A Small Break…

October 3, 2015

I worked 16 hours yesterday. I spent 8 hours, maybe more, at school. Then I went home and sat on the couch with a cat, the dog’s head on my feet, and I graded stuff and fought our grading system, which kept crashing and locking me out. But I got some stuff updated in there, probably enough for progress reports anyway. I might do more, depending on the next few days. I didn’t actually do my progress reports. Minor issue. Then I copyedited until midnight, maybe later. I think my eyeballs were unseating from their sockets at the end of it all. I couldn’t see straight, that’s for sure.

No art. And I’m cranky about it. But if I can finish the editing today, maybe I can make art tomorrow. Or grade more stuff. Because I’m not caught up. I never am. I got an email about a show I entered recently, one where I made a piece specifically for the show, and they are delaying the notifications about 3 weeks because there were so many entries. Damn. And I know the space…it’s not particularly large. But whatever. It’s an awesome piece, so it will go somewhere. Unlikely that it will get in…suspect there will be lots of dramatic and pretty things, and mine is…well…I don’t know what it is. In your face? I love it, but whatever.

It’s October, usually my favorite weather month. Not my favorite school month…too long! October and April or March, depending on where Spring Break hits. I think it’ll be April this year. But you get these cool breezes and vibrant blue Southern-California skies with fluffy white clouds bouncing around, and you can actually go outside without dripping sweat. Well, until next weekend, when it’s supposed to be 103 degrees! Oh well.

So what can I post here for pictures? I hate posts with no pictures. Maybe the drawings I’m considering for the next quilt? But then people will give me opinions! I don’t want those. Sorry. Guess that makes me sorta weird. I know all these artists who are sharing and asking questions, like what do you think about this color or that? And I’m like, well, I don’t care what you think. It’s in my head. I already know what I want.

My next-door neighbors, who actually built the house I live in as a spec house, are selling their house, which is a mirror image of mine. I feel kinda weird about that…I mean, this was the neighbor burping I was complaining about before, but they are a known quantity…occasionally loud, pirate parties where everyone is drunk and yelling ARRRR. And they would love to have me clean up my yard. I actually found a plan for my front yard that I like, all natives, drought-resistant, not grass. Now I just need manpower, money, etc. Yeah. So not happening. Oh well. If I keep barely watering that section, it will eventually be covered by the ice plant. I can see my neighbor up on the slope actually gardening. I usually only see him in bars, and he always recognizes me. Scary, because I’m never really sure if it’s him.

There’s that beautiful October breeze coming in the window, and what I need to do is do some more copyediting, and then probably run a couple of errands. I’m taking tonight off, which is a good thing, because my eyes hurt.

Today, this morning, Bathtub 5 is first on the list for the next big one…

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I’m finding it unbalanced though…needs something on the bottom, and I don’t know what that is. With the mood I’m in, it might be a dead body. Hmn. Now there’s a message.

This one is in 2nd…it needs to be made, but I don’t know if I can make it yet…

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Maybe it needs to fester some more.

And I originally pulled this one. But then it slipped to number 3.

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I like the other two better. I have to decide which one I want to spend 100 hours or so interacting with for the next few months. But today is not really the day I get to think about all that. I can let it all slurp around inside my brain, and one morning I will wake up and it will be decided. But I’m too stressed by work(s) to do that right now.

I just finished this…This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki…


I love that I can read a graphic novel quickly, just to give me a break.


I liked it…lots of adult drama on the edges while two preteens try to enjoy their summer vacation. Good topics, good art.

So with that, I will now dump art and reading and get on with one of my paying jobs…

It’s OK, Little Art Brain…

October 2, 2015

Sigh. I did OK last night, considering the level of exhaustion after Back-to-School Night. You can’t imagine how hard it is to remember all the kids’ names and periods and parents are demanding grades and reports and validation and holy crap. Two things I loved: My student from last year with two older brothers I also had, he brought his mom to see me again, whereupon I told her how awesome she and her boys were and thanked her for raising them. And he hugged me! Happy. Then the kid who was such a sweetheart in 7th grade who is now a junior who came with his sister and I swear, I barely recognized him and he was still a sweetheart. Going to college. Checking up on his sister. And then there’s all the kids who totally annoyed you and you never want to see them again, and they come back too, but they’re all grown up (ish) and sentimental about my class (I probably yelled at them constantly; that’s why I still remember their name. It came out of my mouth 7,000 times.).

But it’s a really long and exhausting day. I came home and parked myself on the couch and watched Elementary and graded papers and ordered a fucking pizza because are you fucking kidding me? I’m not cooking. And both kids were texting me at some point.

I did manage to revive eventually, though, and came in here and started copyediting this job that’s due Tuesday. It’s not as crazy as I thought it would be. I never copyedited on the computer…I worked in the old days, when everything was paper, but old habits die hard. I got into it quickly and worked fast. It’s actually an interesting topic, so that helps. She would be mad at me for the donut I just ate (the author), but hey, she didn’t live my last 24 hours.

Then I worked on Christmas shopping (the UK stuff has to go earlier) and getting flights for the kids to come home…managed one, but not the other, because I don’t know when to send her back (minor issue). Her flights are easier to get, though. She’s not flying into the boonies like her brother. After that, I printed stuff for school for the next unit, a lot of it. Still couldn’t find a couple of things, but I got most of them.

At that point, it was 11 PM. I know. Seriously. Not a lot of brain power or energy. But really, what I needed to do was grunt work anyway. I can’t start these little quilts until I clean up. It’s been since mid-July? Maybe? I can’t remember. I know the big piles of fabric came after I picked the fabrics for the Concrete quilt, so that was July 22-August 3. And then the piles grew.

A few days ago, we had this…

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You can see all those drawers are popped open from when I was searching for the right colors. And then if I don’t use them, I just stack them on top of the drawer, so it can’t close (and so cats are attracted to it). I had 10 drawers on this side that were chaos.


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Yeah, there’s still some stuff on the floor that needs handling, but it’s better. Much better.

I don’t have a before picture, but imagine a similar chaos in the shelves…

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And seriously, there’s getting to be too much fabric for me to store in here.

I still have all of these to put away…

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The blues are what’s killing me. I really have nowhere else to put them. I used how many blues in that 17-foot woman? And I still have an issue. I think I’m as efficient as I can be with the storage in here. The problem really is a matter of the size of the room, I think. Oh well. And I don’t know what to do with the upholstery fabrics from the recycling show we did. I don’t really ever want to use them again, except I’m a hoarder on the fabric level, and realize that shit comes in useful sometimes. So I’m debating those.

I did make progress, though, and that’s a good thing. Tonight I will have to grade and copyedit again, for more hours. And I’ll be copyediting and grading all weekend, because they’re both due on Tuesday and I have an art meeting on Monday and who knows if I’ll be allowed out of the house the rest of the weekend. It’s probably a good thing that I’m essentially antisocial, because I wouldn’t have time to be super-social with all this other crap anyway.

I do want to iron some stuff down tonight though. That means finishing the cleaning up part first, at least mostly. I mean, let’s not get crazy here. I have all these school files that I attempt to clean out on a regular basis (totally blew it off this summer), and they live in here…mostly on the floor because I don’t have time to refile them. As I go more and more electronic, it really is easier to toss this stuff. I keep samples of kids’ work. I keep a few things that I don’t have electronically. But I recycled a huge pile of Crap from Stupid Professional Development I Was Forced to Go to. You know? It deserved to die.

I also allowed myself to look at the requirements for the two shows I want to create pieces for in the upcoming months (there’s also a baby quilt in there…aack!). I put the sizes in my phone so I could keep them in my head (yes, I did just admit that my phone is an extension of my brain…in fact, sometimes I wish it really was). I’m letting the ideas slosh around in there until I can make a decision. I think it would be OK to be tracing Wonder Under for the next largish quilt while I was working on the smaller ones in here. I think it would be OK to be making art every day…it doesn’t really matter what it is.

In fact, I’m currently having a hard time persuading my art brain that (1) I need to go to work for the whole day because I’m a teacher and that pays the bills, (2) when I get home, I will have to grade a lot of papers because I’m behind (when am I not?) and progress reports are due), and (3) I have another paying job (or two) that need my attention before you’re allowed to fondle the fabrics. Art brain crawls into a corner, pulls a blanket over its head, and starts to sob.

It’s OK, little art brain. I’ll let you out later, in about 15 hours…just for a little bit. But once I get past the middle of next week, you can come out for REAL.

Switching Gears

October 1, 2015

Very slowly, I’m trying to switch gears. It takes a while to get the brain off that big-ass 163-hour project that has consumed me from the end of July (well except for the break in the middle when I let another giant project consume my brain, right?). Being an artistic vegetable for two whole days isn’t that dramatic. It FELT dramatic, but it’s really not.

Sunday night, I did manage to pull out a couple of big sketchbooks and run through them…a little bit. I liked this one and another two for the next bigger quilt. I need one done by the end of January, and then another smaller one by the end of February.

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I can do that, but I’m going to need to think about it now. I’m not ready for a big project yet, though. My brain is really fried by the crazy overlapping projects I just did. I have other work to do. I can’t just make art all the time nonstop, however much I’d like to. I would really like to. Yup. I would.

But not an option. I need money to pay for college. I need to stay semi-caught-up at my job (as much as any teacher is ever caught up). I need to clean my damn house.

But I did find the pile of little quilts that got put in this container sometime in July and have not seen the light of day since then. They used to each have their own container, but I needed like 20 of them for the big quilt, so they got co-opted. Under each drawing is the cut-out Wonder Under for that little quilt…this one has a whopping 23 pieces in it. After doing one with 1800+, it’s a relief.

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But my studio is still an absolute disaster area. I can’t start a new project without making some attempt to clean up in here. Probably that’s what’s slowed me down the last few days…the thought of cleaning.

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Sometimes cleaning is like a mind cleanser. It gives me the mental space from one project that I need to start the next one. Thirty minutes to an hour spent straightening up, putting stuff away, making a home for everything. I can be quite obsessive about that at times. Things sorted in boxes by color or number. It helps me get a handle on the crazy flip flops my art brain does.

Then I found enough bins for all those baby quilts and laid them out with their pieces of Wonder Under. See…now I feel organized.

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Shhh. I didn’t finish cleaning up the fabric. Don’t tell anyone. Maybe after back-to-school night I’ll find the energy. Ha! Yeah. Survival week. Sad but true. But I did come to realize there are two hearts with hands, there is one owl, and there are six cats of varying size and complexity and, honestly, weirdness. One is really weird. I don’t care. I want to make it anyway.

And I made it to the gym finally yesterday. I spent most of my time there texting my team about a demanding parent, my daughter about her essay thesis, and remembering at the last minute that I still had a clan attack I had to make (failed that one big time). Luckily, I had dinner leftovers in the fridge, because that would have been the end of it. I should have planned better for tonight, because coming home and cooking is gonna be a hard sell after being at work for 10 hours or so. Parents expect you to be highly functional, but I will have spent all day with your kids! Seriously, your expectations are crazy. I will need a serious caffeine fix and probably a donut. Which isn’t good for me. But I haven’t had a donut since…June? So I’m feeling OK about it.

OK. Work. The one that pays the bills. Gotta go there. Then maybe some cute little weird quilts will start happening. In between grades and copyediting. Yes, I’m grinding my teeth. Why do you ask?


Beyond the Concrete

September 30, 2015

I’m a little stressed at the moment. Too much work, too many deadlines, too many things on the to-do list, money issues. I wish last night I’d had time to make art…that’s two nights in a row. And I didn’t post yesterday because I was working in the morning, trying desperately to get something done because with about another 7 or 8 hours, I can get paid a chunk of money. And maybe that chunk will make me feel less like hyperventilating when the next bill comes in. Or not.

I did get both the art entries in that I wanted to. Also got rejected from another one, but whatever. That shit happens. Wasn’t really expecting to get in I guess. Now I have a chunk of time (I think) before the next entries are due. And some decisions to make.

I do have photos of the newest piece back from the photographer though, hallelujah. And in the middle of the night, a name that made sense finally came to me. Here is Beyond the Concrete

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She’s essentially 60″ square (an inch or two smaller than that in each direction). There’s a pissed-off Mother Nature going after some version of civilization. This is the image my photographer put on my CD…I love this.

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Another blue hair…I love the connotations behind that…

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And those crazy-ass electrical transmission towers. What the fuck was I thinking?

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I’m pleased with it. Probably means it won’t get in anywhere. But at the moment, anything that doesn’t have a show to take it away will probably be in my two-person show at Grossmont College in January/February. So there’s a pro to rejection, right?

Otherwise, my brain is still doing that slow roll, trying to get its feet underneath it on solid ground. I found the cats…the pile of drawings and Wonder Under ready to iron. I know some of my stress is because I’m not doing something at night that’s relaxing…I’m basically working until midnight every night, and that’s not healthy. I keep telling myself “If you just get through THIS week, everything will get easier.” I’m not sure when that stops. I should be glad of the extra work, because it brings extra money, and then maybe, just maybe, I can slip through the college payments this year. Next year? Next year I’m completely fucked. I have nothing saved. I will do my best to save some, but even making the boychild’s payments this year is a stretch. Adding the girlchild’s payments, which are much higher, to that? I don’t know what I’m going to do. Panic and run around!

Anyway. No point in worrying about that today. Today is the last day of my zombie unit…the apocalypse started yesterday and I think the kids are enjoying it. Interesting to see who is trying to cheat. And how. Then we start a new unit tomorrow, mostly with stuff I know how to do. Ironically, this will probably be the last year I teach DNA and cells, as the new standards slot it into 6th grade. Oh well. So be it. Change is inevitable. I really do feel like I can’t depend on much of anything at the moment. Maybe I should draw that.

I did go through the last two sketchbooks a bit and grabbed two drawings that might work. But I’m not sure. It’s OK. I have some time to decide, because I’m finishing the little ones first. Sometime around the end of October, I’ll have to switch gears. By then, there will be fewer 95-degree days, the blue skies of fall will be apparent, and I might need a sweater at work. My favorite season, honestly. Going into but not yet the holidays, with all the stress that brings. School is kinda settled down, but not hell yet. I might have a handle on the house and the dog, who is still trying to escape through metal on metal. Dumb beast. I’d take her to work if I could. The kids would love it…except the allergic ones.

OK. I know today will be stressful because the kids are handing in a big assignment and they will not be prepared. And I will find that irritating and frustrating, because I’ve gone over it so many times. So maybe I should meditate at lunch. Possibly.

Come home. Grade some stuff. Edit some stuff. Make some art. Cry a little if it makes sense. Or even if it doesn’t, because that’s how the hormones roll.

The One Right Answer

September 24, 2015

Planning life out just doesn’t work. It was on the calendar to walk the dog or go to the gym, but by the time the plumber was done with the garbage disposal (now I can grind up my hand, no problem), I was too exhausted to move. If I sit down at all, for more than 20 minutes and a cup of tea and a snack, I’m a goner. I won’t leave the house. Part of the problem is work is hard right now…I’m trying to get kids to problem solve, to think critically. I tell them they can’t google the answers for what I’m asking them, so what do they do? Google the damn things. Then say “I don’t get it!” because they can’t get an answer. Engage the brain, my pretties. Today I’m ramping it up even higher. The kids who do well are the creative thinkers, those who can think outside the box. We train students with state testing to look for The One Right Answer. Ironic. Isn’t that how we try to live all our lives? The One Right Person. The One Right Answer. No such thing. And even the support teacher wants me to give her “The Master” so she can check the resource kids’ answers. There is no One Right Answer. I will accept any claim as long as the student supports it with evidence and reasoning. I’m looking forward to some of the answers…there are some bright kids in there, and they’re not always the ones with A’s. The ones who turn in all their homework. But I don’t know if I can get those kids to Write It Down. They hate that part.

So yesterday I had to push them out of their boxes. I’m watching them google “How do I know if I have cells?” and I’m cracking up. Then they’re looking up the traits of zombies, which might help them today, but was totally useless yesterday. I didn’t ask you to prove he was a zombie. I asked you to determine if he had the characteristics of a living thing. Today I push them further out. Then tomorrow I give them an assignment with no example, no Please Ms. Nida Can I See the Sample So I Can Just Copy It? I feel like an evil doctor, chortling in the corner. In some of the slower classes, there’s a chorus of “I don’t get it!” (don’t get WHAT, I ask…the answer, they want to say but know I won’t respond well to that. Use your brain. It’s not in the book.) and “I need help!” (use your table brains, use google, use YOUR brain. This is a code phrase for “Give me the answer.”). Hard work for me to supervise this, to push the kids who don’t want to, who want it to be easy. I can’t just assign it and sit down and grade. That’s not how my job rolls.

So yesterday, I graded stuff online. And then the girlchild Facetimed me for a couple of hours on the Hardy-Weinberg equation…which is why there’s stuff like this all over the couch this morning…

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My brain hurts. But it was nice to see her and 17 of her closest friends. I was joined by all three animals…cats sitting on opposite sides at all times…

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They just can’t be friendly. By the end of the evening, Midnight had knocked all the books on the floor. She kept the Kleenex. No one knows why she does what she does.

I did finally get to pin and start sewing binding. By then, I had watched the Dr. Who episode with Van Gogh, which made me cry. There was no explanation of why he still killed himself, although I can guess. But a tearjerker…for the hormonally challenged.

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Miles and miles to go…miles and miles to go…

This Brain…

September 21, 2015

This is what teaching looks like now. I check my email on my phone. All my accounts go to one place. I see an email from a student, asking me to review something he’s written, an assignment, to make sure it’s specific enough (I say “Be Specific” so much, I can’t even tell you. I’m thrilled that one of them heard me.). I open it in Google Docs, read it on my phone, see that it’s awesome, and email him back about that. Done. Now yes, I did that on my personal time. But I didn’t have to. Another kid opened a Google Hangout with me (somewhat disturbing) for a similar question. I hung out and answered him. Do I get paid for that time? No. Do I do it anyway? Yes. Could I have done it on my prep? Well, normally, I wouldn’t be as booked on my prep period as I have been, but it’s been a mess lately. If I were busy, I wouldn’t do either of those things, but it was OK. I made that choice. Then later at night, I see a kid repeatedly asking for access to another student’s document, presumably because he doesn’t know how to do the assignment? And then his sister asks for access. I send an email telling him how to access his own document. Yeah, sure, the other kid could have given him permission as well, but I suspect I’ll be able to tell when I see it.

This is teaching in the age of the internet. Saturday night I graded analysis questions on my iPad. I suspect I will need a new one (just a mini…I don’t want a big one really) soon, because there is a storage problem and it’s getting slower with the new updates. It’s not a new mini. I use it all the time for work though. My phone as well. School gave us a tablet to use, but it doesn’t work well. I don’t like using it. I haven’t used it at all this year. Sad really.

So yeah, I spent some time on school stuff this weekend, but I also quilted. For hours. Really. Yesterday was over 5 hours. I think my butt grew roots into the chair. The plus is that I am so much closer to done, so that’s a relief.

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Saturday morning, when I realized I was still in the outlining, I kind of panicked. I don’t have a lot going on at night this week, but I also know the binding will take a while. So before I even left the house to run errands, I finished the outlining. It only took about 30 minutes. Then I went and delivered a quilt, a box to UPS for the girlchild (need to do one for the boy next), stopped by Trader Joes for stuff (hate that parking lot…would go there a million times more if that parking lot was better designed), and to the quilt store for binding fabric.

I had this discussion with the staff about a gray shortage, and they said they had more grays now than they ever had. Say what? They were all light gray or conversation/holiday grays. Not a lot of standard middle range gray that could be used for binding. I checked the whole damn store twice (Rosies has a ton of fabric). Almost considered going to another store, but I found one that would work. They didn’t ask to see my quilt this time. Guess they’ve learned their lesson. Not sure I would have shown this one. It’s not that it’s weird…OK, maybe it is. I don’t know…it’s one thing to show your art to people who are expecting art. In a quilt store, that’s not always the case.

Sunday, I did a lot of sewing obviously. I started quilting in the background Saturday afternoon, and then that’s all I did yesterday. Fought it. The quilting in the middle means half the quilt is shoved under the arm…this is a 60″ square quilt. Sure I’ve done bigger and wrestled more, but this was work…because it was 105 degrees here yesterday. I didn’t know that until afterwards. But yes, I had that quilt on my lap and the damn hot lights were on and I quilted with no A/C in that heat. Ugh.

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The result is that last night, when I finally quit, I had about 20 hours of quilting in (whoops…that’s how long I thought it would take total) and I’ve gotten around more than 3/4 of the quilt. I need to go back and do more on the one side, but I will figure that out tonight. Really, I hope to be done quilting tonight. Maybe I’ll even trim it…but I suspect that will be Tuesday. Then bind it. And probably ink it. All before it has to be delivered to the photographer on Sunday or Monday. Damn. Sometimes I even amaze myself. Now I barely talked to anyone for two days. I blew off two art openings and another event. I only talked to a few people in that time frame. I woke up this morning with no clue as to what day it was. But otherwise? I did do what I needed to do.

Of course, my brain is already trying to plan the next big quilt, trying to decide what to do next, looking at deadlines and thinking way too hard. There are two shows I want to enter. I’d like to make new work for both of them. That might be crazy.

This brain…it wants to make all the time. I guess I should be glad of that…

Not Far Enough…

September 18, 2015

This is my life right now. I got at least 6 major things handled yesterday. So far this morning, not really awake, I’ve handled one (it took 20 minutes. I fed the dog while I was dealing on the phone. Multitasking.). There were four things on my calendar yesterday that I re-calendared for today while I was sitting in a meeting at school. In fact, one just popped up, so I’m going to do that real quick…because it’s another thing I need for school. OK. Done. Trying to be efficient as well. But the quilting is suffering. I was really tired last night. I was so tired, I went to bed early, before midnight. Did it help? Fuck no. I’m still tired this morning. And really, I need to NOT spend all morning sleeping tomorrow, because I’m nowhere near as far in my quilting as I wanted to be by now. Dammit.

I hit 9 hours in last night, but only got about an hour and a half done total. I wanted at least two, closer to three. Not near enough. Will have to make up for that tonight.

Last night was lots of tiny fussy bits, which means all I really got done with the pubic area, the torso between there and the very bottom of the breasts, and part of the hand. Oh. And the lioness.

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You can see the tiny stuff in the grass on her breast…I guess I made it onto the breasts…so slightly further up…but neither arm is done. One is barely started.

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There’s a ton of outlining left and a significant chunk of background quilting. This is the view of what’s coming out the back of the machine…the part Midnight really wishes I would leave out so she could sleep on it and deposit large amounts of black fur.

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Not happening, you little psycho. Plus you’re the queen of vomit, and I don’t need that right now.

Anyway. Sigh. So a lot of quilting is left. And I’m buried in grading of assignments. Progress reports are coming. And I had to plan/rewrite the zombie lesson in the last two days (but it’s done!). Plus I had a ton of meetings this week. I’m sure if I’d blown them all off, I’d be further along in the quilting, but all that alone time would be fucking with my head (like it will next week). When do I think I can finish all the quilting? I was hoping Sunday. I’m not sure that’s realistic…I’ll know better after tonight. If I rock it tonight, that will help. But I have stuff I have to do tonight as well…stuff I’ve put off all week. Plus a couple of things tomorrow.

This is reality. I set goals. I want to be able to do more than I can. I’m really tired of cooking for myself. I’m tired of having to cook at all. I can’t afford to eat out all the time though. I need something I can just grab quickly in between working, heat it up, and eat it. Yes I know that sounds like frozen dinners. I hate those. So I could make my own (takes time). I get tired of eating the same thing too though. I am going to figure this shit out. And everyone asks how it feels to have the kids gone. It’s shitty. Silly question. At the end of sewing for a long time, I stand up, I stretch. My brain says, “Who can I talk to?” The dog groans and rolls over. A cat meows. There you are. Furry things. A friend told me it took 6 months for her to get used to being alone, and now she doesn’t want to give it up. The kids are back in less than 6 months. I guess that’s a good thing? But I feel so disconnected from them. I know that’s normal too. Girlchild still answers texts. The boy? More sporadically. Nothing new there.

Whatever. Transitioning again. Maybe I’ll make dessert for dinner tonight. That’s real mature.


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