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 thatย 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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???)

๐Ÿ˜›

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.

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Photos. I finally took photos.

I’m posting this here instead of on Hidden Jewels (for now), mainly because it’s a continuation from the past two weeks. I couldn’t concentrate on reading today, so I went back to the photos I’d taken earlier when the sun was at full blast, and did a tiny bit of photo editing.

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To the left, is a close-up of one of the quilting cottons I picked up yesterday at a local quilting shop. It’s a batik, much nicer in quality than the ones I’ve gotten at the chain fabric and craft stores. I can guess at how it was made…and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was from one of the handmade bolts.

I’m just wondering, at this point…if I wanted to go into crafting as a vocation, basically in my case, apparel design or jewelry design (though I’m more interested in apparel design, at the moment)…how I would do that.

M had been talking about my being able to go back to my art after graduation. The one place I researched which I know has a fashion design program, is FIDM, and their biggest selling point is making friends and networking, which isn’t really my strong suit.

There are a number of steps which come before being able to design apparel, however. I’m thinking that it starts with making clothes (or jewelry) from patterns, then graduates into mixing and matching elements from different patterns, then goes into draping and designing one’s own patterns.

My biggest hurdle with this is the fact that my own sense of style isn’t traditional. I can be interested by traditional work, but the lack of readily available patterns for menswear, for example, is one of those things that I notice and don’t really “get.” As a female person who sometimes wears clothing made for men (and who would wear more of it if it were cut for my body), I know that not everyone who is female wants to wear traditionally feminine clothing. I also know that clothing styled for men doesn’t have to look horrible on a female body, but the apparel industry isn’t really geared toward gender-variant expression at the moment.

Anyhow, going off of my last post, I did get up enough nerve to take some more photos. Not a lot of them, mind; I could have gone at it and photographed all of my Fat Quarters, too, but decided to try not to go overboard. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The alternative to the carpet background is to lay down some muslin or something.

So…the above image is of the four bits of fabric I got yesterday, about 3 yards in total (each piece is .75 yards), which cost about $38, including tax. For fabric, that’s pretty good. At least it is where I live, where the cost of living is apparently pretty stupid high.

So…the two on the left are batiks; as I said, possibly hand-painted. The second from the right is faux shibori, I believe (shibori is a method of tie-dyeing which can get really intricate, though I think this one is just a pattern). On the far right, I believe that’s an indigo ikat pattern (ikat is a method of dyeing threads in a particular pattern before they’re woven, and then weaving them together so that a design shows up in the finished fabric).

I’m really interested in fabrics right now, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the color issue plus the texture issue. I just get stimulated by color (I still don’t know how or why), and I get stimulated tactilely by working with fabric…which is also a mystery. It’s just nice to feel things that feel nice. Which is weird because I don’t consider myself a highly physical person…cloth is something else, though.

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Above are the Kona Cotton Fat Quarters I got a while ago, on which to practice embroidery. Only the pink has been embroidered at this point, though (I used an orangeย Olympus-brand sashiko thread which doesn’t appear to be that high in quality). That, in turn, was only a trial where I was pushing myself to do anything except be on the computer. It worked…even though I did the embroidery non-traditionally, because I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t study the optimal thread path before starting.

Well. (It would matter if the stitching was weight-bearing; one of the original uses of sashiko is to reinforce fabric.)

I guess when you just want to get started as fast as possible, to kick yourself out of doing nothing into doing something, it helps.

And I guess we’re pretty deep into the night, now. Here, I mean. I’ll see how I feel, tomorrow. I might want to work; I might not want to. I might be able to work, or not.

Oh, wait: I go to my job, tomorrow.

Coming up, I’ll just start reviewing my old work for the ePortfolio, without committing to writing anything. Working from Competency to Competency, I should have an okay time getting an idea of what to write…my Prof still hasn’t returned my first essay, yet, so I don’t even know if I’m doing the correct work.

I also need to summarize Chapter 1 of the reading for Collection Development, and read over other people’s responses…

I can take my textbook with me tomorrow and try and work through Chapter 2 and review Chapter 1 on my lunch.

I can also take one or more quilting books with me, in case I can’t concentrate… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Quilting??! (“Why would one need release,” you say?)

I’m experiencing a lot of levels of frustration with my work environment, right now, and the dysfunction is sapping my determination at studying.

On the bright side, I went to the quilt shop, today. I also have a bunch of quilting books to read, if I can pull myself away from what I have to do long enough to devote myself to something that doesn’t have to be done, right now.

Of course, this writing doesn’t have to be done, either: but I have just been so frustrated that I’m like, “screw all of this.” I need to remember, though, that all workplaces are going to be somewhat dysfunctional. My own workplace is likely particularly so at this point, however.

So…I was just reminded to take my medication. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also think it’s best that I put the study away for today, even though I have a lot of review ahead of me. This is due to not having stashed my assignments into ePortfolio pools at the time of their creation.

What I need to remember is that if I don’t commit myself to anything but my work, school, and upkeep, I have a good amount of time that I can devote to studying, on a daily basis. I don’t have children or a full-time job, and I live with family. I do have a disability to contend with, but that’s more of a mental struggle, than anything.

Probably the biggest thing I need to deal with is making sure I don’t go off on anyone from built-up stress, meaning that I’ll need to watch my anger level and give myself breaks when I need them.

Right now I’m being distracted by a show on orchids…it’s easy to get lost in stuff like this and lose track of time. Is that a good thing?

Anyhow…recently, I’ve purchased about…3 yards of fabric, and a large ruler to use in rotary cutting. I’ve just been hesitant to start into cutting and sewing. I have to give myself permission to do that, first. It also requires design, which I can shortcut into by reading and following some of the quilting books I have at the moment.

Right now, I’m considering doing a small model of what I would make, using the cheap fabrics from the big-box fabric store; and use the nice fabric for the final version. Or part of it, anyway.

I do have a bunch of fabric. Maybe tomorrow, I can photograph and upload some images. It will give me something to look forward to.

I’ve also decided that I’ll use the sewing machine, which should make things vastly simpler. There’s no real reason to stitch by hand, except personal preference; and I could make something much faster (and much larger and more complicated) by using a machine.

Stress and triggers. Recurrence of a familiar stance…

A few things have happened, recently. One: I’ve realized that I don’t really want to be female, though that doesn’t mean I want to transition to male. Not everyone around me seems to remember that “female,” does not always equate to, “woman.”

Another: Because of the stress of this final semester…I’m questioning whether I’m dealing with a bit of psychic fragmentation. I don’t think I would call it Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), but then I don’t really know what the medical opinion on this, is. I’ve just slipped back into a state that I recognize, which I haven’t dealt with for months (if not years).

I do know, however, that I definitely have used dissociation as a coping mechanism, in the past. Although it would be interesting if my way of being gender nonbinary was actually that I was plural (that I, “really,” had multiple identities, or deep facets that somehow include the same sets of identity and personality all the time)…I haven’t heard anything to that effect, and at this point it sounds too dramatic to be true.

On the other hand, I definitely have different subroutines in my mind, and I’ve read that being entirely, “integrated,” into one person, is an illusion, in all people.

It’s just…it’s weird that this mental constellation would come up again. Right now I’m dealing with a stronger-than-normal sense of being not-woman, along with what I can only call a darker viewpoint. I’ve also dealt more strongly with ideas about, “demons,” and the darker side of the paranormal, in this state — along with feelings of persecution when the darkness gets to the surface and others recognize it and try to condition me against it.

To be clear: when I’m like this, I’m not about being, “right.” I end up dealing with feelings of amorality, in favor of pragmatism and emotional validation, though I won’t generally open up about what I’m feeling. I know what is said to be the, “right thing to do,” or say, but…sometimes it’s hard to do it and keep what I’m actually feeling, hidden.

Though I won’t get into what it was that happened last night (I got triggered, particularly around issues of reproduction and, “motherhood,” which for me are obviously linked to ideas about gender and sexuality — which are obviously…slow torture for me), the pattern and the feelings are familiar. As is the social dynamic.

If it’s anything like it has been in the past…it may wear off by next Tuesday or Wednesday, at the latest. If it doesn’t shift, it would be weird. But…when this does happen, it leaves me without a non-occlusive vocabulary with which to communicate my state. That is, I do have a vocabulary with which I’ve explained this to myself: but others don’t understand it. To them, it suggests ideas that I was (thankfully) never exposed to, but which cause them to feel moral revulsion towards me.

I can see why this has come up, though, if I need to function and I am somehow not up to the task: I can switch into a mode which allows me to get things done by, “letting someone else deal with it;” that is, changing into a different person who can cope. And yeah, that does sound like DID, but DID is a serious condition, and I don’t feel that ill.

Of course, those around me may beg to differ…

Introducing exercise to self-care.

It looks like I’m going to have to start taking care of myself, hardcore. School has started, and I’m trying to get ahead in the work, though my final project is almost entirely self-directed. I know that I’m going to be spending a good amount of time on the computer, so setting up some exercise isn’t a bad thing.

I also did see my doctor. I’m dealing with intermittent muscle twitches which are likely caused by one of my medications. Luckily, none of them are really in the same place, and my muscle fluidity was normal, today. I’m thinking the medical term for what’s going on is, “dystonia.”

Next time I see her, which I’m thinking should be in about three months — about when my semester ends — we’re planning on lowering one of my medications (which is likely causing the dystonia). I turned down the offer this time, because I don’t need to be tinkering with psychotropic medications in the last semester of my Master’s program — when I need to think, and be mentally stable. I’m already anxious. Not to mention, I may gain a different job in the interim, and delaying a medication change for 3 months is not a long time.

Anyhow, I’m supposed to be exercising 30 minutes a day, every day; or 1 hour for three days a week. My doctor recommended swimming, as carrying the extra weight (also a medication side effect) causes me to feel like I’m working out with a 30-lb. barbell over my shoulders. 45 lbs., if I think of how much I weighed as a 20-year-old, when I could and did press 45 lbs., for instance, in squats. If I think of how it felt then and how it feels now, there’s familiarity there. Realistically, if I drop 30 lbs., I’ll be at ideal weight for my height and age.

Also realistically, if I drop 30 lbs., it will be dropping more than 30 lbs. in fat, because my makeup will change to be more muscular (which is heavier, relatively).

Swimming sounds like a really great idea, though. It will be, actually, fun. It will also keep pressure off of my feet and knees, until I can get my weight down enough that I’m not stressing my joints too much when I walk or run.

The thing about swimming is that I may have to cut my hair. Right now it’s really long; chlorine just tends to fry it, bleach it, and make it break off (worse than it already does). However, if it’s very short, it tends to look like fur, and it doesn’t stay on my head long enough for chlorine damage to build up and fray my strands.

It will also greatly ease my hygiene to not have to wash all this hair — I could go running and not have to worry about struggling to get all the pollen out! I could actually wash my hair on a daily basis, or shower without worrying about how to keep it dry! (It won’t fit under a shower cap unless I twist it down. Even then, the cap doesn’t quite fit…and we’ve been through searching for shower caps. I’d need one that would be big enough to accommodate locs like Rastafarians have, and I haven’t seen those anywhere.)

Actually, that sounds good just generally. I had been trying to get it out to the length where I could pile it on top of my head, but it’s so long that trying to even pull it through a hair tie — or take off a lanyard from around my neck — or pull the comb completely through my hair — is difficult.

Visualizing my goal, which is being leaner and buff (swimming will help my upper body strength, and I can supplement this with weight training for the smaller muscles in my arms; and floor exercises [abs, lunges, squats], with cardio from the exercise bike and elliptical machine) with short hair, though — that sounds actually pretty frikken’ hot.

I suppose I don’t even have to stop at 135 lbs., either; I could actually try to get back down to 120, just in the back of my mind. Overshooting the goal, it might be easier to really make a good effort at this and actually hit 135, in the process. (I am actually not certain I will be physically able to slim down to 120! My muscles might come to weigh too much, and I’m in my mid-thirties, not my early twenties.)

Right now I’m trying not to get back to a bodybuilder mindset, but…being packed with muscle is ideal. And I know that I’m going to get mistaken for a boy again, with short hair. I’d also probably become a target for sexual harassment, again. However…that’s not a reason to be bound to long hair (and the maintenance of long hair).

I’m also supposed to contact a Coach to help me be more active and lose weight…but I haven’t done it yet. Last night, I went to bed around 2 AM; I woke up before my alarm went off, at 7:30 AM. Work was relatively fine. After my appointment and lunch, though, I fell asleep on the couch (I only got 5 hours of sleep last night), and didn’t really wake up until about 8 PM.

What’s silly is that I don’t even know what time I fell asleep today! I think it couldn’t have been more than four hours that I was out.

Let’s see…other than that, last night I got the assigned reading (for next week) done for Collection Development. I need to do some more work in the next two weeks, but at least the fundamentals are taken care of. There should also be additional work which I am not yet able to access.

I have also read that it’s best for me to get the ePortfolio done as quickly as possible, which sounds good. Both classes require — basically — study, meaning I’ll be sitting in one place for a while, whether I want to or not. That’s why I need to balance it out with exercise, which then impacts my appearance.

Hah. I wonder if it is important that anyone else sees this…

I’m almost too tired to say anything, at this point: but I wanted to make a note to my future self. Future Self, don’t be scared of getting out of bed. Do rewatch and reread as all the videos and lectures you need to, as many times as you need to, for the Programming class. It shouldn’t take more than four hours.

Love,
Me

Death, and sussing out evidence of Soul

Earlier, I began to read back through my “Blog — Roughs, Notes,” notebook. The sentiments I expressed in my last post are also recorded there, from almost exactly six months ago: January 13, 2018.

Some of the sentiments I also expressed in finding self-definition when immersed in a multicultural, pluralist society, is in the same set of notes. The series exploring this is named Cultural Location and Creative Context. The preceding link will send you to Part 3; Parts 1 and 2 are linked at the very end of that document.

I was getting excited; I forgot that 2018 is this year, so I thought I’d stumbled upon evidence from at least one year ago. No, it just feels like it was one year ago.

There’s something about time that’s unnerving. Yes, growth happens, but people (including myself) also age and pass on. When your social circle is largely family, that can be a scary thing (not to mention when you are without solid, “knowledge,” of; or, “faith,” in; what happens after death). I’ve been trying to spend as much time with people I especially love, as I can; because I know it’s limited.

At the same time, I’m supposed to be trying to become more independent. School is part of that, as is work. As is driving, for that matter, and cooking.

Just…sometimes, I lack energy, and it’s hard to actually…well, do things. I think the motivation is there, but fear and anxiety (and then, melancholy) also take hold sometimes and won’t let me move forward. Today was one of those days.

What I seem to have been doing, most recently, is inventorying myself — making notes as to where I am, mentally. Because some of this stuff doesn’t change, even if I want it to. The obvious thing for me to do about that at this point is to write it all down so that I can see who I am, as versus who I want to be, or who I think I should be.

The “psychic” aspect of my personal mythology* has come up again since I restarted creative writing. I’m thinking that the concept of, “time,” is kind of messing with me, though it’s also possible it’s one or another kind of intrusive thought: just the idea of the physical, being all there is.

(And no, I haven’t yet broken into my Sartre anthology, but I’m a bit struck by how he only lived 36 years. That’s as old as I am, now.)

I think that if I didn’t know better, I’d call it a type of demon. But there are things that look like, “demons,” which aren’t, and things that are demons that don’t at first appear to be (or which try to hide their status).

I’m not particularly talking about, “fallen angels.” I’m talking about things that screw up one’s psyche and life in a negative fashion. They do certain things like implant the idea that if you’re creative, people will attack you for it. Because creating is a holy act, and something dangerous to them.

If I’m being honest with myself and with you; the idea of death, out of balance, I do consider rather demonic, in a won’t let you go, haunting type of way. And I suppose…if I learned anything from Tarot (I didn’t learn all that much; the system’s mindset is — or was — kind of alien to me), it’s that each element can be either in balance or out of balance. It’s not death — or change — that is bad, it’s that my relation to it is not correct.

It could be that I’ve opened a gate by being honest with myself. Over the past week, I’ve told people about the, “psychic,” thing twice — although I wasn’t particularly looking for belief in or support of that, I’ve gotten it (to my surprise) both times. It’s just a given that in a certain part of my life, I did believe I was psychic, and in accepting that, had phenomena happen that would not have happened if I had cut the idea off at the knees and refused to entertain it.

So now I’m just dealing with sudden mental images of bodily decomposition. Are they random? I’m not sure. Where are they sourced from? Don’t know. But I do know that I probably shouldn’t worry about or focus on them, if I have a choice about it. One thing about spirits is that I haven’t known them to be entirely that tenacious.

What’s going on is called, “thought insertion,” in psychology — where some thought arises seemingly out of nowhere, and it feels like it comes from outside of you: that is, it is “ego-dystonic.” I’m not sure if being negatively emotionally disturbed by it is a criteria. But writing creatively does open a gate in my mind (a number of issues [discoveries?] arose after To a Spirit, meaning that it’s likely I started processing some unfinished business [or current business] by writing it), so it’s not unusual that something like this should arise.

That’s just what happens when I tune into my intuition.

And…the cost, for me, of tuning into my intuition is that if I talk about it everywhere, I’m just going to look a bit crazy. But I’ve been a bit crazy for a long time. ๐Ÿ™‚ For the sake of employment, I’ve been trying to push it down and stop the thought experiments…but if it’s a core part of my identity, maybe I shouldn’t do that. Then I have a couple of choices:

  1. Speak about it with discretion, or
  2. Don’t worry about the opinions of others

Of course, if I go back to an identity as a creative writer, we’re kind of known for being a bit eccentric, anyway.

And what could I do, if I opened those gates?

*What I mean when I speak about “personal mythology” is stories we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to make sense of our lives. They may or may not be true, but often it is difficult or impossible to change or eradicate these core beliefs, even if we know they are not accurate to reality.