How Art Doesn’t Happen

October 14, 2014

First, make sure the artist is getting sick. And she’s been fighting it for a week, so a week of sore throats and feeling sorta off, and then she thinks she’s better, and all of a sudden, in like 10 minutes, once the kids get out of the classroom, BOOM. That’s it. The virus kicks her ass and takes her down. Really. It was that fast.

So then, our faithful artist comes home (after a long meeting) and sprawls on the couch with tea and a bunch of seating charts, because she needs to adjust seating, and it takes an hour, because she’s trying to think it through, and fuzzy head. Thinking bad. Meds. Must take meds. Drink more tea. Because her evening is not over. Oh no, it has just begun. A fundraiser for soccer at some dive grill in Lakeside.

OK. I can do this. I need to eat and this way I don’t have to cook. Girlchild comes home from soccer and they go…and it’s loud screaming chaos, a million people and some crazy ass woman screaming throughout the room, yelling out raffle prizes (we don’t want any thanks). Order food. Think I’m OK. Eat. Help girlchild with the Democratic Party platform (she is the Democratic candidate for her history class this year…her brother was the Dem campaign manager last year, which pretty much sums up their personalities right there…BUT, he did help her via text with her platform). Head for home, feeling tired, but not uberly (not a word) sick.

Come home, help more with platform, can’t remember what GITMO stands for (whatever…I know lots of things about the world, but I also know how to Google when I can’t remember shit), but I feel somewhat perturbed that I know more about ebola than I do about Hong Kong…although if you know me, that makes sense.

homecoming Oct 2014 2 small

Your photo today courtesy of girlchild’s Homecoming crew…at least they have fun…and there was no art, so no pictures of art. Because I didn’t do any.

Sitting on the couch, sprawled really, trying to find the motivation to get UP and iron. Really. You can do it. Standing up. Fuck no. Too tired. Too sick. Slam. OK. Think it through. I did think. I thought I could push myself through, but I remembered that it was only Monday, and that I have a whole week of school to get through, and what I really need is to get better, especially since my school day today will start at 8 and go to 6 PM. So yeah. I went to bed. At like 10:30. Seriously. That’s how you know I’m sick. And I slept for about an hour. Before the food poisoning from the dive grill fundraiser decided I should be up again. So I guess at least I’m glad my body is efficient. I was only vomiting for about 45 minutes and then I was done. And I went back to sleep (good thing I went to bed early, eh?).

Giant sigh.

I’m OK this morning. Well, the cold is still here. I still have no voice. My nose alternately runs and stops air from entering my body. But otherwise I’m fine. Cranky, but fine. Just yelled at a cat for sitting on the back of the chair. Yelled at the dog for eating underwear (that’s legit, folks…she eats a ton of that…not mine, but the girlchild’s, because she leaves it everywhere). I’ll probably yell at some kids today because they’re gonna be sitting there, staring at the words, wondering how to READ without actually READING. Because that’s an issue. It tries my patience. And yet I still assign the occasional reading assignment (OK, more than occasional). Like I’m trying to torture them. The LAST reading thing I gave them was about zombies and was a comic book, so you’d think they would have appreciated that. Naw, the same kids who won’t be reading today weren’t reading then. Parents…please please please, make ‘em read. It’s OK. Today is also phone call day. Have the kids call and ask parents to remind them to sign their failed assignments, so I know the parents know…although it seems like some of them must not care. Your child brings home a progress report with 5 Fs on it? And you don’t do anything? Don’t contact teachers? Don’t wait on me…I got 140 of them…feel free to contact me, because I have a list, and I can only get through one or two parent meetings a week, and I already have three for this week.

Yes, we have a list of kids we need to assist, of parents we need to contact, and yesterday, we full on admitted that we can’t do all of them right now…so we prioritized. Which ones could we help the most, which ones needed the most assistance, which ones were MORE LIKELY to actually benefit from our assistance. So your kid with his 5 Fs? He didn’t get very high on the list, because he doesn’t seem to give a shit, but mostly because of you…because we haven’t heard a word from you, we haven’t seen you at back-to-school night, last year’s teachers didn’t beg us to push for testing or meetings, no one cared about your kid…and we CARE, but we only have so many hours in the day. We’re buried this year, trying to implement blended learning and one-on-one computers on a daily basis…and we need you to get on the phone or email and stand up for your kid. Do some of the work. We can’t do all of it. You brought this child into the world…why don’t you care enough to follow up when he’s failing? Yes, I know there are many answers to that, and many of them are endemic to my school population, but we also have great parents who are on top of things and paying attention and doing their job.

Yeah. That’s what I’m taking to school with me today. And hopefully, by 6, when I get out of the school board meeting where I have to show up dressed in red so the school board realizes we’re pissed off that they won’t cover our health insurance increases and they won’t give us a reasonable wage out of the huge chunk of money they got from the state, hopefully when I’m done with all that, I’ll be well enough to make some art.

But first I need to cough up a lung.


Shit. And Fuck. Deep Breaths…

September 16, 2014

I woke up this morning hoping that last night’s mood had wandered off in the still-sweltering heat or better, that a predator had jumped it from behind and torn it limb from limb. Even that it was lost in the streets somewhere, no GPS, unable to relocate me, find my brain, continue to wear on me. I don’t even know where it came from…it snuck up on me, as I persuaded myself that this art rejection was not crucial, that technology isn’t out to get me, that I can in fact finish all the things I’m supposed to finish and be allowed to make art and maybe even exercise and meditate and eat. Maybe.

But no. ‘Tis not to be.

The first assumption is hormones, those beastly chemicals that rule my world. Look at the calendar. Do some calculations. Fuck me. I don’t do calculations. I look at an app and it does it for me. What it can’t do is predict all the other factors: stress, lack of sleep, who’s demanding things of me, what stupid shit I will have to take on because of other stupid people, teenagers, did I mention stress? And I’m wondering about the effect of our new minimum days at school. On Monday, we push the kids through shorter periods, which confuses my brain and blood sugar, so we can have an hour of collaboration. Which we did, but my food schedule gets off and that doesn’t help. And I was frustrated by technology limitations, and went down to my room to complete a task I was told would take 15-20 minutes, and after half an hour, was so frustrated I was on the verge of tears. I am not stupid. I know how to use help menus. I know how to read. But it wasn’t working.

Hey, any time something at school (insert work here?) gets so bad that you are tearing up? Leave. Go home. Change what you’re doing. So I did, but got a call as I was leaving that the girlchild’s dog had disappeared (damn pool guy’s dad who doesn’t close the gate behind him). It’s OK. She’s dumb, but smart enough to run to the other house, where my ex found her. Sigh. And this morning? I just caught her chewing on the girlchild’s senior photos. Which cost a million bucks. Luckily, I got them before she did major damage. Sigh. So she’s lying on the floor behind me and she knows I’m pissed off at her.

I had this dream last night that girlchild was picking out Christmas presents for family members and she had them all piled up in the store, and I kept telling her to check the prices, but then I had to leave to be somewhere, and she was going to check out at the register, and when she handed the receipt to me later, every item on it was over $100 and one was $515 and one was $212 (where is my brain coming up with these prices?) and I almost had a heart attack with the total. You don’t need to check Freud for that one. Just the most recent bursar bill from Cornell.

No pictures today. Do you want to see another pile of trimmed Wonder Under? I don’t. I managed 40 minutes of cutting last night. I think my plan of being on fabric by Wednesday is fucking delusional. And I’m supposed to be doing a million other things too. Filling out forms, shipping quilts, grading papers, reading the three books that are due back at the library (how I cause myself stress over that, I don’t know.), picking a day for my formal observation at school. I hate this shit. Hate all of it. Just want to come home and have it be a different life for once. Pack up all my stuff and move to some island with a bunch of pygmy goats and pigs and one horse who isn’t too big and boisterous. Then I can pretend I’m in one of those novels where I am totally isolated and NOT surrounded by people, and there is someone who delivers supplies every two weeks or so and it turns into one of those gothic romances I used to read when I was in 6th grade or so, where there’s no sex, just heaving bosoms and breathy statements of love and support and the horse comes in and whinnies in a supportive manner.

Sigh. Even that would irritate me today, I think. Fuck the guy yesterday who told me I could do that computer thing in 20 minutes flat. Fuck him for making me feel stupid. Better…fuck ME for making me feel stupid. It’s OK. I know who can help. I have a plan.

So when I get like this, I know I have to take action to keep it from becoming worse, from taking me over. I need to be efficient today, despite the over-100-degree temperatures. I need to not let anything get to me, even though I have to go to school and teach 150 7th graders how to do technology, AGAIN. Even though I have to commit to an observation date with a screwed up calendar. I will go to the gym, the air-conditioned gym, with my book (that was due last Saturday) and I will make my body behave, even if my brain can’t. I will meditate, because although it makes me cry (still, yes…even when I don’t talk about it, it still happens), it also helps with these moments, the ones where the stress and unhappiness inside me are ballooning out, trying to tear out of my chest. And I will pack up that damn quilt so I can ship it tomorrow, and I will fill out whatever damn forms I need to fill out and I will cut out Wonder Under for at least an hour.

And yes, at this rate, I may not finish cutting out Wonder Under until the weekend. And then I will work Saturday night and Sunday morning to make sure I have a good start on the fabric part. Because ideally, the fabric is chosen and trimmed by September 30. (choke) OK. That’s my goal. You can’t always realistically reach your goals. At the moment, I don’t seem to be able to achieve any of them. All right. Dear universe, dear brain…I’m not happy with either of you, and in true Kathy fashion, I will be fighting your shit. You can make me scream, yell, cry, fall down and kick my feet against your crap, but I will still fight it.

Meditating that shit right now.


The Place You Go…

February 18, 2014

I’m sitting here (Sunday night) waiting for the laundry to finish so I can put the girlchild’s soccer stuff in the dryer for tomorrow morning. I’m actually kind of wide awake…must have been that 26-minute nap I took this afternoon when I realized I couldn’t keep my eyes open. That’s the problem with hike days…they do kick my ass and I get very little else done, which is why I can’t do them every weekend. I can’t lose a day every weekend.

This is a 3-day weekend, though, so I still have tomorrow (Monday, yes I started this on Sunday night) to play catch up. I had a rough day yesterday. I actually cried on the hike…usually I don’t, but strangely, being in a group that large was isolating for someone like me. I’m not an extrovert at all. I need space, both mental and physical. I felt like some alien creature. It was so loud and raucous and overwhelming…I had to strike out on my own and physically super-challenge my body so my mind wouldn’t freak out. I have an event coming up with a lot more people than that…and I’m worried about my ability to deal. It’s strange…I spend all day with tons of people, but I don’t feel so out of place with my students…they are safe. I can handle interactions with them. Interactions with large groups of strangers? Fuck that. I’d rather stay home. I will be that crazy cat lady who never leaves the house if I’m not careful. The hike was redeemed slightly by the last 30 minutes spent talking to one other person. I can handle interactions like that, but you have to have something in common or at least something you can talk about.

It was a relief to come home after the hike and space out for hours, grade some papers, hang with my kids, cut out some Wonder Under. I appreciate the physical exertion and being out in nature, but hanging out in groups isn’t making me happy. Then again, nothing much is making me happy.

So in the middle of this post, the rant came through and became its own post, and then I went to the gym to try to leave some of my irritation and anger there instead of carrying it around. I’m debating calling the doctor (hemorrhage!), I need to find eye doctor paperwork for the kids, I haven’t prepped for tomorrow, I need to go to school to check for lab supplies, but I can’t get out of my driveway, because they are in fact digging holes in my front yard so my toilets might work properly someday. I’m wondering if I will ever stop grinding my teeth, if my eyelid will ever stop twitching, if I will ever sleep properly again.

The part I was having issues with was people making assumptions about other people based on how they behave or look or are labeled. I’m constantly amazed by how different people are than what they project…my leach-field guy looks like a redneck, talks like a redneck, and then starts talking to me about the Lord of the Rings trilogy and how many times he’s read it and whether Smaug is the coolest dragon around or what. The guy is 64 and you’d never think to look at him that he could have slogged through that series (god knows I haven’t been able to after multiple tries). You cannot make assumptions about people. You have to talk to them and listen to them and turn on the part of your brain that pays attention to someone besides your arrogant self, and only then can you make any decisions about people, and you still have to leave open the possibility that you are completely wrong. Maybe I know that from teaching middle school for so many years. Maybe I’m just that kind of tolerant person. I don’t know. I just know that it’s not OK to hurt other people. And sometimes people think your emotions are hurting them, but it is really their response to your emotions that’s the issue. I had the girlchild full on screaming at me this morning and I realized that she was having the same issue…her emotional reaction to what I had said was hers and hers alone. I was not the cause of the screaming. She was. Granted she’s a teenager and doesn’t modulate her responses well…she’s not Asperger’s, but teens often have this idea that they are the only people on the planet (shocking!) and it can manifest in similar ways. “My way is the only way.” Boychild and I often have discussions about her inability to realize there are other people in the world who might not have the same priorities as she does. In this case, I let her stomp off and slam a door, and then she came back and it was eventually all OK. I wonder what it will be like when they are both gone and I no longer have to tiptoe around those kinds of emotional outbursts. I wonder if her roommates will survive! I wonder if having the girlchild as his sister has helped the boychild navigate emotions any better…god knows they are full on in his face on a regular basis. His sister screams. His mom cries.

Wondering about my own sanity. Wondering after reading someone else’s blog if there is actually always a way out of depression, or if it just becomes something you live with for the rest of your life. After this weekend, I don’t see a way out, I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t feel like it will ever change. It does not help that my hormones are going ballistic. I could really live without that additional mess in my head…hence the thought to call the doctor…more because of the physical symptoms than the mental…the physical symptoms set off all the alarms on the stupid online symptom checkers. But I already know what they will say, what they will want to do. They’ll use the words ‘abnormal’ and ‘dysfunctional’…ironic because those can apply to my physical symptoms and my mental symptoms. OK, not fully dysfunctional, because I do manage to function fairly normally…I’m just patently aware of how nonfunctional my functioning is.

Anyway. I find the solution to all this angst, short-term as it might be, is that silly thing called art. My brain wandered about a bit, trying to figure out what it felt like doing, until that urge to draw came a banging at the brain door…so I pulled this one out from before, in December sometime (was it really that long ago?)…

Dec 14 13 161 small

I had copied it and taped it to another page, so I found that and started drawing downwards…

Feb 17 14 005 small

Shades of the Celebrating Silver quilt…I still need to put yet another page on the bottom…

Feb 17 14 006 small

because she needs more room. She wants the rest of her body. She told me. She demanded it. I listened. And I need to figure out what else is happening here…maybe more of those crazy birds. Who knows. Draw, Kathy. It gives you some peace. Draw the assholes out. Draw the arrogant jerks out. Draw the emotional reactions and put them on paper. Make someone see what’s in your head. Make someone feel what’s in your head. Make.

I made it to my quilt guild tonight, for the first time in 12 months, I think. Mary Pal was speaking and she and I had seen each other Saturday night at the Coast to Coast opening. I think we might be sisters from another mother…we are in the same shows, feeling some of the same artistic angst. I hope for her sake that she is not feeling the rest of my angst. It was nice to hear her talk, to feel her deep hug again, to feel a connection to a fellow artist who plumbs the depths of her artistic self to make work in the middle of the night, by the skin of her teeth, in the early morning light. To feel a connection that deep to someone you barely know…simply because of the place you go when you work.

Art can be amazing that way.


Insert Rant Here

February 17, 2014

Sometimes I read things, almost by accident, that make me really upset/angry. I’m mulling over one of those incidents right now, where someone claimed that Asperger’s-designated people were “more evolved.” I’m not Asperger’s. I do test fairly close to that range, but think it is more a function of being an introverted antisocial artist-type. I do however have many years of experience living with, loving, and raising Asperger’s-designated humans. I’m a pretty empathetic and intelligent person…I’m actually really good at figuring out how other people are feeling most of the time, although I’m not always right on the money…I do know when things are not right (sort of the anti-Aspie in that realm). In dealing with Aspies for the last 25 years, I have realized over the years that it often takes them a long time to process feelings and emotions, and I have learned with the boychild that “long time” could be weeks or months, sometimes maybe years, if ever. I do know, however, that the inability to process those feelings has a real-life consequence sometimes of hurting the people around you, those who love you, because Aspies often cannot handle what is going on right now, right then, and by the time they can handle it, they might react quickly in a way that damages those around them. I’ve tried with the boychild to keep him aware of what he is doing and how he is doing it and more importantly how it makes others FEEL, but know that he will have to find his own way in that as an adult. I’ve had to suppress some of my own emotions in dealing with the boychild, realizing that his issues are not directed at me and it is my job as his mom to help him find a less-hurtful way to express himself once he realizes what he’s feeling. I know he loves me. I also know he will probably never tell me that in those words. I’m OK with that. I can see he cares in how he acts and what he says. It will make it more difficult for him in future love relationships, but he will have to deal with that.

That said, I didn’t raise the others I’ve had relationships with, and their parents were not aware, and so they have both caused me significant damage…because I am apparently not “more evolved.” I refuse to believe that an inability to deal with emotions and the people who may cause one to have those emotions is fucking EVOLVED. I am fully a supporter of there being a continuum of “normal” range of the human brain and that Asperger’s is merely one end of the spectrum, with a huge variety of types of function all across the spectrum…but it is never a good excuse to hurt other people because you cannot handle your own emotional angst. That is not evolved. That is immature, if that’s how you present (and not all do). I heard the words “emotionally incompetent” to describe it once, and I have issue even with that, because it implies that you just need to take a class or read a book, and for some Asperger’s, that might be enough, to try to be aware of one’s shortcomings, just like I have to be aware of my own issues and shortcomings, to teach oneself the appropriate responses even when you don’t feel them until later, even though I am apparently “normal”-brained…for some, I think “incompetent” is not even a good description, because I am not sure that competence will ever come for some. I hope my son figures it out. I hope he locks away in his brain the pain he’s seen his mom go through because of this apparently MORE EVOLVED state. He says he gets it. And I have friends on this end of the spectrum that are, at least to me, some of the most emotionally aware people I know, so I know it’s possible…but I think it takes a lot of self-reflection to get there…and to be honest, the ones I know who are aware are all female, not male. That may be the difference right there; it’s hard to say. Most of my experience is with male Asperger’s.

I tell myself I have done my best to raise my son to try to be aware when he is hurting people (he is much better than he used to be), and to never ever run away from difficult emotions…that it is OK to say you are having problems dealing with this and you will come back to it, but you have to open your eyes and SEE what you are doing to other people when you behave that way…that it is NOT OK. Get out of your head. Look around you. You cannot hide. It is not MORE EVOLVED. A world without emotions or a world where emotions are so locked up inside you that you deny you have them, that is not a more evolved world. That is a world without music and art and dance and color, and I don’t believe that is a world I want to live in. That is a world where people hurt other people because they can’t deal with their own stuff. That is not OK. It’s not the world I want to live in.

The More Evolved comment is shades of sci fi where the alien species believes humans are lesser beings who do not deserve to live because we have not evolved to higher functions of logic and precision of thought. Hell, humans are nutcases…we’re giant fuckups in the world, no doubt about that, but as our higher functions have evolved beyond many of the living species on earth, so have emotions. Earthworms aren’t showing emotions…nor are they solving the issues of clean water at the moment or designing a new spacecraft. I can’t help but think the two things are connected, and that ability to show emotions and even occasionally control them without having them eat you up inside or slam into the people around you (I live with teenagers…I see the spectrum) doesn’t seem to be a completely negative influence on the world…unless you want a world that never confronts you (see comments above about art, music, etc.).

This is not a rant against the Asperger’s-designated person…it is probably a rant against One Specific Person, who in typical Aspie fashion refuses to talk about it. Because it’s too hard. Because not talking about it makes it better. Because he claims incompetence. Because running away fixes it. (It doesn’t, by the way. My less-evolved brain knows that and knows it very very well and has spent the last 7+ months trying to deal with it.)

Speaking to you from the other planet…no it doesn’t make it better. It means you damaged another person in your apparent evolution away from us lesser beings. Congratulations. You don’t win.

This is the article I was reading, which is not at fault at all for my rant…it is actually an interesting list of things to look for, which as a teacher who identified (while getting yelled at by her admin and school psych and told she didn’t know what she was talking about) a female student correctly as Asperger’s. I put it here because I think it’s useful to read if you think you might be on that end of the range or be dealing with someone who might be Aspie, because females do present differently, just as they do with ADD, another lesson I learned the hard way. I actually don’t like the term Aspie at all…but it is strange to me to use the doctor’s name to describe the syndrome…seems we need another designation…especially now that it’s not in the DSM any more, which is a whole ‘nother issue.

Sorry for the rant. Sometimes there’s only one way for the anger to go in a healthy way and that’s out (because I’m less evolved and realize my emotions and deal with them instead of letting them destroy other people). Plus maybe you have something to say about it too. I’m willing to listen…I’ve got my non-Aspie ears open and ready to hear. I know that term encompasses a wide range of experiences and behaviors, just as the term “normal” does (whatever the fuck normal means).


Burning the House Down, and Other Signs of Mental Frailty

August 13, 2013

So I almost burned the house down tonight. I don’t even know how. I mean, I do know how, in that one of the stove burners was pushed on (probably when I pushed something out of the way), and I left stuff on the stove, because I’m being lazy and stupid and only half my brain is working, and now I have one less sweater and the entire printed powerpoint from today’s professional development class burst into flames when I picked it up off the stovetop (it was embers) and the charger for my phone is toast (literally) and some other things that may or may not matter because I can’t actually tell what they were, now that they’re melted to the stovetop. I mean, none of it matters, because I got home from my frazzled trip to the mall, where I almost killed someone in the parking lot because my brain is offline, and then I saved the house from burning down. All that after weeping mightily on the drive back, because I almost hit that guy, and then I went to Barnes & Noble because I thought they might have a book that would help me figure my brain out, because nothing seems to be working, but I did not see Kathy’s Brain Explained in the Self Help section or the Science section or the Fantasy section, so then I walked the length of the mall, because I was still too shaky to get back in the car after almost hitting that guy (I really just went to Walmart to buy stuff for school, because I didn’t want to sit at home for another 4 hours moping and feeling like tense crap), and on the way home, I cried. I told you that already.

So the house is still here, but I scared the crap out of myself, because the last thing I need right now is something like that. That would throw me right over the edge into Crazyland. Unless I’m already there.

And now I have a rancid headache as well, from burning plastic fumes. All windows are open and the stove fan has been on for an hour. The whole house reeks of Trying to Burn Me Down, Were You? and the kids come home tomorrow. And I cracked the lid on the only casserole dish I haven’t broken.

I replaced the charger right away. Will have to wait on the sweater. Don’t know about the casserole dish. Don’t use the lid that often. Don’t know if I care.

I am incredibly lucky that it didn’t burn more/faster or that I came home when I did. Did I mention I scared myself? Yeah. Please fix me. This is fucked up. I can’t be this person.

In positive news, I finished quilting the beast. I think I did a total hack job on the last bits because I couldn’t stand it any more, but only I will notice. I also stopped EARLY, even though I wasn’t done, so I could go buy binding fabric so I could possibly bind it tonight. Then I came back and finished quilting. That was before I almost burnt the house down. I am still shaking, so I will not be using a rotary cutter or a sewing machine with a fast-moving up-and-down sharp bit tonight; I will have to do that tomorrow.

I don’t have any pictures. I could have taken pictures of burnt stuff, but I don’t want to freak you out. Or me. Any more than I already am.

I spent almost all day at school in professional development, realizing I am woefully unprepared for the beginning of the year, not because I don’t know what I’m doing, but because depressed people shouldn’t be teaching middle-school kids. I can only hope that I will be able to fake the right amount of enthusiasm, energy, and care until those aspects of my personality return naturally. Like when people are asking me “How are you?” and “How was your summer?”, I should not worry about telling the truth. I should fucking make shit up. GREAT! I had an AWESOME summer! I’m GREAT! Yeah. Maybe something a bit more toned down.

I’m going to go draw my house burning down now. Or something nicer. I don’t know.


Protected: Crumple Zones

August 2, 2013

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Protected: The Human Breast

July 3, 2013

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