You Can’t Be Trusted with Feathers So Hollow…*

July 18, 2014

In my original plan, the whole house would have gone back to normal today. Everything would have been put back in its place, all boxes emptied, all furniture in a permanent home. I even have it on the calendar: “House back to normal.” (not really. It just says Furn Move.)

I should know better.

So it’s still chaos here. New moldings are in, but I can’t paint them until tomorrow morning. Well, I could paint them right now, but that seems a bit crazy. Then we can move some stuff back, but it seems we will be culling big pieces of furniture. I think I’m OK with that. There’s some things to solve, some issues with where to put things and whether we actually need certain things, but it will all work out, right? We also got a new screen door installation out to the deck to replace the piece-of-crap thing that’s been falling down for 10 years or more now. I remember when the kids were little that I read if there was something they were doing that was driving me nuts that I should find some way for it to go away. So when the boychild felt a need to remove all the CDs from the shelves two or three at a time while screeching, I finally put a baby gate up in front of them. He continued to screech for a while, and then gave up. Well, then he headed for the bookshelf, so everything important went up a few shelves and we bolted the damn thing to the wall so it wouldn’t fall on him. Remove the frustrating item.

Hence the screen door. Of course, if I really apply that theory to my WHOLE life, there won’t be much that survives. But I keep doing the things that help the frustrations be smaller. My credit card number was stolen earlier this month and over $1700 of charges showed up, so when I went to pay the bill today, there was a bit of a shock. I don’t know whether to blame meditation or depression or both, but I just dealt with it (again…this is not the first time) and made a list of the companies where I would have to change the autopay card number when I get the new card.Reported it. Fixed it. Moving on. No panic. No anxiety. Deep breath. Move on. Who the fuck cares. It’s just one more thing to manage. So I managed it.

I guess I have the mental distance to do that now. It’s interesting, because the sadness is right there, about to spill over at a moment’s notice, but the stress…I’m about 10 steps away from it. It’s over THERE. I can watch it, but I don’t have to BE it. I guess that’s good. It would be good if I could do the same with the sad, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment.

I finished stitching down the Menopause quilt today.

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It’s really long. It took almost 8 hours to stitch it down. I was comparing it to the Celebrating Silver quilt, which is about the same size, but I did some research on that. First of all, it only took 5 hours to stitch Silver down. Plus it only had about 1237 pieces and this one has more like 1764 pieces. So it took 14 hours to quilt Silver…I’m thinking it will be more like 20 hours to quilt this one. So that’s gonna take a while. I’m hoping to sandwich and pinbaste it tomorrow, assuming I have a big enough piece of batting. I can piece a backing easily enough. I’ve gotta kind of work around a plumber visit. Apparently he is a born-again Christian. Possibly this quilt taped to the entryway floor might perturb him. Hell, it might perturb me. I’m going to quilt the Mammogram one first anyway. It will take less time.

I quilted 4 birds today…about 45 minutes per bird…

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These are the smaller ones…

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They don’t take long.

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This one…I wanted it to look like the bird was diving through the air, so I tried to quilt it so it would look like that.

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Maybe he’s just falling.

Six more to go. I thought I would work on them this evening, but after the gym and dinner, I was in a sad mood again…plus I know I need to finish this drawing for gender equality…or maybe I should use the word ‘equity’, because I’m not sure equality is the right word. No wait. Equality is right. Equity is nice, but Equality is right.

So drawing seems to help when I am depressed. Quilting and stitching down are problematic because they don’t engage enough of my brain to shut up the whiner, depressoid part. Tracing Wonder Under does. Ironing fabrics does. Cutting stuff out does. Maybe that’s why I need to get this drawing done…so I can balance the quilting with the tracing Wonder Under…have days with both tasks, and when my brain starts to wig out, to fall into the depression hole, I can do something else to bring it back out, or at least hold it on the edge…keep it out of the soul-sucking mud at the bottom.

Sigh. Big Fucking Sigh.

So here’s the drawing…

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I need to go copy it and draw the rest of it to size. It’s actually smaller than the one I’m working on now. I guess that’s a good thing. If I can get it to the ironing stage by the time school starts, I think I’ll be OK. And by next Thursday’s meeting, I want to have all the birds quilted, trimmed, with binding on and ready for hand-sewing. Remember what I said about setting crazy-ass goals? Yeah, well, I can get close to that, despite this weekend’s soccer tournament and all the furniture that is still inhabiting my hallway. The office could use a serious clean-out too, but that just sounds crazy when I have all this quilting to do. I still have one, maybe two major projects to get done before the end of August. And the teachers I was hanging out with today reminded me of an online thing I need to do soon as well. School. Damn. I’m not supposed to think about it for another two weeks. Fuck.

Midnight’s not thinking about it.

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Funny how the carpet changes colors during the day. It’s gray, it’s blue. Here it’s brown. And it’s really not.

Blog title from Rufus Wainwright’s Go and Go Ahead

Rufus and I also have a troubled existence. I love him, but he reminds me of many things that just cause me pain. I wish I had gone to see him in December, despite all the shit that act would have dealt me. He is an awesome performer. Concerts. One more thing I can’t afford to go to…movies too.

Speaking of things I CAN afford to do…I’m still writing this crazy book. Over 14,000 words done. Meeting with a group about audience on Saturday. Not sure whether meeting with people really helps me write, but maybe. I don’t know what helps. Telling myself to write. A little every week. At this rate, I will have a finished book (within the acceptable range of words) by the end of the year. Maybe sooner. Probably I should figure out how it ends by then. I know what I want the notional ending to be…but the real-live ending? That’s something different. A story within a story. What I care about versus what readers will care about? No, that’s not it. It’s like the art. People are so, like, “Oh, you’re an ARTIST, that’s so cool, you make ART, and that’s COOL.” Yeah. I make art because I have to. Because if I don’t, I get sick. I make art because there’s some weird chemistry in my brain…actually, I think of it more as a steampunk/techno device that forces the issue: YOU WILL DRAW…OR YOU WILL DIE. You think it’s cool because it’s not like that for you. It doesn’t solve world hunger. It doesn’t fill an empty heart. It doesn’t cure depression. It doesn’t make an empty house feel better. It doesn’t stop you from hurting or crying. It’s just art.

Yup. So there we are. Hollow bones. Hollow life. Really the key is “you can’t be trusted.”

When I Wake Up, Let Me Be*

June 21, 2014

In the past, summer vacation has always brought a sense of relief. Teachers and students get tired of each other, of the high expectations on either side. We need a break. It’s a lot of hours to be with a lot of kids, and for them, it’s a lot of demanding. I usually need to decompress for a bit after school gets out, just hang out and sleep in and don’t demand a lot of myself. But this summer is different than the last 12. This summer, I have to keep my brain and body out of the hole…that depression hole. I also have a ton of stuff to do. Hopefully those two needs will work together, but I also need to make sure I recharge myself this summer, which means not working myself into the ground just to keep myself distracted. I need to relax and rest and make art and get my head straight. And not slip back into a deeper depression.

Easier said than done. I try to tell the depressed part of my brain to leave me alone, to go the fuck away, to get out of here.

It doesn’t really work.

I checked out of my classroom today…took longer than usual because I had to lock up EVERYTHING so the summer school teachers and kids don’t get into the science materials. I’m not pleased about that, but I dealt.

Last night, I managed to sort all the fabric pieces for the big quilt…it took 2.5 hours… Here was the layout of boxes (with Kitten guarding them)…

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That’s a lot of sorting…I use mostly shoeboxes, but then I never have enough, so there are some weird things in there, like an ice tray from my fridge, because there’s no water hookup for the fridge, so the box never lived in there. There’s also a silverware tray in there and some bins from a kids’ shelf. It’s so much easier to do this now on the light table, standing. I used to put them all on the floor and sit on a cushion and try to lean over all of them to put pieces in. On a quilt this size, my leg would fall asleep and I’d pull muscles in my back (holy crap, old lady talk there).

Kitten was in there, pissed because she likes to sit ON the light table and I wouldn’t let her up there.

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Here are all the pieces and papers that came detached from each other. Most of them found their partner piece, but a few were left at the end…oh well. I’ll figure it out eventually.

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Here they are, all sorted out, ready to be ironed together next. Not sure when that will happen. Starting soon. Eighteen boxes of pieces.

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Kitten spent a lot of time sprawling about while I sorted.

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So today, in between cleaning my classroom and waiting for the tech chick to show up so I could check out, I went to Home Depot, where I will be living this summer apparently, to get painting supplies. We are in fact painting a huge chunk of the house this summer, so I had wandered my garage (which is like a Hoarders episode all its own self) looking for painting supplies, realized the hallway had last been done in 2007 and everything else was older than that and mostly trashed (I have never painted the living room, which means it probably hasn’t been painted in over 16 years). Anyway, we had picked a color. OK, I lie. I picked a color. The kids each picked colors I didn’t like. Boychild went gray-white, girlchild went yellow-white, and I stuck with Fresh Popcorn. I couldn’t paint it a color if I didn’t like the name. So I refused to pick Predictable. Yes, that was a color name.

The coolest thing I got was a spackle that goes on pink and turns white as it dries.

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It probably has chemicals in it that will hasten global warming. There’s nothing green about painting. It’s a shitload of chemicals and smells and fumes and yuck. I don’t enjoy painting. It’s a lot of prep and it annoys me. Always has. That’s why I do it so rarely. Plus it’s expensive. OK, it’s cheaper than buying a new house, but it’s not cheap. Boychild and I demolished the room we call the little living room, a smaller room that used to be an outdoor patio, but was built into a real room a million years ago. The ceiling was not flat and the moldings had gaps of almost 1/8 of an inch from the ceiling in some places, so I spackled the whole damn thing.

I’m a little wacko that way.

Boychild lives in this room, because that’s where his computer is. We had to recycle a bunch of stuff, toss a bunch of stuff, sort a bunch of stuff (girlchild isn’t here and I can’t just toss her stuff without her looking at it)…and then move a bunch of books out because the bookshelf is screwed into the wall and needs to come out for painting reasons. So we boxed all those books for now…

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You don’t want to know how many books we have. And a bunch of the knickknacks the boychild had accumulated as well  had to be boxed (soccer trophies etc.). If you thought the house was messy before, it’s turning into a disaster area now. Hopefully that will be shortlived. Ha! Yeah, I know. Now I have an excuse for the mess? Boychild was really helpful, a good worker. No complaints from him at all. He motivates me to keep going, because I really do hate this stuff and would totally give up if he weren’t there pushing me to do the next step. So that’s good.

Jake’s here too, so he managed to lie on the floor in all the most inconvenient places…

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Anyway, tomorrow we wash walls and then hopefully start painting. This is the only part where we have to do the ceiling as well…as the boychild says, the rest is toxic and doesn’t need painting (ah, asbestos popcorn ceilings that I can’t afford to remove…). Then when the girlchild comes back, we’ll do the dining area and the rest of the living room, which needs some major work…that damn mirrored wall is coming DOWN bitches! Finally. After how many years? So.

All that seems like enough work for the summer, but I do have other plans for my time. I’ve had a couple of requests for smaller quilts focusing on some of the birds I draw, so I pulled a bunch of my drawings and found the birds and traced them separately. They’re mostly pretty small and simple, so I figure I can make some smaller quilt tops and maybe put them up for sale for a reasonable price. We’ll see how it goes.

I got these traced off, two from existing quilts and three from drawings that are in the queue.

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Then turned around and noticed Kitten…

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Um. That’s the rest of the pile of drawings. I’m too nice. I leave her there. For a while.

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Eventually she gets bored of my staring at her and she wanders off, so I trace the rest…

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I did the eyeball bird with and without the eyeball. I personally prefer the eyeball, but I can understand that most people don’t.

The next step is to number pieces and then trace onto Wonder Under. Etc. Etc.

I’m trying to take one day at a time AND plan ahead. Talk about crazy. Tomorrow is a writing workshop where I will find out if my book-writing technique is crazy stupid or just nuts. I actually wrote an entire scene in abbreviated form when I was walking the dogs with the boychild this afternoon. It took everything I had to try to pencil it down in my brain and not stop on the hike and type it into my phone. It’s OK…it came out later on the keyboard. I’m doing the whole thing in Google Docs because I want to practice using it so I can transfer all my school stuff that way. It takes some getting used to…I like parts of it and I don’t like others. Kind of a normal response to change, I think, but I’m looking forward to having access to the documents I’m using across all my devices. Anyway, I was quite pleased with how the story developed in my brain today, and I’m hoping it keeps going into something more coherent. That’s always been my issue…what’s the purpose of writing this beyond the enjoyment of writing? I actually want a product. I do. And I think I can do the drawings for it as well.

So that’s a lot of progress. I’m trying to take some satisfaction from that. Keep up the momentum. Keep me out of the hole. Avoid the crash and burn. High expectations, eh? Whatever.

*Afraid, The Neighbourhood,


On Skunks and Graduation

June 19, 2014

I awoke yesterday morning to the sound of boisterous urination outside my window…barely awake, I rolled over and tried to go back asleep, assuming whatever animal it was would go away, now that it had christened my house. No such luck. I hear sounds in the leaves, and then more rampant peeing. Kitten is flouncing about at this point, convinced the intruder will be coming in the window, plaintively warning me (who needs dogs when you have Kitten?). Finally I get up, peek out the blinds, and see a cute baby skunk gamboling in the leaves outside the window.

God Damn It. If there’s one baby skunk…and if anyone remembers the Great Skunky Stinkout of a few years back when I couldn’t even sleep in my bedroom, it smelled so bad, because someone scared a skunk right outside the window. It was like a chemical bomb went off…eyes watering, it was so bad.

Sigh. Back to bed, pillow over the head. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do about baby skunks. They’re cute, they gambol, they haven’t done anything wrong but be born skunks.

Yesterday, the boychild graduated from high school.

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Yes, their colors are orange and white…yick. I’m hoping mom’s pictures are better than mine. I have a few. There were over 500 kids graduating…

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and it’s a kamikaze seating event…they open the gates at 7 and people run for spots. Grandpa didn’t run, but he managed to have us in the shade for part of it, and it wasn’t too hot, so it turned out OK. Boychild’s random yearbook quote was used in the principal’s speech, which is amusing, because he had forgotten to get a good quote and doesn’t really like this one–”You can’t back into your future”–however true it might be.

You’re supposed to touch Odin’s hammer on the way down the steps (when they were freshmen, they were supposed to touch the hammer too…I’m fairly sure boychild boycotted both chances)…the school is Valhalla, the mascot is the Norseman. Odin showed up with no pants on, but I didn’t have the camera out in time. Wasn’t expecting that.

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He’s in the bottom left…one of two long-haired boys in graduation. Easy to spot!

So he’s done. We did take family photos…will have to see if they’re presentable online. Probably not, knowing us. This is what we normally look like…

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Well, except for the cap and gown, which we’re keeping for a Halloween costume. Midnight is the only one looking at the camera.

In typical Kathy fashion, I stitched…

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I got 7.5 feet done. There are a lot of feet on these damn birds, and they’re all bullion knots. Who knew I’d be an expert on bullion knots? Not me. Next weekend’s soccer tournament could mean a lot more feet getting done.

Boychild got a quilt from Grandma…

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Fabrics she picked up in New Zealand/Australia on their trip. He likes these colors…I don’t know if he’ll take it with him, but he will use it. He refused to put his face in the picture, so girlchild did instead. He also got a digital keyboard with stand and some other pedal thing for college. He’s taking it with him. He has a roommate, but this will fit under the bed and the stand folds up. He likes playing piano…has been playing for years. I guess the thought of stopping freaked him out…and this thing sounds really good. If you’re his roommate, don’t worry…he has headphones.

All in all, a pretty emotional day/week even. Apparently this is difficult for my brain…realizing he’s going to college in 2 months, especially after we spent time yesterday afternoon trying to figure out what he needed, looking at online pictures of his dorm and setup. It’s real. It’s time for him to go, and I used to look forward to this time, no more dealing with school stuff etc., but him going on to have his own life and be a grownup, and I still want all that, but it is harder to have him go now that my own future is so up in the air and messy. I know all of that is normal, but the depression makes it harder to handle…everything is right at the surface and hard to keep under control.

So today is the last day of school for me (except checkout tomorrow, which is starting to look like a clusterfuck due to the district deciding to put kids in the science classrooms over the summer without actually talking to us about chemicals and materials that can’t be locked up completely, so all of a sudden, I have about 5 hours more work than I usually do. I am so pleased about that.). I am fully in survival mode. I read a book yesterday and exercised and meditated (you mean you cried?) and then I finally…FINALLY FUCKING FINISHED cutting out the pieces for the big quilt for the summer…well, the first one at least.

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It took 22 hours and 17 minutes. LOTS of tiny pieces. Some I haven’t cut out yet because they’re so small I don’t want to lose them. I’m hoping to sort them tonight, if I’m still standing. It’s always questionable after the last day.

This song caught my ear the other day…

I did start writing a book…or something. I wrote 383 words on the first day. I was tired. I don’t have a serious plot line yet. I have a general idea. I’m writing a love story. Really. Except, you know, this is Kathy talking, so not really. I figure I can write it; I have enough experience in it. I might have to break it at the end, though, because that is what always happens to me. It doesn’t to other people; I’m aware of that.

Anyway. How many words should a book have? All of them.

Going to finish off my 12th school year…well, as an adult.

I Am Sorta Here

June 14, 2014

Maybe. I think. It’s hard to know what day it is or what’s coming next. I don’t seem to have a handle on the big picture. Grades are due soon. I need to do those. Like today. We set out yesterday evening to try to deal with Father’s Day and graduation clothing, and we flailed massively on the former and succeeded on the latter, although I think I have to go back today because the one thing we were supposed to look for, we didn’t, because I think I was so tired and low-blood-sugar that nothing logical could happen. Dinner consisted of whatever we could find at Trader Joe’s to supplement what was in the fridge already and that wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to prepare. I hate eating like that, but it was a necessary thing. I should remember that Friday nights near the end of the school year are a giant clusterfuck and prepare accordingly. We’ve already decided that when both kids are at college, I should spend the first Sunday of every month cooking meals and freezing portions so I can eat normally all month without having to think about it every night.

I did manage exercise both nights I blew off writing. See, I can do THAT. That’s brainless. I had a stitching meeting on Thursday…

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The stocking that will take 20 years to stitch. Progress is so slow. We did talk about many things, most of which I’ve completely forgotten, although I remember photo cards and female comics and grandbabies and travel plans and cool quilt and art exhibits coming up, like Quilt National will be at the Oceanside Museum of Art, but not the part with my quilt in it, which is up in San Jose right now. So I’ll still go to the opening down here because I couldn’t go to the one up there. Make sense? Yeah, not to me either.

My mood is a mess…overwhelmed still. Keep saying no to things like that helps…it doesn’t, because the have-to’s are way bigger than the ones I can say no to. Organized art entries slightly to make sure I had stuff to enter where I WANT to enter for sure. I mean, who doesn’t want to get rejected by the big shows over and over? Yeah, I know. Sometimes you get in. That’s why I keep entering. But it means finishing the two that are in process AND starting the one for November AND getting those house things done for the border show…I don’t even know where to start with those.

Bleeding money, that’s for sure. Everything costs money.

Anyway. Deep breaths. Taking one day at a time. I have a list for today and I’m going to go on a short flat hike to see if my knee is improved. If not, I’m going to call the doctor, because it’s not OK. Going to get the damn grades done. All that will help, and then I can focus on the artmaking like I want to. Stop panicking about the other stuff. I’ll figure it out. It was the counselor’s advice to just take one day at a time, but I laughed…because then I will never ever get the stuff done that I don’t WANT to do. She reminded me that it’s my vacation and I need to recharge before starting a new year with a new principal, a new team member, a new curriculum style and classroom function, etc. She’s right. Doesn’t mean the stuff won’t need to get done though.

On Thursday night, I managed a few minutes of cutting…

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I really am SO CLOSE to finishing that it’s kind of lame that I haven’t. Of course, then I’ll have to do the hard part: sort a million pieces and then iron for a week or longer to get it all together. Mind-boggling. More overwhelming. Except I want to see what it looks like. Isn’t that funny? I don’t know what it will look like. Kind of a strange way of working.

I have some other plans for smaller pieces this summer too…maybe I am planning too much. Looking back at last summer (which I hate doing, because it was such a nasty beast of trauma), at the end of school, I was still ironing pieces down to fabric on Wise Choice, and I had Buried Under partially quilted I think? Then I had to make Babygirl and a couple other smaller pieces. Plus I started working on Love (not). So I am further ahead on the Menopause quilt, which is actually about half the size of Wise Choice, so it shouldn’t take as long. I’m a little further behind on the Mammogram quilt, but it won’t take long to stitch down and catch up to that stage. I know how many hours I put in last summer…art quilting is about all I did. And I don’t have that kind of time this summer…too many other things to do. So we’ll see.

I can’t really take it one day at a time. I have to be able to see the big picture. I’ve spent the last three months with my head under the pillow, not thinking about the big picture, and now I have to deal.

I think I’m calling in sick this week. Seriously, my brain just wandered off again. It doesn’t want to manage all this crap. It wants to hide. Reading books is a good way to hide…it’s another world, a protective space, somewhere I can live that doesn’t require me to constantly be picking up after people, where things aren’t demanding my attention. Really, I am only sorta here. Just checking in. Expect more calm sanity after the end. (four more days) I should have a blog category for overwhelmed, it’s such a common occurrence. I think I’m doing it wrong.

Dammit Seriously.

June 12, 2014

That seems to be my mantra at the moment. Or is it Damnit. Go look here. Because I am that ubergeek who googled it and then tried to decide whether ubergeek should be one word or two or hyphenated.

I got an email yesterday about a fiber show coming up and I also got my new issue of Fiber Art Now, which is an intriguing magazine…not as highbrow as the Surface Design Association magazine, but not as crafty as Quilting Arts is. I find I barely read these any more…I TRY to…really I do, usually while cooking, but sitting and reading short articles seems to work better with an electronic device these days than with a pile of pages.

Anyway, the email and the magazine sent me down a rabbit hole of shows coming up and possible entries and due dates and size requirements, so girlchild cooked dinner (late! she walked in and asked if I was planning on cooking any time soon…oops) while I bounced around websites trying to figure out if it was worth entering. I don’t mind being invited to enter a show, but when entry fees are exorbitant for a short show? That seems crazy…maybe I’m reading it wrong. I did manage to find some other shows that sounded interesting though, and I almost got excited about art for a moment there. Until I realized how late it was and that I had grades to input and my computer was being a slow-ass beast, which is another thing I need to deal with this summer, along with EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE FUCKING WORLD.

It does not look good for relaxation and mai tais by the pool. Like I ever do that. The to-do list is miles long. Plus I started reading a book about blended learning (the new code word in education) and realizing I need to get my entire curriculum onto Google Drive and Docs by the end of the summer, which is not a small task, and I won’t get paid for that, by the way, you idiot politicians who think we’re in it for the money, but I will do it ANYWAY, because it’s best for the kids, so maybe you should give me a raise, and then in a year or two’s time, I will also MAKE UP new curriculum all by myself when the science standards switch and we don’t get new textbooks until never. So. Yeah. This job. Sometimes…sometimes it’s the best thing around and exciting (it really is kind of exciting to be getting everything online and making things collaborative in a way I can track, instead of trying to figure out who wrote what, when the overachievers did the whole project while the other kid picked his nose for three days), but sometimes it is a huge drain on your brain.

In the middle of all this thinking and reading and stuff, I realized that my phone had disappeared some important notes from the Notes app (this was in the middle of riding the stationary bike), so then I had to try and find those, which meant restarting and installing a backup, which took forever (see note about screwed-up computer…you know, sometimes it’s just easier to buy a new one than figure out what the fuck is the matter with the old one, but that’s not an option, so figure it out we will). Plus the boychild was in here analyzing his yearbook at 11:45 at night (really, we are both night owls…I told him how I used to read under the covers until mom would come yell at me…he should be glad I’m his mom), which really was about analyzing his high-school career, because the twit is graduating in less than a week. GRADUATING. Fuck. And then moving out and never really coming back.

So not where I wanted to be right now. I’m a fucking mess these days really. I have spent the last two days showing one of the pregnancy videos to my students, and post-birth, I always tear up when I see someone give birth, but it’s usually OK, very controllable, because prior to a year ago, I wasn’t a CRIER. I really wasn’t. Barely ever. So I had picked the video with like 3 births in a row, and I almost lost it yesterday…over and over again…because I saw 15 births yesterday and I am not as in control of my crying tendencies as I used to be. It was a real struggle holding it together. By lunch (6 births down), I wanted to huddle in the bathroom and sob. It’s OK…today we move on to STDs. No crying there.

I know my head’s a mess, and I was hoping to MAKE art yesterday, but by the time the technology was all fixed and boychild was back in bed, it was almost 1 in the morning. My sleep app tells me I’ve averaged 4.5 hours of sleep a night this week. Um. Not good. But I’m wired at night, totally awake (unlike in the afternoon meetings). So that’s not conducive to lying down and sleeping. I try it and then my brain ransacks the emotional storage area and I end up crying myself to sleep because the SUMMER sounds overwhelming. My vacation time (vacation, ha!) sounds like it’s going to kick my ass. I’m crawling into bed on June 20 and pulling the covers over my head. Wake me up in 2017. OK, maybe I’ll get up to deal with the girlchild’s graduation.

Then this morning, the computer wants to tell me about the updates it’s installed. You don’t understand, you asshole…I don’t fucking CARE what you installed…are you working better than you were last night? Because that was a clusterfuck. The grading program was writing line by line and I just had to sit there WAITING for it to process to the alphabetical letter that I needed it to get to, and I don’t know whether it was internet or the grade server or my computer. I don’t CARE…it took forever. Just knock it off.

I’ve decided Clash of Clans (which I really do play sort of half-heartedly and then the boychild yells at me for even playing it) is a metaphor for life. I wake up every morning and my shield went down overnight and some total stranger attacked me and somehow I won. Because my defenses are OK (they aren’t really), but somehow I won without doing anything. But if I go out and attack anything, first of all, I suck at attacking…I just deploy everyone AT ONCE (GO! KILL! DESTROY!) with absolutely no strategy except to get them all running on the screen at once, little cartoon goblins and archers and barbarians (what are they all doing hanging out together anyway?), and then I get creamed. Because I suck at attacking. I go to sleep though and all this stuff happens and I wake up and I have more trophies. It feels kinda empty. So maybe entering shows will help…unless I get rejected from all of them and then that will be worse. Or maybe I won’t care. Who knows.

Yeah, I know. It’s a stupid game. I’m OK with that. I need something that doesn’t mean much, that isn’t that important, that I can do while waiting for the stupid grade program to respond.

I wish I could say that tonight will be better, and maybe it will…but it’s looking kind of fraught.

I was sitting at the union meeting last night (did I mention I didn’t even get home until almost 6 because of the union meeting?) and they had brought us ice cream, because it’s the last meeting of the year, but it was chocolate and sugar, so I’m allergic to the first, and I’m diabetic, so lots of the latter is not a good plan, and the woman next to me asks why I don’t have any ice cream, so I tell her those two things, and she says she’s diabetic too, which I didn’t know, and never would have guessed, because she had already eaten her ice cream and she always has a giant soda everywhere she goes. And I’m thinking, well, maybe it’s sugar free? But seriously? I do everything right, I lose all the weight, I exercise, I watch my diet, and I get stuck with symptoms that are worse than before, way worse, and there she is…poster child for bad diabetics, making me look bad. Dammit. Seriously.

I love this picture in the yearbook…

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Yup. Those are my two. Boychild says they didn’t ask him about the words at all, and I guess if “closest of friends” includes yelling “Calm your asshole!” at the other one in the morning (that’s what I heard just before they left), then yeah, they might be. Certainly, the last part is true, and is why we will have to get a new monitor with a webcam so she can Skype him for math and science next year, because AP Physics is beyond me and Calculus makes my brain explode. Seriously, there are no spare brain cells for that stuff any more. Damn. I’m going to miss them. Seriously. I’m a mess.

Exorcising Demons

June 6, 2014

It’s interesting how angry I am at this piece. At all of them maybe. Certainly at the Earth Stories piece…I don’t ever want to see it again. I may get over that. I’m angry at myself for letting my emotional existence affect my enjoyment of making art. Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense. There’s no point in being angry at myself for something I don’t really have any control over…despite all the happy shit on Pinterest that says it’s my decision to be this way. Fuck you Pinterest. Seriously. Who asked you?

Yeah right. Anyway. I’ve avoided this sucker all week…too tired to stand after work. Seriously that tired. Somehow today, when I taught just like always, then went to finish up the refi after work (this might be how I survive the summer), then came home and went directly to the gym, came home again and cooked and did dishes…plus graded papers. On a day like that, you’d expect me to just collapse on the couch, never to rise again.

Fuck that shit. I’m not going to be that person. It may kill me to keep making art when it feels so sucky to do so, but hell, it can’t be worse than sitting around and doing nothing. So I ironed…and I wasn’t sure about it at all until I saw the photograph.

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Oh yes. That’s nice. That’s going to kick some butt when the fingers are all stitched down and outlined. I am liking that hand. It’s a pain in the butt to iron, of course, because the overlaps aren’t logical and nice, but I’m getting there. This is about two hours in (with the torso already ironed below). Not a lot of pieces…just a pain in the ass. Nothing new in Kathy Art world. Welcome to my ability to punish myself with my own artwork.

I also cut pieces out…

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a little of both worlds tonight. I’m 16 hours into this, and probably still have at least two to three more to go. This is the biggie that will eat up a large portion of the summer. Plus the next one, which doesn’t exist. Then there are at least 3 drawings done in the last year that want to be new quilts. Plus I need to do some smaller ones for shows that don’t like boobies. Assholes.

Who needs a personal life. I’ll just keep making art and hiding in my room, coming out for work and the occasional something or other. Fuck the world. I wrote that all over my notebook in high school. FTW. Not sure my attitude’s changed much in 30 years. I guess I’m more likely to say it out loud now.

I’ve spent all week explaining to my female students that Nature isn’t fair, that there isn’t an equivalent to their 40 years of periods and giving birth for the boys…although I personally think that giving birth and nursing babies is one of the most fucking awesome things I’ve ever done (not wanting to do it again, though, and pregnancy was hell for me, like want-to-die hell). But it would be nice to not have the rest of it. They’re pissed, my girl students. They don’t think it’s fair. They want payback. I don’t blame them.

I was ironing and the cord was hanging down in front of Babygirl. Apparently she thought she needed to play with it (smart animal) and got her claws stuck in it while I was ironing…

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Sigh. She is not particularly bright. So she’s semi-yowling and trying to rip her claws through an electrical cord, and I’m trying to free her from the nasty beast, and she’s trying to kill me in the process, because that’s how her tiny little brain works. I do feel sorry for her. We take in the losers and the mutants here.

The mood is still bleak. Then I look back at that ironed breast up there and smile, slightly, to myself. That’s good. Keep doing that. The smiles might stick if you do it enough. You don’t have to like them once they’re done. The Earth Stories quilt? It can travel for years. I don’t particularly want the memories of making it under duress back in my house. The quilt itself is fine…it’s all the emotional shit that’s sewed INTO it that can go fuck itself. So yeah. When you make art to exorcise your demons, it’s better if they stay gone, out, far away. Don’t let those assholes come back home.

Trying to Find the Way Out.

June 5, 2014

The boychild trying to amuse me in the morning (because he didn’t take the recycling out again): Shows me his super-expensive (required by the course) graphing calculator, which you can program to do certain functions, pushes a series of buttons and tells me to hit enter: his calculator then tells me it sees dead people. Sigh. Grin. This because last night Calli (the Golden Retriever) seemed to either be scared of her shadow in the entryway or telling me there were ghosts outside the door. Not sure which. Put her to bed so I wouldn’t have to think about it. Then thought about the fact that my protector, the dog, is hiding behind ME. Hmn.

I’m trying to control parts of my life so that the uncontrolled parts don’t feel so vast and empty. In trying to explain yesterday to one class why kids cut themselves (yes, teaching sex ed covers a wide range of topics, including suicide and depression and cutting), I tried to talk about the need for control, and how in some people, it gets messed up. That their need for control is so strong and their own lives are so out of control, that what they choose to control seems crazy to the rest of us (anorexia, bulimia as well). I left school and went and controlled some stuff (refi’d my mortgage). Then went home, where the chaos reigns, and tried to deal. I can control the errands. After that, it’s questionable.

My knee is having major problems. This is not good. I’m not hiking until it stops. I may need to deal with a doctor on this one. It sucks. I hate that the body gets in the way of treating the mind, because hiking and walking treats my mind, the depression, and I’m not going to be able to do that for a while. Not sure how long. Hate this.

Girlchild had her followup back appointment, post-surgery. She’s cleared to start soccer practice and running in two weeks. She was hoping to be cleared yesterday, so she ended up being depressed about that. Mad because I had scheduled it then and not when she would be allowed to play. I don’t think that’s how we planned it, but whatever. So it was a weird day, because I only taught half the day, but I had to get up early and deal with freeway traffic and crap.

Back to that place where it feels like the sky is pressing down on your shoulders, blocking your ability to breathe. It feels like a heavy blanket…ironic, because it is a beautifully sunny day out there, it’ll be in the mid-80s. It’s spring going into summer in Southern California…where depression feels completely out of place, because nature just laughs at you. Not only am I going to fuck your KNEE up, but I’m going to make it a beautiful day! So fuck you. Wow. I see how it is.

I try to pull myself out of these. I was dancing in 6th period to 70s funk (some of the kids know some of it). I graded a bunch of journals when I got back early from the doctor’s appointment. I can’t send my sub home early, so I might as well use that time. My goal was to not have to work last night. Turns out I didn’t have the energy anyway.

I did manage some cutting, about an hour (it’s always about an hour…).

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It’s getting there. The pile in the middle, the to-be-cut pile, is getting noticeably smaller. There’s a lot of big fleshy pieces in there now, which are easier for me to cut (and deal with mentally). For some reason, the small tiny bitchy pieces just depress me. I pick up a piece with a ton of tiny pieces on it and I just feel overwhelmed. But when I pick up a huge piece that probably has just as much complicated cutting going on, it seems more doable. Makes no sense. I haven’t managed to go back to ironing the other one together either. I’m just too tired these days. Ironic. I’m sleeping more. The other side of depression? Sleep instead of wakefulness? Or something else? I’m always having to second-guess what my body is doing. And the brain. What does THIS mean? What did I do to cause this? Blood sugar, sleep, weight issues. All so uncontrollable. Maybe I will have to clean something to make it better in my head.

I enjoy some parts of journal grading. It really is a relief to grade a perfect journal…

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and then some of them are so creative…

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Guess which one was done by a girl and which one was done by a boy. I wish that weren’t so obvious, but it often is. Not always.

I think my mood is connected to something disappointing that happened at school, disappointing because of the kids involved and because I had just talked to them about the three results of bullying in middle and high school: 1. the kid just deals with it and moves on. 2. the kid attempts to or succeeds in killing him or herself. 3. the kid stockpiles guns and comes back to school and kills you for being an asshole. (I don’t use those exact words, but…) And then it doesn’t seem to matter what teachers say, because they still do that shit and consequences still happen. So I already know I have to go to school today and be visibly and verbally disappointed in behaviors that are totally normal in our society (our brains really are fucked-up messes) for reasons of control. Because if you feel like less of a person, then you turn around and make someone else feel worse.

It’s OK, guys. My brain is doing it FOR you. You don’t have to do a thing. I can bully myself.

I will find a way out of this shit. I swear. I don’t want to live in here. I want to live somewhere else. Like out there. Where the sun is shining and the birds are singing. I can hear them; I just can’t find the way out there. Seriously, that was last night’s dream, running around school hallways, trying to find the way out, trying to find my kids (my students). I don’t know what that’s about.

An article about the Quilt National exhibit in San Jose is here.

An article about the Earth Stories exhibit in Michigan is here.

My work is in both, but you can only see mine in the second article.

I’m Never Where I Want to Be…*

June 1, 2014

I spent over 8 hours yesterday grading. The night before, I spent about 5 hours. Today, I’ve already spent 3 hours dealing with school stuff, although not all of it grading. It’s time to pay the piper? It’s not pretty, that’s for sure. I’ve still got at least another 6 hours just in science journals probably, and I think I’m officially about to kill someone. This isn’t healthy. I am trying to get it all out of the way so I can get some art brain on this week, because I’m still wallowing in deep sad shit from hell in my brain; in fact, the responsible part of my brain just stood up from her chair, where she is quite sensibly knitting a scarf (I don’t knit) in scrubs (I don’t own scrubs), and she pulled the curtain around the bed where the rest of my brain is connected to tubes and looks quite beat up, and she told me that now is not a good time. Come back later.

Well. OK then. I need to draw. Or something. There’s no fucking time! Groceries and errands and organizing shit and someone needs to take the tux back (boychild) and I’m supposed to go to a work thing tonight and probably I should bring a gift but I don’t have a clue what and then I’m supposed to go over and pick some stuff up from my parents.

Let’s talk realistically about how much can get done in one day (not much).

Last night, black cat (hard to see) lying upside down on the couch near the pile of crap I was grading…

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See that pile of notebooks? That’s one class. One of my smaller classes. I have five classes. It was a long night. And then when I finally went to bed, I couldn’t fall asleep.

I did try to settle my brain before bed. I cut stuff out for a little less than an hour…

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Left pile gets higher. Middle pile gets smaller. See the uterus? And I think heart parts are on top of it. Yes, I keep all the trimmings until the end. I am well known for dropping real pieces into that box by accident. Didn’t I say something about being done this week? What a joke. I’m over 14 hours.

I took breaks during the day…I did go to the gym, where I finished this…


So I’ve read both Hyperion books now (yes, I know there are more)…and I really liked them. When I didn’t hate them. When I wasn’t slogging through vocabulary and world-building that was heavy and torturous. Yup. I know. It doesn’t sound like a recommendation but it is. Just because something is challenging to read doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. These are worth it. This is a book club selection for me, and strangely, the book club organizer has set up the next meeting by saying it’s going to be about why we shouldn’t have read these. Interesting.

Then I got the boychild ready for prom and followed him somewhere to take pictures…

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He went with a group of kids (this is a small portion of the group)…

And I planted some stuff that was going to die if I didn’t plant it soon. So I took breaks. But it still sucked. I’d like to say I got a lot done (and I did), but there’s still so much to do and I am just behind all the time.

I had plans for today and they all got fucked up. Sigh.

I’m trying so hard not to feel like this all the time. I have all these inner conversations that just suck, and during the last 2 minutes of meditation, when he says to let my brain go and do what it wants, it literally SCREAMS at me, at the top of its brainy little lungs, just full on screaming. That can’t be good.

So last night, as an additional break between grading, I read this…


Short. Really good. Made me cry. I guess the Wall Street Journal might make me cry right now too, but this was good. Sigh. Took me 11 days to read The Fall of Hyperion and less than 12 hours to read this one. Take what you want from that.

Boychild is mad that I’m posting that picture. He’s mad that I won’t take his tux back for him. He’s mad that I exist at the moment, although I did all the grocery shopping for him. So. Whatever. Teenagers. Sheesh. Oh yeah, and he’s only had 2.5 hours of sleep and he’s NOT cranky (my ass).

I’m cranky and I had 7 hours…really shitty hours, but mostly sleeping. Maybe.

OK. Tonight. Sigh. More art, less work. After I go to a work-related party. Yeah. I know. But these are the good people. Maybe I will leave with the brain in a better place, cuz it ain’t there now.

*Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill (Sion’s fault)


May 22, 2014

I have that weird weather throb in my head again. It’s been there for two days now, as the weather flip flops around from hot to cold. It means monster headaches. It means taking all the Motrin I had in my purse yesterday and gulping it all down and actually calendaring Get More Motrin on my phone so I wouldn’t forget to restock my purse stash before school today, because today we are doing microscopes and heads might roll. Seriously.

Yeah. So I’m having issues balancing blood sugar again and now I know it is at least partially (if not completely) hormonal, which sucks, because I can’t control that. So I’m having to remember to pack extra food that isn’t high in calories but will keep me from passing out at inopportune times, like when I’m teaching or driving. I’m hoping when I get out the other side of menopause that it all calms back down to the semi-normal level of blood-sugar-tending that I had to do before all this, because this is just annoying. I get so paranoid about food. You have to be obsessive about it. I envy people who just eat whenever they like, whatever they like, and don’t have to think about what it will do inside you, or worry that I’m having to go to 2 meetings after school and I need to prepare for that like I’m going camping or something. Like there will be NO Food Available (and certainly there’s the issue of you can bring food but we won’t let you eat it in here, which has been an issue in the past…I just argue medical necessity).

I don’t feel very organized at the moment, either at home or at school. Both places have too much going on and I’m getting overwhelmed. Deep breaths. Make lists. Calendar shit. Pick your battles.

So I should have graded tests last night, and I didn’t. I always have to look at the overwhelmed feelings and try to figure out what’s going to be best for me tonight. Is more grading going to make the difference? Or does it need to be exercise and meditation and artmaking? The latter is winning most nights, at least some combination of those. It’s been difficult lately to find time for all three, especially since I’ve been working really hard on getting more sleep…even an extra half hour or so a night I think will make a difference. It seems like every two or three nights, my brain pitches a fit and doesn’t want to sleep. I don’t even go to bed until my brain has capitulated, decided that the idea of sleep is not a heinous thing. I don’t want to lie awake, letting it wander. That’s when I end up back in the pit.

This morning, I woke up with the alarm, screaming in my head, “Stop it, Fuck off, Go away!” Um. OK. And adrenaline surging. Not a good way to wake up. I have no idea what was going on in my head. I was watching The Americans while I cut out pieces last night. I’m reading The Fall of Hyperion. Neither seemed relevant to the dreaming. I wanted to draw last night…maybe I should have (ran out of hours, minutes, seconds).

I only cut stuff out for 47 minutes. See, when you’re thinking about how much I get done, realize that most nights, I get an hour in. That’s it. I don’t spend a ton of time a day (wish I could). Less than an hour last night…which is why it still looks like this…

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There is still a lot to cut out. I’m 9 hours into the cutting. I had estimated 12. I think I’m wrong. Who knows…but certainly I spent a good chunk of that time cutting pieces out that looked like this…

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Yup, that’s full on crazy. Those are the outer parts of the octopus suckers. Technical term. Holy crap. I think they really are just called suckers. If you’re in the mood for sorta irreverent sciencey talk about octopus suckers, yet highly educational irreverence, go here. I’m not really sure how I ended up with the science leaning. Coming out of college, I was pure literature and art. There’s some really cool vocabulary in that article though, like ‘infundibulum.’ Yesterday, I taught my students ‘endoplasmic reticulum’ and told them to pull THAT out at dinner time. Earlier this year, I taught them ‘vex’ and ‘irk.’ They’re still using those words. I love that I have taught 160 middle-schoolers to say “You VEX me,” instead of all those other lame words they use.

Which reminds me, someone told me this weekend that my use of the word “DUUUDE” guaranteed my California residency (I was not actually born in California…born in an Alaskan military hospital to two California parents though).

Anyway. Another hour of cutting stuff out and I might have had some mental balance, but I had to consider the sleep component as well.

Midnight was a worthy couch companion…

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She misses her mommy at night and harasses me instead.

If I’m at the computer, I get Babygirl (stupidest name EVER)…

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who insists on sitting ON the mouse, or IN FRONT of the screen, or trying to drink my tea or eat my oatmeal. And then she gets all pissed off if you don’t pet her at the same time. Try resizing photos when she’s sitting there. It’s impossible.

I wanted to clear out a couple of posts-in-progress last night on hikes and Earth Stories, but girlchild needed my computer to write an essay (the computer she uses is apparently barely functional at the moment, which is unfortunate, because I’m not able to get a NEW one…she can use her brother’s when he gets his graduation laptop, whenever that happens). Then she asked for my advice, which is like asking someone to tell you if your butt is big, when you ask a writing mom with a Comparative Literature degree about your intro paragraph and she actually tries to help you, but you’re an emotional 16-year-old and holy god, why did I even open my mouth, because there were tears and it was not pretty. I should have just told her that her butt looked big. It would have been less traumatic. For both of us.

Remind me never to talk again. Seriously. I’m done with it.

Little Pieces

May 8, 2014

I’m 18 hours and 23 minutes into ironing fabric for this quilt…this quilt that does not yet have an exhibit to call home, and is probably destined to be like a couple of the other quilts I’ve made, where no one wants them in a show. Oh well. I like them to be in shows, but honestly, that’s not why I make them.

I’ve made it into the 1400s, but not very far, about 20 pieces in. So I’ve got about another 350 pieces to go. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m in the fussy little piece section now…

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See all those little pieces? There’s like two tiny pieces ironed onto one little piece of THIS gray and two tiny pieces ironed onto one little piece of THAT gray. It’s a little piece bonanza. So it takes more time. Or maybe it’s just that this thing takes X time and X seems to be a larger number than normal. It’s still not taking as long as the Earth Stories piece. But it seems like no matter how much ironing I do each night, I still have about 4 more hours to do…I find that strange. Like time is stretching out and the fabric is breeding or the Wonder Under is undergoing mitosis.

Or I’m thinking too hard.

At least there will be no shortage of things to work on this summer (besides my sanity, a clean house, and a better yard). I have a lot of stuff in progress and a whole new quilt I have to make by November that only barely exists in a sketch in my brain.

I’m not worried. My summer is pretty empty. Well, except for soccer and working and all the other shit that will rain down upon me that I don’t even know about yet.

You know, like it does. All the little things. That’s what’s overwhelming me at the moment is all the little detailed crap that I’m supposed to be handling and getting done every day, and which is really NOT getting done because I keep doing healthy things like meditating and exercising and making dinner and then I do other things like making art, because if I didn’t do that, I don’t know who I would be. I’ve really thrown the balance up in the air this year, and I don’t know how successful it’s been. I think I need some distance from it to decide.

Here’s what it looked like last night when I was picking fabrics for the face-in-a-cloud section, which is only like 8″ square…

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Each fabric had no more than 4 pieces on it…and some only had one. I’m running out of room on the ironing board.

See the face in a cloud in the top right? That’s what I was ironing.

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I also ironed the headphones and cords…basically all I have left is the wolf, the iPhone, the snake, the bird, the dog, and the giant skull eyeball. It doesn’t seem like much when you realize how much I HAVE done, but it requires some mental attention. I quit last night right before the wolf, because I was too tired to think WOLF. I had done over an hour of ironing, which seems to be the right amount for working every night at the moment. In my old life, I would work on it every other night, but for longer usually. I actually didn’t usually get ironing of big projects done during the school year at all. So I guess that’s changed.

Everything’s changed.

I was going to write all this last night, but WordPress was having issues, so I went to bed (a little early!) instead. I should try to do that more often, but then I’d get even less done. It would be nice if I could get some sense of life fulfillment from my job…and you’d think as a teacher, I would, but it’s so much hard work and paper pushing that it’s hard to see the good stuff until you’re 6 months past it.

I realized how much irritation I was carrying yesterday at work, but then I remembered that we don’t have much of the school year left, and this is normal. The kids want to be on vacation already. There’s all these end-of-year pressures of awards, grades, cleaning up, preparing for next year…I have a boss who sends messages demanding meetings at certain times without ever thinking that we might already have things on our calendar. I seriously get emails that say “See me during Period 2.” or “Meet here at 3:45.” and you’re thinking, wow. Dude. I already have a parent meeting during Period 2, thanks for asking, and at 3:45, I’m doing this presentation thing. And there’s often no information telling you the purpose of the meeting, so then you’re left wondering if this is a bitchslap event or just a check-in. A decent boss emails you and says, hey, we need to talk about X, here are the times I have available. I realize you’re busy doing your job; when would be convenient for you?

I guess that is too much to hope for. I just take a deep breath these days, do a little weird dance in the hallways to make the kids laugh, or randomly yell “Dress Code!” into the hallway (that’s actually really fun to do…I’m not even dress coding anyone, but they’re so paranoid it will be THEM that they all jump). OK, yes, it’s time for vacation. Someone on last week’s hike (which is still in a picture file and not in a blog post) said they were surprised I wasn’t in a tower surrounded by a bunch of guns. Well, isn’t THAT a nice image to put alongside my teacher image.

Now you know why I exercise so much and make so much art. Otherwise I’d go even more nuts than I already am. I’m leaving the guns alone though. I do better with pen and paper. And honestly? The kids aren’t the problem…they may drive me bonkers on a regular basis with their shenanigans and laziness and moody crap and drama, but it’s the adults that cause the real trauma. I know the kids aren’t old enough to control their shit. I wish the adults remembered that they are.


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