Death of an Iron…

August 22, 2015

Yup. Killed it. I’m sitting there last night, trying to finish up the last of this damn piece, at least get it ironed together before I fly out, and it won’t stay hot. I can put my hand fully on it…it’s warm, but it’s not making anything stick. 

This is not good. I manage to shake it around like a mariachi, and it clicks on again. And then off. Oh you bastard. I am so close to finishing. 

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I think Kitten did it. 

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The head has buildings coming out of it. With a million windows. Each. 

I fought the iron for a good long time.

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But I did manage to finish ironing the buildings. 

The pieces in that box are all that’s left. Seriously.

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I was so frustrated last night. And I knew I had to get up early to get on a plane. Here she is, almost done.

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Boychild left last night, and I’m typing the last of this in a Boston hotel…exhausted. But we got here pretty easily. Boychild’s flight was on time for once, but they left his luggage behind in Newark for space reasons. Don’t think he has clothing, but he has deoderant and a computer. 

We are in a room with a mini-kitchen, but there are no dishes, not even a cup in the bathroom. Bizarre. The paper cups the front desk gave me are burning in the microwave. 

We went to dinner and then drove around campus. Then we found a grocery store. Right now, we are just vegging out on our beds, complaining about how tired we are when it’s actually three hours earlier. I should be wide awake. It’s amazing how travel kicks your butt.

I read and drew on the plane (and honestly, I napped too). I’m getting almost nothing done this weekend except depositing the girl. And that’s ok.

Reworking the Goal

August 21, 2015

Goood Mooorning El Cajon! Ugh. The tired! I went to bed “early” last night. OK, not really so early, but I started moving towards bed and closing windows and crap BEFORE midnight. That’s how you know I’m tired. I’m missing the third day of school because I’m taking the girlchild to college, so I had to write sub plans, and I basically revised my entire plan last night, because it wasn’t going to work. It may STILL not work, but I’m at the healthy point of No Care. Worst case, the kids lose a day of instruction early in the year. Imagine how we feel if we get sick the week before state testing? Anyway, so that took some time yesterday and so did the girlchild panicking about luggage space (I was allotted a 10″x3″ space in one of the suitcases for my clothes…luckily Boston is warm right now, so all I need is a bikini.). I let boychild manage that (seriously, I don’t need to be involved in ALL the freakouts). He seems to be mostly packed. He hasn’t asked me to ship anything yet, so we’re good.

Today I will have to be very focused and get lots of prep done so when I get back, I can function, for some definition of the word function.

But the quilt…the quilt is almost ironed together. I really didn’t want to stop last night, but I was so tired that I knew I had to. I had already had an ironing incident (easily fixed). I finished up the bits on the hand that I didn’t get done the night before, and then did the tiny bird. His OW speech bubble is done too, although it’s not here…it’s in the box.

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If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the other figure is all about Mother Nature and Mother Earth and natural stuff. This one is obviously about population and civilization and pollution and how we damage the earth.

I wanted to finish the face last night, but that just became impossible. I did get the nuclear power plant in on her shoulder, and I got some of the face done…

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But once I got this far, I was going to have to lay out the next 100 pieces to keep going, and I couldn’t even do that. Usually I try to, so that it’s easy to come in the next night and start ironing again (I really don’t like laying them out…it’s boring). But the cool thing is that there’s only two boxes left…the 1700s and the 1800s, and that one isn’t even full. I really am in the last couple of hours here (if you don’t count ironing it down to the background). I’d love to say that’s gonna get done tonight. Really. But one kid flies out tonight and I fly out early tomorrow with the next kid. I think it’ll be a miracle if I get done before I leave, unfortunately. I’m about 24 hours into the ironing. Longer than I thought.

Oh well. Deep breaths. I’ll find a way to get it all done. I may have to rethink my priorities a bit. Maybe.

I think this is going to be a fairly awesome quilt though. It’s coming together nicely. I love watching the picture in my head translate into fabric reality. Now I just need to manage the other piece.

Girlchild came with me to school yesterday and renumbered all my textbooks and labeled all the folders for the kids and put them in color piles and typed up all the rosters (which will all change over the next week or so, but whatever) and put the goggles away and I don’t even remember what else, until I let her come home and start packing. Today is her last day with friends, so I don’t think we’ll see her for 12 hours or more, but that’s OK. At the moment, everything turns into an argument with both kids pretty much, and I’m too tired to seriously censor myself, so it’s better that way. My SIL hears the real complaints. Although after talking to her last night, I now feel like I have a significantly inferior spice-jar setup in my cabinet. I don’t think I care, though. I visually know where they all are. That’s about all I need in my life right now…a generalized idea of where a spice might be. She makes me WANT to care though. We also discussed dishwasher-filling preferences. These are very important conversations (other shit was in there too, of course).

So reworking the goal. Finish ironing the head tonight. Maybe piece the background (wasn’t that Wednesday’s plan? Damn.). Then come back from Boston and iron to backing and stitch down next week. It’s off the machine by Saturday. Then I get that 17-foot human done. In a week. Or so. Where did that panicked breathing come from? Meditate. That too.

Not Where I Want to Be

August 20, 2015

Honestly, right now, I’d rather be in bed. I haven’t trained my brain to shut down early enough yet for school sleep hours. It’s not that I go to bed a whole lot earlier when I’m teaching; I’m still up until midnight or later, but I can fall asleep pretty quickly. Maybe that’s after days and days of inadequate sleep. The last few nights, though, my brain’s a go-cart, racing around turns, hugging the ground, adrenaline at peak levels. It won’t shut the fuck up so I CAN go to sleep. It’s analyzing this or that, trying to remember what needs to get done, writing stories, drawing pictures, calculating finish times, available time. Geez. Just lie down and go to sleep. You know you want to.

Last night, I really wanted to iron way earlier. I left school early, because I was (mentally?) done, but then needed to replace tires on the kids’ car (couldn’t get boychild to do it by himself), go to the grocery store, and make a last-minute trip to Staples for the stuff I forgot the last time I was there. Then I had to go return the boychild’s jeans for longer ones (sigh. Mr. Highwater makes a comeback. Remind me never to believe him when he comes out of the dressing room and says they’re fine. Go the fuck back in there, put them on again, and let me SEE.). Loads of fun. I was so tired by the time I got home that I went horizontal on the couch and stayed there for at least an hour.

And there weren’t even kids there yesterday (well, there were, but 6th graders for orientation…not a lot of interaction on my part). The exhaustion due to interaction will increase…I don’t think nonteachers realize how kamikaze our days are. It’s just nonstop from when you show up on campus until you walk away, and then you come home and work some more.

So after making myself get off the couch and cook dinner, I came in here and started managing stuff, like college payments and I don’t even remember what else. It was 11 before I started ironing, unfortunately. I really wanted to be done with ironing yesterday. Notionally, I could have handled being done today, but I suspect I will be hella tired when I get home (see horizontal couch syndrome documented previously in patient’s history), and there will be some period of time when I’m not moving. Eventually, about a week or so into the year, the exhaustion gets better, but September is notoriously sucky. Around about the end of September (which, by the way, is when the first progress reports go home), the workload seems to ease up and everything calms down a bit. But that’s when our school will be rolling out our send-a-computer-home plan. Whatever. Remember? That’s my mantra. No worries. Whatever.

Ironing. It’s what’s for dinner.

Julie thinks I should have done all the rivets on the heart (and in other places) using French knots. I did consider that, but then I wanted them to be flat, not popping up. I could have done them with silk ribbon, really tight, and I might have been able to get that, but it really wasn’t that hard to cut them out. It was time-consuming, but not hard. And I like how they look. The heart will look much better when the black stitching outline is in there too.

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Then I started on the arm, which has riveted piping running down it…yup, more rivets.

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And I’m looking at the clock and saying to myself, yes, self, you really do want the whole head ironed tonight. I know that. However, it’s approaching midnight and tomorrow is the first day of school. Are you fucking nuts? Because you can’t really see this yet, but there are buildings coming out of her head, and every building has windows in it. Lots of windows. Because if you haven’t figured out from the rivets and the power lines, I’m a fucking nut when it comes to detail on my quilts.

Yeah. The documented truth there. Fucking nuts.

I ironed the main part of the hand, and then I made myself stop.

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I knew there was no way I was getting all of that done, and it wasn’t worth the lack of sleep and crankiness that comes with that to keep going. It’s not where I wanted to be. Whatever. It happens all the time. That’s why I set goals…so I can constantly NOT meet them. I do usually make the big ones, though, so keep that in mind.

Except then I couldn’t fall asleep for an hour. So that was kinda stupid. Whatever.

I asked the girlchild to clean up some spaces she inhabits before she leaves for school (not just a room, but a couch she has appropriated as The Couch of Dumping and a space on the kitchen table). She says she doesn’t have time. She tried to blame me for having her go to school today with me to help, but she hasn’t been at school all week, like she normally is; she’s been socializing. For HOURS. Because she’s leaving her friends and it’s like they’re DYING. Sigh. They have email and texting. We had to send letters. Or talk on the phone. And there were no cell phones, so you had to be in your room with a phone attached to a wall and a cord to the receiver. I know. Like seriously. All I want is a relatively clean space, and apparently that’s not happening. So sometime next week, there might be pictures of me with trashbags piled on her bed of all the crap so I don’t have to look at the mess for 4 months. I’m really kind of irritated by that, but I remember the boychild, who’s generally pretty neat, doing the same thing last year because he packed at the last minute and didn’t have time to clean up.

Whatever. It’s not where I want to be. I will GET there. But yeah.

Cats Lie on ALL the Stuff…

August 19, 2015

Late nights. Art brain on a roll. Can’t make it stop. Followed by teacher brain and mom brain. Won’t let me sleep. I’m kind of a mess today. That said, I think most teachers start the year on almost no sleep, so how is this different? It’s not. I got a super-late ironing start last night. Had work to do for school…Kitten was a big help.

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As long as I didn’t need any of those keys she was lying on (you will not backspace bitch), she was happy.

When I was done with all the computer stuff, I started ironing. It was probably 11. I started on the arm and the upper torso.

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Because I really want to be further along than I am. ALWAYS. So I kept going…did both breasts…

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And that was where I was going to stop…but Kitten was lying where my iron belongs (because I was now ironing instead of computing, so she had to be involved. Realize this means she moved about 6 feet from her previous position…it’s a small room), so obviously I couldn’t put it down. I would have to continue to work.

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Really, if you sew at all, you know that cats will lie on ALL the things, especially what you need at the moment, what you don’t want to be covered with hair, and whatever might be completely in the way of what you’re doing. I’ve had cats that spent hours trying to lie on what I was actually ironing (Limbo, that would have been you), so really, she’s pretty benign. She never aims for the spread of tiny pieces on the table or the ironing board itself. We’re good.

I started ironing the heart (yes, that’s Voyager in the background…think I’m almost done with the series)…

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Then I realized it has about 30 rivets in it and I stopped. Plus it was almost 1 AM. But you can see above how big the SMALLER figure is…There’s still an arm and a large head on this thing. The larger figure isn’t even ironed fully together yet. It will be large.

I’m in the 1500s…

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In pieces, not on the timeline. There’s not much left, but school starts tomorrow. Hard to say when I will get all this where I need it to be. I think I’m at 21 hours of ironing. But I spent over 8 hours at school yesterday and today will be similar. Usually I have more help from my daughter, but she is saying goodbye to all her friends, so I’m not a priority…which is fine. Mostly it’s a matter of focus. I wander the room and a project calls and then the next one interrupts. I think I could teach tomorrow RIGHT NOW (OK, no, someone needs to hole-punch and staple stuff) if I had to.

My plan to finish ironing this tonight is not going to happen, but hopefully I can get all the pieces ironed together at least, and maybe piece the background. Maybe even deal with the issue of the dark pieces being too dark. I know it’ll take a couple of hours to get it ironed to the background though, so maybe that’s Thursday night. We’ll see. I know Friday night is driving boychild to the airport and forcing girlchild to pack (but I might need to wear ALL the things!). Then Saturday early is driving to the airport again and flying to Boston. That means my books need to be assigned, my sub plans need to be set up, and my room has to be ready to roll for that poor guest teacher. Before I leave. I can sleep on the flight maybe (I am so tired right now).

Tonight? Arm and head. Keep it simple.

Disappointed Art Brain…

August 18, 2015

There are so many things in my classroom that I need to get done, that I stand there frozen, looking around until one task catches my eye, and then I start it, and while I’m doing it, another one speaks to me, and I start it, and then I never finish the first one, because I’ve completely forgotten it. This is also why my house isn’t clean, by the way. It just never coalesces into a one single project that can be completed. With school, you kind of have no choice but to be mostly on top of it by the first day of school (at least with the major stuff, like, um, the schedule), so there’s a deadline that’s looming over you. I guess if I knew 180 people were showing up at my house on Thursday…nope. Even then, it wouldn’t get clean. There’s just not enough time.

So I flailed a lot at school yesterday, but I wasn’t the only one. I conquered some tasks and made lists and came home to finish my syllabus (finally). I think I’m doing science stuff today. I have a bunch of stuff that needs copying, but the last batch never made it back to me (of course). Whatever (new mantra, remember?).

Girlchild had started some stuff at the local ceramics painting place a few weeks ago and needed to finish, but didn’t want to go alone, so I had agreed to go over with her, because all my mugs broke, and I’ve been drinking tea out of beer mugs (no really…it seems OK to me). I like a big mug. What can I say? Anyway, we did that. I find it really calming and meditative, so it was actually probably a good thing to do.

I knew I didn’t have much time, so I was going for big, graphic, and basic.

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Strangely, girlchild was painting a mug for me, which I wasn’t allowed to see, so she sat over THERE and painted it so I couldn’t see it.

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Mine, back side, ready to be fired…plus her two…yes, they’re blurry.

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I can’t pick them up until after I’ve taken her to college.

Then we came home and there were three of us on the couch briefly until I got up to make dinner. After I had cleaned up the kitchen. And then cleaned it up again. Looking forward to cleaning up only my own messes. Really.

Then I started ironing around 10 PM. I stopped last night because I knew the next bit was a honking pain in the ass…the power lines and electrical transmission lines…

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I didn’t do much else but them last night…they had about 100 pieces in them, with the houses and the trees…

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Fussy little beasts…and now, this morning, I’m second-guessing my background fabric…might be too dark for this. So I’m debating solutions in my head. I have a few…one that I think is quite good, but will require some brain power…

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There is no shortage of pieces left to iron…these are the 1400s.

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So I’m at 20 hours of ironing and I still have about 450 pieces to go, and then I have to iron it to the background. Methinks my time estimate was too low. Fussy little pieces…they’re all over the place in this beast. I know the heart and the piping in the arm have about 40 tiny pieces.

But lo, though the quilt calls to me still and makes my heart all aflutter with want and need (to get it done, people), I must hither to school. We have an early program and then I will work on my classroom until the variety of meetings occurs. Or I will get stuff copied. Or whatever. I really would rather stay home and iron all this together (I could finish it today), but that’s not happening. The disappointment of the art brain is palpable. Wish I had a brain that felt the same way about yardwork and housecleaning. Well. OK. Maybe I don’t.

School Calls. Loudly.

August 17, 2015

It’s amazing how much excessive heat sucks brain power. Out here in East County, there were conflicting reports, but it was at least 104 on Saturday and 102 yesterday, and I don’t have A/C. At some point, we all just lie down and flail…humans and animals alike. I can’t even think about ironing until it cools down, although I did manage some of it on Saturday afternoon. I’m not sure how….big glasses of ice water and a fan blowing directly on my legs. Doses of other peoples’ air conditioning.

I wanted to be a lot further ahead of where I am, but this is reality. Either it’s something to do with my kids or my job, or even the damn weather.

Saturday, I did finally finish the larger of the two figures. Her hair is the ocean and it was kinda fun to do, even in the heat…

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I ironed the stuff that was supposed to go in her hair separately (seaweed, jellyfish, even the fish)…

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And then I put them together with the face…

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The upper torso fit perfectly…

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I love seeing it come together. Up until now, it was just colored in my head. I have a huge black and white drawing and something in my head.

So Sunday, I couldn’t have ironed during the day if I’d wanted to. The heat just sapped my energy completely. I tried to drink lots of water. We went to my parents’ for dinner. I came back and tried to function, but was dealing with texts from a coworker and my SIL on the phone and answering an email, all at the same time.

Finally got back to it, starting on the second figure. You’re going to notice some differences between the two figures…

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For one thing, this one is down on her knees…symbolism! Yes the other one towers over her. There’s also some different imagery on and around the body, which I started in on last night.

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Got both legs done, which was good. That was midnight.

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That was 18 1/2 hours of ironing in so far. I didn’t get much done the last two days, mostly due to the weather, and today, I’m looking at the ironing board and I’m so ready to start up again (it’s cooler finally). Like right now.

Sigh. Have to be at school in 45 minutes. So yeah, that’s not happening. And the girlchild needs me this afternoon and I have to deal with one of the boychild’s last-minute things and somehow in my spare time show him how to install shelves (I guess that will be at 10 PM tonight). And write a sub plan for next Monday and prep for kids in my classroom on Thursday and get everything else ready. It’s not a minor amount of work. I love that my brain doesn’t want to do any of that. It just wants to iron.

So I’m at piece 1190 of about 1875. Only 700 pieces? I could finish that today if life weren’t happening! So hopefully I’ll be ironing this together…I’ll say by Wednesday night, it should be ironed to the background. Maybe sooner? And then stitching it down. But I’ll be gone for the weekend, so that will probably wait until mostly next week. And then I need to start worrying about the other piece I think. I can’t even guess how long that will take to do, so that’s a little scary, but it’s due before this one. So once this is stitched down, I’ll switch gears for a bit. That won’t be frustrating or confusing at all! Oh well. There will be no one in the house but me, so I can make something for dinner on one night and then eat it for the next five (blech).

School calls. Loudly. So does art, but I know from whence my paycheck comes.

It’s Too Hot to Iron

August 15, 2015

So if you don’t know about summer in Southern California, you’re probably not aware that temperatures don’t usually start to get really bad until the end of August, and then they kick our asses in September and October. We hit over 100 degrees pretty regularly once school starts, and then usually, it mellows out by the end of October and you stop sweating while you sleep (if you are as unlucky as I am to have no A/C). It’s hot right now. I think it hit 100 yesterday; at least, the 90-year-old woman I helped at the gas station (no, really, I am a Girl Scout at heart) told me so. It’s supposed to be hotter on Sunday. Just shoot me now. My Scandinavian blood starts boiling at around 95 degrees and I get all fatigued and cranky and headachy. Then I realize I need to drink about 100 gallons of cold water just to make up for what I’m losing in sweat, and I get a little bit better. But still cranky. It’s a great way to start the school year.

I went to school yesterday, notionally to drop some stuff off, but also to check if they had fixed my A/C there (oh no. you can’t make me teach in heat.), and it was apparently (and yet not) fixed. Sigh. So I bitched and moaned (I need to bring food to my custodian and flowers to my office manager). And then I went to check my mailbox. They realphabetize us every year, but there’s always some short person who gets a box in the top row, and that is now me. I’m the average height for a woman in the US, but it doesn’t mean I can reach that top row without tiptoes, and I certainly can’t see into it. Whatever. Remember? I’m all about the whatever. I just won’t SEE what’s in there. It’s probably better that way.

Then when I finally got home (and I should preface that with I made a trip to Home Depot with the boychild, who then LEFT one of the shelf brackets in the cart there, and we will never ever see it again, I might have to kill him. Wait. And to get another one, I either have to drive out to Ikea on a Saturday or ship it here, with a $10 shipping charge for a $4 item. Methinks he needs to drive to Ikea today.), I went to cook dinner and realized that in training myself out of Costco chicken bags (I won’t need that much chicken once the kids are gone IN A WEEK), I didn’t actually buy chicken for dinner. Bloody hell. And it’s HOT. Aargh.

I’m not stupid. We went out to dinner to this little divey burger place that actually makes some pretty awesome burgers. Seriously awesome. It was good. First we got in a good down-home argument about politics and feminism, and then we devolved into goofiness about song lyrics and all that shit. That’s what I’ll miss. Sigh. I sat on the couch with the girlchild for about an hour while she was going through her photos…pictures of now-dead pets and the kids when they were littler. Sad. That’s the sad I’m allowed to feel.

Ironing started mega-late. The heat. Shit. It makes it hard to iron. I can’t put a real fan on…it has to be one that blows under the ironing board, so it doesn’t blow pieces away. And this room is one of the hottest in the house for some reason. Especially with the lights on.

I only ironed about 2 1/2 hours total. I have 15 hours in so far.

I wanted the whole figure done, but didn’t get there. Too tired. I did the face…

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In pieces…

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I stopped there. But I had already done the 150-piece bird…

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I’m officially halfway through the ironing! Whoo!

Kitten was helping by playing with the drawing again. I have video of her attacking it.

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The fan blows it around and she gets all excited and pounces, until you’re actually watching her, and then she pretends she was not interested at all. Typical cat. I could post the video here, but that means finding a cord and all that crap. Not happening.

Here’s all the bits I’ve ironed together that are waiting in the bin until I get it all done. I will probably iron the bird and the head to the top part of the torso before I move on to the other figure…

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I didn’t do the hair last night. I have a limited amount of ironing time today…I should really just get on with it, but it’s so damn hot. And I haven’t eaten. But it’s hot, so I don’t want to eat. Aargh. Ice cream for breakfast (I don’t actually LIKE ice cream).

I did do a bunch of school stuff yesterday too, trying to figure out how to schedule stuff when I’m going to be gone. And I wasn’t sure we’d have computers the first three weeks. I’m still not sure about that. Sigh. Whatever. Class sizes will definitely be bigger this year; we already know that. And that’s more work in grading too. Oh well. Whatever. Remember? I’m supposed to say whatever.

So. Crazy ironing goal for today? Dammit. I need to finish her fucking HAIR. That’s really not a lot…like 80 pieces. And I guess I’ll be starting the other figure. Maybe I’ll get her legs done. Because after her legs come the electrical transmission towers, which are like a million tiny stupid pieces. Because I’m only a little crazy and obsessive.

It’s too damn hot to iron.


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