I worked on the e-Port instead of knitting! :D

Well, I got some stuff written out for my e-Portfolio tonight, that I believe I’m keeping, and which is stronger than most of the rest of what I’ve written. I’m also finding a natural bridge into a couple of my other required sections (C and D), which should make them easier to write about, next.

My thing is that I’ve realized…if I try not to sound radical, it’s going to be hard for me to write this thing. I am not certain if it shows here, but I’m fairly…well, maybe “Leftist” is the word? I’m not sure (I particularly don’t know all the implications of the term; I just know other labels, like, “progressive,” or, “liberal,” are problematic, and sometimes used as slurs).

I just try not to broach politics too much, here. But it’s not possible to avoid this, if I’m writing a multipage document on my experiences in the MLIS program, from the heart and with total honesty. I guess it’s like I’ve said before: if I’m going to write, I have to be honest, or I’ll get blocked and the writing will be sub-par. It’s better to write an excellent and strong essay which is honest and which the reader may not agree with, than a poor one which says nothing.

In particular, I got into a sub-discussion which states why it is that I know that it’s useful to be able to have access to thoughts from outside the English-speaking world. That, in turn, got into readings that I had done on my own, and reasons why it helps to be exposed to international influences.

I just wanted to leave a note so that I don’t forget to go back to this. I also want to let myself remember that it’s okay to write away from tables…the only way I got this done tonight is to literally write with the computer on my lap. Right now I’m laying back with the computer propped on my knee. Seriously. It helps to get things done, this way. Just hope I don’t get too much of a problem with carpal tunnel or any other aches…

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Cultural location and creative context: Part 3

I suppose this is where I can get into the multiracial and multicultural aspects of what I’ve realized, is the impact of my personal, cultural, social, and generational identity upon my art. If I were really trying to be thorough, I would add in gender identity and sexual, “identity,”…but that’s still something I’m working on. (I’ve made more progress on the former, than the latter.)

It might actually get interesting here — or, well, at least new.

In doing the research for one of my most recent assignments, regarding the impact of (Japanese) Zen on Japanese art, I ran across a couple of sites of tension. One of these is the definition of, “Japanese,” as in, “when defining ‘Japanese art,’ what do we mean by ‘Japanese?'”

It is relatively clear until large amounts of Japanese people begin leaving the islands to live in other countries. Then they have kids, who may not be totally ethnically (that is, culturally) or, “racially,” Japanese; then their kids have kids, and it goes on. All of them are also influenced by the cultures they’re living in.

In addition, once artists within Japan begin bending the rules and incorporating outside influences into their art, is it still, “Japanese art,” or has it morphed into something beyond that?

This impacts me if only because I am at a site where I have to choose where to go with my art, as with my mind and identity and purpose; I am not totally Japanese, and trying to be so would likely not work in my favor. I am also not totally culturally of African-American descent, though I can’t know how much of what I get from that side of my family, is sourced from where.

By the fourth generation (of Japanese diaspora), it’s extremely common to have a lot of mixed-race youth of partial Japanese descent, loved by their parents and representing a conundrum for earlier generations, who may have wished their family to remain, “Japanese,” whatever that means.

There is no question for me that Japanese culture does have its own value and gifts to give to the world. However, conflict arises within the idea that people should not blend, racially or ethnically; that we can have a global civilization as long as we each keep to our own kind.

It sounds harsh, but I’m not sure how else to put it. And I’m not sure how much of it comes from the Internment, and how much of it comes just from nationalism.

The ideal of marrying within the, “race,” is something my nuclear family has had to deal with, long-term. It has been a large site of conflict from the Japanese-American side of our family. Obviously, I’m racially half-Japanese-American, and culturally…well, that’s more of a mixed bag, given the fact that my family has been in the U.S. for multiple generations, and local culture’s impact — by this I largely mean California, Mexico, Louisiana, and possibly, Hawaii — has been extremely strong.

In American lexicon, there is a difference between “Japanese (from Japan),” and “Japanese-American (a citizen of the United States who is of Japanese descent).” These concepts are paralleled in the nihongo (Japanese language) terms nihonjin (or Japanese-from-Japan) and nikkeijin (or Japanese-of-foreign-birth).

Even here, though: I would likely have learned Japanese as an undergraduate major, if I thought I could expect decent treatment within Japan. I wanted (and still do want) to understand how those cultural links have helped form who I am now. However, the interactions I’ve experienced within my own extended family, have taught me that this isn’t something I can look forward to — at least, outside of Hawaii, or other various settlements of Japanese diaspora. This is especially because my skin is relatively dark (something I do take pride in), and my hair, voluminous. Unless I’m in Hawaii or my name is known, I generally am not recognized as of Japanese descent (though it used to happen more often when I was younger).

I suppose I should mention that a lot of people of my grandmother’s generation and before, did have to deal with the question of what it meant to have been in the Japanese Internment, and how to deal with the problem of discerning or defining, “Japanese,” identity. That wasn’t fun stuff: I ran across it on reading a bit of D.T. Suzuki.

The introduction to his book, Zen and Japanese Culture (2010 edition) mentions some attempts of Suzuki’s then-contemporaries at establishing Japanese identity in a global context. (Jaffe in Suzuki, xix-xx) With the publication of this book having been so close to World War II, this is obviously…not easy stuff for anyone to deal with, and apparently Suzuki did not address the issue, at least in this book. (Jaffe in Suzuki, xix)

At a certain point, I feel better acknowledging that I am mixed, and that I have an American metropolitan perspective, rather than having a burden and privilege of, “racial purity.” It was never said to me in exactly those terms, but that is what was meant.

I may have mentioned in the past, that my grandmother tried to make me as ethnically (i.e. culturally) Japanese as possible, regardless of the fact that I was racially different. But this is only partially the case.

When I declined to wear a maru obi on top of my kimono at about seven years old, because of its constricting function (I have a big thing about not being constricted in my movement, which is one of the reasons I began to cross-dress as a teen), she never offered to show me how to tie one again. Nor did she relate the importance of knowing how to tie one, or that I would not be seen as authentically Japanese-American by my Japanese-American peers, without one.

That is, I know that she held something against me because of my non-Japanese parent, and/or because I refused to be traditionally feminine. But those two things are separate variables. (Or, maybe she thought I was right.)

The major problem that I had and have been dealing with is that the majority of the ethnic identity I can identify, is Japanese-American. The other side of my family relates to me via what I don’t know how to describe as other than folk ways. Particularly, I gain insight into spirituality and the unknown from that side, as well as a knowledge that it’s okay to be fiery, powerful, and blunt; and when need be, sometimes rage actually is an appropriate response. (My parent on that side did characterize me as having a, “warrior,” mentality, much like them: we’re both straightforward, and it goes against our nature to disguise our feelings.)

I’m not sure from where those ideas originate, or where exactly those traits come from. With my great-grandmother, great-grandfather, and grandmother on that side having passed, my grandfather absentee and now apparently passed, and the rest of the family scattered, I’m not sure I will know.

I could always ask those who are still alive; though I don’t often see them.

The thing is, I don’t see those traits as particularly ethnic, more than just who that parent is. I mean, who they are overrides any way they might (but don’t) think they’re, “supposed to be,” because of the culture they grew up in.

And yeah, actually, that is kind of cool. 🙂

Edited to add links to: Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Getting this stuff out of the way…

WordPress says that three hours ago, I started working again on my Final for Instructional Design. (I opened a window here to vent thoughts which should not make it into my paper!)

The good part is, this is now mostly done…but I have realized that it’s easier to teach something I know little about and am learning about alongside others, than something I’ve accumulated knowledge about for well over a decade, and others know nothing. Or maybe it’s just a sensitive issue for me, due to the content and audience (the topic of my Instructional Design seminar is gender variance).

I suppose that if I hadn’t gone through what I have, though, I still might not know anything about LGBTQIA positionality, beyond the GLB portion of that. But I was pushed by necessity: something which most non-trans* people don’t seem to experience.

And I think I would rather not be teaching this stuff, but it’s something I have specialized knowledge about, and which I can see an obvious knowledge gap about.

Anyhow…I can now read this over, make any final changes, and submit it. I’m hoping to get this done by tonight or tomorrow so that I can get back to studying for my Database Final, and get that turned in tomorrow night. This is largely so I can stop thinking about it. I would like to get on with Summer, sooner rather than later.

Maybe I need to write deep things sometime other than my lunch hour.

I think I recognize what has happened here:  I forgot that I am gender-fluid.  I seem to be rapidly flashing back and forth between (my own) gendered ideals.  I’m not sure how or why this happens…but I’ll get back to you after group.  I need to see if I can work this out in speech…

Sexual orientation? and me. :P

One of the reasons I posted what I did, last night, was to prepare myself for today…I have a meeting coming up, where I can talk about these issues.  What has come to light is that — I actually am wondering, now, if I am lesbian, but just have come to assimilate an inappropriate definition for the term.  Also:  I have been majorly socialized in the wider “queer” (LGBTQIA) community, with a focus on transgender and genderqueer experience…having been ostracized from lesbian groups early on.

While I don’t see myself to be “butch,” as who I am goes…really deep, deeper than it has in many of the butch women I’ve known (but not of the butch trans* men), I can relate to this experience, having both emulated and admired the people I knew and saw who were part of this really great queer community.  And I lived in that role for about two years, at least; though I think I was seen as butch and/or as trans*, long before that.

It’s just that I am thinking that chafing at men coming on to me, being asexual from a heterosexual reference point, and wanting to be recognized as masculine by a lady, that…that kind of sounds, well, more gay than trans.  It hasn’t helped, though, to have trans* men tell me that I’m “just a lesbian,” as I used to get in my mid-twenties.  It didn’t help for them to tell me that, disparagingly, like they were “more than lesbian,” you know?

I don’t think that the possibility of this has been…adequately explored, and explored with neutral power-levels.  While it’s very…apparent that I do have some male-leaning identity (my role models have always been drawn from a pool consisting of more than women), maybe it would be good to try and find some places to hang out where I could be exposed to women’s community.

I am aware that my socialization may cause some disturbance (it is different politically to fall in with women’s groups than with trans* or genderqueer groups), but maybe it’s still the best thing…

Piercings, gender presentation, body image

I have just realized that, should I want a new piercing, I can get it at any time.

ANY TIME.  😉  Not just that, but any gauge.  Not ONLY that, but I can actually go up to 10g in my main piercings, if I decide that this is what I want to do.  If I plan on that, though, I’ll need to tell the piercer.  I’m not up to date on how far away the new piercing should be, from the old one; but if I go to the tattoo parlor I’m thinking of, they have very good reputations, and should know where to place it.

Several years ago, I made the provisional settlement with myself that I would not go above 10g until I had figured myself out more and was more stable…which, I am, now.  But I’d still like to hold myself to that gauge limit until I can reassess the situation.  Particularly, it won’t matter until I get to 10g and get comfortable at it.  Why 10g?  It’s pretty much a no-going-back girth, at which the ring diameter and thickness of shank (or wire gauge) appear close-enough-to-optimal, to me.

I am currently wearing 14g surgical steel rings, which never come out, and are treated as part of my body.  I’m actually still wearing the rings I was pierced with, though I’ve gone up and down in gauge several times (it’s a fairly time-consuming process to stretch [stretching can tear the flesh if done too hastily, and that has permanent consequences where it comes to any additional stretching], but it’s easy to take the rings out and let the piercings tighten or close).  This has been going on long enough that I’ve realized that I may not be able to wear conventional earrings anymore, without my piercings expanding from the weight and turning into slits…which can turn into migration, which can turn into a split lobe.  I don’t have this issue yet, and hope not to have it — but that means that I need to reassess my situation as regards my jewelry.

So while I really did enter into this with the opportunity to move one way or the other (as regards having expanded piercings or conventional ones); it looks as though the window of opportunity to have conventional piercings has passed (about…ten years down the line?).  My scars seem just permanently too loose, now.

Most of my conventional earwires are about 22g — it’s a fairly common size.  (I judge this from my experience in working with wire for jewelry; 24g is much too light, thin and weak for most earwires.  20g is nearly alternative-size.)  My piercings, though, are four sizes larger than that, at this point.

Generally, the sizes graduate in increments of two, so starting at 22, we have 20 (which is the largest mainstream wire I have, on a pair of gold-fill department-store rings), 18, 16, and 14.  The smaller the number, the larger the diameter of the wire itself (independent of whatever is made from it).  10g is two sizes up, and marks the beginning of the really beautiful carved and sculptural pieces, along with the beginning of the use of plugs instead of rings or barbells.

The major (psychological) factor restricting my entry into this is the availability of quality, safe, large-gauge jewelry…for the rest of my life.  It’s fairly apparent now that the “Modern Primitive” trend was, in fact, a trend.  There are still a lot of people around now, though — particularly young men — with expanded lobe piercings.  I’m not entirely sure what’s motivating people 15 years my junior to do it (who kind of missed the first wave with Gen X…and even I’m a Millenial), but that’s the trend.

There is also the possibility of making my own rings, but I can’t work surgical steel at this point (blacksmithing is an entirely different beast than silversmithing), and nor can I make a spring-loaded ring.  I can make 14g silver and copper earwires…which would seem the last-ditch effort to really wear elaborate decorative stuff rather than everyday stuff…or that which I can’t make myself.  This impacts me because I make jewelry.  Sometimes I want to wear it; but my jewelry suppliers do not stock quality large-gauge earwires.  Find a different supplier?  Find a different reputable supplier, more like…

The other thing I wanted to write about was going out of the house today with a little bit of stubble.  I was minorly concerned about it when I checked myself in the mirror before leaving (I had maybe 1mm of obvious hair growth), but I had left no time for myself to shave.  It was vastly more comfortable than I had imagined it would be — I actually had very little self-consciousness about it.  This, though, also implies that I really should avoid anything that will permanently eliminate this hair, in case one day I do want to live as overtly gender-nonbinary.  It’s not unheard of at all for transmasculine people to wear facial hair, even if they aren’t “passing” as male.  The biggest risk I have is from people looking at me and thinking I actually am male…

As regards the hair on my actual scalp, I’m coming to realize that it may actually look cute, loosely pulled back with the section which would have been bangs, cascading forward.  I’ve been avoiding it because I know it looks messy — but maybe there’s a place for “messy.”  “Messy,” may be better than, “I don’t know what I’m doing, let’s just do anything and get on with it.”  I’m considering, now, actually clipping the hair which does fall forward in a more organized manner, with the intent of wearing it loose.

Pretty much the only up-side to having long hair is being able to pull it back, and being able to braid it.  That’s…really, about it, for me.  I suppose I could try wearing it down again, and it might be cute that way, too — but then I have to deal with dust getting into it, and then washing it, and then trying to figure out how to dry it.  The point worth mentioning about pulling my hair back is that I’ve realized that I don’t have to pull it back tightly; a loose band will hold it, and not strain my follicles.

As far as clothing goes…?  I have been wearing femininely-gendered clothing to work, mostly out of habit.  I actually have been getting a little self-conscious over being assumed to be a man with a feminine chest, there (I suspect one particular observation to have been about the, “is it a boy or a girl,” question…talk about colonizing perspectives); but it’s generally been okay.  I’m not sure to what extent I want to wear masculine clothing, or to be seen as male.  I have pretty much no control over the latter, anyway; so maybe it’s a question better off not answered.  And as for the former…I just want to be comfortably clothed, and not put on display.  At least, not until I get my body back into shape.  😉

And like I’ve said before, having a female chest along with big muscles and a good amount of strength…is something I really want to get back to.  A lot of guys find it hot, too, which I have been a bit surprised at.  But I think to myself: big muscles, female chest, long hair, multiple piercings, may or may not wear “cross-gendered” clothing, may or may not wear makeup.

And yes, I am still intrigued about the possibility of a legal gender-nonbinary designation.  What I’m concerned about is government tracking.  It isn’t a big deal in a sane and well-checked democracy, but if things go south, I would not trust the government not to take advantage of my marking myself in any way to be a member of a hidden (vulnerable) minority.  I’m having a hard enough time reconciling my psychological status with the level of potential threat I’ve perceived recently, let alone someone designating “Third Gender” bathrooms which aren’t kept up to the safety or standards of the other two.

This is also a reason, by the way, I have not opted for testosterone.  I would no longer be able to hide as an invisible minority; and there are a good number of studies out on how marking oneself brings with it, stigma.  Not necessarily as much to trans* men, but I’m not a trans* man, as I’ve mentioned before (nor am I a trans* woman).  And not as much to White people, but I’m not White.

What I have found interesting is that in taking on the title “gender-fluid,” my gender has actually seemed to settle someplace within those giant bounds, more or less.  It’s still not anything that would be really free from stigma if it were to come to light…in 2016.  This is largely because of misogyny (as it affects men, women, and everyone else).  20 years down the line, if I haven’t been exterminated in the meantime, maybe it would be OK.  Of course, though, I can’t guarantee I’ll live that long.  Do I want to make it about what life I want to live now?  Or hold out for things to get better?

Maybe the question is whether I’m ready, now.  There are a number of things I am ready for; testosterone is not one of them.  It’s just too big of a shift, too soon.  And hey — I have held out for about 15 years, already.  If the time is right, I’m sure I’ll know it — and I can proceed with it, then.

Right now, I’m just getting ready for a needle through my ear…

I’m thinking that we all need time for ourselves.

Borrowing some time from the day, now, eh.

I’m kind of itching to do some artwork, though I am uncertain in which direction I want to go.  It’s apparent that drawing would be easier, but painting would probably be more exciting.  🙂  I’m just glad that I have someone in my corner who has said to make time for taking care of myself, in addition to my work.

At the least, something I can do is to work on mixing charts.  I have all these colors and don’t really know the range of possibilities I can attain through color mixing.  It seems as though it should be relatively straightforward too, yes?

(Not to mention that I may just break down and buy the beautiful-but-dangerous cadmium-based paints…I’d just have to wear a glove while painting, or not splash.)

I’ve gotten to the point of realizing, as well, that I may actually (cough) be suited to be a Cataloger…of course this means that I would have to specialize in that direction, as versus in the direction of becoming a Solo Librarian with regard to Special Libraries.  (The latter would likely have me working as the only person with an MLIS, supervising others, and being in charge of a group’s information assets myself; plus, basically taking care of every known job duty possible with regard to Library functionality.)

It’s a lot lower of a course load, to be a Cataloger, I’ll say that.  I’d be working after graduation as part of a team, as versus trying to do everything myself.  Cataloging positions would also likely keep me out of frequent public interaction, and it should be easier to network.

Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry at the outset as to whether I’ll know enough to do it, because I should be able to cover that easily with my Library/Info. Science program.

I keep forgetting that today is not Sunday.  I have a paper due Sunday night that I haven’t started on yet, though it’s fairly straightforward.  I just have to do some research between tonight and tomorrow, then read it, then compose the paper.  I haven’t started on anything in hard copy yet, because I need to see what I can find in regard to each topic I could touch on.

You see that I have a hard time organizing my thoughts, though, yes?  I’m hoping that by the end of this program, it will be easier to divide up my posts into “hey, this is an Art post; and hey, this one’s on career development.”  I just got resistant to it when I was in undergrad work and apparently no one on campus had heard of intersectionality…so it was like, either you’re gay or you’re Black, and I was like…WHAT???

(The LGBTQ community center was all the way across campus away from the college for racial and cultural minorities.  It grated on me the whole time I was there.)

And that, then, that tangent could open up an entirely new topic for me to write about, which I have been trying not to write about here, because I’d rather do it where no one knows who I am.  😉  It isn’t like it’s impossible to touch on (I basically learned how to speak, in LGBTQ groups), but it is sensitive information, and I do only get one WordPress identity.

*sigh*

In any case, we’ll see how long it takes me to get sick of self-censoring.  I am in an Intellectual Freedom class, after all.

And it is the Web.