Book Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish

July 23, 2014

I get asked to review kids’ books sometimes, because of my teacher thing, so I recently read The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm.



It’s a cute story about a girl whose grandfather sends himself back to being a teenager. They marketed it as being about passion for science, and there is some of that in the story, but mostly it seems like coming of age. That said, it’s a little on the young side. I would market this towards elementary school, even though the characters are in high school. It’s written to that level.

This seems silly to complain about, and it’s not the author’s fault, but I was really distracted by the fish art at the beginning of each chapter, mostly because the numbers of fish kept changing, going up, then down, but they didn’t match the chapter number, which bugged me. My brain works that way, though, and the distraction became an issue. Also, the title is explained in the story, but it doesn’t really make sense. I don’t want to give away any story details, but it seemed a stretch to relate the goldfish story back to what happens in the real story. The ending also seems a little out there, unbelievable. Not that the main premise is totally believable either, but that one I can roll with.

Like I said, though, it’s a cute story, an easy read, for an elementary school kid (or language learners in the older grades), but the story is pretty simplistic and has some issues that honestly, most kids probably wouldn’t notice.

Damaged Goods

July 19, 2014

Before you get all freaked out about the title, which surely is appropriate for so many things at the moment (the exercise bike is currently duct-taped together because boychild went a little macho on moving it…and then there’s my brain, which I would use duct tape on if I thought it would help), I got invited to this last night…

Damaged Goods

It was great. There were three writers who told their stories while 3-4 dancers interpreted…well, the boychild was disdainful of the phrase “interpretative dance,” and I wouldn’t call it that…I would call it a multimedia presentation: words, video, dance, a little music/sound. Kind of like a play, but not really. So the dancers were part of the act. It was put on by the Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater with So Say We All, which you might remember from the winter, when I went to a couple of their events where writers read their pieces on a particular theme, often with powerpoint pictures in the background, illustrating their words. This was similar, except the dancers were not illustrating…or really interpreting…but adding another facet to the literature. During the first piece on PTSD, Justin Hudnall spoke passionately about what PTSD feels like, while the dancers became the feelings, vibrating or falling, or at one point, grabbing his limbs and torso and lowering him to the floor in uncomfortable positions.

In April’s story, April Ventura tells about being diagnosed with an STD and its effects on her life, with an amusing twist, while the dancers interact with a shopvac. And in the last one, Brian Simpson tells a story of a gun and being in foster care. All three writers/speakers performed their stories well, with a touch of sarcasm and humor in all the right places, because their topics were uncomfortable, and the dancers did not shy away from enhancing that feeling. The dancers were Rachel Holdt, who also did the videography, Liv Isaacs-Nollet, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, and Trystan Loucado.

It was a good last-minute invite. I have always enjoyed dance, more the modern stuff, for the movement and ideas it puts into my brain for drawings, how limbs move and fit together. Storytelling has always been a love of mine, so this was the best of both worlds.

It did mean I didn’t get as much done yesterday as I had planned, but that’s OK. I had a good reason. I came home tired, but also to teen drama, so that didn’t help. I guess it says something that she already knew she was in trouble.

Earlier in the day, I managed some quilting, finishing Bird 5…

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And then Bird 6…

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I spent some more creative energies on quilting 6 because the quilting shows better on the lighter backgrounds. Plus it’s in the air, flying, so I wanted to emphasize the movement of the wings affecting the space around it.

At some point, the machine was doing that stupid excessive thread-breakage thing, so I fussed with it, changed a needle, used something on the thread, which is probably old. Tried to slow down. Less herky jerky.

I set up for Bird 7, but didn’t find the time or energy to get going on it. Maybe today. I’ve already been to one game in a soccer tournament, at least two to go, maybe four.

When I got back from counseling (yes, twice this week, which might give you a clue as to how things are going in my head; basically I summarized it to the counselor as alternating between raw blinding pain mixed with gut-wrenching sadness and completely numb. Neither seems right. Or healthy.), boychild had emptied like 8 boxes of books into 3 bookshelves. He’s super-efficient…

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whereas I’m sitting there with that one tiny bookshelf, trying to decide whether I need all these books, finding one acrylic painting book from my dead great-aunt where she had obviously torn out half the pages in the book (huh?) and it was mostly useless. We worship books in my family. It’s very hard to trash anything, let alone get rid of it, especially if it seems to have some historical significance. So in my section, everything is piled up on the floor as I try to decide what to do with everything.

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Piles of sketchbooks too…I’m trying to reduce the crap here. Anyway. No, I’m not done. Leave me alone. And I find if it’s not out where I can see it, I forget it exists.

When I got home from performance, I realized that waiting around all day for the plumber who never showed meant that I never copied the drawing from the night before. The copy place doesn’t close until 11 (score!), so I left teen drama central and went and did that…so I can maybe work on it tonight? I want it done!

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I’m trying to leave space at the top for the tree. But they need feet too. Or do they? Have not decided what happening at the bottom. Actually. Wait. I lie. I have decided. Just now. Huh. The brain works well sometimes, at least on things of significance, like finishing drawings. Cuz that’s gonna save my world.

And then I finished my book, another of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I’m ignoring his sexist crap for now, because I think he truly believes he’s on the side of women, although that is another topic of discussion, as I’m reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, current CEO of Facebook, formerly of Google. And doing that drawing. And wondering about how comics treat females. Or for that matter, how anything treats females. And wondering if I can drop that whole issue into my own book somehow (how many major issues can you have? Probably not a lot). I actually like the Dresden Files…I just know I’d have to knee him in the proverbial balls if I ever met him…Butcher, I mean…not Dresden. He’s fictional. He has an excuse.

So lots on the plate for today and tomorrow…forcing myself to consort with humans and return house to normal…but also pushing the art stuff in there to keep the duct tape in the right parts of the brain.


Book Review: Broken Monsters

July 14, 2014

I recently read Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, a South African author also known for The Shining Girls. NetGalley recently offered up Broken Monsters, her newest US release.



I started reading the book assuming it was a mystery, not having read Beukes before (she’s listed as sci fi, dystopian, urban fantasy, which this may fall under, but only by the skin of its teeth). I do think it reads well as a mystery. She had a couple different story arcs going on between the detective and her daughter, both dealing with the grittier aspects of Chicago. There’s a vlogger (by accident, I would say) who brings in an internet aspect to the story, and there’s definitely a mystery to be solved.

I really liked this book until about the last 20 pages. Then it went all nuclear on me, and I have to say, I’m a very tolerant reader. I can handle stuff that’s out there in terms of genre, and this book does mess with the mystery genre. The ending is simply not satisfying. I don’t need a happy ending (although this one attempts that). I just need one that has some sense, and if you’re going to go out there, to attempt to bring the supernatural or some such into your book in the very end, tying it to whatever is inhabiting your killer’s brain, then it needs to either BE there or not. The vague random semi-spiritual/evil/I don’t know what was at the end of this book? Eh.

That said, Beukes writes well and I will read at least The Shining Girls, but I was disappointed by the ending. It felt like it was written by a different author for a different book. Scary thriller mystery? Yes. Mostly.

Book Review: I Am the Mission

July 10, 2014

One of the things that drives me crazy about this series is the fact that every book has two titles and it’s called the Boy Nobody series, but that’s not how he’s referred to in the books, so there’s this huge disconnect. Oh, and on this one, it’s called The Unknown Assassin Book 2. DUDE. Whether it’s you or your publisher, you are shooting yourself in the foot by not making a decision about the titles and the series title. PICK ONE. OK, I Googled this mess (and this isn’t the first time I’ve done it, so apparently I typed in the right string of words this time, which is problematic already, because ALL the possible strings should give me this answer), here’s what Zadoff has to say about it, which basically distills to follow the titles with Assassin and Mission in them. Because of marketing. Or something.

That said, the series is relatively good. The books are short, and this one seemed even shorter than the last one. Which is strange, because it’s apparently 432 pages, 80 pages longer than the first one. OK, so it’s a quick read. Seriously, he does keep the action going…

i am the mission



Enough that he has to start writing about the mistakes the main character, a teenage assassin who is questioning his missions and his bosses, makes because HE isn’t sleeping…because we’re not sleeping either because there’s no down time for this character. So there’s always some questionable science in these books, but it’s not enough to really throw you off, and it’s definitely written towards a YA audience, I would think male or female into assassination and rebellion and finding yourself (sort of, but not really). This one touches on terrorism and anti-government sentiments, which is interesting, because the character is supposed to be PART of the government (or IS he?). But we’re left with yet another cliffhanger so we have to read the next one.

You can’t fault Zadoff for his tense, driven writing. You can fault him for his female characters. They strip their clothes off at a moment’s notice. Mother is the closest to a normal female in the series, and she’s kind of a hardass herself, which is fine, because she doesn’t get naked on him. That would be creepy.

Sure, I’ll read the next one…in about 2 hours by the pool or at the gym on the elliptical. It’s not deep fiction, but it’s entertaining enough.

Book Review: Virgin

July 6, 2014

As you are surely aware, I read a lot. And sometimes I read for NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing books. I get lots of emails from them suggesting book titles, and when I’m totally buried in books, I often ignore them…but you know earlier this week was bad for life, so I was reading a lot. One of the suggestions sounded at least intriguing, so I read Radhika Sanghani’s Virgin.


So. It’s short. I read it in one evening. Is it good? Eh. I did go back and read all the other reviews after I had read it, and I’m confused about what book they read, but then again, maybe it’s because I’m old. Her issues seemed really lame. I mean, I don’t doubt there are girls out there in their last year of college who are virgins and who are stressed out about it, and the bit about the waxing was amusing, and as a science teacher, my incessant need to yell out, “It’s not your fucking vagina, you dumbass…it’s your vulva!” during the whole book is probably an issue. But I just wasn’t engaged with the story or the characters or any of it honestly.

So there we are. I gave it a 2 out of 5 on Goodreads. I did finish it; it was a quick read. Maybe someone else will be more amused by its pithy girlishness than I was.

Not Good with the Waiting…

July 3, 2014

So one of the triggers for my bad moods, the sad stuff, is not getting anything artistic done. I know this. I tell myself this all the time, but I get to this place where I can’t DO anything…except pick up a book, even though I know I need to. I’m physically tired, mentally exhausted, and the only thing I can handle as I’m standing in the chaotic space that is currently my house is a book. So I’ve read a LOT of them in the last two days. I really just need to shake off the mood and DO, and I think it will be better. There’s a lot of waiting around when you’re doing renovations though…waiting for contractors to show, waiting for things to dry. I hate waiting. I suck at it. Really. I do. I fidget and I can’t get anything started because I don’t know how much time I have, and I hate that.

I don’t wait well. Best if you don’t make me wait if at all possible, or if you do make me wait, give me a fairly accurate time of unwaiting or I will get irritated. I try to deal with my dislike of waiting by playing stupid games on my phone or reading blogs (they don’t take long to read), but at some point, I’m fairly sure I have better things to do than wait. Really, it’s rude to make me wait beyond a certain amount. But there are plenty of reasons why you have to wait…I’m better when I know there’s a reason (like the carpet has to come from some other state or the contractor already has jobs lined up). I get those. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t bug me. I don’t like waiting when it’s just because you forgot or you lost track of time…and yes, I know there are people like that. I gave birth to one. You tell her we’re leaving in 5 minutes, and when that 5 minutes is up, THEN she gets up and gets ready. Which is why I tell her “5 minutes” when it’s really 10. Yeah. Someday she’ll figure out that I’m doing that.

Anyway, this house stuff is a shitload of waiting. My life, honestly, is tons of waiting without really knowing what I’m waiting for or how to make it stop being waiting and instead being. Remember that interview question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Oh hell. Fuck if I know. With both kids graduated, me completely broke (like worse than now). That’s all I can see. The rest is unknown. I can’t predict it. I don’t even want to hope for anything, because then where are you at when you get there and that’s not where you are? I thought I knew where I’d be this year at this time, and I was completely wrong, and that still feels like shit and probably will for a while. So what’s the point of that question? I know, they want to know what my ambitions are: “I see myself more sane than I am now, and hopefully the house is cleaner because the kids will not be living here.” Beyond that? Don’t know. Can’t see that far. Don’t want to see that far in case it’s just more of this.

So yesterday I waited for the mirror guys…see that wall o’ mirrors, the wall o’ 70s flashbacks?

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They showed up with their fancy tools and their hang-loose hand gestures (seriously, he did the hang loose and then said “ciao”…) and in 20 minutes, they had all 4 panels down and out of the house.

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OH MY GOD. Why didn’t I do this 17 years ago when we moved in? I thought it would be a lot more expensive than it was. The kids say the room looks smaller, but I don’t see it. I just see a Lack of Mirrors and I have to tell you, that is the closest I’ve gotten to happy happy joy joy in a year.

It didn’t last long, though, because then I’m looking at this.

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Giant Sighs of Drywall Damage Hell. The plus is that my college art degree qualifies me to fix this. OK, really, it’s not that hard, right? There is texture all over this wall, so I’m going to have to patch the texture.

The carpet guy showed up in here too (didn’t have to wait for him…he just showed up without calling, which honestly is better). Unfortunately, we’re not getting carpet NEXT week, so I will have to live with chaos through the middle of July. AARGH. Sigh. I knew that might happen and I have a plan to move stuff a bit more slowly and stash it in my bedroom and the boychild’s bedroom (because the girlchild’s room looks like a hurricane hit it, which technically it did, and there is zero available floor space. It’s just damn scary in there)…and then the day before, we will deal with the major furniture issues. But I need to get those two walls done first…

I spent yesterday scraping mastic off, with dad helping, and then when I went off to an appointment, he started patching…the hole on the right had a speaker wire in it. I don’t know why. We don’t have speakers. It didn’t appear to be attached to anything.


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I had book club last night, which turned into an interesting discussion of women in science and how it’s STILL an issue to be a woman and to do science, and so many people, men and women, believe that it’s so much better, when really, it’s not. After the last few book clubs I’ve gone to, I find it impossible NOT to evaluate a book’s ability to be fair to female characters, and the comics industry is even worse when it comes to this because of the art involved…you aren’t just imagining what a character looks like and what they’re thinking, you have a freakin’ picture of them. So now I read both comics and literature with this eye towards how we represent women, how we treat them when they are dealing with things that are purely female (periods, pregnancy, sex–which is different for women, menopause, aging). What questions do we ask in interviews of women that we don’t ask of men? Can you tell the gender of an author merely by reading their text? Dan Simmons? Obviously male. Robin Hobbs? I thought she did a relatively good job with males and females. And dogs, for that matter, although she needs to stop KILLING them. OK, it was for the story. I get it. I thought it was interesting to read LOCAS II, because Jaime Hernandez is a male Hispanic artist, but almost all the characters are female, and he does a relatively good job of portraying a wide range of truly female emotions and actions. His men? His men are a little freaky. Ray’s probably the best…

ANYWAY, I came home tired and ate and exercised and read a whole ‘nother book, because it’s all I could handle, and then went to bed and was awakened by the phone ringing, which I ignored, but probably shouldn’t have, because it was followed by dad knocking on the door to finish spackling.

Well, and there was THIS noise…I don’t know what the damn cat was doing, but I came in to this.


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And there’s dad, sanding up a storm. He finished all the spackle, but I’ll be spending Independence Day texturing stuff. And hopefully ironing, because REMEMBER?


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This is my road to a decent mood. Not the wall. The art. I gotta do some waiting before that though. Sigh.

I Can’t Opt Out of the Tree-Killing…

July 2, 2014

Hello Internet. I have talked to very few people in the last 24 hours…in fact, I think all of them were either related to me by blood or they were providing a service for which they were paid. Hmn. That sounds bad. I went to look at carpet for the living room. I said “No Thank You” to the Kohls’ lady who wanted me to get their rewards card, and I ordered a burrito. I said yes to salsa. The guy at the gym talked to me because I can never get my card to scan. Apparently it takes special skills for that. I also talked to my mental health insurance company about the plethora of trees they are killing by sending me three pieces of paper in the mail in an envelope every time I go to counseling. I feel sorry for those who need counseling multiple times/week…I mean, first of all, because they need that much therapy but also because of the trees they are killing.

It turns out I can’t opt out of the tree-killing. I must endure it. I do not understand. It’s like the silly yellow immunization record I’m supposed to bring every time the kids go to the doctor. We lost boychild’s years ago, and I never remember girlchild’s. Why is it not all accessible on the web? Well, it sort of is, but they still want that yellow piece of folded paper in its funny plastic cover.

So the plus with going to work every day is that I often have substantive conversations with humans I’m not related to, and I don’t have to pay them to have those conversations. Instead, I spend a lot of time hiding in books or avoiding the darkly dank bits of my brain. Not fun.

When I woke up this morning and opened my blinds, this is what I saw…

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Now yes, I know, it’s a nasty bit of dirt that used to be a lawn, and it will eventually be something nicer, but I’m not planting things in the summer because it’s silly in Southern California when there will be no rain for the next four or five months to plant things unless you plan to water them a lot. You can see where the trees belong though…in the place where I don’t have to stare at my neighbor’s truck. So dad found some trees, maybe, and hopefully later this week we will deal with that. Or next week. Because at least I can plant the trees and something else to block delivery guys from wondering where the fuck my front door is (because that ain’t it). And yes, that’s where they left the box. Right there. In the middle of the dirt.

The box was addressed to the boychild and had this lovely tape on it.

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Yes, this is how my life is at the moment. Tape is exciting. And uses the word pilfer. I’m betting none of my students know what pilfer means. Although I did teach them irk and vex, so I could have taught them pilfer as well. Next year. I’m also going to teach them how to make a proper British cup of tea, so they can stop asking me about my coffee (if it has milk in it, it must be coffee?). The next most common question in my class besides “Can I go to the bathroom?” which is always answered with, “Yes, I believe you know HOW, but not right now,” is “What’s THAT for?” while pointing at the eyewash. Hate that thing. I bump into it constantly, it’s in a stupid fucking location, whole room is designed by a blind dehydrated poodle, and it doesn’t matter that I demonstrate how and why to use it on like the third day of school, I will get asked about 148 times during the year (there are only 183 school days; you do the math) about what it’s for. I’m thinking of making posters for the most annoying questions so I’ll just have to point at them. Of course, one of those posters would simply say, “It’s not coffee; it’s tea.” Maybe I could have one of the Doctors saying it. David Tennant would probably do that for me. I’ll text him.

OH MY. I can actually have my tea in a David Tennant mug.


Unfortunately, the link goes to a mug with not quite as much handmade character, but here it is…and really, if I got this for school, I’d just have to explain who it was to 95% of my students.

Yes, I need to get out more. I’m going to be doing that tomorrow. Maybe. Because the girlchild started texting me at midnight about her bee sting. She stepped on a bee at the soccer tournament yesterday afternoon, and it didn’t start swelling until last night, and tonight it’s bugging her again (please don’t make me say something about how walking around on a bee sting injury at the Del Mar Fair might have made it worse, because you honestly can’t tell a 16-year-old anything like that…they will just turn it into some drama about what an awful mother you are and did you call her stupid?). I gave her some recommendations (ice, Benadryl, Motrin, cold washcloth), but she’s leaving tomorrow for Anaheim for a huge Key Club convention, so inevitably the foot will go south once she’s up there, probably in the middle of the night, so I’m expecting to have to drive to Anaheim in the middle of the night tomorrow to take her to the hospital. Seriously. Sigh.

Meanwhile, boychild and I finished painting another two walls. All that’s left is the long 22-foot wall where the mirrors are…they come down tomorrow. Worst-case scenario, we’ll have to replace drywall. Which I don’t know how to do. Minor issue. There’s the little piece of wall next to the fireplace too. It has a mastic issue. I’m hoping for carpet installation by the end of next week (I can hope, can’t I?). Then put the house back in some semblance of order, because it’s reminding me too much of an episode of Hoarders at the moment…like the season finale.

I did iron a bit today…but not until late…

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These bits are fussy. And very light. I think that was on purpose. I did manage to do the hand on the right side too. Up into the pelvic bone next, then into the torso. The uterus…it’s not in the body. She’s holding it. This is a quilt about menopause and how it fucks with all your systems…including the mental crap. Really, between the hormones and the diabetic stuff, it’s amazing my mind isn’t totally crumbling. Well, maybe it is.

I read a lot today. Couldn’t deal. That’s what happens when I can’t deal. I finished this…


Locas II by Jaime Hernandez. I’ve read some of the Love and Rockets series, and couldn’t find Locas I in the library. It was OK, sometimes really good and sometimes just crazy and even unintelligible, which might just come from not living in that world. Plus I couldn’t always tell the characters apart, especially when they changed hair color. But the graphic style is really nice.

I also read Relish by Lucy Knisley, which is the next book-club selection. I really liked this, and will hand it off to the girlchild, because it’s all about being in love with food…


It’s a really nice story about how Lucy fell in love with food over the years and the influence her parents had on her food connections. There’s even a few recipes in there. Her drawing style is really nice and clean.

Anyway, I suspect there will be less time tomorrow to lose myself in words (I even wrote tonight…over 900 words of the book, plus the 1400 I’ve written here). So all those things should add up to good. My counselor often asks me if things are good, if I remember what happy or joyful feel like. I have some vague memory of it, but I always have to stop and think about it…the third book I started today, Allen Zadoff’s The Lost Mission (or I Am the Mission, depending on what you think they might title it), had this to say: “I’ll give you a hint…if you have to think about it that long, it’s not happiness.” Yeah. I’m with you on that.  A lot of it is just filler. And yes, I realize that reading actual books makes me even more of a tree killer…

I Had Cement for Her…*

July 1, 2014

I cannot find my head. It’s lost in a book somewhere, or under a pile of things to be filed, or perhaps I left it in Google Docs where I’m apparently writing a story of my own (best to wish you aren’t in it). It could be on a soccer field with the girlchild’s flipflops or in the hotel room in Corona where I left my nail scissors (dammit). It’s not here, though. It’s not engaged in anything. It’s performing tasks as told, based on a list. I guess the list is logical: Keep working on getting the living room done. Keep working on getting the big quilt done (and then moving on to the next logical step in the quiltmaking process). Keep checking things off that are supposed to get done. Keep reading, just take up the next book in the pile or the one that’s due back to the library next or the one that has to be read before the next book club meeting.

I’m stressed. I know that. There are many things that I am juggling and I don’t feel good about it. There is no relief when one is done, when it is retired from the juggling horde. It seems every time I get rid of one, two take its place.

Where is the part of my life where I lie by the pool with a drink and birds chirping and a nice book in hand? Having an intelligent conversation with someone I enjoy? Feeling at peace with the world, content, happy with my lot in life?

Fuck me. I really suck at this.

I think I need to find more time for exercise, meditation, and drawing. Funny that. It’s vacation. I should have plenty of time. I know I don’t have any peace…not much at the moment. Even ironing tonight gave me fits…

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So I didn’t do a lot of it. I’m hoping to do more tomorrow. Hopefully I will feel less tired and more successful at crossing things off my lists. This is part of a leg…a sorta crazy chaotic leg. It will make more sense when the stitching outlines the appropriate bits.

I think what I really need is a new life. Still. All year I’ve needed that. I keep trying to make one, but it just doesn’t work out. I think it’s because I’d just rather stay home and draw or read a book or make another quilt. Even those don’t make me feel good, though. It’s escapism. People are just not in my current life formula.

Escaping your own existence. Seems like a bad TV mini-series. I don’t have the clothes or makeup for that.

Girlchild tells me every time she sees the sign at the grocery store for the shingles vaccine, she reads it as “singles vaccine” and is confused. “Dammit,” I say…”I forgot to get that when I was younger. That’s the source of all my problems right there.” She tells me to shut up, but laughs as well. She doesn’t like it when depressed mom comes out, even when she comes out making jokes about herself…which honestly, is probably the best way to be at the moment. Sure it would be great to just magically slough off the depression, but failing that (and that does fail, by the way, don’t wiggle your pretty little nose at me and tell me how if I just SMILE, everything will be fucking perfect), this is better than the alternatives. Really. It is.

So. Today was the last day of the soccer showcase, driving up to Pomona yet again…

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Girlchild stepped on a bee. Because she was barefoot. Because she left her flipflops way the freak over THERE and mom had to go get them. After the bee incident. And then there were tears.

Today was the day I finished two of these guys…

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I think that means 11 out of 30 are done. Not great, considering these are from last year. Whatever.

I listened to 10 parents talk about their kids’ college plans. Poor girls. So much pressure. I try to minimize that. I gave birth to a stress monkey, so I tell her I know she will get in somewhere decent and she will be happy wherever she goes, and she freaks out about it, because her brother got into an Ivy and that means that’s what she wants. I don’t know if that will make her happy. I don’t think it would have made ME happy. Then again, I have such a vague memory of that emotion…when it touches me, that feeling, a reminder of that feeling, because I don’t have it now, it just hurts and I cry. I know a college wouldn’t have gotten me there. Hard to tell that to a teenager though. They basically don’t listen to a word you say.

I worked on these guys…

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They are closer to done than they were. In fact, a couple of them are almost done.

I also finished this book…


in fact, if I had read less, I would have gotten those damn birds done, but my brain, it was in that bad place (spending three days dealing with soccer games, parents, and girlchild’s related moods will do that to you, unless you have a magical outlet, a rejuvenating place that brings you back to normal)…so I read instead. I’ve always been a Stephen King fan. He messes with his characters like no one else, and this detective story is good, although somewhat formulaic…King-style, though. I still really enjoyed it (and read it really fucking fast, so there).

I’m not sure reading horror is the best treatment for depression, but neither are rom-coms or YA books half the time either. Or 90% of what’s on the telly. I seem to do best with fantasy/sci fi, but even that’s a stretch sometimes. No books that remind me that at one time I had something approximating a life and now, well, now I don’t know what I have. It’s not really there, ethereal and sad, but insubstantial, feather-light in the hands. Whisks away before you can close your fingers on it. It’s not even real.

Cat puke. Laundry. Bills. Mold. Those are real.

Today’s blog title is brought to you by my favorite poet, writer, thinker ever…e.e. cummings…


Seriously. Reading him is the closest to happy I get at the moment.

You Must Read…

June 30, 2014

So, if you were my neighbor, then just a few minutes after midnight, you saw me wandering my front yard, barefoot with a flashlight (actually, the first time I was barefoot WITHOUT a flashlight). That’s because Amazon claimed they delivered my tea (very important) and my book club selection (also important, since the library will not be coughing up a copy for a good long time) yesterday, and we hadn’t seen it…and it’s not a small box…I get 480 teabags (British) at a time…although Amazon sells them for half of what I used to pay locally. Since tearing out three tall skinny trees to put in the new septic leach field, there’s an opening to my front lawn that did not used to exist, and increasingly, delivery people believe it’s the access to my front door. I had even checked out the door from my bedroom that goes to the tiny deck off that front area, which is normally enclosed by bushes and trees and completely invisible to everyone but the gas meter guy, and I don’t think they even check that any more. Sure enough, once I had the flashlight and started checking all the available greenery, I found the damn box in the middle of nowhere, hiding behind a tree.

Yo Dad. I’m buying trees this week, if even to just put them in their pots where they will eventually be planted, because this is getting silly.

So. Yeah. Soccer. Driving. Dry wind. Hot. Hotel room. Stomach-cramping breakfast. Tired. I managed to finish yesterday’s drawing while sitting in the middle of the soccer team before the 2nd game…

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I don’t usually draw with people around because they ask questions, but my head hurt and I was tired and it was what I wanted to do, and honestly, it’s not as rated R as most of my stuff. I also stitched and read, but I was reading Stephen King, which is like a whole ‘nother issue. I think the only benign thing I did, the only thing that no one could question, was the stitching. I’ll photograph them tomorrow after the third game (and 4+ more hours of driving…I drive half, girlchild does the other half).

We could have stayed up there another night, but I needed to get stuff done here, like sanding and washing the next set of walls…we moved a piano!

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The next two walls to be painted are the one on the right, where the piano used to be (seems almost pointless to paint it when it will be 80% covered by piano and bookshelf, but whatever) and the wall with the sliding glass door and giant window. Then all we have left is the wall with the mirrors, which are coming down on Wednesday, and the one next to the fireplace, which has a mastic issue at the moment. Carpet is next on the list. Picking it this week, hopefully installing next week. I can only handle this level of chaos for a short period of time, and then I start to go a bit bonkers. (GO…ha ha ha. very funny)

So the soccer…this is the first tournament since girlchild’s back surgery in March. She didn’t do physical therapy, because she didn’t need to. They put two pins in her back and some growth hormone to persuade the bone to heal, but this is it. And it’s a joy to see her play…

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Because she was really playing, seriously kicking some people’s butts, even though she’s totally out of shape…

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And that girl jumps way higher than she does (the LA team was a little frightening in many ways)…

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But she played half the game today and is physically tired, but not hurting in a bad way, despite all the contact during the game.

This one…our player and the girlchild both hit it with their heads, but both had their eyes closed, and it basically rolled down the girlchild’s body.

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You can see the goalie behind them. If some other player had had the brains to be standing right in front of them, it would have been a goal, but no such luck. This is not really a tournament you win…it’s a college showcase, and basically girlchild has decided (quite intelligently) that she will be picking schools for their academics, and once she has her short list, she’ll start contacting the soccer coaches there. Soccer doesn’t bring the big scholarships, but I think she’d still like to play if she can.

So while we play in these, she’s not really super-bothered about who’s watching her…as she puts it, mostly it’s local schools (Southern California) and she wants to go farther than that.

So there’s one more kamikaze drive tomorrow and then we’re done for a couple of weeks, when there’s another one. Meanwhile, she communes with her friends…

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Listening to music and talking and snapchatting, all at the same time.

We saw this sign up in Pomona…

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Which reminds me, I’m making a phone call tomorrow to see if I can get a scholarship for a mindfulness class locally. It’s way too expensive otherwise. The director asked me to call, though, so we’ll see what they can do for me. Maybe nothing, but if you don’t ask? Then you don’t ever get…right? I don’t know if the Bible says that.

One of the reasons I wanted to come home tonight is because the ironing is talking to me, the talk of the artist-addict. I finished ironing this guy together…

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And then did the arm on the other side…

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It was about 100 pieces. I’m 9 1/2 hours into the ironing, a little less than halfway through the pieces at 720 or so. I found two of the missing pieces, but am now missing two more. There’s some weird universe-balancing aspect going on there…not sure I understand it. I do know I want it done and that I need to get working on the birds too.

Moodwise, spending time with the girlchild falls halfway between really nice (at dinner, at one point in the car) and absolute hell (when you can’t say anything right, it’s all wrong and I often just can’t deal with that). I know that’s normal for teens…wish I could manage my own reactions to it better, but it is what it is. It does make it hard, though…because I feel like I don’t have anyone I can check in with on weekends like this, there’s no one to commiserate with, to help talk me through it, through my emotional reaction to constantly being railed at. There’s no mood stabilizer. It’s all on me, and I don’t have it in me.

So I cry. Again. And then I get to iron for an hour or so and things get calmer, more peaceful. Note to self: less drama and teens, more artmaking. Oh, if only that were truly possible.

I finished a book this week. It took me a long time to read this…China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station


partially because of all the work on the house and partially because it was long and DENSE (boychild’s words), but really good. What’s also interesting is googling images for the characters in the book. I think the artists have done fairly well with Lin, but I didn’t see a good Garuda, as far as I had seen Yagharek in my mind’s eye. The slake moths, yes, and the Voldyanoi…but the Cactucae? Not so much. I work really hard at visualizing a place and the characters, and I think part of what makes this level of fantasy/sci fi difficult for many readers is that it is hard to do that…Hyperion was the same way, with all the different planets and species. I will read more books by Mieville, although he apparently wanders genres like my brain wanders during staff meetings, so who knows what that will look like. Again, these literary worlds are much nicer places to live, even when filled with nasty creatures out for your brain’s emanations, than my brain is right now…so I’ll keep reading.

“You must read, you must persevere, you must sit up nights, you must inquire, and exert the utmost power of your mind. If one way does not lead to the desired meaning, take another; if obstacles arise, then still another; until, if your strength holds out, you will find that clear which at first looked dark.” 
― Giovanni Boccaccio

I Am Stumbling. I Must Not Fall.*

June 24, 2014

Two places are safe at the moment: deep in a storyline like the one from the blog title, or way up in my artist’s brain, tracing or ironing something. There is nowhere else that I can be at the moment that doesn’t hurt. I’ve been divorced for a long time–the separation took place in 2002–but there are still things that can happen related to the divorce that are reminders of that stomach-dropping nausea of realization, that cut you deep and make you wonder why people behave as they do. It’s convenient, I guess, if you don’t have to consider your actions and how they relate to other people. I guess if that’s how your brain works. Mine doesn’t. I’ve spent a million years considering my actions.

So yesterday. Yeah. I read, I meditated, I traced Wonder Under…

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because otherwise I would crawl into a hole of WHY? and never come out. I’m not in a good place; I know that. I’m trying. I’m staying busy, too busy probably. I am letting some things drop, just because I can’t seem to do ALL the things. My brain. It sucks.

I traced the last three birds, which were bigger and more complicated than the others, but still, I’m at about 30 minutes for the larger birds…the quickest bird I’ve traced was number 3, in just over 7 minutes. The next step is to cut out all the Wonder Under…and then I’m supposed to iron to fabrics, but I think I need to finish ironing this big quilt, which I haven’t touched in a few days. So maybe I force myself to do that today. It was overwhelming last night. I couldn’t get my head there. It’s easier to trace Wonder Under, a kind of brainless task that also engages a huge part of my brain that would otherwise wander off into rumination ruination. Tonight it will have to deal, though.

So we did finally finish painting the smaller room…two shelves ended up needing 3 coats to cover the previous layers of dirt and yucky. Then we started pulling apart the dining area…the boychild really is a slavedriver in some ways. He seems to enjoy the archaeological-dig aspect more than I do. We’re tossing and recycling a ton of stuff, and then the girlchild came home and started on her piles, so that helped. Here’s where we’re at now…

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Lots of furniture moving around and books being boxed. Still need to deal with the piles on the table, but honestly could paint with all that there…but today is wash and patch day…because I need to deal with this…

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this remnant of trying to find a water leak that wasn’t a leak at all in a part of the house that has no water pipes. Long story. I have the stuff to fix it, but need additional stuff, which might be coming from the Dad Store…you know what that is. It’s the pile of stuff your dad has in his garage that helps you finish your project without having to go back to Home Depot for the 10th time. I just didn’t have it in me yesterday. I went to Dixieline (closer) to get plug plates for the walls, handed them to the boychild, and he promptly broke two of them by overtightening the screws. Nice. Anyway…today I fix that hole and a bunch of smaller, less-challenging ones, and we wash walls (if you never move your furniture, you never know how disgusting it is behind it, which might be a good thing), and tomorrow we paint, because we will have three of us…although I do need to go back to Home Depot for more paint (I knew two gallons wouldn’t be enough, but I was having a hard time envisioning three…no longer having a hard time with that.).

Then the mirrors…damnit, the guy I called is flaking on me, set an appointment and then didn’t show up or return phone calls, so I guess this is one of those jobs that people don’t want to do. So I will call someone else today, but we can’t paint that last bit until we get those down…although we could do the other two walls in the main living room. Here’s the offending 1970s crap…

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Yeah. I know. Wall ‘o Mirrors. Been staring at them for 16 years. They’ve been covered with kid art all that time because I really hate them. Plus the mantelpiece. Sigh. It’s going.

Anyway, speaking of going, I’m supposed to be at a temporary art install in 32 minutes, so I should go. Summer is not low stress, for sure, but hopefully I can keep my head away from yesterday’s bullshit. People suck. OK, not all of them suck, but enough of them suck that I feel like staying away from lots of them for long periods of time. With books. And art instead.

Back to my high-school epithet: Fuck the World. Not the healthiest mantra, but occasionally useful. At some point, I will replace “the world” with the names of the people responsible for my current state. And then I will kick their asses. In art, of course, not real life. Oh yeah, you piss me off? I will make unflattering art of you. Expect it. Whoops…that sounds sorta vengeful. Sorry.

*Perdido Street Station, China Mieville


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