Hygiene highs; a day off. Taking care of myself.

Alright, so I didn’t get much done on the portfolio, today. I did go out on an excursion and brought back a couple of beading magazines. Although I don’t subscribe to any anymore, it’s good to view the ads.

I suppose I never really reported on the specifics of what beads I have recently picked up. I mentioned them close to the time, but no pics or anything. That isn’t great, for the reason that I forget what I have, if I don’t record it.

And then, there was the little macramé trial that I started and then ended…

Yeah, I want to do something with that! (It’s right next to me, now.)

Last night, I wanted to post about hygiene. Particularly, how good it felt to take a shower and wash my hair and dry the roots, getting everything done (including rubbing my face down with witch hazel, treating it, and brushing and flossing my teeth). I had to floss because I’d eaten raw fish for dinner (it will cause awful morning-after breath, otherwise — and don’t even think about going to bed with your teeth unbrushed — it’s horrific the next day), and I really had to wash my hair.

I put some sort of oil in it to protect the ends…but I’m not convinced that two drops (as the bottle said to use) was enough. I had to use the Clarifying shampoo because my hair was so gross, and that will eat through any oil or grease it touches at full strength. Because of that, I had some areas which were just fine (if not oily), and some areas which were squeaky-dry. I’ve found that it’s healthier to have it oily but clean, as versus dry and brittle.

I’m thinking of using a sulfate-free, very gentle shampoo, and just washing much more often. (I’ve heard that a vinegar rinse is good for getting rid of sulfate deposits in the hair [someone did one on me once], so I might use one just to soften it. I’m just not sure how exactly, to do it.)

I used the diffuser attachment for my hair dryer for the first time, last night. IT IS WONDERFUL. If I set it on “Cool” and High speed, it will get my roots dry, which is important to avoid mold and mildew. Avoiding that is important to avoiding dandruff and scalp itching, in turn.

As well, the “Cool” setting, doesn’t burn me.

I’m wanting to wash my hair and wear it the way it is when it’s wet and in what would be called, “ringlets,” if my hair was fully curly — it’s just in short waves, and I don’t know what the term is for that. But it’s nice that my hair texture has matured…it’s never been this consistent in texture, before. Rather, the texture varied depending on which area of my scalp the hair was growing from. (When I was very small, it was much straighter.)

It’s also never been as long as this at this texture, before. Right now, I can put it on top of my head, and it almost all stays (depending on what area of my crown it’s on)!

So…I’m thinking of continuing to grow it out, so I can get to the point where I can pile it all on top of my head. If I dry it with the diffuser, it should also be good to wear it down, while the rest of it dries. The diffuser actually adds lift to the root area, which helps it look alright.

I started out this post talking about beads and beadwork…

I suppose it’s OK if I don’t get work on my portfolio done, every day. I’ll only have one more class on top of this, for the foreseeable future. And even if I do get a better job, I shouldn’t have to work much more than 20 hours.

Also, so long as the portfolio project isn’t done, I’m thinking that it’s probably normal or good to keep it in the back of my mind, all the time. I should probably just not worry or stress over it too much — at least, not yet. After all, no matter what, it’s not going to be done for a while.

With the beadwork, I’ve based a color scheme around a number of ceramic beads, but have come to realize that the ceramic beads are likely too coarse for the design. I think the color scheme still works, though: warm aqua luster, violet vitrail, bronze.

And…I keep finding more beads, stashed away in plain sight. I need to get them all together. I remember looking for some for that scarab necklace (bright fuschia size 6° silverlined rounds), that I found a couple of days ago in a forgotten project drawer.

Anyhow. I haven’t been working on that today, either.

Seems like a lot of the stuff I have to do, has to do with organization. I think that’s accurate.

The thing I’m kind of irritated about is my lack of noting prices per quantity on the descriptions of my bead vials. Prices normally vary based on what’s in the glass, and what treatments have been applied to the glass. For example, pinks and deep reds (which aren’t just coated), generally have gold in the glass formulation, so they cost more. But something like a teal will generally be much less (I don’t know what makes it teal).

I remember that a while back, the “Apollo” finish (a bright bronze-gold coating over clear glass) was new and stupid-expensive. It’s gone down in price, now.

But if I’m making anything to sell, the final price is based on the cost of production, ideally. Otherwise, I risk underselling myself, and not being able to hold the price of a certain item, steady. Unless, that is, I risk overcharging (which I probably should, as versus putting something out using a baseline price formula).

I think I feel a bit better now, making jewelry with the intention to sell (though I haven’t been doing it much, recently). It helps to know people into art (who value artistic labor), and it helps to have done it, before.

It also helps to know that I’m not undermining my integrity by doing something generally classified as feminine. I am female, but as regular readers here will know, I don’t see myself as a woman — or a man (feminine, is something different: I have found that just because I don’t see myself as a woman, that doesn’t mean I have to divorce myself from everything associated with women).

In my first round of making jewelry to sell, I didn’t know myself as well, and didn’t know why I liked to do it. At this point, I know it’s okay to sell something for personal decoration, even if no one absolutely needs it. I didn’t feel great taking money for something someone may want, but have no absolute life-or-death need for. Especially when they may have needs that they’re sacrificing for “wants”.

But other people’s money-management, really isn’t my business. And that’s a ground-rule I really need to keep up.

I’ve also found that I myself feel better when I know I look good. The attention I get for that isn’t the reason I do it — or even something I really desire — but I try to take compliments in stride.

After all, nothing says I can’t be a gender minority and gorgeous at the same time…

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Some good work, done.

I had two moments today when I was able to shout that I got something, right. Coding is like that. I realized that since I was globally enforcing HTTPS, anything sourced from HTTP, broke. The other HA! moment came when I realized that I could write my own HTML and CSS and upload it, aside from my Content Management System. This means that my domain can host an actual self-authored website.

Since last night, I’ve basically been on the computer, whether that was related to setup or intellectual work. All those classes in Information Science have actually helped something. I mean…I can do a lot and understand a lot, that I couldn’t, before. I wouldn’t have been able to catch the error in my script unless I knew that there was something wrong in one line of code and that it was likely one tiny (and logical or syntactical) error.

Right now I need to work on organizing my files, so I know where to look for the information I need. I’ve done enough work for today on the actual portfolio, I think.

No kidding — I need to only take one other course with my capstone class, this Fall, if that. The portfolio project is major, and I haven’t done much work on the content, so far. I’ve been reading over the requirements and setting up all the groundwork that has to be done to publish this stuff.

As for content, I have about 18 weeks to get it completed, and there are 16 sections to complete. That means an average of at least one section a week (?!) for pace, though it’s possible more than one section will get done at once, as I run across evidence while looking for other evidence.

I think one of the motivational issues involved with starting this, besides intimidation, is the delayed-gratification aspect. But getting the Master’s, and thus access to becoming a Librarian, matters way more than getting Likes, does.

For now, though…maybe I’ll write a little on which, if any, of my art supplies I want to trade with friends. I feel secure enough on the portfolio, for now.

Distance grown from past pleasures

At the risk of being wiped out from lack of sleep, tomorrow, I’m going to give in a little to the urge to write. The most significant theme I have right now is that much of I was once enthusiastic about, I’ve grown distant from — because I haven’t had time to devote to actually doing what I wanted.

Along with this comes the recognition that what I know isn’t necessarily correct, just because I know it (or thought I knew it). This applies to my cultural studies, particularly with Buddhism…that is, just because my ancestors and heritage have something to do with it and it’s part of the fabric of my existence, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily correct or true, or not-problematic, or better than anyone else’s heritage.

These are two different topics that I may be able to intertwine, though maybe I shouldn’t. Actually, the latter could be its own post, so maybe I’ll actually save it for a different one, and link to it from here, after I’ve actually written it.

Time division

Looking in my archives, I’ve realized that I’ve grown a bit distant from a lot of things I used to like. These include:

  • Reading
  • Drawing
  • Beading
  • Writing creatively
  • Learning Japanese language

Now that I’m planning to factor in time for myself (aside from University requirements), how to spend that time is coming to the fore. The major focus (or distraction) I’m having now is that some of these things require more or less daily commitment in order to progress and avoid losing skills. Japanese language is pretty much like this. Drawing is like this, too. It’s a reason I stopped playing guitar. And, of course, reading even a single work, requires a set time commitment.

There are also some just basic things that I need to do or maintain, like:

  • Hygiene
  • Driving
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Laundry
  • Housekeeping

And then there are more urgent things, like:

  • Applying for jobs
  • Preparing my portfolio

When I put it like that, it’s easy to see how the first group of items got left behind. They just aren’t that urgent.

Fear of flying: Overthinking design

Right now I’m coming off of a few days of intensely dealing with beadwork and jewelry design. While I could plow forward and keep at it…the phrase that came to mind is, “I wonder if I’m missing something.” I mean, I could definitely keep moving forward on this, but I know my hands will be sore. Maybe that could be a self-limiting thing; like, I can work on micromacramé until my hands get sore, and then I’ll stop and do something else?

That could work, actually!

My major concern is that I tend to over-intellectualize things, when I need to be diving in and learning by experience. Of course, that’s hard when you’re afraid to mess up or fail…when messing up and failing is how you learn.

So there’s tension here between my intellect and its perfectionism, and the part of me that is generative and messy and creative, I guess. I wouldn’t be surprised if those are actually different brain regions in conflict.

I really should have taken a picture of the craft table before I cleaned it up. It was…awful.

But something grew out of all that messiness, and I’m wearing it, now. And I actually now have a storage solution for all my wires and cutters and pliers, that actually works (I used the big toolbox I got the other day that turned out to be gigantic). So now I have another free flat storage area…

Maybe I just need to get more comfortable with uncertainty. I mean, you can’t fly if you’re afraid to jump.

And no, I don’t know where that last sentence came from…it just came. I guess that counts as a, “jump.”

But I’m not going to learn macramé if I’m afraid of, “wasting,” cord on learning. My necklaces aren’t going to make themselves, but to make them, I have to be willing to be wrong a few times (maybe, several). And I have to be willing to experiment if I want to ever make truly great and original art.

I mean, it’s not like I don’t have unpopular cord to play with. For supporting frames, it’s not like I don’t have heavy (and cheap) wire and tools to form it, with which to experiment.

I just have to let myself experiment. Like give permission, to.

After all, those spools of cord are meant to be used, not meant to be hoarded. Hoarding them doesn’t make me an artist; it makes me a collector. Using them (to learn or to make) is something different.

Fear of drowning: Tension in drawing

Drawing is one of those things — another one, anyway — that I get scared to jump into, because I keep forgetting that I know how to swim. But I’ve been looking back over my work for the Art program, and …I have had this “thing” about not wanting to be tight in my drawings.

My drawings — a lot of them, anyway — aren’t tight. Most of them aren’t what I would consider, “overworked.” And yet there is this fear of making tight and overworked drawings, likely because I’ve seen them and I’ve done them and I know they suck the pleasure out of the work. But, maybe I don’t have to fear that.

A couple of my drawing instructors would really, “admonish,” people to consistently try and work, “looser.” But I look at a bunch of my figure studies, and they’re fine. Maybe it’s because with a lot of them, I only had a 5-minute pose to work from, but a lot of it is notation of key elements.

If nothing else, I can take that away from my Figure Drawing training.

And I’m finding less hesitation about working with the human figure, now: at least, my own.

I’m thinking of taking in my Monolith graphite sticks to work tomorrow so that I can practice just drawing from life, in monochrome. Sometimes, it’s good to get back to basics.

And I still want to make a design for a linoleum block print using the flower image I mentioned a while ago. Maybe I should just use that as a jumping-off point, though, instead of trying to copy it. After all, I’m not sure there’s any more virtue in copying it than in imagining it; it might just be easier in the initial stages, when I don’t understand the forms.

That’s a good enough stopping point. It’s all I can think of, at this hour, and I have work to get to, tomorrow. I’m sure these things are very connected, but just how is something that isn’t totally clear to me, at the moment. In a few months, I bet it will be…

WIP: Scarab necklace

Apologies for not having any photos, tonight. I have a work-in-progress (WIP) which will very much be worth sharing when it’s done, but unfortunately I threw my back out today, and haven’t gotten to finish the last 2″ of knotting on the WIP.

Luckily, I’m pretty sure the back thing is just a muscle spasm (don’t twist while carrying heavy loads and descending stairs at the same time), but it’s meant I haven’t been able to do much. On top of that, this and taking medication around 1:30 AM this morning (from staying up late knotting and not noticing the time), kind of wrecked my motivation for today.

So the project itself is a knotted micromacrame choker-length necklace with a central crystal drop and seed bead embellishments. After 1 AM, I was reminded of the need for sleep, and my pinkies were about to blister, so I called it a night. (They’re still a tiny bit sore, today.) Given what was on TV, I think I was working at least 3-4 hours — though this was on two projects.

I made a first project that led directly into the second, as it looked more like a prototype than finished work (although it’s wearable) — but I wasn’t about to cut it apart, right after making it. I had used a set of silver-plated crimp endings; crimps don’t come undone. I would have had to just throw them away, and they still look fine. It’s the cord and the lack of embellishment, that I don’t like.

The craft table looks like a disaster area…but maybe it’s supposed to? I really did want to finish that necklace last night, but I’m already viewing it as a prototype for something more. For instance, working off of the cord loops with thread, to attach finer beads: the center drop bead is a Swarovski scarab, and I’m thinking of placing falcon wings on either side with fringe. The major issue is how to secure the thread ends, but if I worked the thread in from the beginning, it would be well-anchored at both ends of the necklace like everything else (and hidden).

But yeah…it feels really good to be working on (and with) this stuff, again. There’s something about looking at beads that lets me know that something awesome can be made out of them with the right amount of applied skill and creativity.

Hopefully, I’ll be up to finishing it, tomorrow.

Balancing business and personal life

Last night, I realized something: I was using a lot of jargon. That is, the problem I was describing in my last post is directly related to my using jargon in regard to beadwork which I’ve grown up with, but which is unfamiliar to most.

The word for it didn’t come to me until early this morning when I was trying to get to sleep, though.

And…once again, I find myself considering the impact of having my online life linked with my physical one. If I did start selling again, for example, do I link my online presence here, or start a new blog (or new website)? The latter will be easy enough to set up…but there are also some drawbacks, primarily related to the possibility of using a database.

I think Etsy is a better first option.

And…the person I am now, at core, isn’t going to change. I have been talking here about things such as gender identity and presentation, and mental health. This is because this is a personal blog — not a professional one — and this stuff isn’t talked about enough in regular life. Also, if I’m going to do creative writing, that stuff’s going to come out, or I won’t be able to write. It’s just that a business presence would likely not have those things, kind of like how I try not to bother you all with my politics.

If I started selling online, it would make sense to start an actual website for a business presence (aside from the one I’ve had to start for school).

Then I could post about beadwork, there! 🙂

I have noticed that there are alternate venues to talk about this stuff, largely going off of what other bloggers have linked. There are also the more obvious routes…going by offline word-of-mouth to find both places to sell and places to talk to other beaders.

Yeah. I’ve had that information for a while, and just haven’t followed up on it. Sounds good. I would need to network.

In other affairs…I’m leaning about 70% towards not taking a third class in my last semester. This is both because I might have a 20-hour job then, and because I like having actual time for myself. If I have extra time, I can put it into a side business.

Sounds good.

Things that aren’t equivalent

I started to write this last night, but adjourned to my bed and my blog notebook. It’s probably a good thing, because I was really tired. (It’s not good to be that tired and exposed to the blue light of a computer screen; it can make me stay up longer than I should.)

The notes I took are all about things that I at once thought were related, but which turned out to be more dissimilar than expected. I also started drawing on the side of my notes…which was surprisingly satisfying. Yes, even though it was on lined paper.

I was using a Yasutomo Liquid Stylist pen, which is a fiber-tipped pen with a nice juicy flow. The drawing just came out of wondering what would happen if I made shapes in some way other than letters…

…I’ve also started drawing images of my houseplants, because they’re kind of the reverse of the memento mori that happens with cut flowers. In this case, because they’re still growing, they’ll never be this tiny again!

For a while now, I’ve been discouraged from drawing because of the fact that nearly everything I see has a human touch to it. Botanical gardens aren’t even immune, because they’re planted and maintained by people. Outdoor areas are often landscaped and built upon. Someone designed those buildings. Someone designed everything within those buildings.

An extreme example would be driving out to the middle of nowhere in Las Vegas and copying down a display of some statue surrounded by plants which don’t naturally grow there (like much, does). It’s obvious on that point that the display was made to be seen and to have the impact it has. It’s worse when the plants are poorly taken-care of and obviously being used.

It’s why I didn’t take too many photos of Las Vegas.

While there are some relatively wild areas nearby, they also seem somewhat forbidding. Like I can go into the Sierra, and it’s beautiful; at the same time I know I can easily die there, just from making one mistake. So it’s gorgeous and at the same time…I don’t know if, “sobering,” is the right word, but there is an element of heightened awareness and caution, there.

I haven’t yet been able to reconcile recording human-built and -designed landscapes within urban and suburban areas, and the feeling of being out-of-place in relatively untouched areas.

Anyhow, to get back to my list. (I’ve expanded upon it, below.) These are things I have drawn parallels between in the past, though now…I recognize their differences. In the below, I’ll be using the “!=” shorthand to mean, “not (exactly) equal to.” It would get unnecessarily wordy, otherwise.

  • drawing != painting
    • even though both result in the creation of images
    • Drawing uses lines; painting has an absence of line.
    • Drawing may make much less use of color than painting.
  • beading != painting
    • even though both can be dependent upon color use and combinations
    • Painting requires some thought as to subject matter, which is not necessarily the case with beading.
  • beading != “Jeweling” (Silversmithing) even though both can result in the production of jewelry
    • Beading requires weaving (in its simplest form, stringing) and design, incorporating skilled usage of pre-made components.
    • Jeweling requires metalwork (and in advanced forms, skilled use of fire) to assemble metal (usually sheet, wire, and [if casting,] grain) into a new, coherent form.
    • Jeweling may make much less use of color than beading.
  • sewing != beading
    • even though both use fine needles
    • Sewing requires the use of fabrics (or two-dimensional soft surfaces), which feel entirely different than assembling pierced glass, stone, metal, etc., components through the usage of fiber.
  • “making things” != programming
    • even though both “create”
    • “Programming” is listing instructions to a computer which have to be 100% correct (or near), and logically consistent, or they won’t work at all.
    • Logic and semantic precision don’t factor into, “making things,” nearly as much (as I’ve experienced them); there is room for imperfection in, “making things.”
  • literature writing != comics
    • even though both tell stories
    • Comics have a strong graphic component requiring a different skill set than writing.
    • Comics may utilize a different form of communication than writing.
  • “Communications” class != social skills class
    • I took a class in “Communications” hoping it would make me a better communicator. Lo and behold, they meant, “public speaking,” not “interpersonal skills.”
  • Sociology != “the study of people”
    • Sociology is the study of people through the lens of how power dynamics constrain people, not the study of people and societies in general.

I’m not sure if this is some sort of cognitive or experiential deficit with me which has caused me to think that the things I’ve listed above have been related because they had a common factor (such as beadwork and painting having a common thread of color dynamics; thus I thought I’d enjoy painting [more than I have] because I’m enthused about color, and had enjoyed beadwork).

I’m hoping to get back to beadwork, very soon. I would have done it earlier today, but it’s been nice just to not have to do anything, for the first time in weeks. It felt like as much as I could do, to write this entry!

But I do have some pearls I want to do something with, and at least one project in stasis; I can start there.

And life resumes.

Tonight I turned in the last of my assignments for Summer. I don’t think they were perfect, but they’re off my plate, now.

The good thing is that I got full marks on the first two assignments, so I had 55% going into the last two weeks. This class is also only 1 credit, so a low grade isn’t going to ruin my GPA. (I am already in an Honors society, too, and can’t have that revoked…)

What can I say, but, IT’S OVER!

That class was so frustrating. At least if we had used a real programming language, I could have looked for help from someplace other than my Professor.

I also realized that my love of making things doesn’t necessarily extend to Programming, which is more like, “delivering instructions to a computer.” Not design or writing or crafting; because I’m not doing the work myself, the computer is doing the work.

Now I can return my attention back to work and my e-Portfolio, though to be honest, I’m thinking about doing some jewelry work (likely incorporating leather: I got the idea to make button loops with this so that the buttons wouldn’t be abraded by glass beads. There is also the option of knotting button loops (when using upholstery thread), though I’ve found that braiding them makes a more secure connection).

If I take out my 14g jewelry in the morning and put in light earrings; at the end of the day, I can still put the 14g jewelry back in. I am planning on exploiting this. 🙂 I also have a lot of earwires, so I can toy with designs all I want.

I am not sure yet what heavy earrings will do to my piercings (I’m thinking of a set of sunstone earrings in particular — my first attempt at chain tassels), but I would probably be in danger of losing them, from having the piercing stretched out. Luckily, I have a lot of earring stoppers (plastic stoppers to secure the backs of standard earring posts or earwires).

I am also not sure as to whether my piercings will in fact close up to a more normal size if I take the 14g earrings out, entirely. The problem with doing that, is that then I tend to miss them, and have to go through another cycle of wearing 18-16-14g, which takes at least 12 weeks to get back to the point at which the 14g earrings will again fit and not damage my lobes. It takes longer than that to get them to be able to move freely again.

No, I do think I’ll stay at 14g — but this is as thick as I’m going.

As long as we’re on the subject of appearances, I ended up trimming my hair instead of cutting it short; but I don’t know how long I’ll keep it like this. I mean, I actually look fairly pretty to myself, right now. I don’t know what changed except for beginning to use a different skin treatment. It also looks like my weight shifted. I don’t know what causes that.

At this point, the major issues I have with my hair are ongoing scalp health, and damage from heat styling. The heat styling is to prevent damage from snarling (which happens often enough with my hair wavy).

The only reason I know the heat has damaged it is that when combing it out in the shower with some kind of lubricant (it’s often difficult to comb, dry), I can feel it stretch when I hit a snarl. It’s not supposed to stretch. However, if I straighten it, I can keep it rolled up in a bun when I need to, out of the way and relatively clean. It’s also long enough to put the bun on the crown of my head, which minimizes pulling and discomfort (I often get a sore scalp if I even wear a tightly bound ponytail).

What’s good about this as well is that if I twist my hair down, I can wrap my hair in a scarf, and not worry about getting dust into it from my work.

On the employment front, I have a short amount of time to apply for a higher position, which I’m thinking is now appropriate (I’ve been getting a little antsy at work from not using my skills to their fullest potential). I still can’t drive on my own, though, and I need to get on that and get my license. If I had a license, I could be a substitute and not have to worry about balancing part-time work and full-time school along with having to arrange for transportation. But I am going into my last semester, so if I get hired next year, that will be cake.

I’m thinking that power issues may be tripping out some people I work with. It is probably past time to move up a rank.

I also spoke with someone today about support around getting back into creative writing. The meeting went really well.

The big thing for me about writing (particularly, fiction) is that it brings up a lot of issues that I still need to process, and it tends to bring them up all at once. So having someone to talk to about them, is really good. From what I heard, working through past issues with the writing is likely better than avoiding them by not writing.

It’s also something to take into account that the problems which bothered me before when I was writing, may not necessarily bother me now.  I mean, my last major extended experience in writing fiction was in undergraduate work. I was a lot less stable then than I am now, and beginning to write again now, doesn’t mean I’ll be going back to being like I was, before.

And, yeah…the person I was talking with did bring up the, “method acting,” tangent that I had also wondered about, but never looked up… In specific, the fear was that I’d get into character and then forget who I was. But I think for me, it times out after 3-4 days, even if I do lose my grip on myself.

Also, that mediumship thing about ending a session, I’m told, sounds applicable.

Alright, I should get some rest — I just realized that it’s now after midnight, and I’ve got stuff to do, tomorrow.

(and it’s not going to be graded.)