Two sets of earrings completed…

…Though one of them I love extensively more than the other.

I do have to get on job applications again, but after work on Wednesday, I was more excited that there was still sunlight (I thought I was working from 9-6, but I wasn’t), and started playing with the beads I got on Tuesday, and didn’t tell you about.

I went to a newer bead store in the area for silk thread, and ended up coming away with $45 in colored glass fire-polished beads (retail, not wholesale; their wholesale value is probably about $20, considering I did get the silk thread). These beads have facets ground into them and then are reheated so they melt a little and get this gorgeous flashy (“vitreous”) surface. Some of these beads have surface treatments, though most are transparent (I am not sure about the little 3mm lavender ones I got; they may be a little milky).

Because I went to a bead store (and not Michael’s), I’m confident that the beads are not just coated in dye. There are online sellers for this stuff too (Czech fire-polished glass beads), but it’s an entirely different workflow than designing in the bead store itself.

So I ended up spending a little more than half an hour in there, making critical color and purchasing decisions (in person!) which worked out pretty well, once I got the beads home and matched them with my pearls (the ones I got in Honolulu for $75 retail, meaning I’ve invested about $100 in the piece I’m working on now [not either of the two sets of earrings]…for which I’m still trying to design a decent layout. It’s going to take some playing around to get to a working conclusion, though).

See, this is why I got a Master’s degree, because this stuff is expensive and not affordable unless:

  1. it’s an occasional indulgence,
  2. I’m selling,
  3. I’m already set up with tools and materials, or
  4. I have a discretionary fund gained from having family subsidize my living expenses while I have a stable job.

Numbers 2, 3, and 4 may be something that come to fruition if I get a gainful Library job, stay with family, and have enough free money to purchase supplies in bulk (as versus groceries, utilities, clothing, incidentals, and rent). It’s really not a big thing to get a resale license; it just means submitting taxes quarterly on any income.

If I became an Adult Services Librarian in a Public Library setting, I could also teach this stuff for free and thus share my enthusiasm, build community, and learn from other beaders. I say “Adult Services” because a lot of these materials are not meant for use by people under the age of 14 — developing brains might be harmed.

From working with paints, I understand that a lot of colorants may be specifically unsafe for use with children. If I were planning on ever getting pregnant, it might also give me pause to expose my own body to these materials, but that is likely nowhere in my future.

Anyhow, I was able to use some other pearls I had from before to make a pair of earrings I really, really like. I mean…these are top-drilled pearls, basically rice-shaped and teardrop pearls (though on this strand, it was the odd teardrop) which are drilled in the short direction, across one end. They’re not easy to use because of the chaos factor; it’s never really known what direction they will point.

I had some round gold-filled spacer beads in my stash — two sizes — which I used to fill the gaps between the top-drilled pearls, and bent the thread line so that both ends came out through another bead at the top. I ended up, however, using brass wire (I think it’s 28-gauge, though there’s an off-chance it may be 26) to go through the thread path, then bending that top bead over, looping both open ends of the wire around the first established wire loop, then threading both ends back up through the top bead and finishing with a wrapped loop.

The finished item has some movement to it, but not enough to really detract from the overall design-as-worn. They’re actually super-cute, and a creative way to use a bead that is not meant to be inherently symmetrical.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out whether I want to buy a decent amount of gold-filled round wire so that I can do more stuff like this, without using something that will tarnish. Fine gauges of wire are actually surprisingly affordable (for anything containing precious metal), as they don’t use a lot of material.

You still want to practice first with the cheap stuff, though. I have brass and copper; and hardware-store material is fine or even preferable, here. Silver-plated wire, I just avoid; even “non-tarnish” wire will tarnish, and badly; or you’re dealing with, “Nickel Silver,” which I take to mean, “white metal with nickel in it,” and I’m allergic to nickel. Then there’s steel, which is an entirely different animal.

I use gold-fill wire and beads instead of gold-plate (when I can, or in projects I especially care about) because I don’t want the gold on the outside to flake off from applied pressure. I’m very familiar with the latter on gold-plated findings (metal bits used in jewelry) and focals, though usually cheap gold-colored wire is just brass (or brass-plate, if we want to get cheaper; I’ve even seen copper-plate wire. I mean, how cheap does it have to be?! I can get pure copper wire at the hardware store, and it’s not expensive!).

The reason to use gold instead of brass is the fact that brass will tarnish, and polishing something like this (with tiny tiny hooks from the wire ends) with a polishing cloth, will likely damage it. Ultrasonic cleaning will likely damage the pearls. Gold-fill wire will not tarnish, eliminating that variable, and making the piece harder-wearing.

As for the cost of gold itself…it’s so expensive that it’s out of the question to use solid gold wire (at least until I get my own atelier and sell in Nordstrom or something; at which point I’d likely be using something more expensive than glass [think Cubic Zirconia or lab emerald], for that center bead).

The economics of this did become clear to me today, though. If I used gold-filled wire, those earrings wouldn’t really cost me that much to make, and all of the gold would be gold-plate or gold-fill. Aside from that, I used three pearls and a firepolished glass bead for each earring. That’s not a lot of money I’m putting out, but I could easily sell them for at least $25-$35/pair, as I’m using real gold (even if it’s not solid) and real pearls. (I should remember, though, the wasted 28-gauge [28g] wire that is just used to hold onto the rest of it. There are places to recycle this, though. With the amount of damage gold mining does to the environment, it’s a little bit of relief.)

The fragility of 28g wire isn’t even an issue here, because earrings don’t get bent up like necklaces, bracelets, and rings, do — especially if the bottom edge has no jagged ends sticking out to get caught in something like a knit sweater.

I did come to the realization when first considering selling, that I’d have to move a lot of earrings to come out ahead, financially. This is because earrings don’t take a long time to make or design, relatively; they also use a relatively small amount of materials. On top of that, the personality of a set of earrings changes greatly depending on their color scheme, meaning I could use the same pattern in different ways, and thus save some time on the design aspect.

At this point, it is 1 AM my time. I will wait until tomorrow to photograph my work and upload images, but being the instant-gratification-yearning person I am, I will post this and then go to bed. Someone on the other side of the globe will like it. πŸ™‚

I also made a pair of earrings using a macrame technique and some titanium-fumed Crystal Quartz…which I didn’t even get around to. Tomorrow.

Tomorrow.

And, right, there was the realization that the seed beads were no match for the fire-polished rounds in sophistication…I just don’t want to forget that I noticed this…

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Getting back to beadwork.

I’m coming off of two weeks of not having been online. Pretty much all day today, I’ve been tired…although the only explanation I have for that is jet lag. My plane came in late last night, and I didn’t get into bed until about 2 AM local time. Then I was awake for about two hours, and went back to bed. D had to wake me twice to get me to come to dinner.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been on vacation, though the first week of that was largely taken up with being sick and avoiding pneumonia. During the ride over, I was getting sick; the next six days were spent mostly in bed. The second week was good; we got to see some relatives that we hadn’t seen in over a year.

We are also looking at what type of future we want, as a family. It’s possible to downsize. I’ve been thinking of what art and craft stuff, and books, I really want to keep, especially if we move overseas. That in turn has me prioritizing what it is I really want to do. Over time, I’ve accumulated a lot of art materials…which aren’t really necessary, for the amount of art I do. The thing is, I feel like a lot of this issue has occurred because of trying out different media…and being kind of a color nut, meaning that I’ve got a lot of colors of basically every media I’ve tried.

My attachments are more to the colors than the media, though I’ve found that I probably want to work in gouache, if I’m going to be a designer. It has the solid coverage of fluid media, and the mixability of paint, without requiring the use of liquid frisket (as transparent watercolors do).

I also started out in beadwork…of which I have had a fairly conflicted love. But it’s notable that it seeded my interest in color and color combinations. This is why I took Color Dynamics early on…before having taken Painting, which (I learned later) isn’t the way the Art program was designed to work. It’s also notable that my jewelry work (by this, I largely mean beadwork) and my mandala work are related through color combinations and repeating motifs.

Being honest with myself and a work acquaintance, I’ve found that a big reason I got back into my Art program were the questions, 1) of whether I wanted to make a graphic novel, 2) if I even enjoyed the artistic process, and, 3) issues of intellectual property were much clearer, there.

These weren’t really reasons to get away from beadwork…but I overthink things, to my detriment. I think I do have, or am developing, my own niche. It isn’t widely shared, but that’s OK.

And I shouldn’t undervalue my own work just because it isn’t Fine Jewelry, or because of the costs of my materials. It’s still artwork. Well, “design work,” might be a more appropriate term. It’s also something to note that I am a Beadworker or Beader, more than a Jeweler; though I bend the lines through my experience in both. That’s becoming more common, though.

As for 1), over time it’s become clear that my skill at writing is likely greater than my skill at art; although I haven’t been writing things which I know aren’t true, for some time. That is, I haven’t been writing fiction. I tried to begin while I was on vacation (and before), and I believe it takes me out of my comfort zone. I was just raised to be a very honest person, let’s say that.

However: it’s clear to me at this point that there are ways of working around the inability to communicate some things which are hard to communicate through language: it just takes me into the realm of poetics. Which essentially, I haven’t studied, in specific. However, the limitations of language are well-known in Zen tradition, as I found when I was studying Zen and aesthetics, some time ago.

As for 2), enjoying the artistic process; it depends on whether there is a point, or reason, to engage. Like…when I was out, I depended on drawings to assist me in the process of design. I could not have done that through text. It’s a way of thinking things through and elaborating ideas, in the design process.

When I was younger, I wouldn’t go to paper and — in this case — markers; I would just start playing around with things. Now that I have more experience, I know that planning things out isn’t necessarily a no-no. Instead, it helps me think things through without requiring the work of assembly at the same time. I’ve found, though, that starting by hand, and then moving to computer graphics…may be the way to go.

To do this, I’m thinking of subscribing to Adobe Illustrator, simply because I already know how to use it, and it would allow me needed precision. Planning beadwork is essentially a design operation…and I would need the hard sizes and correct/general colors of each bead. Both of these are limitations of working things out by hand, unless I can either eyeball it (which I can decently do), or mix gouache to the correct tone.

When I was on vacation, all I had were graphite pencils, Sharpies, my Pitt brush pens, and some opaque white Posca pens I found while there. Because everything was…in false colors, I had to make some decisions about hue, saturation, and value which were not an issue with computer-generated graphics. That means that I could describe the form and pattern, and what shapes I wanted to incorporate, but not tell what things would look like in reality.

There’s…also the issue of lighting. I obtained some cultured pearls which…well, the colors change under different light sources, so it’s hard to tell what they actually look like. Of course, having a little education on this, I know that the varied interpretations of what they look like under different lightings are their actual reflected colors. What I mean is that I need to look at them — well — under natural light, not in the light of a hotel room or a fluorescent bulb. At least that would give me a benchmark to know if my (likely dyed) Dark Peacock pearls are actually green-blue-grey-magenta, or just grey.

To be honest, I just added it up and I got $65 worth of cultured pearls, before tax (at retail, which is normally at least double wholesale), if I include the $9 focal pearl I purchased to be a pendant. I really love pearls, but they can look very conservative when used traditionally in a knotted strand, especially if they’re all the same shape and bleached white…that’s not quite the image I’m going for.

They also usually have very tiny drill holes to preserve weight (like most gemstones), making them a bit difficult to use. They need fine stringing material; traditionally, the widest silk thread which will also pass through the drill holes is used, and then knots are placed between the pearls to help preserve them. Otherwise, it’s very easy for them to abrade each other through normal wear.

The good thing is that I know how to clear and widen the drill holes, and I have what I would need to do it. I’m also more experienced than most, in working with pearls. The reason I bought these? I was able to see and select them in person, which I feel is almost a necessity for me where it comes to pearls and gemstones. Pearls and stones, to me, are precious based on the fact that they’re all unique (compared to most seed beads, pressed-glass, druks, and fire-polished beads, which are all made by people, and which are what I normally use). Pearls, in addition…need to be hand-selected, otherwise I’m just going by their grading as to what quality I’m getting.

The pearls I got were also beautiful. Of course, there is the effect of the efforts of people to standardize stones and pearls…but that doesn’t negate their different histories. As someone who has a history of believing in my own energetic sensitivity (I just looked up the term: I fall under “psychometry” except for the fact that I have never verified the history of an item by feeling it [this is not a carnival act]; I just get sensations)…I find that stones “feel” different than man-made beads. Sometimes this is to an extreme, and it’s not always good.

But then again, this is also coming from the perspective of a Panentheist who has recently questioned if atoms are alive [or even particles, though I’m not a physicist], so consider the source. πŸ™‚ (Panentheism, to distort my own interpretation for the sake of brevity, is the belief that the universe is God but that God is also more: Panentheism translates as “God-in-All-Belief”.)

Metal, glass, and plastics (excluding items like the once-living beetle I have which is encased and preserved in resin) just don’t have the same qualities, but I feel that’s because they were recently formed, and haven’t had time to pick up the energies of their environments. There’s also something about the regular molecular pattern of most crystals…which could be another reason they feel so different to me. That, and their age: most crystals are old (compared to a human lifespan).

Even wood feels different than metal, glass, and plastic, but that’s likely because it once was living, and its material is organized in a vascular pattern. I will use shell and horn as well, though to date I have not used much bone.

Bone just kind of creeps me out a little, kind of like the beetle pendant I mention parenthetically, above. I think the feeling is related to the questionable treatment of the animal it came from (energetic imprint), along with the knowledge that it could contain biologically hazardous material.

Anyhow, I didn’t intend to get into the whole energy thing. It’s just that I went back to look at the store I got these from, and they really do push the energetic angle. I don’t really mind; it’s just that I question if I believe that or not (even though my experience does say that there is a difference between natural and synthetic or man-made materials).

That in turn affects the ways I’d be comfortable marketing my own jewelry, as a, “side hustle,” as a book I’m currently reading, puts it. It also affects whether I’d be comfortable working for the bead store I patronized, and supporting that angle, especially knowing I could be wrong.

But that’s that whole, “integrity,” thing bothering me, again. I guess it does say something if the people running the gem or mineral or bead stores do actually believe their own hype (which I believe most, do…there’s quite a history of gem lore).

The third thing I mentioned, which is the intellectual property deal; that…isn’t bothering me so much, anymore. It used to, before I realized that “copyright” applied to a printed pattern itself, and not anything that I made (especially if I did not copy the pattern, or if the pattern is basic, and well-known).

It’s also not bothering me so much because I realize that this stuff is kind of like Legos: there are specific ways to join these blocks together…and outside of a really unique and hard-to-come-to combination (which would be patentable, if anything), it’s basically not a good legal argument to say, “I did this first, and now no one else can do the same thing unless they pay me.”

Anyhow, I know I’m keeping the beads — and my tools — when we move, wherever we move. I also know that I’m likely going to be working by combining glass beaded components with natural ones. Metalwork doesn’t hold the same appeal for me, though the project I had in mind for the pearls was originally for silver wirework. I don’t know all that much about wirework at this point, though: it’s a new field for me.

I’m not certain what else I would take, besides my gouache and watercolors and block-printing/paper-cut stuff…

Natural flow from drawing to painting?

The couple of days since my Term Paper was due have been spent…basically, cleaning things up. There is now much more usable space on my craft table; a bunch of my storage has been cleaned and consolidated; and I’ve realized the disadvantage of having a watercolor palette with fixed wells.

Aside from this…

I’ve realized that when I went into the Art program at first, I took Color Dynamics before I took Painting. Consequently, I learned about color relationships before I learned about composition or image-making within painting (as versus drawing). It’s kind of evident, now. Do I want to take another Painting class?…Kind of. Will I have the time to? Not sure.

Could I learn it another way? Not sure. I’m pretty sure that by trial-and-error, I could learn, but that might be the scenic route. Of course, after college, the scenic route is the only route; it just helps to be on the right path, in the first place.

For me, painting is a natural outgrowth of drawing: monochrome bridges into color; markmaking bridges into broad swaths and washes; use of single colors and glazes, shift into color mixing. It largely came for me when I realized the limitations of using a single (narrow) point of contact (pencils, pens, markers: the extreme of which is Technical Pen, Mechanical Pencil, or Micron), a single color at a time, and not being able to shade the colors of my tools in the way in which I wanted.

The bridge here may be charcoal, which merges into pastel. By using the broad side of a stick of pigment, it’s possible to get closer to the feel of painting, as versus drawing. Pastel pencils can also provide that markmaking experience common to drawing, while providing some of the malleability of pastel.

The major reason to avoid pastel work is dust, which is something I haven’t quite reconciled, yet. I have not had a Drawing teacher who did not caution against breathing pastel dust. I do have an area where I can draw and not depend on a vacuum to pick up this dust; it is fairly necessary to avoid the vacuum. You want to wipe up pastel dust with a wet rag (what’s called “wet-mopping”), not blow it into the air or brush it away. This is for health reasons.

The brand of soft pastels I find myself most attracted to are Rembrandts. I’ve mentioned these before; the largest hazards in these seem to be white pigment (Titanium Dioxide), and black pigment (Lamp Black). Titanium White makes tints of colors, while Lamp Black makes shades.

Titanium Dioxide is a mechanical (not toxic) cancer risk. However, this is according to Proposition 65, a law passed here in California which relates whether tiny amounts of anything carcinogenic is in art supplies or foodstuffs (though I don’t think it applies to cosmetics). Prop 65 is kind of being overused, but I know enough art teachers who have battled cancer to take basic precautions against inhalation.

Lamp Black (a.k.a. Carbon Black) poses a slight toxic cancer risk and also may stain, meaning some kind of barrier, like gloves or barrier cream, may be useful here. However, when you work with art supplies…you kind of get used to slight cancer risks. Gloves or barrier cream, a mask, and basic caution not to get this stuff airborne, is the caution that I would ideally (but possibly not actually — in the case of skin protection) use.

I still have never used my jar of barrier cream, so I’m not certain if it rubs off on the image or stains the paper. I should try it and see what happens.

The biggest drawback besides this, is that it’s hard to mix colors when one wants to make intense marks of a certain shade that isn’t provided pre-blended. This is a drawback common to drawing supplies (markers, pens, colored pencils, chalks), more than painting supplies. However, it does pose a potentially useful limitation: more colors are not always better, if one gets so paralyzed by color choices that nothing gets drawn.

Right now I have a bunch of ContΓ© crayons, a basic set of NuPastels, and a basic set of Sargent Art pastels, in addition to some monochrome soft Rembrandts I got about two years ago (before I went back to Library School). The thing about Rembrandts is that they do have a shelf life. At first, they’re creamy, soft, and smooth, to the point that they draw on your hands when touched; later on (after a number of years) they turn into what feels like dried-up Air Dry Clay, and can shatter if dropped. (They even tinkle like dried clay when they are dropped; which I suppose they basically are; kaolin [the material porcelain is made from] is a common base for these pastels.)

I did have a set of half-stick pastels around here from 2015 or something, but I can’t locate them at this moment. I did do a mass purge of pastels, though, after I got scared by the Prop 65 warnings so many years ago. At this point, though, there are Prop 65 warnings for seaweed, coffee, potato chips, ginger, etc…it’s really getting out of hand. (Though I do wish that people would stop putting lead chromate into turmeric…I mean, seriously.)

The problem is that the consumer warnings are based on law rather than science, and that we are warned about the contamination of products, but it seems that nothing is done about it. The system relies on pressure from consumers not buying the goods to encourage the manufacturers not to sell toxic products, rather than actually regulating the toxic products, or not bothering us if the risk is minimal or the exposure is unavoidable (I probably still have more soot in my lungs from having grown up next to a freeway, than I would be likely to inhale from using pastels). At a certain point, a person gets desensitized and just accepts that their world is carcinogenic and the only way not to be exposed is to live in a bubble…

But, I suppose, the upshot of this is that someone is paying attention to toxins in food, drugs, and art supplies. If Prop 65 didn’t exist, I most likely wouldn’t know about this.

So…I guess this post turned into a Pastel post. Hmm. I do know that I want to play with my charcoals, again, even though it’s dirty (maybe because it’s dirty?). Well, not only that, but charcoal is fairly noncommittal…

I have also wanted to do something with ink, and have a new bottle of “waterproof” ink. I’m not sure how it’s going to perform, but I know I can use it with brush and dip pen…(I wonder if I still have my reed pens?). I have used it once before, and at full strength, it’s very black, which is nice. The issue is whether it’s truly waterproof, and how well it dilutes.

It’s possible that I may need to edge myself back into painting through using ink and wash, and pastels, plus maybe graphite sticks and the woodless colored pencils. That place where drawing organically grows into painting…I don’t think I’m there, right now. And I don’t think that’s a reason to give up entirely. It’s not like I’m back at the beginning where I’m using mechanical and colored pencil…but I am not all the way to seriously using watercolor, or acrylic, right now.

That’s gotta be okay, that I’m not at my apex after not practicing for most of two years. It also means there is someplace to grow to…

What I began this post thinking about was the fact that I think I’ve devalued my own style (with pen and watercolor, which has been relatively illustrative) because of the fact that it comes easily to me. It wouldn’t necessarily be easy for others, though…

Maybe I should take the chance on getting outside and doing some sketches…


Conversations with myself #1

So yeah, I…tried to do homework tonight, until I was no longer able to function, with regard to studying. That is, I started researching why my tomato plant smells funny, and eventually came here.

I am thinking there must generally be some limit on the amount of writing to a format that can be done before one’s brain quits.

At the time I’m beginning this post, it’s near 1:25 AM. I’ve just taken medication, so I should have until about 3 AM before I become entirely useless.

Yes, I am playing with the color settings on the new editor. Why?

Anyhow…what I’m working on now, is a collaborative project. Since I got my ePortfolio turned in, I’m trying to stay motivated. I did need to use one of the projects for this class within the ePort (I actually used two), but I really should have taken this class…before. At a different time.

So right now I have what I’m working on, due early this week…and three more weeks to go of this class. I can make it. The issue is feeling “done” with the whole thing, when I’m not. I have three more weeks to go. But only three more weeks.

Right now, I’m just wondering about resuming my artwork.

newly washed rondelle beads
This is a test photo. I could use this editor for comics, couldn’t I? I mean, if I really wanted to.

I’m thinking about getting back into painting. I have two more weeks before I go back to my regular schedule at my job, unless I pick up more hours, in the meantime.

I should have the opportunity at the end of this week, but it means working through Black Friday — and I have things I want to do, on that day. Like get a paintbrush. But then again, if I go to work, I can afford to pay full price.

Right now, I’m looking at the different way the new Editor on WordPress encourages me to break up my text. It’s much more suited to Web-optimized writing; as versus longform nonfiction, as was my working default, before.

I could do something with this, hmm? I’m thinking two or more B&W side-by-side panels in each Block. Maybe with narrative in between? I might want to review my CSS to see if I can adjust the padding or margins here, though.

Even the background colors of the text could symbolize different characters talking (if the colors repeat), though it wouldn’t be entirely accessible. It could also be narrative.

Just have to pick a story to work on…see which pens to use…

(does longevity matter? If so, use the Microns. If not, Sharpies — or anything else — works.)

Yes, I have tried to use Photoshop to create drawings, before. I’m better off working by hand…

…but that was pretty sweet when I could illustrate with the Wacom. I just didn’t have a story.

(Shut up about the Wacom!)

–But I could use a Wacom!

I have a proposed solution. Do some comic art, scan it in, and see what you can do with your current image editor and a mouse, before you jump on the Wacom thing again.

…or just buy a Wacom. Whatever. If you’re willing to pay full price, it doesn’t matter when you get it.

I gotta try this…

All materials submitted for ePortfolio.

You know what this means? This means that I might actually have time for myself, soon.

And…I’m still wondering about/considering that graphics tablet thing. There’s no reason to get it if, in fact, I’m not going to deal with creating graphics on the computer.

But if I did decide to create graphics (what was called “Digital Imaging” at my old school), either to play with Web Design or just for myself…yeah, that wouldn’t be so bad. It would then be worth the cost. Plus…I could go back into Digital Imaging classes. Why? I don’t know why. What would I draw or paint? I have some ideas.

I am not certain anyone else would care, but I have some ideas.

  • Flowers.
  • Weeds.
  • Plants.
  • Chilies.

You know. Stuff. Stuff abstractly related to my identity, actually, which I forgot about until revisiting that whole gender (nonbinary) and sexuality (possibly asexual) topic. Am I really asexual? I don’t know. It’s complicated.

But let’s just say that stuff never worked out, and I don’t know if the root of it is society, or biology; though I lean toward the former as my explanation.

The question for me is whether or not…I want to do this enough, to merit spending on a tablet. If I’m going to actually get a tablet to actually do visual art…what I’m looking at is a mid-size entry-level model.

Of course, if I can wait about a week, I might be able to save a substantial amount — if, that is, I still want it.

I just kind of want to reward myself, somehow; and this is what I thought of, first. Of course, I can also use…you know,Β real paint. That I already have. And real brushes. That I already have. And inks, with real pens. That I already have. And pastels, used on their sides, which I can’t do with a tablet.

I just remembered…I wanted to get myself a quality paintbrush as a gift! That’s what I was going to get!

Oh, no. I’m not getting a graphics tablet to reward myself. I’m getting a decent-sized natural-hair pointed round for watercolors.

That’s it!

Wow. I didn’t know *that* was in there…

Let’s see…tonight I was able to submit another segment of my Culminating Experience requirement. Last night, I submitted my paper for Collection Development, meaning I’m probably not going to have a problem with that class. I only have one more big assignment, there.

Time is ticking down for my remaining essays: I have 2.5 weeks to complete 5 essays, plus one which is mostly-done, and two more which are my Philosophy and Conclusion essays, which I’ve already put serious work into; those two shouldn’t be hard. Right now, I’m pushing myself to give myself a break. Although, maybe I shouldn’t be.

There is still some study to be done to keep up with Collection Development, though it should be fairly straightforward, as compared to the more free-form (but still scaffolded) Culminating Experience stuff.

Luckily, writing isn’t too difficult for me, and I work relatively well under pressure (unless the task is just straight-up too difficult and sheer, due to multiple hidden tasks; then I just freak out and freeze, as started to happen before I got an extension on my last assignment).

If I reach a time in the near future where I want to work but can’t think in words, I can assemble the skeletons and scaffolding of my last six essays — or, the five which need it, I guess. It does take time. That’s the hardest part: trying to estimate how long it will take, and hoping that I’ll have the capacity to do the type of work I’ll need to do at the time I’ll need to do it.

The only way I’ll get into trouble is if I have to do hidden research for one or more essays, but I think I’ll be OK.

Well, there’s that. It’s pretty well-settled. I…am wondering if it is a good idea to go out, soon; or stay in, listen to my lecture, and basically catch up on the Collection Development material (which isn’t really, “catching up,” if I’m not behind, yet). Not to mention that I can look over the voting guides.

I think it would be easier on me to stay home tomorrow, actually, rather than going out when I don’t have to.

What was interesting, was investigating my college, the other day, and realizing that they have a pretty sizable Art budget. That, in turn, gets me thinking about going back to Art classes, or Computer Science classes, and the possibility of an MFA…and if an MFA, whether to do that in Web Design, or Studio Arts…and if Studio Arts, what do I plan to do with that? If Web Design, is that broad enough to do what I want?

I think it is an okay thing, right now, to really…start looking beyond the next two months. I know that December should see a lot of tension being released. January should see me beginning to look for new jobs…and getting back in touch with who I actually am.

I’m looking to be employed for at least 20-30 hours a week in my next job, which may be a Library Assistant or Librarian position, a combination of my current job with an internship, or a non-Library job.

If I don’t get any of this, I may start doing things like pulling prints or otherwise working creatively, and selling the results of that in my spare time (though as I’ve said before, I’m not entirely all that hot on Etsy, at the moment — I might want to find an alternative vending platform).

There is a third route, but I’d rather not do it, at least immediately (take Intro to Computer Science, and a one-unit class). I also need to learn Javascript, especially if I want to work in Technical Services.

And then…there is a story idea that I’ve had, which I’m not sure is related to dystopia or utopia, which goes into what might happen if the state of culture changes so that, in the majority, we decided to avoid irrational thought. A lot of things would go, including much of culture and religion; and I’m not sure what would replace them. I’m…curious about that problem, and kind of want to work it out on my own, to see where it would go. The thing is, even rational thought, based on false premises, leads to statements that aren’t true.

It does seem to be a timely idea, and it’s one I had to turn the TV off to remember, which means it’s good I’m writing it down somewhere, because just telling people about it, barely helped me recollect it.

As for whether I’m good enough at drawing to make it into a graphic novel or series, I’m not sure…but maybe that’s not the point. It doesn’t make sense to make something into a visual form, when there is no need to do so. I’m better at the written word, anyway; and one of the reasons I got into Art was because I was getting to the point with literature, of being able to actually say things that mattered, and I was afraid to do so.

Yeah, and…I’m thinking about another dream I had, which challenged my previous conception of a couple of characters I’ve had, from way back. That dream was seriously adult-themed, though; I mean, it might even set people with trauma, off. (By, “adult,” I mean that you need a moral grounding to be able to comprehend it and not take the situation as acceptable.) I’m not sure if I should write it…but it might help. It might help me get beyond it, that is.

On top of that, we got a new book in at the Library about Critical Thinking, which I want to read, but am somewhat concerned that I’ll have to challenge the book to successfully get through it. I’m not sure if the author is intentionally doing mind-trips to make their readers think, that is, and I won’t have the extra time or energy to try and puzzle it out, before December.

What’s kind of crazy (in the colloquial sense [like “crazy” is ever non-colloquial]) is that if I get back into literature and decide that’s where I want to be, a Public Library setting would feed me, by surrounding me with literature. If I get into Art and want to be an Art Librarian (subject specialist) in a University setting, then I might well need an MA or MFA in an Art-related field.

(The thing is, do I like Art well enough to do that?)

But maybe what I need to get used to, is being okay with expression? Or unafraid to express things, maybe I should say. It’s that which got me into writing, in the first place…I could write things I couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about. (That’s also what got me onto the Web, which relatively freaks out some people.)

And I guess I do, now, have the life experience to kind of know what I’m talking about when I write, which I didn’t, fresh out of undergraduate training.

Yeah… maybe I’ll go back and give writing a shot! It doesn’t cost a lot in anything but time (and maybe, books). On top of that, I know a bit of coding, and can look up the schema used to encode Kindle books, which I could then, self-publish. Or…I could try and publish through a traditional venue, with a BA in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Library and Information Science under my belt…

Hmm. Gotta do the writing, first!

(And I can go back to school for an MFA in Fiction, if I want…it’s a terminal degree, though. But I would be able to teach, then [as well as work in Publishing], and I would be very well-prepared [formally, at least] to be a subject specialist in Fiction writing…)

It makes sense, though, that if I want to really publish, I need to be reading: yesterday, if not sooner. Maybe I could line some stuff up for January?

Life happens when you’re trying to study

Well… well. I’ve been here only on and off recently, because I’ve been focusing my energies elsewhere (on schoolwork), but right now I don’t entirely feel like working. I was up until 2 AM last night, working on this stuff, and into the early morning the day before, as well (1:30 AM). I had to take a nap in the afternoon, today; I just wasn’t motivated to get back to it, so soon.

It is amazing, though, how much more I get done by doing work, rather than warming up first by writing about working. I have also noticed, though, the mental difference between writing by hand and typing. I go back and revise while working, much more when I’m typing. It’s easier to rephrase and rearrange what I’m doing, which I’ve noticed happening a lot, recently.

On a different frequency:

My tomato plant…is fruiting. I raised this one from a seed, so I’m a little sad to see it reach the end of its life. It’s kind of just been in the back of my mind, about how it started off so little, grew to be maybe four feet tall, and is giving me little modest presents before it dies. People talk about the tomatoes that “I” grew, but the plant grew them for me; I didn’t grow them. I kept the plant alive for months; that’s my contribution.

It was easier on me to grow an annual, though. It’s less of a psychological burden, knowing that you only have to take care of it for about six months. And if it dies early, it doesn’t seem that big a deal. But it’s another thing to have your baby that you’ve cared for all its life, giving you little things to eat, and you know it isn’t going to be around much longer. (Which seems a little silly when you had to thin out seven other little plants to give this one all the resources it needs.)

We’ve had to stake it up, actually, because it grew so big that it couldn’t support itself. One day I was even sitting next to it and saw a branch almost fall off! We put stakes in and I tied the branches up, and amazingly, that piece that almost fell off, is still alive. It must have healed somehow, or the sap could flow from the main stem to the branch alright, even though it was broken.

It was part of a little kit my folks got for me from a company called Back to the Roots. The kit contains a planter with what’s called an, “olla pot,” which is a terracotta pot that stores water and gradually dispenses it to the soil when it gets dry. I’ve had to water it much more frequently, since it got big.

It actually has been a bit of a profound experience, to grow this. I kind of feel like I connect really well with plants (and I’m fairly sure it has to do with gender and quietness). I need to ease up on watering the succulents, though.

Let’s see, what else:

There is a bead show coming up in about two weeks. I’m undecided as to whether I’ll go or not; I am leaning towards, “not,” but it will be an opportunity to stock up on Czech seed beads and pressed glass beads, in-person. I haven’t been able to do beadwork at all, since I started working hardcore on my Culminating Experience. Not only that, but I’ve cut my work hours down, so I don’t have as much money to spend, there.

I just consulted with D, who says that if I get ahead on my work by that time, I might consider going to it.

Right now, I know I have a paper to turn in by Monday night. It shouldn’t be too hard, but then again I need to review the prompt. On top of that is my portfolio work, which I can likely say that I’m more than halfway through, at this point.

It’s basically the case that I can get through one essay roughly every two days, give or take. But I don’t want to leave all this work to the last minute, which is why I gave up the extra work hours, and why I’ve been working so hard on my essays.

Today…I visited a fabric shop. M had to get some fabric for a new project; in turn, I was able to see some garments which were made using patterns that the store apparently carries? It actually made me want to try my hand. The thing is that I need more clothes that fit, and will especially need them after I begin to work more days out of the week.

It’s been brought up that instead of the Misses’ pants that I’m currently wearing, most of which tend to fall down without a belt, I might need to move to a smaller-numbered size in Womens’ Petite. Womens’ sizes are cut for larger bodies, and Petite would be shorter and more curvy.

I am very strongly considering wearing more clothes cut for female bodies, basically because of fit considerations. The thing is that I may need a smaller size number in a larger cut. The reality is that I’m now in my mid-thirties, and I’ve, eh, been growing into my body.

While I did lose a good deal of weight recently (about five pounds in three days, if I recall correctly) because of a bout of food poisoning, I’m gaining it back. And I don’t hate it. I’ve known people who have had eating disorders; what I’ve learned from them is that it’s better to be a little heavy than it is to be anorexic or bulimic. Another thing I’ve been learning is that right now, I look fairly…Polynesian, even though most of my genes are a mix of Asian and African.

I’ve also reached a level of security with my body, where I know that what conclusions others draw about who I must be because of what I look like, are generally wrong. It could also be wrong that my doctor assumes I’m overweight because of my height combined with my weight; I have potential tendency to heaviness on both sides of my family, even though (like M) I was very thin, as a youth. My sibling has also filled out as they have aged, though, so that’s another cue that my doctor may be wrong about her supposition that because I’m heavier than average, that this needs correction.

So this knowledge makes me a bit more secure in being okay about my weight. I know that some of it is definitely coming from medication, which is leading me to be more moderate in how much I eat. (Two of my medications tend to delay satiety.)

After graduation, though, I can try again to get off of the medication which is causing most of the weight gain — the problem is, it is rather notorious about being difficult to stop, without causing symptom relapse. But if I can cut down the dosage or get off of it, the slow, incremental weight gain should reverse, and from my last attempt, I know that my abdomen should slim a good bit (abdominal fat is basically the side effect I am most annoyed/concerned about, due to the fact that it can have adverse health effects).

But yeah; if I became a Library Assistant or Librarian (the latter of which, I should be able to very soon), I could wear dresses and skirts without worrying about getting them on the floor. The thing I know about dresses is that the ones I’m more comfortable with, actually don’t show too much of my body. On top of that, I’m more comfortable now with earrings and long hair — I got most of the damage cut off, recently, and the existence of a certain Samoan football player with hair like mine (Troy Polamalu), does make me feel a lot better about having and keeping long hair.

So…I guess things are more alright than they have been, at least where it comes to me and my feelings about my embodiment. I’m not sure whether this is due to age and maturity, or what…I am actually glad, though, that I haven’t so far opted for testosterone or surgery, because in my own eyes, I look really nice right now. I have no ill feelings toward my chest (except for feelings of exposure when too many details show through), and I’ve basically ceased to want to be male…especially since I’ve started settling as gender non-binary. I’m not entirely sure why it’s stopped, except I know now that what I am now is easier for me to live with, than who I was when I was upset that my body wasn’t someone else’s.

It also helps to have birth control. I feel less vulnerable on it, and it makes my body give me less trouble. The thing about it, though–! is that I’m pretty sure it’s making my chest bigger. πŸ™‚ I’m…not totally opposed to this! But especially since I’m growing, I should really start checking more regularly to make sure I don’t have cancer. Not doing self-exams is just one of those things that I got used to when I was ignoring my chest. Now I see it as kinda special (probably helped by the fact that I call them “my dudes”). ;D

Yes, it can be a little difficult to balance this with wanting to use an eyebrow filler to see what I would look like with a beard πŸ™‚ but…it’s OK. Wanting to play around with that is OK, I mean. πŸ™‚ I think maybe it has to do with seeing and getting to know a lot of “normal” people, and realizing that most of them have back stories and inner lives I know nothing about and can’t predict from their appearance. From that, I’ve gotten to kind of realize that I’m lucky. I have my flaws (some of which I’m growing out of), but to myself, I’m still beautiful.

And I realize that everyone is beautiful, to someone.