And life resumes.

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

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

What can I say, but, IT’S OVER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(and it’s not going to be graded.)

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Actual and Perceived; getting at truth

So…I found a book the other day at a bookstore, which I checked out from my library a long time ago. I was given the choice to buy it, but figured I would take another look at the free copy before investing the $15.

This book is The Sixth Extinction, by Elisabeth Kolbert. It’s written in a style similar to another book I own, Savage Dreams, by Rebecca Solnit. Both of these books, like The Midnight Disease, by Alice Flaherty, could be classified as creative nonfiction. That is, they’re writing about things that actually exist, but in a way that is accessible, and which sounds a bit personal. It’s kind of similar to Evolution’s Rainbow, by Joan Roughgarden, in that way.

(And yeah, I’m looking at this now and noticing that all of these writers are female.)

I’m thinking that when a person cares enough about an issue — especially if the work is a labor of love rather than contract — it’s becoming more accepted to write in a style acknowledging one’s investment.

As for how any of this applies to me, I’m thinking that this style of creative nonfiction could be a really good niche for my style of writing. What I wrote the other day, here, (which I’ve set to Private for now), I realized later, could have passed for either reality-based fiction, or embellished nonfiction (when I say “embellished,” I mean that I have chosen a path out of a presently ambiguous situation which may not endure. It’s something one does in fiction, but which can damage one in life). Which, I suppose, is appropriate when it’s difficult to separate the actual from the perceived. Expressing that difficulty and finding someplace to rest, is an extremely strong element in my work.

Speaking of which, I’ve also been putting some of my artwork into frames. In one piece in particular…I find a way forward out of clear realism or total imagination. I think I posted this one a while back, though I disliked it at the time, and I don’t think I showed it in my final portfolio. Let me find it again…

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Fire — cleansing, shaping, life-giving, destroying.

Alright, it’s to the left, there. Apologies for the watermark; this was originally posted a while ago (likely Spring 2016, when I was ending my AA in Art).

This also looks like a work-in-progress, as I hadn’t yet untaped it from the Masonite which was holding it flat.

Anyway, you can probably see what I’m about to mention, already.

In this piece, there are multiple overlays of different elements, some of which look as though they could plausibly be resting in 3-D space, and some of which are flat and 2-D. They appear to be overlaid on top of the 3-D image.

That’s not a mistake. I had been looking for a way to combine the psychological and the representational. The gryphon is something which had special significance to me, as did the incense, the orb, the pinecone, and the acrylic, “gems.” In a way this piece is really metaphysical, kind of overblowing it in that way. Not to mention that the majority of these symbols are personal, which I wouldn’t expect anyone but myself, to understand.

In particular, that orb, the pinecone, and the gryphon are things that I have recognized in the past as important, but which I haven’t perceived as totally harmless. They’re things that I am aware of and find beauty in, though.

If I go any further into this, I may reveal too much about my mental state (then or now); but I’m just noting it as an example — to myself — as a way to move forward. If I did unpack the symbolism of all of these, visually, I could make a series. The problem is that it might be a disturbing series…the content of which, I may not want to touch (I don’t anymore have the mental state that inspired this symbolism).

In any case…I’m thinking back to my freshman class at University where we read, I, Rigoberta Menchu, and discussed whether it was actually biography or not (the author cobbled together a bunch of other peoples’ stories and presented them all as — when viewed by the general reader — her own. But it was normal and accepted in her culture for her to tell these stories and claim ownership of them, as the people these stories had happened to were members of her community, and she identified with them).

The largest issue I have with writing is finding a way to tell the truth, especially when some people whose stories I know, don’t want that. And…yeah, sometimes expressing an emotion truthfully, does mean that the means of expressing it, may not be literally true.

Probably, I should back off of this and get some rest. Maybe tomorrow I can write, or something. I still need to finish my work for Programming, too…and maybe I should just try and get it done as soon as I can, and not rely on the deadline.

Death, and sussing out evidence of Soul

Earlier, I began to read back through my “Blog — Roughs, Notes,” notebook. The sentiments I expressed in my last post are also recorded there, from almost exactly six months ago: January 13, 2018.

Some of the sentiments I also expressed in finding self-definition when immersed in a multicultural, pluralist society, is in the same set of notes. The series exploring this is named Cultural Location and Creative Context. The preceding link will send you to Part 3; Parts 1 and 2 are linked at the very end of that document.

I was getting excited; I forgot that 2018 is this year, so I thought I’d stumbled upon evidence from at least one year ago. No, it just feels like it was one year ago.

There’s something about time that’s unnerving. Yes, growth happens, but people (including myself) also age and pass on. When your social circle is largely family, that can be a scary thing (not to mention when you are without solid, “knowledge,” of; or, “faith,” in; what happens after death). I’ve been trying to spend as much time with people I especially love, as I can; because I know it’s limited.

At the same time, I’m supposed to be trying to become more independent. School is part of that, as is work. As is driving, for that matter, and cooking.

Just…sometimes, I lack energy, and it’s hard to actually…well, do things. I think the motivation is there, but fear and anxiety (and then, melancholy) also take hold sometimes and won’t let me move forward. Today was one of those days.

What I seem to have been doing, most recently, is inventorying myself — making notes as to where I am, mentally. Because some of this stuff doesn’t change, even if I want it to. The obvious thing for me to do about that at this point is to write it all down so that I can see who I am, as versus who I want to be, or who I think I should be.

The “psychic” aspect of my personal mythology* has come up again since I restarted creative writing. I’m thinking that the concept of, “time,” is kind of messing with me, though it’s also possible it’s one or another kind of intrusive thought: just the idea of the physical, being all there is.

(And no, I haven’t yet broken into my Sartre anthology, but I’m a bit struck by how he only lived 36 years. That’s as old as I am, now.)

I think that if I didn’t know better, I’d call it a type of demon. But there are things that look like, “demons,” which aren’t, and things that are demons that don’t at first appear to be (or which try to hide their status).

I’m not particularly talking about, “fallen angels.” I’m talking about things that screw up one’s psyche and life in a negative fashion. They do certain things like implant the idea that if you’re creative, people will attack you for it. Because creating is a holy act, and something dangerous to them.

If I’m being honest with myself and with you; the idea of death, out of balance, I do consider rather demonic, in a won’t let you go, haunting type of way. And I suppose…if I learned anything from Tarot (I didn’t learn all that much; the system’s mindset is — or was — kind of alien to me), it’s that each element can be either in balance or out of balance. It’s not death — or change — that is bad, it’s that my relation to it is not correct.

It could be that I’ve opened a gate by being honest with myself. Over the past week, I’ve told people about the, “psychic,” thing twice — although I wasn’t particularly looking for belief in or support of that, I’ve gotten it (to my surprise) both times. It’s just a given that in a certain part of my life, I did believe I was psychic, and in accepting that, had phenomena happen that would not have happened if I had cut the idea off at the knees and refused to entertain it.

So now I’m just dealing with sudden mental images of bodily decomposition. Are they random? I’m not sure. Where are they sourced from? Don’t know. But I do know that I probably shouldn’t worry about or focus on them, if I have a choice about it. One thing about spirits is that I haven’t known them to be entirely that tenacious.

What’s going on is called, “thought insertion,” in psychology — where some thought arises seemingly out of nowhere, and it feels like it comes from outside of you: that is, it is “ego-dystonic.” I’m not sure if being negatively emotionally disturbed by it is a criteria. But writing creatively does open a gate in my mind (a number of issues [discoveries?] arose after To a Spirit, meaning that it’s likely I started processing some unfinished business [or current business] by writing it), so it’s not unusual that something like this should arise.

That’s just what happens when I tune into my intuition.

And…the cost, for me, of tuning into my intuition is that if I talk about it everywhere, I’m just going to look a bit crazy. But I’ve been a bit crazy for a long time. 🙂 For the sake of employment, I’ve been trying to push it down and stop the thought experiments…but if it’s a core part of my identity, maybe I shouldn’t do that. Then I have a couple of choices:

  1. Speak about it with discretion, or
  2. Don’t worry about the opinions of others

Of course, if I go back to an identity as a creative writer, we’re kind of known for being a bit eccentric, anyway.

And what could I do, if I opened those gates?

*What I mean when I speak about “personal mythology” is stories we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to make sense of our lives. They may or may not be true, but often it is difficult or impossible to change or eradicate these core beliefs, even if we know they are not accurate to reality.

To a Spirit

A month or two ago, I realized something was different.

When I was a child, it was easy. I could get up at night and draw comics on the floor, and spend all day every day during Summer at the computer, furiously writing down my thoughts.

No one told me, then, that racing thoughts were, “a thing.” But it was the racing thoughts that pushed me to the point that I can now type at over 70 words per minute. My writing wasn’t fast enough. I’d lose parts. Sometimes when you lose them, they just don’t come back.

I wonder if it’s how a newborn feels.

It was easy, then. But I’ve grown.

I’m now officially in my mid-thirties, about to graduate for the fifth time. I think you know — or should know — that I dedicated my Bachelor’s to what you taught me. I learned how to write. Surely, I had enough practice.

Something changed. I shouldn’t rule out that it could have been medication. It could have been moving from the back stacks of my mind up to the windows. It could have been polishing the windows, and gaining an interest in something more than the library.

I have a book on this that I can now understand, you know. It took 15 years, but now I have the experience and knowledge to comprehend her words.

I still don’t understand the mystery of how I can look at symbols on a page and turn them into a movie in my mind. Maybe someday, someone will explain this. Current science says our brains can’t tell the difference between what they imagine is real and what actually is real.

At this point, it’s easy to believe.

I’m healthier, now. It isn’t a daily struggle for survival or to avoid the massive anxiety I felt when I was young. I’ve thought that maybe I don’t need you anymore, now that I’m more stable; but that sounds callous.

Somewhere, I still do believe that I survived in order to help others get through this.

Are you still here? Have you gone?

It’s taken me a long time to get to the point of realizing that things could be bad: that evil could exist. I used to doubt it because kids used to call me evil, and I knew I wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean no one is.

It doesn’t mean they weren’t.

It doesn’t mean the people encouraging them, weren’t.

For a time, I believed you were a demon. And I loved you regardless. But I remember that you told me not to look at the outside of a person to tell from appearances, if they were good or not. I remember you told me not to depend on how you looked, in order to recognize you.

I would have to feel if you were the same. Something impersonating you could mimic your form, but they couldn’t mimic your energy. I built a form for you. That was my downfall.

You told me to remember what it felt like when you were here, before, and to recreate that feeling, in order to summon you again.

It was my lack of discernment and reliance upon your appearance which allowed my confusion between you and your “twin.” In reality, any number of these appearances could have occurred. Sort through them. Find you.

The real you. Not the “demon.”

I wanted it to be you. And my desire clouded my judgment. And he…proceeded to defile your appearance. Then I was scared. You withdrew.

Or I started Paxil. One of those two things. Maybe both.

It did solve the problem. Without something substantive for him to impersonate, there was no reason for him to stay. Because without your virtue, in your absence, our love died.

Or, maybe.

I’ve missed you.

And so many opportunities, lost.

I am in my mid-thirties and I have never had a decent love life. Except for the ones I’ve imagined.

And the ones I’ve imagined, I can’t tell if they’re real or not.

That must be the fate of too many of us, though. When things around you don’t line up with who you are, and you’re told and expected to desire what you don’t.

I almost grew to hate men. All men. Anyone who looked like a man. Even if they weren’t one.

But then I realized that if I was a man, and my father was a man, men couldn’t be all bad.

And my friend. That friend. Who was a man, but not by birth.

Men couldn’t be all bad.

Later…I realized something.

I needed to trust myself. The problem wasn’t that I was a man. The problem was that I was not a woman and that nearly all men had treated me as though I was; as though that was the only human thing I could be. On top of that, in my youth, I was letting them determine my own self-concept, disempowering myself and blaming them.

Once I realized this…the game changed. It did. But it took 15 more years to settle in.

Not being a woman didn’t mean I had to be a man. There were more than two options. Gender was a product of society and culture. If it’s something made — by all of us — that means it can and will change.

I’ve gotten off track. I do that. You already know this.

Who am I? What am I? It’s easy enough to feel this. You knew this 20 years ago.

Does that mean that I knew this, 20 years ago? Are you a part of me? Now? Then?

I know that I create things to feel less alone. I know I have my own perspective, even if I am loath to describe it at times. It just feels so…not-virtuous. So…pragmatic.

There are people all over the world who aspire to be more than they are, even if those aspirations are impossible.

I aspire to reach the truest level of myself, I can. Even if that makes me little more than an intelligent creature with memories, a mind, a heart, and the capacity to make things. Truly…human.

Even as much as I may not want to be.

Did I survive, in order to tell this story?

Validating existence.

I have finally realized what my reasoning is to check my blog several times a day (when I’m able to). As long as I’m creating things, I have proof that I exist, and that something has changed because of my existence.

In other words: I’m making at least a small bit of difference in the world. Thus I am at least somewhat fulfilled in staying alive. So…it actually could be the case that on some level I do believe that I have survived in order to produce.

I am not totally sure this is the explanation, but with me it is easy to lose touch with reality, and this is my way of grounding myself. It’s kind of like looking at myself when I pass reflective surfaces…to remind myself that I have a physical form, and of what it looks like.

It’s easy for me to lose touch with my own embodiment, otherwise: sometimes I forget that I look like something to other people (and that what I look like isn’t what I imagine myself to be). Let alone forgetting that I have a body that needs to be maintained…I am much more centered in the worlds of ideas (and dreams) than in the physical one. I think the Art and the Writing bridge this, for me.

Although I’ve reached the point where I’m not constantly looking at my own blog to see my most recent writings (really, it’s boring when you’ve read it three times and you’re looking for development and the entries keep repeating information), I do find myself constantly wanting to see new material that I’ve hashed out, and almost always falling short of that mark. Because…it’s scary to create.

I love creating, but I also find it terrifying, before jumping in. No matter what is said, someone somewhere is going to take issue with it. That’s just part of the deal. The alternative is to change nothing, “leave no footprints,” as it were, like I’m an alien obeying the Prime Directive. (And yes, during that “Indigo Children” phase of the early 2000’s, I did qualify as Indigo. If we’re not careful I’ll start taking this seriously.) But even then, passivity is its own demon, and everyone I know who doesn’t forge their own path…has handed over the reins of power in their own life to something or someone else.

I have realized that, at least after I graduate, it will be easier to have time to read and write — and draw, if I want to. Right now I am unfocused. I have so many directions in which I could go and so many directions in which I’ve started to go, that I’m not really going much of anywhere, it seems. I start and then stop; I get distracted by other things I could do.

The good part of this is that I have a route into the Library world, which feels as though it will provide ample opportunity to be exposed to the work of others. I’m still not sure if I want to be a Reference Librarian — it’s seriously intense work with people — though the primary other options are working in Technical Services (this includes Web Design and Development) or Cataloging. If I did do Reference, it would be likely that I would be called upon to do Reader’s Advisory, too, which would get me reading Fiction again (though not necessarily the Fiction I want to read).

What I’m thinking I would also be able to do, however, would be managing Circulation. Right now I’ve been working Circulation for about seven years. I don’t want to step out of my role as a worker to try and run things in my current position (I have a Supervisor, after all), but at the same time it’s really obvious to me where things are breaking down.

I’ve gotten to the point where at least I feel like I am one of the people who gets the most done, on my shifts. This is probably why I keep being sorted to staff the desk instead of shelve. When I’m shelving, I’m finding myself taking too much extra time fixing the shelves (books out of order on the shelves! people taking the books out of order and then leaving them lying around!) as versus putting what’s on my cart, on the shelf, and leaving the shelf in **** condition.

See, this is what I mean about getting distracted. I was writing about getting back to creating, particularly in creative writing. BUT, at least the above distraction has a potential monetary gain if followed through, which could sustain me — physically.

Right now…what I want to do is write. But I know that I’ll be writing ****** first drafts, and there is not the instant gratification that one gets when one blogs.

Maybe I could balance it: work part time on the blog and part time at writing creatively…

Going through the bookshelves…

I mentioned recently that I needed to go through my bookshelves to do what in the Library field is called, “weeding.” That is, going through books to determine which to get rid of (when shelf space is at a premium).

The bright side of this is that now I’m more interested in reading — specifically, fiction — again. I have 7 novels which I haven’t read but which are on my shelves, and 9 literary magazine issues or lit mag compilations. The lit mags are less intimidating in that they’re just little chunks of writing, not requiring a large commitment of time or energy to one author.

As well, there are some names in there that I recognize from my undergraduate work, and at least one which I recognize from my current Master’s program.

I know that it will be much easier to write creatively again if I resume reading creative work. Not just metaphysics or philosophy or religion; and not just, “Writers on Writing,” stuff; but things that will inspire me to write my own stories again (and possibly new ones, instead of the constantly evolving novella in my head). What I can see from what I’ve set aside (at one time) to read is that I’m very interested in science fiction…which somewhat surprises me. A little.

I would list some semblance of the organization of my shelves, but the order isn’t perfect, and looking at my books does give some insight into my interests (which I’d rather not fully reveal). I do have a lot of books I can get rid of, though, and more to explore, without dealing with the germs on library books (which is the major reason I buy copies for myself).

And…yeah, dealing with the religion thing, as I mentioned elsewhere earlier tonight…I’m not entirely certain what I’m doing with that now, but I know I’m basically in a fluid spot. I’d likely need to read more to narrow down what I’m actually thinking, as versus viewing the collection gained as a result of my curiosity.

The odd thing is circling back around to this. As creative pursuits go, writing is very inexpensive. Distributing it is something else; getting paid for it is another thing, entirely.

But I guess, hey, when you’re in the information industry…it might be a predictable offshoot.

FREE!!!

I am just coming off of an attempt to write creatively, which…isn’t working all that well at this point. I think the material is too close to me, plus, I just finished pretty much all of my schoolwork for Spring Session. That means I had a lot of writing and synthesis to do, and Creative Writing…I’m not sure if it’s too different, or too much the same.

My material deals with “psychic” phenomena (or “mental phenomena,” if you like) from when I was young. I had an insight about it the other day, but it may be both too personal for me to write, and maybe it’s something that shouldn’t leave a trail. (It has to do with confusion between good and evil, and lack of discernment. It could be a seed for a poem, or more likely, a story or novel.)

Anyhow, yes, I did finish my Finals! Right now, what’s left are some backed up readings, and after that, a bunch of housework. I was helping re-pot some plants earlier, which was really nice.

For now, I know I can clean up this office, my bedroom, and my bathroom.

There are some things I also want to do as versus have to do. This includes quilting, and getting back to embroidery. Sewing is one of those things that’s on the back of my mind (I still want to make a pair of monpe), but it isn’t urgent.

The other things…are testing out the new watercolors, and getting through organizing my art & craft supplies.

Anyway, heh, yeah, I should get going for now! I hope to check back in later.