…I got sidetracked in my brainstorm…

I have a little less than two hours to write this, and I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to be writing about at this time, so please bear with me.  This happens every so often — I’ll know that I need to write something, but I don’t know exactly what it is that’s trying to come out, so the best I can really do is just sit down and start typing…

I’m not sure where my career is headed at this point.  The school thing’s a mess — I am having an extremely difficult time picking one path and sticking to it.  Plus, I already have a BA, and I’m told I don’t really need to be taking any more classes.  I’m no longer planning on using my beading as a potential primary (or heavy secondary) mode of earning a living, so that means the Business classes probably just saved me a lot of time and money invested.  Though it probably would have been a fun (if expensive and ultimately disappointing) ride.

I probably would have learned the hard way what I did last semester:  I’d need to make a lot of low-cost, fairly quick, high-value items (read:  earrings, pendants, likely natural stone) in order to earn any kind of profit, because taking 3 hours to knot a bracelet which can be mimicked for $3 with overseas labor isn’t…a good use of my time.

This is unless I went into straight-out metalsmithing, particularly casting, which has an expensive setup but can easily mass-produce things like silver rings, which then just have to be finished + stones mounted.  Unless I got into enamel (I probably would); which requires an enameling kiln in addition to the wax burnout kiln.  I know there is also torch-fired enameling, but from the few pieces I’ve seen, the enamel doesn’t seem to melt as cleanly.  Plus, enamel — requires a respirator, at least, though probably only a high degree of cleanliness and caution (as I have) at most.  I have seen some really gorgeous enameled pieces, though.  There was one example on Ganoksin which came up recently, using plique-a-jour technique (it basically looked like stained glass) with diamonds.  Just beautiful.  I’ll see if I can find it for you.

Though I know that I might like doing this stuff more if I were in a really safe environment, which my last two classes were not.  Plus, is it a hobby or is it a job?  How do you start out designing when no one has taught you how to design in the first place?  I seriously wonder about the quality of Jewelry Design classes, given that there are some I do know about.  But in the States, it seems that technique is often valued over design, to the extent that design is often brushed aside in favor of technical skills.

And I suppose this would be why I’d take the Studio Art and Art History classes.  I still want to do that.  But at heart I think I’m an artist and a crafter (even when that is most often expressed in words), not a salesperson.

At the same time…the Business classes have gotten me to think about the job market in a different way.  I mostly blame Microeconomics for that.  Right now I’m thinking about job specialization which can happen in organizations (as versus self-employment).  There are still a few classes out of the Business department I want to take:

  1. Financial Management
  2. General Accounting
  3. Computerized Accounting (or whatever it’s called)

…also, I’ve been told Business Law is a good one to take if I’m intending to form a nonprofit.  But otherwise…well, there are the MS Office programs to learn or brush up on as well, but I can do that on my own.  Plus, Office is probably going to move to the cloud, at least in the near future (as I’ve heard support for Windows 7 will be discontinued in early 2015 — boo), so there’s probably going to be a new platform to deal with, in any case.

On top of this…I’ve wanted to brush up on my Math.  I do know of one place where I can do this online, and it should be less stressful than taking a series of courses and putting my GPA in jeopardy.  I’d be able to do it at my own pace, but I’d just have to be sure that “at my own pace” doesn’t end up as “picnicking in the shady spot by the starting line.”

Third.  I need to work on getting together a Writing portfolio in case I want to apply for a position which heavily entails writing.  As someone let me know today, I’d probably do well as a blogger, but the question is:  do bloggers get paid?

I’m going to stick with Intermediate Drawing, I think, this semester.  Just hearing myself wax all poetic about the jewelry…that did stir something in me, and drawing is an important part of the design process.  My main problem is that I don’t exactly know my motivation behind making jewelry, or others’ motivation behind buying or wearing it.  Actually, my main problem is I don’t know others’ motivation behind buying or wearing it.  I don’t really even understand my own.  So it’s like, what am I selling, you know?  Am I selling an artifact of someone’s dream of finding love through beauty?  I can’t sell dreams, and I can’t make them come true.  I can give you the item, but what that item means to you is your business, right?

I know Jewelers (metalworkers) will probably make more money than Handcrafters (in this case, beaders).  They’ll also probably have more job security as people want rings resized and chains fixed, and such.  Though, I don’t think either group is really affluent.

My major stress with Jewelry, besides the occupational hazards (which I could avoid easily enough on my own, but which gave my teacher some satisfaction to see us inadvertently or intentionally expose ourselves to here paint the flux on your hand because I won’t let you bring in a paper towel) is the stress of screwing up while resizing someone’s wedding band or something and then this little heirloom is messed up for the rest of their lives.  😛  Do I really want to be under that kind of pressure?

But anyway, I’ve probably sat here long enough.  Adobe Reader already downloaded itself and caused my system to crash once during the writing of this post.  I probably shouldn’t push it.

Getting some sense of the turf.

I just finished “finalizing” my schedule for Fall semester, though I’ve changed my classes so many times that it’s not even very hilarious at all.  😉  I was looking through the schedule at classes which I may want to take, given a Business major — or, at least, a program of study focused on Business, even if I don’t get the shiny piece of paper.  (It would be nice if it actually was shiny — now that would be kind of funny…)

From my study at the career counseling website I spoke of earlier, I’m thinking that if I do go into the Business field, I may be forced to supervise and/or manage people.  This is even though dealing with people in real-time is a weak point for me (I think it’s just assumed that this is not so because I have a degree in the Humanities).

So I actually, flukeishly, went and looked at classes in the Communications department.  One of them seemed relevant and fit my schedule perfectly, so I wouldn’t be putting my boss out to reorganize the work schedule more than they already are, and I wouldn’t be putting out my friend who wanted to take an Art class with me.

I’m not certain that Advanced Math is where I want to go.  It sounds fun from here, but my parents remember me crying over Honors Math as a kid (seriously), and I think they don’t want to repeat that.  I was basically traumatized enough by Math in high school that given the choice, I didn’t take it again until Statistics came up as I was studying to be a sociologist.  [sarcasm]Yes, see, pushing kids past their breaking point and giving them so much homework that they will never be able to finish it all really helps them excel and learn to put work first.[/sarcasm]

I really don’t recall what happened to throw me off the Social Sciences track anyway (probably the “social” part of it), but there you go.

But anyhow.  Either late last night or early this morning, after reading over some stuff, including my last post here, I decided to go the route of Business first, Computers second.  My classes will largely be drawn from Business, Computer Info. Systems, and Communications.  I’m told I won’t need Advanced Math, even if I do go the Accounting route — but the hardcore Accounting class I tried and then dropped (I missed a 4-hour class because of illness and then couldn’t make it up and didn’t know what to do) was so confusing for me that I’m thinking of taking the basic one next time, instead.  With a different professor.  Or I could try a different school…

Then we have classes which will help with an office job, though I probably don’t need to take those for college credit.  I’ve had a semester of MS Access already, though I don’t remember much of it now; and I can use Excel decently enough.  I’ll still have to find a couple of textbooks which will help me refresh those skills.  I’m not sure of PeachPit’s focus anymore, but I have good feelings surrounding their press, so I can look them up (and see if they still exist).  Word, I use constantly, so that’s not a problem.  PowerPoint, I can learn on my own.

Most of what I need deals with human relations, computer programming, and finance.  And that’s about it.  The other thing that I was thinking about was entering a paraprofessional program to take up a job as a Library Assistant.  I have a degree already, and taking the classes would open up the paraprofessional activity and salary level to me, which is decent enough to live on.  However, the program that I’d likely utilize is being revamped, so it will likely be a year or two at least before they can get the program together.

A deeper reason I’d want to be at Reference, though, is that I’d like to get the experience so that if I do work with an LGBTQIA nonprofit, I’ll have the experience of having worked in Information Services already.  I’m thinking that this would help, especially as regards determining what a user’s actual needs are (as versus what they think they need).

This also came up, back when I almost took my second Graphic Design class — the prof was saying that we needed to be able to discern what a client actually wanted/needed, as versus what they said they wanted/needed.  This was enough to scare me out of there.  But I’m thinking that if I can develop better people skills, this won’t be such a big handicap to me anymore.

I think I’ll probably have a hard time of things if I go through life trying to avoid human interaction.  And it’s not really a big mystery to me why I have trouble interacting with people:  until I entered the adult world with my first job, people in general had not been very kind to me.  I’m told that my interactions with the public in this job amount to “exposure therapy” as regards social anxiety.  And, I’m just hoping that the anxiety can progressively get better with experience.

On that note, I should probably get going, but it’s nice to be able to write, and be heard, here.  🙂

Mapping before trekking…hard to move forward when you don’t know where you want to go.

I’m going to try to write right now, even though I don’t feel like my mind is totally present.  Today I’ve mostly been wiped out because of the career topic, and because of staying up until 2 AM last night on a career counseling website.  I don’t think I even ate anything before dinnertime.

So basically, I have lots of interests which could be followed into specific jobs (or hobbies), but because I’m having a hard time prioritizing my interests, it’s difficult for me to pick one and go with it.

The most recent of all my interests is Web Programming.  I haven’t taken any classes in this yet, and in fact it would likely be safe to say that I don’t know much of anything about it, other than the fact that it sounds interesting, would be a desk job, could fit with some other interests (e.g. handcrafting, web publishing), and doesn’t have me supervising people.  It’s basically a clean fit as regards the career counseling website I was on for most of my free time yesterday.

The second most recent of these interests is Business, which is an almost-clean fit.  I could very well use skills gained in Business to help run a nonprofit which helps those who fall under the QUILTBAG umbrella, though my own personal interest is in gender variance (and its implications).  Because of my present job, plus a job I could easily obtain (should I decide I’m okay with working with people), I’ve been thinking about entering Information & Referral with a nonprofit like the one I’ve started visiting again for community.  I should really see if I can volunteer for one of these first, though — and see if I can get a job which isn’t that of a receptionist.

I could also use Business skills to help run other businesses, for example working someplace which overlaps some of my other interests — like a bead store or bookstore (should any continue to exist!).  And on that note, if I worked in Web Programming, I might also be able to help with web sites like Google Books, or other literature-oriented outlets online.

I’ve been told that Accounting training will be very good for a nonprofit (probably especially since people stress me).  If I decide to go this way, I should likely brush up on my Math skills before trying again to re-enter an Accounting class or going back into Business Calculus.  “Business Math” sounds interesting, and only has an Algebra prerequisite; the only problem is that my left-brain is likely much less developed than the other side.  😉  And it kind of hurts to grow new neurons (similar to how it kind of hurts to grow more muscle).  I know the feeling; I know it means good things are happening; but it’s unpleasant.  😉

Writing, or alternately, Writing/Drawing, is the last of these.  This is basically to utilize popular culture in a way so that I can have a positive impact on my society.  The useful part of this is Technical Writing, which I really don’t have much interest in, but which would pay.  Then there is Creative Writing, which really doesn’t seem to be very valued.  Then there are Graphic Novels, which …I haven’t investigated yet.  I still have to see if I still like drawing enough to do that.  The other bits (like Journalism), aside from Screenwriting, might involve personal risk to my own health and life, which means they’re probably out.

And I suppose maybe the last last bit is handcrafting — though this is probably best used as a hobby and not to make money to live off of.  Because of my experience in Business classes, I doubt that I’ll be able to make enough money this way to support myself fully, though I thought I should mention it.

I should probably go back to bed — I have an early morning tomorrow.  But I felt I should at least make note of where I’m at (especially since other people keep trying to tell me what I am and am not suited for based on their perceptions of who I am).  (Which is annoying, to say the least.)

(But I’m not going to get into that tonight.)

I’m thinking I should continue on with the Business track and then incorporate some Web Programming/Computer Information Systems classes into it.  The major problem with Business is that I’d have to deal with people, not data.  And I might eventually have to supervise people or manage staff, and that’s not something I’m great at doing, nor is it anything I’ve ever really done before (aside from when I was working on group projects as a kid and everyone else bailed and left me to do the work of 5 people.  I shall withhold voicing my regard for them).

But I’m thinking maybe Accounting and/or General Business will be good things to focus on.  I need to review what majors are actually in the catalog, but I think I’m actually classed under Accounting, as things stand now.

And I don’t hate math; I’m actually pretty good at it.  It just intimidates me, though, especially since I took Pre-Calculus 14 years ago.

Ah, well…got to get back in, sometime.

About that nihongo stuff, ne…

There have been various things happening over the last few days for me.  I am still set up to take Intermediate Drawing this next semester.  I’m basically dying to learn how to use color in my drawings, and to start to move into what I actually want to draw, which is imaginative material.

I’m not thinking that the future for me actually lies in Illustration, as things stand now, but I might be wrong about that.  I’ve had training as to how to communicate in writing, so Illustration, although it’s probably where I started out (I can’t fully remember anymore, I was 14 or something), it may not be where I end up.

I’ve also begun to read Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon in English, so I actually know what’s happening this time around (instead of trying to translate piecemeal).  It’s different than the anime.  Though!  The anime is going to be coming out on Hulu — all 5 seasons, sub and dub — and is on CrunchyRoll.

As I was reading Sailor Moon, I realized that a major part of the attraction I had to the manga was the fact that because it was a shojo series, gender-bending was very much present.  The gender-bendy stuff probably hearkens back to an older manga — I think the title was The Rose of Versailles.

But anyhow, I was glad to be able to link my initial acceptance of Sailor Moon as an anime to the fact that I was probably a gender-bendy (or gender-breaky) kid as well.  That, in turn, led to the entry immediately preceding this one, on this blog.

I’m not sure I’m all-in with the Japanese stuff, at this point.  It’s a great idea to learn how to read Japanese — but recently I’ve been getting reflections of what it was like to grow up as a kid who was half-Japanese-American, and not accepted by most of young Asian-American society.  I didn’t look stereotypically “Asian” enough, is the thought (only people who are looking for it and actually know what Asian people can look like, can really see that I’m part Asian).  I’ve also been remembering my Japanese-American grandmother, who…did not treat my mother well, and we presume that this was because of racism.

I suppose there’s something to be said about a difference between pre- and post-WWII (that is, pre- and post-Internment) Japanese-American consciousness.  This, in addition to present-day nihonjin (Japanese-from-Japan) vs. nikkeijin (Japanese of foreign birth; in this I’m focusing on the U.S.) consciousness.

Anyhow…the prospect has been suggested to me recently to take a nihongo class.  This is not without irritations for me, though.

I’ve noticed the tendency of people of other races and cultures to “want to be Japanese,” (some people will actually say so) and even when I was initially in Japanese classes, I found the presence of people who were in the program (for all the wrong reasons) to be a somewhat-strange thorn in my side.  It’s the major reason I didn’t stick with Japanese when I moved on to my later University — even when racism works in your favor, it’s still racism.  You’re still being seen as a fetish object, not as a person.

Though in my case, this racism, even though it has apparent surface-level benefits (like my being expected to be “the smart kid” growing up), doesn’t work in my favor, and wouldn’t, unless I were to abandon the other half of my heritage (as I did for most of the first 20 years of my life — I only grew up with my Japanese-American extended family, not the other side, so I found it “natural”).  And that sets me up for unrest, because I really don’t look Japanese, I am not defined by being Japanese, and so having an exclusively Japanese-American identity, when nihonjin are known for not dealing well with people of other cultures…?  When nihonjin are known for making fun of people whose racialization differs from their own?

My grandmother tried to get me to have pride in being Japanese-American.  She didn’t try to get me to have pride in the other half of my heritage, which I’m only cloaking now because I can’t remember if I mentioned it before or not, and I’m not a mix that would normally be thought of.

But this is all politics.  There is also a spiritual dimension to this…but it’s not cohesive with the above, and nor am I sure I should be sharing it in public.  Suffice it to say that I am no longer at the point of thinking that my physical heritage gives an entire or accurate definition to the cultural community I feel most comfortable with…which only appears, actually, if we cast the Asian/Pacific Islander net wider and include people from other locations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, who now live in the U.S.  When I do that, I feel vastly more comfortable.

As I told some co-workers a while ago:  I have reached a point where I know that my own culture is not the best culture on the planet just because I’m related to it.  I’m not certain if there’s a term for the place I’ve reached.  I do appreciate Japanese culture; I don’t appreciate Japanese insensitivity to other (nonwhite and/or non-European) cultures.  In my case, visiting Japan is even a scary thought now because of being nikkeijin, female, and probably qualifying as “exotic”, even though I’d likely not be respected very much because of my race, sex, and gender combination.

Right now, the risk is too high; and that puts a damper on wanting to learn nihongo because I don’t want to deal with more of this stuff than I already have to deal with.

(Maybe I could work at a community center…)

It’s been a short while since I’ve written here, eh?

…Right now I’m trying to figure out what to make public.  To reach the essence of what I’ve been thinking about, I’m thinking about using skills earned in a Business degree towards helping run a nonprofit.  Last semester, for me, was still a Business semester.  I think I took Microeconomics and Intro to Marketing.

Microeconomics was something which let me know that my plan of going into business as a crafter (I make beaded jewelry) wouldn’t be the best economic decision, as I live in a nation with a high per-hour labor standard and high cost- and standard-of-living, and my jewelry is labor-intensive.  Consequently, others outside my nation could duplicate what I do with a vastly lower labor cost, and price me out of the market.

Marketing caused me to think about what demographic I wanted to serve and how I would serve them.  It was there that I realized that what I wanted to do was serve the LGBTQIA (or “QUILTBAG” as we’re coming to call it) communities.  But I wouldn’t best serve these communities by selling them jewelry.

Selling jewelry to people would in effect be utilizing the training I’ve obtained by being raised to become a woman and enabling others to wear…nice things.  (Kind of like what happened in a certain Japanese film I can’t remember the name of, where the girls embroidered nice jackets for the female gang members to wear — take a traditional skill and use it for nontraditional ends).

A lot of what I do — or at least the last project I set aside, now that I think of it — appears really feminine.  I think it’s just my aesthetic — it takes some work to make something that isn’t intricate, though this last one is more “lacy.”  I’d thought multiple times that I would like to make jewelry for some people I know who are just now beginning to express femininity.  But the problem with targeting this market is that transgender and genderqueer people have a higher-than-average unemployment rate, and higher-than-average underemployment rate.  When the last recession hit, where I was, it was very noticeable.

Because of what I can only think to call socioeconomic discrimination in hiring and housing, etc. (BIG “etc.”!), my target market may not have the extra income to be able to buy my jewelry.  Even if they did, there are better uses for it than buying pretty-but-nonfunctional things.

However.  If I do want to serve a target market — here I’m thinking of queer women (regardless of assigned gender), genderqueer people (regardless of assigned gender), and transgender people (regardless of assigned gender) — there are better ways to do it.  Last night, I thought of one of them:  I could work for a nonprofit which serves the QUILTBAG communities.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen, at least in the transgender and genderqueer communities, is isolation…barring the more gigantic and much more urgent problems of unemployment, lack of sufficient income, pervasive violence, lack of stable housing, and transmisogyny, specifically in the cases of many trans* women (this also affects genderqueer people [i.e. nonbinary; identifying as neither or both a woman and/or a man, or something else entirely {e.g. 3rd and 4th gender, Two-Spirit, etc.}] people and trans* men — though I haven’t studied any statistics on those demographics yet).

Alongside this are problems with a higher incidence of mental illness, especially when the case is that of a person of color; the phenomenon of “intersectionality (of oppressions)” is likely a large contributor in the latter case.  This is likely because of the violence of our society (societies?) as it targets trans* women, which is magnified when one is a trans* woman who is not white.  (It’s not easy to be nonwhite, alone.  Add gender variance on top of it.)  But essentially, the more strikes one has against oneself as regards minority statuses, the more stress one tends to be under.  The more stress, the more overt (as versus latent) mental illness — stress can and often does trigger symptoms, and is an important factor in both depression and psychosis (the latter meaning, “breaking from reality,” not, “wanting to kill people”).

The last thing I’ll mention here is a higher incidence of HIV infection, likely stemming from drug use (which I’ve also heard referred to as “self-medication”), and resorting to sex work as a survival measure, at least in the cases of some of the elders I’ve known (though now that I think of it, I met a young one like this, too — I don’t know his HIV status [he was on the female-to-male spectrum]).  On top of this, the story from most trans* women whom I’ve seen transition reads the same way:  that transition from male to female was necessary to prevent further and potential harm to oneself and others.

So…if you step back from seeing “trans*” and start to see “human,” you can see that there is a big problem here.  It just basically should not be the case that someone has to go through all of this just because they stopped pretending to be someone they weren’t — someone they could not stand to live as any longer.

The issue I have here is that, should I take this path, there really isn’t any going back from it.  On some level it requires *me* to be okay with others’ curiosities — because most others don’t know about transgender people, let alone what “genderqueer” means, or what it could be like to live as someone who doesn’t see themselves as a man or a woman.  The thing about that latter question, though, is that it’s different for everyone.

I do recognize that if I do take this path, I will eventually be known.  I don’t think that’s of necessity a bad thing.  But I have to be okay with having my face seen and photographed.  I have to be okay with representing people to others, because that’s the only way we’re going to get funding.  If no one knows what’s going on, no one can help.

A lot of what I do in my job as it stands now, is answer routine questions and direct people to other sources of information when I don’t know the answer offhand.  I’m told that, should I become empowered to do what I think I might want to do, this would fall under “information and referral.”  If I’m referring others to community resources (some of whom I’ve worked with, myself), I don’t think I’d really need a Master’s to do so.  Having been involved in the communities over a long period of time — long enough to get a sense of the actual differing oppressions each group has to contend with (gender identity, body dysphoria, bodily violation, and/or homophobia, and/or biphobia, and/or isolation) — is likely more valuable.

The only problem here, then, is with getting paid.  🙂  I think that if I worked at a QUILTBAG community center, I’d likely have an easier time dealing with people…at least when they’re there for a good reason.  A lot of my trepidation around dealing with the public as it stands now is that I’m consistently seen to be someone I’m not.  It used to get under my skin a lot more than it does, now.

At this point, I just realize that to most people, “female”=”woman” and “male”=”man”.  And…there’s not much more to it.  At least, not until one starts breaking the rules which contain “woman” and “man.”  😉  Then…


Addicted to writing

For some reason, I think I write too much and read too little.

In reality, I think the Internet has changed the way I, at least, interface with information.  It’s more difficult for me now to sit down and read; though I’m nearly always stimulated every time I do so, paper books and tankoubon don’t call out with multimedia and vivid colors and sound and movement.  They don’t necessarily have as much room for feedback as does something like social media; nor are they as engaging as, say, YouTube.

In any case, I find myself with spare time (a seeming rarity, but one which will be hopefully more active soon.  Even though I’m scheduled to go back to school in the Fall, I’m only planning on 6 units; that will happen at the same time as I’m trying to put together a writing portfolio and working).  Instead of writing something which I could use, say, for a portfolio piece, I’m more drawn to write someone an email or catch up on social media or visit a forum or write on one of my blogs.  But I suppose I actually have been presented with the challenge of being more social during the summer, and communicating with anyone I know at all is a huge step towards that.

The problem is that I have this spare time and I end up either resting (as today) because I’ve burned myself out (I think yesterday I was up for a marathon 19 hours — after about midnight my brain just doesn’t work all that well and I end up bopping around doing nothing for hours) or doing non-productive things like checking everywhere I know to catch up on what people are talking about.  Often, though, I’ll come to my computer, find others have been quiet, and then think of writing something — the topic and the people to which it will be addressed, coming second.

For some reason — I don’t know exactly why — writing is one of these things that has been with me for a very long time.  It’s nearly always been the method I’ve used for getting out what’s going on in my head; materializing it in some way so it can be recorded and looked at again later.  Focusing it in some way so that at least I may know what it is that I’m thinking (even though this isn’t always perfectly expressed in writing).

I also have a very difficult time making my own schedule and sticking to it.  I may start doing this, though; it’s not really all that great to have a day off of work and spend nearly all of it either eating or in the bed.

And right about here, I started to get into the main reason why I thought I spent today thusly.  I probably shouldn’t post it, however.  It has to do with a personal conflict between myself and someone else — who doesn’t actually know me, but is feeling a bit too close, right now.  I should probably go and take care of that.

Coming into power

So it’s been a couple of days, and the Japanese language learning hasn’t progressed so far yet, seeing how it’s mostly review, and I’m reading and writing everything in kana.  I have, however, realized something:  I do have some skill when it comes to writing, and maybe I should try and capitalize on that, instead of entering a new field entirely — when I haven’t even given becoming a professional writer or editor a good clean shot yet.

The problem with aiming to become a professional writer or editor is that you have to, you know, write things.  Original things.  And that requires some level of vulnerability, at the very least when you’re writing fiction and this stuff that you’re writing stems from your own experience and psyche.  It especially requires some level of strength + vulnerability when what you’re writing is connected to you on a deep level, and your mind falls into the “different” category.  As I’ve been talking about Japanese language recently, let me drop one hint here:  in Japanese, the word for “different” and the word for “wrong” are the same:  chigau.

I’m really not sure how strongly being different has read to me as being wrong, in my life.  (More likely, I was told I was wrong by my society and I revalued the term “wrong.”)  But it’s an interesting observation to make.  It happened so long ago that I’m not really sure of the timeline anymore, but I recall that as a child, I would write out my thoughts because I didn’t feel I could speak them.  Of course, for me, some of this crossed over into the realm of Illustration — or may have even begun in Illustration — but after a while there were things I needed to get out that couldn’t be shown through pictures.  At least, that was the case when I was a kid.  I just couldn’t draw fast enough, and after a while, I couldn’t write longhand fast enough, either.  So I turned to the computer, took some typing lessons, and eventually got to the point where I can type decently fast, and hold focus — for a bit less time than it takes to try and write everything out.  😉

Becoming a professional writer or editor also requires one additional thing:  faith.  You have to believe that someone will find value in your words, and you have to have faith that your practice will one day pay off.  Otherwise, for all but the most focused, it won’t be easy to continue to write.  Because your stories will back up in your head.  And they won’t be communicated.  Because who will find value in your thoughts?  Who will hire you after you’ve shown yourself to be so different and everyone knows and you can’t ever take those words back?  Those words that implicate you as outside of the herd?  The dark horse that so many would wish to go away and die?

It’s not been easy for me to be me.  My practice at frankness began on a screen, though by all accounts I was a very honest youngster.  I am — entering the prime of my life — just now finding myself with the strength and ability to open up again.  To be vulnerable to a world that too often punishes honesty and vulnerability and lauds conformity, and lies — and if not lies, then silence.

But the world of humans isn’t right.  I know this.  I also know there are pockets of goodness in it.  And I know that at the heart of everything, most people just want to be happy, no matter how many other people they crush in their attempt to obtain happiness for themselves.

But as for a bit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy here:

Someone will value my thoughts.

Someone will value my difference.

How often can we say that?  Especially the latter?

It’s something to take into account the next time I start to convince myself that by “putting myself out there,” I’m essentially foregoing being able to be hired and setting in motion the mechanism which will make me an outsider to adult society, as I was an outsider to children’s society.  But — beyond the fact that some of us do grow up — there’s one thing I’ve learned:

The voices like mine are the ones which make life trapped in conformity tolerable for everyone else.  Because we enable others to envision what life could be like, not just what life is now.  We enable people to escape their bonds, however temporarily; to imagine life as someone else, somewhere else.  We encourage empathy and the opening of minds and hearts.  We enrich the lives of others by taking the risk of expression, and we touch that which within each of us is human.  That which just wants happiness.

And I, now, after having viewed myself with an eye to criticism and darkness for most of the second half of my life, have just talked back to the internal oppressor.  At a certain point, I have to come to the conscious realization that I am not evil.  I am human.  Beyond this, I am spirit.  I am free.  I am that which I am, and I owe none apologies for being so.  I do not have to ask permission for my right to exist.

At some point — at some point — it would be wise to act like it.