Zombies, Please Take My Brain…

September 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Google My Sanity

September 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Preparing for Hell in a Handbasket

September 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

To counteract those stressful thoughts, I present this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s Like Magic…

September 8, 2014

Have faith. I just texted the girlchild about that. Have faith in yourself. Be confident. She’s worried about colleges. She’s worried about her scores, her grades, getting into a good school, not being extraordinary. Hell, most of us aren’t extraordinary. We’re not making miracles. We’re not even keeping the house clean (I speak for myself). I love that she wants to BE extraordinary, but I do think you have to be realistic sometimes. And getting into college is probably the first place where that happens. It’s gonna be a rough 8 months. I have faith in her. I know she’ll get into a good school that will give her what she needs. But my definition of a good school might be different than hers at the moment. And I long ago came to terms with my non-extraordinariness.

I started tracing Wonder Under tonight, after going to Shakespeare with the girlchild and my ex, Two Gentleman of Verona, shorter than most Shakespeare plays, but amusing. So I started late and didn’t get far, about 100 pieces in…

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Again, figuring about an hour per 100 pieces, 10-11 hours on this stage. It’s really warm here, so I’m lucky I’ve got LED bulbs in the light table, so no extra heat. I’m going to need to do more than an hour a night to stay on track, especially when I look at next weekend’s craziness. I’ve been invited to a variety of social things lately, and mostly, I am just hunkering down to finish this quilt as quickly as I can. There’s a few things I’m trying to do to stay sane, hiking mostly, but there’s a funky balance between needing to be alone to make art and not wanting to be alone all the time. When I’m out with friends, my brain gets increasingly stressed and worried about the quilt and getting it done, and I can’t enjoy myself. I did OK at the play, because I realized it was probably the last time…unless we manage July or early August next year, before everyone goes off to college.

I spent some time today with a new group talking about science…I’m apparently highly underqualified. No science degree. I do have a brain in my head, though, and use it to read fairly often. So I can hold my own.

And then I spent a chunk of time on another soccer field…

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The plus is that I think this is the only weekend with two games for the girlchild…so I might actually get some quilt stuff done, and then there’s the house stuff I still need to handle.

Her team tied…should have won, but a random penalty kick and a substitute goalie didn’t help…

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It’s going to be a difficult season for the girls. Not sure that’s a bad thing. Is success sweeter if you have to work for it? Maybe.

I have a piece in this show opening in early October…

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It’s my local SAQA group. Despite the title, there was no nudity allowed. That always makes it a bit difficult for the likes of me.

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I’m hoping to be at the opening on the 10th, although not at 5. Maybe I’ll drag the girlchild along with me. She got mad at me again today and I lost it. I can’t say anything right, and when you haven’t talked to anyone else for hours upon hours, it’s really difficult to deal with teenaged irritation without getting upset. She said she was sorry, but…I guess my sad is just right there, ready to spill.

I’m too tired to write anything of substance. That’s probably OK. You can borrow some words from some of my other overly wordy posts and pretend you’re reading them here. You can just think depression blah blah blah, and art blah blah blah and make time for balance blah blah blah and tired again blah blah blah, and there we are! A post! It’s like magic.


You Can Draw, Kathryn…

September 7, 2014

So there was all this sneezing and snot at school this week, and even though I tried not to touch papers too much, one of those snotty little beasts got me sick. The thing is, I felt like crap this morning, and even came home from the girlchild’s soccer game and slept for an hour (although that could have been the less-than-stellar sleep from the whole week finally catching up to me), and although I AM sick, I am not REALLY sick. Knock on wood. Because maybe tomorrow will be way worse. I’m spacey, I’m a little achy. But I’m not really really sick. I even bought the good drugs, just in case, but haven’t needed them. Yet. So yeah. I can make meth in my backyard now. A very small amount. Breaking Bad? Not so much. Assholes on that show. I stopped watching…couldn’t deal with all the assholes.

Until maybe tomorrow I will be OK. Anyway, I canceled the hike I was going to go on tonight, because I felt like crap, and then I tried to get a bunch of stuff done, like finally entering Quilt National (donating my money to them, because I’ve only gotten in once). Then I got an email about the quilt for the local show, and there isn’t room for it any more (sigh…then why oh why did I spend time working on it at ALL, because I don’t have any time to spare at the moment. AARGH.), so I gladly folded it up (it has a binding and a sleeve now…needs a bit more quilting and some hand embroidery and it’s done, but who the fuck cares? I don’t.) and persuaded myself I could draw tonight.

You Can Draw, Kathryn.

I actually penciled a bunch of stuff in, because I didn’t want to fuck anything up at this stage…

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When I’m drawing to size, it’s really better to NOT be using a lot of white-out. It’s hard to see through all those lines when it’s upside down on the light table. So the bird had some loosely drawn pencil lines and then I went in with the Sharpie and drew it final. I don’t follow the pencil lines exactly…they’re just a guideline. And I was looking at some of my old bird drawings for this one…but I had to really fight the desire to add more detail. Because it needs to be done by mid-November and there’s already a fucking shitload of detail on it.

Here’s things floating in air…

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with a tree to be drawn afterwards. Something about the couple being connected by the tree. They ground it. Wish they could ground me too. Ground as in feeling attached to something…not grounded like you’re not allowed out because you fucked up.

And eventually the tree and leaves got drawn as well.

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This thing has been in my head for so freakin’ long. I don’t know what my problem was. It took about 4 hours tonight to finish the drawing and number it…maybe a little longer than that. An hour was numbering…it’s at 1067 pieces…it could have been A LOT worse. Really. I was afraid of another 2000-piece quilt needing 150 hours to complete. I just don’t have that many hours free between now and mid-November…not if I’m gonna leave the house for anything else but work and soccer.

So I’m a little relieved. Still freaked out because I’m behind schedule, but it’s numbered now, so I can start tracing Wonder Under this week. Maybe 11 hours for that? I’m hoping. So I should be done by the end of the week? Maybe? This week’s a little bitchy.

I can at least get started.

I wanted it traced and cut out by mid-September. HA! OK, so that’s technically about 9 days from now. I’m thinking that’s pushing it, but at least I have a goal. Six hours to cut it out? So 17 hours of work in the next 9 days. Uh huh. With a Shakespeare play, back-to-school night, and an art opening. Uh huh. It’s possible. I don’t really need to sleep. I’m not very good at it anyway.

I’m also not very good at numbering. I missed the toes on the left…so they are all 362a, b, etc. through i…

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I think those are the only pieces I missed, but I’m sure I will find more later.

Sometimes I wonder about my art practice, about how to explain it to someone who doesn’t know me. Like, yeah, I number all these pieces and trace them with all the overlaps and it takes HOURS and no, I’m NOT crazy, why do you ask?

Fuck me.

I am more than a little bit crazy.

And this little bit will be fun, because I need to have like 10 flesh-colored fabrics in a color run to pull this off, I think.

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OK, I think I can do it in seven. Maybe. I love those hands, by the way. They are nice. A dream for me. Holding hands. Sigh.

The counselor says I am no longer officially depressed…just lonely. Huh. Not sure what the difference is. It feels the same. And it’s pretty sad to be lonely when you have someone who actually lives with you at least part of the time…although, she’s a teenager with a social life. Sigh. I’m really not doing this life thing right.

Anyway. It’s progress on this fucker. I’m glad of that, because I was starting to really hold that stress in my gut, and that’s not a good place for it to be. I just needed to get past that hump and move on.

Girlchild had a freakin’ early game in Coronado. Plus: it’s the beach, so it was cool. Minus: it was a long drive very early in the morning. Plus: we were back home fairly early.

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They lost. Badly. Probably not a plus. The parents were dumbasses. Seriously. The dad next to me yells, “Get a foot on it!” and the girl’s name, and she looks at him like he’s fucking insane, because she didn’t think of that already? I don’t yell a lot…just encouraging stuff when the girlchild makes a goal. I graded papers and watched her fall.

 

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I thought she did pretty well though…

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Certainly, there was a lot of heading the ball…although the one below? I think the girlchild was not involved, but how can you NOT put that picture in?

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At least the ball is in SOME of the pictures.

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She hates it when I take pictures, because none of them make her look beautiful. I personally think she looks pretty amazing, but I’m her mom.

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Tough little beast. As we get closer to sending her off to college, despite all the yelling she does, I’m gonna miss her.

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Three soccer games in one weekend though? Huh. That’s a lot. I skipped the one where she was coaching the under-10s. Mostly because I hadn’t eaten.

Anyway. I just realized how late it is. Time is kind of difficult when I’m drawing for hours upon hours. And not talking to humans. Seriously. Last human communication? Around 4 PM, I think. That was the grocery-store checkout lady. The one who put the fruit in with the cans. She was nice, but…my fruit does not appreciate her.

Anyway. Whatever. I’m making the art, but not necessarily doing the life thing right. I’ve never been good at that. And someone fucked up my ability to deal. So there we are. Moving forward. Making the art. Because otherwise…what would I be doing? No one knows.

Note to self: Music is not helping. Stop trying to find songs that make you feel better. You suck at this late-night mood transformation. It’s just going to suck for a while. If you’re lucky, “a while” will not be forever.

Sigh. I’m just glad I’m moving on to the next stage on this quilt. I thought I was never getting there.

 

 


Art Brain Speaks…

September 5, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


That Old Lady Brain Fog

September 4, 2014

I was reminded yesterday of that weird hormonal brain fog we call pregnancy brain. You can’t remember anything, you’re an emotional disaster area, it feels like you’re walking around in a mental bowl of oatmeal and you can’t get out. OK, maybe that was just me. Apparently perimenopause does the same thing to you, similar to all the hormonal crap I teach at the end of the year to my students, explaining away puberty. Strangely, depression can pull some of the same shit on your brain, and if your depression might be partially due to hormone fluctuations because of impending menopause, hey, it’s like a giant vicious brain fog cycle that’s out to get you.

Yesterday started out wrong. I was on time, I had all my ducks in a row, and then I left the house. Went the wrong direction, eventually figured it out, went back the other way (luckily I had time), but it fucked up my equilibrium (such as it rockily is) in the morning and I spent all day trying to get it back.

For some reason, this song has been stuck in my head for like two weeks and it’s driving me bonkers because I can only remember the words that are in the title and they are constantly running through my head (ironic if you know me well)…

It’s not a bad song. It’s just depressing sounding and I’m tired of it inhabiting my head, so I’ve been trying to replace it for days. Yesterday, after the driving debacle, which was all before school started and did not bode well for my having a stellar day, I was driving up to the school parking lot and that song came on. So I’m in homeroom and it’s reverberating in my head. And I admit this to my students and sing to them (as you do) and realize…I need that fucker out of my head. Girlchild had played me this the night before…

which is a Completely Different Mood. It helped. I played it during homeroom. I danced around a bit (it’s OK…my students are very tolerant of crazy old ladies). It was better. But by the end of 4th period, that damn church song was back in there. So I played Meghan again. And it worked until after book club…when I pulled into my driveway…and that damn church song was on the radio again.

FUCK.

Yes, I’m playing Meghan right now. It’s amazing how music fucks with your head. Or at least my head…which has been all over the map for the last…I was going to say few days, but maybe it’s been longer than that. I can go from contentedly dancing to this stuff to on the floor weeping in about 3 seconds flat. I swear. It’s hard to believe you’re not going crazy when your brain flip-flops like that.

And I realized yesterday that I pulled a major brainfart over the summer. I’m amazed I was able to think myself through anything. Really, you should not let me make any major decisions, or even minor ones at the moment, and whoever gave me a credit card? Wow. Give it up. Take it away. Don’t let me be in charge of anything.

So trying to explain this to the guy at Apple who called my house confused last night about someone using a computer I’d bought and then…well, let’s just say that I hope he has an older woman in his life (mom?) who is going through the same shit, because otherwise he is going to just think I’m fucking nuts. I know the boychild does. The girlchild…she just tells me everything is OK and I’m NOT stupid and No, I can’t have her ADD meds.

Book club was last night. Book club is ostensibly where we talk about the book we were supposed to read last month (I read it! John Scalzi’s Red Shirts…amusing, especially if you’ve been watching Star Trek at the same time), but mostly add more books and movies and events to our to-do lists. Scalzi will be at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego doing a book signing on Monday night (I can’t go), and apparently Kevin Hearne is funny on Facebook, and David Bowie is in a movie about Tesla, so I don’t have to read the biography (I did actually already give up and return it to the library)…I can just watch Bowie. I actually think I will just review the Oatmeal bio on Tesla and leave it at that.

As far as music goes, I wish I had a newer car where I could just program some stuff in there for when my brain is in the nasty place, so I can quickly get back on the bouncy dancing track and off the prostrate-on-the-floor track. The brain? I don’t even know what to do about that. I thought it was getting better, but it’s not. Maybe it never will.

I was reading articles about menopause and the brain and they suggest stupidass shit like “reduce stress.” Oh. OK. Will get right on that. I do try to do some art every day. They also suggested “organized relaxation.” That term cracks me up. I’m gonna call that meditation. Says it reduces hot flashes and night sweats (huh. weird. those are better now. maybe not so crazy). Then they want you to sleep more…ironic, because sleep is a major issue.

I didn’t get much done when I got home from book club…sewing bindings and sleeves and labels. That’s about it. Taking my depressed, foggy brain to bed and telling it that everything will be better some day. Then waking up at 4 AM for the third night in a row, this time convinced that the high-school back-to-school night will be the same night as my own school’s, overlapping in a way that means I don’t eat (I have done this before). It’s not, by the way. The easiest way to deal with stupid shit like that is to Google it. If only I’d thought to do that at 4 AM. I might have gotten more sleep. I hear Valerian herbal tea is good for deeper and longer sleep, especially when dealing with menopausal symptoms. I’m gonna go buy me some of that shit. Maybe they’ll have something for Menopause Brain Fog as well (or Depression Brain Fog. Or both. Who can tell the difference?). Meanwhile, thanks to Meghan Trainor for a song that tries to pull my brain out of its fuzzy funk. You’d think I would forget that I was depressed…I forget everything else.


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