All Over My Head…

August 26, 2014

My art goals during the school year are constantly challenged by work, kids, general life stuff falling all over my head. I succumb for a while to work demands and come home and work, and then the art brain pitches a fit and lets the art take over for a while. During the first few weeks of school, general exhaustion also plays a part as the brain and body adjust to a more demanding existence. It’s usually about the time back-to-school night occurs when you realize how slammed you’ve been and you start to fight back for some modicum of balance, whatever that means. More sleep. More art.

I have so many deadlines, though, that I have the art brain front and center. So when I was finally done with errands yesterday, I realized I had two quilts going to the photographer in 24 hours that needed inking, ironing, and dehairing. So I started with the Mammogram quilt…

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A little bit of cross-hatching is a good thing. Jake was underfoot, waiting for his dad to come back (yes, the ex is back from Ithaca with a list of things the boychild wants)…

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The smaller one took about half an hour. The larger one, the one nicknamed Menopause, it took more like an hour plus…

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I took some detail shots before I took it to the photographer. I’ll have photos back on Sunday.

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There’s a bunch of detail in this quilt. It’s kind of crazy.

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I ran the total hours on both quilts…Mammogram came in at a little over 41 hours and Menopause at a whopping 144 hours. Funny, they’re not that different in size…but definitely in detail and number of pieces.

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I guess my biggest worry now is that I’ll enter it in shows and I won’t get in, like with a couple of my earlier very-complex quilts. It’s a scary thing to put so much of yourself in a piece, so much time and effort and blood, sweat, and tears, and have it be rarely seen. I joke about how I’m saving those special pieces for my retrospective, but…

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Sometimes I wonder if they are just too much for the average show I enter. So many entries this year and nothing gets accepted. It wears thin.

Then I started quilting the 14th bird, the second version of HeyBird

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It was a bitch last night and a bitch tonight. Thread breaking a million times. Frustation.

Girlchild made a million blueberry muffins last night. I wanted to take them to school, but she claimed some quality control issue…bigger than normal tunnels due to the less-acidic content of the batter (we didn’t have buttermilk, so she used half and half…yes these are fully freakin’ decadent. And tasty. You wish you lived here.). I don’t know if I believe her, but I don’t care, because I live here so I get to eat all the blueberry muffins I want (nom nom nom a la Cookie Monster).

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I finished quilting Hey tonight, although I’m exhausted again. It seems never-ending, this feeling that my eyes need to close and stay that way.

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One more bird to quilt. Then 3 bindings and 2 edges sewn.

People keep asking about my mood, if I’m OK, whether from the boychild leaving or depression in general, I’m not sure. I’m not really sure how to answer that. I seem to have shoved all emotion deep down and am just floating above on a cloud of Have-Tos and hot tea. I guess that’s good for now. I’ve had moments each day of Holy Fuck, and tears follow, usually out of control, but I seem to be holding it off for now. I don’t trust it to be permanent and I’m not even sure it’s healthy. I think it’s more of survival mode. I’m good at that survival thing. It keeps happening so I get lots of practice.

More tomorrow…although I don’t expect much happening in the way of art. There is a hike instead. That fucking balance again.

Staying Up Late in the Name of Laundry

August 23, 2014

Oh yeah. Friday night. Hell, it’s Saturday morning. I meant to write this earlier. Really. I’ve been kinda sideswiped by life. Starting school, sending a kid off to college, that whole lack of sleep thing, which reminds me, the only reason I’m up now (because I’ve already fallen asleep on the couch once) is because I’m in charge of late-night laundering again. Girlchild dumped it all in the washer and then went to bed, and I’m fairly sure she needs it early tomorrow morning for soccer. Hmn. Motherly duties.

Staying up late in the name of laundry. Wish it was something a little more meaningful, like reducing waste or reversing climate change or curing cancer. But no. It’s because of laundry…laundry that could have been done at ANY time today. Without my assistance. Yup.

Thursday was an exceptionally long day, up early to send the boychild off (he has arrived and moved in, although reports on the roommate have been limited to insider knowledge about his plethora of monogrammed towels and accessories), then worked all day and went to physical therapy and then quilt class. I had been hoping to get all 5 birds quilted last night.

Wow. That’s crazy talk. What’s funny is that I was so tired that I couldn’t quilt FAST, so I kept moving the quilt in tinier and tinier squiggles…

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I’m not sure that was a good thing. Lord, the lighting is horrible in this picture. Suffice it to say, it’s quilted.

I did miss stitching down the underside of the neck somehow…

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So I’ll have to do that tomorrow. This is one being made for the Art Produce show, so there will be no binding, just a satin stitch. Also hoping to do that tomorrow.

I didn’t fully finish quilting the second eyeball bird.

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Toldja I was quilting fucking tiny. Finish it off tomorrow. Then quilt the other three. Faster. And in a less anal manner.

Today was similarly crazy, although I got more sleep. I also started the 5 loads of laundry from the boychild’s room. Cleaned out his trash. Picked up the books in there. He won’t like that I didn’t alphabetize by author, but I need to leave something for him to do when he comes home, right? Plus I think I want to read half of them. Next week, I have to ship his piano and some other stuff. Yes. I said Ship a Piano. Don’t laugh.You want me to ship YOU a piano? I will. I have extras. I shipped paintings and etching plates home from Britain when I lived there for a year. We had to have a special crate built for some of the stuff that I sent home from there and it came via ship. Had to be picked up from the docks in Long Beach or somewhere around there after it cleared customs.

I forced my hand this morning and contacted my photographer to take pictures of the Mammogram and Menopause quilts. That meant I had to actually FINISH the second one, so I finished up the binding tonight. Tomorrow or Sunday I’m going to do some inking on it, I think. Maybe some embroidery. I get myself in such a rush that I don’t do so much of that any more. Both are being photographed early next week, so I will have to make sure they are DONE. For reals. Then finish all the birds and the floating house (I think I’m done with it…although…no…sigh…I don’t know). Then get the drawing done on gender equality, which has been kicking my butt all summer. It’s become a significantly high priority, which I actually think is a good thing. It means I can’t come home from work and procrastinate by staring at the computer. I have to work on art in order to get it done in time. Like every day. Seriously. I think that helps me keep a balance.

So yeah. I did that on purpose. Uh huh.

The art brain is excited about it anyway.

So my plan is (you know how I love to have plans that I can later dash to pieces) to get it fully drawn and numbered by Labor Day weekend, and then start tracing it in early September. I need it traced and cut out by mid-September (yikes. deep breaths. There’s only a million things happening in the next three weeks, because that’s what we’re talking about is three whole weeks…three whole weeks with an art installation that will take two days and revolving openings. Back-to-school night. Two of them. Don’t Think About It.). Then start choosing fabrics in mid-September. It’s about the size of the Celebrating Silver quilt, a little smaller, so maybe 15 hours of fabric-choosing. That’s at least a full week and a weekend. And another week plus to cut the fabrics out, so ideally, it’s fabricked by the end of September. October is for ironing and quilting. Holy crap. I’m in trouble here. I need another month. I don’t have another month. OK. Well, that decides some things, doesn’t it? I do think I have until mid-November. There’s a 3-day weekend in there. I don’t need to sleep in November, do I?

I need to get my act in gear. Good thing I have no life. Well, except for my job. And the girlchild’s soccer. And all the art stuff and hiking and book-reading I do. And the gym. Sleep? Eh. Not so much.

At least I have a purpose for the next few months. Besides surviving school. And flipping the laundry in the middle of the night.

I do miss the boychild. There is an empty space where he would normally be. But the girlchild has been a little less crazy this week (well, if you ignore the food issues because of the lost wisdom teeth and her freaking out about coaching soccer without her dad around to help). She’s been less screamy. She may just be lonely.

Anyway, I have a teacher’s aide at school this year, one of my good boy students from last year who follows instructions well. I’m going to use his talents best I can to reduce my load. I’m going to collaborate with my teacherfolk to get up and running on these Chromebooks and get off of paper. Google is trying to fix my Classroom access so I can actually use the system the way I want, but until then, there are other apps that will do. I’m doing a lot of winging-it this year. There’s a lot of change in the air at school and it seems positive. Well, some of it is just plain weird, but mostly positive.

I still have to stay up for another 45 minutes though to flip the laundry again. You know, in the past, I have gone to bed and set an alarm for an hour later to wake me up enough to go turn the dryer on. It’s a little crazy, but it works. I’m a little crazy too, so it makes sense. I started the school year with a little crazy in mind. I think my students are a tad freaked out by my crazy, but I really don’t care. I’m gonna hug their little brains with dissections and nerve-cell-exploding ideas about genetics and nutrition and what WHITE means (that’s in light and pigment and even in skin color). In fact, I might just do a whole lesson on What Is White (I do a lab called What Is Black?…I should just connect the two). Just after I do the Zombie Apocalypse unit. Seriously. I didn’t have the brain power last year. I was deep in a nasty-ass hole made by someone else. I guess I’m good at dragging myself out of holes that other people make for me. I think the next time I have to do that, I’m gonna go all wizard and demons killed with sharp silver blades on someone’s ass. Because it’s not cool to do that shit to people you’re supposed to care about…

You know, with the boychild gone, there are way too many leftovers in the fridge. Girlchild and I need to adjust the cooking volume. Mr. Bottomless has left the building. And is that skunk I smell? It surely is. Nice.

It has to be bedtime.


I Must Proceed…

August 20, 2014

A day. A bruise on my hand. Realizing at the gym that all the raucous music and distracting literature in the world can’t keep me from thinking. Dammit. Boychild leaves for college in 30 hours. School starts in 8 1/2 (yes, I should be asleep…I may finish this in the morning). I left school at about 1 PM today. I was done. I had stuff in my head that was unsettling me, throwing me off, and honestly, there wasn’t anything left to do. I came home and finished up what I could. I did physical therapy and the gym and meditation.

I did all the things.

And then I started in on the birds…this is number 13, Diving Bird 2.

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It’s the same fabrics, but I flipped it by accident…

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traced it upside down onto the Wonder Under. It’s a pain to iron then, because I can’t see the pattern through the paper as well. I did that once with an entire quilt. It was very frustrating. This one is not the same size, because it’s supposed to be 8×10 for the Art Produce show…so slightly different.

This one was the same, although…

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I think the background fabric is different, because I was out of the other one.

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I think. Not sure. Yeah, it’s different (you didn’t even know I clicked over to my website to look, did you?). Yes, I use my own website to figure out what I’ve done, thought, planned. So that was Bird 14, Hey Bird 2.

The last one was completely different fabrics…

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because I knew I didn’t have enough to reproduce it as it was in the original. Well, that was the second version of it anyway.

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And then I fussed about the background and decided on this one. It’s a little smaller than the other one. Maybe. Not sure. Won’t know until I finish it. Stitching and all. Hopefully tomorrow night I can stitch some down. Maybe? Who knows. Boychild is not packed for college, although he finally started thinking about it. It’s OK. I’ve already shipped two boxes with bedding, towels, and sundry other items, including a Horton Hears a Who plate. Because who doesn’t need that? Girlchild is already planning what she will bake to send him. He will gain the Freshman Fifteen because of his sister. Or he will be best friends with everyone on his floor. If he’s smart.

I wanted to finish watching the X-Files episode that was on Netflix, so I worked some more on the binding for the Menopause quilt…

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I think I need to call my photographer and just set a drop-off date, because that will force me to finish it.

I gave boychild one piece of roomie advice, which he will probably ignore: Assume positive intent. I wish people did that with me. Because I’m really not out to get anyone, and I’m voted most likely to let you show me who you are, even if I have prior experience with you as an asshole. Yes, that has been on my mind today. Sigh. I always tell my students that I don’t care if your older brother/sister was a total asshole (OK, I don’t use that word), I will not hold it against you. You are your own person and I am waiting for you to show me who that is. Especially that kid who got 12 suspensions last year. I don’t wanna know about it. Come into my classroom clean. Start over. Clean slate.

Wish I could do that with my life. Wake up one morning with everything erased. Start over. There’s so much baggage weighing me down at the moment, I don’t even know where to start getting rid of it.

Anyway. So. School starts tomorrow and I might even be ready. I can’t get onto Google Classroom because I’m not special enough (or I am entirely too special), but I know how to use Edmodo and will do that if I need to.

Mental status? Eh. There’s so much change and shit rolling around that I’m just pushing everything into the corner again. I have a big bubble around me and I try to bounce all the unhappy and nasty off of it. I saw 5 of my girls from last year today and got hugs from all of them (let’s not tell them that I couldn’t remember their names for another 5 hours because I am that lame). So I’m sorta holding everything at bay. I cry because I realize the boy will not ever really come back. He’ll be here for vacations, but then he’ll graduate and get a job and go off into the world. I’ve been a full-time mom for so long. I expected to have a transition stage, but there was something there to transition into. I’m not sure what I’m transitioning into any more. More quiet with fabric. I don’t know if that’s good or not.

I have this sketchbook that fits in my purse and I used to carry it (or others before it) in my former life, when I went out to dinner once or twice a week, and I would always draw while waiting for dinner to come, and I would date and locate the drawing, so there’s all these names of restaurants in all these old sketchbooks. Now there are only dates, because I never really go out to dinner any more. The first few a year ago were at the movies, when I was trying to feel semi-normal and I would go to the movies on Saturday nights and sit there by myself and cry in the movie theater.

Now I just don’t go. I miss them. I can’t afford them…financially or mentally. So I just don’t go.

None of this is particularly healthy. Maybe the drawing is. I need to do more of that, I think. In between all the other stuff. Sigh. Time. Such constraints. And ALL the FEELS.

I am so not ready for the next few days. Or maybe I am ready, but ready means that I will cry. I am sad now and maybe in two days I will be all saddened out and it will be OK again. I just don’t know. I made the mistake the other night of looking at all the photos I was trying to put away, to find a home for, and there was the girlchild, not even age 2, at my brother’s wedding, and the boychild, happily wearing a button-down shirt and tie, shaved little head, big smile on his face, age 3 1/2. Girlchild holding her sippy cup and her hair isn’t even girl-length yet. It took so long for her hair to grow.

And I know I didn’t do it all wrong, because boychild is off to a good school, to Cornell, where he will be exposed to lots of smart people and hard thinking and he will come back a different person, and I know he is there because I did a good job raising him, but it still feels like I did something wrong. Like I didn’t follow the rules so I’m being punished. And I know that lots of moms (and dads) feel sad when their kids go off to college, but it feels like abandonment. I want to lecture him on all the diapers I changed and how long I nursed him and how long it took him to potty train, and dammit, call your mom occasionally and send some pictures of your roomie and where you live and don’t forget that she was there for you. Eh? OK? I see him rolling his eyes from here.

Yeah. I think I’m just gonna be surviving the next few days. Weeks.

I must proceed.

Yes, that’s e. e. cummings he’s talking about. I read Barron Storey’s blog, well, look at his drawings anyway. Must Proceed…

It Just Seems That Way…

August 19, 2014

Birds are back. It was late when I started ironing. Busy day. School starts Wednesday. But the birds…the birds need to get done, whether school starts or not. I’ve started school like 13 times now. Must be my lucky year. I keep thinking I’m forgetting something major. I might be. So what? I’ll figure it out and bring it the next day. Or maybe I’ll just wing it for the first month. Science is science…make the kids figure some experimental stuff out, aim for the standards, they haven’t done science in our school a whole lot, so anything I give them will be a learning experience. I have too many ideas. Not enough time as it is.

So I focus on the birds. Because I know when they have to be done. I ironed Bird 11, another dove…

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I lay out all the pieces on quilts this small…then iron them down. The drawing is under a teflon-type sheet, so I can see it as I’m ironing. I love these things. I have about 5 of them, two that are really big and three smaller ones. One of the cats tried to eat one once. Not sure why. There are teeth marks in it. Will I throw it out? Nope. Need it some days when I’m ironing something big that needs more than one sheet. Not often, but sometimes. Yes, this is how hoarders are made.

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I don’t think it’s the same as the last one. I couldn’t figure out what fabrics I’d used. So I guessed. The tail looks right, but the body is much lighter. Then again, that fabric is mottled all over heck and gone, so maybe I just picked a lighter part of it. Who knows. Who cares. This one will be for sale at the Art Produce exhibit in September.

I did pick the same background though…

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There’s hardly any of that fabric left now.

Then I did this one again. I really like this one…

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And it exists on a quilt that will premiere at IQF Houston at the end of October. I’ll be there. Woo!

I think this one is pretty much the same…

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Because I really liked it. Someone wants this one already. Bird 12. Eyeball Bird 2.

There are three more to iron, but it’s late and I have to be up earlier tomorrow than I was this morning. I was at school most of the day, and then girlchild had her wisdom teeth pulled. She did not deal well with the pain, and the doctor called around 9 PM to check on her and said they were “tough little teeth.” I don’t know what that means, but I do know her tolerance for pain is not great. So she’s iced and medicated and sleeping. She hasn’t eaten since early this morning. I made her mashed potatoes (by request) but then she didn’t want anything but water. It’s OK. They’re in the fridge for tomorrow. She’s not a happy camper. Someone needs to work on a genetic vaccine that gets rid of those wisdom teeth before they grow…like it predicts mouth size based on genetics and says, “Um, no, they will NOT fit, so let’s not even waste the resources on them.” And then they don’t grow.

Yes, this is how I can write sci fi. My brain goes to those weird places without you.

Anyway, so much of my evening was punctuated by moaning and whining and bloody gauze (which eventually she could deal with, which is good, because she only bit me twice and that was more spit and blood than I really wanted to deal with today) and ice and meds and cooking, lots of cooking. In between that, I reduced the hoard. I’ve been trying to get my room cleared of all the stuff from the living room, and part of that is finding homes for many things that used to live in there but really don’t need to live in there. So I have this closety thing in the hallway that I’m sure is supposed to be for linens and towels, but fuck that. I store art supplies, stitching stuff, computer bits and pieces, slides (from the days when that’s what we submitted to art shows), photos, and extension cords. Lots of those, for some reason. And it’s a disaster. It was organized right around the girlchild’s 2nd birthday, and I was still married then. So that tells you something about the state of those cupboards. And yes, I got a weird bug up my butt, because I knew there were photos in there, and I had a ton of photos in my room that used to live in boxes in the living room, and they needed a new home. So they should all live together, like with like.

So I started pulling things out of the cupboards…

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And yes, I filled the hallway. It was un-traversable at some point. And then I filled one trash bag and another. Here’s an example of what I found in there. When I came back from the UK in 1988, I was hooked on EastEnders (yes, whatever, judge away), and when I was in my last year of college, the OC played EastEnders on PBS, so I could keep watching. Then we moved to San Diego and no such luck, so a friend of mine who lived in San Francisco would tape the show on videotapes with a VCR (oh my lord, the olden days) and send them to me. And I would watch them. I found 10 of them. In a box. Dated 1995 and 1996. Impressed? Yup. I tossed them. If I really want to watch EastEnders again, I will get the DVD. And I don’t, by the way. I really don’t.

I managed to throw out a lot of crap, because I did a lot of stitching in the past and apparently wanted to keep all the patterns of things I had already stitched and tiny bits of thread that I had knotted onto labeled index cards and carefully stored in bags with the already used patterns. Yup. Tossed them. I still have some stuff to rehome, whether at a thrift shop or in the garage (because I probably don’t need to keep my respirator from my screenprinting years in the house. Because I’m not screenprinting at the moment, and if I were, it would be in the garage, not in the house).

My SIL was so proud. Oh yeah, so going back to the early years of Kathy Quilting.

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It’s an abstract pattern made of three main blocks.

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I never made these blocks. Piece 26 in the middle of that log cabin-type block is 1/4″ square. I’ve never pieced that well in my life. My art brain vomited all over my shoes when I tried. Then I learned how to applique what I really liked to draw, which at this point, was all being made into screenprints, and I’ve never looked back. But I wanted you to see some of the places I went before I got to where I’m at. Because it’s amusing, that’s why. How did you become an artist? Well, I tortured myself with the rules for a while and then I gave up and made what I wanted.

Which doesn’t explain why I’m making more birds, of course, but they serve a purpose and they will be done soon. It’s really probably just procrastination from the next step…because finishing that drawing or the floating house might kill me.

Not really. It just seems that way.

Remind me tomorrow morning why I thought it was a good idea to stay up this late?


August 17, 2014

I spent pretty much all day on a soccer field today, which explains the dehydration, the sunburn (despite multiple applications of sunscreen and the use of an umbrella), the 65 pictures of soccer playing, and my mood in the evening. Girlchild can be difficult to manage when she’s hot, tired, sweaty, etc., and all of those things happened today. I weathered most of it, but it wore me down, and by the end of the day, there wasn’t any strength left in me.

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I had some moments of depressoidness today, moments when it was quiet and I wasn’t distracted enough from the inner workings of my disturbed little mind, the bit that keeps nattering on about all the things I’ve done wrong and how none of them will ever be right…you know, the standard depression fare.

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I spent the hour before the first game and part of that game writing…writing this weird-ass science fiction story that just spills out of me when I turn it on, sputtering like a barely used faucet, words flowing out in big gouts of semi-literate paragraphs. I wrote about 1500 words in that hour plus. We’re out of the woods and back into the city, storywise. It’s good.

OK. I don’t actually know if it’s good. I’m just writing until I’m done, and then I’ll put the editor hat on and go back in and kick its ass. Then and only then will I read it for story. Actually, I’ll probably let other people read it then. It could really suck. Who knows.

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The team lost the first game. It was very hot out there. The picture above, the girl on the other team was hooking her arm through the girlchild’s elbow, and when the girlchild swung her around as she got the ball, the other girl tried to get the ref to call a foul. He did. On her. BOOM. We then spent an hour in a chilly Panera. Much nicer, except for all the noisy people. I read. I wrote a little more. We went and bought water. I got yelled at, but not seriously.

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Then we sat on the field waiting for game number two. Still hot. Sleepy. Napped a bit. Read. This is where the brain started wandering. It started thinking about life a few years ago and what it was like and all the stuff I’m missing and that I’ll never have again and trip! There you are. In the damn hole. Drag yourself back out. Tell yourself to be in the fucking moment. Watch the weird seed pods floating balletically (it is TOO a word) across the soccer field, feel the (ultra) warm breeze waft across your face (and dry your eyes out). Deep breaths. Traffic on the south Interstate 5 is finally clearing up, so we might get home in a reasonable time frame. POSITIVE FUCKING THINKING BABY.

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Then girlchild made a goal, which was good, because she is more likely to be in a decent mood if she is successful at something (shocker, that. Must be genetic.). The photo above is right before the goal…she actually had to kick it past the goalie and then come around with her left foot and bend it (not like Beckham) into the goal. Which she did.

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I stitched during the second game. Not a lot. I really wasn’t in the mood. Sometimes it all seems very pointless.

I talked to people. I tried to be sociable. I tried to shut up the bad parts of my brain with all the wondrous seed pods and warm breeziness. SIGH. And then I got yelled at in the car on the way home. So I turned the music up and cried a bit all the way home.

And after dinner, after I heard the litany of why girlchild is so stressed, which I can’t possibly understand (seriously, she said that), I decided to do what I wanted. Yes, I’m fully aware that school starts in four days and my house is a disaster and my lesson plans are questionable. I know all of that. I also know that BALANCE is what I need and that means the only really good thing I learned last year is that even if I am so depressed I barely function, I can do my job and come home and make some sort of art every night and I will survive. So I should keep doing that part. I should not bury myself in my job, because although it can be very fulfilling, it also sucks my soul out of my body and spits it out in a sewer. Art? Not so much. It tends to be much kinder. It is a better place to be.

I’ve got 5 birds to get done by September 1. Well, two birds HAVE to be done by then…here’s the first, another one of the doves…

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I pulled the original picture up on the iPad, but couldn’t figure out what fabrics I’d used, so I winged it.

Because there’s a shortage of fabric in my room? Yeah. I didn’t think so.

The dove and a new version of the diving bird will be at the Fence/Barda exhibit that I’m involved with at Art Produce Gallery in North Park (San Diego), which opens September 13.

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Both will be for sale at that venue…which means I need to finish them slightly differently and not spend too much time on them, because I don’t get all the money.

I got this one cut out too, but it should already have a home…

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Two more to do tomorrow. I did this one slightly differently too. Can’t always find the original fabrics. Lots of fabric in here.

Anyway, I think I fought off most of the depressoid stuff…at least, if I go to bed now, I have a good chance of leaving it here instead of bringing it to interrupt my sleep, which is what happened this morning. I could have used the extra hour of sleep, but no…my brain does not allow it. Anyway. I’m trying. Know that I’m always trying.

I Will Not FedEx Your Underwear

August 15, 2014

Parenting. Is sometimes one of the weirdest experiences. After a series of texts this morning where I tried to explain to my daughter that I was busy trying to get ready for school and deal with life tasks, I ended up (giving up and) driving to her dad’s house and delivering a check, her mascara, and a pair of underwear. Seriously. He seemed to think she had underwear there but didn’t want to look for it. And I’m wondering if in a year from now I will be FedExing her a check, mascara, and a pair of underwear to college. Because that won’t be happening. I’m making that clear right now. (Just so you know, girlchild doesn’t read the blog. Occasionally she skims for pictures, but that’s it. And if she knew I was writing about her underwear issues, she would scream at me. Then again, she screams at me for a lot of things and I basically don’t hear it any more. I’ll get screamed at later for something else I’m sure, and since I’m the parent in charge of soccer this weekend, because her dad has another team going to another faraway tournament, the screaming will probably make me cry at some point this weekend because I’m not in a great mental space and then she’ll get upset about that and and and. So the underwear comment is the least of my worries.)

While I was there, ex and I had a discussion of the boychild’s imminent departure for college (less than a week now) and how unprepared he seemed to be to actually FLY out of here (with his dad, who seems similarly unprepared). And now I have to make a list for them so they know what to do when they get there. 1. Find room. 2. Find all the boxes and books that are all over campus that we’ve shipped out there to make sure he has bedding and textbooks and maybe even clothing. 3. Get him anything else he needs. 4. Don’t text me, don’t call me, don’t panic and freak out. Deal. Am I allowed to put that on the list?

Because it’s not like I’m starting school next week guys. It’s not like my room’s not an utter epic-fail disaster at the moment because of the kamikaze destruction I had to do at the end of the school year so the summer school special ed classes could SAFELY be in a science room. I don’t know where anything is. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I can’t focus on any of it.

So yesterday, I did the online stuff I was supposed to do to “train” me for using tech in my classroom (cough cough. not helpful.) and then went down to my classroom and did that crazy thing I always do, where I start one endeavor (empty boxes, unlock cupboards) and then like a squirrel enticed by a nut stash, I quickly switch to another task, and then while doing THAT task, another job rears its ugly little head, so I start that, and then I wander back over to the first one again, until I sit down somewhere, put my head in my hands, and wonder if I might make a good barista. Or a wonderful gas-station attendant. Or perhaps a bagger at the grocery store. These seem like worthy tasks. I might feel more successful. I might be less crazy.

Then after I finally gave up and started driving home, I notice movement from the car next to me at the stoplight. It’s one of my former students (a real jerk that year) waving at me. I roll my window down, music blasting, tell him his music isn’t loud enough and wave back. Take off when the light turns green. He’s on Clash of Clans with me (except he doesn’t know it’s me) and reports a Nida sighting.

Fuck me. This job will alternately save my life and drag me under.

And you wonder why the meditation and exercise are so important to me. OK, maybe you don’t wonder that.

I did exercise yesterday, after I found and ordered the rest of the boychild’s textbooks (he was here…he’ll have to do it himself in December or whenever he signs up for the next lot. Like a good teacher, I have now provided direct instruction and modeled best behaviors. He can now do guided instruction by texting me his questions while he’s trying to order for next semester. And hopefully by next year, he will have graduated to independent practice and I will just be the one paying the bills.). And then I came home and stared at the things I needed to do and I picked the ones that hurt least. The ones that gave me the most peace of mind. The ones I could handle the best.

Because my brain was slipping back into that depressoid place. It was quiet here last night, third night running with no one but cats. Hours of silence and no interaction with anyone but the chick at the gym who scanned my card and the guy who handed me my dinner. “Hot sauce?” “Yes please.” He’d already put it in there. I only go there once a month…it’s all I allow myself…but he knew I wanted the hot sauce. Thirteen hours of silence.

I worked on the binding for the big Menopause quilt, which is almost done…

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And I cut out all the Wonder Under for the 5 birds that need to be done by the end of the month.

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Actually, I have leeway on three of them and none on two of them, and they have to be a certain price, so I will be shortening up some time on those two to make them hit that price in my head. Plus there’s a gallery commission on them. So they won’t have a hand-stitched binding. I’ll satin stitch the edges. Much faster.

But I”m almost at the point where I can call the photographer on the two big quilts I will have finished this summer, and then I need to really really really get my butt in gear on the next big one. Maybe tonight I will work on that, or iron the birds down to fabric. I’m stuck on soccer fields all weekend (actually, if I’m lucky, we’ll have Sunday afternoon free) and then school takes over my life. School and soccer.

There are so many things that need to be done and I just don’t feel like I can handle all of it. So I make a list and start crossing things off of it. It’s the only way to survive this type of shit. Right now, my list consists of: 1. find my watch 2. take meds 3. make more tea (you need it) 4. go to school and make it happen. I can’t get beyond number 4.

OK. Going to look for the watch.

Because It Has to Be…

August 14, 2014

So I hiked last night. I think it will be very difficult for me to pull these hikes off during the school year, though…the mid-week after-work hikes? I didn’t get home until 9:30 and then cooked dinner and laid around like a sloth for a while, which is what you do after a 5- to 6-mile hike at the end of a long day, and then I did some more stuff on the floating house, but it really sucks hours out of your day. Three hours just gone. And I’m gonna need those hours. Sigh.

We did Iron Mountain again…

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It’s a nice hike. Not too hard. Harder coming down in the dark. We led a Swedish team of kids down (actually, although I was in front, I led no one…Gail had to tell me where to turn, because I suck at that).

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It was beautiful at the top. We ate snacks and talked and watched the sun drop below the marine layer and the colors reflecting off the mountains and clouds to the east.

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Every time I get to the top of a peak in San Diego County, I look out and see this beautiful undulating, rocky landscape that is home. Maybe I need to put mountains on my floating house (shit. I don’t think I have the right colored organza for that). The surrounding landscape is home too. Living in the UK for a year, it never felt like home. It was too green and verdant, and although it was undulating (I was in Wales), it wasn’t very high or rocky. It was hills with sheep cavorting across them. It didn’t take long to climb to the top of anything. You were never very far from sea level.

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And I tried to figure out last night, Why Hiking? What is it about putting the pack on, pulling 720 foxtails out of your boots from Saturday’s hike (seriously, I am not kidding), slathering deoderant on so you don’t smell too bad, stomping up a steep slope in the late-afternoon August heat, into the cool shade of the back side of the mountain, shading your eyes from the low-slung sun as you come around the corner facing west, summitting the peak, taking your pack off so the sweat drenching the back of your shirt can dry before heading down, thinking the downhill might never end, slipping a bit because you’re hiking in the dark, blinded by the lights behind you that splash your giant silhouette across the trail in front of you. And you don’t have dinner waiting, you barely ate all afternoon, you had a handful of peanuts and two grapes and five carrots at the top. And you come home covered in dust and needing to shower, sweaty to the core despite the cool night breeze for the last half of the hike. Why do this? What does it bring? There is this sense of accomplishment, of survival sometimes on the longer/harder hikes, this mental rush from the adrenaline, the serotonin release, and it makes you turn up the music LOUD on the drive home and you feel all I Am Strong for a while, and then the rush slips away and you are sad. Because there is no dinner waiting; there is only silence. And yeah, you did it. Good. You will strengthen this body and make sure it lasts as long as possible. This is one reason why you hike. And you hike so you actually TALK to people in the evenings or Saturday mornings, because otherwise the silence overwhelms you. But that feeling doesn’t last. It’s not sustainable. And that is the depression talking. It always has a cord around your neck, pulling you towards the hole, and when you are tired from the hike and you haven’t eaten yet and the thought of cooking something is already exhausting, then that cord can pull you back down really easily.

I came home and meditated while dinner was cooking. Jake, the German Shepherd, was not very respectful of my meditation time and kept plopping toys into my lap (I had left him alone all day). Tired won for a while. I worked on the house after professional development yesterday, before the hike…

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I started the veins on the other side of the house…I run the stitching line first and then trim…

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And then I put a second layer on top. Because if you’re using organza, you should overlap it.

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And I’m not sure I like it at the moment. I liked it last night, but today I’m not so sure. I have some other stuff that needs to go on it. But I may just leave it hanging there for a bit to get used to it. Maybe. And I have another idea for something I want to do, but I’m supposed to be simplifying my life, right? So it doesn’t overwhelm me right as school starts?

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It looks so different in artificial light…

I just don’t think that’s in my nature. Simplifying. I mean, maybe on some level, because last year, I worked really hard to streamline stuff so I wouldn’t have to bring so much work home, and I think that worked, but…reducing the amount of time I’m in the art mode? Or the number of things I work on? That doesn’t seem healthy. I know I cause more stress to myself by taking on artistic projects, but these are also the things that keep me functioning. They keep me from falling into that hole and staying there. Even though I’m barely out of the hole, hanging on by my fingernails, slipping back down on a regular basis, at least I’m mostly out. And that’s the art. The hiking might help a little, but it’s the art that sustains me.

Anyway. Back to school again today and tomorrow. In the old days, I would have fought it more, stayed away longer, but in the old days, I had more that was at home that sustained me and kept me recharged. I don’t have any real rechargers any more. I don’t feel like summer has given me the break I need to start a new year of teaching, but I think it will be OK. It will be different, and I don’t know what that different will look like, and I’m sad about some parts of it and excited about others, but I also know at the end of every day, I can come home and draw or sew or cut up pieces of organza and hang them from a coathanger in some crazy-ass desire to express what home is. And for now, that is enough. Because it has to be.


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