Update (after a while)…kind of long ^_^;;

Really?  I finished my work early???

(How…)

By Friday night/early Saturday morning, I had finished my classwork.  The weather forecast had put our temperature into the high 90º F’s for Saturday and Sunday daytime temperatures, and I know from experience that my computer doesn’t like being on, when it’s that hot.  I scheduled some offline time, then, even though I didn’t know what I would do with it.

Right now it’s a bit more comfortable, but still warm.

Because I finished my work early, I basically had 1.5 days free.  Yesterday, especially, I had a hard time deciding what to do, with no demands on my time.  Although my memory of what I did for most of the daytime is hazy (I can guess that I slept), I do remember that I finished the kana workbook associated with the Kluemper text, last night.

Japanese reading and writing…

I’ve also realized why it was difficult for me to get back to facing katakana:  I have a hard time writing a good 15 out of 46 of the katakana syllabary, because it’s hard for me to remember what they look like.  (Comparatively, I have a hard time recollecting 2 out of 46 hiragana:  “se” and “nu”.  Though hiragana “nu” [I would write katakana “NU” in capitals; katakana are used for emphasis like ALL CAPS or italics] does remind me of a Japanese dog [like a Shiba Inu or Akita] with a curly tail [“inu” = dog].)

I do have the Japanese for Busy People Kana Workbook, however, and I can work through this in order to build vocabulary and word recognition.  Writing is included here, too, though sentence structure isn’t emphasized in the workbook — meant, as with the Kluemper text, to be completed possibly before one starts in reading kana in the first book (though there are two versions of this text:  one in romaji [Roman letters; i.e. English letters], and one in kana).

I opted for the latter because romaji are misleading where it comes to pronunciation, and basically almost useless if one wants to read in Japanese.  They’re a stepping stone, but lack much of the obvious grammar, etymology and sentence structure conventions associated with kana (syllabary) combined with kanji (imported Chinese character) use.

It will at least give me more words to practice with — even though the Japanese for Busy People series does seem as though it should be titled Japanese for Business People (a reason I picked up the Kluemper and Hasegawa texts in Honolulu [both published by Tuttle], when I had the option.  [The Kluemper texts are meant to be used as high school AP Japanese textbooks; the Hasegawa texts are meant to be used as first-year University Japanese textbooks, or for self-study]).  But that’s just me.

If you’re in the area of San Francisco, though, Kinokuniya Books at Japan Center has a very wide selection of Japanese-learning texts; much broader than the Barnes & Noble in Honolulu (which I am told is one of the few bookstores on Oahu).  The major disadvantage at Kinokuniya is that the books are just generally sold wrapped in cellophane — meaning that you will very likely get a very clean book, but there may not be a display copy available for you to read, in order for you to see if you actually want it.  (Sometimes people buy the display copies.)

I’ve never asked to see if I could open the packages, and don’t really know if there is a protocol in place that says when it is OK or permissible to do so.

If you’re in the South SF Bay Area, I think there is also a Kinokuniya in San Jose’s Japantown, but I’ve never been there, so I…really don’t know much about it!

Anyhow…I did finish the kana sheets last night, though I am finding that very often I have to make a conscious decision to do something other than go to bed.  This was not an exception.

Wanting to restart painting

I also want to start on a painting — I just am not entirely sure what size canvas to use, which I know isn’t the greatest reason not to have started yet.  🙂  But I’m thinking of going back to the 30″x30″ canvas, even though I know I don’t yet know what I’m doing.  Or I feel like that, anyway.  The thing to do would be just to push myself to start it, even if I’m uncertain or feel unprepared.

The first step, if I were being careful, would be to prime the 12″x12″ canvas with a mixture of gesso and Phthalo Blue.  Then I would go in with white pastel and try and make a loose drawing of the photo I gained from so long ago at the State Fair — which will be much easier on the gigantic canvas than on the small one.

My major hangup is that most of the main colors which I want to use — violets, roses and blues (with yellow highlights — maybe something like an Expanded Complementary palette) — are largely transparent colors (except when mixed with more opaque colors like Titanium White), so I might trip myself up if I do something wrong which I then can’t cover.  Which, in turn, is the reason to start on the small canvas, first.

But what’s the worst that can happen?  I dislike it so much that I gesso over the canvas and use it for something else?  I waste time that I could be using to sleep?  😛

I’ve also got to be aware so that I don’t block the drains with acrylic paint (easy to avoid, with disposable palette sheets), and avoid getting the paint on my hands…and getting pastel dust on the floor.  Maybe I should just use vine charcoal, instead.  That sounds workable…I have become a bit wary of pastels, particularly since that Titanium Dioxide scare a few years back (with free nanoparticles leading to concern over carcinogenicity…nothing of the sort with vine or willow charcoal).

But if I use the tiny canvas, I can see if this works, first, before using the big one!

I just don’t want to get sick of it in the small version and then never go on to the big one…

If what I can predict will happen, happens, though:  I’ll probably have ideas on where to take Version 2 that won’t be apparent until after I’ve gone through the process of completing Version 1.

And I do really want to paint, again.  I want to make something colorful and pretty.  🙂  And I can’t do that if I’m too intimidated to approach my easel (I did get an easel, a while back:  it was the only thing my Studio Art classes had, that I didn’t have.  Well, besides company, and a mentor).

And work on…Bullet Journaling?

I also have my little dotted notebook here (it’s from a company called Kyokuto)…and it’s weird? but I don’t want to stick to any rigid format for its use.  I’ve been looking over the Bullet Journal website, and…I’m thinking that it really isn’t like me to follow directions to get to a predetermined endpoint.  Maybe I can use the principles behind the Bullet Journal system, but really…heavily tweak it, so it turns out being something that’s mine.

And I really wish I knew how many pages were even in this notebook:  I don’t.  But it is really elegant, and I want to use it.  My problem, I think, is planning and attempting to look ahead at what I’ll have to do (when I don’t fully know, yet).

I also…think maybe I’m throwing out the baby with the bathwater on this one, and — looking at a past post — maybe I do have some idea of what has to be done.  Maybe I just forgot, because I didn’t look at my notes from before.  🙂  (Why do I blog, again?)  I think that something like a Bullet Journal could seriously help me organize my time when Fall Semester starts, and I’m carrying nine units, again — in addition to possibly having a new job.

I found it a little odd that my creativity would be circling back around to language (particularly writing), stories, and books, but I guess I am planning on being a Librarian, so…maybe I’m just overlooking the obvious?  😛  Learning to write in Japanese language is one of those things that ranges into calligraphy (or would, in an extreme case — right now it’s just “learning to make things look correct”).

Fiction progress

Writing in English…has stalled a bit, but it’s interesting to see what my mind does when it’s let loose like that.  🙂  It actually isn’t stressful for me, anymore!  It can be fun, because I actually have complete control over the situation (relatively speaking) — which I did not sense, before — and I can make things as serious or light as I want.  I’m very, very new to “light” writing!

But it’s nice to know that I don’t have to dive into my history of trauma every time I try and create a narrative.  I think my main character is helping with this, as well — I’ve started the narrative about 2/3 of the way through the story, and added a couple of extra layers which are helping things along, I think.

It’s also really nice to not absolutely know where the story is going to go, or all the facts that are associated with it — it leaves things open for experimentation and adjustment.

Heh — I think I’ve written enough (?!?!) — and…I see it’s now after midnight.  Well, that was a good 3-4 hours spent here (?!?!) …but not wasted.  I feel a lot better now that I’ve logged what’s happening — writing nearly always helps me get my thoughts together.  I’ve also noticed that a lot of people I follow have been quiet, recently, so here’s to adding one more leaflet to the Reader pile!  😉

Publishing less, doing more

Today, for the first time, I went to a Japanese tool supply shop with an extensive selection of woodcarving tools.  Although it was partially to fulfill the requirements for a UX exercise, and took about 10 minutes (not counting commute), I was excited to be able to go in there.  I have known about this place since high school, and apparently know the owners (somehow), but today was my first chance to look at their wares.

Another chance to use my Japanese skills.

Or, it would have been, had I enough kanji and word recognition to be able to actually piece together meaning, here.  Basically, the clerk’s first language was not English, there were a number of people seated in the back eating and speaking in Japanese, and just about everything in there was in packaging (mostly cardboard boxes) which were labeled in Japanese.  Helpfully, price stickers were language-neutral, though!

It was fairly dim, which is something I’ve learned to expect from…somewhere.  I think I remember it being part of a Japanese cultural aesthetic, to have the insides of rooms be enclosed; close, dim; womb-like.  But I can’t remember exactly where I read that, now.  I just know it’s a specific aesthetic which I’ve seen applied mostly in restaurant environments.

What I was after was a slip stone (sharpening stone), particularly the kind used to sharpen gouges with water-only as a lubricant.  While I do have Western-type gouges myself (I got them before woodblock printing was ever on my mind, easily before 2010), I’m not familiar with sharpening techniques using oil (which seems to be the predominant method in the U.S., but I can’t be sure).  It’s important to keep these sharp, because a dull tool can easily slip, which can easily lead to a fairly nasty stab wound, in turn.

I had found something like what I was looking for, online — however, this was from a large corporation which does not specialize in Asian tools (I was getting the slip stone to hone tools for woodblock printing — which I wouldn’t even be interested in if it weren’t for the Japanese history and tradition and aesthetic of these:  that is, I’m interested in mokuhanga, specifically).

Also, it seemed that I would then be using materials I was unfamiliar with (said setup included a bar of polishing compound, whereas I’m more familiar with blocks which are made of things like ceramic or aluminum oxide, themselves.  I have used polishing compound before, but that was in relation to jewelry production, and that in relation to compound-impregnated cloths, and rotary tools).

I’m not even sure if what I was looking at online was a slipstone or some kind of leather tool, or made out of wood, or what.  Nor was I certain whether or not it was a Web-only product (I’ve run across trying to buy these in-store, before).

And anyway, I’ve wanted to go to this shop for a while, so while I was out, I dropped by.  The clerk wasn’t too friendly (possibly because the first thing I did after walking in was ask if it was OK to bring in my gouges from home — I needed to make sure they would fit over the slip stone), but he did help me.  (I’ve had my share of being interrupted by people who have just walked in the door and the first thing they do is talk to me, so I can sympathize.)

After returning home, D found my old aluminum-oxide waterstone, which I had purchased to sharpen a high-carbon steel vegetable knife that my grandmother bought me sometime earlier this century, or late last.

High-carbon steel is supposed to keep a sharper cutting edge than stainless steel.  Its brittleness, however, combined with its lack of rust resistance, means that it needs more upkeep (particularly, drying, oiling, and honing), which (except for honing) is not an issue with the more popular stainless-steel knives.  And none of that would be an issue with a knife I prized and wanted to baby.

However, I realized that this knife’s blade was chipping (metal fragments in the food?!), which caused me to stop using it, lacking confidence that the place we bought it from sold quality goods (this was a large Asian supermarket).  If I had bought it from Soko Hardware, or Hida Tools, or something, it would be different.  But I bought this from 99 Ranch Market.

And I don’t even know where my waterstone came from, but it’s really pretty coarse.  I didn’t know just how coarse it was until I unwrapped my 1000-grit slip stone and felt it in comparison to this other waterstone.  The other stone really feels like coarse (maybe 350 grit) and medium sandpaper, which is fine if you’re working chips out of a blade, but — as I found online, today — if you want a fine edge, it isn’t what you need.  In addition, this was a Chinese waterstone, with labeling in English, and no grit number marked anywhere.  Not…really confidence inspiring…

On the other hand, the 1000-grit stone feels really smooth, in comparison (and that is not even the finest manufactured by the company NANIWA, in this form).  I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever felt 1000-grit carborundum paper; I’m not sure I have…and I’m not entirely sure exactly where my sandpaper is, now, for that matter.

Publishing less, doing more

I have been writing, only part of that is simply having broken back into fiction writing.  The other part of that is having to write for school, which isn’t really…fun?  But it’s time that I have to spend at the computer; and I seem to be beginning to ration computer time, in order to save my neck and back.

I’ve run across a good number of cases of people with disabling injuries lately, which I would suspect are Repetitive Stress Injuries.  I haven’t verified it with everyone, though.  In any case, I’ve been trying to use my tablet more, though that thing is really cheap…I didn’t realize the impact that its weight would have on me, long-term.  (And I know it isn’t going to help if I keep using it in bed — scrunching my shoulders up is the main thing that bit me last time.  [Speaking of which…*relaxes shoulders*])

Then again; it was my first tablet computer, other than my e-Reader.  I’ve been thinking of trying to find something better, but haven’t been certain which company to go with.  I suppose I should read some reviews.

And also:  I’m pretty much over the “convenience” (novelty) of a touch-screen computer.  It’s just way too easy to touch something that you didn’t want to, and every time that happens, there’s a risk of getting infected with something.  It works with an e-Reader…but really, something to read from is a much different tool than something to write with.

It also (somewhat) works with Mobile — but that’s because the screen is so small that a keyboard is not feasible.  In addition, smartphones and e-Readers can be easily reformatted and repopulated with essential apps, as there isn’t a lot of irretrievable information stored on them.  Something you’re using to write with (outside of cloud storage), though…?  That’s an entirely different thing.

It’s an entirely different thing which may be better handled in hard copy, as well.  But I’ll have to wait before forming a definite opinion, on that one…

Anyhow, I have begun to write again, and am having to resist the urge to publish my rough drafts.  Intending to share is the major drive to write any of this story down, at all, but there’s also the secondary benefit of having it in some concrete form where I can play with it and edit it and work out story continuity, etc.

When I was a kid, I was adamant that no one read my writing.  Now, I’m reaching the point of realizing that the main reason to put the story into language is to share it.  Otherwise, it’s just a living part of me…which, like so much else of my experience, most people don’t see, or even suspect exists.  If I didn’t want to share it, that is, then there is no reason to write it.

But that is getting into philosophy.

Speaking of which…

If art isn’t meant to be seen…is there reason in making it?

I went against my normal tendencies today and did try carving a basswood slat to see what the experience (of working up to woodblock printing) was like.  Ironically, I think I should have done this before I went to the Japanese tool store.  I knew that I would not be able to carve with dull tools, but I hadn’t given thought as to whether I would even like carving into wood.

Quite plainly, I don’t know what I’m doing, yet.  😛  Particularly, I’m unsure how to get tiny bits of wood out of the matrix without lifting splinters…I’m used to wedging things out, which may have worked with plaster and linoleum, but it really doesn’t work with basswood.  I’m going to have to figure out how to do this, if I want to print with my gouache (which has been the main goal of all of this, secret [or unstated] as that may have been).

And it’s very, very much more apparent to me, now, that the level of skill which I’ve seen examples of in my books is basically master-craftsperson stuff.

I did try some more freehand cuts, as versus slicing into the wood and then carving around the line — what I can see is that anything remaining flat will print.  This kind of goes against my aesthetics (oboy! flat!), but…I didn’t have a design or drawing worked out ahead of time, but I do now have kozo paper, nori glue, and sumi ink — and a baren — so I can…if I want to…actually try working at this for real.

I’m thinking of doing something with koi.  I’ve been playing with sinuous lines which remind me of fish.

Also, registering (aligning) the prints is something which I think I will have to work at via trial-and-error.  It’s certainly out of my comfort zone as things stand, but then, it should be:  I’m a total beginner.

And I hope you all will forgive me if I write less, here, and work on gaining more quality experience — and generating more quality content — to bring back to you.

Japanese language study

This has basically stalled.  I’m fairly sure that it has to do with trying to relearn katakana.  The rows read, moving from left to right and top to bottom (it just seemed easier to format it this way because of the directionality of the text on this blog):

KANA TABLE

I’ve stalled at NA.  It’s just frustrating to have to relearn this stuff over and over again.  This will be at least the fourth time I’ve tried to memorize this.  (Once in Middle School, once in Beginning Japanese at University, once when I first tried to relearn Japanese outside of University, and then, now.)

And a lot of it is memorization — which is hard for me to wrap my head around as something which will assist me (of course it will assist me!  I can’t read if I can’t recognize the characters!).  But I have also found my “Kana Workbook” for the Japanese for Busy People set, so maybe I should look back at that, if I’m just burning out on copying katakana.

In other words, I’m just frustrated at not knowing as much as I want to, and it’s putting me off.  Maybe I should just move forward with the Kluemper text, even though I haven’t yet memorized all the katakana (I can still read most of it — katakana are not frequently used, and as in English, there are certain kana which are rarely used, meaning that less-used syllables [lookin’ at you, “NU”] will be harder to remember).

And I’m going to choose not to write too much about school or work, right now.  But I have taken on extra hours…and school is doable, even if unpleasant.  It’s just what I’ve got to go through if I want to have a chance to work in an American library…or so, I’ve been led to believe.  Hawaii doesn’t even require an MLIS degree to work in the public sector.  Then again, the cost of living is high, there…and if it’s anything like the San Francisco Bay Area…well, I don’t have a husband or children to support, that much I can say…

At least I have a full life…who knew that would happen, eh?

Thoughts on re-entering fiction practice

Today has not been too eventful.  I opened up my tablet tonight to find a couple of small deposits of story ideas from late last year.  Also — I picked up lamination supplies (for bookmarks — this will enable me to use paints and at the same time protect the bookmark users from exposure to those paints) and a clipboard which should work for half-sheets of paper.

I have a binder for half sheets (5.5″x 8.5″), which I was forward-thinking enough to fill with graph paper:  this means that it is super-easy in which to practice Japanese writing.  (Please excuse my attempt to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.)  What I wasn’t aware of was the fact that the ring mechanism would produce a lump under my writing area.  The clipboard should help with this — in addition to helping me plan a Bullet Journal layout.

I haven’t been brash enough to start planning the latter in my actual nice imported dotted-grid journal.  It will likely take a while for me to plan out what I actually want in there, and utilizing throwaway sheets to plan the layout is probably going to be more useful than not.

The good thing is that I already have multicolored fineliners and bullet-point felt markers, in addition to my Tombows.  How long the color in that ink will last is another question (though I do have Staedtler and Stabilo pens), but…the colors should help in organization.  I’ve got several things to think about, now, all of which demand time:

  • exercise
  • schoolwork
  • art/self-care
  • work
  • blogging

And, somewhere on the back burner:

  • nihongo study
  • healthy food preparation
  • driving practice
  • job research
  • organizing the Bullet Journal 😉

Over the last week, I’ve realized that I really do need to keep up my (English) writing habit either here, or somewhere else.  Because I’ve been reading nihongo (Japanese language) and not writing so much in English, just very recently, I’ve been experiencing the phenomenon of having a thought and not being sure how to express that thought in words.  This was something that only had recently happened to me in trying to translate my thoughts into nihongo — only now, both of the languages are being impacted.

In particular, Japanese and English syntax (word order) are nowhere near the same…so I’ve been trying to write in English and the words are coming out in an order that doesn’t make sense.  I’ve found that trying to get the content of my thoughts out in notes (not sentences) helps, here.  I think that not being stuck with a linear format (as I am, relatively, on a keyboard) also helps.

And…it’s kind of odd, but I’ve been feeling a draw back towards working in Creative Writing.  I know this thought comes up from time to time, and I also know that doing art spurs on doing the writing.  Loosening my own restrictions on my creativity is probably the only way things are going to get done, as “Little Squares” is teaching me.  I now have a vision of where to take that painting next, but it took a good two days to figure it out.  (Normally, when I’m working something like that, I can visualize where to put the next mark…when this got hazy or unknown, I stopped.)

And…I am having some good thoughts on where to take my current pet fiction project.  As usual, it’s a psychological story…and it’s turning into a paranormal/science fiction one as well.  I haven’t really learned too much about sci-fi, beyond being certain that this is soft sci-fi (focusing on the characters) and not hard sci-fi (focusing on technology).  I just wish they had given “Age of Science Fiction” when I was in undergrad work…I did do some research on it on my own, back then:  apparently Frankenstein was likely the earliest science-fiction story.  At least, in English.

There is the “worldbuilding” thing in relation to science fiction and fantasy which I learned about when I was younger, but really, that was a relative turnoff:  I wanted to write a story, not construct a world.  I just don’t want to get into issues with the fictional government, military (and how do you do that when there are aliens, eh?), or get into an X-Men-type place where genocide is unavoidable because of the unchanging quality of the surrounding culture (which seems to be stuck in the 1950’s).

Although if I did something like Ghost In The Shell where Section 9 was essentially independent and the government quixotic, corrupt and unreliable, it probably wouldn’t be too bad.  (Sorry about the GITS reference, for those who haven’t seen any of its iterations.  The recent live-action movie was just one example of the retelling of this, and to my mind, not anywhere near the best.)  Then there was Neon Genesis Evangelion, which also dealt with military, but ultimately wasn’t about the workings of the government — or about the aliens (which were, at least in the anime, never really explained).  Then there was Avatar, which was pretty much about the military-industrial complex; something I want to avoid.

I’m not sure at this point whether to work this entirely in prose, in prose with illustrations, or in a graphic format — though I’m thinking that the story itself will tell me this, eventually.  I do have some unread Gaiman here from the library, which would probably help widen my range of psychological possibilities.  (For someone who likes to write, I don’t read many stories.)

Anyhow…I wish I had written down more notes last year, but I think I’ve got enough to work with — especially if I look through my image archives.  I started writing this entry thinking that if I were to work on fiction at all, I’d need to warm up, seeing how difficult it has been for me to get my words out in English, in recent days.  Right now…I’m thinking that it may be worth it to use my tablet to write this stuff and just periodically back it up.

And, right, get that Bullet Journal started!

Difficulty switching modes…

After a day or so of fully working for as long as I have been awake, it’s kind of difficult to shift back into a mental space where I have options, and time.

Today was mostly spent asleep; yesterday…I can’t remember much because I was that exhausted, and M wouldn’t let me fall asleep during the day.  Accordingly, I lay down at 7:30 last night and slept nearly all the way through to 11:30 this morning.  I guess I was TIRED.  Then I got up, ate, fell asleep at about 1:30 PM, and slept again until 5 PM.

To my credit, I did get work done on the Japanese language acquisition — although it’s frustrating to have to re-learn kana (Japanese syllabary) again.  I have most of the hiragana memorized to the point where it’s easily recognizable and retrieved, although I still may mis-write if I move too fast; katakana is another story.

When I was first taking Japanese-language classes, katakana were mostly ignored; we were told to learn this set of kana on our own.  Due to both this and the relative rarity of their use (when compared with hiragana and kanji), there are a number of katakana that I don’t easily remember.  Today, after having finished the hiragana handbook, I started in on katakana and realized that this was going to be much harder for me, than the former.

I’m thinking I’m experiencing a bit of caffeine withdrawal as well, because I’m really irritated at this, right now.  I’m also tired, again.

Also, though, I was able to sit through what I had to for this week in UX (User Experience) and finish reading the incredibly light reading assigned for this week (four pages).  Which is kind of irrational, when compared with all the work I had to do over the weekend, and the fact that I just had to read two books over two weeks.

But anyway.  I did have the option of working with watercolors, today, but I just really didn’t feel up to it.  One of the new colors (Cobalt Turquoise Light) I have, is one I intended to get about two weeks ago, but someone had put a regular Cobalt Turquoise in its slot (they aren’t the same color!), and I neglected to check the label before purchasing it.

Now I have the Light shade, but my toxin anxiety is acting up, and I’m hesitant to use it.  (It was likely stimulated by finding a beautiful yellow paint which was made with an antimony-containing component, on my last trip to the art store — this is W&N Naples Yellow Deep, PBr24.  On looking up antimony toxicity, I can see that I had a bigger shock than maybe this warranted, but still…)

The other new color is Phthalo Green:  Yellow Shade, which I have wanted to compare to Phthalo Green:  Blue Shade (I’m hoping to get warmer greens), but for some reason, I think I did not want to waste (or “waste”) watercolor paper on this.  Which isn’t a really good excuse, because I have enough watercolor paper, and have discovered that the paper I’m using isn’t really all that great, anyway.  And I can’t learn if I don’t practice.

So I have been practicing kanji and kana, and I think the reason for this is that it’s easier for me to switch back into a studying mode than an art mode, when I’ve been locked in “studying mode” for a while.  Art…is much less structured.

And speaking of structure, I have to work tomorrow, so I should see if I can fall asleep, again…

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.  🙂

Meditation

The heat still radiated out from the walls, although the sun had ceased to blaze about an hour ago.  Lee could feel the sweat sticking to her, evaporating all too slowly.

But how are you going to do it? she thought.

It amused her:  she worked surrounded by books, with the ability every day to take home a new writing, and yet something had stopped her from even opening anything that wasn’t based in reality.

Nearly every day, she tried to write, and even then found herself avoiding what she had once been happy to resign herself to, as life’s work.

Somewhere, buried under mountains of excuses, fears, and projections, lay the reason why.  But she didn’t know it, couldn’t see it.  There was too much in the way.

I have to open up if I want to be creativeWithout it, my work will suffer.

How many generations of artists had lived through eras of their work being constricted by the pressures of the market?  For how many years had Lee lived with the spectre of her own…shall we say…mental irregularities?

She hesitated to call herself “insane.”  Insanity was a legal term.  It meant a person couldn’t tell right from wrong.  She wasn’t insane in that sense.  But her fear,

if I let them see who I am, I’ll just show the world I am insane,

that stopped her.  Over the years it was possible to learn how to blend in, how not to frighten people by being too friendly, how to avoid glares as a reward for eye contact.

Even the word for it — schizophrenic

The vast majority of people, even educated people…even her professors — didn’t know what it meant.  They had a tendency to link the term with multiple personalities, which was not even close to what she meant when she used the term in a clinical (not pejorative) sense.

So she just didn’t use it.

Due to complications, she couldn’t even say, though, that when people did use the term wrongly, based in 19th-century dogma, that they used it inaccurately.  No one’s mind is wholeSo why am I so scared of opening the door to…that?

I’ve stood here, watching you, every day…writing these things out.  Have you forgotten your primary purpose?  Since you have gained to fortitude to begin to live, your fear has overwhelmed you.

Because now my employment depends on…

depends on appearing “normal?”  That’s why you chose the field you did.  You know it is normal within the arts and within letters not to be “normal.”

But I don’t know if I’ll stay,

You are not trapped.  Believe me when I say that I hear you where you fear becoming another like the ones you try to separate yourself from.  But you are not them.  You have not reached the point of spewing diatribes from upturned cartons on the sidewalk.  And I know a thinner line than you would like, divides you from those you smell before you see.  But you have care.  They don’t.

Then what separates us?

Lee looked over her shoulder at the dimming twilight.

I’ve never been hospitalized.  I’ve never been homeless.  I have access to medication and mental health facilities.

I don’t want to be hospitalized.  I don’t want to be homeless.  I don’t want to lose access to medication and mental health facilities.

This world was not made for me.

But you live here.  And if you want to be an artist — no.  If you want to make an impact on the world, you have got to face the idea that people will come to know you.  I know you’ve been hurt in the past, but you’re no longer a child.

I only live among children.

Listen to me.  Which part of you/I/us are you talking from, now?

STOP BEING CONTROLLED BY FEAR AND DO YOUR DUTY.

can you live fearlessly?

Buying, Writing, Doing: The Triad of my Present Dilemma

It’s become increasingly apparent to me that it is much easier to purchase art supplies than it is to apply them in creative ways.  It doesn’t seem that this in any way should really be a problem for me:  I did work my way through an AA program in Art (I couldn’t justify it the first time around with my BA, nor at the Master’s level…at least, currently), so I know that there is some part of me that is creative.  I also know that I’m skilled, though as I said before, when I don’t exercise those skills, they’re hidden within me.

Unless I practice, my skill and creativity won’t have the chance to show themselves, or to develop beyond the point they are at, now.  Maybe the problem I’m facing (starting out with incipient projects) is the one faced by writers of all types (which I’m well familiar with, as my BA actually was in Creative Writing):  fear of the blank page.  Or white paper.  Basically, it’s the same thing.

What I can latch onto right now are the exercises which build increasing familiarity with my media. Right now, I am very, very drawn to water-based media (inks, acrylic inks, acrylic paints, watercolors, water-based block printing).  I have a feeling that this is majorly because I don’t like to deal with toxins when they’re unnecessary, and cleaning out watercolor brushes isn’t a big deal to me, at present.

Ah — and, I used to work more in dry media (pencils, pens, colored pencils, most apparently) — until I got tired of the tiny point of contact with the paper (give me brushes) and the graininess of most of my attempts.  (Keep in mind here that my Prismacolors were purchased well before the year 2000, so I don’t have the advantage of the smoother laydown of the new formulations, in that brand.)  In contrast, inks and paints are much more…captivating for me:  they lay down solid, (usually) unbroken, and (usually) more vivid color.

Color is something that I at one time began to organically grow into (toward the end of my stay in Community College) — and then I restarted the Library & Information Science program.  At that point, my energy focused on the goal of gaining an MLIS in order to be able to be a Librarian, so that I could have a steady income stream, hopefully benefits (though I have heard that these are increasingly being cut in Librarianship proper) and work within one of my areas of interest, while also performing a social good.  In my spare time, and with the spare resources I would gain from being an Information professional (or so I’ve heard), I have planned to work on my Art, thus bolstering my psychological resilience.

Right now…it’s hard for me to formulate or say what my point is, within LIS.  It’s where I am now, and it’s what I know, but that doesn’t really count for much of anything when I realize that I’m already at the top of my pay scale and will have to change positions soon if I want to become more efficient at earning money.

What I want to be doing right now, is helping to construct Web pages.  It’s fairly evident, even just through my experience with this blog and my drive to personalize and edit its structure.  It fits in with my other two degrees in the aspect of being production-based, but not entirely so much in the fact that it’s technical.  I presently do not have the ability to customize pages and sites.  If I keep on in the LIS program, I may eventually gain the skills, however:  and a new perspective on the experience of designing for someone else.

I have a feeling, though, that this will put me about even with the youth coming out of high school in this era — technically speaking.  Technology flows on, and keeping current with it is one of the things to which I’ve resigned myself.  Design, however, is a specialty, and requires skills and knowledge that not everyone has.  And, as has become increasingly apparent, it’s not about me or my expression (as versus Art, which seems to require drilling deeply into myself to draw out something that only I can do).

Right now I’m in a class on User Experience, which is an aspect of Design — and it’s very apparent that Design encompasses much more than the utilization of art skills.  Designing is not the same thing as producing Art, unless the person you’re designing for is you.

And writing for yourself is not the same thing as writing for someone else.

I think that if I did not have the fear of repercussions for expressing anything unique, I would have an easier time with both Art and Writing.  But I’m old enough to know that expression begets consequences.  Whether those are good or bad consequences is unknown and ultimately subjective; whether praise or hatred will prevail is yet to be seen.

This could be the reason why I have seen so many take a brash stance against this psychic wall…because if you don’t stand strongly, the force of that wall could crush your light down into a black hole.

Of course, it helps to have solid grounding and conviction in something reasonable, first.

M has expressed frustration that I have been acquiring supplies — particularly for painting — and have not progressed beyond, “little squares.”  (I’m not sure she understands how difficult the medium of watercolor is, however…)

My little squares, though they could be made in a more aesthetically pleasing manner, are doing something for me:  they’re familiarizing me with the medium.  I don’t feel comfortable jumping from having done nearly nothing into a place where I have no ground to stand on and don’t know how to kick or stroke.

Doing that, and working out my familiarization in a way in which I am likely to destroy my first five paintings (if not more), would be…almost traumatic, for me.  So I’m working on little squares.  Little squares, I can handle; and although the progression there is incremental, and likely to hit a roadblock when I try actually using the colors in application, at least it is something, and I’m learning from it.  Without something, I’m paralyzed because I’m being expected to perform as an intermediate or advanced student without having taken beginner classes.

Maybe M can move forward like that; but I’ve noticed that, in her own design work, she doesn’t think ahead.  She plunges forward and then hits a roadblock and doesn’t know where to go from there.  In contrast, I think things out much further, but then am criticized for my tentativeness and my expensive preparations and my lack of starting.

And actually, now that I’m looking at my notes, I can also see a pattern here:  and not just in the delicateness of my process and my work.

I probably write about art so much because it’s easier for me to write about art than it is for me to get up the courage to actually do it.  I’ve been writing nearly constantly, for all of my life.  Writing is familiar to me, and it’s easier for me to do this than it is for me to sit down with a paintbrush, no matter the chances of coming out with something beautiful as an end product (though maybe I will try and keep that in mind as a goal.  I have a chance of making something beautiful if I risk failure.  If I do not, I have no chance of doing the same).

Writing about work, though, is not at all equivalent to actually doing it.

I’ve got to make a number of lifestyle changes relatively soon.  Many of these — most, actually — are related to my mental and physical health.  I need to floss regularly.  I need to brush my teeth and wash my face well in advance of bedtime.  I need to avoid late nights (sugar cravings come on after 11 PM).  I need to drink more water and avoid excess sugar.  I need to shower more often, and to exercise (and stretch) more often and more regularly; and if I can, I ought to try to meditate regularly (doing all of this may allow me to reduce my medications…and drop down a few sizes).

Along with this — I wonder if it would be too much of a strain for me to try and wake up with the Sun, so I have all the hours of the day to do my work and my art, as versus doing art in the afternoon and taking photos in the late afternoon or evening (when it’s dark).  Or, less optimally, doing art at nighttime with less-than-natural light.

It’s something to think about.  Maybe tonight I can try going to bed early, instead of trying to wring all the good I can get out of the day, and see if I am able and willing to get up at, say, 7 AM tomorrow (as I tried to do, today).  And maybe if I have the art play as a lure to get me out of bed…I’ll actually do it.