Is it good stress?

I’m coming off of a few days of uncertainty. Last night, to the consensus of everyone in the household, I had an anxiety attack — or more than one of them, if it wasn’t the same one holding on. My last sleep period was divided into three major segments, attempting to begin at 11 PM last night, and ending at 5 PM today. I missed my therapy appointment today because I slept through it (even with an alarm) — which is really irritating, because I had come to some insights.

Yesterday, we visited the de Young museum…which was nice but also anxiety-inducing. There were a lot of people; a lot of unmasked people; a lot of children; several people coughing. Including two, who we were standing in line with, who didn’t move away from us.

The main reason to go was to see the Ramses exhibit, but there was also an exhibit by Faith Ringgold (whose only work I had known, was the children’s picture book Tar Beach [yes, there are adult picture books: see, for example, F**k, Now There are Two of You, by Adam Mansbach]). The Ringgold exhibit introduced me to, “story quilts,” which I had not heretofore known existed.

Ringgold was able to combine storytelling, painting, and quilting, with these works. The stories were written out in numbered muslin or canvas panels, while the central panels were often large-scale paintings on what appeared to be canvas. These were sewn together with piecework quilting around the outsides of the painted and written works.

I recognized that Ringgold was grappling with some of the same problems I’ve been trying to work with: the valuing of some forms of “art” (painting, drawing, etc.) above forms of “craft” (quilting, embroidery, etc.), with (majority) mens’ work frequently being relegated the status of “art”, thus valued more, and (majority) womens’ work frequently being relegated the status of “craft”, thus valued less. It was stated better in the exhibit, but you get my drift.

This fairly directly reflects on my experiences with beadwork and sewing.

There are also a good number of Museum Stores scattered around the de Young. I found a book called Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles, by Beth Pickens (2021). It’s an easy read, and I got fairly well into it last night, before attempting to sleep.

I’m not sure if this is what caused my anxiety attack: I realized that what I was doing with the Library Science thing was attempting to find a way to support myself, so I can practice my art (jewelry design, writing, beadwork, etc). This doesn’t have to be Library work (and it may be better, if it isn’t; it would mean less resources [time, energy, and money] spent in Professional Development).

I also came to the conclusion that the next step may be a move to Hawai’i. I do wonder if we should set aside a block of resources to use if/when we ever do need to, “abandon ship,” so to speak, and move somewhere else. My major concern is going out there and then running so low on money (due to the extravagant cost of living and notoriously low pay) that we can’t leave. My second major concern is all my books, rotting…

Right now I am having a hard time seeing us staying in Hawai’i, largely due to the issue of insects, which M can’t stand, and which I simply dread having to deal with — let alone the huge juicy cockroaches out there, or saucer-sized spiders. Or giant centipedes. But M has told me that the next step is either my, “getting serious about getting a job,” or my parents, “getting serious about finding a place in Hawai’i.”

Pickens emphasizes that the next step is not the rest of your life; it’s just a next step. It’s what makes sense, now. She also emphasizes the fact that capitalism is just something that we all (in the U.S., at least) have to live with; and this plus the Protestant work ethic means that we are pressured to live to work, not to work so that we may live.

I’m reminded of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by Max Weber, which was a core text in the Sociology Department at my first University. I’m seeing multiple entries as to when it was first published in German, as versus first translated into English; let’s just say it began to be issued in 1904.

I’m seeing a number of threads here. One thread is dissatisfaction with our current socioeconomic system. Another thread questions why we value what we value. The third thread looks outside of that system, or at least, can see the possibility of not letting it consume the rest of my life.

From here, it seems that as a child, I was never really encouraged to think about what I wanted to do as an adult — though that’s not really true. As a youth, I wanted to become a geologist specializing in Magmatics, and study Plate Tectonics (the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake seems to have left a mark on my psyche) and Volcanism (particularly, Hawai’i; but also, I was interested in the Plutonic formations in Yosemite National Park…last I checked, Tioga Pass was still rising: there’s a magma chamber beneath it).

Then I got into University and found out that Social Sciences existed. After attempting this, I realized that I wasn’t a highly social person, and reverted back to what I knew I was good at: Writing (which by most measures is a relatively solitary occupation…at least, if you’re a Creative Writer. As a Staff Writer or Journalist, where you need to interview people, things may tip the other way).

Growing up, over and over again, I heard that my options were either to, “go to college,” or, “get a job at [name redacted fast-food restaurant]”. There were no other options. When I was in University, I was told to just major in anything, it didn’t matter, so long as I graduated.

This is not something you tell someone who is in psychiatric crisis and can’t think more than eight years ahead: but then again, they did not recognize that I was in crisis. Had they known that I knew how easy it was to give up…maybe I wouldn’t have majored in what I did, because I would have opted out of University until I could get my head together. Until I could think that I might have a future, and try and figure out where I wanted to go in that future.

I don’t know what, “just get a degree,” was supposed to teach me, or prepare me for. I could say that it pretty much didn’t prepare me for anything, other than being a career academic; but there is a world of difference between where I was before I went to Undergrad, and where I am now, after two Associate degrees, one Bachelor of Arts, and one Master’s degree…in regard to considering life possibilities.

It’s something I can see others in my circle, noticeably not having. I haven’t had children; I haven’t had to marry a man I didn’t love or trust for financial support; I’ve been able to see myself outside of the role of a, “homemaker.” I can see that I can learn other languages and look beyond my own national borders, which is something that even M sees no point in doing. I can see the point, because being able to look over the fence means that there is a world outside the fence. There are other places to escape to. There is a world outside of this. Yes, you may have to learn another language, but learning other languages is possible.

And yes, there is a world outside of Librarianship, I can see, now. My hope for Librarianship was that it would be a means to my end of practical survival, while allowing me enough extra time and money to write/bead/paint/whatever.

It might allow enough funding, but there is also the question, now, of whether any type of Librarianship is suited to my personality. I may have made a misstep in the past; is it still my duty to continue on this path?

There’s also the fact that I’m outgrowing the idea that in order to be an honorable person, I shouldn’t accept money from other people. That’s not a belief conducive to the world in which I live; and it doesn’t make sense in a capitalist society, where a person needs money (or what money can buy) to survive.

But maybe there’s a difference between engaging in commerce, and being a Capitalist.

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