I started writing about mandalas and ended up writing about inks.

I feel like maybe I should be looking at alternatives to Library School, while I have the free time.  I have just been thinking about how most Library Assistants who float between branches can end up with six hours or so at Circulation (or so it seems) when substituting for a Clerk.  Circulation can be easy — and it usually is — except when I get cases which I have to refer to higher ranking staff.  Which I’d be, mind you, if I took that job.

I’ll try not to go any further into that.

Earlier, I did continue on the little art-making spree I’ve been on since late last night (I think I’m going in little “spurts” of energy with everything:  I haven’t, for example, touched the career reading for days).  What I can say is that it’s been so long since I’ve seen multiple mandalas (though I just spotted both of my mandala coloring books), that I had to go and look through the “mandala” tag on the Reader just to get a sense of what basic shapes other people have filled the spaces with.  I didn’t want to stick with the cliché lotus petals.  I mean, they’re nice, but I need some variety, you know?  😉

It could be interesting, to make a research project out of this…unfortunately, as for now, the post I have in mind to create isn’t fully formed, yet.  I want to make examples of how space can be divided up (360/?), the differences that the orientation of these spaces can make, and what simple shapes can take up those spaces — which will require either photography or my Wacom.  I have a strong feeling that reference to the Seven Basic Motifs of Best Maugard will come in handy here…though again, to explain this is much eased by using visual aids.

Right now, though…I feel like it’s writing time, not art time.  It could be the sunset, or it could be the fact that I’m not wearing my glasses — or maybe that’s just enough “art” for the day.  I got to the point with my second mandala of the day (not counting the one at midnight last night) where I really had to take a photograph, because I could see this mandala diverging in a way that I hadn’t expected.

Right now I have a kind of Art Deco-type pattern going on in the background which is reminding me of shark teeth.  I had expected “arrowhead,” not so much “shark.”

But with my mental state as it is, things like that are going to come out.

I’m also experimenting with an asymmetrical fill pattern, for the first time — it looks fairly nice, except for the fact that it’s swirling counterclockwise and I noticed, but made no change to it (because, I expect stuff like that to come out at this time).  For those who don’t know:  counterclockwise spiralling can indicate decay or death (IIRC), though this is more of a fire-type motif (probably a “Wheel of Fire” reference).

Right now, I have maybe three out of ten spaces filled with the shark pattern.  I’ve also realized why others have used edges to their work with mandalas — there’s a lot of underlying work which happens before any of the final elements are laid in, which has to be decluttered before painting.  I’m just not sure whether I want a deep black in there, or not (I have a tendency to paint pastel-toned paintings; going all the way in tonality to black could be shocking as regards the rest of the work…or it could force me to use a decent amount of paint, which may not be a bad thing).

Right now I have four options, as regards inking:  Black, Sanguine, Warm Grey, or Cool Grey waterproof fineliner.  Both of the Grey tone pens will be barely noticeable.  I’m using a 2B pencil (Faber-Castell; I love these, even though I have expressed frustration with 2B before) to do all of the basic pencil work, intending to erase it out, later — so it’s nice to have some inks that can withstand eraser scrubbing — and water.

Why only these four colors?  The other fineliners I have are all water-soluble (Stabilo and Staedtler); and I’m not intending to underpaint with them.  🙂  Both Micron and Copic have relatively decent waterproof qualities, though I’m much more familiar with Microns.  Pitt pens by Faber-Castell…they say that they are waterproof, but my own tests have shown a bit of pigment movement under water; a second student in my program confirmed this when I mentioned it.

I do also have bottled ink, which I didn’t remember until just now.  I was in class with someone who would use ink wash as an underdrawing and then layer color on top of it.  I’m not sure what type of ink that was, but it didn’t budge under the later painting.

I suspect it might have been waterproof Sumi ink, but there is no way that I’m using the bottle I have of that, with all the caution signs that are on it (it contains shellac, meaning it probably also contains camphor as a solvent…and I don’t remember either of those as being safe.  The bottle says to wash your hands for 15 minutes if you get it on your skin, IIRC).

I have Yasutomo bottled ink, already (needed it for a Drawing class); and I don’t remember it moving under subsequent layers of water when I used it on Illustration board (the latter of which, I still don’t know how to use — it’s kind of weird how the board warps [and unwarps] with water), even though that ink is not said to be waterproof.  I think it just soaked into the board and got stuck.  It would be interesting to see how this ink behaves on a different material.

I’m thinking that traditionally, the setup for Sumi-E is very different from what we would use with Western watercolors; it would be on top of an absorbent surface, and the paper would not be thick cotton-rag watercolor paper, but probably more like washi paper (which is very thin).  I’ve never done this myself, mind you; so I’m not an expert…but watercolor paper is likely not a traditional surface on which to use Sumi ink!

Stick-based Sumi ink (with a brush, for toned areas) would likely be physically safer than the waterproof liquid stuff, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve ground my own ink…and I would need to learn how to recognize the type of stick I would want (Sumi ink is generally either pine soot or vegetable oil soot; the two of these formulations have different properties).  I’m lucky that I can already (somewhat?  I see another spelling) recognize the kanji for “pine” (the one I’m thinking of is very basic, and another reason I’d like to just simply insert images here [not that I would have known beforehand that I’d want to show a kanji for “pine”])…but going further than that, I’d be best off asking a specialty provider of Asian art materials:  one of which, I know; shipping just may cost as much as my order.  Then there is Japantown, but I’d be relying on the salespeople there to read things for me.

My biggest concern with using bottled ink is what type of nib to use.  I need fine lines, meaning I’d probably need a steel nib (not quill [which it seems one needs to be able to make on one’s own], bamboo, or reed), meaning I’d have to prep the steel nib (there is an anti-rust coating on them that repels ink and has to be burned off; meaning I’d need some way to hold that nib while it’s smoking hot, and I may have softened one pair of plier jaws already by doing this; I count myself lucky that I can even still use those pliers)…it may be too much trouble, for now.

Anyway…these are side streets that I don’t have to take, for now, but which may be interesting in the future.  In particular, I’m looking at this train of thought I started with the Sumi ink, brushes, and nibs.  I kind of wonder what I can do, with that…I had been thinking about using inks more, at the beginning of Summer Break.  Then I got more into the work with the Watercolors — particularly after acquiring a more-full palette.

I still really do want to see what possibilities of colors I can get with the newer pigments I obtained.  The major ones are a deep Hansa Yellow, close to Gamboge or Indian Yellow; a light Hansa Yellow (they’re very different); Deep Vermilion; Magenta Permanent; Dioxazine Violet; Sap Green; and Payne’s Grey.  I also want to see what I can get by mixing my Earth Tones with more concentrated color!  (I started at this today with Burnt Sienna + Deep Vermilion, which…oddly enough, gave a flesh tone?)

What I need to start doing is working at some mixing charts…it would have been easier today if, for example, I knew what my colors were going to do when I mixed them!  I guess there is a place for preliminary play…

I started writing about mandalas and ended up writing about inks.

Testing the water(colors?)

I think that I am beginning to come out of my slump.

Having reached the point where I’ve realized that doing any art at all, no matter how small that effort is, will benefit me…I have moved some of my art materials back into my bedroom.  Easy access from my bed means I’m more likely to get out of bed (which is where I hang out when I’m depressed) and work with them.

2736-ini
Firefly?

Last night, I was playing around with some pens…as they’re one of the most attractive (although not the easiest) media for me to go to.  I also started playing around with something I had been experimenting with in the Art program — spirals within other shapes.

This little bug was the result.  🙂  Apologies for the blurriness — this must be at least 5x as big as the drawing is, IRL.

I don’t really know what a firefly looks like, in reality, but again, this was just me playing around.  Research tends to come after rough drafts (at least for those developing ideas only loosely based on truth), and rough drafts are generally not very good — but they often contain or point to the essence of what is trying to come out.

And, then…well…last night I also started to work again in vine charcoal.  What I was doing seems silly, now, so I have hesitated in posting about it.  I’ve decided to include it anyway, though, for my own records.

2730w
Vine charcoal

The experience of working in vine, again, did get me thinking on going outside and using my charcoals and Conté crayons to sketch…as these media are relatively nontoxic and simple to use.

I had noticed when trying to express myself with pencil, I was having a difficult time breaking out of linework.  Which is, of course, something a pencil is ideally designed for, but if you don’t want to do that anymore, switching media isn’t a bad idea.  (When I was a youth, I would draw with mechanical pencil.  Talk about precision!  But that’s not something that’s always desired.)

I did try and “color” with the vine, which is something that vine charcoal isn’t suited for — but I’m not in classes, anymore, so I get to do what I want to do.  😉

I was also using a charcoal paper by Strathmore — I think it’s 25% hemp fiber content.  It just feels really nice to use, in a tactile sense, but there is a grid texture to it which can be unwanted, depending on personal preference or the project at hand.  You can see the pattern in the image I’ve posted, above.

Last night, I also started on another mandala, utilizing the paper-folding technique that I had used for my last large attempt at making mandalas.  It’s too faint to photograph, though.

Today, I got out my compass (first I had to remember that I had one, and where it was), and I think that using the compass will be a really good first step for me in most mandala work.  When I use the paper-folding technique on its own, I tend to get mandalas which are more square than round.  This can be useful at times, but there’s something about a circle which is more attractive to me.  I don’t have to base my work on the bounds of a square format, after all.

2734wi
Practice with watercolors.

In any case, I drew a simple pattern out today with my compass, in my AquaBee journal.  The paper is heavy enough to take wet media, but it still warps.  I did, though, try playing around with watercolors on top of it…and this, this was fun!

I didn’t realize when I was drawing out this very simple form, how many different areas it would give me to play with colors.  TBH, the only reason it is this form is that I didn’t want to go find my protractor.  ^_^;;  I know where it is, I’m fairly certain; but one thing I’ve learned from my job is that most people are relatively lazy.  😉

(So I’m not the only one!)

In the process of working with the watercolors, I tried to stick back down the areas in my palette where the paint separated from the wells.  In the center blossom there, too, I started using desaturated and earth tones, whereas most of the rest of the mandala has areas which are one to three colors of paint, mixed — I think the only straight pigment is Magenta Permanent on the far left; the most complex is probably Phthalo Green + Permanent Rose + Phthalo Blue (GS).

I did get some interesting effects when I laid down a color (in both cases, a yellow) and then layered other colors on top of them while they were still wet (Sap Green, and likely, Cadmium Orange Hue).  I also got a little bit of a bleed on the right side, of an orange into Burnt Sienna + Deep Vermilion, but I think that this really only adds to the “magic” of what happened in the painting.  That is, randomness added to what happened, there, as versus screwing it up.  😉

And, just to let you know, there was little to no prior planning of what color would go where, which is why I’m kind of amazed that this doesn’t look like a mess.  I’m also really surprised that the underlying drawing fades back so much, and that it’s OK-to-good that it does this.  Most of my prior work in watercolors, aside from Watercolor class, has had a hard-edged look because of using fineliners…but maybe I don’t want to block myself into that route.

I’m thinking that my paper should be dry now, so I can go and play more in my sketchbook…

There is one more point, though, that is at the back of my mind.  This is the idea that when I don’t do art, I’m unwell…or when I do work at art, I am well?  Maybe the latter is more true.  It’s something to revisit, soon — but it’s the reason I’m going through all of this with Library School; so that I can have time and money to do this, so that I can be healthy.  I should remember, though, that becoming a Librarian is not the only route to a secure living…it’s just the one in front of me, at the moment.

Image

Apologies for the rant :P

I think I may have again run up against the reason I’ve stopped writing “things-which-aren’t-verifiably-true.”  It has come up in regard to posting on a forum I used to frequent, and it came up again in my last poetry attempt.

I have been aware of it, at least, since the time I started my Creative Process class (now completed):  It is more difficult for others to read what I’m saying when I work in visual art, and I was effectively blocked as regarded Writing.

This hasn’t really been broached…largely since I graduated with my Writing degree, now over a decade ago.  I stopped writing because I didn’t want to show people how messed-up I was; and at the time I was very, very ill.  In specific, all the parts of my identity which I want to hide, show up in my Creative Writing.

If you want to know how deep that goes, I can say that when I was at University, I pretty much let go of hoping for acceptance because — as I put it then — “if people don’t like me for one reason, they won’t like me for another.”  With strikes against me for my race, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or lack of one), spirituality, mental status, culture, politics, etc…the goal of acceptance was looking pretty hopeless.

Since that time, I have been somewhat in the adult world, where petty disputes over identity don’t occur as often as they do in high school, junior college, or University; though when they do occur, they seem to be much more damaging, especially when layered upon a prior history of trauma.

What I’m thinking is that if I’m going to write, I’m going to have to pull off these layers of gauze and actually look at myself and my identities — and stop pretending that I’m a normal person.  I think the reason I stopped writing was because of anxiety over self-presentation.  This, and concerns over not being able to be employed anywhere because I took the risk of expressing an unpopular (minority) opinion from an unpopular (minority) vantage point, at one time.  This, or people would read what I wrote, and not understand it, but judge me for it anyway.

I’m fairly certain that these motivations are applicable to this blog.  I’ve been much less prolific recently, and when I look at reasons why, it is not because I don’t have things to write about, but rather that I don’t want to deal with repercussions of existing as a multiply-impacted minority online.

The only way to avoid that, though, is to stay silent, and if I stay silent, intolerance and hate wins.

I do have a part of myself which has evolved specifically to counteract this, though switching into his mental space is a bit of a double-edged sword; particularly where it comes to gender identity and dysphoria.  (He’s male; this body is not.  He’s also a bit aggressive, which isn’t good when you have an aggressive mother who never backs down from a fight.)

I should note that when I speak about, “parts of myself,” the question is still up in the air as to whether these are external or internal to me, and whether the distinction is even possible, or if it matters at all.

The entire shamanic angle is another facet to this, though I don’t consider myself a shaman at this time, as I was never trained by a living person (other than my mother) in any kind of tradition.  I did go through a rather prolonged “Seeker” phase in which I explored…a lot.  Though what my spirituality is, now, doesn’t fit precisely into any specific religion.

I’ve read that a tendency to mental illness often rides along with psychic ability.  The psychic tendencies are what have caused me to look outside of institutionalized religion for answers.  Later, the politics and framework of the Western Occult Tradition caused me to look outside of the occult sphere for answers (I didn’t realize how alien it was to me, until I started looking into Demonology — and realized how heavily that was based in the doctrines and prejudices of a religious system which wasn’t mine).

The best I can do right now, is to depend on myself and try to recognize when I’m mistaken (which is not easy when you have a tendency to disconnect from physical reality, in general).  I do tend to keep coming back to Buddhism, especially when I hit depressive lows, but I don’t accept what I read, uncritically.

In specific, I have an interest in Huayan Buddhism (I have at least one book on this, which I still haven’t read:  I hit “sentient beings” and get triggered), and the period in time at which Daoism and Buddhism were stealing each other’s doctrines and followers in China — making them both sound similar in the present day (see:  Buddhism & Taoism:  Face to Face by Christine Mollier).

I think I’ve gotten really turned off of Buddhism because of some of the lay beliefs, like, “if something bad happens to you, you must deserve it (because of something you did in a past life which you can conveniently no longer remember),” and, “you only experience unpleasant things because you label them unpleasant (so if you label your toothache as ‘joyous’ you would experience ‘joy’ at your toothache),” or the belief that thinking is worthless (so don’t question the teacher), or the belief that all females are karmically inferior to all males (so we don’t have to fund that nunnery you girls want).

Beliefs like these are really irritating, but I’ve got to remember that they’re not actually anything that helps.  And Buddhism is at its core about pragmatically helping, so beliefs like these should be easily tossed aside — unless, say, you’re a heterosexual monk and having a hard time keeping to your abstinence vow (which is not anything Buddha ever even set in place — his followers did), and programming yourself to hold disgust toward women has become preferable to experiencing life as a being whose constitution includes libido directed at same.

But yeah.  Maybe I’ve just made it into the ranks of the non-beginner Buddhists…

I should probably sign off before I say more stupid things…

Apologies for the rant :P

Flow #1

You gave me a life
In a world based on language
with no words for myself.

Bread and meat are not
my way.
When I think about this,
I suspect things are not as good
as they seem.

I should be out by now;
Away;
but circumstances make that
a decision
that would ruin me.

I have three more years.
And the end of all this
is closing in
at any time.

Life is fragile.
Individual life, especially so.

I’ve already wasted years.
Extended adolescence.
Maybe the most advanced
need time to ripen.

Or maybe our world,
like so many of us,
is so off-balance
it cannot maintain
itself.

What I will do without you
is something I don’t know,
but regardless, it will come

(unless I go first)

and I don’t think you could
live with that.

My situation is such
that
it’s hard to maintain composure
on a daily basis
if I think too much
(like now).

It’s too easy to decide.
The pain is so intense
the expectation of it never ending
that at one time I did take Refuge
and hope to end this chain.

If I die
I will be lucky to be reborn
in a place where I cannot
expect abuse
or early death.

Buddhism is not optimistic
the solution to pain
is to avoid living
This life is fundamentally
Pain
And Buddha was a depressive
who snapped

(and who still
did not know everything)

It’s why I stopped writing.
Obsessions come to the fore
much too easily
entertained
as though they are reality
leaving me
with your death
over
and over
and over

And me eating out of dumpsters
or in some kind of home
for the mentally disabled
is a fear I cannot shake

I am not a child.

but I tire
so easily

I see myself
in the raving lunatics
on the street
begging for change

(or the next hit)

Shitting on the sidewalk

Would I be there
without you?

What comes
when I lose you?

Where would they be
if someone cared for them?

Am I so different?

Is my pain based in
compassion or
self-interest?

If you believe you have been
and will be all of those people,
are the two things the same?

I have had an insight
into the nature of reality
where this body is mortal
but I am not
because I am you
I am everyone
who has ever existed.

But as this body,
this experience,
I will still die.
Someday this will end
Someday we will stop talking
about me
Someday the pain will be gone

But not until the end
and I have so much karma
and I don’t know if the solution
to ravaged nerves
is lovingkindness.

This is what I mean
Maybe there is some truth
behind the Sutras

Or maybe in some way
each of us has a star
Some way, I am burning
bright and beautiful
and meant to collapse into
a gateway

into another universe

Flow #1

Thinking I’ll need to go a bit low-tech in the coming days…

I’m thinking that I’m going to need to spend some quality time with myself offline, soon.

Largely, what I’ve been doing is reading, and working.  Speaking of which, running off of the theme of my recent interests, I did check out and read Trinity:  A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb, by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm.  (I can mention this because I’ve already returned it.)  This is basically a nonfiction graphic novel about the dawn of nuclear weapons.  It didn’t take more than one afternoon to read.

I’m pretty sure I saw this one reviewed somewhere, as well…but I can’t really find that post, right now.  I could have sworn it was on Comics Grinder, but I’ve run a few searches and don’t see it.  Nor can I recall if I’m Following any other blogs which may have reviewed it.

One of the things which I am finding myself concerned about, now, is finding balance between information intake and synthesis, and moving toward information output.  I have things that want to come out of me, but at the same time I’m concerned about putting them down on paper.  This is the, “but what if somebody finds it,” concern…

…which is, basically, concern about misreading and judgment — to which this information is rather vulnerable.  Ironically, one of the main reasons I started writing as a youth at all was to escape judgment.  Then, came the internet.

Right.

Most of the writing I’ve been doing has been on this blog or elsewhere online, intended for immediate consumption.  However, I’ve got the seed of at least one or two projects rolling around in my mind.  The main problem is that I will need to confront at least one to three (or more) minority statuses to get the information out at all.  At least one project has to do with how to get through life when you’re someone like me:  particularly focusing on mental health and gender fluidity.  As for anything else; that hasn’t solidified yet.  I find myself wondering, though, how “creative” (i.e. spiritual) I can get while discussing the former two topics, and how many people that might alienate (I’m nowhere near being Christian, let me just say that).  I also wonder if spiritual content might invalidate the rest of the text, somehow.

It might be easier to work on the art, at this point, and let things filter through that way.  (I’m looking at my paint chip collection, right now.)  This is not the only time I’ve run up against this, though.  Particularly when I was in early college, I would find it difficult to switch from an absorptive, commentating mode into a productive one.  This was particularly severe when I would go for three months just reading, without writing anything, and then be expected to turn in a 10-20 page Term Paper at the end of the quarter.

Reading is not the same as writing; and it can be difficult, when you’re confronted with various finished works, to get back into writing a first draft of something which is invariably more poorly made than what you’ve just read.  But this is because of editing — lots of editing — and lots of rewrites being put in on those projects.  I actually had a co-worker tell me once that she didn’t think she could be a writer, because she didn’t feel she could measure up to the greats (like Shakespeare).

And here again we find ways people are unintentionally (we hope, unintentionally) harmed by University curricula.  The English half of my Writing program made me want to stop reading; I’m not even kidding about that.  This English program was not about just anything written in the English language; it was about a majority of ethnically English writers, which for me amounted to Ethnic Studies in English.

I had been hoping for a more American/multicultural slant, but the English department in specific was very conservative, leaving everyone who wrote something in English which wasn’t considered a, “Classic,” (by what criteria something is a “Classic,” I still don’t know; I just know that pretty much everything I read would easily fit into the “Classics” section at my Library) to be focused on by the Ethnic Studies department.  The latter was also kind of disappointing because it focused on politics, not craft.

Although I’ve got to say that I really did appreciate my class on Vietnamese-American Literature.  I was certain it was expected that I would take a class which corresponded with my own diaspora…but after having been exposed to Japanese-American culture for most of my prior 20 years, I — rather — wanted to see how some other Asian people lived.  I have had to deal with racism from within my own culture, and that did factor into not taking Japanese-American Literature (which would have been what I took if I went the easy route).

I kind of wonder, though:  if I had taken Japanese-American Literature, would it have tipped me over into taking Japanese Language and Literature for my Bachelor’s, as versus English — Creative Writing?  And would my writing today still be as crisp as it sometimes can be?

I really don’t know.  What I do know is that Federal Aid won’t cover a second Bachelor’s — I checked it out, a long time ago.

Anyhow.  Not to get into regrets…

I am, though, wanting to get back to my art materials.  I don’t know yet what I’ll make, but I’m sure something will come of it, somehow.

I should probably get back to work in my Art Journal, too…

…And maybe, if I’m going to use the little journal I’ve got for writing out this project…maybe I will just try writing whatever comes to mind, as versus having a clear presupposed view of what I am “trying” to get out.  I think it will help.

Thinking I’ll need to go a bit low-tech in the coming days…

So I guess I actually did have something to write about!

Still no artwork done, though I do want to play around with my colors — I’m just not sure to what extent.  The other day, I tried closing that Mijello palette, and had one of my earth tones fall, in a dried chip, from the lid.  Not very encouraging, that…though it would have been worse if I actually had anything painted out in the lower mixing area.  Right now I’m fairly certain that maybe I shouldn’t put anything I really want to use, in that lid…

I realized either late last night, or early this morning, that what I had done with my last post — that is, view one information source, see another information source cited, look up that information source, read that information source — seemed very typical for someone looking to become a Librarian (or academic, in general).  I’m also following a path which would prepare me well for being a lifelong academic (which working in the Library seems as though it will entail).

The thing seems to be, though, that these types of academic-seeming posts (and conversations) are not as wholly interesting to the people I’ve been speaking to, as they are to me.  In particular, when I was talking about the aftermath of the bomb at Hiroshima, it wasn’t pleasant conversation to (one of) the people I was sharing the information with.  There was just a lot of death, and a lot of racist dehumanization (the latter of which, I think the author of the New Yorker article was trying to counteract); and regardless of how fascinated I was by beginning to read again and being exposed to the information of the aftermath via sources closer to the time (which I could have been exposed to no other way), it’s possible that others didn’t want to know.

So far as reading has gone today, though?  Not much done.  Today was largely 1) getting up late, 2) heading out for a celebratory lunch (which for me consisted of a half-bucket of clams and mussels with sourdough — I’ve found out that I like mussels better), 3) coming home, 4) going back to sleep.  Hopefully, this is not going to be a pattern.  But as things are, that’s the only thing (besides some chips and some sugared drinks, including a root beer float) I’ve eaten all day, and I’m not too hungry, right now.

Of course, though, I only woke up about two hours ago, when I realized that since it was still light out, it would be best to try and be active as versus sleep.  If I’m not careful, I may be up into the early morning.  Actually — that’s more likely than not, and right now it’s nearly unavoidable.  The best thing I could do would be to try and sleep, and then get up at 4 AM or whatever and do what I’m going to do anyway.

I did take my new journal with me to write within, but it was kind of too nice of a day to ignore it by writing.

Study-wise…I have 47 pages to go in my poorly-edited Library/Info. Systems Management text from 2012 (the one which has at least one nonsensical “sentence” every two pages).  I scanned through my textbook for the other major course I took in 2012, and that one seems to be wholly read-through (I can tell from the highlights).  The other text I can look at…is something that turned me off to the entire program when I tried reading it in 2012; it’s very old-school.  But, like I said to my friend:  Actual history will make you angry, and there’s no point in reading pablum.

There’s material in that book about how Librarianship is a “helping” or “caring” profession (I can’t remember exactly which) — like Nursing — and so the (male) person who founded the ALA thought women were better suited to the job because women were better at “caring.”  It’s total sexist BS, and it’s insulting to me as a female-bodied person who’s really not great at, “caring,” for other people, at all.  But maybe the BS was needed in order to give some approvable reason to hire women preferentially (when most other avenues of employment were closed to them, as women were seen as “unsuited” for the work — out of sexist BS).  These days there are male Librarians, and the ones I know are awesome — but they are still a minority.

Speaking of BS:  it’s kind of like I wasn’t exposed to the reality of the Mission project (between Baja and Northern California) from the point of view of the Native people (who were basically conscripted/enslaved/assimilated) until I got into undergraduate work.  When I was a kid, they basically probably didn’t want to upset us or encourage sociopolitical discontent (like what, a child uprising?).  Though now that I think of it, it is possible they were scared of us; we did way outnumber them, and our brains weren’t fully developed yet; so maybe they were just trying to protect themselves from a bunch of upset kids.

I kind of do wonder, based on what we were taught, and the books that were in the Library (one of which was an anthropological/phrenological tract on the differences between 3 major races, from before modern genetics and modern anthropology…seemingly before modern medicine), exactly how long ago those lesson plans were made (from whose point of view, for whose benefit), and who thought those books were select ones to which to expose youth (many of whom were not White, and so whom may have been damaged by the racist ideas promoted in that book, which to this day remind me of Neocolonial discourse).

Granted, I did read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (not to mention Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver) in my later high school years, but I was too young and sheltered to be able to fully understand it.  (No one even told me about racism until after I encountered it; I must have been a teen.  I think they were hoping that if they didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t have to deal with it.)  What was a bit irritating was getting to the English program at University and being assigned the same books to read as I had read in High School.

Why?

ehh.

In any case, I feel like I should read, some more.  It would probably be a good habit to get into, if I want to be a Librarian.  Have extra time?  Don’t know what to do?  Read!

Though, then, I’m not sure how I’d fit in my Art.  I do see my little Maruman sketch book, right next to me.  Maybe I can see how it performs with wet media, after I get tired of reading, tonight…

So I guess I actually did have something to write about!

Getting back into reading after…months? Years?

In the last 24 hours…I have done SO MUCH reading.  It started with seeing a program on one of our PBS stations which had to do with the development of nuclear armaments.  They mentioned an issue of The New Yorker from 1946 which was entirely made up of one article about the Hiroshima bombing.

Instead of doing what I normally would have done, which would have been to find the article, bookmark it, and save it for later reading, I did something out of my norm:  I started to read.  This is largely because I have a tendency to find resources, and then never look at them again — which kind of defeats the purpose of being able to find them.

The Hiroshima bombing has personal significance for me; multiple signs point to family ancestry originating in Hiroshima.  Most of the people we’ve noted who share my surname are nikkeijin, or emigrants and descendants of emigrants, from Japan.

The total course of reading the above-linked article took two or three hours.  I can’t remember if I started reading around 10 PM or 9 PM, but it took me until around midnight to read the entire thing.  (In this case, Google was much easier to use than University databases:  no log-ins!  And, The New Yorker has its own archives — slightly enticing, I must say.)

I’ve missed opportunities to learn about survivors of the bombings firsthand before, though, and so when the program aired…I tried to pay as much attention as I could, especially to footage of the explosions and the aftermath.  I’ve also been exposed to a lot of anti-nuclear propaganda in my day (I wasn’t around for the pro-nuclear propaganda), and so, actually, seeing this documentary and then reading about it later kind of had the effect that my class on the Biology of AIDS did:  it kind of took some of the fear down by familiarizing it.  Though the aftermath of a nuclear attack is still grotesque, at least understanding it a little better kind of takes away the kind of idea that it’s some kind of unholy daemonic technology that never should have been used or shared.

Since then, and…even before then, now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve been looking through the cache of books I’ve gotten on careers in Writing, and careers in Library and Information Science.  The thing I’ve read which stands out as notable to me is that in a number of occupations I’ve seen (and which I’m interested in) in books on Writing, it’s said that one needs either a separate part-time or full-time job to survive, ironically.  So hey, I switched back over to the LIS books.

One thing I have seen, looking through the LIS books, is that I may not be suited to be a Database Specialist, because strong Computer Science and Math skills are kind of prerequisites for the job.  I have an English degree, and decaying Math skills.  I’ve been thinking for years about refreshing these; the problem is that I don’t know exactly where to start, because I don’t know at what stage the gaps in my knowledge are or begin.

Also, I am not really wanting to start — especially where we get to polynomial equations, graphing, etc.  I seem to be really good at Geometry and not so good at other things, especially after we started using Graphing Calculators and the class started being more about how to use the calculator than applications of whatever we were programming into them.  (What applications those would be, I still don’t know.)  I have passed Statistics, and I’ve started out on Calculus (I dropped it due to having no idea on how I was doing); but both of these things feel high-level to me, now (though Statistics was fairly simple, from what I remember).

Because of this, and what I’ve found with trying to get classes in my program…I’m really questioning whether I’ll be able or willing to take a tack on things that now looks ultra-technical.  One of my Librarian co-workers has recommended Cataloging to me, as I’m very detail-oriented and accurate, and dealing with people is a daily stress, for me.  I can do it, and I usually do it pretty well; but my skills are not being put to best use.

I’m thinking that she’s right on with her recommendation, though it also looks like I may not be able to get away from working with the public (in any position) if I’m employed by the government in a Public Library.  At one time, this was possible, but things were changing by the time one of my references was written:  post-2002, prior to 2007, approximately.

I actually do like working in a Public Library, but more for the services we provide than dealing with …well, nasty people, basically.  They’re rare, but they do come through.  Most people are fine-to-good to work with (even the really poor and homeless people, and the people who are mentally nonstandard, can be good); but then you get the abusive people who want what they want when they want it from anyone they can force it out of, and when they don’t get it, they turn to insults.  I really don’t like dealing with them.

I would say that I don’t think anyone does, but then I’ve worked with some kind of snarly people myself, who might actually like being able to put someone “in their place.”  The problem with snarly co-workers, though, is that they tend not to be happy — even though they may be great at, say, telling someone to stop eating (or masturbating).  The major problem I’ve found with dealing with snarly people, though, is that I don’t feel safe around them, as I’m not sure anyone is off-limits to being snarled at.  And the issue with the people doing inappropriate things in the Library is that I don’t want to be the security guard in addition to everything else.  That’s kind of not why I would get an MLIS.

Anyhow…there have been two programs I’ve seen on PBS recently that have gotten me interested in History.  One of them was a program on the (U.S.) National Park Service; the other one was the aforementioned program on nuclear arms.  I’ve been giving some thought to the fact that I find it difficult, these days, to write fiction.  It just seems to engage a part of my mind that I’m better off keeping weak and unused — as when I did use it, I overused it, and I couldn’t tell my imaginative thoughts apart from reality.

Narrative work in Art feels different, though.  I think I could do that.  It’s easier for me to recognize my own invention in Art than it is in Writing.

But in any case — if I’m doing a lot of reading to familiarize myself with Library materials, it could also be interesting to use that reading and research to develop my own writing; like, a book on American History of a time period which interests me (I’d say, 1849 on — Gold Rush — as a possible starting mark).  I was mentioning to a friend before classes let out, that actual history will more than likely be angering, but the alternative is reading some approved tract of fiction which exists to keep people complacent…and there’s not a lot of use in the latter, unless it is taken alongside more professional history to expose what’s going on.

I’m also in the middle of a book on having multiple careers at the same time…it seemed innocent enough to bury myself in, and could help if only by giving permission to be someone who works two tacks at once.

Getting back into reading after…months? Years?