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.

The Rest Will Have to Wait…

May 28, 2015

Done. Finis. She’s all cut out.

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Please don’t ask me how late I went to bed. I needed to feel like I had achieved something last night. Yes, there are some tiny pieces in the bottom right corner that I won’t cut out until I’m ironing, because I know I will lose them. I’ve learned things as I’ve aged, as I’ve progressed through the artmaking process. Seven hours and 44 minutes of cutting stuff out. And I graded stuff last night too. And cooked dinner. And did a bunch of other administrative stuff for school and other groups I’m in. After monitoring 140 kids dissecting frogs.

No wonder I have a headache this morning (or is that the late night? Hard to say.).

I get to iron things together next. That’s the part I really like. That’s the part where it’s hard to get me to stop. Plus I have another one I need to have done by mid-July and I haven’t started it. This is getting a little crazy. Or maybe crazy is my normal. Really, I’d probably be happier just making art all day, but I’m not sure I’d make any MORE art than I do now. Maybe I’d get more sleep and the dishes would be done. Or not.

There are 15 days of school left. I can do that. Panicking about getting grades done still. As well I should be. Tried to push boychild into jobhunting yesterday. Not sure how seriously he took it. Going to start sending him job-finding YouTube videos. In fact, maybe all of you should do that. It might help. SIGH. And he ate all the girlchild’s lunch food. Of course, I put a post-it note on MY lunch food explaining where the ingredients were if he wanted to make his own. Does that make me smarter than she is? No. Just more experienced. I had a dad and a brother who went after my food even if I labeled it. Then a roommate’s boyfriend as well. So I have been traumatized. Seriously…my SIL says my brother and I are way too protective of our food. We both point to Dad. Food stealer extraordinaire.

OK. Well. I have a ton of stuff to do for work this morning, including a parent meeting. I wish I could just hang out here and wax poetic about my desire to iron things, but it seems the need to pay the bills is strong today. No, I don’t have my car back! Oh well. Took meds for the headache, prepped the best I could for some portion of the day. The rest will have to wait. As always.

Making the Image Appear

May 27, 2015

I wrote this whole post in my head last night as I was falling asleep. It was freakin’ amazing. I can’t even tell you. I really can’t, because I forgot the whole thing. I can tell you that I spent the last 20 minutes on hold with one kid’s financial aid department trying to make sense of their cryptic emails, just to have them admit one of them didn’t make sense. Well alrighty then. I feel vindicated! Not really. I feel annoyed, but what can I do about that? We still have no financial aid from one school due to paperwork issues. I was hoping it would be soon, so I can plan, but it’s not.

I started frog dissections yesterday with my students. The first day is easy, just the head stuff, no real cutting…but it’s hard work and my voice is trashed today. It will be worse tonight. I’m still buried in work. I had a plan to get some done last night, but I went to the gym and then had a long and helpful conversation with my SIL. I’m not sure why her comments are easier to take…she seems to be closer to where I’m at with child-raising than others around me. I don’t have the perfect situation…hers is more ideal in some ways, with both parents around, but there are still the normal kid issues, so it felt better talking it out with her. I’m still in a mood about the whole mess. I think I need to sit the kids down and have a real-live financial conversation with them. Again. Fun stuff.

So instead of getting some stuff graded last night, I dealt with sanity. And then I came into the office and cut stuff out again while watching the last episode of Deep Space Nine, which I don’t think I ever saw. In fact, I don’t think I saw the last season. Not surprising. I think I was going back for my teaching credential at that point and watched very little TV.

I am almost done with the cutting out of pieces as well…

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The pile on the right is all that’s left: some bathtub pieces and a few tree pieces, maybe some fleshy bits. I’m about 6 1/2 hours in. Then I can start ironing it together, which is the cool part. I might get to that by the weekend (or I might need to work my butt off on school stuff for a few nights). I should have graded some this weekend, but I just couldn’t. I think my brain does a pretty good job these days of realizing that I’m overworked and trying to force me to take a break. But the plus is that kids are asking me about their grades, when I will get the journals graded. Normally state testing gives me a big chunk of time to grade stuff, but with all the technology issues we had, I couldn’t get very much done, so I’m behind. So I tell the kids they can’t depend on their journal grade to save their class grade; they will need to do all their missing and makeup work to make sure they are safe. Mean, really.

Anyway. I have to spend some time grading tonight. I won’t get much done at school today, because the dissections are pretty high maintenance. I’m balancing the sense of relief I feel at the end of the year coming up with the panic that grades will be due. It’s an interesting dichotomy.

In good news, my car is supposed to be fixed today. Hopefully (don’t think about the cost). Dad’s car is similar to mine, but I like my car better. And I know he wants his car back. And my foot isn’t hurting from the gym last night…although it hurt during the day while I was doing the lab. Stupid body. I have a finger that’s bugging me too from using scissors. Weird how the body ages and joints you never heard from are screaming louder than a baby with a wet diaper. I guess that’s the future for me…painful joints. Weird bruises on my hand that seem to come from nowhere. Disrupted sleep. Mood swings from hell (hey, those should go away at some point, right?).

Sigh. Finish cutting pieces out tonight. Sort them. Move on to the fun stuff, making the image appear. I really am in survival mode. I’m glad I have art to pull me out of the muck.

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.


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.

Makes Me Crazy…

May 22, 2015

I made art for over 4 hours yesterday. I didn’t work when I got home. I couldn’t. It’s been a really long week. Again. I keep reading articles about how to keep sane as a teacher, and they all scream BALANCE at us. And then you have a 14-hour day. (I made art on that 14-hour day. I’m a little nuts.) It helped that it was my monthly quilt meeting last night and I had something at the right stage for working on there, but still…I worked a full school day and then some (testing was extended an hour due to internet issues), and then I came home and (collapsed for a good long while and) made art.

I don’t know if I’m doing it right, because I’m pretty stressed and tired at the moment, but I think I’d be that way just because of my job, and the art is the part that makes it all OK.

This quilt is finally interesting. The fabric-choosing part really sucks me in. I find it hard to leave it, even at 1 in the morning when I know I have to go to work the next morning.

So I finished last night…76 fabrics, 7 hours and 53 minutes to choose them all…

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Not a ton of color in this one. The blues and whites are the largest sections, I think. I’m looking forward to seeing it come together.

Here’s what it looks like when I have a bunch of small, weirdly shaped pieces that are all in the same fabric…this is hair.

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I cut all those out yesterday too…here’s the whole bin full of pieces at the end of the ironing, although…

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I had already started cutting stuff out at my meeting earlier in the evening…

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I got a lot done in an hour and 40 minutes. I was exhausted when I got there, but managed to keep going. Bought dinner, drove to my parents and picked up snow chains that I won’t need, then home and ate. That woke me up a bit, so I came in, ironed for almost two hours, then looked at the clock.

I’m not going to sleep before midnight. So I might as well keep cutting…

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There’s all those browns cut out, plus some others. Still got a good chunk to cut out, but I have a good start. I’m debating taking it with me this weekend. I have a hard time sitting still without doing anything. Then again, I have hiking and canoeing on my list for the weekend (hoping my foot is finally healed). Not a lot of sitting still with that, but we’ll see. I prefer to take a bunch of artmaking stuff with me, so I can pick and choose. I’m still debating taking grading with me. I don’t want to. I should. We’ll see how that pans out. I  just know I need some sleep and some time away from my job and my life. Isn’t that what 3-day weekends are for? Yes. Yes they are.

I’m actually thinking this quilt might be put together by the end of the school year, I’m that far ahead at the moment. That’s two weeks earlier than I had thought…which is good, because the other one has to be done by the third week in July. And I’m sending out stuff on editing jobs too. So I might have paying work on top of all this. Crazy.

With that, I have to get out of here to that place that makes me crazy…

The Picture of a Happy Family

May 21, 2015

It is just the picture of a happy family at home here, as we nestled on the couch last night, boychild providing calculus support to the girlchild while randomly Googling facts about the show we were watching, SVU (happy wholesome TV), and I graded assignments about reproduction (asexual, sexual, and cloning), often dissolving into hysterical laughter when I read student interpretations of the notes I’d given them. Girlchild cooked a lovely dinner with vegetables, which are no longer forbidden here…well, they were never forbidden, but they were limited and now he eats a lot of things he wouldn’t eat before. Boychild helped out in the kitchen and then cleaned things, which was scary and nice. But eventually girlchild, who gets up earliest, went to bed, boychild wandered off to his room, and I went off to my studio to deal with the flesh and the water.

Tuesday night, I had time to pick the flesh fabrics I was going to use, but not to actually lay them out and iron them. So that’s what I started with…

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There’s not actually much flesh in this quilt. Most of the larger body and a goodly portion of the child are all under water. While I was ironing, though, I realized the bones didn’t go through to the bottom part of the leg. I don’t usually change things at this stage, but this bugged me, so I drew in the lower bones…

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Traced them and ironed them. Easy enough, and now I won’t stare at it, wondering where the bones disappeared to.

Really, that’s when I should have gone to bed. I’ve been up way too late all week, and it’s starting to hurt in the morning. Or maybe Thursday mornings always hurt. Hard to say.

Being my usual cantankerous and stubborn artistic self, I kept going…and I didn’t keep going into something simple. Oh no. I went for the water…big crazy pieces of curliness…

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And this crazy thing…

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That is one piece. I don’t know what I was thinking. It will be “fun” to cut out (not).

I have quilt class tonight, so I’ll start cutting them out then…

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I’m not done ironing yet though. I have at least another 150 pieces to go. I’d like to get them done tonight, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. I have a little over 6 1/2 hours in so far, which is more than it should have taken for a 600-piece quilt.

I also seem to have more colors of fabric than I normally would for a quilt with this few pieces…

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We’ll see if that’s true at the end. All I have left to iron is the adult woman in the piece. She doesn’t have a lot showing, but her hair is incredibly complicated. Wanna know why? Because when I first drew it, it wasn’t the right size or shape, so I just added to it…and that added about 40 pieces. Crazy, right? Well we already know about that.

Today is the last day of state testing (hallelujah) and my kids started microscopes yesterday, which means my sarcasm spilled over…”What is that?” “I don’t know.” “Where is your slide, your coverslip?” “What are those?” “The things I just stood up there and showed you how to prepare, that I showed you a video on yesterday and made you take notes about the day before. Where are they?” “I don’t know.” It takes a massive amount of patience to teach some days, really, on any hands-on lab day and many technology days, and I can’t say that my patience is at a maximum at the moment. I said, “Oh my God! Look! It’s an e!” about 17 times yesterday (the first assignment is to look at a newsprint letter e).

But they will survive me, as I survive them. And they will move on to the next grade, the next science teacher, and they will either hate them or come back and tell me how they have an A in science now (good job!), and the really annoying ones, the ones I wanted to run away from on the last day of school, they will come see me every day and yell “I love you!” across the quad and hug me when they get close enough…except for the few that I am STILL glaring the evil eye at, even a year later. I think it’s sad that we only really remember the badly behaved or tragic students…that those good kids you see every day doing amazing work…they make me happy in the moment when I see their test scores or their very cool science drawings or their happy little faces as they wave at me…but they’re the ones I forget over the years…their names, their faces. Sigh. Is that proof that the bad sticks to us easier than the happy? Hard to say.

This is an interesting article about an artist who did a show of white women in advertisements over a span from 1915 to current-day, removing all the text and just leaving the pictures. I thought it was telling that the author, a white woman, wasn’t sure if things were better now than they were in the ad from 1915…in fact, they might be worse. In advertising, in imagery about our bodies, I think it is worse.

Me and my early-morning headache (woken by girlchild screaming about spider; I really needed that extra two minutes of sleep, dammit) will now attempt to go to work and be calm and patient for the first part of the day. It’s really up to the kids as to how long that sticks. Looking forward to hopefully finishing the fabric-choosing part of this quilt tonight. And maybe sleeping. That never seems important at night…just the next morning.

Girlchild is now at school, now that the spider is dead. Boychild is intelligently still asleep. I am questionably awake and ready to go to work (well, not really READY per se, but I should go). The happy family continues (yours may be a bit different than mine).


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