Japanese-language skills.

They grow, they do.

One thing I can say about having been to Oahu recently is that it gave me ample opportunities to read Japanese language — and overhear conversation, which isn’t of much use at this point, except for distinguishing regional dialect.

I read the name of what is likely my family’s dialect [chugoku-ben] in one of my books (Okamura, 2014), based on the region my ancestors came from, combined with the historical context (that is, why and when they came). It’s fairly clear to D and I that there are some speakers (mostly older, at this point) who are easier for us to understand; this likely has to do with both dialect and generation. That is, if it is chugoku-ben that we recognize and understand, it’s likely the chugoku-ben of older generations, not as it is moving on (as many things continue to do) in Japan.

I can only read nihongo partially right now, due to the fact that I don’t know a lot of kanji as things stand. However…if we do move to Oahu, it’s a pretty sure bet that I will have the resources and immersion necessary to actually learn the language. That, in turn, should give me greater access to one of the cultures which has been likely key in my formation. (Most of my adult life has been spent seeking out my own identity; so to be able to recognize the influences on me, would help.)

As stated prior, there are a good number of kanji that I see and recognize, but of which, I just don’t know the corresponding meaning or reading. I was reading through the Table of Contents of a Genki textbook the other day, and found a bunch of these. Because I have so many resources, I’m thinking of hacking it and taking bits and pieces from multiple sources to hasten my learning.

Right now I’m trying to figure out if and where to get rid of my old Japanese-language manga (these are tankoubon, not like an issue of Shounen Jump [I don’t know the technical term for one of these: zasshi?], which would be more akin to a large phone book with multiple individual installments of various running manga published by Jump Comics).

I’ll probably end up taking them to a comic-book store or a used-book store. The thing is…I would give them to the library, but I suspect they’ll be sold at $1 a piece in the bookstore, which is far below their value. I also am not certain they would sell Japanese-language books. However, I’m not sure they’re worth packing up and taking to Oahu (especially given that these series are so old).

Not that I think I’d ever really get back to these, but for the sake of records:

  1. Bastard!! #5 (this is the actual title, I’m not randomly cursing)
  2. Inu Yasha #22
  3. Last Final Election, The (a collection of YYH slash doujinshi)
  4. Rurouni Kenshin #1
  5. Tenshi Kinryoku (Angel Sanctuary) #1
  6. Yuu Yuu Hakusho #7
  7. Yuu Yuu Hakusho #14

When I got these, I was so young that I may have colored in some of the graphics, but I honestly can’t remember in which of my manga I may have done this…

And yeah…my Japanese instructor from college told me that it’s best not to learn Japanese entirely from manga and anime, or your frame of reference gets distorted (that is, you end up talking weird, and thinking it’s normal).

Nevertheless, these (like my Sailor Moon books which compiled screenshots of the multiple series that never made it into official English translation) did provide me translation fodder when I was a kid.

Now if I found something like Urusei Yatsura, or another classic, that would be different…(come to think of it, a lot of the anime we had [like Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer] was on VHS, and is thus unreadable without a working VHS player…HELLO OBSOLESCENCE).

Then again, it’s what — seven books?

And holy…I just opened to a random page of Inu Yasha and knew what point the story was at, because I could read most of the words with the help of furigana. I also knew who the characters were, and what the time period was, in which the story was taking place.

I still don’t want Rurouni Kenshin or Tenshi Kinryoku, though. That latter one is super depressing, and the former…just too silly. Though Samurai X (the movie), which was the precursor to Rurouni Kenshin, was good.

So now I’m down to what — five? (I’ll just have to cut something else out.)

I picked up Bastard!! because I liked the drawing style, though seriously, that manga is basically adult, for the U.S. I have one of the videos, too, which is kinda soft-core. Not kidding. Don’t try to watch that one with your parents in the room. Not even if you’re an adult. Just don’t.

And…yes, I actually would be okay with giving away Tenshi Kinryoku and Rurouni Kenshin to the Friends of the Library…

…but not the other ones.

I’VE MADE STRIDES! 😀 😉

I’ve also found that letting go of the desire to create a graphic novel has paradoxically made it easier to play around with paper, pens (I’ve recently discovered [non-desiccated] Posca markers), and Washi tape, and make some interesting stuff.

I’m thinking of trying to write letters (physical ones) to family on the island, now. It would give me motivation and an aim in getting back into Art Practice, though it would likely be Art Letters or something, where I’m doing something that’s between an art journal and a letter. I’m thinking back to Van Gogh here, but I’m sure that illustrated/designed letters have existed elsewhere in the past.

Anyhow…I’ve got way too much to read, especially if I’m going to be dumping a lot of this stuff. I won’t be able to tell what’s worth keeping without looking at it, that is.

Maybe I should set aside things that are on my shelf which I have never read…

Works Cited:

Okamura, J. Y. (2014). From race to ethnicity: Interpreting Japanese American experiences in Hawai’i. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

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Gathering myself.

There’s a lot I want to talk about, especially in relation to Hawaii. The big thing right now is, though, that not only am I dealing with jet lag (causing me to be sleepy, and the bed to be incredibly comforting during random stretches of the day), but my stomach hasn’t been agreeing with me since I tried to go back to work on Tuesday, which I had to bail on at the last minute because of nausea. Yesterday was okay, but today–? Today, I couldn’t even go out.

Of course, while I was in Hawaii, it wasn’t great either, but aside from one bout of food poisoning, I was mostly okay. Right now, it’s hard to eat or drink anything without feeling sick, and I woke up at maybe 5:30 AM today with the worst nausea I’ve had in a while. I’m hoping right now that I don’t get vomiting and diarrhea. I did just try to drink some apple juice, and felt little bubbles moving all around in there. I already know my guts are mostly empty.

If it’s “Traveler’s Diarrhea,” which I’ve read can strike right after one returns from a trip (which this did), it will probably be over in three days. Meaning it’s questionable if I’ll be able to work on the weekend, or if I’ll lose even more pay.

And yeah, I did just get out of bed maybe half an hour ago, and am sleepy again. This is annoying.

I did keep a log of offline personal journal posts which I made while in Hawaii, but there are only seven entries for the 14 days. Mostly, this is because I caught some kind of cold (likely from work) before we even got there, and so was too sick to do much, for the first six days. (Because I had used a special discount to book the room, we couldn’t back out of the reservation without a sizable penalty.)

By New Year’s Day, I was all right, mostly. I think that I was non-contagious by that time, so we visited family to meet and share osechi (New Year’s delicacies).

The trip ended on the 11th — or, at least, that’s when our flight got in; I didn’t get any sleep until after 2 AM, on what was technically January 12. In the house that was 55° F.

It’s kind of a shock to go from 78° F, balmy and sunny; to 52° F, cold and rainy.

But I did get to see the people at work again. I guess that’s something. 😛

Speaking of which, I should follow up on the leads I got from visiting one of the libraries at UH Manoa. IF, that is, I can find the paper…!

Ah — just found it. I apparently wasn’t using a pen with high-enough contrast, so it didn’t register that there was writing on it. I’ve now bookmarked the sites on the browser I normally use to come to this blog, so I shouldn’t have to worry about losing the paper, anymore.

I need to remember that I don’t have to have a Library job as my first job out of Library School — especially if I’m relocating. I need to look at all of my skills…and maybe see which ones I want to develop further.

That ties in with the Bullet Journal thing that I’ve been wanting to start. I’ve been writing down activities that I want or need to participate in, which will help me not waste the time between now and the time I find a job which fills more of my hours.

I know that I want to get back to studying Japanese language; I can do that via my books, and my Library’s access to Rosetta Stone. I believe I also set aside a special notebook for this.

I also want to get back to reviewing/learning HTML5, CSS3; and get back on learning JavaScript (at least!). I have a place where I can do this, online; and it’s free, until I’m significantly advanced.

I also should, at some time, retake Cataloging and Classification.

On a more basic level, I need to work on my driving skills (which I may need, in order to establish residency in Hawaii). I also want to get back to reading what I didn’t have time to read in Library School (both for classes, and not). I also need to be walking off some of my calories.

I’ve written further on what I wished to do immediately upon exiting the Master’s program in some of my backposts (notably, there was an entry with a bulleted list). This is enough to keep in mind, for now.

Um…what? Oblivious family.

Today we did meet with extended family for the first time since coming back from — I guess I will likely have to say it eventually — Hawaii. I’m hoping they don’t decide to follow us there.

There’s a veil of confidentiality that I’ve been hesitant to break as regards myself and my family here, because — well, I’ve been fairly open with what is happening with me personally on this blog. I’ve said quite a lot here that no one in my extended family ever suspected was part of my experience. I’ve also said a lot here that no one outside of the Art program at my last community college, and outside of the Psych professionals I see, knows that I have experienced (it’s extremely difficult to make art while at the same time, not revealing anything about oneself).

Even my closest relatives (outside of M and D, and I am sure you can guess what that means) don’t know the whole story of what I’ve been through. That’s not to say that you all do — but I communicate more easily and more readily through text than I do through voice. There’s something to be said about being able to consider and think about what one wants to say (or write) before one says it (or writes it). And then there is the decision to be made about whether or not to actually make that writing public, which is separate.

I am just kind of ticked off right now. You see, my family tends to attract, and support, “clingers,” for lack of a better term. And because one member of my family has decided to co-dependently compensate for another person’s laziness (it is questionable as to whether he actually experiences what his (lying) ex said he experiences (he lies too, by the way): therefore we don’t know if he’s simply a bum or is chemically lacking motivation), I’m now finding others comparing me to the clingers.

Excuse me, I just spent three years in grad school so that I can become an Information Professional. Grad school. Three years. Like I would have put myself through that if I had plans to be a leech for the rest of my life on my family. (The context seemed to imply that I didn’t deserve to go to Hawaii, because I hadn’t earned the money to do so, myself; and not only that, but I would never be a productive member of society unless my parents stopped supporting me. From the guy who has no children. Sorry my parents care about me, brah.)

I also have to compensate for a legitimate, documented, legally protected, serious, stigmatizing disability. The choice to work was mine. The choice to go through a program to eventually obtain lifelong gainful employment so that I wouldn’t have to depend on Disability payments and Section 8 housing and live the rest of my life in poverty, was mine. The choice to treat my disability with medication and therapy and recover from a lack of basic functionality, was mine. The choice not to have children when I couldn’t even take care of myself, was mine.

If my uncle thinks that I’m not really employed because he’s all about money and has no experience with life difficulties or human relations and I’m too slow for him, that’s on him. It’s not my problem. I am doing the best I can, and right now honestly I want to slap him for implying that I don’t have a job because it doesn’t pay enough.

Or maybe he thinks that my “job” was to find a man and have children, which just disgusts me. It’s simply disgusting. Especially when you consider that I’m not even attracted to most men, which means that he would expect me to be a whore and sell out my uterus to survive.

But wait, maybe he doesn’t know that I have no interest whatsoever in being a wife or mother, and that I want to punch men who ignore that. (Plenty of men ignore that.)

EDIT: I have been bothered by the previous paragraph for a couple of days. Please see my next post for an elucidation on the actual situation.

Since ninth grade, when I realized that I was more attracted to girls than to boys (though that was a comparison of few:slight, and the boys I liked were either years older than me or not attracted to girls), that hasn’t been part of the program.

I assumed that I would need to make a living on my own. I also assumed that, given the amount of attention other girls were giving to their education, I might also have to support them in addition to myself. Because the high-school girls I knew were more interested in finding boyfriends than in being self-sufficient.

The major issue is that one of my family members passed away, a little longer than a year ago. He had a tendency to, as D says, “take in strays.” However, if you take a broad look at that generation of my family, everyone except D has also had a tendency to, “take in strays.” Whom…they then complain about, “having to,” take care of.

I am going to try not to go into their specific situations, just in case they (or their strays) find this blog in the future. However, I’m finding myself being compared to both my cousins in the same age range, which I find…beyond insulting, bordering on derogatory (you would know what I meant, if you knew their stories). It’s the same thing I had to deal with when growing up when my parents would equate me to my brother. Only now, my brother is not in the vicinity of my other family members, or myself, so the nearest examples they have of my generation are my cousins — and my cousins’ friends.

My cousins (and their friends) are their own mess (my cousins don’t have good taste). None of us in this closer age range are really self-sufficient, but at least I’ve been working on it. No, it doesn’t have immediate results to become more educated, but I have skills now that I didn’t have before. If libraries and the Internet still continue to be “a thing” in the future, I will have more doors open than there were.

Because I didn’t agree to work on the project family presented me (for no pay), doesn’t mean I don’t have skills. I am not worthless. But I am not compromising my own computer’s security to work on someone else’s website. For no pay. That’s like taking on random Graphic Design projects because, “it will look good on your resume!” Which is exactly the line of thought that leads to the devaluation of our skills and the undercutting of our wages…which, by the way, is a gigantic issue in Graphic Design.

For free. Psh.

Time crunch.

So it seems we’re ramping up to the holidays, faster than (at least) I expected. I’ve decided to skip the bead show, this year. I already have too many beads, and I haven’t really been using them at all. Hoarding more beads, I think, would just make me feel bad.

Especially knowing that I’m not intending to go into beadwork as a money-making venture, at this point. Cost-recovery is something else, but beadwork is an expensive habit, and I don’t even wear much jewelry and I haven’t been crafting. I would be more encouraged to sell on Etsy, but even that isn’t really worth it unless we look at how much money I’m losing for not being otherwise employed (plus I am not sure whether or not the last computer bug I got was from Etsy).

The alternative, it looks like, is to start my own website or find a better sales platform, and I’m not doing the first until I can take a serious cybersecurity class.

It also seems that I forgot to mention in my last post that we went out with my Godmother on Wednesday, for lunch. It was supposed to be a little meeting, and ended up lasting until 8 PM. I likely would have done better to stay at home and work, but then again, I did get to try a really good frozen drink at the Vietnamese restaurant we frequent.

The drink itself, I hear, is like the Philippine halo halo, or…well, you can look it up. I don’t really know much about it! I got it because it was listed as having three types of beans and coconut milk. It did have coconut milk, but the other two, “beans,” aside from the azuki beans, were sweetened plantain (so far as I could tell) and slightly sweet agar.

I don’t know, either.

But since I like plantain and coconut and azuki, I was pretty happy. 🙂 Until M almost drank all the coconut milk out of it. That was unfortunate.

There’s something else happening tomorrow that I am wondering whether to skip. It’s basically a festival where stuff is sold. I know I really don’t need to go and I kind of don’t want to go. I mean, it’s just a chance to spend money. The thing that’s giving me pause is whether to go in order to share the experience with my family — which I’m also leaning against, because I have an assignment due Monday night which I haven’t really started yet.

If I were looking to go into business and work shows like this…that’s something else, but that’s kind of not where I’m headed at this point in my life.

I’m really not sure. If I don’t want to go, my family may not see the point in going, either…which isn’t the outcome I want.

I suppose the best thing I can do now is get to work on my homework so that I can complete it on Monday…and if I have an extra Sunday to work on my portfolio, so much the better…

And then, I just realized: it would be different to go to the bead show to see the current state of the market, if I wanted to go into Jewelry Design. That …is an entirely different angle.

Because of my work in my grad program, I realized that drafting a set of rules as to what I would and wouldn’t buy, would help me not overspend. This is with an aim to end-use. I want to do stuff with macrame and size 6º (Czech) and 8º (Czech and Japanese) seed beads, possibly with small (3-5 mm) druks (round pressed glass beads) and fire-polished faceted round beads. The thing is, what is seen in person are often limited-run specialty glass…

Ehh…I’ve got to think about this, some more…

Cultural location and creative context: Part 3

I suppose this is where I can get into the multiracial and multicultural aspects of what I’ve realized, is the impact of my personal, cultural, social, and generational identity upon my art. If I were really trying to be thorough, I would add in gender identity and sexual, “identity,”…but that’s still something I’m working on. (I’ve made more progress on the former, than the latter.)

It might actually get interesting here — or, well, at least new.

In doing the research for one of my most recent assignments, regarding the impact of (Japanese) Zen on Japanese art, I ran across a couple of sites of tension. One of these is the definition of, “Japanese,” as in, “when defining ‘Japanese art,’ what do we mean by ‘Japanese?'”

It is relatively clear until large amounts of Japanese people begin leaving the islands to live in other countries. Then they have kids, who may not be totally ethnically (that is, culturally) or, “racially,” Japanese; then their kids have kids, and it goes on. All of them are also influenced by the cultures they’re living in.

In addition, once artists within Japan begin bending the rules and incorporating outside influences into their art, is it still, “Japanese art,” or has it morphed into something beyond that?

This impacts me if only because I am at a site where I have to choose where to go with my art, as with my mind and identity and purpose; I am not totally Japanese, and trying to be so would likely not work in my favor. I am also not totally culturally of African-American descent, though I can’t know how much of what I get from that side of my family, is sourced from where.

By the fourth generation (of Japanese diaspora), it’s extremely common to have a lot of mixed-race youth of partial Japanese descent, loved by their parents and representing a conundrum for earlier generations, who may have wished their family to remain, “Japanese,” whatever that means.

There is no question for me that Japanese culture does have its own value and gifts to give to the world. However, conflict arises within the idea that people should not blend, racially or ethnically; that we can have a global civilization as long as we each keep to our own kind.

It sounds harsh, but I’m not sure how else to put it. And I’m not sure how much of it comes from the Internment, and how much of it comes just from nationalism.

The ideal of marrying within the, “race,” is something my nuclear family has had to deal with, long-term. It has been a large site of conflict from the Japanese-American side of our family. Obviously, I’m racially half-Japanese-American, and culturally…well, that’s more of a mixed bag, given the fact that my family has been in the U.S. for multiple generations, and local culture’s impact — by this I largely mean California, Mexico, Louisiana, and possibly, Hawaii — has been extremely strong.

In American lexicon, there is a difference between “Japanese (from Japan),” and “Japanese-American (a citizen of the United States who is of Japanese descent).” These concepts are paralleled in the nihongo (Japanese language) terms nihonjin (or Japanese-from-Japan) and nikkeijin (or Japanese-of-foreign-birth).

Even here, though: I would likely have learned Japanese as an undergraduate major, if I thought I could expect decent treatment within Japan. I wanted (and still do want) to understand how those cultural links have helped form who I am now. However, the interactions I’ve experienced within my own extended family, have taught me that this isn’t something I can look forward to — at least, outside of Hawaii, or other various settlements of Japanese diaspora. This is especially because my skin is relatively dark (something I do take pride in), and my hair, voluminous. Unless I’m in Hawaii or my name is known, I generally am not recognized as of Japanese descent (though it used to happen more often when I was younger).

I suppose I should mention that a lot of people of my grandmother’s generation and before, did have to deal with the question of what it meant to have been in the Japanese Internment, and how to deal with the problem of discerning or defining, “Japanese,” identity. That wasn’t fun stuff: I ran across it on reading a bit of D.T. Suzuki.

The introduction to his book, Zen and Japanese Culture (2010 edition) mentions some attempts of Suzuki’s then-contemporaries at establishing Japanese identity in a global context. (Jaffe in Suzuki, xix-xx) With the publication of this book having been so close to World War II, this is obviously…not easy stuff for anyone to deal with, and apparently Suzuki did not address the issue, at least in this book. (Jaffe in Suzuki, xix)

At a certain point, I feel better acknowledging that I am mixed, and that I have an American metropolitan perspective, rather than having a burden and privilege of, “racial purity.” It was never said to me in exactly those terms, but that is what was meant.

I may have mentioned in the past, that my grandmother tried to make me as ethnically (i.e. culturally) Japanese as possible, regardless of the fact that I was racially different. But this is only partially the case.

When I declined to wear a maru obi on top of my kimono at about seven years old, because of its constricting function (I have a big thing about not being constricted in my movement, which is one of the reasons I began to cross-dress as a teen), she never offered to show me how to tie one again. Nor did she relate the importance of knowing how to tie one, or that I would not be seen as authentically Japanese-American by my Japanese-American peers, without one.

That is, I know that she held something against me because of my non-Japanese parent, and/or because I refused to be traditionally feminine. But those two things are separate variables. (Or, maybe she thought I was right.)

The major problem that I had and have been dealing with is that the majority of the ethnic identity I can identify, is Japanese-American. The other side of my family relates to me via what I don’t know how to describe as other than folk ways. Particularly, I gain insight into spirituality and the unknown from that side, as well as a knowledge that it’s okay to be fiery, powerful, and blunt; and when need be, sometimes rage actually is an appropriate response. (My parent on that side did characterize me as having a, “warrior,” mentality, much like them: we’re both straightforward, and it goes against our nature to disguise our feelings.)

I’m not sure from where those ideas originate, or where exactly those traits come from. With my great-grandmother, great-grandfather, and grandmother on that side having passed, my grandfather absentee and now apparently passed, and the rest of the family scattered, I’m not sure I will know.

I could always ask those who are still alive; though I don’t often see them.

The thing is, I don’t see those traits as particularly ethnic, more than just who that parent is. I mean, who they are overrides any way they might (but don’t) think they’re, “supposed to be,” because of the culture they grew up in.

And yeah, actually, that is kind of cool. 🙂

Edited to add links to: Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Seeing family, set off thoughts on gender.

Over the last week, I’ve been visiting family, which has been more educational than it has been a holiday. Accordingly, I haven’t had all that much time and energy (or internet connectivity) to spend on studying. Starting tomorrow, I’ll have to get back on it.

Tonight after work was spent venting confusion and participating in conversation about gender-nonbinary positionality. I needed this, regardless of how much study is piling up. I haven’t yet checked to see where I stand as regards my current workload, but I know I was only given a half-week for Spring Break.

Overall, I feel like I’m doing pretty well, though that wouldn’t be the case without accommodations. I do have the excuse as well that a large part of the reason for the visit was to attend a memorial, though no one has asked me for that information, yet.

Anyhow. Now I’m back, albeit touched more than a bit by being read as woman-by-default, by my extended family.

We didn’t really get to my topic at the gender group tonight, and I’m okay with that, because I did get to engage in conversation and feel heard. Basically…I’m coming to a realization that I’m more of a soft guy than a hard woman, although historically and contemporarily speaking, I am gender-fluid.

My thing is that I don’t fit into any ready-made gender category; I have more like a mixture of traits (and whatever else one may use to determine gender). My identity itself is clearly not-girl (to me), but that doesn’t make me a woman or a man, either. And yeah, that sounds (and looks) about right. My body is mostly typically female, but not entirely so…and I’m okay with that. I relate to my body as my own body, not the body of anyone I’m assumed to be which I’m not. I’m lucky that way.

I’m also lucky that the people closest to me understand (and normalize) where I’m coming from, which eases a lot of tension I might otherwise have.

The issue I’ve been having recently is not knowing how to present. Particularly, while on break, I started thinking about differing versions of femininity. This was mostly tipped off by visiting a number of Japanese(-American) markets…and identifying with red and pink and violet. (In particular, Japanese clothes tend to have some really beautiful shades of red, for reasons I’ll get into below.)

I was remembering what my Japanese-American grandmother told me about colors of clothing when I was little; that red was a color used in girls’ clothing, and that the colors became more subdued as one married and aged. This sounds ridiculous to the parent I have who isn’t Japanese-American…but I must have learned this when I was 6 years old, and aside from Inu Yasha (which was written by the female author behind Ranma 1/2), the red-clothing thing seems to be a pattern which conforms to what my grandmother said.

I think I still have my first red kimono with white flowers all over it (my grandmother tried to shape me to become as ethnically Japanese[-American] as possible, regardless of my race; though notably, she never did introduce me to maru obi [a woman’s waist wrap] or obijime [a waist-cord accessory], though I still have the kanzashi [hairpin] she gave me).

But there’s a lot of drama and ambivalence around this. In Japanese culture, it isn’t a good thing to be mixed-race (as I am), at least unless one is mixed with White; for what reason, I don’t know. I’m thinking it may have to do with war, and also with ethnic pride. I know that my grandmother wanted 100% Japanese(-American) grandchildren, but because of the family having been in the U.S. so long…it’s very common for families by the third or fourth generation to begin marrying and having children who aren’t fully racially Japanese. It doesn’t always go over well with the rest of the Japanese(-American) family, though.

I did get to see both sides of my family over the last week, I should state. There were race tensions, and general tensions that had to do with long-standing family dynamics, which I won’t get into here (if I can help it).

Anyhow…we went to a couple of different Japanese markets…and, well, you can see on this blog that I have a big thing about colors and their psychological effects. This may even overrule the subject matter of some of my work (or attempted work), at least in my mind. It’s something that has had me looking at artists like Mondrian. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned anything about color symbolism before now, though.

Kandinsky went into an actual book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, about symbolism, including his personal meanings behind his use of colors in his art. I’m not rigid enough about it to really codify it in a book, at this point (like I say I could never run a cult because I change my mind too often), but this, and Josef Albers’ works, in addition to color-field artists…they’re things I keep in mind. Even if I haven’t deeply read Kandinsky’s book. 🙂

While I was at one of these markets, I found a beautiful little incense burner which was a glossy red-violet ceramic dish with white glaze highlights. I was immediately attracted to it. Now that I think of it, I remember thinking that it must have been made for someone like me, because of its color.

Which, in turn, brings up the question of what exactly a woman is. Especially, what it means to be a woman outside of the U.S.

Like I said earlier, there is a large emphasis on red and pink in a lot of Japanese stuff (like clothing, in particular) because of its symbolism and relation to girls and women. Red stands for blood; it also stands for power, fire, and fertility. I’m uncertain if it is linked to Amaterasu, the sun goddess in Shinto faith; but the Japanese flag’s red circle is meant to represent the sun.

Anyhow…I wish I had taken a picture of this incense burner. I ended up putting it back because it cost $14, and I ended up spending about $22 on a metallic pink water bottle instead. I could use the water bottle (and actually, already have). I don’t need another incense burner (I don’t even know how long it has been since I burned incense). I think I even commented that I could “reinforce my gender another time.”

The thing is that I don’t know if I’m walking a line here of appearing to be a cis woman even though I’m gender-fluid with very apparent forays into femininity. The thing is, “femme,” is not the same as, “woman.” I’m comfortable being femme. I can even like to be femme, but I have to remember that I’m not a woman, or else I get into dangerous territory where other people are treating me like a woman and I go along with it, and start to think of myself as a woman. The major problem here is that the term, “woman,” for me, carries with it a lot of social expectations, expectations of myself, and cultural baggage. That is, I disidentify with it in order to preserve my own identity, or sense of myself.

And then I talk about making jewelry and sewing and embroidery and becoming a Librarian. But none of that makes you a woman. The way I’ve thought of it is that being a woman is something that comes from inside. At least it has been that way, for the transgender women I have known. According to another source, though, who happens to be a Second-Wave feminist, people are born and then they do what the society tells them they should…that, for example, women don’t wear “Women’s” clothing to express something inside of them, they do it because of societal and cultural power constraints, and because they don’t consider other options.

The thing is…my disidentification with girlhood and womanhood…(I will say I was at one time a girl — but a thirty-something-year-old human is no longer a child, regardless of sex)…doesn’t extend to eschewing femininity. I’ve lived through a time where I was “dressing to character,” so to speak; where I chose and wore clothes because of their gender designation (as masculine).

At this point, I feel like I’ve grown beyond that; literally, because of age and lack of exercise, my body is no longer androgynous; figuratively, because I like certain clothes regardless of what message that sends to other people. I haven’t yet learned how to deal with the responses from others that come with this, though. In particular, I get a lot of positive attention for being femme while being female, which means I’m being seen as a cis woman, and I don’t know what to do with that.

Maybe that’s why I dislike it.

In addition, though: I also want to dress in more red and pink and purple (with green and blue), as versus the cool and neutral colors I had been drawn to and which make up most of my wardrobe.

I guess it actually literally is, “passing,” as a woman, only I’m not trying, and I don’t have a history of living in a male body. But if, “passing,” is being seen as something you’re not…which seems more accurate to the origin of the term as regards race relations…(that is, transgender women are women, they are not men, “passing,” as women)…

Is that what I’m dealing with? Passing privilege? It would make sense, then, why I would have a great deal of trepidation toward being seen as male and presenting femme at the same time. Transitioning to male seems like it would put me into the space of a pre-transition, gender-nonconforming, assigned-male person. And that is a very difficult space to exist within in my culture, even where I am. Let alone, the possibility of living permanently that way, as versus as a transitional phase.

That would also explain why I even have the ability to feel, “normal,” because my difference can be (and is) glossed over. That is, the erasure and lack of understanding of my identity grants me a level of relative safety (as most who don’t know about transgender people will see me as a lesbian woman when I complain of being misgendered by straight men — and most people here accept lesbian women; at least, heteronormative lesbian women). But it’s still very apparent, when I speak, to those who are also gender-variant, that I’m coming from a gender-variant viewpoint. My appearance just doesn’t fully disclose my identity; and if it did, I run the risk of presenting as a stereotype — for the sake of other people — in order to be socially intelligible. And, given the risks of being readable, it’s to my benefit not to be so.

I guess you can kind of get a glimpse of what I’m going through, here.

I think…I should look back over this tomorrow, and see if I can draw any further conclusions out of it. Right now, I think I’m in it too deep, and I’m probably up too late to think clearly, in any case.

Photojournaling? Why art?

Hey; it’s just me.  The first few lines don’t describe the rest of this, so read on:

I’ve not had such a great time today; looking forward to archiving your work so you can graduate is kind of stressful.  Tomorrow, I get to see my Vocational counselor.  I’ve just started looking around at possible positions I can move into so that I’m less of a financial burden on my family…I can see, though, that I will need to practice driving (and obtain a License) in order to gain some positions.  For example, if I’m working somewhere that has a 45-minute commute one-way, it’s more reasonable for me to drive myself, than not.

(Seeing how people drive in this area, though:  that’s still…risky.)

Anyhow…I was thinking up things to write about, and started looking through my image archives.  I had forgotten so many things that I had done, not so long ago!

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At Ala Moana Mall (Honolulu), in March of 2017.  This koi kept looking at me!

Everything just happened so fast after we got back (read:  my relative’s death and the ensuing family chaos) that it was easy to forget about this.  In effect, enabling this trip was his last gift in life, to us.

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View from the lanai of the Doris Duke House (a.k.a. Shangri-La Islamic Art Museum)

The previous two photos are of Hawaii…none of the others here, are.

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From one of the days I ventured into the sun; April 30 of this year.

The one at left is from one of the first times I went out by myself on foot, in recent memory.  I need to become more independent; this is a step towards that.  I have not felt safe venturing out of the house without another person with me, for a while.  I’m sure some here can relate.

One of the reasons why I write about my disability so openly here is that — to me, it is obvious, but — the more I do so, the more aware I become of the fact that my illness has profoundly impacted my life.  This is to the point that it borders on absurd to intentionally keep it a secret.  I don’t tell everyone about it; then again, most people don’t question my mental health — or if they do, it strikes them as normal.

Appearing “normal” is double-edged, even though it doesn’t seem to be.

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From May of this year.

My illnesses (I have what’s — overall — called “comorbidity,” which essentially means that I’m dealing with multiple diagnoses at the same time) run in my family.  This means that I am up close and personal with the fact that I have relatives who seem to display signs of mental illness but who will not see a doctor — any doctor — for help.

This cannot be due to anything other than stigma and a feeling that to admit having a problem that they can’t solve themselves makes them “weak.”  It’s not “weak” to seek help when you need help.  It’s not “weak” to gain information you’re lacking.

And it isn’t great for me to watch their lives spiral out of control for no reason other than pride and an inability to question their own thoughts.  I’ve been seeing mental health professionals since I was 14 years old.  There is no shame in actually working out your problems.

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From June of this year.

But before you can work out your problems, you first have to admit imperfection…which seems more than some can muster.

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From June.  A few days ago, actually.

Of course, the people one surrounds oneself with, can also make one afraid to admit to imperfection…because keeping someone in a weakened state means they’re more easily manipulated.

(I will try not to get into commentary on that…particular dynamic, now.)

But it’s apparent…from the work that I’m doing, combined with what I speak of, here, that I am — again — finding respite from human problems in the natural world.  And I think I’ve done that, ever since I was about 11 or 12.

Particularly, plants seem to calm me…and have, since I started hanging out with them by myself, in lieu of hanging out with abusive “friends.”

The art, then…may manifest as an attempt to honor these spirits…whether they’re self-generated or not.

Seeing spirits in life is a point where Buddhism and I apparently part ways…I’m not sure if that is so true in the U.S., as Pure Land schools are more popular here, and they’re more belief-oriented…

…but that gets into an entirely different post!

And my energetic sensitivity also may get into a different post.  (I’ve stopped denying it.)

But the little blossoms…well…have I told you the meaning I find in them, before?  It’s not a usual one.

Because flowers are, generally speaking, both male and female, and since many of them are beautiful — I find meaning in the fact that they exist as they are, and in the fact that they break the idea that one has to ascribe to a gender binary to be beautiful and natural in that beauty.  People who don’t know me, think that it’s a “girl thing.”  I don’t correct them.  They’re just seeing surfaces.

Yeah, I wonder:  does my art exist to generate peace…?

Ah, the why art question, again:  I should just make it into a phrase.  “Why art?” with “art” as a verb…

Because art calms.  Art reclaims me from the nonsense and panic of the world.  That’s why art.  Life is too short to waste on hurting others and being hurt.  I wonder what would happen if we had a culture shift, where more of us centered ourselves…though maybe that is far from being possible, right now…