Cultural location and creative context: Part 1

If circumstances were different, I might be using this time to read. However, I was so out of it this morning that I forgot to bring or wear my glasses, so reading (especially tiny blurry text) isn’t a feasible option. So…we have a half an hour here which I can dedicate to writing.

Although, I do suppose that I could also be downloading and printing some additional readings. I try not to access my library login from too many separate spaces, though (I’m on lunch right now).

Apologies for the massive change from art-related postings to Library-School-related postings. This is an effect of what I’ve been going through on a larger scale: I want to have the time to dedicate to art, but what I’m doing now in the Master’s program is so that I will have more time to dedicate to art…just requiring that I shift my focus away from art, in the present.

So, when I was talking about the Japanese markets…I had been in Southern California for a bit, for a memorial. Before then, my sibling had been visiting from out-of-state. This is what I was referencing in my last post. It was especially very important to see my sibling. The major problem is that now, between myself and my parents, I’m the person who has time commitments and has to set limits.

One thing that I did do for myself when I was in SoCal was not go to Easter service. When I talk about, “doing stuff for myself,” I mean that the majority of our time in SoCal was sucked up by other people determining what we would do while we were there. So it wasn’t really a vacation, more than a educational field trip interspersed with shopping.

I really wasn’t in the mood to go to Church on Easter, though — I am basically never in the mood to go to Church — and I’m not Christian (and don’t want to become Christian), so the only reason to attend was to…well, make the minister (my uncle) happy. The amount of discomfort I would have been in kind of overruled that, though.

I’m not sure my uncle quite “gets” why I don’t attend. When he asked me about it, I didn’t broach the fact that I’m closest to being Buddhist, but I don’t even take Buddhism as truth or as something to be believed, at this point, more than as an intellectual tool.

That statement gives me a jumping-off point for something else I had wanted to talk about but just didn’t: which is, lacking a set cultural context for imaginative journeys (or whatever you would call them). Particularly, dealing with Buddhism requires (or encourages, at least) the clearing of, “illusions.”

I’m not certain I have enough time or resources here to back me up on this (I have a personal library section on Buddhism at home, and the ones here I’ve mostly not read yet: too many repetitions of the Buddha’s biography and hardly anything giving cultural context behind why that version of things is so often repeated [which some of the books I have, mention]), but…the act of “fabricating” (which I take as a word implying the weaving together of disparate threads) stories is something that I’ve become aware of within the time between my graduation with the Creative Writing degree, and now.

Maybe I should talk about writing as, “weaving,” or something, to keep this in mind. I mean, it is nice to have fabric! (Right?) It’s just not nice to have weirdly woven wonky fabric that disturbs you when you look at it or wear it and you wonder why anyone wove it in the first place…

Okay, well…

Anyway, 😉 I find a lot of inspiration from the Japanese side of my ethnic heritage. But I’m not Japanese-from-Japan, I’m Japanese-American, and apparently there is a large cultural difference, there. Although I’m finding that I do have a cultural location which is more Japanese-American than not (it surprises me, too)…I have not been able to feel wholly included because of the fact that I’m multiracial.

I’ve got to end this now and get back to work. Maybe I can continue it later.

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(Preliminary) reasons to write

I just got back from a library more useful than the one I work at 😉 (I forgot how nice that library is), and am going to take a quick break here to note down some things I found last night, when writing.

I took about 20 minutes last night to begin writing out the narrative of the story I’ve mentioned recently. I’m actually feeling very good about it, and about having taken some time last night, to read in Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt in fiction, but the value of it came to me when I was trying to fall asleep.

Fiction allows one to try out being different people and making different life decisions than the ones one has made, or possibly might make. It allows one to look at life from multiple perspectives, without necessarily validating one over the other (though to be honest, I don’t particularly strive for objectivity in my fiction!).

One of the things which has stopped me from reading fiction in the past has been the sense that some authors (particularly in the Classics) wrote for the reason of reinforcing and validating their own worldviews. I’m not sure anymore that this is the case; as I’ve mentioned before, my memories of my young adulthood are distorted by untreated illness affecting my cognition, and as such, they’re unreliable.

This is kind of a difficult truism to combat, though. If one believes it, it may prevent them from reading fiction at all, and from writing it as well. If one doesn’t read any more narrative after that, one just continues to hold the belief while the world around one moves on. It might not even help if one tries to get out of it by reading creative prose; often, we see what we are looking for, particularly when there is no one “right” interpretation of a text.

It’s generally accepted that in literary arts, as in fine arts, there is no one “right” or “correct” interpretation, by the way…because not even the author can know such a thing. There’s just too much subconscious and unconscious content for this to be true, and often the interpretation of a text has as much or more to do with the reader than it has to do with the writer.

In order for multiple divergent readings to be possible, we have to grant that the work stands on its own (that is, in fiction, we don’t judge the author for what they have written, even if we do judge the work itself) and that not one reading is “right.”

Hmm. Maybe that’s where I get my philosophical relativism from.

I also at times have felt a bit of…trepidation at letting the reader inside of my head, because I’ve attempted literary analysis on my own work before, and in the past it hasn’t been pretty. (Don’t do that, by the way. Especially not if you’re concurrently dealing with mental illness and cognitive distortion, as I was.)

What I have found is that taking time out to write enhances my productivity, rather than reducing it, as I had assumed. It takes time to write, but then it also helps when you come to things with a fresh mind, not burdened by unexpressed ideas. (Unexpressed ideas can turn into unexpressed obsessions, which is where writing serves well as a method of exorcism. Once you write it down, you can stop repeating it to yourself in an attempt to remember it.)

The problem with unexpressed ideas, as well, is that before they’re put into a format where they become objects, it’s difficult to manipulate them and see the deeper meanings behind them. Whereas, I know as a writer that when I encode things into English (as my first language), I start making connections and realizing ideas that I didn’t know were there.

And these two reasons can be enough reason for me to write, for now. I’m sure more (real) reasons to write will arise as I actually get back into fiction writing.

In any case, last night I didn’t get a lot written, so far as length was concerned — I was writing (legibly) by hand in a small sketchbook, which reduces my writing speed significantly. In turn, that makes me think about my phrasing (not to mention the art of handwriting), more.

I did, however, begin to lay the foundation for a larger story…and I was surprised at how much was already there, going unexpressed. It might actually turn into a novella (or alternately, graphic novel series).

In addition, I was immediately able to see opportunities to expand on what I had begun. This is where my degree in Creative Writing actually helps!

I guess it’s nice to feel multi-talented. 🙂 Or that my undergraduate degree is actually useful for something.

I think that’s about enough time spent, here. Of course, there’s always more to say, but I will post it when it’s ready to come out. 🙂

Distractions

You know how I wrote that identity piece a couple of days ago?

Now I’m having issues with fantasy. It’s making it difficult to concentrate, so I thought I might write a bit here and see if I can get it out of my system (though maybe I should be writing out the story, offline). I won’t be writing the actual story, here, because I’m not sure if WordPress allows erotica.

The original basis of this was a story I began when I was — I think — in high school (I have records, but they’re on 3.5″ floppy disk[!], and the writing quality is probably horrible). The major issue I can see with it is that at the time, and even recently, I’ve had difficulty conceiving at least one of the relationships in the story as outwardly mutual. Emotionally, it is mutual; but that doesn’t translate to what one of the characters says.

Because I’ve needed to take several (?) Title IX trainings, by this point, I can see where this is problematic. The solution to this, however, is simple: my character just needs to realize that as long as he keeps saying, “no,” and backing away, nothing is going to happen.

It shows a measure of respect that his partner believes him and keeps withdrawing when he tells him to stop (even though the main character doesn’t really want him to stop, but he’s frightened and doesn’t want to take responsibility for the situation). If he did anything else, it would be a violation of safety, trust, and intimacy.

The tension, here, is largely focused on the main character, and it’s largely an internal conflict. I can foresee a resolution, but then: that can’t be all the story is about, right (unless it’s a one-shot type of thing)? The characters I’ve mentioned have a more overarching relationship. It would make sense for this to be one episode in a larger series, or a drawn-out conflict in the background of a series (I’m reminded of FAKE by Sanami Matoh.)

Anyhow, I think that came up because I had been thinking about the possibility of what might happen in my own life if people saw and respected me for who I actually am (as versus assuming who I am, based on what I look like).

I’ve gotta either get back to work, right now, or if I can’t do that, write some of this stuff out.

Just typing through some stress.

I have an assignment to complete for Instructional Design, but to be honest, I am not really into it and am not sure at this point how exactly I will do it. I think that I need to work alongside Steps 1-4 (which I still have to edit and resubmit) with Step 5, rather than trying to draw things out of that flawed document. I’m writing now in order to give myself some space.

The last week has been taken up with trying to catch up on things I didn’t do, before…and I think there’s something about staying up after midnight studying for at least two days in a row that…makes one not want to get out of bed in the morning. Especially when one knows that there are multiple walls of study waiting for them.

I didn’t go to a movie last night and didn’t go to breakfast this morning, to give myself some time. The problem is, I can’t schedule everything else around my waking hours when I stay up after midnight: sometimes I actually do need to get up at 7 AM. Most of the time last night was spent hardcore studying. Most of the time this morning and early afternoon, was spent sleeping.

At this point, I’m kind of wondering how people who have multiple interests outside of their field of study, and a job, and maybe (!) are taking care of themselves, make it through a Master’s program. (Without, you know, gaining weight and losing sleep and needing to see a counselor regularly.)

I did, however, submit my Candidacy (to graduate) form, yesterday, so at least that is out of the way. I have realized that I’m actually 7 units beyond the minimum that I would need to graduate, and as I’ve been planning on taking more classes during the Summer and Fall semesters…well, yeah.

I think at the end of my degree, I’ll be 15 units above the minimum.

And then there is the entire issue of my ePortfolio. I’m thinking that I will need to start working on this in Summer at the latest, meaning that I should likely only take Cybersecurity (1 unit) and Intro to Programming (1 unit). This is as versus taking a MySQL course, which I can do at any time on the wider Web.

I suppose that’s not to mention that this will all be over in 9 months, if things go well.

AND…I did actually make the time to shower and wash my hair last night. That was a good thing. It’s also a good thing I didn’t go out to breakfast, because I wasn’t that hungry.

Okay, I think I’m about ready to start working on Step 5 of my Instructional Design thing (–! seriously, I don’t want to be doing Instructional Design, but it’s a competency I have to fulfill).

Gah.

But I guess you can see why I majored in Creative Writing the first time around: writing actually calms me down and helps me get my thoughts together, most of the time. When I was younger, I felt like that was the only constant in my life (though that wasn’t entirely true: family was the other constant).

Right now I’m looking at my bookshelf/personal library, and…there are so many books I want to read, but I don’t have time to read them now.

I should probably make some time to consolidate this stuff, so it’s all in one case (or reasonably close to it)…

Assessing where I am, and looking forward:

Okay,

I have made it through Wednesday and today! (I didn’t expect that.) It was especially difficult to get myself out of bed, today, because I knew I had to update an Entity-Relation diagram and had no idea how I would do it. (E-R diagrams are used to plan database architecture.)

I ended up resting for a bit (even though I felt guilty as I did so) and then evolving a plan for how to tackle this…and, unexpectedly, it worked out!

I’m not sure if I should write down how I did it here, or if that will be too arcane for everyone else who reads this blog…(I can write it down in my notes, before I forget). But for one thing: giant paper helps. Color-coding also helps, and 3″x5″ cards help! I also think that because the diagram forces one to think abstractly, it’s likely a good thing that I’m the one doing it.

There’s also the point that I’m not entirely certain how my brain works. I mean, apparently, it knew how to go through the process. I just needed to be open to it.

Back to essentials, though: I seriously need to wash my hair, and I seriously need to exercise. I also seriously need to clean up my office! There is so much paper trash in here. And my bedroom…needs to be dusted, so I can get back to using my desk.

Luckily, I don’t have to go back to work for two more weeks, unless I choose to, so I have some extra time that I can use to either study or take care of myself (including cleaning up weeks of entropy). I’m hoping to get ahead in my schoolwork, but I’m not betting on it.

A few days ago, I did see my prescribing doctor. I’m thinking that I’ll stay on the same medication I’ve been on. My doctor suggested bupropion (Wellbutrin) to lower my appetite, but every time I start a new medication, I have to adjust to my mind working differently.

I’m already on one medication to counteract the side effects of another medication (drowsiness); the bupropion would be to counteract another side effect, which is the tendency to eat constantly.

As far as I’m aware, I could go on treating side effects of medications that treat side effects forever and end up on way more drugs than are necessary. It’s possible that all I need to do is drink water first, when I find myself hovering around the refrigerator.

Anyhow. I know that the next three days will be a bit tight where it comes to academics, or at least, I’ll have things to do. It would be great to get some exercise in, in the early morning. Today, it was basically storming (which has been rare, this season), so I didn’t go out. Not to mention that what I had to work on, was a group project, and so I couldn’t let it slide.

And I also did finally see that most of my professors have their email addresses on their “Home” pages, not under “Contact”. I’m not sure if that does mean I’m supposed to contact them about accommodations? Hmm.

Well, that train of thought just died.

I suppose that I could also get back to reading. I have one class (Instructional Design) which I may have to do a lot of research for, depending on whether my proposal goes through or not. The way the project is set up, I have to have an Information Literacy basis…and I’m not too familiar with that (which might be surprising, as I’m in a Library & Information Science program).

Also…I’m not sure whether I really want to do MySQL this Summer, or hold off on that and use Web tutorials to learn MySQL, while taking Cybersecurity and Intro to Programming. My fear is that 5 units in Summer Session is going to be way too much, like I could barely handle 10 units this semester, while I had them (my 1-unit class ended yesterday).

Last night I was thinking of just doing Programming and Cybersecurity, and doing MySQL on my own…which still sounds like the balanced route. If I can commit to it.

The weird thing, though, is that I’m not too bad at database design; and I didn’t expect that to be the case. Though my professor did say that Entity-Relation diagramming was something of an “art”…

(sounds like me)

…I did end up using my art supplies to mark out rough drafts of my diagram. It would have been tougher without the materials.

Man, there are so many books I want to read…(I’m looking at my bookshelf, now)…particularly the Japanese language and Graphic Design ones. It’s funny that right now when I look at pages of my Japanese language writing in my photos, I can’t really distinguish them from my English language writing, unless I’m writing vertically. (It all merges into “text.”)

But it is such a big power-boost to be able to write in kanji.

Yes, it would be nice to clean up in here so I have the space to do whatever I want. (I briefly pondered practicing my sewing, today, but just didn’t do it.)

I could also get back on assembling my e-Portfolio, which has had to take a back seat for the past few weeks. The major issue there, is where to host it, and where will it be secure?

But that could be a fun project (especially if I code the pages myself)!

Hmm. I’d just have to keep them securely backed up…that actually does sound fun. And productive. I wonder if I should have a cloud backup, too, just in case…

Yes, I’m still here. Actually. Really. :)

I don’t even know how long I’ve been away from this blog, but the temporary state of being in de facto, 12 units, while preparing for graduation is…apparent. Not to mention taking care of general University trainings.

It must have taken me 30-45 minutes the other night (I can’t remember which night and I didn’t write it down) just to figure out everything that is coming due this week. Luckily, I should be able to get in my second exercise for my Database class and be somewhat prepared to talk to a new contact, by tomorrow. The next deadline set is Wednesday.

The major issue is so much reading, though at least it’s easy enough for me. There’s that, and listening to audio recordings (which just take time and attention) and research. The other major thing is sedation, which I’ve been experiencing as the Prozac leaves my system (I was taking the Prozac to counter the sedation).

I realized a couple of days ago that I have (or had) been really irritable/angry/triggered, and I am no longer certain whether it’s my life that is the cause, or if withdrawal is distorting (or clarifying) my perception.

In any case, I realized last night that I hadn’t logged on here for…my Stats read a week or so, if I assume my last posting was the last time I was on. Actually, though, I did start drafting a post about 2/3 of a week ago, and then went and took care of the issue instead of writing about it.

There’s been a lot of stuff happening; mostly around death in both sides of my family, now. My office is pretty messed up (particularly the small papers all over the floor off to one side of my terminal) and I’ve ceased to worry about it, but I do need to do some laundry and clean the bedroom so I can get back to using the desk (and have clothes I look good in). I also really need to shower; maybe I can do that tomorrow morning before heading out (I just don’t want to dry my hair, really).

I also have not contacted any of my professors yet re: Disability accommodations. I kind of feel like it helps me be lazy, and in the real world, I’ll need to work to deadlines. The problem is that going without sleep for too long, or having dysregulated sleep for too long, may trigger an episode in me. It’s better to turn something in 18 hours late and maintain my health, than it is to pull an all-nighter and be damaged and unable to fully function for 3-4 weeks…which is why I have the accommodation.

Tomorrow, I might go out for some more pens (I use color differentiation to tell where one set of notes ends and the next begins, but all of my colored gel pens are running low). I bet that will help me get out of bed at a reasonable time.

And…the Bullet Journaling is actually helping, though it’s not a big deal to look at. I basically have been writing tasks down for the week, every week, with due dates.

I’ve also decided that I don’t want to be a back-end Web Developer. The Database class is kind of like a math class…oddly enough, I think I may be happier in a front-end Web Developer or Web Designer role. But it’s a good thing I found that out.

Alright. I think I can get back to homework, now; taking time out for this journal/blog constitutes caring for myself. Sometimes it’s just good to have a place to record what’s happening so you don’t forget it because of rushing so fast to get everything done…

One paper down; gaining some breathing room.

I’ll try not to make this a long post. I started to write something here right after I got out of bed, today, but instead diverted myself into a paper that is now completed and turned in. That…did take around nine hours of work, minus an evening meal.

Now I have to figure out what is due next, but luckily I think I’ll be able to complete the vast majority of it before I have to go back to my job.

Study for tonight had to do with inferring how a database was set up in a website of my choice. It was actually…really interesting, once I started to get into it. The prof for that class has also stated that the readings are there if we don’t understand the lectures, but not required.

I might dip into Chapter 2, but as his lectures were a total of 3 hours, and I was taking notes, I think I got most of the content. My major concern is needing to access the book later on, and if I’ll be able to do it if I haven’t read the earlier chapters.

What’s amazing and a little frustrating is that for a different class, I have three separate lectures to listen to, but together, they’re only about one hour long. I wish that the professors would give us page counts and/or the lengths of what we’re supposed to listen to, before we click through to begin the work.

Not to mention, that some of our professors are laying out things for the next week, while others are laying out things for the next three weeks. And they don’t always give due dates on the readings. So on looking at the itinerary, we’re swamped with all this work…which is altogether due in three weeks?

Anyhow, I should have some wiggle room in my time, tomorrow, possibly enabling a trip to the produce market, and/or exercise. And…if I do poorly on the Power Mapping exercise, the class is only one unit. It can’t impact me that much.

I’ve also decided (for now) that if I do get time to spend freely, working on the sewing project feels like it will be most structured and productive.

Right now I’m just not certain whether to buy a certain book (to help me with that) as an electronic version or paper…