Sleep hygiene chaos, plus essential knowledge gained

I finished What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon, last night…at about 3 AM.  I may want to go back and reread sections of it, and I know that I will want to look back into the books referenced, in Appendix D.

Did I mention this took place at 3 AM?

My sleep schedule is all messed up:  I lay down at 8:30 PM, fell asleep after 9 PM, then woke (2:15 AM), took medication; lay back down, got up (3 AM), ate a little, fell back to sleep (4:30 AM), woke for breakfast (11:30 AM), went back to sleep (12:30 PM), woke about 4 PM.  This is why I don’t like trying to change my sleeping schedule!

I know I need to be going to bed earlier, but I have constant experience with lethargy, unless I have slept for 14-16 hours.  In today’s case it could have been because I didn’t take my (sedating) medication until 2:15 in the morning, though.  And yesterday it could have been because I didn’t take medication until 1 AM.

Hmm.  Now that I’m looking at my records, my medication time has been shifting later and later (I’m supposed to take it at 9 PM, which is why I know I fell asleep after 9, last night:  the medication alarm went off; and I turned it off and fell asleep without taking it).  I can try and do something about that, and hope (?) that it makes it easier to get up in the morning…and that it won’t just contribute to oversleeping.

I mean, obviously I was tired, if I lay down at 8:30 PM, right?

Anyhow…I learned in What’s the Alternative? that, at least as of the time the book was published (2008), it would not be expected that one could learn essential tech skills in order to open up technology-based career paths, just from classes in LIS.  Because of that…if I want to work in Web Design after getting out, I’ll have to teach myself programming.  Either this, or I could re-enter Computer Information Systems training after graduation; I’m just not entirely certain how I’ll fit that in, timewise.  And that’s largely because I don’t know what kind of job I will have at that time.

I’ve compared the Graphic Arts and CIS curricula; CIS is actually closer to what I need.  And I’ve actually compared the two systems teaching this which are nearest me…I can do this.  I might be able to do this by cutting some courses out of my future Master’s program and taking Community College courses in CIS, in person, but that doesn’t seem like the best option.

Alright:  I’ve just sent off an email about this.  I should probably try and get ready for bed, as I did just take medication, and I don’t have anything to do except homework.  (I suppose that’s a good thing, as I have three assignments due in a week.)  The hard part will be actually contacting and setting up meeting times for the assignment I was given last week…though I guess that in a pinch, I can have family test what I need tested…

Yes, something happened.

One good thing:  I restarted reading What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon.  This…helps.  Having options outside of working in a library is a good thing, even though I get the sense that this is a political issue with some.  That is, I get the sense that some would feel “betrayed” if I decided to take a different path.  But the Library world is weird like that.

For me, though, the “outsourcing” of library work to other specialized groups, means that I can work for some other specialized group, as versus working directly for, say, a Public Library:  the work in which, I’m not sure is a recipe for happiness, for me.

Also, the track I’m on (Digital Services), includes most of the path of Web Design/Info Architecture plus more.  All of the core courses are covered, and some of the “Recommended” courses in the Web Design path that aren’t in the Digital Services path, aren’t even given.  So it’s a good bet, if I do want to go into Web Design, to hold steady.  (I doubt that Design will be as Computer-Science-centric as Web Development…)

I will, though, have to educate myself on the aesthetic dimensions:  a lot of my work so far has dealt with usability, coding, and organization.  Which are all fine…but as someone who is into Art, too, I might want to look into visual elements of Design.

And — ha!  I have some books on Design that I haven’t read, on my bookshelf right now.

Wow…a lot of them, actually.

I also came up with the idea of interactive textbooks, but did a little research, and Pearson already has started working on this.  (Maybe I can work for Pearson?)  In addition, there seems to be a lot of work on this as regards Apple (another possibility), on mobile and tablet devices.  The interlacing here of technology, creating teaching programs, writing the textbook, and gamifying is interesting.  For the first time we have the option of making our “textbooks” into interactive multimedia computer programs…that might be able to be either downloaded or carried on a MicroSD card, or similar.

I doubt I would have come up with the idea, if it were not for my Nintendo DS…yes, probably a bit outdated by this time, but The Legend of Zelda:  Phantom Hourglass was the first time a game ever asked me to write an answer to a puzzle (I’m wondering if it used anything related to “Least Squares” in sensing what my answer was)…would it be that different, say, if you were watching a language-learning video or reading a passage of text and could practice writing in the textbook?  With scores or something to show you how well you did, and without using up physical space with blank paper on which to write?  And what about voice recording and recognition?

What else has been happening…I’ve been slowly getting my reading for User Experience done, though I’m not certain if I’ll have to work on anything due this weekend (I’ve kind of been having a tough time for the last several days, and haven’t even checked the message boards).  I know I have one thing due in one more week, but it shouldn’t be hard.  Though I will have to drag myself back over there and see what’s due.

Anyway.  I just think that I’m not a very social person.  But I’m being graded on my engagement, so there’s that.  Whatever.

Oh, right:  the art and craft storage area has again been rearranged.  There’s…a lot more room, now…

And I think that it’s best to ignore my sibling’s insistence that I write a story before attempting the artwork for it.  The time I came closest to actually having a story and a graphic novel, that story developed out of my drawings.  And I’m going to have **** drawings if I wait until after I’ve written a story before I try to draw anything.

That makes sense, right?

I should get some rest…

Re-entering Japanese language study…Writing? Libraries?

Today has been surprising in a number of ways.  I started in on work in Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al, along with the workbook:  this led into an impromptu nihongo (Japanese language) lesson with a native-Japanese-speaking family friend (listening and speaking, plus reading).  (She saw that I was working in this textbook and got excited.)

It’s kind of something to be asked to explain things in one’s own life, in a language of which you just started renewing study, and in which your last class was 15 years ago!

That…is a long time, isn’t it?

I think I remember that I gave myself the goal of becoming a fiction writer when I graduated with my BA in 2005.  But at the time I had just begun a medication which …apparently somewhat drastically, changed the way my brain worked.  Because of this, I thought that I would not be able to write (fiction) professionally.

Relative to what I had known before, I felt inhibited, but this may have been just the effect of my prefrontal cortex (Executive function) gaining more control…which would have relatively “inhibited” me.  That’s kind of what the prefrontal cortex is known for…

I came to the decision to stop fiction writing through thinking that I had been upsetting my own life (self-sabotaging) to gain experience to write about.  I also found my life surprisingly peaceful after graduation (I didn’t have a job at the time), and did not want to introduce conflict where there was none, for the sake of …what, writing a story?

At the same time, I had been having fears that I was splitting my mind apart in order to handle …in effect, acting, as up to three characters at once (I don’t think I could have handled four or more at that time).

Twelve years later, I know a lot more about myself and about how the mind works, generally, than I did, then.  I’ve also been through a lot, even if a lot of that life was acted out virtually.  I’m not sure if medication changes have helped with this, but I’m certain it didn’t hurt.

What’s happening now is that I’ve realized that perhaps I can write fiction again — if I let myself do it.  I’ve been keeping a fairly tight clamp on it, for multiple reasons (see above).  But it may — now — be possible for me to write without taking it too seriously.

And by “too seriously,” I mean, “as reality.”  I have historically had a problem separating, “fantasy,” and “reality,” to the point that I’ve wanted to invent new terms to refer to the living world and the mental world.  After all, the mental world is not “unreal” to the person experiencing it — it’s just not objectively existent (except as electrical patterns in the brain, which bothersomely enough, simulate reality).

In the extreme this ranges into hallucination, though I have a tendency to have more inhabited a space in between living in dreams (asleep) and never fully waking up (derealization), occasionally moving into what has been called “illusion” (receiving sensory input but cognizing it in a distorted manner:  like running water in the sink and hearing repeated high-pitched beeps) and hallucination (in my case, literally smelling things that weren’t there — which I’ve been told is an uncommon form).

On top of this, though, is…the sense that I’m just picking up on more of reality than most people do.  I’m relatively comfortable with this explanation, now.

These two states have coexisted ever since I was in my early teenage years; I’m currently in my mid-thirties.  I’ve just about had it with second-guessing my own intuition (which is what has been happening for about the last 20 years) because it doesn’t fit someone else’s abstract (and narrow) model of “reality.”

What I’ve learned is that what happens in one’s private mind is real enough, although I also think we have more control over this — and more power as to what happens in our own minds — than we think we do.

It’s also very easy for my brain to freak itself out while trying to explain things it cannot, and coming up with the single most dramatic explanation it can think of, while disregarding the equal validity of multiple scenarios, and also the fact that none of them are proven.

In any case, I began this post wondering if I should — seriously — decide to dip a toe back into fiction writing.  Every writing class that I’ve been in has mentioned…bad first drafts (though they universally used a more colorful adjective for “bad” which I’m not sure I’m allowed to say on WordPress!).  They don’t have to be novels — short stories or flash fiction might be more graspable at this point — and maybe I might begin them here and then edit them for a time before posting them up.  (I do have enough conflict and experience in my life, now, to have a working base:  which was not as apparent to me when I was in my 20’s.)

Something about getting back into learning Japanese language has sparked this.  I’ve wanted to be able to read Japanese for a very long time, and it’s somewhat…gratifying that I still recognize most kana, even if I don’t remember the stroke order for all of them.

What I most want to do which is within my grasp, is learn to read Japanese.  However, I have heard mention of the idea of attending Japanese classes with family…which would give me at least one convenient practice partner, where it comes to speaking and listening.

I’m gaining strength in this from realizing that many creative people have interests that span different media; so there is, in effect, no reason why I can’t be into drawing and painting and writing.  (Or drawing, painting, writing, and music!…though I’m much more of a consumer of music than a musician, myself [I play a little guitar, but not consistently enough to sustain the toughness of my fret hand].)

And there is no reason why being a Librarian would negate any of this.  It may, actually, help; at least, so long as it doesn’t take up all of my time.  In the field, I may be grappling with these cultural transmissions more than doing the abstract work of learning organizational systems…

I do wonder, though, if getting back into reading and writing (fiction and nonfiction) is something that will help propel me forward in a career in Libraries; as versus doing Art.  The family friend I was speaking with, tonight…was encouraging me not to let go of my dreams (one of which was learning nihongo; I’ve wanted to do so ever since I was in Middle School).  This, in turn, and in combination with the degree I’m seeking (MLIS), would prepare me somewhat to work in Hawaii as a Librarian.  From there, it’s just a relatively short jump to get to Japan…(and it’s kind of shocking, the number of Japanese in Hawaii!)

…but is my dream to be a great novelist, or to change the world in the way I can, or to make art?

…it would be nice to be a writer.  And to do the Art for myself and to keep myself engaged and healthy.

I think so, yeah.  The Art is for me — to sustain me.  The Writing is the reason I’m alive.  The Librarianship is to serve a social good while earning a living.  And the nihongo is one step toward broadening my world.

That sounds really, really, good.  🙂

Yeah…a bit scattered…

I was looking around for information on techniques for filling palettes, and found a number of interesting statements.

  1. Apparently, Viridian (true Viridian, that is) doesn’t re-hydrate well, and I should avoid putting it into a well so that I don’t waste it.
  2. I will want to roughen up the inner surfaces of my palette with either baking soda or a scrubby sponge, before filling the wells.
  3. I’ve heard that M. Graham watercolors (like my Hansa Yellow) never completely dry and may move when held vertically because of it — but that information is disputed online.  Just in case, I will want to fill that well in stages in order to see how well it is setting.

I’ve also been looking around at information on fountain pens and Bullet Journals — the latter of which may enable me to keep track of school assignments and my presently-nonexistent Japanese study (which I keep forgetting about, due to the fact that my books are all neatly and unobtrusively stowed on my bookshelf).  I do have a dotted grid notebook suitable as a Bullet Journal, but it is stowed along with the Japanese-learning materials.

I also read not to use linocutting tools (I assume they meant Speedball knives with interchangeable blades) for woodblock prints, as the blades would dull.  I do have some tools to sharpen my old knives (aluminum oxide waterstone in coarse and fine grit, ultra-fine grit wet/dry sandpaper), but I don’t have the stones right now to hone the insides of my gouges (which would save me from having to buy new gouges).  I’ll stick with linocutting for now, though.  I’m pretty sure the Japanese carving store near me should have the stones available, or I can find them online.

I did look through one book on printmaking techniques, which reminded me of what I had been doing before I derailed myself into watercolors.  (Today I went through everything that I had checked out from the library, and made a pile of things that can go back.  Financial liability is not a good thing.)

Also, I realized that the entire set of my newer watercolor paint samples had been made out of the same sheet of paper; meaning that what didn’t settle roughly on the rough paper (as in the last entry) either must be inherently very smooth, or have contained less water/paint in laydown.  As a further note on that entry, I can now see texture in certain paints and not in others.

I’m also amazed at how many people are using Mijello palettes (or palettes that look like them), though that may be neither here nor there.

And I found out that D didn’t really lose my master tracing/final design for the flower linocut; I just never actually cut it off of the tracing paper (the only reason I know this is that I expected to see a missing square on the sheet, and did not).

In addition, I completed the major reading for this week on Monday, having started on it Sunday night.  My reading speed in English really is getting faster, or the book I was reading was very good at being clear (probably a bit of both).

So tomorrow, what can I do?

  • Go to dentist for cleaning and ask about the craze lines on front teeth
  • Return library books
  • Clean office
  • Clean bedroom
  • Prep loose trays in Mijello 33-well palette with baking soda scrub
  • Take a look at Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al and/or Elementary Japanese by Hasegawa.
  • Review kana.
    • Hiragana first
    • Katakana second
  • Shower, please

In the future,

  • Learn more about Bullet journaling system
  • Practice mixing greens, with awareness (and record!) of what color was used where (I think I experimented with Cerulean and Prussian Blue last time, but can’t be sure of the yellows) * — I may want to do this BEFORE filling the palette, — * as I’m not sure how many greens I can actually get out of this, without Viridian.  But I suppose I do have Aureolin, Hansa Yellow, Hansa Yellow Deep, and two different Yellow Ochres (I believe this is natural vs. synthetic), so it’s worth a good shot.
    • Practice mixing with watercolors in either scales or grids
      • Fill palette with watercolors
  • Transfer flower pattern onto new linoleum block
    • Practice with new X-Acto blades on linoleum sheets
    • Carve new linoleum block
    • Draw prints (in different colors!)
  • Draw gingko leaf design and puzzle out how to best work with that in a print (mixed warm [yellow, orange, brown] inks, white space for veins of leaf?)
  • Draw more than one ginkgo rendition, so as to create a falling-leaf image on bookmarks?
  • Straighten hair, trim off obvious damage

And I’ve got to remember I have both an eye appointment and an ultrasound coming up.

I should probably get going.  Sorry for the word count on these things…it’s even hard for me to go back and read this stuff, honestly.  Maybe I never grew to question the, “longer is better,” stuff I learned in high school…on the Web, at least, “briefer is better (so long as it delivers the required information),” may be more true!

Aaagh.

I was looking through a book which I had planned to xerox and return — and found that it was designed kind of as a workbook.  I’ll have to buy it if I want to work with it, in-depth.  I did, however, get the publication information and the call number, and it doesn’t look like it was on hold.

I also found a book on writing which was in the Biography section.  It would not likely have been found, however, unless one ran a keyword search:  neither of the subject headings had anything to do with writing.  Unless one knew who Joan Frank was already (I did not)…they would just be lucky that the word “writing” was in the title, or depend on a fulltext search (which I believe my system has, but which is unwieldy at best).

Nothing else about this book makes it easily findable by browsers.  The only reason I ran across it is that I work here and sorted it.

Self: do not forget about these supplies like you forgot about the watercolors…!

Hmm.  Well, I’m back from the Japanese stationery store, with somewhat less money 😉 but plentiful supplies…a new appreciation for the library (you mean I don’t have to buy the books to read them?) and I have realized that I need to get a Pinterest account.

After thinking a bit on what Google has hinted are called “dotted grid” notebooks or journals, I did a little online visual research on them (with help from Pinterest)…and it just increased the urge.  So I did go ahead and get one of these today.  I also got a pad of washi, though I’m certain it is machine-made:  the brand is Aitoh, which also makes the Boku-Undo marbling (suminagashi) inks.

The paper is for calligraphy and ink painting…also of use in mokuhanga (woodcut) transfers.  I’m pretty sure that it’s sized (has sizing/is chemically treated to alter ink behavior) on one side.  It can take original ink paintings, it can be printed onto with a mixture of nori and gouache, and it can be glued down to other blocks to transfer a design from a key-block print to other color blocks, meaning I can then accurately carve and register (align) the other blocks.  (Kozo [mulberry] washi, as this is, is known for not deforming much [let alone falling apart] when wet, which is the reason I wouldn’t just use tracing paper.)

Speaking of which, I also found a small tube of rice starch glue (nori), which means that there is now essentially nothing (other than having to acquire basswood sheets or shina plywood) keeping me from trying out woodcuts:  the colors I have, need the nori to spread evenly.  I don’t have the same brushes as I’ve seen being used elsewhere for mokuhanga, but I can try and wing it with natural-bristle stencil brushes.  (I’m deliberately not going into flagging the bristles, here; though I remember reading something about a substitute for “dragon skin” [sharkskin] to fray them, online.)

I’m still concerned about insect infestation in regard to the nori (particularly since we do have bugs that eat starch here [luckily they’re just silverfish:  ugly and annoying but not disease-ridden]), but I haven’t tried it yet; and for less than $4, it was good to get it.

The other stuff…well, I did find steel stub nibs for calligraphy at this place, though they’re a little large to store with all my other nibs.  They’re also coated in machine oil, which I may be able to get rid of through a soak in soapy water, as versus heating them.  I probably could have waited and hoped to find them at either of the two art stores on this side of the Bay, but…I just didn’t.  It’s kind of like I could have waited to buy a baren from the Japanese knife store that I wanted to visit, but thought it would have been more expensive there (it wasn’t; they had a workable model for about $13 less than I paid for my Speedball baren).  If I really get into mokuhanga, I may have to go there, though — I’m not sure the Speedball one will be as forgiving on non-cotton paper.  (It is kozo, though, which I would think to be tougher than it seems.)

Aside from that, I did get a set of Speedball printing papers (which I didn’t know existed until today), two shitajiki with grid lines on them (I HAVE WANTED THESE FOR YEARS!), two Zig pens to just try hand lettering with (a brush and a calligraphy nib), and some cheap papers in which to practice my Japanese writing.

Right:  shitajiki are called “pencil boards” in English; they are sheets of firm plastic to put under the page you’re currently writing (or drawing) on, in order to protect the rest of the pad or notebook from indentations.  The shitajiki I got are essentially like a ruled template to put behind a piece of white paper in order to write in straight lines; only, Japanese writing is based more on a grid than a line, and can run either horizontally (left to right) or vertically (right to left).  This means that I can use cheap translucent white paper now (like, the stuff from the dollar store), to practice writing.  Both of these were under $5 — one is clear and one is transparent blue (I’m not sure why).

I was not able to find the bocha today.  It’s not a big loss, considering.

I also did find the printmaking section of the bookstore (finally!), but they were mostly focused on admiring prints, not making prints.  (I have found a place that does have books on the art of mokuhanga; they’re just online.)  However — when I grow out of my current Japanese-language-learning texts, I will also be able to go back there for plentiful beginner and intermediate reading material.

Today did reinforce the desire to be able to read written Japanese: the store assistant I questioned as to whether the washi was sized or unsized had no idea what I meant by “sized.”  If I had been able to read the packages, I probably wouldn’t have had to ask.  In addition, there were books on woodcut prints at the bookstore, and while I could appreciate the art, I couldn’t read the commentary — as it was in Japanese.

I can restart my language learning, though.  Soon.  I just need to work out my priorities where it comes to work, Summer school, art, and Japanese-language learning.  Ideally I would be able to do all of this…but I’m not sure that is possible.

Could it be that I will actually have to schedule my summertime?

Eh.  I guess it’s better to trial it now than when things are going full speed…

Motivation

This is just another entry in the “why be creative/do art (when it doesn’t pay),” series…which it seems I should really organize, somehow.  It would be interesting to make this blog into an actual site with indexing more sophisticated than WP’s tagging/categories system…but I don’t have the skills to do that well, at this point in time.  Soon, though:  it will be very much closer to possible.  I have the chance of learning CSS this Fall, and more than that next summer, at the latest.  I am thinking/hoping that basic HTML coding will be introduced along with CSS…it’s just that the CSS textbook was the one I saw earlier in relation to one section.

(One of the reasons I’m aiming for the Digital Services track is that even if it does become a pain to catalog and retain all of my work in order to fulfill Culminating Experience for my degree (the alternative is a Master’s Thesis), I’ll still have salable skills.  That is, outside of the Library, where it may not matter if I have the Master’s or not — so long as I can do the work.)

So, this “why do art” thing.  I was thinking up things to write about here, and the question of this came forward into consciousness.  Well…it’s an easy thing to slip into, this mode of thinking.  However…as I was actually doing the art, I realized that doing it was an end in itself.  Kind of like origami, but…well, hey, origami has practical engineering uses, for one thing; but you do this work for the sake of the work and the satisfaction of making something beautiful, and then you have all these little leftover trinkets.  Like origami.  And then it’s like, what do you do with them?  I guess you give them to others (or sell them)?

I’ve been thinking of taking my suminagashi prints and printing flowers on them (probably after I rework my flower linocut), and then cutting them apart into little prints.  I actually did this last night with my first sheet of prints (on white paper), and made a bunch of neat little 2″x 2″ tiles.  However, I realized today that I can cut them into any shape I want, meaning that I can make really nice bookmarks for my friends at the Library!

I know it sounds silly, but what person working at a Library would refuse a bookmark?  😉  Who would do that.  😀

I’ve only told one person of my plans, so far.  Happily, I didn’t have to explain to him what I was doing with the ink marbling!  I’ve also sent off a letter to my old professor, asking her about any precautions I may need to take with the Sumifactant.  Just in case, I did give myself a break from exposure, the other night.  However…TOMORROW’S A NEW DAY!!!

And I’m getting kind of obsessed with this.  That was another reason I stopped.  😉  I do have a tendency to get really strongly involved in things when I do get involved — probably the reason why I ate that book up so fast, the other night!  I’ve had a hard time finishing almost any book from the Library, and didn’t want to risk letting that one go unread.  Especially as Summer Session is about to start.

Right now, I have two other books on creativity to get through, one of which looks promising; the other of which, looks didactic.  However, the latter’s theory about a “freeze” response preceding a “fight or flight” response in the case of anxiety…was telling, and has helped me get out of stasis (and understand why one of my relatives refuses to change habits that don’t work in their favor).  I’m just not sure whether it has anything more to say, than that.

And yes, I have also been reading around on the “ink” tags on WP, and now want a Lamy Safari with a 2mm stub nib.  It seems silly, but I will be going to an upscale stationery store soon…and they may have it.  I should probably check around first, though…