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.

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.

Not in Focus

November 7, 2013

My camera was taking blurry pictures earlier this evening. Seems my fingerprint was smeared across the lens. I feel that way all the time, blurry, not in focus. Trying to stay sharp, keep the important stuff in the front part of my mind (or on my electronic calendars, so I have some chance of remembering). Trying to get a hold on a new life, a new existence? Also fuzzy, unfocused. Can’t grab on to anything. If I’m not already doing it, it’s not getting done. Even as simple as changing up my exercise routine, per my health coach…sheesh…I think I need to write down the routines (type them on my phone, duh)…because it’s just too easy to keep doing the same thing. I don’t have the brain power to be creative at the gym. I’m all used up.

I’ll get there. I guess. I only have 5 more health-coach meetings. That’s OK. I think they’ve served their purpose. I’m trying to pick her brain as much as possible before then, though…types of exercise that are more useful, how many reps, what helps build muscle mass. Fun stuff. Something to focus on besides my lack of focus.

I had my monthly stitching meeting tonight. Nice people. Distracting. Good thing. Needed some. Distraction.

Noticed as I left that they all have uncolored hair…they all are naturally gray/white…unlike my work cohorts, who are all coloring their hair (if they’re old enough to think they need to). I fit in with the first crew…it’s going white and crazy all by itself (my hair, not the crew).

I finally finished this…

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Now I have to frame it…it’s a gift. I’ve only taken about 4 years to get it done (started in June 2010…maybe May…so 3 1/2 years). Seriously. It means I’ll have to pick something new for the next meeting. Not a problem. I have no shortage of things in my stash, many already started. It’s more about the process than the product, obviously. I made a ton of mistakes on it, stopped reading the instructions a year ago. Oh well. No one but the designer would know.

I also finally pulled this thing out from under the cat the other night…

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It was almost done…I had decided it needed another flower and leaf, so tonight I sewed some of that on. I’ll need to finish sewing on and do the embellishment…then I can sandwich and quilt this one. Probably not a huge priority, that part of it. It’s last year’s Block of the Month from Sue Spargo. I was so close to finishing. Oh well. The world’s not ending soon. I have time.

I managed to only feel sort of like shit on the way to and from the meeting…this has been a difficult drive for the last few months…too many memories. I can’t handle memories of good stuff, because it hurts too much to think about it being gone. There’s nothing replacing it. I’m not forgetful enough to disremember looking forward to the evening of stitching and what came after. I remember and my gut gets torn open. At least I could relax a little during the meeting itself. Forget a little. Much as I ever can.

Thought I would get some useful stuff done when I got home…not. I exercised and meditated (necessary), but my tired brain is telling me to go to bed, so I will do that soon.

Calli this morning…

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She really didn’t want me to put her outside. Please mommy. I could just sleep HERE all day.

This is what you do with your leftover spiderweb stuff after Halloween…

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Because he needed hair, that’s why. I also did the Can Can with a student. What’s funny is he went along with it. Sometimes I wonder…about them as much as me.

The reason I pulled that wool quilt out is because Babygirl was sleeping on it the other night…

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So I gave her the boychild’s baby quilt instead. She seemed OK with that, but that’s what reminded me that I needed to finish the wool quilt. I guess that’s a good reminder.

The wonder of teaching middle school: I always tell the kids, “If the fat old lady can do it, then so can you,” especially when talking about exercise and homework and stuff like that. Today, one of my kids says, “Ms. Nida, who’s the fat old lady?” I answered, “Me.” He said, “You’re not fat.” “But I’m old?” He smiled. Sweet kid. I laughed. I guess I don’t qualify as fat any more. Nice to know (but I’m still old).

Bed time. Still not focused. Walking through fog. Slowly. Quietly.

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Busy Squared

April 12, 2013

I’d call this the second interim post, because I still haven’t finished the other one, but that would just be silly. Hopefully at some point while writing this, I will come up with a pithy title, encompassing all I’m feeling and thinking late this Friday eve.

First of all, crap I’m tired. It’s been a long week. Coming back after two weeks of Spring Break is rough. My voice is scratchy. My mood is cranky. My time is compromised. I’ve done a very good job (until tonight) of stopping the grading at 10 PM and starting the Wonder-Under-Cutting. I have a bunch (not even half, who am I joking) done, and will keep working until the end of the month, which isn’t that far away.

School does more than suck up time; it sucks up energy. Dealing with behaviors and attitudes wears me down. I had a bunch of homework cheating going on, and then this poor kid got bounced from one grade to another and then back again, and then there was some news about next year that almost made me cry in frustration, and finally there was news about this year that really did make me cry. It’s been a great year in terms of the kids and what I’ve been able to push them into doing and learning. I’m so impressed by their desire to learn and their ability to do what I ask (in general…trust me, there are always those who don’t), but the rest of it has been so ugly and lame and tortured…I just want that part to go away. That’s the part that makes teachers quit the job…walk away.

So I soldier on.

I try to make my life worth my attention in other ways. I make art.

Sometimes, though, I just hang out with friends and try to finish the Never-Ending Cross Stitch that is my SIL’s gift for the next available gifting cycle:

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I’m actually close to done. There’s a church and a tree and a bunch of satin stitch, but that’s it. I finished the tree in the middle and started the church last night.

It’ll still probably take me another year :-). OK. Not really.

Julie went on a trip to Fresno to see Salley Mavor’s exhibit of Pocketful of Posies (well, part of it anyway) at Cal State Fresno. I’ve been reading Mavor’s blog for a long time, but have a book of hers and had seen her work elsewhere before that. She went with some friends, and after seeing the exhibit, they hung out in the hotel room and made fairies…

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I had a kit for these that I gave to the girlchild a million years ago, and I still find parts scattered around the house…

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Mostly the flower petals…

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These are all Julie’s…rumor has it that Leslie and even Kris made some too, but I haven’t seen them in person. As always, Julie’s work is amazing and delicate…these are much prettier than the table on which they lie.

I realized tonight that I started my art journal, where I keep a weekly note of what I’ve entered and what I’ve been doing artistically (sometimes consists of NOTHING!) for 10 years back in March. The first year, I was fairly sporadic…OK, maybe more than the first year. There are about 4 posts for 2003, 2 for 2004, then sometime in 2005, I got smart and calendared the writing. My computer calendar reminds me (in three different places, maybe four) that I need to write every Friday night, and I’m pretty good about it. It’s useful for going back and researching what happened with this or that art piece, and we even used it to figure out how old Calli was the other day, because no one could remember.

My car insurance issue just went away. Sanity prevailed…either that, or my supreme bitchiness did. You pick.

The cat issue is still here, but calmer at the moment (knock on wood). Babygirl does not appreciate the other animals in the house and has been harassing other cats. She doesn’t seem to get that there is plenty of space and love for all, and she’s very territorial. We are actually trying to find her a new home. She is a sweet cat with people…and even tolerates dogs…but other cats are not going to be an option. She’s an older cat, so none of the local shelters will take her without a big chunk of money (list of things that Kathy doesn’t have), so we’re assessing other options (standing in the middle of an old-folks’ home and yelling FREE CAT! was the boychild’s suggestion). ANYWAY. I feel bad about the situation, but it is what it is. My kitten has been hiding in my room for the last 2 months and won’t go to the food/litter tray area without an escort. That can’t continue.

I did not drive to San Juan Capistrano for soccer this afternoon, which is probably a good thing, because the freeway caught on fire and aliens landed and the oceans overran the land…or it was just normal Friday-afternoon traffic to the OC. Apparently it was bad. I’m going tomorrow morning, but the girlchild’s back is still bugging her…doctor’s appointment Wednesday…so she might not even play.

I’m solidly buried in grading, but got a good chunk done today and tonight…I hope to continue that trend until I feel like I have everything under control (June 20, 2013, day after school gets out). Yeah. I know.

Busy weekend. Busy month.

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