Ripping the Drawing Out…

July 13, 2015

So how do I get a drawing out of me? Sometimes it spills out, fully formed, from my head, where it’s been growing for days. Or I wake up with it in my brain from some dream I had. Or more often, I’m driving around or at the gym or on a hike, and I see a hand in my head and the pen is moving and the drawing forms right there.

But sometimes, I have part of a drawing and there’s more that needs to be done to size…as in, I’m drawing it the actual size that it will be in the final piece. This is rare for me, but it happens. And then sometimes, I have to rip it out of me. Staring at the paper, sketching ideas, erasing them, pounding my hand down, my head pounding in response. That drawing just won’t come out easily. It has to be birthed.

I had about 4 1/2 hours in by Saturday night. Then Sunday, I stared at it a lot, but put in another 2 hours and 50 minutes. With Kitten’s help (not)…but there’s the upper arm and the bird…

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But in the distance, Katie…(that’s the girlchild’s foot)…

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Zoom out. Red arrow is Katie, my parents’ dog.

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Staring at Kitten. On the light table. Katie got picked up today, so Kitten has free rein in the house again. Which is nice, because moving her around so I could draw yesterday was a pain in the butt.

I do use photos as reference for animals…and bugs. I used this lion and another one to draw the one on the leg…

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I looked at bee, butterfly, thistle, and howling wolf photos as well. And a raven.

Here you can see that the whole pissed-off Earth Mother figure is taking shape.

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Here’s a better view of the left torso. I got most of that done yesterday…

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And then I added a snake…a particular snake, with specific colors. So I wouldn’t forget, I saved it on my iPad…but I also noted the colors on the drawing…

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Here’s the snake around the legs…

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And that’s where I gave up last night. I stared at it and googled images for about 20 minutes before I gave up. Because I knew I wanted some sort of dog or wolf, but didn’t know where to put it, and at that point, I was debating bones or not, because there aren’t any in the other figure, but then that makes sense, because that’s the manmade version and this is the natural version.

Anyway. I drew today as well, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that. But right now, at 9 PM, no, I’m not done with the drawing. I’m hoping to be soon. I think I will be soon. I’m going to get some caffeine in me and see if I can bang it out…because this drawing has about 9 hours in it so far. And I wanted it done last night (ha!). So yeah. Done and numbered tonight, so I can start tracing tomorrow. The editing job fell through (seems a common theme), but a writing job is there, and I’m working on that. But not tonight. And I have some other errands I have to do tomorrow.

It’s funny, I know I’m stressed about money and projects because I’m grinding my teeth and I have those weird canker sores I get at the end of the school year and when stuff is really stressful, but I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be stressed over summer, right? Yeah. I know. My own fault.

Good news on the quilt front though…Earth Mother for Ventura got into the show up at the Ventura County Government Building, so it will be there from August 28-October 13 for your viewing pleasure…

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So go see it. I won’t be at the opening. Can’t get there in time from San Diego. Good to be getting into shows again.

OK. Drawing calls. Loudly. From the other room. Rude little beast.


Some Amazing Splinters

July 12, 2015

Cue music. I am deep in summer mode. I find it torturous to do mundane chores or errands. I just want to write and make art. I’ll leave for social events, because I know I’m deep in hermit mode, but it’s hard sometimes to walk away. Yesterday, though? Yesterday I needed a break. I have a drawing I started ages ago…

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April I think? And I enlarged it about 200% and then realized I had a whole ‘nother figure to draw and the piece could be up to 60″ square. I like big quilts. I like lots of detail. This was going to be my summer quilt, and yes, some other stuff jumped in front of it, but I delivered two quilts to the photographer today, and I’m feeling good! So yesterday, I pulled this one out…

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And laid it out. You can see I added quite a bit to the left, where the other figure will be, plus some space at the bottom for the legs to be finished, and some at the top, just in case. Now it looks tiny.

There is no bathtub in this one.

I probably spent a couple of hours on the first part of the drawing. So yesterday afternoon, I started on the knees and the rest of the legs.

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Then I penciled in a figure on the left and started deciding what she would really look like. I penciled in just general shapes…you can see some pencil of the torso.

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It’s a good thing I started in pencil, because the head was WAY too big and had to be redrawn like three times to get it to the right size.

This figure needs to be standing over the other figure, but it also needs different things on it, so I have to keep stopping and thinking instead of drawing. That’s how I know it’s time to take a break…I’ve been staring at the drawing for WAY too long and nothing’s getting drawn.

The photos get more difficult at this point…it’s really dark in there. But you can see I got most of the head and chest area done…

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One arm is done but needs decoration. The other arm is not done and I didn’t start the middle of the torso. There were just too many ideas in my head at that point, and I couldn’t focus. Why? Because I’d been working on it for two hours and 40 minutes. No small amount of time. And it’s not even halfway done, that second figure. Hmm. I’m hoping to finish tonight, maybe even number it. We’ll see.

My time totals rarely include drawing time, because I don’t usually keep track of that.

I tried to get a photo that shows the whole thing, but even brightened and put in black and white, it’s too hard to see. You can see the hips and legs coming down on the left.

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So it’s almost 6 PM and I have to cook dinner. Well, the pizza dough is coming to room temperature, so I have some time. But someone is hogging the television, and my brain needs TV light to distract me from the part of my brain that wants to censor the drawing. Actually, I’m watching Helix, which is not light enough unfortunately. I keep having to rewind to figure out the story, but it is growing on me. Some virus that’s carried in honey or some mother tree or something. It makes the men infertile. I’m not sure what it does to the women. Having just spent time reading the summaries, my confusion between bees and honey and apples and Mother Tree and the bleeding tree makes complete sense. There is no sense yet. I think I have 4 episodes to make sense of it all. That might be how long it takes me to finish this drawing.

I’ve also been writing. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in an attempt to finish the sci fi novel I started last summer and wrote a giant chunk of over November. I’ve written about 5000 words, which isn’t great, but is better than I’d done so far this summer without motivation, and then I got asked to write another story, so I did that in the last two days, almost 5000 words there as well. That stuff takes time, for sure…as does writing here. But it’s all good. Writing clears my mind. Drawing does too, but in an entirely different way. I can have the drawing working in my head while I write, and a hand moves around, putting objects all over, trying them out, while the words spill out on the screen. Same as when I draw, while I’m moving the pen around on the paper, the story is writing itself, characters bouncing around, dying off, meeting others on the road, making decisions about plot while I draw.

My brain is truly split off in some amazing splinters.


Rainbows and Pirates and Rain, Oh My!

June 27, 2015

First of all, although this image was amazing enough for me to show it to the teens I was feeding…

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The photos that had me in and out of tears all night were all those couple photos posted by my friends, same sex and different. It’s funny. I have absolutely no desire to be married, but hearing about their plans and their joy was wonderful. All my love to them…may they do it better than I did. I’m glad they now have a choice. Sometimes the world does stuff that makes sense.

Yesterday, I was determined to get shit done. No really. Drove to Home Depot and bought wood for the living room book shelves, so I can get the books off the floor and art on the walls and finish that shit from last year’s remodel. Now I just need boychild to drive them over to dad’s and cut them and then sand and stain and find some way to hang them, because I didn’t like anything in Home Depot. Or it was too expensive. I just want it fucking done.

I had an extra teenager for a Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-watching festival for quite a few hours, but I did not let that run me out of my living room, because I needed the light table. I asked permission to stay and it was granted. Mostly because I admitted that Johnny Depp was hot. Well. He is.

I had a request for a commission of the breast in a quilt I made last year, but it needed to be redrawn, so I made a run to Fed Ex to copy some stuff after I went to Home Depot. Then I redrew it, moving the top hand and getting rid of some of the chaos behind it. Then I traced it onto Wonder Under.

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I had some cats I had drawn to make as smaller quilts…but they are all curled up. I vetoed a couple others that were similar.

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The one on the bottom left will be more complicated (and expensive) than the other two.

Then I had the simpler version of the heart/hands I did for FFAC, a standing cat, and another owl from one of the bathtub drawings.

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So I think I will start with those and see how they do. Oh here. I found the new breast drawing…

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For those who don’t know where this came from, I had a series of mammograms regarding a shadow in one breast, so I had to go in multiple times over a yearlong period. It was kind of scary at one point when they called me at school to tell me about a followup appointment when my doctor hadn’t had time to check in with me, but it’s all good now. I just have dense breasts. So they make weird shadows. And whatever is in there, it’s been the same size and shape for a good long time, so we’re back to squishing once a year and watching it. Hallelujah. Alien boob.

Anyway, I also finished cutting out the Wonder Under for the next piece I’m working on and for the breast piece. And then I sorted the WU for the larger quilt…

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It only has about 560 pieces in it, and it’s not particularly large, so hopefully it will go quickly. By that time, I’d had enough of Depp and pirates, so I had moved into my office, where the iron and the fabric live. Plus then I got to watch more Star Trek and stop listening to squealing girls. Who are adults really…one is 18 and the other will be 18 in August. They asked permission to marry (jokingly) and I said no…they’re too young. I don’t care about the rest.

Then I got on the floor at about 11:30 last night (Pirates still going on!) and found the fleshtones I wanted to use for the two overlapping figures.

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Along with some brighter pinks for lips and nipples. I wanted to start picking fabrics last night, but once I got the first 100 pieces of Wonder Under laid out, it was 12:30. So I stopped. But I got a lot done yesterday, so I felt OK. Now I’m writing this and on hold with my car insurance company, which doesn’t realize I’m firing it. Whatever. All these things I need to do before I leave today for Los Angeles. Looking forward to the opening. But also a bit apprehensive. That part of town has some significant memories for me and I’m nervous to be going up there. Stupid that a place can do that to us, but our brain remembers things like landmarks and smells and certain phrases, and those things can set us off…and my brain has been a mess the last two days.

I finished reading this…

funny story

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini…it was good…about a high-school kid fighting depression. It was a bit simplistic in how he solves the issue, but I liked his explanation of tentacles and anchors. Based on Vizzini’s real-life experience on a psych floor in a hospital.

OK. One insurance company fired. Waiting on a callback from the other one. Then off to the Big City.

Omigod. Is that rain? It’s rain people. Rain. The world is a wonderful place.


I See Progress…

June 11, 2015

Even when nothing seems to get done…

I didn’t do anything quilt-related last night. I was too braindead to quilt. I’m likely to sew right through my hand if I try in that mindset. I had a union meeting, the last one of the school year (that’s when you start realizing you’re almost done…when everything is the LAST one of the year). I drew during the meeting, mostly to stay awake…

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I’m not good with late afternoon meetings. Ever. And I’m still working on versions of this drawing for making small quilts this summer.

This one…I don’t know what this one was…

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Nice eyeball though. I’m fairly sure the teacher sitting next to me was confused. I don’t really care, because like I said, I was listening to all that was said…I was just tired and drawing keeps me from falling asleep in long meetings.

I didn’t get home until almost 6 and then had to cook a meal I’d never cooked before, which actually turned out OK, and then I cleaned up and holy crap, I know I did a bunch of school stuff, like 17×4 certificates and analyzed a bunch of data for our fun awards and who knows what else.

I meant to post this earlier this week as one of my small successes, but Tuesday kinda kicked me in the balls, as it were…one of the art groups I’m in, California Fibers, is doing a recycled art show in Los Angeles at The Loft at Liz’s. It’s called Diverted Destruction 8, and it opens June 27 from 7-10. I will be at the opening, barring any crazy life happenings that I can’t control. Anyway, we had a bunch of upholstery samples and some of us used other stuff as well (I used Mariah’s leftovers for the second one) and made work, and Fiber Art Now published an article about us. I was concerned at first because both of mine are nudes, and Quilting Arts won’t do nudes, although Quilters Newsletter Magazine does show my work regularly enough, but the editor was aware of who I was (that in itself is a bit frightening), so one of my entries to DD8 made it in the magazine. The article is well-designed, and each of us sent in a paragraph about the process…

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The show looks like it will be very interesting…although we made two pieces and she’s going to jury from those, so I don’t know whether this one or the other one will be in the actual exhibit…

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There’s mine in the middle at the bottom. Anyway, if you’re in LA that night, stop by. So I got published…and that’s a good thing.

Another good thing is that boychild has been cleaning out his room. He dusted and vacuumed and is getting rid of old stuff and then started cleaning a pile that’s been in the hallway outside his sister’s room for probably a year, maybe longer, and he’s really fucking efficient (unlike me), but he forces me to deal with stuff…mostly by handing it to me as I walk in the door or leaving it in my office. He was looking around the garage again, and I think maybe the week after school gets out, I’m going to spend some time kicking the garage’s ass with his help. I think it’s hysterical that I got an organized neatnik for a son (OK, I’m organized, but not the other thing). Of course, he has more free time than I do.

That’s it. I’d be neater if I had more time (see comic from yesterday).

I forgot this drawing…

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This is definitely going to be one of the Cats of Summer, like last year we had the Birds of Summer? Except I think I want to do a different owl and that heart/hand thing as well, so it won’t just be cats, and I have one dog I want to do. I’m going to aim for 10 different ones, like last year, but I also have another quilt I have to finish before mid-July, so I really need to get started on that one too, because that’s just over a month away. I guess I’ve only been working on the Bathtub quilt since early May, so…except that’s still more time than I have for this one and I’m not done with the Bathtub yet…it’s probably got at least 10-15 hours left in it. SO. Yeah. Luckily there’s only 6 more days of school left, and then I will have (notionally) more free time. I didn’t sign up for workshops at all, because I just couldn’t deal with it, and honestly, there weren’t a lot that I would have found helpful. I hate sitting through useless professional development.

Anyway. I see progress, even though I got very little art stuff done yesterday. Tonight might be better. It might not. I can’t predict it at this point. I know I’d like to get some things done, but I have a lot on my plate up until about 6 PM (or later…might need to hit Home Depot as well, ugh). I really do need to go to work though. That damn job really gets in the way of my getting shit done.


Ah Rejection

May 29, 2015

The quilt peeks its head up from the pile on the chest of drawers, those ready to be rolled up and hidden in the closet until they are called out again. “Mommy, when do I get to go somewhere?” I don’t know, pretty little quilt of mine. I just don’t know. I made you with all the crap and emotions that were deep inside me, poured gallons of salty tears on top of you when I stitched you, there’s probably even blood tacked under some piece or another. I drew your pattern while my brain wriggled around, trying to find a solution to how it felt, to make it better, and dear, sweet, little quilt (who is not so little really, with over 2000 pieces and 140 hours rolling around inside it), you DID make me feel better, and I know that was not your only goal. But it was a good one. And it worked.

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As to why you don’t get to go hang on a wall somewhere? Be patient, my little friend. You have not aged out like some that fill that space in the closet, some that were shown here, there, and everywhere, and some that were rolled up years ago and never go anywhere. Like some people you know, really. Some travel all over, are gone every weekend, have no evening free…and you…you sit here most nights cutting up little pieces of fabric and ironing them back together to make pictures that beg to be seen and never leave.

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So I guess that’s what the internet is for…seeing what doesn’t get in. And the thing is, as I read yet another rejection letter, very nicely penned, with a huge number of entries listed, I knew I wouldn’t get in. I’m not innovative enough. I have no desire to be innovative. Am I cutting edge? I don’t think so, unless cutting edge means not pretty, and I don’t think it does. I’m not using new materials or wildly different techniques, it’s not a new take on an old classic. None of the gimmicks apply. It is simply imagery on fabric…strange imagery at that. Sometimes painful imagery. Sometimes not. Sometimes just plain weird. Hey, it’s my brain. I can’t explain how it works. I just know that it does.

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Fuck. Wait until they see the new one…the bathtub quilt. And there are how many of them in my head? Clamoring to come out? Not to mention those that are already drawn. I’ve never really done a series, and now here I am, putting naked women in bathtubs (it’s been DONE!) with all their shit spread out around them. Just like real life.

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Moving on. Making more. Keep rejecting me. I don’t stop. I’m the Energizer bunny of art quilts.


I’m Just Doing It Different…

May 26, 2015

So I made it home yesterday, and then to pay for taking 2 1/2 days off of my life, I spent the next 8 hours running around like a crazy person, trying to catch up. That part wasn’t fun. At all. And at some point, around 10:30 at night, I quit. I am still feeling overwhelmed this morning…back to negotiating with my brain for a day at a time. “Today we will do this.” And trying not to think about the 70 trillion other things that need doing, but that I can’t possibly deal with right this second. Or even next week. And apparently I’m doing it all wrong anyway.

Giant ass sigh. Today we dissect frogs. Big lab day. I am leaving here early to set up, because I never got there yesterday. Ran out of time. The alarms are on at school at 11 PM, or I would have gone over then. Seriously, I was shopping for dog food at 8:45 last night.

That said, I did have a relaxing weekend (too bad I ruined it with real life, eh?), so that’s kind of a tiny buffer against all the crazy right now.

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It was really cold on Saturday, but this was part of the walking view…

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Bizarre broken panes of glass in the middle of trees…flowers everywhere…

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Birds wouldn’t shut up.

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My parents’ dock with dad’s canoe (took that out on the water on Sunday, when it wasn’t so cold and choppy)…

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The ever-present fog this weekend…or cloud, really. We spent a lot of time driving in clouds.

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There it is creeping into the valley…

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Sunday was nice out on the deck. I drew a whole picture and got sunburnt in the weird places where I forgot to slather on the sunscreen…

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Like the part of my wrist that is normally covered by a watch. It’s burnt now.

Coming home was a lot of putting stuff away, cleaning stuff, washing stuff, making lists, buying stuff, planning stuff, typing stuff, printing stuff.

And around 10:30, I sat down and started cutting these out again…

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I had to stay up pretty late to get the laundry through, so I’m tired this morning. Then again, I’m always tired in the morning, so this is really nothing different.

I know there are lots of people trying to help me, but sometimes the help comes out as criticism. And there was a lot of that yesterday, some of it crazy-from-the-teen’s-mouth criticism (really? How many times do I have to ask before you will just do it?) and yeah, I sat in my office and cried for a bit, because it was all too much and I was obviously doing it all wrong.

Or am I? Because I’m the only one sitting in this chair, carrying all of it on my shoulders, and if there is a lack of understanding, I can’t really do anything about that. I have this huge job that sucks up so much time and energy, and then I try to be an artist on top of that, and woven through the whole mess is this parenting thing, which I do by the seat of my pants and with very little support. And when I get it wrong, I apologize and move on. But it seems like even with all I get done, there are still expectations that I’m not meeting. And yet I know I’m not doing it all wrong…I’m just doing it different. I have to remind myself of that, that my experience is mine…and they’re not seeing what I’m seeing.

You could just take one look at my art and realize that, I guess.

Getting through this week will clear some of this out, I think. Meanwhile, I’m still making art. There’s no magic that fixes the rest.


Ahhh…Peace…

May 24, 2015

How to clear the mind: read, write, draw, walk, canoe, drink some tea and some wine (not together, yuck), have some good food, watch some apes on TV, and don’t think about school at all. Just push it out and let it fester in the corner for two whole days. It will still be there tomorrow. Nothing will have changed between now and then.

I can’t tell you how much I needed a break, and because I’m not home, I don’t feel required to pick this up, put that away, run that errand, finish that task…I can’t do any of those things until I get home tomorrow, and then I won’t have enough time to finish all that anyway, so I’ll do what I have time for, and push the rest aside until I have more time. My life is such that the crazy expands to fill all my available time if I let it, and I was determined not to allow it for the last two days. I’ve been pretty successful. Well done, child.

I’m probably sunburnt. Oh well. I used sunscreen. We canoed today, not super far, because we’re both out of shape, but it was a good distance to remember how to steer (though some would argue I never remembered that). And the sun was out today, unlike yesterday, when temperatures were dropping to 44 degrees during the day, so it was a much better day to be on the water. 

We walked around a small part of the lake yesterday. I wanted to go on a real hike in the wilderness, but we couldn’t find the damn ranger station and I left my Adventure pass in my car, which is still at the shop, being torn apart. And then it kept getting colder and colder and later and later, so I settled for a few miles on lakeshore paths and roads. Oh well…we got exercise, and that was the important part. My foot was OK, although twingey, so I’ll probably have to test it with a real hike sometime in the near future.

We brought a pile of movies to watch, but the parental DVD player seems dysfunctional, so we picked something off real live TV…not ideal, but it works. I’ve worked on my quilt, cutting pieces out. I’ve drawn.  

  I’ve finished one book (Feed by Mira Grant, definitely worth reading…a much better zombie tale than most of them) and started another. I’ve read some blogs and had the news read to me (wtf Josh Duggar?). I’ve cooked. I’ve eaten. I’ve slept. I figured out that mom was in charge of purchasing the showerhead in her shower, but not the guest showers. Um…Dad? Did you really have a guy who installs bathrooms for a living take a miserable shower with that showerhead? You did, didn’t you. It’s interesting how much difference a good showerhead makes to my mood. I should remember that for future reference. Ten Things That Will Make You Happy: 1. A Damn Good Showerhead. 2…well, I’m still working on the other nine things. I’ll get back to you.

It’s all good. It’s amusing to me how many of my teacher friends got the hell out of San Diego this weekend. It’s cool to see all their posts and photos from all over.

And now I’m looking forward to Mexican food for dinner, reading more of my book, and who knows what else. I think I’ll actually make it through the rest of the school year…at least it’s looking more positive than it was Friday at 3:30 PM.


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