafts family over the years, but at inception I think it was M who was the artist.

In my case, I thought I was in spirit a person who made things…creativity was my main focus and drive. It was reflexive and needed to be directed outwardly, or it began to transform me personally, and not always in beneficial ways. Often it worked out so that I would be transformed in some way thatΒ I understood, but others didn’t.

That creative spark and drive is what I had then that was special to me. That’s why I’ve hung with this (the art, the writing, etc.) for so long. I’ve needed it as an outlet for my energy. It’s also a reason I now work in a Library: my interests change so often that it’s hard to stick with one thing. So I’ll stick with all things. πŸ˜‰

While things on medication are more logical, they’re also a bit duller. On the bright side, it’s easier to catch when my mind is not working well. The thing about beliefs is that people generally don’t look at their own beliefs, and call them false. There’s something about the brain that makes it think that what it believes is true, the majority of the time, whether any of its thought is true or applicable or not. While that makes it easy to make positive belief statements…it in no way ensures that those beliefs line up with any form of reality outside of one’s own mind.

The “professional” identity I find myself being pushed into now is an economic move so that I don’t go without treatment (for the same issue that caused me to be creative all the time) for so long that I relapse and get out of control again. I do have serious issues with trauma from having been sexually objectified all my life (which is a reason…but not necessarily a causal one…why I don’t identify as a woman. That is, being not-woman likely led to the objectification, which led to the rage). The rage issues are what I’m majorly guarding against, because…hey. I have a germ phobia. I don’t need to be fighting. It’s gross. πŸ™‚ Also, I’d go to adult jail, now.

Besides, I consider rage a form of pain.

It is…indeed possible for me to drastically reduce one of my medications after graduation. It should help with the side effects (largely, muscle spasms), and if I’m right, it should give me back more of my creative ability than it’s giving back, now.

Right now I can feel it still simmering under the surface, bumping up under some of the floorboards in the back of my mind…as I try and focus on getting my degree so that I can be a, “Librarian,” so that I can get health benefits. (Which, in itself…is beyond idiotic. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVE AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE for being a Librarian???)

πŸ˜›

It’s not an easy feeling. Really, not. I mean, just having to push that to the side so that I can deal with finishing grad school so that I’ll have class mobility, and be able to meet my basic needs. Even if I’ve realized that maybe I like working with things more than working with data. But craftspeople and artists don’t make an easy living in this society. And if you asked me now, yeah, that’s a reason why I’m thinking about not staying here for the rest of my life.

But I only have two more months of this, to deal with; unless, I don’t work.

I think I’ll be OK.