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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

Flowers in the wind

I’ve been noticing a phenomenon recently…this is the fact that, at the very least, I’ve heard about a lot of people dying, this pattern having started about last December.  This includes, of course, my relative, among others.

As I’ve been browsing the Reader tonight, I’ve run across a couple of fairly alarming articles…one about Colony Collapse Disorder, the other about the likelihood of humans driving ourselves to extinction within the century.  (I would not assume these to be essentially separate stories.)  I’d still have to do research on this…and not just in popular articles…to come to an educated opinion, but I’m starting to think that there might be something to this.

So…if you’ve been reading my backposts, you’re probably aware that my relative’s funeral happens not too long from now.  I’m planning on going — I’ve done the requisite hygiene rituals.  My major fear has been that I’m going to be called into a place where I’ll have to get spiritual on people.  What has happened is that my relative died, and then the rest of the family has seemed not to know what to do with this.  On top of that, one of the people who really has no realistic anchor here has been trying to control everything, even to the detriment of the voice of my relative’s son, who knew my relative’s last wishes.

I feel like the funeral should be a celebration of their life.  While I do feel like the situation is sad overall, I also recognize the element of chance.  In my life, that is, when and where there has been spirit intervention, it’s often come through random events (in my mind this may be a reasoning for my own neural systems going on the fritz in the early 2000’s)…so that those random events end up forming a pattern which appears nonrandom.

My relative was severely injured in an accident over 20 years ago which left him quadriplegic — that is, he was largely paralyzed from the neck down (though he did, with practice, regain some functionality in his right arm).  What happened in the accident was a case of randomness plus being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person.  His life from then on out, though, drastically changed.  And although this was sad, I also know that he made a lot of positive change in those later years.  Maybe he helped someone who needed to be helped at some later time…and it was important enough that what did happen had to happen.

I feel like we’re all part of a larger story.  I don’t know if there are any “bad guys” in it.  (Well, maybe if there was a spirit who gave Einstein the Theory of Relativity…)  I may be affected by a mental condition which has made my life vastly more difficult than it needed to be…but I’ve learned a lot from my disadvantages, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.

Anyhow…I seem to be coming to terms with being “psychic”/intuitive.  At first, I feel like my relative was having a hard time adapting to not having a body; then I introduced the question of what he could do now that he could not do before.  The response was, at first, “?”, but I get the feeling that he’s getting the hang of things, now.  In any case, I feel like he’s still with me — and maybe closer to me than he was before.  His physical form is shed, but that doesn’t mean he stopped existing.  The fact that he isn’t directly living in a body in the physical plane right now makes things harder for those left behind — but I don’t get the feeling that he is suffering at this point in time.  The people who are afraid of what has happened to him or will happen to him or will happen to them are the ones who are suffering.

I think I read somewhere that we only understand about 5% of the Universe (scientifically speaking), and for some reason, I find hope in that.  It means that existentialism is just a mode of thinking — not necessarily true.

And…I don’t know if we’re going to go extinct sooner rather than later, but personally…I get the feeling that I need to counteract the destruction.  Unfortunately, I have had visions — or anxieties — of being nuked just because the world doesn’t like us or is afraid of us.  This could be an echo of Hiroshima — most of my clan in Japan was wiped out in that bombing (we were apparently local to the area).  I do not take it lightly that this is how they died.  My largest concern is the effect of radiation on other planes…though now that I mention it, I’m getting a soft, “you don’t have to worry about that.”

I also realize that the levels of pollution in our environment are ever-increasing…

…but all I can do is live my best life.  As transitory as it may be.

Wrapping up the end of the semester

As much as I dislike having to get into this at all, I do have a few more things due this semester.  I’m posting this here to remind myself of what I have to do, along with updating this blog somewhat, even if it isn’t art-related (I hate not being able to see progress, and having the same blog entry at the top of the page for days, doesn’t help).

I know that I have been making progress and doing things, but not being able to easily see what I’ve produced can get me into a relative funk.  What’s silly is that what I’ve been doing is likely more important than maintaining my blog.  :/

I did get back to the Career Counselor whom I had opened communication with.  This was a form of homework in itself, but what is nice about it is that all I had to do was ask, and I got help; and this is something that matters, so…not a bad deal?

And, as I mentioned before, I did turn in a paper (30% of my grade, unless I’m mistaken) and another 15-point assignment on Sunday.  I didn’t want to have to work on it, but it didn’t really matter, because I had to do it (or to at least try to do it) and that actually made it easier for me to push through it — and concentrate.

By the end of this Sunday, I will have to read about 15 pages in my textbook and answer a Discussion question.  This should be relatively easy, though I shouldn’t forget that I will want to view the lectures after having done the reading, and probably before answering the discussion topic.

On top of that, I have to give a 5-10 minute presentation on my paper topic, which probably won’t be too much of a big deal.  What I need to make sure to do is get my slide presentation put together, and the speech (or rather, the speech points) organized and practiced, before setting up.  The voice recorder on my computer should help.

Both those things, I’ll have to do before Monday.  Unless I’m mistaken, the quiz I’ve been working on should be due Monday.  After that is accomplished, the only other thing I will have due is a literature review, and I’ll have a full week after that to get 10-12 things read, reviewed, and turned in.  My family member’s funeral will be this week — I’m not betting on that going down smoothly, nor am I betting on being recovered by the Monday following.  Ideally, I’ll be done with everything and able to turn in my Lit Review on Friday, at the latest.  That’s two or more articles to read, per day.  Easy.

I know which chapter I’ll be investigating for that project, as well.  I’ve just got to find the articles — citations for a number of them, I have already.  I just need to actually locate them, which sounds like something brainless to do when I get tired of my other work.

And, right:  I will also need to back up my files to my portfolio — something I haven’t done because of not wanting to look up my syllabi (which is stupid; they’re in the covers of their respective folders).

This means that Sunday — the 21st — and forward, I should be able either to work on art, or take that long-awaited celebratory trip to the art store and pick up what I’ve been wanting to, for the past month or so.  And — or — I can try and sharpen my chisels on my aluminum-oxide waterstone…which I’ve never done before.  But I do have the waterstone, water, and chisels.  Nothing to lose, really.  (I have a sizeable burr on the edge of one of my woodcutting chisels, from high-school days when I was wedging out hardened plaster with the edge of the knife and ended up bending the steel’s cutting edge.  The burr may be too big for me to save the knife [will I ruin my waterstone?], but I should take a look at it, anyway.)

I should also…not count out going to an actual chisel shop.  I’ll know which one I’m referring to, when I see this post.

The positive thing is that I only have 5 hours of salaried work in between now and the time my quiz, discussion post, and presentation are due.  I know it seems big, like “AAAGH I’ve got to go in to work,” but it’s really not a lot of time, in the scheme of things.  (It’s barely over half a day.)  Especially not when you can stay up until 2 and 4 AM working on things.

I’ve also been offered more hours at the job, but considering that I’m not even particularly clear on when Summer Session starts, I’m not throwing myself into that, right now.  (Just checked:  I’ll have two weeks between the end of Finals and the start of Summer Session, which I’m assuming will be a 15-hour commitment, per week, on top of my now 11-hour commitment at my regular job.  That [26 hours] does leave a lot of free time, though.  Maybe I could take on four hours additional…)

The thing I do wish I had done more of?  I wish I had played around with the cataloging tools, more — particularly where it comes to RDA (Resource Description and Access, used in building bibliographic records).  I wasn’t betting on not being able to access them after the semester ended — there are tools available, but the one I just checked was institution-only, meaning that individuals can’t subscribe to use the databases.

I also had a fun time nerding out over art supplies with a couple of people, the other day.  🙂  That was nice, especially as I understand the perspective of one person in particular…

And I’m seeing that I have now stayed up over an hour into tomorrow…so I think I’ll sign off and get ready for bed; though because I haven’t taken any medication, I may still be up for another two hours.  It will be a good time to get some reading done, if I can’t sleep.

Growing up?

I suppose I can start off this post with an apology for staying away too long.  There has been a recent death in the family, which is why I was unable to…I believe, do anything at all on the computer, yesterday (now that I think of it).

Actually, no — I did finalize my class schedule for Summer (if all goes well on their end, I am good to go), although I am hoping that this is going to be a class that I really want to take.  I still have yet to do anything about the required books, which I should get on as soon as I can, but until yesterday, I hadn’t been committed.  Right now I’m on a break — M said that going in to work would be helpful in getting my mind off of things.  I’m not sure if that’s correct (for me), but I only have a little more ways to go, anyway.  Right now, though, I’m skipping lunch to write this.

I am wanting to post some of my photos from the other day, under a Creative Commons license.  Basically, my hesitance to post anything at all has to do with not wanting to be ripped off or have to go to court to prove that I took the photos, therefore they are my intellectual property.  Creative Commons kind of works around that issue by acknowledging that anyone (including me!) can use them.  I’m not really a litigious type, but the concept of intellectual ownership of images (“I looked at it, it’s mine!” [?]) is kind of…well, a bit scary.  I don’t have the photos with me at the moment, but I can look them over once I’m back at my normal workstation.

It was actually really peace-inducing to go out, the other day.  The thing with photos, especially photos of flora, is that the light is never going to be the same again, and the plants are never going to be the same again.  It applies strongly to images of blossoms — they’re so temporary.  I have been giving thought to photographing the people in my life as well, though my life has been so full of staged photographs of loved ones that maybe it turned me off.  Most of my photos are of natural things (my aunt was telling me that one of the counters used in Japanese depends on whether something has blood or not, heh — I take pictures, mostly, of things “without blood”).

In any case, I’m doing probably better than would be expected.  It’s kind of difficult to know what to feel in these situations; I’ve been advised to just let myself feel what I’m feeling.  Of course, there is the fact that it’s hard to know exactly what happens when someone dies.  I’m just hoping that the person who is gone is in a better situation now than he was, before.

There is also the fact that I’m in my mid-thirties and not entirely independent, yet; which makes the prospect of my own family no longer being able to help me, be a scary thing.  I do have people around me who would help me out, though, even if one or both of my parents died.  I’ve been told that the conversations have already taken place, so not to worry.  It is weird, though, having memories from when my parents were half their current age!

I suppose I have lived a long time with them.  The time I spent in student housing at college was the only time I’ve lived alone.  It was…an experience, I guess?  😉  I was at a relatively strange school, so…


Right now, I suppose, all I can do is hold down my current job or get a new one, and try my best to graduate actually with the Master’s.  The good thing about taking a technology-oriented track is that there are some things I’ll be able to carry away with me, even if I somehow end up failing.

But, it’s hard to learn without taking risks.  And my Vocational program plus the grant I got last year are defraying the monetary risk, somewhat.  I’m still thinking that maybe I should be actually applying for scholarships, and engaging more with the school.

For instance, I have worked out a system under which I’ll be able to take everything I will need to, for the Digital Services track (though I am not sure this applies to my County’s Virtual Library positions — I might want to make some inroads to speak with the new person in charge of that).  However, I’m not sure it’s optimal — I have four semesters remaining during which my classes will all be valid — two Spring, and two Fall.

I know what to take in the Summer following this one, as well.  I’ve got the course rotations somewhat in hand, so I know what is given in only Fall, or only Spring.  I also have searched out what I can of course prerequisites, so that I should be taking one of the only courses I need which will open up new courses to me, this Fall.  The major issue is whether it’s optimally arranged.  As best I can envision it, I would have to email a copy of my spreadsheet to a Counselor.

I just…am shy, have been shy, that’s part of the reason I’m in an iSchool (besides the fact that doing otherwise requires relocation).  I mean, I didn’t even want to get the social media accounts that I had to, for the program.  This is the major reason why I’m not hot on being a Public Librarian — I’m ordinarily withdrawn, not gregarious, and some of my more outgoing coworkers even get strained by working Reference.

The Virtual Library sounds more like my style (I do worry about being attacked, at times — one of my coworkers in the past knew someone whom this had happened to), but I am not certain how many shifts they take, answering phone calls and chats.  And as technology continues to improve, the barrier between myself and my clients is likely to somewhat fall (for instance, video chat could become a norm).

Anyhow…I should get back to work.  And after that, it’s sure to be reading.  *sighs*

Thoughts tonight…

Yeah, looking at my Reader…it would appear I’ve reached another one of those times where I have to again search out people doing interesting things I’d like to read about!  Not that the people who are on my Reader are uninteresting; it’s just that there are many fewer than there used to be.

Well, so…today was Thanksgiving, in the U.S.  Traditionally, a feast day.  I did manage to make triple-ginger gingerbread (it has powdered, fresh, and candied ginger), which is…kind of addictive to eat.  🙂  There is also a full cup of butter in the recipe I used, which…well, means I probably shouldn’t eat the whole pan!

Tomorrow is Black Friday — the beginning of the holiday sales season.  I only have two places set to visit, and it’s really up in the air as to whether I’ll go to either of them.  Today was spent with close family — M, D, my godmother (or “auntie”), and my “cousin.” 🙂  There was so much good food, particularly helped along by the fact that my cousin smoked a (delicious) turkey and brought it over as a gift.

I was supposed to go and visit extended family — well, I’m supposed to be there right this moment — but by the time I was finished eating, I kind of didn’t want to.  There are issues with obligation which causes people to do things they really don’t want to do (like cook a turkey, or eat, or invite in people who shouldn’t be tolerated), and right now it’s reached a level which just causes me to avoid the area.

I did,  however, take my little Rattlesnake fetish and feed it for the first time in…I don’t know how long.  By “fetish,” I’m not referring to what you probably think I’m referring to.  Rattlesnake is a Zuñi fetish — a carved bit of stone that…ideally, has been charged and blessed to retain a totem spirit.  The largest characteristic of Rattlesnake that I can remember offhand is one of “transformation,” which I’ve been dealing with, for a while.

I’m fairly certain that Rattlesnake is my totem, about now — it used to be Rabbit, but then it changed.  I have three carvings which I connect with:  one is Rattlesnake, one Rabbit, and one Beaver (the last one I picked because it was so cute).  I tend not to utilize the latter two, so much, but it’s fairly easy to feel Rattlesnake with/in me.  I did, though, realize that this trio (transformation, creation, construction) actually probably meshes with me for a reason.  (I don’t know if it matters that one might eat another in the wild…)

This actually came up because I brought my “treasure box” to show my godmother…I was showing her my newest finds from the stone shop, and offered to show her the others.  She accepted, so I brought them to her — but held on to Rattlesnake’s fetish the whole time in my hand, because I didn’t want Rattlesnake [the spirit] to feel that she was threatened in any way (I don’t think she’s met my godmother, before).

This is particularly so as the “venomous” quality of Rattlesnake, basically her only protection…I’ve felt myself produce before, and don’t want anyone I love to be on the receiving end of it (though it does come in handy when feeling threatened).  Though I realize that rattlesnakes will go without biting unless they have no other choice; they know what their bites do.

I am feeling good about feeding Her — the fetishes take offerings of cornmeal, and since I just finished feasting, and Rattlesnake had to put up with being shown to someone, I thought it was optimal to do so in order to avoid an upset spirit.

And, it’s Thanksgiving.  Seems appropriate to give thanks, yes?  🙂

As for what comes tomorrow:  I know that I need to get to work on all this stuff due within the next 2.5 weeks.  M has said that if I wash my hair, she will braid it…I guess it’s getting that long.  There isn’t much that I would really want, at the moment, that I don’t already have.

I am thinking about a Pentel brush pen (that is:  a brush pen using pigment ink with actual bristles), but in reality, I don’t even know the quality of the ink…and it might be better to go into Japantown to find one of these, than depend on an art supply store.  It will be more expensive, but I’ll have many more options.  The main drawback is that I won’t be able to read the packaging.

Now that I think of that, it is kind of an intriguing possibility…

…but do I want to drive all that way, for a sale which may or may not be happening?

The alternative, obvious enough to me, is to use the Sumi brushes I have along with actual ink…but I can’t remember how waterproof my ink is.  I know it’s tough enough to be permanent on Illustration Board…

Maybe I’ll do that.  I mean, first, I’ll have to see if my liquid Sumi ink is going to be waterproof (if I want to use watercolor on top of it, as versus…*patters*…colored pencils, or something).  I have Sumi brushes, but I doubt they will fare well with waterproof inks, as they’re natural hair and thus will probably be eaten up by any ink remover (should it get to that point)…which in turn is probably a solvent used in the regular inks.  Waterproof liquid Sumi ink — the kind I have, anyway — is pretty toxic.

And, I have no idea where my suzuri (ink grinding stone) is.

I also just realized that I can do this with watercolor paint and watercolor brushes, but it will require working from light to dark.  The bright point is that I can get a super-intense black out of my Primary Black gouache.

Which then calls into attention whether I should even be using ink as a media…gouache is more pliable.

Hmm.  A Pentel brush pen plus…a suzuri and Professional-quality ink stick, or…looking at brushes?!?

Maybe I should seek an answer to the “waterproof?” question before the night is done…

…and take count of what brushes I already have.