Meditate the Fuck through It

August 8, 2014

Yup. I think that is my mantra for the new school year, which officially starts in 13 days. Don’t count team meetings and getting the room set up and prep days and professional development. Because if you count all that shit, I started yesterday. It’s a matter of looking at everything they want me to do (“they” being an amalgamate of all the people who want me to do all the things) and deciding what pieces are actually possible to do and how much of the doing I will do. And where is the line, the balance, between being a fucking awesome teacher and getting institutionalized for overwork. You take a little piece at a time. You pick one thing, maybe two, that can be different. You don’t rewrite everything. You don’t become an entirely different teacher. You do a little at a time and remember that working yourself into the ground doesn’t help anyone.

There’s been a lot of deep breathing the last two days. I’m OK. My meditation app now includes short, 2-minute refresher meditation blips…passing period is 4 minutes long, so I could meditate in between each class. You laugh, but I did that last year on way too many days. Close the door behind the last kid, gather up the journals, take a handful of deep breaths, wipe tears from eyes, open the door for the next class full of kids. It’s not the best way to live, but when you are in survival mode, that is what you do. Last year, I survived. My counselor has decided that this year, I will have a fulfilling school year. She promises me this. She calls me on my negativity. I call myself on it, but I’m not as good at it. In fact, I mostly suck at it. The parts of my brain argue with each other and there is rarely agreement. My daughter calls me on it too. I guess that’s a good thing. It’s hard to be positive when there have been so many disappointing developments, so many high expectations just completely trashed by someone else. That said, I manage it with art rejections. I’ve been rejected from a ton of shows this year. I can’t get into anything, apparently. Do I stop making art? Do I question my purpose in continuing to make art? Not really. Briefly, and then the art brain tells me to fuck off and ignore all those losers who reject my work. It will get in eventually. I won’t stop making it. I wish I had that confidence in the rest of my life, in my job, my love life, my relationships with people. Why can’t the art brain get all hot and heavy with those parts of me? Where does her attitude come from? How can it just be in part of me and not in all the parts?

All philosophical questions for the middle of the night. Remember how I was going to be done quilting on Tuesday? Yeah. Well. Fuck that. I’m still quilting. I’m 15 hours in now…

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So maybe 20 hours was an accurate guess. I have about 1/3 of the quilting around the outside of the image done, maybe a little less than that. I didn’t have a lot of quilting time today. School. Other stuff. So I’m doing a stipple to fill in the background…dark blue thread on dark blue fabric at night. In bad lighting. And the thread was doing really well for a good long time, and then it started breaking. Bastard.

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So I gots a little frusterated in the last hour or so. There was swearing and yelling and growling and application of oily crap that keeps the thread from breaking.

This is the backing…

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I have most of one long side, all of the top and about half of another long side to do…hopefully done tomorrow. Why do I even predict things like that? I already know how busy tomorrow is. Saturday is busy too. Sunday? Sunday is wide open. Next week. Sigh. I always want to have more done than I do. Always dissatisfied with my progress. High expectations and not meeting them. But it’s a good thing to have high expectations with the artmaking. I’m more realistic with the outcomes. I don’t often chastise myself for not meeting them…I just revise. Again…lessons to apply to the rest of life?

Stitching with friends tonight…still working on the never-ending Christmas stocking…

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I post these pictures to prove that I’m actually doing SOMETHING…something besides endlessly stitching around and around in dark blue thread.

This quilt will be done soon. I want to get the binding either Saturday or Sunday, get it stitched on next week. Call the photographer. Move on to the next project(s). I need to build a fabric house, complete 5 birds, and get the gender equality drawing done. I think my brain will be less panicky if I can make headway on that in the next week. Plus school. And clear out all the stuff in my bedroom that belongs in the living room. If I move it out, I think I’ll be more likely to deal with it. If I work on just one positive thing achieved each day (hung a piece of art, finished one step in the next quilt, crossed one thing off the list), I think it will all feel better. This is partially why I’m doing the GISHWHES thing…it’s goofy stuff (we shot a rock album cover last night, and tonight I added the band name and album title and submitted it), but it’s fun and I am actually getting these silly tasks done. It puts my brain in a different place. I need my brain to be in a different place. I need it to stop going over and over what I did wrong, when in reality, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just wasn’t psychic. Again. There’s a drawing in there somewhere. At least one. I need to find time for that too. The drawing is part of processing the bad shit out of me. The drawing is a way to vomit it up and get it out, like a hairball. Poison in the brain. Disgusting on the carpet.

Sigh. One of the projects that needs to be done before the end of the month is a floating house, and I have all the materials (coathangers, wire, organza, tulle) and I was thinking about what the house meant and how to build and decorate it, and all of a sudden, I thought: worry dolls. I need worry dolls. Kathy York’s quilts reminded me of them. So I’m hanging worry dolls off this house, but I think I’m also going to write some of my worries down, either on tags tied to the dolls, or maybe just right on the house itself, on the bits hanging off of it. Write down the worries, have them pulled down, weighed down, by the dolls. Because that is what worry feels like, extreme financial worry, worry for sending the boychild off to college, worry about my own job, worry about finishing stuff on time, worry about the girlchild applying to college, worry about my future, worry about so many things. Maybe if I tie all that to the floating house, I won’t have to carry them around myself.

You can see why I need the meditation.


Ironing Birds Very Very Flat…

July 11, 2014

It seems ironic to take something that can fly wherever it likes (well, within the atmosphere) and to make it flat and iron it onto a very flat piece of fabric. Those birds…some of them actually exist as quilt tops now! Except they’re so small, some of them could be potholders…the reviled statement about any small work…”Is that a placemat?” Maybe this is why I work so big…”Is that a bed quilt? It’s not the right size.”

So I ironed a bunch of birds yesterday, mostly because I was at Susan’s house and it was a portable thing, which most of what I have to do right now is not.

I started with birds cut out in tupperware…

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Which I then ironed together with the drawing under the teflon…

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And then I would try them out on a variety of backgrounds until I found the one I thought worked best…

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This one seemed to need an asymmetrical background. I may change my mind later…

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Most of the rest were a little more standard, wanting to sit in the middle of their square or rectangle…

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So then I had to decide, light or dark?

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Bright or not?

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This one looks really different on this background…I tried him on like 5 different shades of blue and this is the one that talked to me.

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Here’s his twin with the eyeball…

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Slightly different fabrics for him…including the background…

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And one that’s not so square…

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Seemed to do better with dark.

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So that’s 5 done to this stage. I also cut out the other 5 yesterday afternoon and evening. It didn’t take long. I was hoping to iron the rest together tonight, and I may still get to that, but I’m not feeling well…combination of tired and hormones and cramps and crappy mental shit that goes along with a bunch of other stuff.

BLAHHHH. Exactly. That feeling.

I ironed the 5 above onto backgrounds in about 30 minutes between hanging out with Susan and friends and leaving for my monthly stitching meeting, the only place I work on this…

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Girlchild’s Christmas stocking. It’s really slow. I gave up on trying to stitch the white AROUND the motifs and started stitching the damn motifs. It took a lot of counting…and then counting again, because we were talking about birds (shocking…real ones, not Kathy ones) and books and writing and movies and how I should make my own Meetup group of people who want to sit in the 2nd row at the movies and sit through the credits, and how I would still be the only one going. I must become one with my freak status. Even in the Art House Movie crowd, I am a freak. That is very sad.

In the parking lot, I documented these three (no, there are four) badly drawn penises…

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Materials: dust, car window, finger

I’m debating doing a series of quilts a la Keith Haring with replicas of my students’ badly drawn penises, but then I’d have to give them credit, and that would probably lose me my job. See, I DO think these things through!

Then after that, I had to drive to North Park to pick up 4 teenaged girls at a concert, but we weren’t sure when it would be over, so I had packed my sketchbook, yes, the BIG one, because I have no fear (really, apparently I don’t) and I was just going to hang out near where the concert was, in like a coffee bar or wine bar or anything that had the word bar in it? And draw until they were ready for me. Because I told the girlchild it wasn’t safe for her to walk around down there, because of some recent assaults, but I guess I was safe because I had my sketchbook.

I had gotten the drawing to this point the night before because I was too tired to keep making art stuff, but I didn’t feel like going to sleep, so I sat in front of the computer, watching videos, and decided to be bold, rip the previous drawing out of the sketchbook…this one…

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because the male figure just plain old sucked…reminded me of Draco in Harry Potter, and that’s not what I wanted. However angry I might be with particular males in the universe, my goal in this drawing is some vision of equality, of working together, of being different and yet on the same team. We can’t be the same. It’s impossible. (As I sit here dealing with menstrual cramping from hell and wondering if I can just go overmedicate myself and go to bed right now, I’m fairly sure none of the males in my life have ever felt this uncomfortable for any reason, let alone once a month, every month, for the last 35 fucking years…oh wait, I didn’t have my period while pregnant…but then I was just puking my guts out. That’s a separate hell.).

Plus the hammer bugged me. Not that there shouldn’t be a hammer in this quilt. There totally should be. Just not in his hand. She’s holding a baby. He’s holding a hammer. Not working for me.

So. I put the original drawing under a blank page and basically traced the female figure…

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because she was mostly OK. I changed her tattoo, I added some arrows, because I had forgotten them the first time around, and I gave her lungs. Can’t breathe without fucking lungs, you know. Yes, I am venturing into the 1500+ piece range at the moment, and I need to deal with measuring this piece too, because it has to be a particular size. Then I made another pass at drawing a male…different hair, different mouth, stronger face. Better. But then what? I had an idea that I wanted a tree to be growing from them, between them, and that the tree might hold some things that would be relevant to both genders, that were maybe in the realm of male or female in the past, but could be either now, like hammers and aprons and lawnmowers and Valium. Wait. Not Valium. I also debated about what to do with their arms in the middle…I was going to put their arms across each other’s shoulders, but I wanted them joined, not necessarily leaning on each other…the arm/shoulder thing seemed awkward.

Really, if you had been watching me, there were short bursts of drawing, then long moments where I just stared at the drawing, and you couldn’t tell, but I was visualizing things (like arms over shoulders) and trying them out on the drawing in my head, rejecting some, setting some aside, deciding some might work. I still have some saved in my mental clipboard.

So when I got to the bar last night, I plopped my money down for a single glass of wine (I was driving 4 teenaged girls and it was already late) and sat down at a table in a mostly empty wine bar, pulled open my sketchbook and started to draw…and no one bugged me and it was dark (not necessarily a plus) and when I couldn’t visualize what their hands should look like (I guess it’s been that long since I’ve held a hand…telling, that is), I Googled stuff until I found a few and stared at them until it made sense to me again.

And I drew…

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Yes, I stopped there. Not because I’m afraid to draw a penis in a wine bar. I’m not. It’s just that the girls had texted me that they really liked the band they were watching and we negotiated a pickup time and it was time for me to leave and go get them a half block away. (Actually, first they said they would walk to the coffee bar I was at…um…WHOOPS…not at a coffee bar) So I did.

There’s a couple things that need fixing, and it’s definitely going longer (although I don’t know how much longer…should figure that out). I didn’t work on the tree because I’d like to go taller too, and I don’t know if I have the space. So I’ll finish his body to the knees and then run a copy so I can continue the drawing down. And I will check the measurements before I do that. But I’m feeling much better about this project now, because I was able to get my head out of the shit in which it had been wallowing. Whatever my experiences in relationships have been, I do have an incredibly clear idea of what they SHOULD be…I always have…perhaps that is what gets me in trouble. I expect teamwork and cooperation and gender roles being questioned and negotiated with care for each other. I don’t have to be the cook just because I am a girl. I can mow a lawn even though I am a girl. You know, that shit. Hate that shit.

I expect both people to pay attention. I don’t really think those things are beyond most people’s ability…I just think most people treat other people badly. A good relationship requires attention and work, and if those things are diverted or ignored, then the relationship will fail.

I can believe in it even if I’ve never experienced it. Maybe that’s what this quilt is really about…a dream of equality for me personally, with the hope that my own children will get to experience something like that. It’s difficult to draw a dream…nightmares are so much easier. Reality…it’s pretty easy to draw as well. But hopes? Wishes? Dreams for something better? That’s harder to get right.


More Is Better

April 4, 2014

Hey. So I’m feeling much better tonight. I think the biggest issue with the hypoglycemia is that it comes fast and I feel like crap with it, and it takes a long time for that to go away. The effects of last night’s episode continued well into the morning. I don’t think I started feeling OK again until after lunch. And I ate normally. So. But I ate normally the day before too. It’s the unpredictable nature of the crashes that is difficult. I worry about being alone and having it crash fast and not having someone around to help me. Anyway. The doc and I will have a conversation. We’ll figure it out. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, today was our team’s field trip to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Museum in Balboa Park. We saw one of the IMAX movies on the human body (probably it doesn’t help that IMAX makes me want to puke…but it was good), then we watched 140 or so students try to destroy all the exhibits inside the museum, and then let them out into the sunny gorgeous day to run around and eat and act like goofballs. It was a really well-managed field trip, thanks to one of the team teachers, and I didn’t feel anywhere near as crazy about it as I have in the past. And there’s only one day of school left until Spring Break, when I will have a little bit of freedom. I do have about 700 errands to run and another 30,000 things on my to-do list, but hopefully art will be part of it. After last night, I’m kind of trying to relax my desire to get a lot done. I think I will get done whatever I can, and I will have to be happy with that. Or at least content. Happy is still not part of my vocabulary.

So I practiced that tonight after getting home from my stitching meeting (which is really just hanging out with good people and sometimes we stitch and sometimes we don’t and we try to support each other with our wacky lives and existences…which is all you can do sometimes…is support). I ate some food…I’ve been paranoid about food today. Shockingly.

Then I traced for about an hour…

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It’s still going really slowly. I’m in the middle of the lowest body on the piece…

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She’s got some weirdly overlapping pieces, which means I really have to think while I’m tracing about what goes on top and what goes on the bottom, since I draw the overlaps into the pieces. I’ve finished her legs and belly, and am just starting on the arms. I was getting tired, so I tried to find a decent place to stop…I’m in the 370s, over 6 hours in.

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This piece really is a bit crazy. See all those empty spaces? I try to fill them in as I’m tracing smaller pieces. I try to do a decent job of fitting pieces in so I’m not wasting too much Wonder Under. I also try to trace pieces that I know will be the same fabric together so I save on cutting time…I only have to cut them out as fabric, not as Wonder Under as well. That really helps if the pieces are super small too…I often don’t cut them out until I’m ironing everything together…like I already know I won’t cut out the fish eyeballs until the very last ironing minute…which will be in June, at the rate I’m going.

The yawning, though. I had to stop. I had to make myself stop.

I got some done on the girlchild’s Xmas stocking at the stitching meeting…

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this piece is really slow. But it’s meditative. I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to actually meditate for real lately. I think I need to go back to doing it earlier rather than later at night…if I’m tired, I can’t handle it. I get the feeling he’d really like me to meditate in the morning, but I find that difficult. I’m not even really awake in the morning. I feel like you should be awake to be mindful. I’m a night owl. That’s why we call it meditative PRACTICE though…you’re supposed to actually practice it. Plus practicing makes you better at things.

Anyway. At least I’ll get some more artmaking time in the next few weeks. Nothing major, nothing lifechanging. Just more. More is better. Hopefully more is better will apply to hours of sleep as well.


Sometimes

March 7, 2014

Sometimes the body just whacks you upside the head and you have to listen. I don’t know if it’s months of tiredness catching up to me or if I’m coming down with something, or what, but last night? Everything stopped working right, so I just finally went to bed. Early. I didn’t sleep well, but I got an hour and half more than I normally do, so of course…instead of feeling better this morning, I feel really tired. Sigh. There is no win in this. I don’t know if it was blood sugar or what (because the damn battery on my blood tester was dead…yes, stop worrying, I’m going to buy a new one today), but I was spacey and dizzy and yuck. I’m hoping it’s not impending sickness because I have a cool hike tomorrow morning and I don’t want to miss it.

Anyway. So I didn’t get much done. I did do this in class yesterday…

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Because teachers like to color too. What’s funny is that kids always want to copy mine…actually, that’s how I find the kids like ME in the classroom…look for who is drawing something totally different to what I did.

I also did go hang out with Julie and did some of this…

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My daughter’s long-not-so-lost Christmas stocking that might be done when she’s 21. I always forget how long it takes to do cross stitch.

Then Julie gave me this…

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My very own ZombieMan. She’s been making fairies and somehow I inspired her to do a Day of the Dead Frida-Kahlo-esque doll a while back, and then we got on mummies or zombies or something, and I had the skulls, so she had to think on it for a while (because zombie-making is not one of her natural-born skills), but look what I got! I like him. Julie has some talent…

Midnight agrees.

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I think some of my problem last night was that I was exercising and used the wrong program on the bike, so it just kept going instead of telling me to stop, and I hadn’t eaten enough and I went for too long because I wasn’t paying attention. Once the blood sugar crashes, it takes me a long time to recover.

Anyway. I feel somewhat better this morning, so hopefully that was it. Who knows, though. Trying to suss out the body’s reactions to food/no food or sleep/no sleep and to take care of it properly when you are depressed and overwhelmed and don’t really feel like doing any of it…it makes it really difficult. I know my hormones are completely out of whack too, and I don’t know how much of this is that, and going to a doctor and having them write you off because of how old you are and the fact that you’re female is not helpful (I should interject that my own personal doctor would never do this because she is my age and smart…but some of the urgent care doctors are not so).

There were so many things I wanted/needed to do last night…now I felt like I lost hours. But that’s the way life is. You plan and plan for time to do this or that, and then life whacks you upside the head and you do what you need to do…which in my case was to sleep fitfully. Sigh.

Setting goals helps, remember? Like Julie said last night, having a list and checking things off it is good for something, even if the things you check off the list are not magical fix-alls like some people think they should be. Get rid of depression by exercising…check! Go out into nature…check! Eat healthy…check! (probably should have done more of that last night…I ate healthy but…honestly, I don’t know what the issue was) Get out of bed and shower every day…check! Fucking lists. Stupid perky people making happy lists. Try making a happy list when you’re in MY mood. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get this body and brain out of the house for anything, including groceries or work, the stuff I have to do…let alone the stuff that is supposed to fix me. Sigh.

So today. I can do today. I have lunch already made (smart use of time last Sunday to make all my lunches for the week). I need to finish grades at school so I don’t have to do them this weekend. I have counseling. I need a battery for the blood tester thingie (I’m sure it has a name…I just don’t care what it is right now). Pack up bag for tomorrow’s hike so I don’t have to rush around tomorrow morning. Get the sticky mud off my boots from last weekend. Exercise. Meditate. Eat right. THEN…draw. Or iron fabric. Or cut things out. Don’t work tonight. DO NOT WORK TONIGHT. Make art. Make it good. Make it sit in your head and banish the bad into the corners where it can rot in on itself and get swept out by the cleaners the next time they come through. Tell the shitty feelings and drag-you-down thoughts to fuck off and die. Get mad at the paper and the pen and make them work for you. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Take care.

 


Watching the Mood

February 7, 2014

I couldn’t process enough to write last night. It’s interesting (to me at least) that I use the blog to process where my head (and body) went during the day. It helps me have some sort of closure about feelings and actions and progress…in my emotional life, my artistic life, and my work life. I need to see progress, moving forward, or I get more depressed…ironic that…being depressed makes me more depressed. I’m depressed about being depressed. It really is a stupid vicious cycle and the lamest stuff sets me off. I do my best to process my way out of it, but it doesn’t always work.

I don’t even know what it was about yesterday…I worked my ass off running a Jeopardy test review game yesterday. I didn’t have time to think in class, but apparently that fucked with my brain even more. Like I know today will be bad…it’s a test day, so it’s quiet (except for the dipwads who aren’t prepared and want to let everyone know that and disrupt during the test, which is why I give my little personal responsibility speech beforehand), and my brain has PLENTY of time to wander the sand dunes of depressoville. There’s not a whole lot I can do about that except realize it and try to talk myself out of it. But yesterday? Busy days are usually the OK days, the days I didn’t wallow, didn’t ruminate, didn’t do the Eeyore thing, the Marvin the Paranoid Android thing. I’ll be numb and flat, but not down and out.

At the end of school, I got a text from the boychild with this…

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who had been hanging out with Calli in the back yard (Calli being the girlchild’s Golden Retriever). Um. I knew we had raccoons…I’ve heard them on the roof and in the tree outside my bedroom window…seen them in that tree too. But lying on the pavement outside the pool fence? In broad daylight? No, it had no rabies symptoms. By the time I got home, it had gone into the pool enclosure and was lying on the deck by the side of the pool (like you do in San Diego in winter), snoring. Loudly. Seriously sleeping and snoring.

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This morning, it’s gone. Which I guess is a good thing, because I thought maybe it was sick and I’d get up and find a raccoon corpse in my backyard, a corpse the size of a small Golden Retriever honestly, and then I’d have to do something about it. Raccoons are beautiful creatures, really. I just don’t want it living in the backyard with the dog, I guess. Calli probably thought it was a big fat cat (she’s not very smart). Yes, we have skunks too…hopefully she’s figured out that they’re not cats.

It rained yesterday…so that raccoon was sleeping out there in the rain when I left for the girlchild’s game. There is nothing more miserable (in San Diego…not part of the Winter Vortex at all) than a winter soccer game at night in the rain: cold metal bleachers, wind, rain, everyone huddling under umbrellas and still getting wet…

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The girl on the left had just arrived…that’s why she’s still relatively dry. I actually managed to stay quite dry until I had to leave early for my meeting. I had a waterproof blanket, the umbrella stuffed into my bra so I could stitch during the game, and a padded seat under my butt. Two jackets? I did OK. I did leave early though, so I did not suffer the entire game…

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We haven’t had too many rainy games this season, so I shouldn’t complain.

This is the progress from Academic League and soccer…

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It got too hard to do drizzle stitches in the rain, so I eventually quit on the tail of the bottom bird. Remember my original plan (hope?) of finishing 3 of these every two games? Not happening. At all. Oh well. It’s not that it’s hard; it’s just time consuming. Maybe THAT’S what I should do during the test today, instead of grading and logging in papers (no, not really…I need to get caught up on grading). The birds will get done eventually. It’s not the end of the world.

At my stitching meeting, I continued my incredibly slow progress on the girlchild’s Christmas stocking, started when I was pregnant with her in 1997. Oh yeah.

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It’s a good thing she is semi-patient. She’s really not, but… The pattern is irritating in that the symbol for the mauve color is darker than the symbol for the green…but the green in real life is darker, so my visually addled brain keeps confusing the two colors on the pattern, because it thinks the darker symbol is the darker color…which is really weird when you think about it, but then also very logical. I suspect most designers don’t think about things like that: the darkness of the symbol corresponding with the darkness of the color. The mauve is a filled-in black circle and the green is a letter S, very open and light. Even making it a G instead of an S would have helped my brain, I think. So I kept losing my place (no, I don’t use highlighters).

Anyway. Did I do anything art-related? Nope. No energy. Absolutely exhausted on the drive TO stitching…finally went to bed sort of early (for me, anyway), and then was up in the night with an unhappy tummy. There’s seems to be no winning the sleep game at the moment. I really tried to get motivated on two different things, but even cutting stuff out sounded like more effort than I was capable of last night. I’m sure that’s contributing to the low mood. It’s lovely that I know all the things that are affecting me, plus and minus, but I still can’t seem to get far enough ahead of the moods to prevent them from happening. I mean, this is MY brain. I do a pretty damn good job of paying attention to all the stuff it’s saying and trying to treat it right and listen carefully and act accordingly, but it doesn’t seem to matter. When it’s in a mood, it’s in a mood…a 6-month-plus-long mood. And yes, I do often wonder if it’s still a mood or if this is just the new me. Not OK.

Tonight…it will be better…whether that’s artmaking or sleep or just spending time with those cranky-ass beasts I gave birth to…it’s got to be better.


Sew Together the Days

December 6, 2013

You know, I used to get really excited when I’d finish picking the fabrics for a quilt…it was a turning point past really the most difficult part of the visualization. I basically color the whole drawing in my head and hold it there until I finish ironing, sometimes for days, sometimes weeks, occasionally months (really hard and not recommended). That said, it is also probably the most creative part of the quilt, besides the drawing itself. I can’t actually SEE the finished quilt, but each fabric is going to go with the one next to it and behind it and make the image in my head. It’s challenging…I need mental energy of a certain type to do that step, but it’s also somewhat meditative. I get lost in my alpha waves for at least some of it and it brings me some peace…sometimes even joy when I finish a particularly difficult section, especially like flesh tones.

Sigh. Not so much any more. There is a certain sense of relief that this stage is done this time, just because I am so tired and stressed right now and this seems to help and also hinder. The need to get it done keeps me up late, and once I’m ironing, it’s hard to stop, and when I do stop, I can’t get my mind to stop. It just wants to keep going. Pros and cons: the high of the creative buzz but the low from not enough sleep and the NEED to keep going. I had more buffers before, more balance, more things to do that would give that part of my brain a break, but also a break from the stress. I don’t have many of those any more.

I finished ironing the fabrics for Celebrating Silver tonight…finishing the owl up.

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There were 88 fabrics in this quilt, mostly browns and grays by the look of it. Lots of flesh tones too…

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Not in numbers, but in volume. Now I have to cut them all out.

I currently have almost 38 hours into this quilt. It took 13 hours and 12 minutes to cut all the fabrics for about 1250 pieces. Not bad. I usually figure an hour for 100 pieces for that. It will probably take less time to cut them out, although there are some significantly bitchy pieces to cut, if you look at that bin up there…the tips of the owl’s wings, for example. I’m figuring about 10 hours for cutting, and I already have 2 hours in. So maybe I’ll be done by next weekend? You never know. It could happen.

Meanwhile, I did spend time with my stitching friends, geeky stanchions of my sanity. We played with technology, googled Katniss’ cowl/shrug from Catching Fire, which the designer calls “woven, then knitted,” which makes no sense…but whatever…

katniss cowl

I think we finally decided that they had woven something and then knitted the woven something together. Or whatever. And all the knitted versions suck.

We talked about stitching and children and Christmas ornaments (I never did look at the damn Just Cross Stitch ornament issue…Kathy will have to bring it back in January). It was a good two hours of not having to be the sad Kathy or the stressed Kathy. I finally restarted the girlchild’s Christmas stocking (originally started in 1997, don’t laugh). I couldn’t find the cream thread at all…it must be hiding somewhere. I must have pulled it for something else, but now I can’t find it. Sigh. This is how we end up with stashes the likes of mine. I lost two pairs of embroidery scissors in the search, but found two other ones, one of which I didn’t even remember owning, sad but true.

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It’s a very exciting start. It’s actually fairly large stitches, which helps with my blindness, and I’m actually doing it on stretcher bars. It’s been ON those bars since 1997, so obviously I haven’t needed them. I told the girlchild not to expect it until she turned 21 (she’s 16. I should be able to meet that deadline). Every Christmas she would complain that everyone had a handmade stocking but her. Yes. I suck.

The right eyelid is still twitching, although off and on now. Ironically, I got in a screeching argument with the girlchild before I left for the stitching meeting where I was working on her stocking…OK, she was screeching. I was holding my brain together just barely. Typical for me at the moment. Just barely held together. Just by a thread. Grades. Cars. Something else. I think I knew everything when I was 16 too, so I get it…but I could use a break. I even asked her dad (jokingly, honestly, because I already knew the answer) if he could handle the grades conversation. He said quietly, “It won’t work if I do it.” Dammit. I don’t know if I have the mental strength to lay down the law right now.

I have about three drawings in my brain…not sure when they will be allowed out. Hopefully soon. I have been picking at the Christmas shopping…not happily, but getting it done. I’m buried in Have To and distancing myself from the emotional swamp that is my brain. Let it meditate. Let it psycho dance over there in the corner. I exercised tonight, but not at the gym…I’m scheduling the gym as often as I can. I slog through the days. Too many art show rejections lately. They don’t usually bother me, but at the moment, I could use some encouragement. Is the only purpose to my artmaking to fill the days so I don’t get more and more sad? Or is there actually an audience for my work? Or is it just too damn difficult to process? Who knows. I don’t usually care, but I’m feeling purposeless at the moment. WHY am I doing this again? What do I gain from it? Is it really sanity, because if this is sanity, well honestly, it kind of sucks. I think I need to work on some goals beyond “finish this part of this quilt.” I don’t know what those goals will be, though. because I have to want something to have goals. I’ve given up on wanting, because it just hurts. Wanting is sharp stabby things in the soft parts.

Shitty week. When you feel useless and worthless and like you’re doing it all wrong. I know that’s not true, but I need to find some piece of something that makes it all feel better at the moment. Time for a hike? Wish I had time. Or life drawing would help. Also no time for that. Maybe I just need to go get the Christmas tree…that smell. Sitting with the tree, lights on, in the dark. That always helps my mood.

“Searching for a light, a thread that will connect this moment to that one, a way to sew together the days so that they make sense.” Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

I’m trying. I suck at it, but I am trying.


Out of the Dirt

November 24, 2013

I managed the gym, finished a good book (in one day…no idea how many pages it had, because the Kindle app says things like Location 405 of 3606, and I don’t know what that means), graded one period’s worth of journals (I only had one period left, so that was OK), bought thread so I can quilt up in the mountains, hung out with a friend for an hour or so, and ironed fabrics. Not a bad day. I managed it. There were some bad moments, true, but that seems to always be the case. I weathered them. I cried, but it wasn’t as bad as some Saturdays have been. I do miss going out to dinner and the movies. I wish I could go out dancing, but that seems to be out of my cost range, plus requires more people skills than I have at the moment. Doing things with other people is not my strong point. I even meditated, but my brain was like a 5-year-old with ADHD, so I just let it wander and reeled it back in over and over again. I’m not sure it was particularly helpful tonight. Oh well. It can’t always work ideally. That’s the wonder of the damn brain. It’s fucking unpredictable. Or maybe it’s predictably random.

I have about 2 1/2 hours in on the fabric choosing for the Celebrating Silver quilt…

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I’m about halfway into the 200s as well. I’m up and out of the dirt as of tonight. When I start up again (maybe tomorrow?), I will be in the flesh of one of the daughters…I think of the Maiden and the Mother as daughters of the Crone…not sure why. Because they’re smaller and younger? Who knows. I didn’t want to start dealing with flesh yet…too tired tonight for that. Flesh has to be a run that flows, and with a quilt like this, it might need 7 fabrics in the run. Or I might decide to do two different runs, two shades…with the daughters in a lighter, pinker shade, and the crone in a more muted, greyed shade. Who knows? I won’t know until I pick them, and I kind of feel like I need to have a fresh brain for that, and I don’t have that right now. I have late night tired brain.

All the 200s are laid out…

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There’s a bird in there too. And a heart, I think. Maybe a fetus. All that before I even get to the daughter, whichever one it is. Can’t tell…maybe the Maiden. There’s only 1237 or so pieces in this thing. I’m going to be ironing for a while. It would be nice to get it done before we leave, but I don’t know if that’s possible.

My plan is to start cutting these out at my rescheduled quilt class Monday night and continue up in the mountains.

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I’d like to have half of it ironed by Tuesday…more if possible. It sounds like a lot of time, but I have a hike and dinner tomorrow, then doctor, soccer, groceries for Tday, some other errands, and quilt class on Monday…and Tuesday morning is a mess. So I don’t know how far I will get. When I type all that out, the thought of getting 615 pieces ironed seems unrealistic…that’s another 400 pieces, probably another 4 hours. When I’m not tired. Ha! OK, I have a goal. I’ll do my best to meet it.

I did go through the older sketchbook and marked some of the drawings with post-its. I don’t know if I’ll get more serious about making some smaller quilts this week, but I’m trying to at least keep it in mind, since two of my smaller non-nude pieces will be in Poway starting next week, so there is a market for these. I think I’m afraid to NOT have multiple pieces in progress at the moment…I don’t want any down time. Down time leads to depressoid time, and I’m good at that without any encouragement from a nonbusy brain. Trying to keep the brain occupied is an important task.

After finishing the cross stitch I’ve been working on for my SIL for the last 3+ years, I was trying to decide what to do next and decided that the girlchild’s Xmas stocking should be next on the list…I mean, I started it before she was born and she is now 16. Seemed to make sense. So I pulled it out and stared at it for 20 minutes, trying to figure out what in hell I had stitched…

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I really did think I had stitched more, but more importantly, this line of stitches didn’t appear to match anything on the pattern…until I realized I had stitched it in the wrong color. Wow. I was about 9 months pregnant with the girlchild and the boychild was about 18 months old when I started it. It’s surprising my brain didn’t just fall right out of my head. I ripped out all the stitching from over 16 years ago and will start again at my next stitching meeting. Fresh start. Funny stuff. I did tell her not to expect it until she was 21, based on how long the one for her aunt took me…it’s not that I’m a slow stitcher…I’m not. I just only work on it for about an hour and a half a month at the one meeting.

I’ve been staring at this card all day…it was sent by two good friends sending me encouragement a few months back…but I love the dog and birds. Bright colors and funky.

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Much appreciated. They’re the ones who posted the article that talked about the meditation app I use, Headspace…so it’s their fault I’m calmer now. Damn them. No, not really. I did actually use it the other day with a student who was in a mood…and it worked. Welcome to the calmer Kathy…or something.

I started and finished this book today, Every Day by David Levithan.

Every-Day

I liked it. I thought it was well-written. I can’t remember why I read it, although it could have been as simple as seeing someone else’s review. A person (hard to tell if A is male or female) inhabits a different body every day, and one of those days, falls in love. It was nicely done. I would read another book by Levithan. Because I don’t have enough books to read? I remember the boychild worried once about what would happen when he ran out of books to read. I don’t think it’s happened yet. I have two more books on the library ebook system and another two on the Kindle app at the moment. I guess vacation is time to read.

I’m hiking tomorrow; far as I know, the hike is on…looking forward to this one…will be dispelling some head demons up there, I think. Hope. Trying to figure out if taking the sketchbook makes sense. I can’t draw and hike, but maybe I can draw in the car (mountain roads? Might be a mistake…don’t know).

Out of the dirt…into the snow.


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