You Turn Arts Presents Seed

April 14, 2014

I always wanted to be a dancer, just like I always wanted to be an author of fiction. The first one is kind of out of my reach, mostly because I’m an absolute klutz…don’t get me wrong, I can dance in the hallways like anybody’s mom, but I’m not in charge of enough of my muscle groups to follow instructions. Even aerobics classes are supremely challenging. I learned this fairly early on, but still love to watch others dance, especially modern dance…there’s a certain fluidity of bodily motion that speaks to how and what I draw. I’ve also done some performance art over the years, and I think that modern dance and performance art are pretty closely related in terms of the performance itself, if not the practice leading up to it.

In my reaching out for a new life (or ways to fill up the old life), I have some groups I’m in that post events outside my normal realm of existence. I’ve tried to find some good art-event groups (fail) and some moviegoing groups (less of a fail, but a timing issue), but one of the geeky women groups I’m in posted a modern dance event recently on a day when I had no other event planned (ie, there was no hike I could go on), and it was reasonably priced, so I signed up. It helped that I knew the organizer from book club, so I knew she was friendly.

The event, Seed, was put on by YouTurnArts, who “aims to create opportunities for performing and visual artists to produce new works in San Diego. The goal is to unify the artistic community, producing artists of all genres.” Not a bad goal. I was more inclined to go because of the addition of the other visual/performing arts, making this more of an event than just a dance performance.

Oh yeah, and I want to be a musician too…preferably an acoustic guitar player and singer. Tried that. Couldn’t deal with the short fingernails and the callouses. So instead, I support the arts by buying good music. The event featured Yael and Vlady playing and singing delightfully throughout the evening.

They’re local (to San Diego). Enjoy them. Here’s her website (her being Yael, Vlady being him).

There was performance art during the break, put on by Hill Young with Scarlet Astrid, called Elemental Exchange. I actually took photos of this (I felt like I couldn’t photograph the dance performances…although there were some official-looking photographers there). This was the intriguing setup prior to the performance…

Apr 7 14 001 small

with these hanging above…

Apr 7 14 002 small

The two performers wore all white (and yes, I thought of Dharma, for those fabric-dyers out there)…they had living material (flowers?) that had been frozen in bowls and then slabs of ice that they broke up and put on the paper.

Apr 7 14 004 small

They spilled the dye (ink?) and rubbed the ice over the papers…

Apr 7 14 005 small

And then opened the cones to release salt (at least, I assumed it was salt)…

Apr 7 14 006 small

There was lots of spillage going on. It looked quite fun.

Apr 7 14 009 small

Feet were involved…

Apr 7 14 010 small

And it got a little close in there for a moment…definitely some people had both dye and salt in their hair…Apr 7 14 011 small

The result, well, my photos sucked, but pretty paper with dye all over it, kinda what it looks like when I dye fabric (except my clothes stay marginally cleaner…not so my other body parts, unfortunately). It was interesting to watch…but if you’re going to wear white clothes around dye, then the clothing should be more dyed by the end than it was.

As far as the dance performances were concerned, I really enjoyed the combination of moving bodies and sound. The Figs of Plath was performed by Anne Gehman and Maria Juan, inspired by Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. To quote from the artists, “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story…I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.” I did not read the artists’ statements before I watched the performances, I must admit, but was able to gather the purpose from the dance itself. The two dancers often mirrored each other’s actions, but one was definitely more about gathering as many figs as she could, while the other tempted and took.

The second performance was by Erica Buechner and involved bubble wrap, so the sound was a huge element of the piece. The performance was called Between my fist and my Pollyanna. Buechner at first verbalized each movement in terms of how her bones and muscles would move, a scientific explanation of dance, and then started to move over and avoid the bubble wrap, but then kept falling and standing on it, making great gunshot noises, ending up trapped by the long strips of bubble wrap twisted around her legs. She writes about her piece, “It explores spiral from an internal, physical level and how it gains momentum, eventually spiraling out of control, into the environment around oneself. It is a physically and emotionally demanding piece, that is pushing my process of creating work. Oh, and there is bubble wrap involved.”

The last performance was the third-best time is now, by Katie Griffin with Virginia Broyles and Morgan True. Griffin describes this piece as “Uncomfortably, comfortable. Planted and Unsettled. Alone with self, this is my story, desperately needing to let go, to grow, to move on, to hold on.” The trio played off each other with a wide variety of music and movements that clearly showed the need to move on, to let go.

Nut and Bean was there with hummus and nut butters, all to die for…they had samples (I ran out of cash); unfortunately (for me), it’s really only available in the San Francisco area. Yvonne Portra had her photography there, and Often Wander was selling jewelry and candles. There is an official review of the dance performances here, by Janice Steinberg. I say it’s official because she reviews dance and hey! I don’t. But I did enjoy the experience and will keep my eyes open for other affordable performances, since cost is one of my issues.


Holy Imbalance, Batman

April 13, 2014

Batman seems to be featured in my blog entirely too much, considering I’ve never met the man…bat. I don’t think I’m channeling Robin, but who knows. I always thought he was kind of an immature twit. I’m on a teeter-totter of imbalance at the moment. Run from one side and it flips up to try to bounce you off the other side; run back to stabilize it, and it rushes up to the other side. Can’t seem to straddle the middle and keep it all at bay, keep the sides even. It’s one or the other and all about unseating…well…me.

The doctor was happy with my numbers. She has pulled me permanently off one of my diabetes meds, after many years of being on it. This is good. This is success. She was definitely more excited than I was, because she also said I might see more of the low blood sugars, precisely because I am more in control. Hmn. This is not control. It seems like luck. She also talked about hormone imbalances, which honestly may have been the majority of my mood issue over the last two or more years…but it’s not so much the estrogen, that wacky hormone of womanhood, but my psycho thyroid. We adjusted meds for that not 4 months ago, and they are low again. Sigh. So we’re upping those. Low thyroid can cause problems with sleep, irritation, periods, depression, blood sugar…sounding familiar anyone? Yeah. So maybe everything can be blamed on my thyroid. Well, except for the idiocy that happened apparently because of my thyroid, but that wasn’t me. I know. Long story.

I guess my hardships are all mine own. No one else wants to own them. Or be a part of them.

At one point, I typed hormone as hotmone…makes total sense.

Ironic that I feel so out of balance emotionally…it goes with the physical imbalance. Probably the most logical part of my life. LOOK! This one number explains everything.

I’m a week into Spring Break, and my brain is still all over the map. Thursday was nice…life drawing in the morning, first time at this class. I’ll go back. I may even do this all summer. I could. Then I had lunch with Linda and Dean Moran of Marble-T Design. I first got in touch with them a million years ago for flesh-toned and gray marbled fabrics. I wanted a run of grays from dark to light, and then I wanted a selection of flesh colors. I am still using bits and pieces from what they did for me…I think they show up in almost every quilt I make. It’s not their fault I don’t use much fabric at a time. Anyway, we had never met in person, so this was the first time…and they brought me fabric!

Apr 12 14 004 small

Beautiful gorgeous dirt fabric, or even brown flesh…could go either way with this. I’m very happy, AND they are nice, smart, amusing people. It was good. Plus they were nice and bought me lunch.

Then I went to Susan’s for a stitching meeting and started cutting out the Wonder Under for the next big quilt, which I’m going to just call Menopause for now, because it’s easier, but it does have a real name…and I’ve written it down (typed it) somewhere; I just can’t remember where. And it may not matter.

Oh wait. It does matter. It’s from this…

The title. Anyway. At least for now. I keep hearing some songs over and over and can’t get them out of my head (not the Kylie Minogue song). Oh yeah, the title is from the lyrics…it’s not called Afraid. I’d like to say I’m beyond Afraid, but I know that’s not true.

So I started cutting it out Thursday and I didn’t get much done…

Apr 12 14 002 small

I was way too tired. I went to the gym too and I meditated and probably fell asleep doing that. Really, truly, at the moment, there’s two things that happen when I meditate: I either fall asleep or I cry. Neither is particularly satisfying, but each seems to fulfill a need…a niche even. OK, sleep is probably supposed to be a necessity and not a niche.

Friday…Friday was the doctor and a bunch of crazy running around. I guess I can finally admit, now that I’ve sent it off with its new owner, that this is sold…

Nida010 copy

May they enjoy it and all its political issues. I still love the brick fabric. OH! And the gray in the sidewalk? Yup. That’s Marble-T Designs again…so THAT’S cool. Anyway, so I didn’t get much done Friday night because I was still tired, and I knew I had a long hike this morning, so I went to bed at a semi-reasonable hour (unlike tonight, when I seem to be making up for gained sleep by frittering it away on god-knows-what purpose).

I hiked this morning; more on that later. Suffice it to say that there is Julian Pie Company pie in my fridge and I was very good and did not eat any of it, because it is for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Then I decided to put on my pajamas and sit down and cut out Wonder Under for a million hours.

Apr 12 14 138 small

Because there was a million hours’ worth of Wonder Under that needed cutting. I started with 7 pieces, I had cut out the smallest one. I think I did a little last night, but mostly it was this evening, almost 4 hours straight. I’m up to 7 hours and I only have 2 1/2 of the larger pieces to cut out. So that’s good. It won’t take 20 hours. It will probably take at least 11, though. There’s some minor chance I can get done before we leave for New York. Maybe. Or Nah. (sigh. I now know where that’s from. Hopefully my students will have forgotten about it over Spring Break so I never have to hear it again…because yes, it is TOO HARD TO SAY THE T SOUND.)

So spending 4 hours Saturday evening watching TV and thinking depressing thoughts and cutting out Wonder Under does indeed include me in the Old Lady Loser Rock N Roll Saturday Night Hall of Fame. Feel free to join me.

Some fun stuff going on with the Wonder Under…some pieces are releasing the paper from the fusible web. This was a problem with the old old web, but then they went overboard and it got Way TOO Sticky, and now we’re back to EDGES…edges releasing. So the pile below needs to be redrawn on Wonder Under that is not falling apart, because I don’t want to match all those pieces up while I’m ironing.

Apr 12 14 137 small

Does that make me lazy? Hells no. I am retracing pieces that I’ve already traced once. I don’t know what it makes me, except more or less insane.

More insane…in the middle, those 4 pieces? They are traced into the middle of some really long complicated piece, so they also had to be retraced onto their own piece.

Apr 12 14 140 small

 

Did that. More work. Then I thought I was missing a cat…hadn’t seen her in a while. Went and looked, texted the girlchild for possible hiding places, came back, sat down, and felt the little pyscho jump up behind me to her regular nightly seating spot.

Apr 12 14 139 small

Nice to see you, Midnight.

I feel like I just camped out here for hours…

Apr 12 14 138 small

Because I freakin’ did. Top box is trash, in case I accidentally throw away something useful. Below are the real pieces…I took a few breaks. Made lots of tea, ate dinner, read a little. Not a lot. Wanted to have the focus on. For some reason. Not sure why.

Kitten’s been venturing into the living room regularly lately. She settled down into a corner and hid…

Apr 12 14 142 small

I guess she’s lonely too.

There’s where I was at when I decided it was getting awfully late and I might want to sleep tonight.

Apr 12 14 141 small

 

Getting there. Closer than I was 4 hours ago. Trying to tell my head to get on straight. Oh yeah, I meditated in the middle of it too. It was crying instead of sleeping tonight. Interesting. Now Babygirl is trying to harass me into sharing the chair. Or maybe all she wants is to be petted. She’s lonely too.

So here’s a series (that is just starting) by Peter Drew…and his hair, which disturbs me, about art-related things and reality, which I find amusing because art has so little to do with reality. That said, it’s an interesting take on why (and how) art galleries exist.

This is apparently the same Peter Drew as is in this Hyperallergic article…where he was threatened with expulsion for creating the art he had been accepted to the school in order to create. Really convoluted sentence. Don’t care enough to fix it. Don’t judge.

Naked yarnbombing. Enough said.

Here is my post on the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University (there is no way I’m posting that whole thing here as well, so you’ll just have to go look. It’s OK. I’ll still be here when you’re done. Take your time.).

Every ebook I had on hold at the library has come in during the last two days. Luckily, it is Spring Break and I’m spending a million hours flying in the next few days, so at least I know what I’ll be doing on those flights…competitive speed-reading. Or something. I won’t have to talk to anyone.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. I’m taking my moody cranky imbalanced self to bed. I love that something I have no control over has so completely messed up my life. Sigh. Moving on.


That Never Happens in My Real Life…

April 10, 2014

Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Aliso Viejo in Orange County (California) to finally see the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University, where I have had two pieces since January.

Apr 10 14 001 small

It’s a beautiful campus, at least what little I saw of it.

Apr 10 14 002 small

It was obviously Spring Break, because otherwise, I’m fairly sure these pools must be filled with students, right?

Apr 10 14 004 small

There’s no way they’d stay out of there.

Julie was my companion (and driver, which was awfully nice of her)…

Apr 10 14 005 small

It was a gorgeous Spring day in California, although a little on the warm side…

Apr 10 14 006 small

I’ll be posting about the exhibit (again) on the California Fibers blog, as soon as I find some free time to do that…today is kinda overbooked. Again. I know.

Apr 10 14 100 small

Julie and I spent quite a bit of time discussing this global map, especially how it wasn’t the way we were used to seeing maps laid out, with Japan at its center (Soka’s founder is Japanese and the sister school is also in Japan).

Apr 10 14 101 small

Relative sizes of countries and locations of islands and the equator were part of the discussion.

Then we headed outside again to check out the fountain…

Apr 10 14 104 small

Especially because it appeared to have dead bugs all over it…

Apr 10 14 103 small

 

That may be a commentary on university costs right there (a definite discussion point in my household at the moment). I hadn’t been able to come see this exhibit for so long because it’s only open Monday-Friday, which is kind of annoying. I mean, I guess I understand in that it’s on a university campus, and their staff isn’t around on the weekends, but…hell, I would have had to take a day off work to see it otherwise. I’m not sure how many non-retired people who aren’t students at the university have been able to see the exhibit, which is too bad, because the space is really beautiful. It’s up through May 8…if you’re in town, you should check it out.

It was a nice trip, and I got home early enough to get some stuff done…although some of that was following the kids around. Girlchild is cat-sitting (or checking-in-on-cats really), and Maus decided he didn’t so much LIKE being in the garage, but definitely liked being TALL.

Apr 10 14 107 small

There was some worry and some kitty squawking and a ladder was involved, but we found out later that he does this all the time. No worries.

I sat outside while girlchild did all her feeding and cleaning and trash stuff and kitty-petting, because I had an ebook that was due back today and had holds on it (not sure how the renewal policy works on that) and I wanted to finish the book…it was Parasite by Mira Grant…

parasite

It’s a story set in the future, 2027, where we have developed intestinal parasites that help keep humans healthy, but as always, in the future, our meddling with science will cause issues. This is the first of a 3-part series called Parasitology, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I really liked this book…it was scientifically intriguing (although the reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 on GoodReads is because some of the science wasn’t explained well enough, and that bugged me). There’s some obvious stuff going on and some political/corporate intrigue and a bunch of crazy people acting in the name of science or money or both. And dogs. Dogs are good in this story. All good stories should have dogs in them.

Interestingly, Mira Grant is the pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, whose Rosemary and Rue I read last year. I thought this was much better of a story, more solid and grab-at-you than the October Daye series (although I would probably read more of those as well). McGuire as Grant has also written the Newsflesh trilogy, which is now on my to-read list.

Then I finally made it home and managed to get to work on the last few hundred pieces on the newest quilt…I finished tracing around 11 PM (I fixed dinner and did other stuff in there, really)…and here it all is, laid out…

Apr 10 14 108 small

It’s probably 7 yards…I try to cut about 1-yard pieces, although I don’t actually measure them, because that would be way more anal than I am (I know, I seem that anal, but I’m not). It took a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes to trace all of them, which is interesting because like I’ve said before, usually I can do 100 in an hour, so this one must have been more complicated. There are 1776 pieces officially (although I know there are probably 10-15 more due to mistakes in numbering). The quilt itself, well, the image anyway, is 34″ wide x 73″ high (so add about 10 inches to each of those measurements for a finished size).

In comparison, the quilt I did for Celebrating Silver is about 40×70″ and has 1227 pieces. So. Yeah. And it took only 95 hours to complete. I’m sure I can cut that time! (Are you kidding me? Tracing Celebrating only took a little over 11 hours. I am fucking nuts.)

Anyway. I’m going to start cutting those out today, knock on wood. I have a busy art day planned, with a new life-drawing class I’m trying out as a plan for the summer, lunch with friends I’ve never met in person (ah, the wonders of the internet), and then a stitching meeting afterwards (that’s where I’ll be cutting stuff…it’s not appropriate to cut out Wonder Under at the other two places, you know?).

I wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep when I finished, but I also wasn’t ready to cut the WU out, so I debated cleaning (I debate that a lot…mostly I do it for about 10-20 minutes and then I figure there must be something better to do). Then I remembered that I only had a little cutting left on the Mammogram fabrics, so I pulled that out…

Apr 10 14 109 small

and managed to finish. It took a total of about 7 hours to cut this one out…interesting, because it only has about 360 pieces in it. But many of them are big and complicated pieces, difficult to cut out. So now it’s ready to iron down as well. I will probably save that for after Spring Break, because it’s not a difficult task…it doesn’t require a huge amount of brain power. I really want to get to the fabric-choosing phase of the big quilt over break, which is looking more and more impossible as the days disappear behind me. Oh well. It will all get done. And I need to draw! I have two I need to draw in the next few weeks. I’m not worried. They’re smaller than this one, but inevitably, I will make sure they have 12 trillion pieces in them.

Yup. I’m a little crazy that way. But you knew that already. But I finished two tasks! In one day! It must be Spring Break. That never happens in my real life.

 

 


Where My Brain Goes…

April 9, 2014

Almost 5 hours of tracing Wonder Under today and I still have 200 pieces to go. Out of 1776, that’s not bad. There’s actually more than that, because I have some pieces that are a’s and b’s of the original number. I forgot to number a nose, for instance. I’m getting close, though. That’s good. I’m 19 hours in. It gets to be kind of a slog…I have to force myself to not distract myself with blogs or books or whatever else I’d rather be doing (even cleaning house raised its ugly head, until I beat it into submission).

Apr 8 14 002 small

I could use the same light-table photo every day and it wouldn’t matter. There is a much bigger pile of Wonder Under sitting on the couch now…6 or 7 yards of the stuff filled up with tiny traced pieces…which then need to be cut out. I made it through all of my saved SVU episodes…it’s easy to trace to SVU because it’s not a difficult plot and they’re all kind of similar after a while, so I don’t really have to watch too hard.

I wanted to be done today, but I have to get up tomorrow because Julie and I are going on a road trip. Julie is good at those. Another two hours though…I’d be done. If I had just started earlier (OK, so it’s not like I did nothing all day…I had errands and the gym and a kid to take to school and I don’t even know what else…I just know I deleted a bunch of stuff off the Spring Break to-do list, and then added twice as many more tasks, because I’m a freakin’ idiot like that).

I had cats helping me all day. Babygirl came in and was lying on the floor for a while. She never does that…and then Midnight, this is her territory in the house, so she was around…

Apr 8 14 001 small

 

Couch World is HER world. But Kitten has also been coming in, and she rarely ventures out of my room, so that’s new…

Apr 8 14 009 small

 

It’s nice to see her out and about, venturing throughout the house. Babygirl, when she goes to sleep in the early evening, pretty much stays there all night. She doesn’t do a whole lot of rampaging at night any more…it’s mostly in the morning. So Kitten feels safe enough to come out, apparently. That’s cool.

Anyway, I’m feeling kind of brain dead because I haven’t talked to any human beings since 5 PM and I’ve been mostly tracing that entire time, with breaks for dinner and some other stuff, like airline mileage programs and emails and hell, there’s a bunch of computer stuff I haven’t even touched and I really should, and then there’s grading, and I’ve totally blown that off for the last two days. Dammit. Oh well. This is what happens. I get art on my brain and everything else flees before it. This is why I will be a hoarder. This is why my house is not clean. This is why the yard is a disaster. Did Picasso have to do yardwork? Did Matisse need to sweep up the damn leaves? And if they NEEDED to do those things, did they just blow them off, or did someone else do them, or did they use those tasks as breaks from the artmaking? I just don’t know. I want to know if Dali did the laundry. I want to know if Mary Cassatt did the grocery shopping or if Frida Kahlo needed to go buy batteries for the damn smoke alarm. Did Hockney have cats? Who bought the cat food? Did da Vinci go through the pile of mail and recycle the stuff he didn’t need? Who handled Mapplethorpe’s receipts for taxes? Who emptied Georgia O’Keeffe’s fucking litter trays?

I really really want all that stuff to go away. OR. I want someone to help me slog through it all. The to-do list is taking over my brain. I feel guilty when I ignore it and I feel horrible when I let it take time away from making art. There is no happy medium for that. It all just fucking sucks. Girlchild bawled me out yesterday for a pile of papers that I need to deal with that was way too close to the stove and was dangerous. I KNOW. I know. I just have to prioritize, and that stuff…it’s not a fucking priority. I need a secretary. An assistant. Kids that put their dishes in the damn dishwasher.

I barely feel human. I am just the body at the end of the mechanical pencil. I just trace and then I trace some more. My brain literally goes mostly blank when I’m tracing. Part of my brain is paying attention to the TV and the rest is just watching the lines and counting the pieces and deciding what piece goes on top and what piece needs additional space drawn on for the overlap. It’s kind of cool that it’s that all-encompassing, the tracing task. Or not. Maybe it’s disturbing.

I don’t know how I feel about it. The brain is blank. I should be done tomorrow…will start cutting it out then. Probably will take another 20 or so hours…maybe a little less. I usually take less time to cut than to trace. Then ironing…probably not going to get to that before the boy and I leave for New York. Oh well. Life goes on.

All the SVU episodes are gone though. What shall I watch next? Something that doesn’t set off emotional land mines. Ha! There is no such thing.

How do I explain where my brain goes? I don’t. I explain nothing.


My Brain Is Offline

April 8, 2014

Note all the book reviews? What do I do when I can’t think straight? When my brain has wandered off? I read. I hunker down on the couch or in bed with a nice cup of tea and a blankie and a cat or two and sometimes a dog if it’s my day to have her, and I read. I read and read and read, like an addict. Sometimes I think what’s wrong with the world and with people is that they don’t read enough. I have a quote about that somewhere. I’ll find it later…wait, here it is…

By accident, the bound codex taught us sustained focus, abstract thinking, logic. Our natural tendency is to be distracted–to scan the horizon constantly for predators and prospects. Books made us turn that attention inward, to build higher and higher castles within the quiet kingdoms of our minds. Through that process of reflection and deep thinking, we evolved. There was no going back–only ever forward.     –Alena Graedon, The Word Exchange

It’s from one of the books I just finished (but haven’t reviewed yet). I like the idea of reflection happening while I read other people’s stories. I think it’s problematic right now to focus too much on my own story. Too much of it is up in the air. I’ve got nothing to hold onto…except Wonder Under, apparently.

Apr 7 14 016 small

Yards and yards of Wonder Under. I traced a bit today…and yesterday…and the day before too. I’m about 1100 pieces in, 14 hours so far. Only 650 pieces to go? There were a bunch of other things that went on as well, like a local SAQA meeting, which was interesting. And cleaning my classroom. And a dance performance, which I’ll write about eventually. And the girlchild’s back checkup, which went really well.

But the tracing, I seem to only be able to do it at night. Not sure why. Really do have way too many errands and stupid crap to deal with at the moment. This is not a well-focused holiday, like some have been. It’s sorta chaotic. Oh well. It is what it is.

Apr 7 14 017 small

It’s like my brain is offline. Maybe it just NEEDS to be offline for a while. Reading, sleeping, exercising. Forgetting half of the dinner ingredients yesterday at the store, going out today for the rest and STILL forgetting one of them. I just can’t keep track of stuff. Too much. My brain is having a mini-revolution. I wish it the best of luck. May it fly a new flag, conquer new lands, maybe even put someone else in charge. Surely I suck at it. Someone else SHOULD take over. Even meditation…shit, it’s just difficult at the moment. I can’t get to the spreading happy bubble of light that’s supposed to start at my center and radiate out. I just get lost in trying to force that. I broke another glass. I dropped it. It just broke. I don’t even know how I dropped it. I almost threw a mug the other day. Got angry at it. What it represented. Just wanted it shattered, like me. Then put it back in the cupboard. Enough with the violence. It doesn’t solve anything.

So the doc pulled one of my diabetes meds. I emailed her a few days ago with all of last week’s crap and she decided one of the meds might be the issue. They took about 10 gallons of blood this morning…the appointment is Friday. I’ve seen some of the results already. Nothing really shocking, although some stuff has changed. The diabetes, it’s like the happy. People tell you that if you do x, y, and z, then the diabetes will go away (then you will be happy). Liars. That’s not how it always works. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, the diabetes is still there, maybe worse. Same with the happy. Just because you follow all the rules, do all the steps, there’s no guarantee that happy will stop by and knock on your door. It’s harder during vacation, because I don’t have all the noise and bustle and distraction of the kids at school. There are too many quiet lonely hours. And I have a ton of stuff to do, so going out and doing stuff isn’t really the solution. Hanging out with more people doesn’t solve my problems. The work I do, the stuff in my head, the stuff that becomes art, it’s such a huge part of me and so few people are around for that…on purpose, mind you. I don’t create well with people around. I’m an independent worker. I don’t want help or company or critiques. I just want to make my art, but at the end of the day, the art isn’t enough to make me happy. There’s some happy mix that works, and I lost that. I had it. I thought I had it. I didn’t have it. Obviously. Because it’s not here.

Vacations are a slap-in-the-face reminder of all that. So I just get through. Hoping to finish the tracing tomorrow and start cutting this stuff out. Not exactly on track, but since my mind left me, I’m not really sure where the track is any more.


It Is Where I Am…

April 5, 2014

So it’s officially Spring Break for me (not my kids). It came this year without the huge sense of relief and fanfare that I usually ride into break. I don’t really know why. I know the depression has allowed me (forced me really) to distance myself from my job in some ways. Not from the kids…I am more connected to them this year than I think I ever have been. That’s not to say the year hasn’t been difficult. You can’t possibly be dealing with this incredibly demanding job AND a major depression and grief and not have difficulty. But maybe I can keep my job mostly where it belongs now. Maybe.

That’s the problem with teaching. It’s too damn easy to let it BE your life, especially if you don’t have anything else. Balance has always been difficult for me.

So what did I do on my first evening of break? I cooked dinner. I exercised. I meditated. I graded papers! I know. But it needs to get done, and I’d rather get a chunk of it done now, early in break, so I don’t have to think about it the rest of the time. So a little a day until I get there.

And then I started tracing stuff…I actually started really late at night (AGAIN) and didn’t want to stop (AGAIN), so I finally had to force myself to go to sleep because I knew that there was a bunch of stuff I had to do today…I’m kind of overbooked. Whoops. No brain downtime? Probably a good thing.

Anyway, I traced for a few hours…

Apr 5 14 002 small

I’m still trying to fill in little pieces into all the weird spaces between the wiggly pieces from the bottom. I hate wasting Wonder Under…I don’t know why. It’s not particularly expensive.

Here’s an example of tracing like pieces together…I had fish on one side of the drawing and fish on the other, so I traced all the same fish parts together: fins, eyeballs, side fins, tail fins…because they will all be the same fabrics, so why cut them out in Wonder Under and then LOSE all the tiny pieces…cut them out as a lump, iron them down to fabric as a lump, and then cut them out once.

Apr 5 14 001 small

I do not even know why my brain comes up with this stuff. This is part of my artistic process, this incredibly controlled, logical, pattern-fitting piece of the process. Compared to the fabric-picking stage, which is wildly out there and in my head coloring crazily, even when I’m asleep, waking me up with the next color scheme, this is incredibly calm and soothing…like putting a puzzle together. Fabric-choosing is a much more demanding, emotional task.

Anyway, I finished tracing the bottom person and I was trying to find where I had traced next. I try to be logical and move across the drawing in sections, numbering all the same parts together, but I spent about 10 minutes looking for piece 513 and just couldn’t figure it out (because I hadn’t been TOTALLY logical). But as I was doing that, I noticed that I had forgotten to number those damn octopus tentacles…I mean it was bad enough that I missed the bottom figure’s face…her body is in the 400s and her head is in the thousands somewhere, because I missed it while numbering.

Anyway, those damn tentacles added 102 pieces; now I’m at 1764 total…

Apr 5 14 003 small

Originally I was going to embroider the smaller circles in the suckers, but I decided I wanted them to be fabric in the end. They seemed too big (ah ha ha!) for embroidery. I was going to have this satin-stitch or some sort of textural thing going on by the side of the quilt that wasn’t going to be repeated anywhere else in it, and it just seemed like a problem.

Anyway. That is not the first time an octopus has showed up in one of my quilts, by the way. So I’m about a third of the way through the tracing. Not where I wanted to be, but it is where I am. So there we are.

So I have to be super-focused today to get everything done and get to all the places I’m supposed to be. I’m hoping at the end of it to feel peaceful and inspired and maybe even content or pleased. I have to manage my days to try to manage the emotional crap too. I emailed my doctor about the weird blood-sugar incidents, because they really are illogical and supremely worrying. That may be part of my need today to be with other people as much as possible…if something goes wrong on a day I don’t have the kids around, at least someone might be around to call 911. The counselor wants me to get one of those medic-alert bracelets. SIGH. Anyway. It’s Spring Break. Cleaning, organizing, artmaking, maybe sleeping? Hiking? Who knows. Oh yeah, and a crazy short trip to visit the school where my son will probably spend the next 4 years of his life. Bet there will be some tears over that. Mine, not his.

Moving on.


More Is Better

April 4, 2014

Hey. So I’m feeling much better tonight. I think the biggest issue with the hypoglycemia is that it comes fast and I feel like crap with it, and it takes a long time for that to go away. The effects of last night’s episode continued well into the morning. I don’t think I started feeling OK again until after lunch. And I ate normally. So. But I ate normally the day before too. It’s the unpredictable nature of the crashes that is difficult. I worry about being alone and having it crash fast and not having someone around to help me. Anyway. The doc and I will have a conversation. We’ll figure it out. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, today was our team’s field trip to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Museum in Balboa Park. We saw one of the IMAX movies on the human body (probably it doesn’t help that IMAX makes me want to puke…but it was good), then we watched 140 or so students try to destroy all the exhibits inside the museum, and then let them out into the sunny gorgeous day to run around and eat and act like goofballs. It was a really well-managed field trip, thanks to one of the team teachers, and I didn’t feel anywhere near as crazy about it as I have in the past. And there’s only one day of school left until Spring Break, when I will have a little bit of freedom. I do have about 700 errands to run and another 30,000 things on my to-do list, but hopefully art will be part of it. After last night, I’m kind of trying to relax my desire to get a lot done. I think I will get done whatever I can, and I will have to be happy with that. Or at least content. Happy is still not part of my vocabulary.

So I practiced that tonight after getting home from my stitching meeting (which is really just hanging out with good people and sometimes we stitch and sometimes we don’t and we try to support each other with our wacky lives and existences…which is all you can do sometimes…is support). I ate some food…I’ve been paranoid about food today. Shockingly.

Then I traced for about an hour…

Apr 3 14 001 small

It’s still going really slowly. I’m in the middle of the lowest body on the piece…

Mar 17 14 002 small

She’s got some weirdly overlapping pieces, which means I really have to think while I’m tracing about what goes on top and what goes on the bottom, since I draw the overlaps into the pieces. I’ve finished her legs and belly, and am just starting on the arms. I was getting tired, so I tried to find a decent place to stop…I’m in the 370s, over 6 hours in.

Apr 3 14 002 small

This piece really is a bit crazy. See all those empty spaces? I try to fill them in as I’m tracing smaller pieces. I try to do a decent job of fitting pieces in so I’m not wasting too much Wonder Under. I also try to trace pieces that I know will be the same fabric together so I save on cutting time…I only have to cut them out as fabric, not as Wonder Under as well. That really helps if the pieces are super small too…I often don’t cut them out until I’m ironing everything together…like I already know I won’t cut out the fish eyeballs until the very last ironing minute…which will be in June, at the rate I’m going.

The yawning, though. I had to stop. I had to make myself stop.

I got some done on the girlchild’s Xmas stocking at the stitching meeting…

Apr 3 14 004 small

this piece is really slow. But it’s meditative. I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to actually meditate for real lately. I think I need to go back to doing it earlier rather than later at night…if I’m tired, I can’t handle it. I get the feeling he’d really like me to meditate in the morning, but I find that difficult. I’m not even really awake in the morning. I feel like you should be awake to be mindful. I’m a night owl. That’s why we call it meditative PRACTICE though…you’re supposed to actually practice it. Plus practicing makes you better at things.

Anyway. At least I’ll get some more artmaking time in the next few weeks. Nothing major, nothing lifechanging. Just more. More is better. Hopefully more is better will apply to hours of sleep as well.


Sleep? Art.

April 2, 2014

To sleep? Or to art? That is the question, the perennial question. I don’t seem to be able to balance those two out appropriately…probably because I try to do other things like cook healthy meals, exercise, meditate. All those things. Really, I think my job is getting in the way of having a fulfilling life. In fact, while I’m writing this, I’m trying to come up with something to occupy the smart, quick workers in my classes who will be done with their assignment about 20 minutes into class while my less-motivated kids flail and whine and complain that I am actually expecting a product that requires brain power. I got this. I can do this.

Can I do this? I decided yesterday that I really wanted to try to get this whole damn drawing traced before Spring Break officially started, which is Friday at 3:30. I then slapped myself around some, because that would mean I can’t go to work for the next three days (tempting, certainly), which isn’t an option (my team would kill me if I wasn’t there for the field trip), so then I thought that maybe I could do it by Monday, but then I need to cut all those pieces out (THAT’S why I’ve been saving all those episodes of InsertCrappyTVShowNameHere) and try picking fabrics, and now it looks like I will be in upstate New York for at least three days or more during Spring Break and it’s looking pretty grim in terms of getting the ironing done.

Oh well. I still cleared my evening (meaning I ignored all the grading I brought home and anything else like yardwork or cleaning or whatever) because hell, I barely saw my kids yesterday (but I did run errands) and I basically didn’t talk to anyone at all after about 5:30 PM, and this is what it’s going to be like when they go to college. Every day. Depressing.

I lied. My brother and SIL called me (yes, I am that pitiful that they call me and check up on me, mostly because they bought this talking Mr. T thing at Archie McPhee that said things like “quit your jibber jabber” and “pity the fool” and they just can’t NOT share that with me) and talked to me about snow and Ivy League schools and my brother’s and my grades in high school and college (apparently I had better grades than him in high school because I applied myself better…a lot of good THAT did me, right?).

Anyway. More pictures of my favorite fusible, Wonder Under. I’ve been using Wonder Under to make quilts since um since (holy crap, I had to go look up my list of quilts to figure out when I started doing that) since January 2001, my first fused quilt (besides the one where I learned how to do it in the first place) was When Laundry Attacks

laundry 1 (Small)

clearly a feminist portrayal of the burden of motherhood. Seriously old-school Kathy. Love her hair though…best use of Australian aboriginal fabrics ever.

laundry face (Small)

This is the picture I use for all my avatar thingies, whatever they’re called, when I have to put my photo somewhere and I can get away with not using a REAL photo of me. But look how few pieces there are in that face! Holy crap, I’ve gotten complicated. She doesn’t even have EARS! I just realized that. Weird.

Anyway, so Wonder Under and I have been best buddies for a good long time, weathering the years of paper that released without warning all the time to the years of paper that refused to release. I think they’ve finally gotten the recipe back to normal. I buy it by the bolt.

So I’m up to three yards for this quilt (it will go much higher than that)…

Apr 2 14 002 small

I’m in the water section now, so lots of pointy wavy bits. Then tonight, assuming I trace tonight, I think I will finally be tracing one of the three humans in this quilt. Well, one is barely human. Presumably he was human at some point.

I traced for almost 3 hours last night…with my tea and everything spread out over the couches…

Apr 2 14 001 small

What were YOU doing last night? Probably something way more useful or productive or sociable. Not me! I am none of those things. OK, maybe I could argue productive in terms of producing art, but sometimes I wonder to what purpose. Not last night, though. The purpose? Distracting me from my actual existence, ironically by tracing a quilt that is about my angst about my actual existence. I know. But it makes me feel better. And at least they will have a lot to write about when they write my biography.


Tracing Motivation…

April 1, 2014

So why can’t I wear pajamas to school today? Oh yeah, it’s not pajama day. It might be wear-your-sports-jersey day, but that’s not usually a day I celebrate, like I didn’t wear my SDSU gear last week (um, because I didn’t go there for one thing, but also because not so into the big sports events). If it’s crazy hair day or hat day, though, I’m there. I always forget (until someone reminds me) how bad the week before Spring Break is in middle school…especially when it’s so late in the year like this year. Why we tie a break to a religious holiday, I will never understand. It makes a lot more sense to figure out how many weeks there are in the second half of the year, look at when testing is supposed to happen, and put the break in a place where it will support the students (and honestly, the teachers) most. Then again, and I hate to say this, I suspect my students would do better without all those long breaks where they forget to behave like a student, where they go through their backpacks and throw out everything, where they completely forget whatever topic we were learning about before. Get rid of Spring Break! Wait. Don’t do that. I need that break.

So yesterday? Wow. Ouch. Supreme frustration. I was doing deep breathing exercises most of the day. I thought about bringing my book today so that when that period that everyone has that refuses to do any work because they’re too focused on anything BUT work, when they start going off like they did yesterday, I can just settle down in my chair and read a few chapters until they get back on task. And I’m not teaching something easy at the moment…it’s mitosis…cell division. It seems easy, but it boggles their minds that something like this is happening ALL the time in their bodies. Even though it boggles them, though, they’re not willing to think about it, consider the details, let alone show me they get it with that fun thing we call an assessment.

So I came home supremely frustrated…and down because nothing I did worked. When the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, there is often nothing a teacher can do on days like that. I can change it up, engage with a video, tell goofy stories, have high expectations (I hate that one…), I could probably throw cupcakes into the air…oh no, wait, THAT they would get their attention. Food. Rewards. Money would probably work. So that’s what I carried home from work. After 14 after-school errands. Tired. Blood sugar off again. And there were two things I wanted to work on before I had to make dinner, but the girlchild needed my computer (and both the things I wanted to work on, you guessed it, on my computer). So I tried that dinner-making thing.

Wow. It really wasn’t my day. I had some weird ingredient and the instructions to open the container were in Spanish, so that was OK. I could figure that out, although it was the strangest thing I had opened and the instructions didn’t really work, but then the ingredient wasn’t in a form I expected. In fact, it was mostly unusable. I’m sure I was doing it wrong, but I had another similar option in the freezer that I knew would work, so I used that instead. Then two ingredients were just not in the cupboard. Strange. These are staples, things I always have, unless someone used them all up and didn’t tell me. Yup. She denied it though. Anyway, for a variety of reasons, dinner took forever to make and was kind of a lot of work for what it was. Tasted good, but I can’t handle that many minutes on a school night. We ate late.

So after meditation and exercise (at which point, my blood sugar was careening towards the other crazy extreme, making absolutely no sense biologically), I was really tired. In fact, I think I fell asleep in meditation. I don’t remember all the parts I was supposed to do. But I was still carrying around that crazy irritation, that bugged feeling from working a job that is often thankless and more often completely crazy and sometimes seemingly pointless (please, lord, do not let any child ask me today why they need to learn about mitosis, because I’m not sure I can give a coherent answer that doesn’t harken back to my mom’s constant “Because I said so.”).

That’s not a good thing. I can’t carry that to sleep. I’ll wake up with it still draped around my shoulders, still dragging me down. It will feed off the core depression and make it hard for me to even walk across the classroom, let alone find a way to encourage them to learn this weird process that helps explain all the crap that happens in genetics. Plus I can’t be in that mood space. It’s just too hard.

So I stood up, drank some water, looked at the clock, tried to balance my sleep needs and my artistic needs in my mind, and started tracing…

Apr 1 14 001 small

Yup. It’s crazy that I’m doing that at midnight. Totally and completely nuts. But I’m glad I did, because it let me fall asleep and I didn’t wake up in an awful place. It’s not a great place I’m in, because (1) I am tired and (2) I still have to teach mitosis today (trust me, I did totally consider blowing it off and showing baby animals videos), plus there’s a staff meeting about using Google docs (holey moley, shoot me now), but if I play music really loud during my prep (oh wait, I think I have to be making field trip group lists during prep…another hellish task). Dammit.

Deep breaths.

Hey, here’s some fish I traced!

Apr 1 14 002 small

You don’t want to know how small those fishy eyeballs are. I know. I really do try to keep my brain out of the muck. Some days it’s really hard, though.

I’ve done about 3 hours of tracing…and I’ve traced about 206 pieces…so it’s going really slowly. That could be because I’m doing it really late at night and I’m tired, or it could be really complicated pieces. Or both. Usually I figure 100 pieces/hour, so it would be about 17 hours to trace this whole thing. At the rate I’m going on this one, it will probably be closer to 23 hours. I really need to rethink the artmaking plan for Spring Break. It’s going to be less purposeful than I had hoped. My fault. I was not focused enough (here is where half the people who read my blog, the ones who read it for the art-related stuff, start gagging and sending me messages that I am the most focused art person they know and they wish they could do as much work as I do and I should just shut the fuck up and rejoice that I am making as much as I am…it’s all relative, though, isn’t it?).

I’m hard on myself. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t get any art made. I don’t always understand why making the art is so necessary to my existence, but it is, and as long as I can keep that in the front of my mind, I know that I can get out of bed and shower and get dressed and go to work at a job that is the most difficult (and yet sometimes the most rewarding) job I’ve ever had. And for now, that’s what I need to do. So I need that focus. I need to have the goals in place and they need to be something I’m working towards every day. Without that, I don’t know how I would do anything else.

Now I need to get out of the pajamas.


Zooming In…

March 31, 2014

It’s interesting to wake up the morning after the hike and try to figure out what the hell you did the day before to cause the specific, different muscle pain that you have today. For instance, why does my right quad hurt so much more than the left? Maybe because that’s the leg I used to pull myself up onto rocks when we were scrambling up the canyon toward the waterfalls?

Then there’s Poison Oak Paranoia: every slightly itchy feeling since Saturday, I’m checking for the rash. I’m convinced it will show up (and it can take up to 5 days to show up, which is scary). At some point, I’ll get around to posting about that hike, but I have to resize the photos and I was in two long meetings yesterday, so I ran out of time.

My women’s art group is doing a show with Mexican female artists in September/October about the border, more of a conceptual collaborative piece than everyone contributing a single piece of art, so it requires meetings and brainstorming and working with people who work very differently than I do. I realize my experience of the border by being a teacher of students who regularly cross it is very different than others. I’m not entirely sure what I feel about it except that it seems to break up families and make it more difficult for certain groups of people, especially those who really don’t need more trouble in their lives. I read a book a few years ago about four Hispanic girls and the Dream Act and how this arbitrary line that we draw affected their lives. Anyway, you will probably see more about this project in the future, but know that right now, I am envisioning floating 3D fabric houses in the air above our real-live fence. And how that will go together. I think it’s good to force the art brain to work out of its comfort zone, out of what it’s used to doing.

Girlchild survived her weekend camp and came back invigorated and excited (she is so much more of an extrovert than I am). She had to tell everyone who her role model was as one of their team-building/introduction exercises, and she told me she chose me, and I said, “because you want to be a depressed, crazy old woman in your future?” and she said, no, because she wanted to be strong like me. Sigh. And I don’t feel strong at all most days. It’s like dragging myself along through the mud most days, but I guess she’s right. I just wish I didn’t HAVE to be so strong. It would be OK to have less to deal with and get through and to not have to feel like I’m always surviving things. I’d be OK with that. I guess I should tell her, some day, when it doesn’t make me burst into tears, that a huge part of my strength comes from having her and her brother around, that if they hadn’t been here this year, if they’d been off at college or even if they’d been around but not supportive (which believe it or not, they have been), then I don’t know where I’d be right now…maybe still in bed and under the covers. Maybe worse. Sigh.

I graded a little, but I didn’t let it take over my day. Then I traced some more…

Mar 30 14 001 small

Honestly, this seems to be taking forever and I don’t know why. Complicated pieces? Tired brain? Hard to say. Lots of little skeleton pieces…hey, I must be tracing dirt again! Dirt, then water. Skeletons, then bodies. Then birds, always the birds…and cats. Actually, I think this one has a dog instead of a cat. I don’t remember drawing a cat. The drawing is so big and took so long to do that I don’t remember, and when I’m tracing it, it’s upside down on the light table, so I can’t see all of it. I literally only see the little section that I’m tracing.

Kinda how I’m living life at the moment…just the little section I can handle each day. The night before I usually think about the little section I will handle the following day, but I try not to think further ahead than that unless I have to. It’s too hard. It feels too empty.

Brain. You really need to rewire yourself. Being smart and reflective and all inside-looking and crap? It ain’t helping you at the moment. Look out. See the whole drawing, not just the piece you’re on.

Nope. That’s what gets me in trouble right now. Trying to see the whole picture. I zoom out, the brain freaks out, and I zoom back in, quickly erasing whatever set it off. I don’t know whether that’s the healthiest thing to do or not…it’s just what I’m doing to survive right now.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 194 other followers