Lack of functioning

I officially started trying to wean myself off of Prozac on October 10th, so I’ve been on a half-dose for about 9 days (though it takes about a month for dosing changes to take effect).  Right now I can tell that my brain isn’t working too well.  I want to be engaged in art, I have a group project that I need to work on, I have other schoolwork to attend to.  But it’s hard to commit to any of that.

Although it is very apparent that I need to go through my backlog of digital images and do some curation.

Today I got up shortly after 2 PM, after having gone to bed at 11 PM the night before.  Then I was so cold that I spent another hour and a half in bed, around sundown (the only thing that got me up was that I was being summoned to dinner, though I didn’t want to do that either).  Supposedly, it should have been 74º F in the house at that time, but I was still really cold.  And right now my eyes are burning, even though it’s only 9:15 PM here.

In short, I’m dealing with the same pattern I was dealing with before Prozac (becoming wiped out and going to bed in the middle of the day), only now I’ve likely got some initial withdrawal stuff and stress-related stuff on top of it.  Which is why I wanted to get off six months ago, so I could adjust when I wasn’t in classes.

The positive thing is that it’s raining outside.  This means that it wasn’t just me; it actually was dim and likely cold inside the house.  The thermometer, unfortunately, isn’t great at relating when it’s 74º F inside and 44º F outside (thus heat is escaping from the house), and when it’s 74º F inside and 88º F outside (thus heat is radiating into the house).  The two extremes of temperature feel different even though the thermometer says they’re the same.

I’ve also heard that I may have been cold because I was tired (though this usually doesn’t happen for me unless I stay up until 2 or 3 AM).  I guess I did wake at 7 AM yesterday, got up at 7:30 AM, and didn’t lie down until 11 PM.  I usually don’t run for 16 hours straight — even on a work night.  Or, I don’t think I do, at least.

And my weight is still going up, but I’ve been hungrier than usual, for some reason.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was medication-related, but I’ve got to be honest with myself in that it also may be overwork- or depression- or stress-related.  (I gained 7 lbs. in my first semester of the MLIS program, which is part of why I initially said I wouldn’t go back.)  It could also be related to genetics, in which case I’m not all that upset.  I’m only upset if it is related to being on medication (as the medication can also trigger insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes related to weight gain).

Anyway…I am tired and I should likely get ready for bed, even though I just got up about two and a half hours ago.  I ran myself too long last night and so didn’t get to take care of hygiene before passing out — meaning it’s relatively vital that I at least do so, tonight (no, I didn’t brush my teeth when I woke up at 2 PM).

In other arenas, I am really tired of my Digital Archives class (which is making it clear that I don’t want to become an archivist [too many rules, reminiscent of Cataloging], kind of like my management class made it clear I wouldn’t want to be a manager [managing people] and my public service classes made it clear that I don’t want a public-facing job in a Public Library [managing people]).  The problem is that it’s a group-work class, so other people are depending on my doing my part on time; therefore, pressure.  And I don’t get any time extension on group assignments…I think if my classmates had been paying attention, though, I remember mentioning that I had a mood disorder.  Which is majorly what I’m dealing with, right now…although I haven’t consciously felt very bad.

Seriously…Web Development and Web Design look much shinier.  So much ******* shinier that it’s hard to believe.  I just don’t know if I’ll need even more specialized formal training in order to do it…and to be honest, even the math I might need, isn’t looking that scary, at this point.

(By that, I mean dealing with math is likely less frustrating than dealing with people…)

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General update:

Yesterday, I realized that when I am bored and not knowing what to do, I should likely fill that time with work so that when I do have an idea of what to do, I will have the time to do it.

Right now, I’ve only got about 15 minutes to my name; apologies for this post not being entirely well thought-out.

I was able to organize a good deal of the paper storm in my computer room.  I think there was stuff lying around in there that dated back to this time last year.  I also was able to reorganize the tall bookshelf in there, and moved a bunch of the New Agey/energy work stuff to a smaller bookshelf.

I had the idea to play around with watercolor paint…but couldn’t think of any subject matter, so I went back to my Web Design homework.  Accordingly, I’m almost entirely done with my readings, there.  I should be able to complete my homework for that class, early:  then I can focus on my other two classes for the rest of the weekend.

Also:  I keep learning things about how to write and lay out and organize Web pages which let me know that I’m not doing it in an optimal manner (though how could I, really, without knowing this information?).  I’m concerned that all this knowledge will slip past me; so I’m considering creating a book which will hold notes containing “best practices” which I find in my readings.  As far as I know…that will date back to this last Summer with my User Experience class.  (I don’t think any of that information goes farther back than that.)

I will also, soon, have to figure out what classes to take in Spring…but that’s not terribly urgent, at this point.

All right, I should sign off right about now…

Finally got caught up!

I’m caught up with my studies!  😀

Earlier tonight, I lay down in bed to warm up and didn’t get back up until about 9:30 PM, meaning that it’s very possible that I won’t be able to fall asleep until after 2 AM.  😛  Given that, I’ve decided to let myself have a break, and chill here with my anti-blue-light glasses.  Of course, I’m kind of fragmented at the moment (too much chocolate, and disorganized sleep), so I keep moving in and out of this room to talk with people.  🙂  And playing around with my SUPA-cheap sketchbook.  😉  (Which I have some idea how to use, now, thanks to a lecture by Bill Buxton!  Again, I’m shown the difference between Art and Design…)

I know that I really need to clean and reorganize my office, and then clean and reorganize my bedroom.  Both spaces are very cluttered.  Though I roughly know what is in each pile, I may not remember where they are after I put them away!

I also need to reorganize the shelves in my office (not to mention, my files — I suspect there is much in there which is unnecessary to keep, at this point; and many folders can be migrated there).  I have been keeping copies of my textbooks…and the collection is growing.  It’s starting to get me to think that I’ll need to move some of the more esoteric stuff onto another shelf.  And I’m sure the receipt litter will get to me when things are mostly clear.

What’s really striking me, though…is that I’m really enjoying my Web Design and Web Usability classes, and have been able to cross-fertilize that with my Digital Archives class.  Not to mention, I’m fairly certain that keeping up this blog has prepared me for writing with relative ease, when I need to.  The difficult part of that is editing my copy down to something others won’t be too intimidated to read.  🙂  (I recently wrote 2+ single-spaced pages for an assignment on which most people spent two or three paragraphs.  No one commented; this is likely because no one read it.)  😛

Classes for next semester aren’t set for me yet, though I have some idea of what I’ll need to take if I want to be a competent Librarian, in addition to having Digital proficiencies.

Kind of a pain around this, though, is that I get the sense that one is never fully prepared to take on a new job when dealing with cutting-edge technology.  It seems there’s always something new to learn…not that this conflicts with my tendencies, but when foundational/recommended classes are changed out from under you, it’s kind of annoying.  (What would people graduating this semester in tech-heavy specializations feel, I wonder, knowing that people who came in later will learn something they won’t?)

It’s all relative, isn’t it?  Maybe I shouldn’t be too upset, and just plan on continuing education.  I did enter the program quite a while ago, after all…

The thing I had been upset about:  one class which has been recommended to newer admits into the program is inaccessible if one needs financial aid from the State to cover tuition and fees.  It just isn’t given to people who don’t have independent sources of cash.

I already have two classes lined up for next Summer (when the rules are different and I can take classes from this category); and they’ll likely be kickers.  I don’t think I’ll have the time to take a third (and still stay employed)…although I might be able to swing it in the Summer after graduation, before I’m too settled in a permanent job.

I do need to be thinking ahead to employment, though.  There is some more material I may have to give, here, but it’s on sketching and Design (quick/dirty/fast/iterative), and I’m not sure I can articulate it at this hour.

And then there are books…which I check out from the Library and then don’t read, because I’m too busy working through classes.  The nihongo-learning ones and the sewing one…I might be tempted by, but I am realistically not sure how much time I’ll have for either Japanese-language acquisition or sewing, until the start of Winter Break.

Well, I guess it isn’t as though I’m wasting my time.

I think the brain-fog is hitting me, so I’ll sign off, now…just a note, though:  I haven’t been able to keep to the schedule I’ve talked about recently, and still get my work done.  It’s ideal, and it works when I’m not busy…but I’m busy!

Sorry, this entry is just logistical work. :)

I’m giving myself permission to write now, instead of mindlessly scanning my archives.  I have a couple more things I need to read before tomorrow evening, some backed-up readings in my Usability class, and some stuff to read for Web Design.  Tomorrow…should be full of reading, for me!

Luckily, reading isn’t the hard part.  Putting the pieces together after the reading is done, is the hard part.  The positive thing is that I should be working on all my classes tomorrow, and it should mostly be passive, meaning, relatively unintimidating.  Though I should also work on editing the document due Friday.

The day after that should be Monday, and I should be working intensively on my Web Design homework.  I think the other things that are due, aren’t due until Friday.

I also need to upload some images…not the most fun thing to do, but; when it needs to be done, you know, it just does.

Tuesday will probably be taken up with finishing the Web Design homework and searching for information on a content management software package that I may need to know more about.

And, I think, Thursday will be when the next round of material is due in Usability.

This stuff just backs up when I take time for myself.  *sigh*  Actually, I’m fairly certain that staying up extra late on Wednesday night/Thursday morning even though I was tired and likely had been exposed to a virus, just basically ruined the following two days for me.  And I’m thinking that I’m going to need to learn to expect surprise extra assignments from being involved in group work.

On the bright side, I got some new shoes!

(…)

Okay, so…what makes sense, to do, right now?  Take a shower, take meds, get ready for bed and probably, go to sleep.

That doesn’t mean that I want to.  Even though I can wake up early tomorrow and just hammer away at this work.  What can I do to help myself stay out of bed, tomorrow morning?

I can eat, then check here…and maybe start in on my Web Design study.  I think that will help — I actually enjoy the work for that class.

Then I can work on my Archives readings, check in on my group work, and see where to go from there.

Recovering:

I feel like I should write something here…I haven’t written in a week, and that’s largely because I’ve not had the energy or time to do so.  However, I’m cutting back on hours at my job, meaning I’ll now have five complete days to work on homework (and lectures, and other things) instead of four.

What happened is that I became so exhausted from the increase in work after Labor Day (Sept. 4th) that Thursday (the 7th?) and Sunday (the 10th?) were spent largely asleep — and that left me with two days (or 48 hours) to do a week’s worth of work for three classes.

Last night, I was up very late to get a number of assignments done by their deadlines.  I do have accommodations, but I prefer not to use them if I don’t have to.

So today, you know, I was catching up on work and found myself falling asleep towards the end of a lecture.  Actually, as I’m writing this, I’ve woken up from the second time I’ve fallen asleep, today (I had to take medication and brush my teeth, at least) — if you don’t count falling asleep around 3 AM last night to be “today.”  I then fell asleep once before dinner, and once after dinner.

On the bright side, I’m nearly caught up with everything.  I did realize, however, that I had been neglecting my Archives class…there weren’t a lot of deliverables there, so I worked on what I needed to turn in.  Accordingly, I think I missed an Archives lecture (I’m missing notes on it) — but I can deal with that.

I think the biggest takeaway from this is that I do need quiet study time, without the distraction of the TV or family.  I have been largely able to avoid playing around on the computer — this is because I know I only have so long I can sit here and not get spine issues.

Also…I seem to be settling around what I’ll do with my spare time…though it hasn’t panned out yet, because I haven’t had much spare time (other than time used for sleeping).

I’ve realized that I can create my own clothes, for one thing.  I feel relatively motivated on that level, because I’ve realized that I can do the same thing for my wardrobe as I’ve done with my jewelry:  make a bunch of customized stuff that I wouldn’t feel bad wearing.

As I wrote elsewhere…creativity may be my way out of the gender dilemma I’m facing.  I don’t, that is, have to rely on store-bought clothing and jewelry which doesn’t get across who I am.  And sewing — hand sewing, at least — does seem to calm me.

Then there is the fact that I still want to learn Japanese language.  I found a number of books on this which look fairly awesome — and I’ve realized that reading things in romaji (Roman letters), although it doesn’t help with character memorization, allows me to recognize words faster.  If I see something written in romaji, that is, I can easily tell if I comprehend the sentence or not (and most basic-level sentences, I do comprehend).  This recognition isn’t there when reading kana and kanji, though it is nice that the kanji give the meaning of the word — though they don’t tell you how the word is spoken.

And then there is graphic design research…making things, you know?  At this point I’m unsure if I want to go into Web Design (though that honestly looks awesome — except for the pay scale) or become an Adult Services Librarian with a tech component — say, in Virtual Services.  I have both paths open to me, now.  If I take the set of classes I’m thinking of, I could only have three more semesters of substantive work ahead of me, including Summer.  The semester after that would be devoted to Culminating Experience, and then I would be done.  There is a complicating factor here, of finances:  I will need to talk to people about that.  Actually, I should approach counseling on three fronts:  Academic, Voc Rehab, and Financial Aid.

As for the Art practice:  that’s pretty much just not happening, though I have an idea as to why, now.

I think my cognizance is burning out.  I should go back to bed.

Distractions, distractions…

I have one day left to do my final assignment in User Experience, and I think the timeline has me freezing up, a bit.  Both today and yesterday, I was unable to go in to work; yesterday, because I was physically sick (any time I moved, I wanted to throw up), and today, because I was running a fever (higher than yesterday’s).  Most of today and yesterday has been spent in the bed.

Right now, I feel more capable of doing things without constantly sweating, and my spine is telling me that some time spent vertically would be a good thing.  Staying home, though, didn’t help me find out what I need to for the basis of my assignment…which, inconveniently enough, is based on interviewing people.  (Working with people is likely the most difficult part of both my job, and this program.)

After this next week, though, Summer Session will be over.  That will be a relief.  I think I should just try and do the assignment as best I am able, even knowing that I do not have the time or information to do things the way I am being asked to do them.

Design Thinking is an entire field; it is unreasonable to expect us to execute the assignment perfectly in one week based on material found online, especially when no lecture is given and we have only been introduced to it within that same week.

I do think that I would be better off working in Graphic Design than I would be working in Design Thinking, that is.  That said, it is good to at least be introduced to the latter concept (and to where to learn more if I so desire).

That said, here are the succulent babies I was talking about last time. 😛 Please forgive the color-fill background; I took this photo at a weird angle, then had to rotate the image…did I crop this before rotating it?  Hmm.  Got to remember that for next time…

succulents-w

I’m still unsure as to whether to claim my off days as sickleave…though as it is Summer, and I spend more money during Summer and Winter breaks (excluding clothing) than at any other time…(during Semesters, I don’t have time to work on Art), I’m thinking about it.  Right now I’m wondering if I got sick because I briefly touched the neck/cap of my water bottle with an unclean hand, and then drank from it later.  (I thought my mouth did not touch what my hand touched.  Maybe I was wrong.)

Anyway, that’s past.

One of my coworkers brought in some graphic work the other day, as well:  I’ve got to ask them what kind of markers they used!  From the looks of the color blending, I would think they were Chartpaks, but I’m not deep enough into markers to tell.

I am thinking of getting some new Chartpaks and seeing how they perform now (the ink may not be the same, and mine may be so old as to be drying out — they’re streaking, now, but when they were new I could not make them streak):  I got the idea for a graphic art piece dealing with the story that is in my head and not yet solidified enough on paper (or in bytes) for me to have a formed idea of what it will become.

But I was motivated enough to work on it in charcoal, earlier.  And I hate charcoal.  I haven’t photographed it yet because it’s nowhere near being done, and I really dislike working in black and white, anyway.

It is a given that if I work with the Chartpaks, I will have to do it in a well-ventilated area; I’m thinking the garage, or outside.  I’m not sure if the fumes will be strong enough to ignite via the furnace…if this is an issue, I may be better off sticking with Tombows or other water-based markers, and just making heavy use of a blending marker, or brush and water — I don’t know what the difference is, in water-based markers.  (I wonder if charcoal/pastel blending stumps dipped in water would work, or just turn into mush?)

I also have Copics (alcohol-based), but my co-worker and I have been fairly underwhelmed by the markers, at least.  (I like the fineliners.)  I haven’t yet tried using the blending marker, though.  The Copics I have, streak; though I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality of nearly every paper I’ve used (I think translucent marker paper helps, particularly Borden & Riley), or if it’s because I didn’t saturate the paper with solvent (from the blending marker).

I should try blending the Copics first, before going to the Chartpaks, though…the solvent of the latter is definitely something you don’t want to be breathing in for any length of time, or in a confined area; and when open areas have open flame in them…I don’t want to set the house on fire.  I think I could use these, though, in an actual open space — if I taped down the paper I was working on to protect from wind.

At least when I first began to use the Chartpaks, they were formulated with xylene as a solvent, which is carcinogenic; then they reduced the amount of xylene to a level where the markers no longer carried a Caution Label.  Obviously, though…if you can avoid xylene…it’s just one of those things that’s best not to come into contact with on a frequent basis.  I was already used to the smell from using watchmaker’s cement (G-S Hypo Cement, which also uses xylene as a solvent, and which I’d gotten plenty of, on my fingertips:  not good!).

But the Chartpak AD markers (I’m not referring to the Chartpak Spectra AD markers, which I just found tonight) blend and bleed beautifully, or at least they used to.  Like I said:  when my (old formulation) markers were new, I could not make myself get streaks, so what I used them on looked more like animation cels, than anything.

And then, there’s the possibility of using colored pencils and liquefying them with a blending marker or Gamsol, or of using aquarelles.  The negative thing about the latter that I immediately land on, however, is that it’s like using grainy (and sometimes dull) paint.  The aquarelle layers just don’t dissolve all the way, unless you use a really light touch when applying the crayon (I’m thinking Neocolor II) or pencil…which I might try, at least if the only other options are Tombows and Copics.  The exception to this that I can think of are the Caran d’Ache Supracolor aquarelle pencils…which liquefy beautifully, with intense colors, but which are also top-of-the-line for watercolor pencils.  (They are priced accordingly.)

Yeah, maybe I’ll try that.  Maybe…I will.  I have some aquarelles I can experiment with, here already.  Maybe I just need to use a light touch.  This — and/or actually using paint or acrylic ink (how could I forget all those FW acrylic inks I have?), seem like better options.

I was probably just wowed by my co-worker’s marker art.  🙂  I forgot that I’ve been building up to this, for a while.  I got out of trying to use markers because it’s so expensive to just increase a dilution level of the same ink, whereas with paint or bottled ink, you just add a little more water.  (It’s been a very long time since I used ground sumi ink.)

I had begun to get into the technique of utilizing transparent watercolor as a ground color for other colored-pencil work, on top of a fineliner drawing; it shouldn’t be hard to lay down initial colors as watercolor (with the option of using acrylic ink, instead), then layer aquarelle and then regular colored pencil over that…though the opacity of those colors is something to pay attention to.  I could wipe out my initial linework, if I’m not careful.  But then I might also be able to wipe out opaque colors on top of linework as well, or redraw them with ink and a brush…(regular colored pencil, being wax- or oil-based, can clog the nibs of fineliners and markers, so I’ve heard).

I’ve also gotten wowed with Derwent Graphik Line Painters, some of which I may have initially ruined in my attempts at use:  I mention them here because they look awesome on top of watercolor, and as they have Japan (hollow) nibs, I have less of an expectation that they will clog.  The problem I’m having is having depressed the nibs too far into the barrels; this means some of them (the ones I tried to use before I knew better), will leak.

I recently found a Strathmore Mixed Media paper (it almost feels like illustration board:  the latter of which I don’t know how to use properly with water-based media, by the way), which I want to try out…and all of this might work well, here.

Yeah, I think it’s time to break out the aquarelle pencils!  After, that is, completing this last assignment…gah…

Fairly wiped out, today.

Starting ~9:30 AM:

I wish I could say that things were better:  I started off today with a headache and nausea. I’m not sure if this is related to being up last night, actually starting a Bullet Journal layout after midnight…it well may be, but right now I wonder if I should go to work. I haven’t eaten anything except a ginger ale…(well, that’s a drink, but). One of the Librarians had a stomach sickness last time I went in, though, so it’s possible I might have picked something up (even if it wasn’t from them). I also might have food poisoning, or a migraine.

At least I now have an idea of what to write, for one half of my homework. This is in relation to UX efficiency. I would try to implement a button which would ask, “Was this helpful?” on catalog result pages. The problem is trying to gauge the duration of a session and trying to ask this question at the exit point of each session, as well as trying to gauge what a user’s information need actually is, as versus what they search for. It would seem that this information would best be gathered with a survey, and that it isn’t a simple one-click measure, however. I’m not sure how best to implement it.

In brighter news, I have three new babies (tiny baby succulents), though I’m not sure how long they will last (I watered one with my hand after drying it on a paper towel, and so I’m hoping I am not going to get mildew in that pot). I got three little soy sauce dishes from Daiso (the Japanese dollar store), and the pots fit right in there!

I’m trying to give them as much light as I can, meaning that the first light of dawn woke me up, earlier. And I realized just how fragile they are, after bumping one of them and having a leaf snap off! >_<;; (At least, the plant seems healthy…)

Writing resumed at 7:45 PM:

I did take photos of these this morning, but have been too wiped out to optimize them for the web, so as of right now, there are photos…but not ones which are ready to show. At this point, I’m fairly certain that what is going on is food poisoning…I have been having trouble regulating my temperature, alternately sweating and feeling cold, with a slight fever. The good thing is that the nausea has faded. I am not sure why I’m the only one who got sick, unless this has to do with the melon I ate, yesterday…

There are three-to-four books I’ve either read deeply into or have looked through, within the last semester, which show how much I could learn and implement about how I run things with my blog and web presence:

  • The non-designer’s design book:  Design and typographic principles for the visual novice (4th ed.) by Williams, R. (2015)
  • Letting go of the words:  Writing web content that works (2nd ed.) by Redish, J. (2014)
  • Graphic design school:  The principles and practice of graphic design (5th ed.) by Dabner, D., Stewart, S. and Zempol, E. (2014)
  • Don’t make me think, revisited:  A common sense approach to web and mobile usability by Krug, S. (2014)

I’m still kind of tired/wiped out, so I’m hoping it’s OK that I didn’t list the publishers or write this up as a style guide would recommend.

It’s also actually fairly amazing, how much my skill at picking out books online, has advanced. I find myself doing things like checking out review sites, multiple library catalogs, bridging through subject headings, reading samples, and taking criticisms of books which seem interesting, into account; in addition to taking into account the other books purchased by a given book’s audience.

And, I’ve been paying attention to how a book sells itself, what audience it is marketing itself to, and why. That is, I don’t necessarily want a self-help book aiming itself toward the market of people desperate to escape writer’s block, because it likely isn’t going to address what I want addressed, and it may be designed to prey on its audience’s vulnerabilities.

I also have called ahead to brick & mortar bookstores to ask if they have the book I want in stock, which probably saved me about three hours (not to mention wasted gas) earlier this week.

I don’t think I could say that I have much of a Web 2.0 presence right now, but it’s very apparent how I could do small tweaks to increase my SEO, for example (if I wanted to). I’m hoping things will get better next semester, as well; I should be introduced to HTML and CSS, then. I hate stressing about grades, too:  it seems so insignificant…but it isn’t, if I want to stay in the program!

I have realized, though, that part of what I’m being introduced to is called, “Design Thinking,” and it’s the same sort of thing I think I would be dealing with if I got a MBA in Design Strategy elsewhere. Except…it’s in Libraries, which has a different ideological slant to it.  I also just heard about Stanford’s “d school,” as well…which, at least, seems very interesting.

I think I’m going to post this and get back to bed…