Collected Threads

April 18, 2014

Sometimes I feel like I need to gather up all the bits of my brain at night so that I can try to function again (more) normally the next day. This post was originally called Collected Vomit, but I changed to Threads, because I think I’ve got a better hold on everything now than I did when I started writing this hours ago. I may feel differently in another few hours, but for now, let’s assume I have hold of all the threads, even though it may be a tenuous hold.

I’m obviously dealing with some form of exhaustion or jet lag still. My body doesn’t know when to be tired or when to be hungry. I’m trying to get it on a normal Pacific-Coast schedule. That said, my counselor says I sound exhausted and maybe I am. It’s hard to tell some days. I’m tired of trying to manage people and decisions. Being tired also makes it harder to deal with emotional crap, and there’s plenty of that around at the moment. End of Spring Break, college decisions, money issues, car dying, teenagers (that’s emotional crap all over the place right there).

The reason I was going to call it Vomit over Threads really came down to the fact that since finally getting home (only 12 hours late), I had cleaned up at least 4 instances of vomit (lovely things, cats). I killed one spider. Kitten killed another one, for sport, apparently, based on my watching her. I took one nap. I finished one book. I made it to the gym and to my last-ever quilt class at The Country Loft, where I’ve been taking quilt classes (or just showing up, because I don’t really need a class any more) for around 24 years. Their focus is changing, so we are not stopping our meetings…just changing the location to someone’s house…it’s change. Things change. It does feel like the end of something, though. A couple of these women, I’ve had them in my class for all 24 of those years. Yes, I was a baby when I started quilting.

I had hoped to have all the pieces of Wonder Under on the big quilt cut out before I left on the trip, but it didn’t happen. I did manage to get them all cut out at my meeting last night, though.

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Then I came home and retraced all the ones where the web and fusible had wandered apart. Actually, that’s not all of them. I know that now. There are about 20 more of them. Oh well.

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Then I cut those out as well…it took just over 12 hours to cut out all those pieces, some of them twice.

Then I had to find enough bins to sort the pieces out into 100s. That was more difficult; I’m not sure why. I think I’ve filled up more bins or something. Not sure. Technically, you need 18 bins to sort over 1700 pieces, but in the end, I only needed 17, because all the pieces with numbers in the 1700s were the same color as pieces in the 1600s (that damn octopus), so they were all cut out as one piece, to be cut apart when I iron them down because they are that damn tiny.

I lay the bins out on my light box (although I had to add another one here because I had forgotten the zero bin, for pieces 0-99. I always forget that bin.

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Then I had to sort them. I have to admit that this picture was taken last night when I decided I was too damn tired to keep standing (always a good indicator of bedtime), and since I had been awake 24 hours straight (minus a 20-minute nap) at that point, it seemed reasonable to go to bed.

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I finished the sorting tonight. It took about an hour and a half total to sort all the pieces into their respective bins. In the picture above, the bin on top at the back is the added 0-99 bin, and the big white one in front is all the pieces that still needed sorting when I gave up last night.

As I was thinking this morning about (1) what I wanted to get done and (2) what I needed to get done today (two conflicting lists, as always), I realized I did not have background fabric for this quilt. I also felt (1) too busy and (2) too tired to make a rational decision about that today. But if I waited until tomorrow, there would be a hike, and I’m not going to be LESS tired after that, and I have two other events I’m supposed to go to in the evening (knock on wood that I’ll be awake for those). So Saturday shopping is out. Then Sunday? I don’t want to wait that long, because if the events tomorrow night aren’t engaging enough (for me, not for normal people…they’re social events, and you know how badly I function at those…it’s nobody else’s fault that I won’t be engaged there), I would like to come home and start ironing fabrics. So not Sunday.

So, at that point it was late enough on Friday that I was scheduling things before and after counseling (scar cream for girlchild, Costco because when else will I get there)…I basically realized I had to leave in about 20 minutes to go buy fabric, which I did…choosing these two…

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No, I couldn’t decide. It’s OK…the other one will get used elsewhere or on the back. And they really don’t look like that. My camera doesn’t like the deep rich dark blues at all. They’re not even that different in real light. It’s a good thing I decided to go today, because the shop is closed Sunday (duh, Easter, says the pagan) and closes early tomorrow, and I wouldn’t have been able to get there at all after the hike. So fate, thank you for forcing me to be efficient today.

And because I like fabric, I also got these.

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Really, I try to stay out of the fabric stores for this reason. It’s been a while since I was there…like January. That’s not so bad, right? Has it been since January? I don’t remember. No, I got the background for the Mammogram quilt; I just don’t remember when. The staff was very impressed by the speediness of my shopping (hey, I had a timer on myself, and I still needed gas for the car, because it had been on empty for about 25 miles). And yes, that bottom fabric on the right? It does look like sperm. That’s why I got it.

Anyway, those are all washed and ready to go, and the pieces are all sorted and ready to go, and one of the to-do tasks for break, which was to clean up my office? Yeah. Not so much. Haven’t had the time or inclination.

Many times, when I sit down to work at the computer, there is a black cat behind me on the chair, but sometimes, if she’s in a mood, this is where she is.

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Notoriously annoying cat. Or she stands off to the right, but leaves her tail in a horizontal line right through the middle of the monitor. I bop her tail out of the way, she bops my hand and meows, moving her tail back in my view. Really, it’s easier to share the chair with her.

I already have over 39 hours in this quilt and I haven’t done anything with fabric except pick out the background. Anyway. Moving on to the next step, while trying to get ready for school starting again, while trying to figure out what to do about a car that basically isn’t worth fixing, and dealing with a bunch of college stuff. Everything’s gonna be fine.

Which reminds me, the quilt I sent up to San Francisco area had to be washed to try to get rid of cat dander. I’m hoping I was successful, but there will be only one way to know for sure. I washed it at my parents’ house, because they’ve never had a cat there…I was fairly sure it wouldn’t run, just based on the fabrics in it, but you never know for sure, so I was a little freaked out…but I know how to deal with running fabrics. So I put a little Ivory soap in water that was a little bit lukewarm, but not much. I agitated it a little by hand, and what was interesting is that the quilt was actually dirty. It has hung in about 8 or 9 exhibits, so that’s not surprising I guess. I don’t usually wash my quilts, though.

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Then I found all the light-colored towels I could and rolled the quilt up in them one at a time and squeezed the water out (remember doing that with your sweaters that needed hand-washing? Same deal).

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Once I’d done that about three or four times, I laid it out to dry on my mom’s studio floor with plastic trash bags and towels underneath. It took about two days to dry there, and then I rolled it up there for pickup, so it never went back in my car or my house. I’m hoping that did the trick.

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Anyway, it’s gone now.

I’ll write about the trip later, when I have time to deal with the photos. We do have a final decision though…he is going to Cornell in Ithaca, New York. It’s a long way, but I think he’ll enjoy it.

I’ve got two books I read too, but I’m too tired to deal with them right now. I have to get up early for a hike, so I’m going to succumb to my East-Coast-timed exhaustion now and go to bed. Hopefully I’ll wake up with a better mood than today’s, though…today has been full of tears (again, the counselor blames the tired…and the stress, which we talked about extensively and hopefully have plans for each bit of it, much as I can do that). I could do without that tomorrow.

In the end, I’m not sure how many threads I collected in this post. Not as many as I’d hoped. Oh well. If they’re collected, hopefully I can’t lose them, and they’ll show up later in a different post…or they really weren’t important enough to collect.


Holy Imbalance, Batman

April 13, 2014

Batman seems to be featured in my blog entirely too much, considering I’ve never met the man…bat. I don’t think I’m channeling Robin, but who knows. I always thought he was kind of an immature twit. I’m on a teeter-totter of imbalance at the moment. Run from one side and it flips up to try to bounce you off the other side; run back to stabilize it, and it rushes up to the other side. Can’t seem to straddle the middle and keep it all at bay, keep the sides even. It’s one or the other and all about unseating…well…me.

The doctor was happy with my numbers. She has pulled me permanently off one of my diabetes meds, after many years of being on it. This is good. This is success. She was definitely more excited than I was, because she also said I might see more of the low blood sugars, precisely because I am more in control. Hmn. This is not control. It seems like luck. She also talked about hormone imbalances, which honestly may have been the majority of my mood issue over the last two or more years…but it’s not so much the estrogen, that wacky hormone of womanhood, but my psycho thyroid. We adjusted meds for that not 4 months ago, and they are low again. Sigh. So we’re upping those. Low thyroid can cause problems with sleep, irritation, periods, depression, blood sugar…sounding familiar anyone? Yeah. So maybe everything can be blamed on my thyroid. Well, except for the idiocy that happened apparently because of my thyroid, but that wasn’t me. I know. Long story.

I guess my hardships are all mine own. No one else wants to own them. Or be a part of them.

At one point, I typed hormone as hotmone…makes total sense.

Ironic that I feel so out of balance emotionally…it goes with the physical imbalance. Probably the most logical part of my life. LOOK! This one number explains everything.

I’m a week into Spring Break, and my brain is still all over the map. Thursday was nice…life drawing in the morning, first time at this class. I’ll go back. I may even do this all summer. I could. Then I had lunch with Linda and Dean Moran of Marble-T Design. I first got in touch with them a million years ago for flesh-toned and gray marbled fabrics. I wanted a run of grays from dark to light, and then I wanted a selection of flesh colors. I am still using bits and pieces from what they did for me…I think they show up in almost every quilt I make. It’s not their fault I don’t use much fabric at a time. Anyway, we had never met in person, so this was the first time…and they brought me fabric!

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Beautiful gorgeous dirt fabric, or even brown flesh…could go either way with this. I’m very happy, AND they are nice, smart, amusing people. It was good. Plus they were nice and bought me lunch.

Then I went to Susan’s for a stitching meeting and started cutting out the Wonder Under for the next big quilt, which I’m going to just call Menopause for now, because it’s easier, but it does have a real name…and I’ve written it down (typed it) somewhere; I just can’t remember where. And it may not matter.

Oh wait. It does matter. It’s from this…

The title. Anyway. At least for now. I keep hearing some songs over and over and can’t get them out of my head (not the Kylie Minogue song). Oh yeah, the title is from the lyrics…it’s not called Afraid. I’d like to say I’m beyond Afraid, but I know that’s not true.

So I started cutting it out Thursday and I didn’t get much done…

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I was way too tired. I went to the gym too and I meditated and probably fell asleep doing that. Really, truly, at the moment, there’s two things that happen when I meditate: I either fall asleep or I cry. Neither is particularly satisfying, but each seems to fulfill a need…a niche even. OK, sleep is probably supposed to be a necessity and not a niche.

Friday…Friday was the doctor and a bunch of crazy running around. I guess I can finally admit, now that I’ve sent it off with its new owner, that this is sold…

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May they enjoy it and all its political issues. I still love the brick fabric. OH! And the gray in the sidewalk? Yup. That’s Marble-T Designs again…so THAT’S cool. Anyway, so I didn’t get much done Friday night because I was still tired, and I knew I had a long hike this morning, so I went to bed at a semi-reasonable hour (unlike tonight, when I seem to be making up for gained sleep by frittering it away on god-knows-what purpose).

I hiked this morning; more on that later. Suffice it to say that there is Julian Pie Company pie in my fridge and I was very good and did not eat any of it, because it is for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Then I decided to put on my pajamas and sit down and cut out Wonder Under for a million hours.

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Because there was a million hours’ worth of Wonder Under that needed cutting. I started with 7 pieces, I had cut out the smallest one. I think I did a little last night, but mostly it was this evening, almost 4 hours straight. I’m up to 7 hours and I only have 2 1/2 of the larger pieces to cut out. So that’s good. It won’t take 20 hours. It will probably take at least 11, though. There’s some minor chance I can get done before we leave for New York. Maybe. Or Nah. (sigh. I now know where that’s from. Hopefully my students will have forgotten about it over Spring Break so I never have to hear it again…because yes, it is TOO HARD TO SAY THE T SOUND.)

So spending 4 hours Saturday evening watching TV and thinking depressing thoughts and cutting out Wonder Under does indeed include me in the Old Lady Loser Rock N Roll Saturday Night Hall of Fame. Feel free to join me.

Some fun stuff going on with the Wonder Under…some pieces are releasing the paper from the fusible web. This was a problem with the old old web, but then they went overboard and it got Way TOO Sticky, and now we’re back to EDGES…edges releasing. So the pile below needs to be redrawn on Wonder Under that is not falling apart, because I don’t want to match all those pieces up while I’m ironing.

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Does that make me lazy? Hells no. I am retracing pieces that I’ve already traced once. I don’t know what it makes me, except more or less insane.

More insane…in the middle, those 4 pieces? They are traced into the middle of some really long complicated piece, so they also had to be retraced onto their own piece.

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Did that. More work. Then I thought I was missing a cat…hadn’t seen her in a while. Went and looked, texted the girlchild for possible hiding places, came back, sat down, and felt the little pyscho jump up behind me to her regular nightly seating spot.

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Nice to see you, Midnight.

I feel like I just camped out here for hours…

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Because I freakin’ did. Top box is trash, in case I accidentally throw away something useful. Below are the real pieces…I took a few breaks. Made lots of tea, ate dinner, read a little. Not a lot. Wanted to have the focus on. For some reason. Not sure why.

Kitten’s been venturing into the living room regularly lately. She settled down into a corner and hid…

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I guess she’s lonely too.

There’s where I was at when I decided it was getting awfully late and I might want to sleep tonight.

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Getting there. Closer than I was 4 hours ago. Trying to tell my head to get on straight. Oh yeah, I meditated in the middle of it too. It was crying instead of sleeping tonight. Interesting. Now Babygirl is trying to harass me into sharing the chair. Or maybe all she wants is to be petted. She’s lonely too.

So here’s a series (that is just starting) by Peter Drew…and his hair, which disturbs me, about art-related things and reality, which I find amusing because art has so little to do with reality. That said, it’s an interesting take on why (and how) art galleries exist.

This is apparently the same Peter Drew as is in this Hyperallergic article…where he was threatened with expulsion for creating the art he had been accepted to the school in order to create. Really convoluted sentence. Don’t care enough to fix it. Don’t judge.

Naked yarnbombing. Enough said.

Here is my post on the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University (there is no way I’m posting that whole thing here as well, so you’ll just have to go look. It’s OK. I’ll still be here when you’re done. Take your time.).

Every ebook I had on hold at the library has come in during the last two days. Luckily, it is Spring Break and I’m spending a million hours flying in the next few days, so at least I know what I’ll be doing on those flights…competitive speed-reading. Or something. I won’t have to talk to anyone.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. I’m taking my moody cranky imbalanced self to bed. I love that something I have no control over has so completely messed up my life. Sigh. Moving on.


That Never Happens in My Real Life…

April 10, 2014

Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Aliso Viejo in Orange County (California) to finally see the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University, where I have had two pieces since January.

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It’s a beautiful campus, at least what little I saw of it.

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It was obviously Spring Break, because otherwise, I’m fairly sure these pools must be filled with students, right?

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There’s no way they’d stay out of there.

Julie was my companion (and driver, which was awfully nice of her)…

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It was a gorgeous Spring day in California, although a little on the warm side…

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I’ll be posting about the exhibit (again) on the California Fibers blog, as soon as I find some free time to do that…today is kinda overbooked. Again. I know.

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Julie and I spent quite a bit of time discussing this global map, especially how it wasn’t the way we were used to seeing maps laid out, with Japan at its center (Soka’s founder is Japanese and the sister school is also in Japan).

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Relative sizes of countries and locations of islands and the equator were part of the discussion.

Then we headed outside again to check out the fountain…

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Especially because it appeared to have dead bugs all over it…

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That may be a commentary on university costs right there (a definite discussion point in my household at the moment). I hadn’t been able to come see this exhibit for so long because it’s only open Monday-Friday, which is kind of annoying. I mean, I guess I understand in that it’s on a university campus, and their staff isn’t around on the weekends, but…hell, I would have had to take a day off work to see it otherwise. I’m not sure how many non-retired people who aren’t students at the university have been able to see the exhibit, which is too bad, because the space is really beautiful. It’s up through May 8…if you’re in town, you should check it out.

It was a nice trip, and I got home early enough to get some stuff done…although some of that was following the kids around. Girlchild is cat-sitting (or checking-in-on-cats really), and Maus decided he didn’t so much LIKE being in the garage, but definitely liked being TALL.

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There was some worry and some kitty squawking and a ladder was involved, but we found out later that he does this all the time. No worries.

I sat outside while girlchild did all her feeding and cleaning and trash stuff and kitty-petting, because I had an ebook that was due back today and had holds on it (not sure how the renewal policy works on that) and I wanted to finish the book…it was Parasite by Mira Grant…

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It’s a story set in the future, 2027, where we have developed intestinal parasites that help keep humans healthy, but as always, in the future, our meddling with science will cause issues. This is the first of a 3-part series called Parasitology, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I really liked this book…it was scientifically intriguing (although the reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 on GoodReads is because some of the science wasn’t explained well enough, and that bugged me). There’s some obvious stuff going on and some political/corporate intrigue and a bunch of crazy people acting in the name of science or money or both. And dogs. Dogs are good in this story. All good stories should have dogs in them.

Interestingly, Mira Grant is the pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, whose Rosemary and Rue I read last year. I thought this was much better of a story, more solid and grab-at-you than the October Daye series (although I would probably read more of those as well). McGuire as Grant has also written the Newsflesh trilogy, which is now on my to-read list.

Then I finally made it home and managed to get to work on the last few hundred pieces on the newest quilt…I finished tracing around 11 PM (I fixed dinner and did other stuff in there, really)…and here it all is, laid out…

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It’s probably 7 yards…I try to cut about 1-yard pieces, although I don’t actually measure them, because that would be way more anal than I am (I know, I seem that anal, but I’m not). It took a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes to trace all of them, which is interesting because like I’ve said before, usually I can do 100 in an hour, so this one must have been more complicated. There are 1776 pieces officially (although I know there are probably 10-15 more due to mistakes in numbering). The quilt itself, well, the image anyway, is 34″ wide x 73″ high (so add about 10 inches to each of those measurements for a finished size).

In comparison, the quilt I did for Celebrating Silver is about 40×70″ and has 1227 pieces. So. Yeah. And it took only 95 hours to complete. I’m sure I can cut that time! (Are you kidding me? Tracing Celebrating only took a little over 11 hours. I am fucking nuts.)

Anyway. I’m going to start cutting those out today, knock on wood. I have a busy art day planned, with a new life-drawing class I’m trying out as a plan for the summer, lunch with friends I’ve never met in person (ah, the wonders of the internet), and then a stitching meeting afterwards (that’s where I’ll be cutting stuff…it’s not appropriate to cut out Wonder Under at the other two places, you know?).

I wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep when I finished, but I also wasn’t ready to cut the WU out, so I debated cleaning (I debate that a lot…mostly I do it for about 10-20 minutes and then I figure there must be something better to do). Then I remembered that I only had a little cutting left on the Mammogram fabrics, so I pulled that out…

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and managed to finish. It took a total of about 7 hours to cut this one out…interesting, because it only has about 360 pieces in it. But many of them are big and complicated pieces, difficult to cut out. So now it’s ready to iron down as well. I will probably save that for after Spring Break, because it’s not a difficult task…it doesn’t require a huge amount of brain power. I really want to get to the fabric-choosing phase of the big quilt over break, which is looking more and more impossible as the days disappear behind me. Oh well. It will all get done. And I need to draw! I have two I need to draw in the next few weeks. I’m not worried. They’re smaller than this one, but inevitably, I will make sure they have 12 trillion pieces in them.

Yup. I’m a little crazy that way. But you knew that already. But I finished two tasks! In one day! It must be Spring Break. That never happens in my real life.

 

 


Where My Brain Goes…

April 9, 2014

Almost 5 hours of tracing Wonder Under today and I still have 200 pieces to go. Out of 1776, that’s not bad. There’s actually more than that, because I have some pieces that are a’s and b’s of the original number. I forgot to number a nose, for instance. I’m getting close, though. That’s good. I’m 19 hours in. It gets to be kind of a slog…I have to force myself to not distract myself with blogs or books or whatever else I’d rather be doing (even cleaning house raised its ugly head, until I beat it into submission).

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I could use the same light-table photo every day and it wouldn’t matter. There is a much bigger pile of Wonder Under sitting on the couch now…6 or 7 yards of the stuff filled up with tiny traced pieces…which then need to be cut out. I made it through all of my saved SVU episodes…it’s easy to trace to SVU because it’s not a difficult plot and they’re all kind of similar after a while, so I don’t really have to watch too hard.

I wanted to be done today, but I have to get up tomorrow because Julie and I are going on a road trip. Julie is good at those. Another two hours though…I’d be done. If I had just started earlier (OK, so it’s not like I did nothing all day…I had errands and the gym and a kid to take to school and I don’t even know what else…I just know I deleted a bunch of stuff off the Spring Break to-do list, and then added twice as many more tasks, because I’m a freakin’ idiot like that).

I had cats helping me all day. Babygirl came in and was lying on the floor for a while. She never does that…and then Midnight, this is her territory in the house, so she was around…

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Couch World is HER world. But Kitten has also been coming in, and she rarely ventures out of my room, so that’s new…

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It’s nice to see her out and about, venturing throughout the house. Babygirl, when she goes to sleep in the early evening, pretty much stays there all night. She doesn’t do a whole lot of rampaging at night any more…it’s mostly in the morning. So Kitten feels safe enough to come out, apparently. That’s cool.

Anyway, I’m feeling kind of brain dead because I haven’t talked to any human beings since 5 PM and I’ve been mostly tracing that entire time, with breaks for dinner and some other stuff, like airline mileage programs and emails and hell, there’s a bunch of computer stuff I haven’t even touched and I really should, and then there’s grading, and I’ve totally blown that off for the last two days. Dammit. Oh well. This is what happens. I get art on my brain and everything else flees before it. This is why I will be a hoarder. This is why my house is not clean. This is why the yard is a disaster. Did Picasso have to do yardwork? Did Matisse need to sweep up the damn leaves? And if they NEEDED to do those things, did they just blow them off, or did someone else do them, or did they use those tasks as breaks from the artmaking? I just don’t know. I want to know if Dali did the laundry. I want to know if Mary Cassatt did the grocery shopping or if Frida Kahlo needed to go buy batteries for the damn smoke alarm. Did Hockney have cats? Who bought the cat food? Did da Vinci go through the pile of mail and recycle the stuff he didn’t need? Who handled Mapplethorpe’s receipts for taxes? Who emptied Georgia O’Keeffe’s fucking litter trays?

I really really want all that stuff to go away. OR. I want someone to help me slog through it all. The to-do list is taking over my brain. I feel guilty when I ignore it and I feel horrible when I let it take time away from making art. There is no happy medium for that. It all just fucking sucks. Girlchild bawled me out yesterday for a pile of papers that I need to deal with that was way too close to the stove and was dangerous. I KNOW. I know. I just have to prioritize, and that stuff…it’s not a fucking priority. I need a secretary. An assistant. Kids that put their dishes in the damn dishwasher.

I barely feel human. I am just the body at the end of the mechanical pencil. I just trace and then I trace some more. My brain literally goes mostly blank when I’m tracing. Part of my brain is paying attention to the TV and the rest is just watching the lines and counting the pieces and deciding what piece goes on top and what piece needs additional space drawn on for the overlap. It’s kind of cool that it’s that all-encompassing, the tracing task. Or not. Maybe it’s disturbing.

I don’t know how I feel about it. The brain is blank. I should be done tomorrow…will start cutting it out then. Probably will take another 20 or so hours…maybe a little less. I usually take less time to cut than to trace. Then ironing…probably not going to get to that before the boy and I leave for New York. Oh well. Life goes on.

All the SVU episodes are gone though. What shall I watch next? Something that doesn’t set off emotional land mines. Ha! There is no such thing.

How do I explain where my brain goes? I don’t. I explain nothing.


It Is Where I Am…

April 5, 2014

So it’s officially Spring Break for me (not my kids). It came this year without the huge sense of relief and fanfare that I usually ride into break. I don’t really know why. I know the depression has allowed me (forced me really) to distance myself from my job in some ways. Not from the kids…I am more connected to them this year than I think I ever have been. That’s not to say the year hasn’t been difficult. You can’t possibly be dealing with this incredibly demanding job AND a major depression and grief and not have difficulty. But maybe I can keep my job mostly where it belongs now. Maybe.

That’s the problem with teaching. It’s too damn easy to let it BE your life, especially if you don’t have anything else. Balance has always been difficult for me.

So what did I do on my first evening of break? I cooked dinner. I exercised. I meditated. I graded papers! I know. But it needs to get done, and I’d rather get a chunk of it done now, early in break, so I don’t have to think about it the rest of the time. So a little a day until I get there.

And then I started tracing stuff…I actually started really late at night (AGAIN) and didn’t want to stop (AGAIN), so I finally had to force myself to go to sleep because I knew that there was a bunch of stuff I had to do today…I’m kind of overbooked. Whoops. No brain downtime? Probably a good thing.

Anyway, I traced for a few hours…

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I’m still trying to fill in little pieces into all the weird spaces between the wiggly pieces from the bottom. I hate wasting Wonder Under…I don’t know why. It’s not particularly expensive.

Here’s an example of tracing like pieces together…I had fish on one side of the drawing and fish on the other, so I traced all the same fish parts together: fins, eyeballs, side fins, tail fins…because they will all be the same fabrics, so why cut them out in Wonder Under and then LOSE all the tiny pieces…cut them out as a lump, iron them down to fabric as a lump, and then cut them out once.

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I do not even know why my brain comes up with this stuff. This is part of my artistic process, this incredibly controlled, logical, pattern-fitting piece of the process. Compared to the fabric-picking stage, which is wildly out there and in my head coloring crazily, even when I’m asleep, waking me up with the next color scheme, this is incredibly calm and soothing…like putting a puzzle together. Fabric-choosing is a much more demanding, emotional task.

Anyway, I finished tracing the bottom person and I was trying to find where I had traced next. I try to be logical and move across the drawing in sections, numbering all the same parts together, but I spent about 10 minutes looking for piece 513 and just couldn’t figure it out (because I hadn’t been TOTALLY logical). But as I was doing that, I noticed that I had forgotten to number those damn octopus tentacles…I mean it was bad enough that I missed the bottom figure’s face…her body is in the 400s and her head is in the thousands somewhere, because I missed it while numbering.

Anyway, those damn tentacles added 102 pieces; now I’m at 1764 total…

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Originally I was going to embroider the smaller circles in the suckers, but I decided I wanted them to be fabric in the end. They seemed too big (ah ha ha!) for embroidery. I was going to have this satin-stitch or some sort of textural thing going on by the side of the quilt that wasn’t going to be repeated anywhere else in it, and it just seemed like a problem.

Anyway. That is not the first time an octopus has showed up in one of my quilts, by the way. So I’m about a third of the way through the tracing. Not where I wanted to be, but it is where I am. So there we are.

So I have to be super-focused today to get everything done and get to all the places I’m supposed to be. I’m hoping at the end of it to feel peaceful and inspired and maybe even content or pleased. I have to manage my days to try to manage the emotional crap too. I emailed my doctor about the weird blood-sugar incidents, because they really are illogical and supremely worrying. That may be part of my need today to be with other people as much as possible…if something goes wrong on a day I don’t have the kids around, at least someone might be around to call 911. The counselor wants me to get one of those medic-alert bracelets. SIGH. Anyway. It’s Spring Break. Cleaning, organizing, artmaking, maybe sleeping? Hiking? Who knows. Oh yeah, and a crazy short trip to visit the school where my son will probably spend the next 4 years of his life. Bet there will be some tears over that. Mine, not his.

Moving on.


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.


Sleep? Art.

April 2, 2014

To sleep? Or to art? That is the question, the perennial question. I don’t seem to be able to balance those two out appropriately…probably because I try to do other things like cook healthy meals, exercise, meditate. All those things. Really, I think my job is getting in the way of having a fulfilling life. In fact, while I’m writing this, I’m trying to come up with something to occupy the smart, quick workers in my classes who will be done with their assignment about 20 minutes into class while my less-motivated kids flail and whine and complain that I am actually expecting a product that requires brain power. I got this. I can do this.

Can I do this? I decided yesterday that I really wanted to try to get this whole damn drawing traced before Spring Break officially started, which is Friday at 3:30. I then slapped myself around some, because that would mean I can’t go to work for the next three days (tempting, certainly), which isn’t an option (my team would kill me if I wasn’t there for the field trip), so then I thought that maybe I could do it by Monday, but then I need to cut all those pieces out (THAT’S why I’ve been saving all those episodes of InsertCrappyTVShowNameHere) and try picking fabrics, and now it looks like I will be in upstate New York for at least three days or more during Spring Break and it’s looking pretty grim in terms of getting the ironing done.

Oh well. I still cleared my evening (meaning I ignored all the grading I brought home and anything else like yardwork or cleaning or whatever) because hell, I barely saw my kids yesterday (but I did run errands) and I basically didn’t talk to anyone at all after about 5:30 PM, and this is what it’s going to be like when they go to college. Every day. Depressing.

I lied. My brother and SIL called me (yes, I am that pitiful that they call me and check up on me, mostly because they bought this talking Mr. T thing at Archie McPhee that said things like “quit your jibber jabber” and “pity the fool” and they just can’t NOT share that with me) and talked to me about snow and Ivy League schools and my brother’s and my grades in high school and college (apparently I had better grades than him in high school because I applied myself better…a lot of good THAT did me, right?).

Anyway. More pictures of my favorite fusible, Wonder Under. I’ve been using Wonder Under to make quilts since um since (holy crap, I had to go look up my list of quilts to figure out when I started doing that) since January 2001, my first fused quilt (besides the one where I learned how to do it in the first place) was When Laundry Attacks

laundry 1 (Small)

clearly a feminist portrayal of the burden of motherhood. Seriously old-school Kathy. Love her hair though…best use of Australian aboriginal fabrics ever.

laundry face (Small)

This is the picture I use for all my avatar thingies, whatever they’re called, when I have to put my photo somewhere and I can get away with not using a REAL photo of me. But look how few pieces there are in that face! Holy crap, I’ve gotten complicated. She doesn’t even have EARS! I just realized that. Weird.

Anyway, so Wonder Under and I have been best buddies for a good long time, weathering the years of paper that released without warning all the time to the years of paper that refused to release. I think they’ve finally gotten the recipe back to normal. I buy it by the bolt.

So I’m up to three yards for this quilt (it will go much higher than that)…

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I’m in the water section now, so lots of pointy wavy bits. Then tonight, assuming I trace tonight, I think I will finally be tracing one of the three humans in this quilt. Well, one is barely human. Presumably he was human at some point.

I traced for almost 3 hours last night…with my tea and everything spread out over the couches…

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What were YOU doing last night? Probably something way more useful or productive or sociable. Not me! I am none of those things. OK, maybe I could argue productive in terms of producing art, but sometimes I wonder to what purpose. Not last night, though. The purpose? Distracting me from my actual existence, ironically by tracing a quilt that is about my angst about my actual existence. I know. But it makes me feel better. And at least they will have a lot to write about when they write my biography.


Tracing Motivation…

April 1, 2014

So why can’t I wear pajamas to school today? Oh yeah, it’s not pajama day. It might be wear-your-sports-jersey day, but that’s not usually a day I celebrate, like I didn’t wear my SDSU gear last week (um, because I didn’t go there for one thing, but also because not so into the big sports events). If it’s crazy hair day or hat day, though, I’m there. I always forget (until someone reminds me) how bad the week before Spring Break is in middle school…especially when it’s so late in the year like this year. Why we tie a break to a religious holiday, I will never understand. It makes a lot more sense to figure out how many weeks there are in the second half of the year, look at when testing is supposed to happen, and put the break in a place where it will support the students (and honestly, the teachers) most. Then again, and I hate to say this, I suspect my students would do better without all those long breaks where they forget to behave like a student, where they go through their backpacks and throw out everything, where they completely forget whatever topic we were learning about before. Get rid of Spring Break! Wait. Don’t do that. I need that break.

So yesterday? Wow. Ouch. Supreme frustration. I was doing deep breathing exercises most of the day. I thought about bringing my book today so that when that period that everyone has that refuses to do any work because they’re too focused on anything BUT work, when they start going off like they did yesterday, I can just settle down in my chair and read a few chapters until they get back on task. And I’m not teaching something easy at the moment…it’s mitosis…cell division. It seems easy, but it boggles their minds that something like this is happening ALL the time in their bodies. Even though it boggles them, though, they’re not willing to think about it, consider the details, let alone show me they get it with that fun thing we call an assessment.

So I came home supremely frustrated…and down because nothing I did worked. When the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, there is often nothing a teacher can do on days like that. I can change it up, engage with a video, tell goofy stories, have high expectations (I hate that one…), I could probably throw cupcakes into the air…oh no, wait, THAT they would get their attention. Food. Rewards. Money would probably work. So that’s what I carried home from work. After 14 after-school errands. Tired. Blood sugar off again. And there were two things I wanted to work on before I had to make dinner, but the girlchild needed my computer (and both the things I wanted to work on, you guessed it, on my computer). So I tried that dinner-making thing.

Wow. It really wasn’t my day. I had some weird ingredient and the instructions to open the container were in Spanish, so that was OK. I could figure that out, although it was the strangest thing I had opened and the instructions didn’t really work, but then the ingredient wasn’t in a form I expected. In fact, it was mostly unusable. I’m sure I was doing it wrong, but I had another similar option in the freezer that I knew would work, so I used that instead. Then two ingredients were just not in the cupboard. Strange. These are staples, things I always have, unless someone used them all up and didn’t tell me. Yup. She denied it though. Anyway, for a variety of reasons, dinner took forever to make and was kind of a lot of work for what it was. Tasted good, but I can’t handle that many minutes on a school night. We ate late.

So after meditation and exercise (at which point, my blood sugar was careening towards the other crazy extreme, making absolutely no sense biologically), I was really tired. In fact, I think I fell asleep in meditation. I don’t remember all the parts I was supposed to do. But I was still carrying around that crazy irritation, that bugged feeling from working a job that is often thankless and more often completely crazy and sometimes seemingly pointless (please, lord, do not let any child ask me today why they need to learn about mitosis, because I’m not sure I can give a coherent answer that doesn’t harken back to my mom’s constant “Because I said so.”).

That’s not a good thing. I can’t carry that to sleep. I’ll wake up with it still draped around my shoulders, still dragging me down. It will feed off the core depression and make it hard for me to even walk across the classroom, let alone find a way to encourage them to learn this weird process that helps explain all the crap that happens in genetics. Plus I can’t be in that mood space. It’s just too hard.

So I stood up, drank some water, looked at the clock, tried to balance my sleep needs and my artistic needs in my mind, and started tracing…

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Yup. It’s crazy that I’m doing that at midnight. Totally and completely nuts. But I’m glad I did, because it let me fall asleep and I didn’t wake up in an awful place. It’s not a great place I’m in, because (1) I am tired and (2) I still have to teach mitosis today (trust me, I did totally consider blowing it off and showing baby animals videos), plus there’s a staff meeting about using Google docs (holey moley, shoot me now), but if I play music really loud during my prep (oh wait, I think I have to be making field trip group lists during prep…another hellish task). Dammit.

Deep breaths.

Hey, here’s some fish I traced!

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You don’t want to know how small those fishy eyeballs are. I know. I really do try to keep my brain out of the muck. Some days it’s really hard, though.

I’ve done about 3 hours of tracing…and I’ve traced about 206 pieces…so it’s going really slowly. That could be because I’m doing it really late at night and I’m tired, or it could be really complicated pieces. Or both. Usually I figure 100 pieces/hour, so it would be about 17 hours to trace this whole thing. At the rate I’m going on this one, it will probably be closer to 23 hours. I really need to rethink the artmaking plan for Spring Break. It’s going to be less purposeful than I had hoped. My fault. I was not focused enough (here is where half the people who read my blog, the ones who read it for the art-related stuff, start gagging and sending me messages that I am the most focused art person they know and they wish they could do as much work as I do and I should just shut the fuck up and rejoice that I am making as much as I am…it’s all relative, though, isn’t it?).

I’m hard on myself. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t get any art made. I don’t always understand why making the art is so necessary to my existence, but it is, and as long as I can keep that in the front of my mind, I know that I can get out of bed and shower and get dressed and go to work at a job that is the most difficult (and yet sometimes the most rewarding) job I’ve ever had. And for now, that’s what I need to do. So I need that focus. I need to have the goals in place and they need to be something I’m working towards every day. Without that, I don’t know how I would do anything else.

Now I need to get out of the pajamas.


It Will Have to Do…

March 28, 2014

I had a plan for the artmaking this month. Spring Break is coming up. Usually, by now, I’d be counting the days and ranting and raving about how I need to be on vacation. This year, Spring Break is late even. But I don’t know how many days it is. I’m not even keeping track. It’s not that this year is easier than any other year; it’s really not. We took on some things this year that made it more difficult, trying to keep on top of kids and their work, really pushing for passing grades, TRIED to take on computers in the classroom, but that disappeared last week (long stupid story). Plus my brain makes it difficult for me to focus a lot on school this year. I’ve figured out how to push it over there in the corner and ignore its existence a lot better. I think. Maybe. Either meditation or depression has helped me to balance my work life better. I’m hoping it’s the former more than the latter. I don’t want to have to be depressed to put work in its rightful place…just enough attention to do it well, but not at workaholic level.

So I wanted to have all the Wonder Under traced on that new big drawing by now (insert hysterical laughter here, because that’s probably 20 hours of tracing), and to be cutting out Wonder Under, so I could do all the fabric ironing over break, but in reality, that’s not going to happen. I haven’t even started tracing. I’ve had other stuff to deal with. And it’s not that important that I finish it “on time,” because there is no “on time” for this one. There’s no deadline for anything I’m working on, which is alternately a relief and really depressing. Last year had three major pieces that had to be made by a deadline for a specific show, and I guess that was a good thing in some ways, providing me with a focus that I couldn’t wander away from. Right now? I don’t have that. So on the one hand, I can make what I want without some wacky theme hanging over me, but on the other hand, who knows if it will get in anywhere? I have about 4 pieces from the last two years that are getting in NOWHERE. Sigh.

It’s OK. I know intellectually that is a temporary thing, that there is no explaining the whims of jurors, any more than you can explain what colleges the boychild got into and didn’t get into (still waiting to hear on two more, but I think he did OK). It just is what it is; you take a deep breath, and you move on. You pick up the next thing and start working on it.

So I did…

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Still doing this, but I didn’t fall asleep while doing it tonight. I guess that’s good. I’m 4 hours in and still have most of the fleshy pieces to cut out. But it’s getting there. Worst case scenario, I’ll get this one ironed down and start on the stitching over break. I’m going to schedule some hikes in there too, plus I have an art exhibit to go see up in the OC, and I’m going to do some life-drawing classes during the school days. I can pretend to be retired…practice for a million years from now when I might be able to afford to retire (ha!).

I managed to make it to the gym, eat dinner, meditate, read my book, AND do the art stuff. Of course, that’s because the house is empty and I have no one to talk to except furry beasts, and I’m blowing off work. So. There’s that. I don’t know that it’s the healthiest existence. It’s certainly lonely.

I also had to do a journal entry thing for the Celebrating Silver exhibit. I had found the scrapbook paper at my ex’s house Tuesday night. I wrote up the pages yesterday and got it all put together tonight.

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It’s not super-exciting, but it will do. And since it has to arrive by April 1, it will have to do.

Over Spring Break, I also need to draw my gender equality thing (the only real deadline I have this year), and then there’s an exhibit my women’s art group is working on about the border between the US and Mexico; we’re meeting about that this weekend. I think I will have very little weekend free outside of the hike and the art meetings. There’s more next weekend. I guess I know how to keep myself busy. Now if I could only figure out the happiness part. I guess that comes with time.

And art. And nature. It’s kinda like sleep when you’re female and my age…if you really want it, it’s elusive. It comes when you least expect it, when you’re holding scissors in your hand.


That Stupid Voice

March 27, 2014

I have a houseful of giant stress monkeys. This one…

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this one is trying to make up all her schoolwork from the week she missed due to surgery, but she comes home and is (logically) exhausted and falls asleep and then freaks out because she can’t get everything done and there isn’t a good liberal arts college (she says) in Boston. I let boychild deal with that one, walking her through a bunch of websites where she can look shit up like lists of good colleges.

Boychild is freaking out (in his own quiet repressed way, because if he gets loud and emotional, the world is ending, guys) because almost all of the colleges he applied to are notifying today and tomorrow. I tried to tell him that he should be less stressed because he got into one of his backup schools, but since he really really wants to go to the OTHER schools, my comments fell on deaf (or slightly irritated and know-it-all) ears.

Both were yelling this morning because I was in the laundry room, home of pet food and litter-tray hell, which is what I was dealing with, demanding little furry beasts, because girlchild can’t tie her shoes (she can’t bend down yet to reach them), so boychild was doing it FOR her, which was highly amusing. He doesn’t tie them “normally” because when he was little, he pretty much refused to do anything the way it was taught…he had to find his OWN way to do it, like writing certain letters and numbers. He would say, “But I don’t LIKE it that way,” and that would be the end of all arguments, because it was his world and in his world, everything was done his way.

I pity any woman who ever decides she really likes him and wants to like hang out with him for any extended period of time. Either that, or maybe he’ll mellow a bit with old age.

I had book club last night (oh thank god, people of a like mind who READ) and we discussed Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones…

howls-moving-castle

Yeah, it’s a kid’s book, but we liked it…except the last few chapters are moving a bit fast…the pacing seems off. There are two more books in the series and some of us may read them; some may not. Honestly, I’ve got so many books on my to-read list at the moment, that I probably won’t get around to them. I’m not sure I cared that much…I mean, the story was entertaining and nice and well-written (mostly), but it wasn’t something that I was dying to finish, like some books. I should be dying to finish the book I have out from the library right now, because it was due three days ago and I can’t renew it and the fees are adding up. I am a very bad person for that, I’m sure. Sometimes I think it would be cheaper to just buy the book…but then I’d have to find a place to PUT it, and that is a bigger issue here.

A sign of how stressed the boychild is was that he texted me at book club about some financial aid thing he thought I hadn’t done for one of the colleges, and when I got home and looked, it was obvious that he had been trolling not only all the college websites for dates and notification times, but he’d been on their Twitter feeds checking out admissions stuff (one of them actually sends out PAPER LETTERS for notification, the horror! And so when you’re on the Left Coast, it takes a lot longer to get notification than on that other coast). Poor kid. I hope it’s a good day for him. I don’t really care where he goes, as long as he goes. Oh wait, that sounded wrong. You know what I mean. He needs to go to college. And he will.

I made dinner for them last night, put the casserole in the oven. Neither of them ate it though. Girlchild was groggy from sleep (she actually ate some later, after I got home) and boychild was on a food strike (he says he doesn’t like this dish…oh well, he can make a quesadilla then). So I guess I have leftovers for the next three days. Score!

I’ve spent all morning racing from one pet-related mess to another. The dog, though sweet most of the time, is some sort of crazy trash/underwear-eater in the morning, and I have to constantly check on her to see what she’s trying to eat next and stop her. One of the cats had broken into a bag of cat food, so there was food all over the place. Because I’m starving them? No. The old Psychobitch (aka Babygirl) has been very good lately, but was on a yowly rampage this morning. Someone puked somewhere. I heard it, but I haven’t located it yet. That’s OK, because my morning stomach doesn’t handle puke well…I do much better in the afternoon.

Anyway, I fell asleep cutting these out last night.

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Seriously, I jerked my head awake at one point and I was holding a piece of fabric, half-cut-out, in one hand and scissors, open, in the other. Who knows how long I sat like that, but I decided it was time to go to sleep, even though I wasn’t done with that piece or exercise or meditation or blogpost. Sometimes the body just needs to sleep, apparently (only 4 hours the night before might have been the issue).

I realized (again) yesterday that I spend most of my work day saying really entertaining things (although I am often irritated when I say them)…such as:

No, you don’t poop babies out.

That’s not what a penis looks like. You have one. You should look at it some day.

Yes, that is a penis. Congratulations for noticing that the picture of a dog you are looking at does have a penis.

That is not a penis; it’s a foot. 

Put the ruler down.

If you are not drawing a straight line with that ruler, I will take it away from you.

If you pee on the seat, you will clean it up (here is where I clarify that I teach 7th grade, not kindergartners).

No, I do not know how squid reproduce.

I don’t know why humans don’t lay eggs.

No, humans and dogs cannot have babies together.

(We are obviously reaching the end of the year, when I will eventually be teaching human reproduction and I can clear up some of this confusion for them, PLUS have them draw a penis correctly, thus traumatizing AND educating them all in one go.)

We have been dealing with epidemics of stomach flu and pink eye (not usually together) at school, so there’s been lots of handwashing and deskwashing and sending kids to the nurse and/or pointing out the nearest trashcan. Luckily, most of the vomiting seems to be going on in other classrooms, so all I see is the empty desk where the kid should be.

I guess the plus of my own kids stressing out all over the place is that I can’t really concentrate on my own mopey self, although there was a bit of that last night since book club was in my old stomping grounds, a part of town I can’t really afford to hang out in any more (which does suck, because no movies). I managed to get my head out of THAT gutter though and move on. At least last night, I did. This morning, it’s a bit more difficult to turn off that stupid voice. It’s stalking me.

Expect more artmaking tonight. It’s about the only thing that shuts it up.


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