Breaking out of the narrowness, for a bit:

For Christmas festivities last night, I cleaned off the craft table and stowed some stuff away. When I was putting it back, I used a little miniature set of…well, organizers, which helped very much! I am planning on expanding the organizers soon, which is why I’m not saying what they are, 😛 but…I would hope at least to clean up that area. I would also like to arrange things so that I don’t forget about the resources I have, while chasing after new ones.

For instance, in addition to the drawing and painting which I’ve done and which I have resources for (and which are difficult for me to start, not kidding — though I have been doing some visual research and started with a different method of approach to the painting I mentioned last post: color blocks as versus contour-line drawing), I also have wanted to do embroidery, sewing, and beading, in the recent past. I also have tools for wirework and crochet. And…bead embroidery, now that I think about it. (Also, knitting: but I’m unmotivated at knitting.) 🙂

(EDIT: Oh, and collage and block printing! I entirely forgot about that!)

These things fall into a rather unattended area of intellectual property law, as I would be creating things with the help of others (in the form of instruction in technique). However, they aren’t particularly novel inventions (thus the technique can’t be patented), and don’t fall under copyright, so long as I don’t resell the physical patterns themselves as my own. What remains is down to friendliness, honor, and often-unspoken community norms. That, my dears, is Craft, and it is ruled by “managed openness” (not my term, but I can’t find the reference right now).

One of the main reasons to gravitate back to the Fine Arts, for me, is that the Intellectual Property slog is much clearer, even if so hard to enforce that it’s almost useless. In that case, I’m making images or sculptures or prints from my own mind that would normally not be reproduced by anyone else (until uploaded to the Web, that is, where anyone can download and use my unique contribution without my permission. There is no Universal IP Law that applies globally; it depends on international contracts which no one has to buy into).

And yes, I do believe I’ve talked about this before (possibly not in such detail), under the tag, “copyleft.”

I had entirely forgotten that I have a pattern for monpe (Japanese field pants) and the fabric to make them with (and wanted to make them)! I also forgot that I have plenty of needles, at least one good thimble, hand-sewing thread and basting thread, and sharp scissors ready at hand!

And I want to get back into hand-sewing. I really want to get back into hand-sewing, and I don’t even know why. There is just a thrill in making things, you know?

Maybe one of my gifts to myself this Christmas will be allowing myself the time and freedom to do this. Do anything I want, regardless of whether I can sell it or call it fully “mine” or not.

I also want to read and practice and write, at least a little, in Japanese. For now this will be limited to my textbooks, but I have enough books to give me a good variety of beginning approaches and reading material.

My biggest hurdle at this point is kanji (Chinese-based characters), though the book Beginning Japanese by Kluemper, et. al, starts out teaching kanji along with syllabary (as it’s geared toward AP Japanese students — it seems to move faster, even, than Elementary Japanese by Hasegawa, et. al, though they look like they cover the same material). I need to practice and reinforce what I know and what I’ve forgotten, so that I can move forward.

Maybe tomorrow, I can mop the kitchen floor and lay out, pin, and cut out my pattern on muslin. I know by now that I’ll need to make it a Size 16, which is the largest size available for this pattern. If things go how they may, though…I may start dropping weight on my own relatively soon, because of going off of a medication which causes weight gain. I still haven’t made that last jump to not ever taking it, but right now I’m on a half-dose of normal, and have been for a while.

I do think that it would be foolish of me to state, though, that the weight gain is entirely due to medication; genetics are also playing a role, as is lack of activity. My appetite hasn’t been as much of an issue since I started probiotics (amazingly enough). But since I will need to take a shower soon anyway, it wouldn’t hurt tomorrow to get in some physical activity.

See, I knew that I would get around to articulating my priorities over Winter Break! …about midway through Winter Break, yeah! 😛


Return to suminagashi

I’ve just gotten through my first suminagashi (Japanese ink marbling) attempt since…the time I first learned the technique, years ago.  It’s pretty simple, and fairly fast:  my biggest problem was not having the space to let as many prints dry as possible.  Because of this — and because I entirely forgot about my Stonehenge cotton rag hand-printing paper when in the process of prepping my papers (during which I got to play around with a mat cutter, paper, and a cutting mat [hahaha sharp things]) — I somehow avoided printing any of the Stonehenge!  Gah!  It wasn’t even on my mind!

The good part of this is that I was able to mess up on papers not nearly as precious.  As it was my first time in years doing this form of marbling, there were the inevitable prints which didn’t turn out as I liked — about five of them.  It wasn’t so bad, though:  there are at least nine prints which came out of the set which are pleasant enough to behold.  I had been planning on trying to do the “crocus” prints on top of them, though I hadn’t planned on using Wet Media and Drawing papers for that!

Beh.  (“But, ehhh.”)  Anyway.  I’m dealing with Sumifactant, Boku-Undo inks, and really cheap brushes, along with a disposable tray of the type used to cook turkeys, copy paper for interleaving, and some of my most-hated textbooks as weights.  😛  I know the Boku-Undo are non-toxic; the Sumifactant, I’m not sure about, but what I heard from Colophon Book Arts (here is their “Oriental” page) was encouraging.  Of course, though, I got the stuff…years ago.  The page says it lasts indefinitely when tightly capped.

I don’t know why it hit me tonight that, “hey!  I can do this!”  What I do know is that the sun is down and as such I won’t be able to take any appreciable photos of the prints under artificial lighting.  (Not only is the lighting in the area such that I’ll cast shadows on anything on the table [the prints are still wet], but it will cause a yellow-orange cast over everything…which is annoying to try and work out through Photoshop for every image, while still keeping colors accurate.  I’ll try to get some photos in the morning.)

I didn’t mention that when everything got pulled off of the table (long, likely irrelevant story), D didn’t notice one of my small pattern tracings (2″x 2″) for the crocus block, and so it is now…gone.  Basically.  As in it fluttered away into the ether.  I’m not too thrilled about this, but it’s easy enough to do again — it’s just that I feel like I’ll never be able to do it again in exactly the same way (but is that a goal…?).  I kind of wish I had scanned it.

The other day, I was also able to get some reading done in Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop by April Vollmer, and now have a relatively clearer idea of how to register (align) multicolor prints.  I don’t think I’ve read all the way through the section of how to carve the block and pull prints, but what I have read makes more sense when read straight through than when looked at piecemeal and out of order.  (The illustrations tend to encourage the latter approach, with me.)

I do think that it would be okay, though, to do a second crocus block without worrying about print registration (but I will want to mark which direction is “up”).  I can worry about registration when working on the gingko leaf, which is the project after this.  For one thing, working with registration implies making a key block (a block with areas of color outlined), then carving the key block, then producing multiple prints (one for each color block) on translucent paper, then pasting those prints reversed on each subsequent block (I’m thinking UHU Stic would be good for this, as it washes off with water even after it’s dry), then possibly oiling the paper, then carving through the paper and removing what’s left with water.

I kind of wish that I knew how to register prints in linoleum block printing, though:  I’m not totally positive that the technique will transfer over from mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing) to linocuts, particularly because I’m working with opaque inks.  What I’ve seen recommended for mokuhanga are opaque watercolors (gouache) — Holbein at that (I have these already) — but they’re applied so diluted that I don’t think the opacity is a big thing.  At least, when compared to Speedball Printing Ink, the latter is a good deal more opaque (or so I would think after having used the black ink and having felt the texture it leaves on top of the paper).  It might be, though, that I’m supposed to be printing on soaked paper, not dry paper:  something I can test, since I didn’t use any of my Stonehenge!  (And, I just realized, I do have a vat to soak these in:  the same vat I used to marble the papers, tonight.)

Which reminds me that I wanted to get back on top of learning Japanese language (nihongo).  I had just been wondering if there were guides to, or commentary on, comparisons of the different media in Japanese (I’m not sure how much material exists on this in English).  Then I realized that I’d have to be able to read kanji for that, most likely.

Well.  Motivation!

Ah ha ha.  I should be getting to sleep…

Self-gifting (>_<);;

Hello everyone!

I did make it to the art store, today, and it was incredibly easy to find what I was looking for (a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen), which works amazingly well.  I’m really…sort of shocked, given the performance of the other brush pens I’ve used in the past…this one has waterproof ink which comes out of a nylon-bristle tip (as versus a rubber or felt one, which are mostly what I’ve seen pass for “brush pens” in ages past).

It’s actually kind of making me want to get back into learning Japanese (and/or, English calligraphy), because my kana look awesome with it.  I also realized, after reading about sparkle brush pens which also use bristle tips, that I could use shimmering ink or shimmering paint, and by this I could utilize multiple types of brushes, as versus the one style of brush nib which comes with, say, the Zig pens I was looking at.

So, it is close to Christmas, and I am not betting on many presents this year.  I had a 20% off coupon plus a Web Match Rebate plus bulk pricing, so I finally splurged on Daler-Rowney FW acrylic inks.  Holy **** you guys, they’re beautiful!

I do have to go back and replace one of my bottles, because the eyedropper is gunked up, but I tested the others, and they all work fine…

They’re beautiful.  I’m just…amazed.  I got a split-primary palette (one cool and one warm of each primary color) and four optional colors.

I also started experimenting tonight with mixing colors experimentally again (orange + violet makes brown; adding blue makes greenish black [?]; adding red to greenish black makes rich brown…or is my memory messed up?  I’m not sure–).

And even the neutrals which I did mix (not many, but) — they were still vibrant.  I was actually aiming to try and mix black, as I did not purchase a black, because I knew it was possible to attain with three primaries.  It would be more interesting, and would push my skills more.  And holy ****, is it more fulfilling…

I have, however, accidentally laid down some permanent color in the cups of a cheap plastic palette…

Oh, right:  and it’s water-resistant once dry, and more lightfast than dye-based inks!

I also picked up a replacement flat brush, a small filbert, and a brush with an angled tip…which is what I was playing with earlier tonight.  These were all under $10, each — to my surprise, because one of them actually has sable mixed into the hairs.

I do kind of wonder if this is why my art teachers have all said to experiment with new media…it makes things fresh again…

I need to ease up on myself.

I guess I have actually done some studying today, although it wasn’t what I intended.

I’ve slightly changed the pronunciation of my chosen name, along with its spelling in kanji.  It, oddly enough, fits a question that came up yesterday, as regards another one of my names…I could either have it read “Spring Light”, or “East Light”.  The second reading is closer to the meaning of one of the names I’ve sought to replace with something similar.

I’m thinking that it’s best to shy away from the ultra-masculine “Kage” names, though at an earlier time in my life, I would go after those.  It just wouldn’t look good if I ever traveled to Japan and had the name of a (male) great feudal lord in my name, you know…whose name is also, coincidentally, used by a number of online roleplayers…

…and, I am, eventually, planning on legally changing my name.  But I’m not sure exactly how I’d enter my first name on forms, considering that in the method of Anglicization I’m using, there’s an apostrophe.  (The actual pronunciation has a glottal stop, meaning there’s a staccato right after the first syllable.)  I would then, in my daily life, be going by one or another shortened version of my chosen middle name.

What I’ve found interesting is that the old Japanese-English dictionary I used to use is now compatible with tablet computers; so I was actually able to write in the kanji using my old graphics pad and stylus.  (I reinstalled this recently, even though I will probably have to get rid of it when the upgraded OS comes out.)  From there, it was easy to find what I was looking for!

Of course, to do this, I’m thinking that it helps to know the stroke order (which I was able to intuit for some kanji), and the site is almost completely unnavigable without being able to read kana.  One would be able to see the forms, but not read the readings or know which pronunciation to use — kanji change their pronunciation dependent on which words they’re used within.  And without knowing kana, it’s just a mess of squiggly and angular lines.

*smiles*  So yeah, I guess I did a little good.  🙂  I even successfully read a bunch of things in kana today.  Go, me.  😉

I’ve also been reading in two of the art books I’ve borrowed.  The book on color, in particular, makes me want to paint — which is probably nothing but a good thing.  🙂  I love playing with colors!  It’s the main reason I ever got into beadwork…which I still haven’t been doing.  For some reason, today, I got back the idea to take up knitting, though that would likely be a nearly total waste of time for me.  I just have some pink laceweight yarn that would look nice in a rippled shawl.  It would take forever to knit, though — and I don’t have an easy way of threading rescue lines in with my circular needles.

(I forget what those are called — lifelines?  Basically, if you’re knitting lace, you can thread a line of unwaxed floss in through a row of work so that if you severely mess up, you can take the needles out and rip back all the stitches up to that line.  The line preserves the stitches in that row and orients them correctly to reinsert the needles — which matters, because twisted stitches show up in the finished product, and affect the tension of the finished product.  Why lace, you ask?  Because I didn’t know how hard it would be.)

Well, maybe it wouldn’t be a waste of time, if it got me doing something, other than sleeping.  I suppose there’s a gendered component to that, as well…which could be…well, some kind of reinforcement of something that I probably shouldn’t speculate on.  One of the books I’m reading, though, says to think about drawing, not making a drawing, and that kind of Zen-type working method is extremely present in knitting.  It’s just …really tedious work, or alternately, meditative.

I did get to the point today where I started to have nightmares while asleep, which shows me that I have really been sleeping too much.  Fun dreams are OK.  Scary dreams…not so much.  I don’t know why the Harley Quinn twins were hanging off of Grandma Maxine from those Hallmark cards, but I think it’s related to clips of the last Silent Hill game I saw.

Then there’s that acrylic throw blanket that I began at least two years ago, and never finished.  It’s just not a warm thing.  Pretty, yes.  Heavy, yes.  But not warm.  And it’s probably going to pill, and I can’t shave it because dimensional crochet.  I think I recorded some info on that, over on another blog.  At least two years ago.

I’m just finding myself…eliminating activities depending on whether I see them as dead-end hobbies, or not.  I don’t want to get to 35 and find out that everything I’ve been doing for the past 10 years is stuff that one would do if they were a married homekeeper with spare time and a secure income stream.  You’ve gotta kind of have a relationship for that to work, and I’m…just not that social.

The best I can hope for from the beadwork avenue is publishing my own patterns, and/or kits, and/or teaching classes on how to make beaded jewelry.  I never did show any of you my work, eh?  Let’s see….

Design, (c) S. Fujisaka, 2013.
Something I made before I got discouraged…

BA-HA!  So that graphics program does help!

This is a pattern I made by screwing around with beads and cord.  I’m not sure if anyone else has stumbled across it, though I’m sure someone has, and I just haven’t found them yet.  Or, they aren’t online.

The thing about this is that…with my art skills and my writing skills, I should be able to make patterns and sell them.  (I should also be able to help others make patterns, as well.  DESKTOP PUBLISHING, BABY.  And those patterns could be copyrighted, as versus a product made from those patterns…)  Actually hand-producing these things doesn’t make sense in my country, because of the high cost of labor and relatively low cost of materials.

Sure, you’ll need some things like Alligator Tape to protect your hands if they’re soft…and, well, a macrame board, pins, beads, cord, skill…but it’s really not hard to do — for me, at least.  But then, I’ve been beadweaving since I was about 14.  I moved out into macrame because of the question of copyright law; it’s much easier to create an original design with knots, for me, than it is with bead-weaving (though I’ve done some of that, too — the new Czech two-hole and four-hole beads are really expanding design possibilities, at least for beadweavers [the holes only allow one pass with the cord I’ve used for knotting], and the field with these is still young).

The main issue with selling kits like this is the entire copyright dynamic, which probably then bleeds into quality control and branding — depending on whether it were possible to copyright handcrafts at all…whether it is or not, I have no idea.  I should probably just write the U.S. Copyright office, or visit them online, or something.  I’m just kind of scared that they’ll tell me I’m doing something unethical (which is, again, the reason I dropped beadweaving).

But now that I think of the startup costs, and the time spent in design and parts acquisition, not to mention resolving errors, this is probably not as inexpensive as it seems.  The trouble is that I’d currently be underselling myself at $30.  $40 is more reasonable — then I’d be breaking even with labor and materials.  The thing is, like with any other handmade good I’m thinking of, the majority of the price is labor.  I could up the ante by using more expensive/fancy beads (e.g. Apollo finish — which is what, a year old now?  Two?), but whether that will be appreciated or not, is not something I know, from here.  Especially as I don’t even know the longevity or durability of many “fancy” colors and finishes, like Apollo.  However — it would be worth it to ask, and I’d get experience in some form of Business by cold-calling or writing Toho, for example, and asking them for some kind of brochures about durability, UV resistance, green manufacturing, etc.

What I do know is that it’s possible for me to make really, really beautiful — and original (to me, at least) — stuff.  And I have enough materials to do this now, without dealing with buying new stock (at this point, a lot of my stuff is vintage, given where I bought it).

But anyway…that’s something I was doing before I became discouraged about the entire questions of legality and tax codes and economic globalization and brand image and marketing.  But — I have, really, dreamed about working for a niche magazine publication which deals with beadwork.  It could be really cool.  I could also begin to teach classes…that could be really cool, too, especially given that macrame has the advantage of avoiding pricked fingers (unlike beadweaving, when done with most needles).  And, I probably have enough skill and experience to work for a bead store…though maybe not the right temperament.

I should probably re-join my Bead Society and try and actually make it out to the meetings, this time…it’s not an entire waste of daylight.  Unlike, hibernation…

Things to do, other than sleep…

This post is going to focus on what I can do in the daytime, other than sleep.

I was cleaning out my desk the other day and found multiple pads where I’d begun to practice writing in nihongo (Japanese language).  I have so many Japanese learning resources now that it’s not even funny.  In addition to what I have, we just inherited a bunch, as well.  It would be worth it to work at this immediately after I wake up.  To start out with, I can practice my kana (syllabary), given that I’ve lost most of my katakana, and there are a few hiragana that I consistently confuse, misrecognize, or forget how to write.  (mu, anyone)

As I was thinking about this tonight, I was regretting not having gotten up at 5 AM for those two semesters in order to get to Japanese class, in college.  Maybe it felt like too big of a risk for me at the time…or I saw no future in it, as a mixed-race female queer nikkeijin.  Probably, both.  Plus — should I not use the Japanese, it will leave…and I was afraid that three years of training in nihongo would be like my six years in español, where I’ve forgotten — or was never taught — most of the language.  And then how much is the degree worth, if you forget what you learned?

Even as a writer in English language, though, it would have been of benefit to be able to read Japanese Literature.  Did I need all those long classes on English Lit and Creative Writing?  It’s hard to say.  I know that my critical thinking and analytical skills have very much been honed, in contrast to some of those around me, and I can write fairly easily now.  I can also detect bull much more easily now.  But I still don’t write to forms well (a reason why Screenwriting didn’t fit me), and I have yet to determine how I can use my writing ability in the working world…given that all signs pointed to “keep your day job” in University…and what that day job would be, I’m not sure, if I can’t use my degree towards it…

Unless, that is, all they want is to see a BA or BS and that you made it through Undergrad work.  I know that I could pull a Library Assistant position with this — but do I want to?  I could also be a Clerk, which would probably be a less intense job for me, if I could get out of the Public Library system.

In any case, I do remember — from my youth — my sibling saying that one of their video game magazines wouldn’t even consider hiring writers who did not have a degree in English.  I want to say that this was around the time I was 12, though I’m not sure.  I was young enough to think that it would have been a viable life option to work for Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine…ah, kids’ dream jobs.

It would have been sweet to work as a pro video game reviewer, though, right?  I don’t think I was off the mark on that, but the difficulty lay in actually making any money other than with freelance work, and what is my “real” (or “steady”) job aside from said freelancing?  I know one person who writes for a video game review magazine, and it certainly does not pay all the bills — it’s more like extra money on the side.  On top of it, I have largely stopped playing video games because I see no gain in doing so.  Sure, it’s fun, but how have I advanced in my life or psyche once the game machine is off?

There is one other thing that I think can get me out of bed, and that’s reading books on making art — which is less intimidating than actually making art.  I have one which I just began, tonight, despite having had it out of the library for several weeks, now.  If it turns out to be as good as it seems, I may buy it.  (What I’ve seen so far focuses on mindset.)  There are actually two books in this category, which are probably good bets.

I’m thinking that if I’m going to sell my skills to an employer, the soft skills I will have trained for in Art (tenacity, self-starting [when I get that down, it would be great], attention to detail, abstract thought, attention to process, pattern recognition, etc.) would probably be worth more, monetarily, than the ability to make art — at least, at first.  Given that, though — the soft skills I’ve trained for at the Library (patience, attention to detail, discerning the nature of questions, toleration of stress, etc.) will probably be worth more than what I physically do — or did.

I don’t expect to get a job as an Illustrator in a year — I have way too much more ground to cover before I will become quite that good (at least, so I think — but maybe I’m doing myself a disservice, given that black and white painting I did last semester).  What will happen in the meantime between the Art AA and working in some way in relation to Art is probably going to be some type of Clerical work, because that’s all I can think of where I could use my Writing skills.  (But maybe I shouldn’t be overly focused on the writing?)

I’m also already mostly-a-Clerk at the library I work at.  I just need to get more secure in dealing with patrons (in the vein of “I won’t get upset today, because only I control when I get upset”), because if I become a Clerk in the library system, about half of my time (if not more) will be spent staffing Circulation.  Which, now that I think about it, in no way takes advantage of any of my inclinations, or skills that I actually want to use.  It’s an easy advancement, but it’s an advancement into a job that would at times be less than pleasant, and which — I’m learning — constantly has people attempting to cross my boundaries.

I have What Color is Your Parachute? 2013, and You Majored in What?, though I’m having trouble looking through the latter because of the electronic format, and the fact that it’s a workbook which builds on itself and its activities — and I keep stopping and restarting.

I still haven’t begun looking through job postings.  I probably should, just to get an idea of what’s out there.  Especially since I got help from the State this last time…this time, I can try and do some of my own research.

And then the last major thing that I can do:  exercise.  If nothing else, I need to tighten up my abs, though I also want to go walking and running.  I’m not sure this necessitates a special outfit, but given that I’m heavier than I used to be…it might be worth it to look for at least one jogging outfit.  I just hate to go out and buy more stuff when I have clothes that will work — they’ll just be uncomfortable.

We’ll see, tomorrow…

feelin’ the need to read

Over the last three days I actually haven’t drawn or painted at all, largely because my time was taken up with other things (like earning money).  So today, when given the time to do something creative, like draw a pineapple (a real pineapple), I kind of balked.  (My prof from last semester said that to stay in the groove, it helps to draw something each day, even if it’s just a doodle.)  I still haven’t done it, but I did take some photos to work from, in case the pineapple gets cut before I can study it.

I’d forgotten that fruits, vegetables, and flowers are interesting things for me to work at — like the three mangoes I ate and didn’t think of drawing out at all, though of course now it is very evident that I could have.

It’s kind of crazy — I’ve got four days off in a row coming up ahead of me (!), and I don’t want to waste the time, but it’s really new not to be forced to do something, you know?  I mean, I know it is college and all, so I do get to study what I want, but I’m normally given predetermined assignments and deadlines to work at, within that framework.  To not have any guidelines or requirements at all always strikes me as new, and I generally end up wasting the first few weeks in adjustment.

So let’s see…as a continuation of last night’s post…I’ve been taking some slack back up in trying to relearn Japanese language.  I meant to pick up a book at the library which would help me where it comes to reading…but I didn’t take the time on my lunch break to get it, and I was too busy otherwise to take the trip out.  I can work with the books I already have, it’s just that really it would be nice to have a tutor like the ones I see in the library sometimes, working with the little kids who are speaking fluent Japanese with correct intonation.  🙂

I know that I seriously need to get back on learning katakana — I’ve lost most of it.  In addition, kanji are most of what mess me up these days where it comes to reading and writing.  I think the grammar is pretty embedded, so far as I’ve learned it (nan to iu hehe), but there are little things about the different kanji that trip me up (radicals which appear in one of two similar kanji but not the other), and I don’t even correctly identify said kanji as the correct character at times.  What is really annoying is trying to recall the spelling of a character from memory and writing it wrong (!)…over and over again, thinking it’s correct.  Not cool.

What I’m just going to have to do is read aloud to myself.  I hate doing it, but it’s the only way I’m going to remember how to talk.  Most of the time when I actually need to use Japanese anyway, it is spoken, not printed (as say, when I’m checking out with a cashier who is more comfortable with nihongo [Japanese language] than eigo [English language]).

So I suppose that I can jump back to Japanese for Busy People and my kanji books when I just really don’t know what to do — and neither cleaning the bathroom nor doing laundry will satisfy the void.  😉  I’m fairly certain that JfBP #2 and #3 are at my library, so I don’t even really have to worry about running out of study material and needing to visit Japantown anytime soon (though there is a closer bookstore I just thought of which might carry the series, as it’s generic enough).

I just have to make some sort of commitment.  The problem is what happens when school is back in and I’m back to 19 hours at my job.  I have taken to doodling out parts of sentences, with what vocabulary I can still remember, and maybe that will be a good part of trying to retain what I’ve learned.  Ultimately, what I want to do is be able to read and understand Japanese literature and nonfiction writing, though that’s a big step from where I’m at now — probably somewhat bridged by manga, where it comes to it.  I am getting back into anime, too, minorly, so there are some listening skills being exercised there.  It would just be nice if I knew where to find Japanese language tutors or teachers who aren’t based in the City.  Or, maybe I should engage the tutors I do see.

I had thought of checking out adult schools nearby, and also the gathering places for the Pure Land sects which are around here (Pure Land is the most popular branch of Buddhism, in my country).  The latter sometimes cross over with Japanese-American cultural centers, and do festivals for the turning of the seasons — which are the only reasons I know about them.

Anyway, I’m also hoping that learning written Japanese will help my art skills.  It’s not guaranteed, but calligraphy is considered the highest form of art in Japan.  (I’m thinking that my desire to be able to write in kanji or hanji is related to past-life influence, but that’s a faith thing.)

Speaking of Buddhism and calligraphy, I did pick up a couple of books which relate to spirituality.  One of them is fiction (I’m trying to get back into reading fiction), the other not.  I do still also have a number of unread books on my shelf which relate to Buddhism, which might be informative seeing as how I have taken the Triple Jewel, and have had a myriad of thoughts spurred off from that reading which aren’t limited to the reading.  I should get back to that, and meditating.  I’m supposed to be doing the latter for my health, anyway.

I also have a number of books on Daoism which should be at least informative in the way of giving a counterpoint to the Buddhism…though if I’ve learned anything about competing religions, it’s not to take either of them too seriously where they oppose each other.  (Buddhism and Daoism were at one time competing for followers in China, and borrowing/stealing each other’s ideas and claiming them as their own in the pursuit of laity.  That means that to this day, they sound a lot like each other.  I’ve seen this everywhere except where Buddhists say to take action against one’s learned habits in the pursuit of compassion, and Daoists say to flow with and not against one’s nature.)

And in regard to all which preceded in this post?  I’m feeling kind of Asian right now…?  It’s kind of funny when I’ve been in my art classes and others don’t suspect I have this perspective, until I start talking about it.  (My physical racialization doesn’t match my predominant cultural heritage.)  Particularly where it comes to the bodhisattva thing, my existence may confirm others in their beliefs, you know?  After all, if I am a bodhisattva (one who has committed to helping others reach their own enlightenments prior to entering Buddhahood)…I’ve basically committed myself to a series of hard lives, but with the support of my friends and family, in spirit and existing on the physical.  There’s nothing that says that all Buddhists must look unmistakably Asian, you know?

Nor is there anything which says that a passionate person can’t be Buddhist, or that I can’t be a Buddhist person if I have anger.  Well, maybe someone says the latter, but just because someone says that they’re Buddhist and I’m not, doesn’t mean I have to listen to them, either.  Because it doesn’t matter.  😉  That was a lesson that took a long time coming…

I wonder if at one time, I will feel all right with, or good about, wearing my vishva vajra again…I stopped wearing it because I was expressly not going with the Tibetan Buddhist stream at that time, and even though it was beautiful, I felt like I was using it to buy into an identity that wasn’t mine.  Basically, it’s like wearing a cross if you’re not Christian.  (…which I’ve experimented with as well when I was younger, but it meant little to nothing to me, and caused me to wonder what I was doing with it at all.  I wonder if I gave it away?)  The vishva vajra is a symbol of the power of compassion to cut through everything, so far as I’m aware (there is not a lot of extant literature that I’ve found on Tibetan Buddhist symbols), and also a protective symbol and mandala.

The hard part about buying Buddhist accoutrements is that on some level it can feel as though one is following a creed for the sake of having an identity, whereas in its best forms, Buddhism is about questioning everything and settling on one’s own conclusions — given as they are from the experiences of this number of muddled lives.  It also seems to be assumed, though, that eventually everyone may reach a similar conclusion.  And it’s hoped, at least in Mahayana (the Vehicle I align most closely with), that eventually everyone will reach awakening.

Though I wouldn’t say at this point that I am Buddhist, and in fact I’m thinking that saying that I am Buddhist negates my own practice of self-liberation, it’s tempting to buy an item and say “I am this” to try and evade that kind of feeling of not knowing who one is, you know?  (a.k.a. “buy an identity.”)  And the latter’s a core existential dilemma, so far as I’m aware (which capitalism would seek to claim to be able to solve).  As such, it’s something that needs to really be examined, not evaded.  If Shakyamuni were living now, I wonder what they would say about identity politics!

But I guess there’s true identity (for this lifetime; ultimate identity may be beyond my range at the moment, but so far as I know it is claimed to be the nature of enlightenment), and then there’s identity that one clings to in order to avoid the pain of not knowing who one actually is.  This life’s actual identity doesn’t come without a lot of self-questioning and, for me at least, deconstruction.  But the outcome of that process, for me, has meant that I haven’t had to take measures to, for example, change the way my body looks because it doesn’t look the same way as my spirit.  Something in me has nullified the dysphoria I used to feel.

I’m not sure if it’s really the case, but I am kind of blaming my lack of gender transition (I’m physiologically female, by the way) on my life experiences as a multiracial kid.  No matter what I do, others will not see who I am on the inside until they know me.  And for me, at least, it’s safer for me to be able to conceal and then reveal that to the right people, than it is for me to show everyone without hesitation.  On the inside, I am a really beautiful person.  My outside doesn’t match what I would look like if I were to be visually intelligible in the language of the media, or if I had an animated character design, but I don’t think anyone’s really does.  (and actually, I’d likely have more than one representation.)

The issues of sexism and racism and classism and ableism, etc…a lot of these stem from others just not seeing or recognizing who one is on the inside.  It would seem that instead, a lot of people just see the outside and match it up with a stereotype and say, “I know you,” but they really don’t, and because they don’t reach any farther, they don’t find out they’re wrong until they see enough evidence that differentiates you from the stereotype.  Upon which they are supremely happy, for who wants to be stuck in a world of stereotypes?

Or — and this is the sadder part — they see you as a stereotype, and because everyone sees you as the same stereotype, you begin thinking that you are that stereotype, and who you actually are gets buried under a lot of acting with the intent of reinforcing the stereotype and “claiming an identity.”  That was me from about 16-23 years of age.  But — the last decade has been a bit of a blossoming garden for me, so I’ve been able to grow in some ways that I can see some (most) others have not.

So yes.  I suppose I can look back at the texts — Buddhist, Daoist, Japanese language, Art History, spirituality, fiction.  And I can try and push myself to draw again.  What is a “failed” image other than one never attempted?  The third thing is that I can try and get back to writing one of these stories.

…I think I’ve written long enough.  An hour and a half, yes?  I wonder if WordPress will split this post into two pages.  😉

Brain dump…sorry everyone ;P

Yey.  Classes are out (!), and I think I did pretty well; I know for certain that I got A’s in two (out of three) classes.  Now what’s left to do is to figure out how I’m going to spend my free time.  There are a number of options…

First, I should probably finish reading the two chapters in my Art History text, on the Baroque period.  Pretty soon, that book is going away, and I’d rather try and fill in the gaps in my knowledge than leave a hole in the 1700’s.  There’s also my old Art History text from 2007 where I skipped over the Renaissance sections because they were disproportionately large and numerous compared to the chapters on the rest of the world.  I can get back to that…if for no other reason than that I’m learning art in a Western manner and it helps to know the background of what I’m being taught.

Writing!  Yes, I want to start writing fiction again, if for no other reason, to give myself a basis for illustration this Fall.  I’ll be taking Special Projects in Drawing, and I know I want to work on something integrating text and image.  I think a full-blown graphic novel is a bit beyond my level at the moment, but a ‘zine or an art book or an illustrated book is something else.  If I make my originals less than 8.5″x14″, I can also scan and reproduce it from here…though I should check out Kinko’s or something for large-bed scanners.  I’ll have to work in the margins and bleed areas as well…and maybe a camera would be better for this than a scanner, if I use something like 18″x24″ Bristol to do my art.  I mean, unless by chance, I happen to find a gigantic scanner.  😛

I suppose I can look at bookbinding instructions as well, though if I can find a long-arm stapler, that will take away the necessity of sewing the book(s) by hand, and the set-up costs of tools and supplies.  I know that places like Staples will allow the use of a guillotine for cutting off waste from the edges of the pages…

Yeah, I’m just going to have to look around for places which have resources I don’t, which will allow me to use them (probably for a fee).

I have a few ideas which I can make into stories…one is that pearl-diver thing that I’ve gone over before — the kind of psychological mythology/dreamy/vision-y thing — though I’m a bit less drawn to that one now that I’ve realized that I’ll have to illustrate underwater scenes.  It’s hard enough to draw things accurately outside of the ocean…and I haven’t been diving enough to know what it looks like, down there.

The second story I’ve been thinking of is some variant on there being a dystopian future where people have to take drugs to enable them to tolerate the conditions of their existence.  Those who won’t take drugs can’t cope and end up destitute and homeless…though they may be the only people with actual vision in the story.  The mass of people work toward ends which are not in their own interest and which serve the ruling class.  I’m not certain if that is the direct conflict in the story, though (class consciousness and uprising) or whether this is just the overarching dilemma that is the background to the actual story.

Oh, hey, I just got the Matrix reference.

The third story I’ve been thinking on has to do with the idea of the time between life and death.  I’ve been thinking on this, and it’s weird, but I keep coming back to Buddhist views on things, without really trying to.  I know I’ve mentioned the spirit thing before.  I have, in meditation prior, taken the Triple Jewel, so it’s not beyond the pale that I may be getting some help from something of which I don’t entirely have knowledge.  (I’m sorry, I’m just trying not to end my sentences with prepositions.)

But anyway, I’ve gotten this idea that life is like a dream, that when one dies they wake up and then start dreaming again, and that dream becomes a new life.  This kind of branches off of Pure Land Buddhist thought, that it’s said that whenever someone awakens and becomes a Buddha, they create a new Heaven.  This in turn has me thinking about…whether this world is a projection of the inner state of my own thoughts, if we are all already enlightened and just have yet to realize it.

That then also gets into solipsism, and the tangent that everyone and everything that exists, including myself, are Divine…but am I some kind of Divine mind looking out at itself and dreaming this world (which falls under a monist, All-Mind doctrine), or are you some kind of Divine mind reading my words and seeing in them a wakeup call to your own divinity, you know?

If I myself attain Buddhahood, does the world I dream become a Heaven, or is the solipsism a mistake?  I realize that one particular person said that solipsism was one of the cardinal sins, but a lot of stuff he said was diametrically opposed to anything canonical he found, whether it was right or wrong…and a lot of stuff he says is wrong is actually conducive to getting out of Existential hell.

I’m writing this here because I have to get this out somewhere.  The internet probably isn’t the greatest place to put it, but otherwise it stays with me.  If it stays with me and only me too long, it dies with me, and I don’t want that to happen — if for no other reason, than that if I’m reborn into this world I have to relearn this concept all over again, and it took me over 30 years to get to it this time.

Okay.  Gotta go.  But I’ll be back later to see if I can remember anything else which I really wanted to talk about…ah, right, there’s the nihongo tangent, and the “what do I draw or paint now” tangent, the latter of which can be solved with the Mother’s Day problem for now.