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.


In My Head…

September 13, 2014

I’m a little frustrated at the moment. I just spent about 20 minutes trying to find my camera cord, which the last time I looked, was hooked up to this computer. That was 36 hours ago. So apparently someone broke into my house, left the TV and computers and iPad, but stole my camera cord. OR…I have a teenager here. And she was obviously doing something here, because my iPad charger was in the living room, and she doesn’t use my iPad…so someone was here who has a newer iPhone than she does and they needed to charge it. And then they must have done something with photos on my computer and taken the camera cord off the hub, and then I don’t know what happened. And I can’t ask her, because she is currently taking the ACT. So the photos, lame that they were, because YES…I am still tracing that fucking Wonder Under…cannot come off the camera until the cord reappears.

I’m a little irritated. I don’t mind their using stuff…just put it back when you’re done and tell me what’s going on.

Sigh. I’m tired and it’s hot and I’m not happy. I traced for over an hour last night and only got like 40 pieces done, because they were all long hellishly twisty tree branches that had to be finagled onto the Wonder Under around each other, with multiple decisions of what overlaps what, and at the end of a long day, my brain was rebelling. I finally gave up. So yeah, I still have almost 200 pieces to trace today. I’m OK with that. My daytime is actually mostly open at the moment, except for some major school stuff and going to the gym. I can’t trace in the morning anyway, because the light table is in full sun and it’s bloody hot over there. It’s supposed to be over 100 degrees today (yes, our summer hits in September) and I’m not looking forward to hours of sweating…the gym is air conditioned, so I will go do that and then come back once the sun has hit the overhead mark. Maybe by then, someone will be able to tell me where my camera cord is.

Found it. Another 10 minutes of “Where would she put it down if she happened to be walking around with it, which why on Earth would she be doing that, because it doesn’t fit her camera?” On the couch, under her bag. Much as I will miss them when they’re both gone, there are moments when it seems it might be a lot less stressful and annoying to have no teenagers in the house.

There have been a lot of meditative moments in the last 36 hours, with school trying to kick my butt and me kicking it back, to getting yet another art rejection (dammit…but not unexpected…just frustrating), to dealing with the Wonder Under last night, to this morning’s cord situation. None of it’s major. It’s just all building up and sitting inside me and I need to meditate it out. Or exercise it out. Or something.

These are the branches that were getting to me last night…

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It didn’t help that I was tired. And I’m almost done. I just wanted to be done last night. It’s OK. I’ll be done today. I’m thinking I can cut them all out in about 7 hours, so maybe by Tuesday night? So fabric on Wednesday? Let’s ignore the fact that I need to do another bird binding (only one left). And school. Let’s definitely ignore that. Like yeah. Totally.

Here’s a shot from the top of Cowles Mountain on Thursday night…

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Just throwing that in there. Totally randomly.

I didn’t get more done last night because the girlchild and I went shoe shopping. I haven’t bought new shoes in over two years and wanted some boots, and she had a giftcard to a store that is usually a million miles away, but they just opened one near us, so we went. And we found old giftcards we hadn’t used for a restaurant out there, so we used them for dinner. And I didn’t end up with the shoes I wanted, but I got something else. Whatever. And then I came home and was even more tired. But I spent time with her and she was in a good mood and it was all good. So there. Because I barely see her all week. Today, she is gone all day, pretty much. She has the ACT, then goes straight to the game she’s coaching, and from there to the game she plays in. I’ll see her there briefly, because I’m bringing her water, but I have to leave early for the opening of the Fence/Barda exhibit. Ships passing in the night. She said that I come home and she leaves five minutes later, and that really is what happens. So I’ve held off on adding more book clubs to my list, because they all meet the nights I have her, and then I don’t see her at all. And much as I enjoy talking about books with smart people, I miss my kids.

Anyway. I’m almost awake now. Really, the brain doesn’t handle sleep well. Waking up even less so. I’m going to eat something and go to the gym with my book that was due at the library yesterday (it’s not the only one that was due yesterday either, and both have holds on them), and I’m going to enjoy the air conditioning there, and then I’m going to come back and finish tracing stuff and maybe do some school stuff, and go to the girlchild’s game and the opening, and it is a full day, at least…with plenty of purpose…and the fact that I feel less than something at the moment is really all in my head. Of course, that’s where ALL the good (and bad) stuff happens…in my head.


Zombies, Please Take My Brain…

September 11, 2014

Someone actually found my blog by searching “penis tortured on an ironing board.” Ironically, I was tracing a penis onto Wonder Under last night, but no ironing boards were involved. I finished the female figure and moved on to the male. I only got a paltry 110 pieces traced, but it was back-to-school night and I spent 10.5 hours at school and was the Walking Dead when I got home. Speaking of Walking Dead, the CDC has zombie lesson plans and a graphic novel that I’m going to use for the end of my “what is living” section. I’m not apparently living at the moment. Lots of parents and kids and parents who think you should know who they are because you’ve had their older kids, but hell, you don’t have a CLUE who they are. Sigh. I eventually figured some of them out. I think. But no, I don’t have your child’s grade memorized. Sorry.

Anyway. It’s done. I think it was successful. We certainly had way more people than we normally do, mostly because our current principal is like a circus/rodeo guy (not really; he just plays one on TV) and he did raffle prizes and gave out free pizza that was actually pretty good. We bribed them with extra credit if a parent or guardian showed up. Many came with multiple people (you got a raffle ticket for every person). All very strange. Different. It’s weird being a teacher and having your principal change every three years (I’ve never had one longer than that), and the personality of the school changes with it and all the teachers have to adjust and there’s issues with that because teachers can be a bunch of whiners.

Anyway. So the girlchild and I got home at about the same time, and I made a cup of tea and collapsed on the couch, and she did the same, except she had homework in hand (I didn’t even TRY to work. I gots books to read, don’tcha know). And eventually she said she was hungry and we cobbled together a strange meal of leftovers, some of which were so leftover that they should have been tossed out (they are now), and in doing so, I found some things that had gone bad. Food stuffs that were now really gross. We’re playing rock/paper/scissors to deal with the tupperware of fuzzy muffins. I really am not on top of all the household chores at the moment. I have school brain and art brain, and all other brains appear to be offline. Down for the count. Missing in action. I make plans to pack up stuff for the thrift shop or deal with the unfinished living room or hang art or clear the hallway, and it just doesn’t happen. I come home and my working brain flees, screeching, hiding under the bed. There’s not a lot left.

So I didn’t start tracing until almost 11, I think, because I exercised and meditated, and the meditation app was having issues, so I had to delete and reinstall it and then finally email the techs at Headspace, who apparently fiddled with my account last night. And then I started tracing, while the girlchild stressed about colleges and how to whittle her list in half…

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I’ve got about 650 pieces done…I think I could finish in two nights if exhaustion doesn’t take over (ahem. OK. Good luck with that.). So my goal is to be done Friday night. Then cutting out all the pieces starting on Saturday, getting that done in 3 days? Maybe? It could happen. Except I do have other stuff to do, as always. I set the goals and then I trash them. I’m trying to keep working as if I don’t know about the extra two weeks at the end that I just found out about yesterday. Let alone the offer of a couple weeks beyond that. Nope. Sticking to mid-November. And I don’t know what to tell the girlchild. I had her do some research to try to narrow it down. I feel like the college counselor should be helping more with this.

Boychild was texting complaints again. I offered suggestions that involved his making decisions and ordering stuff instead of me. He wants plants in his room. I remember plants. I used to have plants all over the house. And then I had kids and I had a choice: keep the kids alive or the plants alive. I guess you know who won. But it wouldn’t be bad to try to get back in the habit. He reminded me of plants. No, we’re not mailing him cactus…but we did consider it.

Both the girlchild and I are trying to give Babygirl attention, since the boychild is gone, and she likes him best and he gave her the most love and affection. I’m not sure she appreciates it. I have holes in my arms that imply she doesn’t. And girlchild gets a little psycho with the attention…

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We texted that to the boychild. I don’t think she really ate the cat. She’s old. Not very tasty.

I’m still bullying through Google and now Edmodo, which needs a beatdown. Seriously, it should not take 10 keystrokes to hand in an assignment. But it does. Eighty-nine of my 150 students have turned the assignment in. I know that because my phone tells me. I swear. This will make my life easier. Maybe. I’m a day behind in instruction. Do I care? Hell no. By the end of this unit, I’ll be more than that behind, and I am winging it and I just don’t care. I’ve got engagement. It’s all good.

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Seriously, this is just PART of the instructions on the board, and the thing is, most of them won’t (can’t?) read this. And all the intuitive poking around that I would do? They don’t. They just put their hand in the air or start yelling out, and they can’t figure out what to do next. Sometimes I type it up and put the instructions on the desk. It doesn’t matter; the high-level kids will still do it and the others will just sit there. And if I say it to them while demonstrating on my OWN account (because I have a student account set up), then some start to space out and get behind, or they are just really slow to hear things or honestly, English is their 5th language and they barely understand it in the first place. So I count on the expertise at your table! Who at your table knows what they’re doing? Have them help you. But really, I end up walking around and helping about half the classroom just LOG IN. I should pay the kids who do it right. If you log in and submit within 5 minutes of my instructions? Ten bucks goes into your student account (doesn’t have to be real money…could be play money that they exchange for food or something). But I need this system to work without MY having to run it. The amount goes down over time.

The password stuff is killing me though. We put password sheets in their planners and have them write their login information, but they forget or they write it wrong, and then I have to log out of the student account and into the teacher account (I would love to be able to have two tabs open, one with each, but it logs me out of one if the other is open…there must be a way around that) to reset their password and look up their login info. So their solution? Make a new account. My 8th period currently has 41 students, even though there are only 34 on the roster. I’m spending all day today helping the kids who couldn’t turn in their assignment yesterday for whatever reason, which includes deleting all the duplicate accounts. If you think that doesn’t sound like fun, it’s because it doesn’t. Imagine not being techy and trying to do this. I get why some teachers just take a deep breath and look away from the tech. It’s too much on top of everything else.

But my goal is that by December, this is something they can just do without my help. Really. I’m putting time in now so that it’s a smooth ride later.

I want zombie stories. That’s what’s next. Gotta have a hook.

I’m not writing anything sci fi at the moment. I’d like to. I sit down at the computer and think about it, and then zombielicious brain takes over and reads blogs or there’s something else that I have to do…send a contract here, pay a bill there. It’s never-ending. Time to write? Eh. Maybe in the morning. (I actually wrote for a little while last night, but hell…this morning I feel like I was hit by a truck. I’m so tired. BALANCE. Fucking balance.)

So yeah, I’ve been thinking, and the depression is still there. It’s hard to shake. Hangs around my neck, claws in. Yeah, it’s better, but it’s still there. I feel it in meditation. I feel it in the late nights. It’s there at the gym. It hangs out in the car with me when I’m by myself after a hike or the gym, on the way home. It helps me fill the gas tank at night, standing in the gas station, alone with that stupid black cloud, almost a black fur coat stifling my heart, my core. Snug fit.

I would love to have it be gone. I wish I could just shake it off. Been saying that for over a year. I think next week it will be 14 months. Well, technically longer than that if you go back to the low-level crap, but this severe shit, the stuff where your brain messes with you, colors the pictures wrong, tries to pull the blanket out from under you, trips you up in aisles (god, I miss the movies)…that’s been 14 months. And it’s still there. Smaller. Less deadly. But there.

That’s an owl I hear hooting in the background, telling me it’s past my bedtime. I’m not finishing this post tonight. I’m not nearly coherent enough. Actually, I might be way more coherent at night (morning), than I am after 4.5 hours of sleep…which is what I get on average. No wonder I’m a little nuts. The meditation keeps me relatively calm though. Seriously though…I think the owl is currently residing in the tree right outside my bedroom. I can hear it loud and clear. It’s saying, “Go the Fuck to Bed, you Dumbass.” That was 1:23 AM. Now it’s morning and I’m trying to add/edit. The caffeine has not kicked in, though, so I’m sluggish. I just want to stay home and finish tracing. I’d be done by noon, probably. Sound good? Yeah. I know. Must go to work. Honestly, it might be easier if the zombies took my brain and ate it. I think I’d get more done.


Google My Sanity

September 10, 2014

I spent all day teaching kids how to cut and paste on a computer. How to find things in Google Docs. How to open files and get things out of the trash (actually, I’m not sure I’ve figured that one out for Google Docs yet). I figured out how to do superscript by the end of 4th period (in Docs…I know how to do it elsewhere, but my computer and theirs are different, so there were some issues). Don’t raise your hand and tell me you can’t find the file when you damn well know you threw it in the trash. DUDE. Seriously? Ask the real question…Ms. Nida, how do I get it out of the trash? The plus with Docs is that they don’t have to remember to save anything. The plus AND minus is that they can mess with color and fonts on their answers…why do they always pick a font that is illegible? In yellow? The plus is that in Docs, I can change it all back. Google hates me at the moment though, as I am still not allowed in Classroom, so tomorrow should be interesting when they hand all these files in. What was more amusing was Google temporarily crashing this morning, as every device and app I had shut down. Yes, I had a backup plan. But it came back up quickly. It’s sad when I am using THREE devices at a time, plus poking around on the kids’ devices, in order to teach a class. Seriously, I had the Mac, my iPhone, and the Nexus tablet (school-issued). I left my iPad at home, because I don’t want it to get hurt or lost. So I have the kids watching something on my Mac through the digital projector, I’m emailing the APs on my phone, and I’m using the tablet to send documents to the kids’ Google Drives. You have to be semi-impressed (only semi-, because I wasn’t the most efficient today). It’s a major learning experience, but I’m actually kind of enjoying the change. Make them do everything. Make them prepare a report and send it to me. Make them create notes. I don’t have to be standing up at the front of the room so much any more. I can be directing it, but letting them do it all. It’s kinda cool.

I had to write about 700 words on the board as instructions unfortunately, because (1) kids don’t listen and (2) Google’s not as user-friendly as it should be. I love that the digital natives (my students) are not as tech-savvy as the media purports…they can’t handle finding a file with their own name in the title, let alone clicking on an icon after I’ve shown them the picture. On the one hand, the tech can be lots of fun and very positive to use. On the other hand, training them to do things that I do in my sleep is a pain in the ass. My goal is that they can do this by December…I can assign and demo a lab, expect them to complete it, and have them prepare the report in Docs and hand it in to me without all this crazy fuss. Are we there yet? Fuck no. But this damn science classroom is flipping onto the web. It surely is. And I’m running along after it, trying to get it under control.

Anyway. It’s a challenge to get through days like this, even though it was mostly successful…and then when I’m driving home, there’s a deep emptiness inside. I need something else that I don’t have. That hole is wearing. I keep thinking if I just keep going, making, working, cleaning, whatevering, it will eventually go away, that empty feeling. I will be OK with life as it is and find joy in moments. Sigh. Not there yet. It just seems shallow sometimes. Like I’m just on the surface of my existence…the deeper part of it is hidden, inaccessible, even lost. Not sure what to even do about all that.

Nothing I guess. Nothing for now. Keep doing. Making. Drawing. Reading. Being.

So I traced another couple hundred pieces tonight (found another 10 unnumbered pieces). I’m at the halfway mark in tracing now…which is cool. I have to really fight my brain to keep tracing though. I’m tired at the end of the day, and I went to the gym as well, so working for another 2+ hours feels difficult. I’m 5 1/2 hours in…Sep 9 14 001 small

So I guess my 10-11 hour estimate on the tracing step was fairly accurate. This is the view of Downton Abbey on the TV while I trace…no, I had not finished watching the last season. I save stuff up for a long time sometimes.

Meanwhile, while I was tracing, both kids were texting me, one from a third of a mile down the road, the other from New York, both complaining, although the girlchild was mostly complaining about the boychild, because they were texting each other as well. Apparently the piano arrived today. You’d think he’d send me a text thanking me for sending that fucker, but NO. I get complaints about how the bars for the hanging files are too long, even with the grooves you use to shorten them. I suggest tool usage. There are no tools. I suggest finding the maintenance guy (I am always friends with the maintenance guy) or asking the RA, but no, that is not acceptable. I suggest road trips to Lowes or Home Depot, but that is also impossible. IMPOSSIBLE. Sigh. Excuse me while I drive a toolset to Ithaca. I’m slowly weaning him off me, I think. I really feel like a suite full of intelligent boys should be able to figure this out. He was obviously in a mood, though. Granted, it was after midnight. But a THANK YOU for shipping crap would have been nice.

Have I mentioned that I am not psychic? This has apparently been an issue for others. Expecting me to be so. Fuck you. I’m not psychic. I listen. I pay attention. I just can’t always know what’s in your head if you don’t say it. Stop telling me all the ways I’m doing it wrong too. I can’t possibly be doing EVERYTHING wrong.

Mega sigh. Girlchild thanked me this morning for cleaning out the clogged toilet…again. I think the plumber is on dad’s list right now. My list is a challenge. Girlchild and are going shoe-shopping later this week. I need some shoes. Plus I have back-to-school night tomorrow night, so I will deserve it. Seriously, I haven’t bought any shoes except flipflops for over two years…maybe longer. Purple leather boots it is. For the boychild. I’ll ship him those with the pliers and screwdriver that he had in his drawers at home but didn’t take to college with him because they weren’t his. But they’re IN YOUR DRAWERS, so I can’t possibly know that and use them, so you might as well have taken them with you.

MAJOR FUCKING SIGH. Seriously. I need to go dancing or camping or anything with a large group of people who will make me laugh. Like I have time for that. Or money. I was pondering the counselor’s comment about my depression being gone. I think she’s wrong. It’s better, but it’s not gone. I took 4 online quizzes, because they are accurate predictors of everything under the sun, and THEY all said I was still depressed. Someday I’ll take one of these quizzes and it will magically tell me I am no longer depressed and I will throw a party. You’re invited.

Pro: The damn quilt is getting done. Ignore the Con. The cons are annoying. They need to go for a walk and get over themselves. Fuck the cons. Throw them in the Google trash, since I don’t know how to retrieve anything from there anyway.


Preparing for Hell in a Handbasket

September 9, 2014

I’m trying to stay on schedule with the new quilt. I know for a fact that at some point, the schedule will go to hell in a handbasket. Some major thing will happen that will completely suck up all my time and I will fall behind, so the better I am NOW about trying to make up time, the better off I will be later. So I traced Wonder Under for about two hours last night while helping the girlchild fill out the Common App for college…aargh…I feel like I should be able to copy all the pertinent info over from the boychild’s app, like the exact date of my divorce. I looked it up last year, and since it’s significantly different from the separation date, which is seared in my memory, I can never remember the year. It didn’t matter by then. They asked for stuff I don’t remember having to look up last year, like the address of the school in Wales I attended for a year. So the ex was on speaker phone while watching the Chargers lose (as always), girlchild was on the computer, swearing at the app, and I was tracing Wonder Under.

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It kinda looked like this, except she was sitting over there. The light table is not a small thing. But I absolutely love it. It’s so incredibly convenient for what I do, so much easier than what I was doing before.

I got over 200 pieces done, so I’m now in the mid-300s. That’s good progress. If I can do that every night (questionable?), I’ll be done Friday night. Then cutting out the pieces? Maybe another three nights? Hard to say. I do actually have teacher duties and art events this week, so I might have to adjust.

I try to fill in as much of the space in between pieces as possible.

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The girlchild has a much different college-choosing process than her brother. I don’t actually know what his thought process was…I just know he eventually had a list. She had a list from all the mail she got, locations she wanted, a bunch of internet searches, and other random info. Then she talked to a college counselor, and got some more names (but also got kinda pissed off, because the counselor gave her a chunk of schools she really didn’t want, like religiously affiliated schools), and then last night, she finally did this…

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Yes, there are like 21 schools on those post-its, but she knows she needs to get down to about half those. Some she just needs to research a bit more, like the UC schools…I suggested she pick two, but she’s having a hard time deciding which two. She has a couple uber-reacher schools…she probably doesn’t have a chance of getting in, but she really would like to try. So we’ll see. The plus is that she’s not leaving it until the last minute, like some relative of hers who is now at college (cough cough, her brother, cough). Needless to say, the stress levels around here are somewhat charged.

To counteract those stressful thoughts, I present this…

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My GISHWHES diploma…I do love their sense of humor. If you can’t read it, “In recognition of the personal sacrifices and dedication demonstrated by shocking the world with public art, kind deeds and generally being an unapologetic weirdo.” I think that’s my life philosophy. I probably need to work a bit more on the kind deeds. I think I will print this out and hang it next to my credential at school. I did not choose to hang my credential at school. It was done for me, by the way. I get kinda tired of explaining why I teach science when I have so much painting/literature experience (and really, I was never much of a painter).

We had an incredibly long staff meeting yesterday. The new school year has brought us Monday Minimum Days, presumably for collaboration with co-workers, although that hasn’t happened yet. But once a month, instead of collaborating, we start a staff meeting at 2:45 PM, the worst possible time in the world for my brain, which turns into mush between about 2 and 5 PM, and then it potentially can go on until 4:45. Shoot me now. I know how my brain works, though, so I draw. My last principal, I avoided drawing, because if your eyes were not wide open and trained upon him, you would be chastised the next day for your lack of attention, so if you consider the eyeball-straining scene from The Clockwork Orange

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That’s kinda how it felt. Anyway, this new guy seems better…so I drew. One of my co-workers requested a cat. I glared at her. She glared back and said, “I know you know how to draw them. I’ve seen you do it.” True that. But I wasn’t in the mood for just a cat…

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Just so you know, because some people feel confused by this, drawing just occupies the part of my brain that otherwise causes trouble by falling asleep or spacing out. It actually allows me to concentrate BETTER on what you’re saying. I’ve always had a hard time convincing other people that I know how my brain works, but I do.

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It started with a hand on fire. Anyway. I may need to draw during collaboration days as well, based on what’s been happening in my department, which has two new teachers, both female, who may shake things up a bit (not a problem, personally).

Because of the heat here, when I’m working on stuff in my office or at the light table, I am followed by the living creatures who inhabit my house. They like to lie underfoot.

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This is better than where she was before, which was about where I was standing. I persuaded her to move over so I could actually use the light table.

Or under ironing boards so they can’t be moved.

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Eh. I do not rule my house. Pets do.

I’ve been under some reading stress lately too, which conflicts with my ability to get art done. Apparently every single book I had on hold at the library will be coming in within the same two-week time period, even though some have been on hold for over 6 months, as I was number 723 on a list of 5,000.

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I actually already finished two that came, one that was almost 800 pages. And I’m sending back the audio book, because I don’t concentrate well on those. I did not mean to get the audio version (whoops), so I re-requested it as a real book, with pages and all. I’m perfectly OK with waiting longer for that book at the moment, because I’m going to have a hard time getting through all these. Only two are book club books. And you can’t renew these, because 700 people after you have holds on them as well, so if I go over the due date, this explains my increasing fines with the library system. Pay for college? Pay my library fines? Hard decision to make.

Anyway, last but not least, here is a link to a blogpost I wrote for FIG, the women’s art group I’m in, about the installation at Art Produce opening this weekend: The Fence/La Barda exhibit

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And a picture of the flying junk-mail birds I helped install.

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And now I need to go to school and try to figure out a way to deal with Google docs without using Google Classroom, because they still haven’t figured out how to fix that. Sigh. Nothing is ever easy. Yes, I could have them all SHARE their files with me, but apparently Classroom has a really easy, efficient way to do that, and I’m not allowed to have easy or efficient at the moment. So I’m winging it. Ha ha. Birds. Winging it. OK. Need more caffeine.


Art Brain Speaks…

September 5, 2014

Tired is catching up. Tired is running me down, passing me on the track. Tired just beat me to that primo parking space. Tired just cut me off on the freeway. Tired grabbed the last box of mac and cheese (actually, in my house, it’s probably couscous) before I could reach up and put my hand on it.

The problem with tired winning is that I don’t feel good about sleep the next day. It’s never enough to make me wake up and feel rested, because even when I go to bed early, I don’t sleep through. It’s interrupted by restlessness, by dreams that pop me terrified out of whatever REM sleep I might get, adrenaline pumping as my brain tries to catch up with reality after sinking itself in whatever weird dream or nightmare it was inhabiting previously. I woke one time to the sound of the cat’s scratchy tongue cleaning herself. Oh my God! What’s that NOISE? My sleep app claims I was awake twice more for significant periods of time that I don’t remember. Either I was flailing mightily in my sleep, or I’m so tired, I don’t remember the difference between awake and asleep.

So although I had a nice time at my stitching meeting and got all the binding done and talked to friends…

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I meant to come home and finish the sleeve and do a little embroidery over on the “good house” side. But I ate and exercised and meditated, and realized after meditation that sleep was the next step. That I could push it and stay awake and do stuff, but my brain really was a giant ball of not-good fuzz and sleep would be the logical thing to do. Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t really give a shit about the logical. It realizes that I’ve seen the girlchild each day this week for about 20 minutes a day, and most of those 20 minutes, she’s been yelling at me (she’s stressed about school and apparently I am asking all the stupid questions…you know, like we do), and because there’s a lot going on at the beginning of school, and because I took on this additional quilt finishing, I am not where I need to be in the next major project and I’m stressing about that and telling myself that I should scale back on stuff like hikes, except I need the exercise and the outside time and I think perhaps I am spending way too many hours just with myself, and my SELF is not in a good mood because she is tired and not getting enough good minutes with anyone and that stupid fucking church song keeps popping up.

Those two bird quilts are sold, though. That’s good. I think I need to go stare at the check for a moment to remind me of that. Thanks to all of those who helped me buy groceries in the last month.

And. I feel like if I keep saying it, it will sink in. I need to make art every night to stay mentally healthy. Notice I didn’t use the word ‘sane’, because I don’t know what it means any more. Or ‘happy’. Every fucking night. Seriously. Do it. Thirty minutes. That’s it. No matter how tired you are. You will feel better in the morning.

It’s been a rough week. Not enough connections. Not enough art. Too many moments of realizing how dysfunctional my brain still is. Too many “what was I thinking?” moments. I’m sure that Alzheimers’ patients get flashes of this, or dementia patients. Moments of clarity when you think, holy crap? What the hell is my brain doing? It must be really depressing.

It didn’t help that my school department had a clusterfuck brewing yesterday. I went and kicked it around a bit. Some people need to be brought down to Earth occasionally. I don’t like being the one who has to do that. Honestly, I just want to teach my kids, who are pretty good this year, and meet with my team, and ignore the rest of it. I don’t want to have to smooth feathers or manage discord or knit together a team that has never worked properly. I want my old co-teacher back, not that the new one is bad. She’s just new and I have to figure our relationship out and that’s hard and takes a long time and I don’t have the energy. That’s probably true across the board. I don’t have the energy to go out there and remake shit so that I can function in this new existence. The one where the kids go to college and I don’t see them for months on end. Or in the girlchild’s case at the moment, barely seeing her because she has a social life and only lives here half-time. Apparently I’m not invited to ice skating tonight…which is OK. I get it. No seriously. I didn’t expect to go ice skating with high-school kids. I did hope for a quiet dinner with the girlchild and some bad TV time on the couch. But she will be home late. Like she should be. And some part of my brain, the part that is semi-OK and wants to make art and doesn’t give a shit about people much…it’s looking forward to a few hours of quiet contemplation with Game of Thrones on and a pen in my hand, trying to get past the LEGS, those damn legs are done and now I need to draw the next section while persuading myself NOT to add too much detail.

The art brain has communicated its demands. I need to listen to it. I’m not sure how normal people function, those that don’t have this separate part of their brain that seems to live apart from the rest of us. To be off doing its own thing and then come in and say, “HEY! I’m taking over tonight. Y’all need to get out of the kitchen, go to your rooms, don’t come out and bug me. This is MY space for right now.” And the rest of my brain is like, “But wait a minute. Don’t I live here too? Don’t I get a say in this?” And art brain is like, “Fuck you. Just get out. You had your time and you messed up. I’m in charge now. I’ll bring you a cup of tea later. But I need you out of here right now. No complaining, just go. And take all that grading with you. I don’t wanna see that. I don’t even wanna know it exists. I’ve got stuff to do.” The rest of the brain shuffles out of there, picks up the school bag, looks sadly back at art brain and then moves down the dark hallway into her room and shuts the door as art brain turns up the music and starts making something with curry.

Yeah. OK. I sense a ton of progress in the next three days. Yes, there’s three soccer games, a hike, a discussion thing that I might not go to, and a Shakespeare play. But I think my art brain needs some time and will demand it. As well it should.


Should.

August 31, 2014

I’m watching a tiny hummingbird (yes, tiny even for them) hovering around the tree outside my window, landing every few moments, but not able to stay still. It peers around, flies off a little further, and then comes back and settles, resting briefly. There’s no flowers out there, nowhere for it to find food (go to the other side of the house!), and I don’t know why it can’t just SIT there for a moment.

Huh. I’m a tiny little hummingbird.

I wrote yesterday’s post while sitting in my car, waiting for the other hikers to show up. I’ll post the hike later…it was OK. Not too strenuous, although I was tired from sitting too much in the middle (it takes too long to feed that many people). And I was home early enough to deal with the cable guy (apparently the positioning of the planets is causing my cable/internet issues), grocery shopping (hate the store always, but especially on Saturday nights), 14 errands (not all successful, unfortunately), trimming (not done…couldn’t reach the worst of it, but rescued two birds nests), packing up shit for the boychild (by myself), and finally eating out, because I wanted this one thing to eat that I didn’t feel like cooking myself.

Here’s the thing about me and cooking. I don’t like prepackaged food. It tastes funny. I cook mostly from scratch. It’s healthier too. I do that most nights, with help from the girlchild sometimes. I don’t really LIKE cooking. This was an issue in both relationships, that women are supposed to be those who cook, but I don’t LIKE it. It was supposed to be some proof of my feelings towards them, but really, I cook all the time. It feels like work. It IS work. Why do you want me to show my love for you with WORK? With something that makes me feel BAD, IRRITATED, ANGRY? I could lesson plan for you too. It would still be WORK. Girlchild? She loves cooking. She gets in the kitchen and she’s the happiest little bunny in the world. Me? UGH. Now I do the same with sewing, which girlchild hates. So I get it…I understand. But I get TIRED of cooking all the time. So I try to give myself one meal every two weeks or so that I don’t have to cook (and it helps if girlchild is cooking, because then I just count that one and I don’t have to try to find the money and calories to go out). When I was first divorced (a million years ago), I would occasionally go out to dinner by myself, because I didn’t have anyone else to go out to dinner with, and I would bring my sketchbook and/or a book and it would be OK…not great, just OK. The waiters are usually pretty nice to you and it’s easy to find a seat for just one person, so you don’t usually have to wait, and yes, it can be a bit depressing to eat out by yourself while everyone around you is chatting away, but hell, it would be just as depressing to be eating at home alone, AND I would have had to cook.

So after running the 17th errand last night, I walked into a restaurant, sat down in the bar, started drawing, and ordered dinner…

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And ignored all the people around me, because honestly, who the fuck cares. I just needed to be somewhere besides home. I had already fought through a ton of depressoid thoughts and crying that afternoon and I was done. The waitress was a little freaked out by the drawing, wanted to know if it was just something in my head (do you see me copying from something?), and really, it was Tanya’s fault for reminding me of the perimenopausal random hair growth, because girlchild’s stolen my tweezers again and I think those random hairs COULD IN FACT take over the world if they wanted to. And my younger readers are thinking, “But why are there snakes around her nipple?” and my perimenopausal readers ALREADY KNOW, and yes it’s annoying (it’s not really gross, although some people will say that, because we do in fact have hair all over our bodies, and our reactions to said hair are kinda lame, you know? Really? So there’s HAIR. And it’s going to hurt you how?).

And when the food arrived, I read my book while eating. I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten since the early lunch I ate on the hike. Well, snacks, but they weren’t really satisfying. It was a satisfying meal and it wasn’t cheap (sigh), but I have to be able to do that once in a while, or it really does feel like life sucks shit because I can’t go out and I have to do all the cooking (holy shit, when the girlchild goes to college…). SIGH. Fucking sigh.

When I got home, I glanced at the list I made yesterday for this weekend…

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I went old school. I had stuff on the phone, in email, on post-its, and I needed to see the WHOLE FUCKING LIST in all its torture-me glory, so there it is. On paper. In RED pen (really only because I couldn’t find a black one…not for some other reason). And I keep writing more shit on it, which is just crazy. And crossing things off is a little harder. Sigh.

And then I tried to at least set the stage for good drawing last night.

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Obviously this picture was taken this morning, not last night, but you know what? I cleared the table and carefully put everything away and found the start of the damn fucking stupidass drawing and laid it out there. And then I went and sat on the couch and read my book and realized how fucking tired I was and gave up and went to bed, where I slept fitfully all night, worried about all the shit I have to do and unhappy with the silence and the absence of people and talking and friendliness and FUCK.

Long weekends. Not my friend. It’s OK. The girlchild comes back today, so it will not be as bad, but I certainly need to find a way for it to be OK for no one to ever be around by the time girlchild leaves for school in a year, so I don’t just crawl under my light table and dessicate there. Fucking free time. Should be able to enjoy it. Should be able to look forward to having it. Should. FUCK.


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