Kicking Gratitude’s Ass…

July 21, 2014

I’m trying to tie my brain down to writing at the moment. It’s like a balloon floating around the room. Grab it and pull it down.

At counseling, we talked about trying to shut the part of my brain up that wants to be sad, or more like can’t get out of being sad. I’d hate to think I actually want that, but I do seem to have a hard time shaking it. There are about a million gratitude rituals online. It’s kind of annoying when you’re depressed to see all of them and realize, yes, you should be grateful that you have food and a house and the internet and enough fabric to make your crazy art quilts. Yeah. I know. I get that. But we decided I might be able to shut that brain part up by throwing those gratitude things at it…like, hey! You have nice new carpet and a freshly painted living area (see, that part of my brain starts freaking out about putting everything away, and I don’t blame it, because that’s a pretty overwhelming THING looming over me. So I do a little every day, and boychild follows me down the hall and just picks stuff up and helps me, not a word.). Walk in the house and tell yourself how grateful you are…narrow vision, so you don’t see any of the piles or mess. Because that just fucks up the gratitude right there. (Are people who are doing these gratitude things just like total Pollyannas? I don’t get it.)

So yesterday I managed to keep badness away (mostly) with distraction and distance. I’m never sure if those are healthy. It seems like I’m not really dealing with my feelings and issues when I just push them further away. Not dealing with YOU. Go AWAY. I distract you with a book, with words.

So today, I realized it was sinking, the mood, that is…sinking like the Titanic, with all the pretty boys slipping under the water to save the pretty girls. Yup. So I said to myself, “Self, as the bad things assault you, bring up something good.” Now this was not easy. I hate grocery shopping, and I had to really work at the positive thoughts in the grocery store. Brussels sprouts were a positive thought, but then the pork chops tried to drag me down, so I had to boost myself with a dose of cornmeal, brand-new box, no bugs. And when they didn’t have the pita bread I normally use, I psyched myself out about all the positive aspects of the NEW pita bread. Look…it’s BIGGER. For less money. But then the cost of grapes pulled me back under until she told me I had saved $16 using the online coupons. Damn. OK.

I swear. My brain can be really dumb. It’s really not. It’s sitting over there, ankles crossed, leaning up against a column in the store, arms crossed on my chest, giving me that look. “You think I don’t know what you’re doing? It’s not working.” Fuck you, brain.

You know it’s bad, though, when you start crying on the way home and you start telling yourself, “but you have a car full of groceries,” and THAT makes you cry harder? Wow. That’s evidence of depression winning out over those gratitude rituals. Again, I keep saying this…depression, she’s a bitch and she doesn’t give a shit about your internet memes. She’s gonna kick your ass. “I’m thankful for…” Oh shit. Fuck that. Just grab another book, or meditate some more, or draw, because that’s all that really works. I’m grateful for my ability to draw knives stabbing into eyeballs, because that’s how it feels every day. At least I can communicate that.

You know me, though. I’m a bitchy fighter myself. I’m in numb mode again…after crying all the way through one of the quilted birds…

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I don’t know why. I just was having moments in my brain of pure unadulterated waves of sadness. So. I guess quilting equals crying? I kept trying, “Oh look, you’re almost done with number 8! You can do bindings tomorrow and maybe be done with these things next week sometime.”

Yeah. That didn’t help. I did another quilted hill on this one…it shows up more than the other one because of the lighter fabric. I seriously don’t know how I quilted this. I couldn’t see, I was crying so hard. What the fuck? Just turn that off. You can’t tell me there’s a gratitude meme that will kick that ass.

Then I did number 9.

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Holy fuck. This one kicked my butt. I think the thread broke about 20 times. I don’t know why. I tried many things.

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Swearing did not help. I did some funky quilting on this one too. I just breathed deep, tied off where it broke, and started again. There’s really no point in getting all hung up on thread breakage. It happens. It’s not karma (don’t fucking believe in karma). It just is. It happens. Don’t stress about it. Clean stuff, replace stuff, rethread. Then move on.

Just one more bird left. Hopefully tomorrow. Then trim them all down and try to find binding fabrics. I have two meetings in the next week where I can get a lot of hand-stitching done. It would be smart to have them ready for that. The smaller ones are at about an hour and a half of work, and the larger ones have hit almost 4 1/2 hours.

I went to the book club meeting today that was voting on all the books for the rest of the year. I’m not sure why, since my vote seemed mostly useless. I really went to vote against the biographies (not a fan) and the books I’d already read. Yeah. Well, I think they’re reading three books I’ve already read (that’s what comes of being 20 years older than most of them…I’ve had more TIME to read all those books…there was actually an argument about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…now I think I need to reread it.) and there’s at least one biography. It’s OK…this is the meeting that is hardest for me to actually attend, especially in the Fall, so I’m not that worried. I stitched through the whole thing. I started stitching because my brain was wigging out. I did about 60 french knots. Forgot to take a picture.

There was also soccer…

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(Please tell me you don’t think the other team’s uniforms are as weird-looking as I thought they were…reminded me of band uniforms).

Luckily, they didn’t get into the semifinals. Oh wait, am I supposed to say that out loud? Probably not.

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I really wasn’t in the mood for multiple games today. She did well again today. I think she’s getting her soccer legs back on the ground…

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I’m glad. Now I just wish she would do her dishes without squawking about it and get her summer homework done. And clean her room (if I’m going pie-in-the-sky, I might as well go all out).

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Yeah. I know. Whatever. This picture? We nicknamed this tournament the “sluts and skanky hoes tournament.” There was a lot of swearing, pushing, pulling, grabbing, and generally bitchy behavior…amusing because it’s not like this is the World Cup, ladies. Get over yourselves. Why get injured before the real season? So the girlchild is in fact whacking that girl in this photo because of whatever shit she was pulling beforehand. She’s a bit vindictive.

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There was definitely some physicality in this tournament.

She has college prep camp all week, with college coaches coming to watch them practice and play. But she doesn’t care about any of the schools, even the one I suggested as a backup school…so whatever. We have next weekend off, then we have another tournament. Hate the summer because of all the tournaments. Luckily the next one is not a traveling one…that’s the one AFTER that. Hate sitting in hotel rooms and having to go to dinner with all the parents. There is this one mom who has known me for ages and constantly calls me Kathryn, which I associate with being in trouble with my mom. I’ve tried to tell her to call me Kathy, and she just hasn’t processed that request. It’s like she goes out of her way. OK, I know she’s not doing it on purpose. I keep meaning to say, “Hey, just call me Kathy,” but I think I HAVE already done that. Sigh. It’s just how I feel about the whole traveling-with-the-team experience. Between spending time with the girlchild when she’s tired and cranky without any buffers (her dad will be at another tournament with HIS team) and spending time with parents who can only talk about their girls’ prospects in college soccer, it just makes me want to scream and rip my hair out.

So yeah. Fun stuff. I think I need an outlet for all my emotional crap. Oh wait. That’s my art. Or writing. Or the blog.

I should be drawing tomorrow night…hopefully. Finishing that gender equality piece. Finishing the birds and putting bindings on them. Then starting the quilting on the other two. Seriously, just get it done. There’s where the brain needs to focus. Cry while you’re doing it, if you have to…but just do it. Gratitude? I’m thankful for my over-functioning tear ducts. They keep everything hydrated.

How to Spend a Weekend

July 20, 2014

This is not recommended: it’s a soccer tournament weekend, so there’s lots of driving back and forth and sitting on fields and a lack of mental space. Tournaments put me in a weird frame of mind. It’s like a stasis. Can’t get anything done.

Girlchild is doing OK, playing full time now. She’s still trying to get back into shape, and her back gets sore.

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I wrote most of yesterday’s blogpost while waiting for this game to start.

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Then we came home, and I decided to pinbaste the Menopause quilt, because I had a chunk of time. Plus I wasn’t sure I had enough batting, so I thought I might need to go shopping. I knew I could piece a backing if I needed it. Luckily I seemed to have tons of batting (when was I efficient enough to do that?). My entryway is still a disaster, but I just shoved all the paint and carpet out of the way, and laid the backing and batting out on floor…

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Then I laid the top out for pinbasting…

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I know some people don’t pinbaste, but I can’t spray in the house…don’t really have anywhere else to lay it out flat. It works for me at the moment. Here’s the pinbasted face…

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So now it’s ready for quilting as well. I used one of my handdyed fabrics for the backing. It wasn’t very nice anyway, and I’m using up fabric. That’s not a bad thing.

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Then I got Bird number 7 quilted; I actually put a hill in there in the quilting, although you can’t really see it.

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I started number 8, but didn’t finish. Then we went back to soccer…

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This is a college showcase tournament, so all the college coaches are showing up to watch the games, but girlchild’s not interested in the schools that are showing up, so we really don’t care.

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I stitch birds while I’m there…the other birds…

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It’s interesting how the games don’t matter much any more. We just want her to enjoy the game..

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Then I spent 3.5 hours at a writing workshop. Boba tea is too sweet. I need to write more. I don’t know when (or if) I’ll be ready to have other people read what I write. I’m so inured to reactions to the quilt art. It’s such a core part of me, but if you don’t like it, I really don’t care. I have to make it. The writing is the same way as I’m doing it, but the convention seems to be to have people read chapters etc. At some point, I’ll probably get there if I keep writing.

I’m sitting on another soccer field this morning writing this, listening to the other parents chat about their kids and their summer and college plans. This is one of the places I feel most alien. Not so the writing workshop. Not sure what that means.

Girlchild and I reviewed 7 options for tonight’s dinner, and I think we’re flying to Paris this afternoon. Well, we wish we were anyway. We might have to revise our plans…

I Had Cement for Her…*

July 1, 2014

I cannot find my head. It’s lost in a book somewhere, or under a pile of things to be filed, or perhaps I left it in Google Docs where I’m apparently writing a story of my own (best to wish you aren’t in it). It could be on a soccer field with the girlchild’s flipflops or in the hotel room in Corona where I left my nail scissors (dammit). It’s not here, though. It’s not engaged in anything. It’s performing tasks as told, based on a list. I guess the list is logical: Keep working on getting the living room done. Keep working on getting the big quilt done (and then moving on to the next logical step in the quiltmaking process). Keep checking things off that are supposed to get done. Keep reading, just take up the next book in the pile or the one that’s due back to the library next or the one that has to be read before the next book club meeting.

I’m stressed. I know that. There are many things that I am juggling and I don’t feel good about it. There is no relief when one is done, when it is retired from the juggling horde. It seems every time I get rid of one, two take its place.

Where is the part of my life where I lie by the pool with a drink and birds chirping and a nice book in hand? Having an intelligent conversation with someone I enjoy? Feeling at peace with the world, content, happy with my lot in life?

Fuck me. I really suck at this.

I think I need to find more time for exercise, meditation, and drawing. Funny that. It’s vacation. I should have plenty of time. I know I don’t have any peace…not much at the moment. Even ironing tonight gave me fits…

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So I didn’t do a lot of it. I’m hoping to do more tomorrow. Hopefully I will feel less tired and more successful at crossing things off my lists. This is part of a leg…a sorta crazy chaotic leg. It will make more sense when the stitching outlines the appropriate bits.

I think what I really need is a new life. Still. All year I’ve needed that. I keep trying to make one, but it just doesn’t work out. I think it’s because I’d just rather stay home and draw or read a book or make another quilt. Even those don’t make me feel good, though. It’s escapism. People are just not in my current life formula.

Escaping your own existence. Seems like a bad TV mini-series. I don’t have the clothes or makeup for that.

Girlchild tells me every time she sees the sign at the grocery store for the shingles vaccine, she reads it as “singles vaccine” and is confused. “Dammit,” I say…”I forgot to get that when I was younger. That’s the source of all my problems right there.” She tells me to shut up, but laughs as well. She doesn’t like it when depressed mom comes out, even when she comes out making jokes about herself…which honestly, is probably the best way to be at the moment. Sure it would be great to just magically slough off the depression, but failing that (and that does fail, by the way, don’t wiggle your pretty little nose at me and tell me how if I just SMILE, everything will be fucking perfect), this is better than the alternatives. Really. It is.

So. Today was the last day of the soccer showcase, driving up to Pomona yet again…

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Girlchild stepped on a bee. Because she was barefoot. Because she left her flipflops way the freak over THERE and mom had to go get them. After the bee incident. And then there were tears.

Today was the day I finished two of these guys…

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I think that means 11 out of 30 are done. Not great, considering these are from last year. Whatever.

I listened to 10 parents talk about their kids’ college plans. Poor girls. So much pressure. I try to minimize that. I gave birth to a stress monkey, so I tell her I know she will get in somewhere decent and she will be happy wherever she goes, and she freaks out about it, because her brother got into an Ivy and that means that’s what she wants. I don’t know if that will make her happy. I don’t think it would have made ME happy. Then again, I have such a vague memory of that emotion…when it touches me, that feeling, a reminder of that feeling, because I don’t have it now, it just hurts and I cry. I know a college wouldn’t have gotten me there. Hard to tell that to a teenager though. They basically don’t listen to a word you say.

I worked on these guys…

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They are closer to done than they were. In fact, a couple of them are almost done.

I also finished this book…


in fact, if I had read less, I would have gotten those damn birds done, but my brain, it was in that bad place (spending three days dealing with soccer games, parents, and girlchild’s related moods will do that to you, unless you have a magical outlet, a rejuvenating place that brings you back to normal)…so I read instead. I’ve always been a Stephen King fan. He messes with his characters like no one else, and this detective story is good, although somewhat formulaic…King-style, though. I still really enjoyed it (and read it really fucking fast, so there).

I’m not sure reading horror is the best treatment for depression, but neither are rom-coms or YA books half the time either. Or 90% of what’s on the telly. I seem to do best with fantasy/sci fi, but even that’s a stretch sometimes. No books that remind me that at one time I had something approximating a life and now, well, now I don’t know what I have. It’s not really there, ethereal and sad, but insubstantial, feather-light in the hands. Whisks away before you can close your fingers on it. It’s not even real.

Cat puke. Laundry. Bills. Mold. Those are real.

Today’s blog title is brought to you by my favorite poet, writer, thinker ever…e.e. cummings…


Seriously. Reading him is the closest to happy I get at the moment.

You Must Read…

June 30, 2014

So, if you were my neighbor, then just a few minutes after midnight, you saw me wandering my front yard, barefoot with a flashlight (actually, the first time I was barefoot WITHOUT a flashlight). That’s because Amazon claimed they delivered my tea (very important) and my book club selection (also important, since the library will not be coughing up a copy for a good long time) yesterday, and we hadn’t seen it…and it’s not a small box…I get 480 teabags (British) at a time…although Amazon sells them for half of what I used to pay locally. Since tearing out three tall skinny trees to put in the new septic leach field, there’s an opening to my front lawn that did not used to exist, and increasingly, delivery people believe it’s the access to my front door. I had even checked out the door from my bedroom that goes to the tiny deck off that front area, which is normally enclosed by bushes and trees and completely invisible to everyone but the gas meter guy, and I don’t think they even check that any more. Sure enough, once I had the flashlight and started checking all the available greenery, I found the damn box in the middle of nowhere, hiding behind a tree.

Yo Dad. I’m buying trees this week, if even to just put them in their pots where they will eventually be planted, because this is getting silly.

So. Yeah. Soccer. Driving. Dry wind. Hot. Hotel room. Stomach-cramping breakfast. Tired. I managed to finish yesterday’s drawing while sitting in the middle of the soccer team before the 2nd game…

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I don’t usually draw with people around because they ask questions, but my head hurt and I was tired and it was what I wanted to do, and honestly, it’s not as rated R as most of my stuff. I also stitched and read, but I was reading Stephen King, which is like a whole ‘nother issue. I think the only benign thing I did, the only thing that no one could question, was the stitching. I’ll photograph them tomorrow after the third game (and 4+ more hours of driving…I drive half, girlchild does the other half).

We could have stayed up there another night, but I needed to get stuff done here, like sanding and washing the next set of walls…we moved a piano!

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The next two walls to be painted are the one on the right, where the piano used to be (seems almost pointless to paint it when it will be 80% covered by piano and bookshelf, but whatever) and the wall with the sliding glass door and giant window. Then all we have left is the wall with the mirrors, which are coming down on Wednesday, and the one next to the fireplace, which has a mastic issue at the moment. Carpet is next on the list. Picking it this week, hopefully installing next week. I can only handle this level of chaos for a short period of time, and then I start to go a bit bonkers. (GO…ha ha ha. very funny)

So the soccer…this is the first tournament since girlchild’s back surgery in March. She didn’t do physical therapy, because she didn’t need to. They put two pins in her back and some growth hormone to persuade the bone to heal, but this is it. And it’s a joy to see her play…

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Because she was really playing, seriously kicking some people’s butts, even though she’s totally out of shape…

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And that girl jumps way higher than she does (the LA team was a little frightening in many ways)…

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But she played half the game today and is physically tired, but not hurting in a bad way, despite all the contact during the game.

This one…our player and the girlchild both hit it with their heads, but both had their eyes closed, and it basically rolled down the girlchild’s body.

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You can see the goalie behind them. If some other player had had the brains to be standing right in front of them, it would have been a goal, but no such luck. This is not really a tournament you win…it’s a college showcase, and basically girlchild has decided (quite intelligently) that she will be picking schools for their academics, and once she has her short list, she’ll start contacting the soccer coaches there. Soccer doesn’t bring the big scholarships, but I think she’d still like to play if she can.

So while we play in these, she’s not really super-bothered about who’s watching her…as she puts it, mostly it’s local schools (Southern California) and she wants to go farther than that.

So there’s one more kamikaze drive tomorrow and then we’re done for a couple of weeks, when there’s another one. Meanwhile, she communes with her friends…

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Listening to music and talking and snapchatting, all at the same time.

We saw this sign up in Pomona…

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Which reminds me, I’m making a phone call tomorrow to see if I can get a scholarship for a mindfulness class locally. It’s way too expensive otherwise. The director asked me to call, though, so we’ll see what they can do for me. Maybe nothing, but if you don’t ask? Then you don’t ever get…right? I don’t know if the Bible says that.

One of the reasons I wanted to come home tonight is because the ironing is talking to me, the talk of the artist-addict. I finished ironing this guy together…

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And then did the arm on the other side…

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It was about 100 pieces. I’m 9 1/2 hours into the ironing, a little less than halfway through the pieces at 720 or so. I found two of the missing pieces, but am now missing two more. There’s some weird universe-balancing aspect going on there…not sure I understand it. I do know I want it done and that I need to get working on the birds too.

Moodwise, spending time with the girlchild falls halfway between really nice (at dinner, at one point in the car) and absolute hell (when you can’t say anything right, it’s all wrong and I often just can’t deal with that). I know that’s normal for teens…wish I could manage my own reactions to it better, but it is what it is. It does make it hard, though…because I feel like I don’t have anyone I can check in with on weekends like this, there’s no one to commiserate with, to help talk me through it, through my emotional reaction to constantly being railed at. There’s no mood stabilizer. It’s all on me, and I don’t have it in me.

So I cry. Again. And then I get to iron for an hour or so and things get calmer, more peaceful. Note to self: less drama and teens, more artmaking. Oh, if only that were truly possible.

I finished a book this week. It took me a long time to read this…China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station


partially because of all the work on the house and partially because it was long and DENSE (boychild’s words), but really good. What’s also interesting is googling images for the characters in the book. I think the artists have done fairly well with Lin, but I didn’t see a good Garuda, as far as I had seen Yagharek in my mind’s eye. The slake moths, yes, and the Voldyanoi…but the Cactucae? Not so much. I work really hard at visualizing a place and the characters, and I think part of what makes this level of fantasy/sci fi difficult for many readers is that it is hard to do that…Hyperion was the same way, with all the different planets and species. I will read more books by Mieville, although he apparently wanders genres like my brain wanders during staff meetings, so who knows what that will look like. Again, these literary worlds are much nicer places to live, even when filled with nasty creatures out for your brain’s emanations, than my brain is right now…so I’ll keep reading.

“You must read, you must persevere, you must sit up nights, you must inquire, and exert the utmost power of your mind. If one way does not lead to the desired meaning, take another; if obstacles arise, then still another; until, if your strength holds out, you will find that clear which at first looked dark.” 
― Giovanni Boccaccio


June 28, 2014

So. I’m stuck in a hotel in Corona tonight for a soccer tournament…and girlchild is in a mood…although feeding her Indian food seems to have helped. This is somewhat depressing, being here. I’m stitching, reading, even wrote for a while. Tried to meditate. It’s hard to keep on an even keel with someone squealing at you about everything you say. I brought my sketchbooks, but I’m not in the mood. I drew a little to deal with the aftermath of girlchild’s third or fourth cranky session…


But it’s not done. I brought the big sketchbook too, but forgot and left it in the car. Plus I’m tired…long car drive, lots of traffic, getting squawked at, but now she’s fine.

Girlchild is doing awesome though, first games since the back surgery. She’s tired but kicking ass while she’s on the field, which is a very good thing.

Anyway, two more games, two more days, but going home tomorrow…on the off chance that I can get some work done at home.

This hotel room is weird…a bar in the center of the room goes between the two beds…


Girlchild keeps moving furniture to revise the room.

Wish I could revise my head as easily. Probably best to just take myself to sleepland.

Missing: Brain

March 1, 2014

Description: gray, white, pink, lots of surface area, bad attitude. Last seen: wandering the streets cluelessly, not following instructions.

I have another post I started writing this morning, but it requires brain power and I am missing significant portions of my brain tonight. They have just wandered off for a nap or a vacation or something…they muttered as they went by, so I’m not really sure what their issue is. I just know that there’s some resentment and anger, and I can’t really deal with their drama right now, so I’m just going to let them have some time to themselves and hope we can converse in a civil manner tomorrow.

I am such a tolerant brain owner.

Seriously, though, the numbness continues, but my counselor says that she has heard a real laugh out of me the last two weeks instead of just my nervous laugh (I have spent the last 7 hours trying to imagine what my nervous laugh sounds like…I cannot produce it on command and apparently have no control over my laughing). I guess that’s good. We talked about stress and how my reaction to stressful events and non-stressful events are somewhat flipped, backwards even, and I need to figure that out and switch them. But acknowledge that numbness is some version of healthy, of my brain trying to protect me or give me a rest from constant hypervigilance. It doesn’t help with the crying though. I am numb but then I cry. At the drop of a freakin’ hat. It’s so hard to be at social events sometimes because the stupidest stuff will upset me and I have to work really hard not to tear up. Not acceptable behavior…unless you’re at a funeral. Or a wedding. Neither of which do I attend with any frequency.

I drew during prep yesterday. It’s not very exciting and it’s certainly not done.

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But it’s pen on paper. Blurry? Camera sucks. But drawing. Drawing good.

Girlchild had her last playoff game tonight, because they lost 0-1…

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It was dark, so I’m not sure why I started taking pictures…except that she was on the field and that was kind of amazing for her coach.

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And yes, it was on-and-off pouring rain. Fun stuff. She went up to head the ball and headed the other player at the same time, right above the eye…it’s all swollen and purple now. She’ll probably have a black eye. Good times.

I like to set goals for the weekends. It keeps me (sometimes) from wallowing too deeply in depressive thoughts about what I used to do on weekends and how they feel now, which is mostly like shit. I need to go to the gym and I have a hike planned, even though there’s some rain wandering around the county. It should be OK. I have a ton of grading to get done before Thursday, when the gradebook opens. I want to get a good chunk of it done this weekend, because the week is awfully full already. I want to get the big long tall drawing done…there’s not that much left to do. I want to start ironing Wonder Under onto fabrics for the Mammogram quilt. That means I need to figure out a setup to keep Babygirl off the ironing board for a few days (barbed wire? fencing around the ironing board?).

Not much. There’s a bunch of errands sprinkled in there as well, plus installing external hard drives and moving stuff around to hopefully help the computer run better. Plus some yardwork. Did I tell you two big branches came down in the storm? They missed the house luckily…last time, one spiked the roof into the bathroom ceiling. Still haven’t fixed the inside part…the outside is fixed.

Maybe I’ll even take a nap. Could happen. It would help if those pieces of the brain would come back. I kinda need their assistance.


February 26, 2014

My brain is disturbingly empty tonight. I’ve been poking around the edges, looking for some insight into the emptiness, but there’s nothing. Ha. Nothing in the emptiness. Sigh. Knock knock. I don’t appear to be at home. Maybe I’m on vacation and forgot to let me know. Dammit. Stupid irresponsible brain. Never can count on it to be mature and follow through.

I went to the girlchild’s soccer game and stitched through the whole thing…

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Well, except when I was trying to take about 40 blurry pictures of her because it was dark and I hadn’t quite admitted to myself yet that it was too dark to be trying to photograph anything. Did I mention my camera is currently taped together? Yeah. So I took a lot of blurry photos…

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I have no idea what is going on in this photo…

And in between I stitched…

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Like the only picture I got of her that wasn’t significantly blurry was because she was almost standing still. I don’t know why I work so hard at this. I got amused later when one of the parents, whom I’ve known for YEARS, told me he thought I was British…like I’d lost my accent years ago. Say what? Dude. I’m born and bred Californian…OK, by some mistake of weird geography (my dad was stationed in Alaska in the Army and I was born on an Army base there), I was not actually BORN in California, but I might as well have been. Both my parents are from California as well. I have been amused by this all night. I’m a secret agent Brit masquerading as a typical Californian artistic freak. OK, not so typical. Whatever. I embrace my British roots (well, I do have some of those…but Scottish).

They won the game. We knew they would. I’m really REALLY looking forward to the next game on Friday, because they’re predicting lots of rain and lightning storms. Yes, I will still stitch. I have that cool setup where I put the plastic-covered blanket over me and the umbrella sits in my bra (seriously, it props quite well in there), and I stitch under the umbrella. Yes, it’s a little crazy. I don’t think we’ll get past Friday’s game…we’ve played this team before and we usually lose…although we tied them a couple of weeks ago. Who knows.

I got home and didn’t have time for the gym, so I just made my dinner and ate and read a little and exercised, and then the ex called because his car broke down and he needed me to pick him up, so I did that, and then made tomorrow night’s dinner for the kids, so I can go to book club, and then I meditated and then it was time for bed. Or writing, then bed. Not very exciting. Then again, most of my nights aren’t very exciting. What’s new?

So no art. No deep thinking. Nothing really. Just empty. Seriously vacant. Wanted to draw. Wanted to pick fabrics for the Mammo quilt. Realized I didn’t have a background fabric picked out. I have a bunch of hand-dyed backgrounds I could use (probably too busy), or I have the dark purple I originally picked out for the Celebrating Silver quilt, but then rejected. I think I decided that was my best choice. And a little-old-lady cat with dandruffy skin just jumped on my lap, even though I told her it wouldn’t last long.

I finished reading this tonight, David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls


I’m still not sure what the title means, but how could you NOT read a book with that title? It’s a bunch of essays. Some were quite interesting, some funny, some I just didn’t care about. I’m not really an essay reader…maybe because I actually read essays as part of my job…although Sedaris writes better than 99% of my students (I have had a few very funny and articulate students).

Really, the best thing for me is to take the empty brain to bed and do a restart tomorrow. Maybe after book club, I’ll be motivated to pick fabrics. Maybe I’ll feel like installing the absolutely adorable (really, they are…they are so tiny and cute) external hard drives I got to try to ameliorate the computer issues I’m having (running out of space). Maybe I’ll make dessert and eat it. Maybe I’ll make it to the gym (OK, not tomorrow night, for sure). Maybe my brain will check back in from whatever vacation it’s on at the moment and let me know something helpful, something pertinent to my healing.

Or not.

My Still Quiet Calm Is a Rabid German Shepherd

February 21, 2014

A student today was asking me how I dealt with the really annoying obnoxious students. She said to me, “Ms. Nida, I know you always say it’s not worth the energy to hate them, but how do you NOT?” It’s true. I do say that. I think you would have to do something truly heinous for me to hate you, like kill one of my kids maybe. Even then, I’d probably be analyzing your childhood and wondering about the chemical imbalances in your brain that would make you think it was OK to do that. Then the students wanted to know how I stayed so calm, so patient…and I told them I meditated. For some reason, that amused some of them, amazed a few others, and then a couple just nodded their heads, like, Yeah. She meditates. Makes sense.

It was an extremely difficult day. My patience was worn incredibly thin. I need to find my way again. I think I can, maybe even tomorrow. I know I was making parent phone calls from my daughter’s soccer game today. I don’t know if it will help. I do know I don’t hate a kid who is acting out. They have reasons…not excuses, but certainly reasons, whether they know about them or not. It’s better that they get it out of their system and learn how to cope with it in 7th grade, rather than waiting until they’re in their 40s and inflicting that on the world then.

So I meditated tonight and I am still dropping the black oily blob of my depression into what he calls the stillness and clarity of the light within me. The light is supposed to melt or dissolve the question or the problem. I’m visualizing the light like melted butter, trying to melt down this black goo, and sometimes I can make it work, but tonight…tonight it’s not still or calm, there’s no quiet confidence, as he projects…there is nothing but a savage dog (the color and smell of melted butter) grabbing that bitter-tasting black ooze and piercing the outer coating with its sharp canines, throwing its head side to side in a frantic attempt to bleed the depression blob of all its power and lifeforce. It’s growling menacingly the entire time, planting its front paws firmly on my heart and shaking hard again, trying to dislodge the black tar from my parts…it keeps sticking to my organs, trying to grab on, take hold, grow like a parasite.

My still quiet calm is a rabid German Shepherd.

Tonight? Tonight I’m OK with that. Sometimes the visualization does what it needs to do, and apparently tonight it needs to beat the crap out of something.

I was supposed to have quilt class, but the teacher wasn’t feeling well. I was hoping to get a lot of Wonder Under cut out, but in the end, I graded a bunch of stuff just to get it out of my hair, and then I cut stuff out for a short time…

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I wanted to draw too, but decided it was more important to try to get to bed at a semi-reasonable hour (which I didn’t do).

I stitched at the girlchild’s soccer game…

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These are Month 4 of last year. Her team probably made it into CIF, so there will be at least one more game next week. Honestly, I’m looking forward to a break after that. She will go back to club, but will not play for three months due to the back surgery. I think there’s one possible tournament in there before the surgery. Unfortunately, she says she wants to travel to the other tournaments anyway…someone needs to tell her that driving to Arizona the week after back surgery is not happening. Both her dad and I have tried, but she’s not listening. Reality will kick in eventually.

Besides, I can’t afford the hotel and gas at the moment.

My leach field is done, but I got home in the dark, so I haven’t seen the final product yet…tomorrow morning. So that was the cost of a new car. Bad timing.

Her game today was on a blue turf field…

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With their orange uniforms, it was very pretty…

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She did get to play a little…it was a fairly tense game, but they won.

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Sometimes they do know how to pull it together.

Sometimes I do too. Although it doesn’t feel that way lately. I have to say that the hormonal crap that goes along with perimenopause makes it really difficult to fight sadness and depression. You’ve got these hormonal swings that are too frequent to modulate well…and they are often extreme and unexpected. If you’re already feeling low, it just fucks with you in a major way. I can be real intellectual about it here, now, but knowing what’s happening doesn’t always stop it from happening. You just understand what it is. You can’t stop it. I do everything I’m supposed to do (except get plenty of sleep). Maybe it helps in the long run, but in the short term? Not so much.

I am not looking forward to anything in the next three days except sleep. And that is not a sure thing. I’m going to try to change that mood…art is in the works, as is exercise of some sort…and catching up on grading, which is not very nice or exciting, but has to be done…and since I know I have two hiking weekends coming up right before grades are due, I should try to be focused on it this weekend. I may take the boychild out for a hike. I may sit in a hole with my depression and observe it (aka draw). I may discover a cure for cancer. All these things might happen.

Dissolving Problems

February 19, 2014

Apparently Mr. Meditation is stalking me and listening in on my conversations. We are supposed to be visualizing being filled with light and then dropping a problem or question into that light and watching it dissolve. Last week, getting the light to fill me up was difficult; I seem to have managed it for this week, and then I drop this problem of depression into the light…it’s like an oil slick, black and globular, dense, spreading, trying to take over the light. Sometimes it succeeds and I have to start over, sweeping the black away and trying to refill the body with light and trying again to dissolve its greasy self into the golden light. Sometimes I manage to break it up into smaller and smaller black blobs, but they never go away; they just float around like errant black tadpoles. I guess that’s all a very realistic interpretation of how I am dealing with the depression…I try to break it up, destroy it, and it either grows and grows and takes over everything else, or it breaks up into smaller bits that still color my daily existence. There’s no escaping it.

So Mr. Meditation tonight is talking about how we deal with difficult things in life, and he says that people generally try to move quickly past challenges in life, to get through them as easily as possible, that we like security in our lives, we like things to be definite. He suggests instead that we sit with difficulties. Allow them to dissolve. Watch them dissolve, even if it’s slow and tedious and sometimes unsuccessful. He says we need difficult situations in life to practice, little challenges to be embraced instead of running away, so that we will be able to deal with whatever life throws at us. Ironic that. I’ve had enough of those. I need those around me to deal with their difficulties so they don’t make MY life more difficult. Dude. I think I’ve had enough difficult. Cut me a break for a while, eh? Bring on the security, maybe some peace, some joy, and don’t tell me I just have to make my own joy. If it were as simple as buying the ingredients and mixing them together correctly, don’t you think I would have done that already? Yes. I drew again tonight. I didn’t have much time in the end…

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Grading sucked up some time and there was another soccer game, plus exercise (in the end, I did not make it to the gym). I worked on one piece of it, the drawing. Not much. Girlchild got to play some soccer tonight…

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It’s been a rough season for her. She’s freaking out about the back surgery, understandably, getting cold feet. It’s hard to be the mom right now, to be the always-responsible one. There’s a lot of grabbing and pushing going on here, with no ball in sight.

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They won. This picture looks like the Hokey Pokey (put your left foot in, put your left foot out…)

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What can I say. It’s late. I’m not sleeping well. I was cranky today. One kid asked me if I’d taken my pill today. WTF? Sometimes teaching middle school is really difficult, challenging, in your face. I did do a color chromatography lab today, and the coolest part is when the ink (which I have them make in class) starts to move and spread the colors up the filter paper…they actually OOOH and AAAAH. It’s very cool. That’s when I know I’ve got them. Now if only I could persuade them to do their homework. I have been stitching anywhere that I sit down for any period of time…last night at the quilt meeting I got all of this done except for about an inch of the wing before they turned the lights out for the presentation…

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Damn! But I finished it at the girlchild’s game, so that’s all of Month 3 from 2013 completed…

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And I started Month 4. Yes. I’m behind. Welcome to my world.

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And Sunday night, I started cutting out Wonder Under for the Mammogram quilt. I didn’t get very far…

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This is going to be a troublesome piece. There aren’t very many pieces, but many of them are bigger than I usually do, so they will need big honking pieces of fabric…and since I usually only buy 1/2 yards, that might be a problem. I do have lots of flesh fabrics though, so maybe I’ll just go all out crazy on this one and pick really wild fabrics for the body, like 30 of them. Maybe. Or not. I have a while to decide…I have quilt class on Thursday, hopefully, and will be cutting these out and the wool pieces for Ivy’s memorial quilt. But if I keep drawing every night, then that will slow me down. The drawing really does help me process some of the ugly tarry crap in my head…anger and stress and sadness and those repulsive black thoughts that try to take over your brain in the middle of the night (during which I am always apparently awake, even though I told myself I needed to go to sleep early tonight…early wakeup tomorrow for girlchild)…if I can just draw them out, literally, on paper with black ink…then maybe they will haunt me less. Maybe I will be able to keep some of them from slipping back in to the unconscious and continuing to fuck with my barely stable equilibrium. It’s hard to say.

I’ve been reading The Dresden Files by by Jim Butcher…I have a 3-book volume of Storm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril, and I’ve made it through the first two…


They’re pretty good…formulaic, but interesting light reads in the urban fantasy realm. Apparently I have 12 books to go. The proof that they’re light fiction is that the publisher pushed a bunch of them into omnibuses instead of letting each book stand tall on its own. I don’t know if I’ll get through all of them. What’s interesting is that I ordered the 3-book omnibus from the library back in June or July, and it only showed up in the last few weeks. Now that I know that the word omnibus does not mean a really big bus, I’m going to use it all the time. So I guess this is either the only of these omnibuses in the system, or it’s really popular. It’s similar to the Iron Druid series, in that the male protagonist is sort of obsessed with breasts and how women dress, and there’s lots of weird magic and creatures and potions and getting your shit together and ending up naked on the side of a road with big purple bruises a lot. Seriously. But like I said, a light read. I’m sure I’ll move on to serious fiction soon.

Actually, I need to read the book club selection by next Wednesday, and it’s still not here from the library. I might have to suck it up and buy it…which would mean finding the money for that. Sad but true, a single book purchase is an issue.

My SIL, whom I love very much, sent me a V-day card with the F word in it (actually, it was just the letter F as a stand-in for the F word, which I type here all the time) and gift cards to go buy a little black dress. Hmn. Where does she think I will wear such a thing? On the hiking path? It’s sweet. I might actually buy something useful with it. It could happen.

The girlchild was doing a project today on Magnum Opus, and she was thinking of art and painters, and suggested a shirt like a Jackson Pollack painting. Mom to the rescue. I actually OWN a dress that I painted about 10 years ago to resemble a Pollack painting…I went to Halloween post-divorce as a JP painting. Yup. I did. There is no other household IN THE WORLD where that same conversation happened. She said, “what about a shirt like Pollack?” and I said, “come here, my pretty…it’s been done.” And what did she do? Did she take it with her to wear to school, as her mother would have? No. She did not. She said it was shapeless. Sigh. I was impressed. So were my son and ex. Girlchild? Not impressed. Oh well. I tried.

A Gesture of Release

February 12, 2014

Girlchild got me sick. I knew it yesterday, felt it lurking. This morning, I felt spacey…all day, spacey…but not really sick. Still a sore throat, headachey. I’ve had my flu shot. Think this is just a cold, but it’s holding off…maybe I’m actually fighting the damn thing. Maybe I’ll feel like shit tomorrow…maybe not? I don’t know. I debated going to the gym…for two reasons. (1) I didn’t feel great and (2) I didn’t want to infect people. In the end, I went. I needed it for my mental and physical state, and honestly, I felt better after I went. I disinfected every machine I was on (but I made sure I touched every kid who is annoying at school…OK, not really…but we did joke about it). I got to work out and read, and I came home and felt OK for about 2 hours before the spacey/sore throat stuff came back. We’ll see what tomorrow feels like. If it’s going to take me down, I want it to do it quickly, so I’m better before my weekend hike (priorities).

Girlchild had a soccer game, but she didn’t go to practice because she was sick yesterday, so she didn’t play…I did watch the sky…

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It was beautiful…although apparently I should have been looking behind the bleachers…

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I stitched during the game…

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I think these two are almost done…I think all I have to do is stitch around the eyeballs and put the eye buttons on. Oh wait. They need feet. Damn. That’s a bunch of bullion knots. That’s time. Then there’s only one more of the Month 3 birds to finish. Then on to Month 4. Yes, I’m slow, but guaranteed I was the only person stitching palestrina knots in that stadium. It’s progress…on something. I measure my entire life a little tiny bit at a time, progress on this project and that project. I got one stitch done here. I got 30 minutes done there. It’s proof that I have things to do, to keep me going.

Some days are like that. What’s the one thing I can work on today that will let me feel like I’ve accomplished something decent? Not grades. Not dishes.

I came home to this…

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There was a phone number too. It was shoved in the door handle. I too need joob and don’t know where to look. Lupe needs to be more specific.

After dinner (late), I organized all the financial aid paperwork; I’m missing three signatures from the boychild and then everything can go. Then I ironed his interviewing clothes…it’s Columbia tomorrow, he hopes the last interview. Probably true. Who knows. Then we wait. Apparently my brother and SIL are placing bets on what schools he will get into of those he’s applied to…better than the woman I hiked with who was the Queen of Negative Thinking about college apps. Whatever. He’ll get in somewhere, and that somewhere will have to be good enough at least for the first year. Am I worried? Of course. I’m mom. I worry. I’m Kathy. I worry. I will worry less in a couple of days when these damn envelopes are gone.

I meditated. That was not-so-good. I’ve spent the last 10 days trying to visualize a point of light in the center of my chest, warm and bright like the sun, which is supposed to expand and spread to fill my whole body. I suck at this. I start the spread and then black tarry stuff from my fingers and toes starts to encroach on sunny brightness and swallows it. Yesterday and today it was tears, oceans of tears, turning the sunlight into steam, covering it up, drowning it. I was trying so freakin’ hard to force the light to spread, and I finally stopped. I let it just sit at the size it could be in me right then, about the size of a cantaloupe. Interestingly, this is supposed to be an openness to creativity, which is not something with which I have a problem…so there’s just something about that meditative avenue that is causing me grief. Seriously weepy grief. Sometimes you just have to let the mind do its thing and you watch it and try to learn from it, but trying to force the change is not going to be a successful endeavor.

Then it was late and I had to choose…sleep? Or artmaking? I learned my lesson last night…I didn’t spend much time tracing, but I did spend some…

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I got motivated after working on that drawing last night to finally restart the tracing on the mammogram quilt. I think I just need to have multiple projects in the works so I can pick and choose when I’m in a mood…something easy, something hard? Something that is totally engaging vs something that is more light and simple? Tracing isn’t usually easy, but it is engaging. And it helped. I was already a bit distant and numb from the gym experience (too many days of crying at the gym lately), so I guess I’m even more into that hole, but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing at the moment. It just is.

I committed to another challenging hike in March…looking forward to it, although I’m a little nervous about it…less so now that I know it is less elevation gain than San Miguel, but I don’t kid myself…it won’t be easy. It will be worth it, though. I made a comment on the last hike about dispelling demons from the tips of my fingers as I walked, and I think maybe I need to think of a way to do that for real, like a symbol of that maybe? I think this would be a good hike for that, although I don’t know if I feel comfortable with doing that with a bunch of mostly strangers (I know a few people who will be on the hike, but not well). We’ll see. Maybe. It’s on my mind…ritual to remove sad? Not a wake, not a memorial, but something more in the dirt. Thinking about it. How to persuade the brain to release things…a gesture of release?

Meanwhile, my gestures are in the art world…releasing grief and sad and even anger through the drawings. The guns, they’re about anger and pain…not hurting myself, but trying to mitigate hurt done on me. Trying to make it hurt less by drawing hurt? I can’t really explain how my brain is working…but it is trying to work through some of these things with symbols, images of things that hurt…thorns, cuts, tears, wounds…another gesture of release? Who knows.


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