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.

Make the Head Fit…

February 15, 2014

I drew…

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It’s not done. I don’t know where it’s going. I had to make the head fit. That was fun. Or weird. Or something. I drew for like an hour or so…like right when I came home…well, after I talked to my philosophical drainage guy, the guy who is charging me more than my car is worth to redo my leach field and quotes Khalil Gibran while I’m signing papers. Exciting stuff. He gave me marital advice. Whoops! Too late. I don’t think that’s on the menu any more.

I drew because my head was in a bad place…had been for a couple of days. Hormones are out of whack…I mean, they’re really out of whack. Love being a woman of this age, perimenopause hitting me upside the head. Body doesn’t know what it’s doing. Fucks with the mind while it’s at it…and the moods. It’s annoying. No way to control it if you can’t take estrogen. You just have to ride it through.

So I drew and made dinner, and then I traced Wonder Under for over an hour…

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Because I could. I mean, I could also grade, but there’s only so much suckiness a day can hold before it can hold no more. And I had reached my limit. The problem is that I don’t have moments of joy at the moment…I just have more or less of the suck. So I have to do things to make it more on the high side of the sucky wave instead of the low side. Artmaking. It’s what’s for dinner. I traced through about piece 240…so about 100 pieces to go. I need more Wonder Under (errands…hate errands). I need to stop being sick, even though it’s really low-level sickness…it’s messing with my head.

I put feet on them…

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The two on the left are almost done…they need outlining around the eyeballs. Not sure what the one on the right needs. A life? Oh no…that’s me.

I don’t really know what it means…

But you should watch it anyway.

Yeah, it’s long, but you know what? Most of the good stuff is longer rather than shorter.

Art opening at VAM tomorrow…I will be there. Hopefully I’ll be well enough to hike on Sunday. I’m sure there’s other things I have to do. I’m trying not to think of them.

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.

Watching the Mood

February 7, 2014

I couldn’t process enough to write last night. It’s interesting (to me at least) that I use the blog to process where my head (and body) went during the day. It helps me have some sort of closure about feelings and actions and progress…in my emotional life, my artistic life, and my work life. I need to see progress, moving forward, or I get more depressed…ironic that…being depressed makes me more depressed. I’m depressed about being depressed. It really is a stupid vicious cycle and the lamest stuff sets me off. I do my best to process my way out of it, but it doesn’t always work.

I don’t even know what it was about yesterday…I worked my ass off running a Jeopardy test review game yesterday. I didn’t have time to think in class, but apparently that fucked with my brain even more. Like I know today will be bad…it’s a test day, so it’s quiet (except for the dipwads who aren’t prepared and want to let everyone know that and disrupt during the test, which is why I give my little personal responsibility speech beforehand), and my brain has PLENTY of time to wander the sand dunes of depressoville. There’s not a whole lot I can do about that except realize it and try to talk myself out of it. But yesterday? Busy days are usually the OK days, the days I didn’t wallow, didn’t ruminate, didn’t do the Eeyore thing, the Marvin the Paranoid Android thing. I’ll be numb and flat, but not down and out.

At the end of school, I got a text from the boychild with this…

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who had been hanging out with Calli in the back yard (Calli being the girlchild’s Golden Retriever). Um. I knew we had raccoons…I’ve heard them on the roof and in the tree outside my bedroom window…seen them in that tree too. But lying on the pavement outside the pool fence? In broad daylight? No, it had no rabies symptoms. By the time I got home, it had gone into the pool enclosure and was lying on the deck by the side of the pool (like you do in San Diego in winter), snoring. Loudly. Seriously sleeping and snoring.

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This morning, it’s gone. Which I guess is a good thing, because I thought maybe it was sick and I’d get up and find a raccoon corpse in my backyard, a corpse the size of a small Golden Retriever honestly, and then I’d have to do something about it. Raccoons are beautiful creatures, really. I just don’t want it living in the backyard with the dog, I guess. Calli probably thought it was a big fat cat (she’s not very smart). Yes, we have skunks too…hopefully she’s figured out that they’re not cats.

It rained yesterday…so that raccoon was sleeping out there in the rain when I left for the girlchild’s game. There is nothing more miserable (in San Diego…not part of the Winter Vortex at all) than a winter soccer game at night in the rain: cold metal bleachers, wind, rain, everyone huddling under umbrellas and still getting wet…

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The girl on the left had just arrived…that’s why she’s still relatively dry. I actually managed to stay quite dry until I had to leave early for my meeting. I had a waterproof blanket, the umbrella stuffed into my bra so I could stitch during the game, and a padded seat under my butt. Two jackets? I did OK. I did leave early though, so I did not suffer the entire game…

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We haven’t had too many rainy games this season, so I shouldn’t complain.

This is the progress from Academic League and soccer…

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It got too hard to do drizzle stitches in the rain, so I eventually quit on the tail of the bottom bird. Remember my original plan (hope?) of finishing 3 of these every two games? Not happening. At all. Oh well. It’s not that it’s hard; it’s just time consuming. Maybe THAT’S what I should do during the test today, instead of grading and logging in papers (no, not really…I need to get caught up on grading). The birds will get done eventually. It’s not the end of the world.

At my stitching meeting, I continued my incredibly slow progress on the girlchild’s Christmas stocking, started when I was pregnant with her in 1997. Oh yeah.

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It’s a good thing she is semi-patient. She’s really not, but… The pattern is irritating in that the symbol for the mauve color is darker than the symbol for the green…but the green in real life is darker, so my visually addled brain keeps confusing the two colors on the pattern, because it thinks the darker symbol is the darker color…which is really weird when you think about it, but then also very logical. I suspect most designers don’t think about things like that: the darkness of the symbol corresponding with the darkness of the color. The mauve is a filled-in black circle and the green is a letter S, very open and light. Even making it a G instead of an S would have helped my brain, I think. So I kept losing my place (no, I don’t use highlighters).

Anyway. Did I do anything art-related? Nope. No energy. Absolutely exhausted on the drive TO stitching…finally went to bed sort of early (for me, anyway), and then was up in the night with an unhappy tummy. There’s seems to be no winning the sleep game at the moment. I really tried to get motivated on two different things, but even cutting stuff out sounded like more effort than I was capable of last night. I’m sure that’s contributing to the low mood. It’s lovely that I know all the things that are affecting me, plus and minus, but I still can’t seem to get far enough ahead of the moods to prevent them from happening. I mean, this is MY brain. I do a pretty damn good job of paying attention to all the stuff it’s saying and trying to treat it right and listen carefully and act accordingly, but it doesn’t seem to matter. When it’s in a mood, it’s in a mood…a 6-month-plus-long mood. And yes, I do often wonder if it’s still a mood or if this is just the new me. Not OK.

Tonight…it will be better…whether that’s artmaking or sleep or just spending time with those cranky-ass beasts I gave birth to…it’s got to be better.

Buried in Fiber

February 5, 2014

It’s OK. I did art stuff tonight. I probably should have gone to bed earlier instead, but…I wonder which will prolong my life more? More sleep or more art? I’m voting for the latter. Trying to balance the two, but really? The art is more calming. Sleep isn’t restful. It’s full of bad dreams and nasty sad. I’d rather be playing with fabric. I started cutting out flower parts…

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which is complicated by the fact that there are wool parts of flowers and cotton parts of flowers, so I’m cutting all the wool first, and then I’ll find cotton that works with it, since I have a fairly limited stash of wools and a vast stash of cottons. I made it through almost all the flowers…at least the wool parts…and there’s a squirrel and a bunny in there too.

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I need to figure out the banners and all the cotton bits. There’s not a lot left…maybe tomorrow night? Except financial aid is still a mess and school stuff needs to get done too.

I stitched at soccer…

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I forgot to take pictures of the girlchild playing. He played her tonight, for real. That’s good. She did well. They won. Another game Thursday. It’s kind of a routine now…two games a week, one Academic League match a week. I keep having to remind myself what day it is…do I bring my stitching to school? Do I bring my Uggs and sweatshirt to school? Will I have time to go home first? Too much thinking. My brain isn’t good at thinking any more. It’s obsessive about the bad stuff, runs over and over it, trying to make sense of it, having conversations with myself. But give it a real task? Yikes. It’s done.

I went to the gym. I meditated. I finished two books…The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon…

the bone season

who is only 22 years old. This is her debut novel, the first of seven in the series. It’s called a supernatural dystopia, and definitely has sci fi overtones, whatever that means. I liked the idea and most of the book, but kept getting lost in vocabulary and this foreign race, the Rephaim, and some other race, the Emim, which sometimes didn’t make sense. Plus the setup of clairvoyant levels is supremely complicated. But it has promise…I would read another one.

The second book I finished was Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke…



Yes. This is a kids’ graphic novel. A group I’m in has a graphic novel/comics book club, and I have never been to the meetings, but thought I could try to read the books at least, and maybe someday swing one of the meetings. I had a hard time with this book…not because it’s written to a younger audience, but because I got confused by events in the story. Plus I honestly didn’t like Zita much…she’s kind of an annoying squirrel, to use a term I use on some of my students. I don’t know if this book would appeal more to a younger audience, like a late elementary age? Maybe. I do have the second book as well. I did like the giant mouse and the round monster thing, and the spider robots were cool (even though they are evil). It was kind of an eh.

Kind of like my life. Eh. Which means it’s probably time to go to sleep. The later it gets, the sadder I get. I did find another hike for the weekend, I think. I actually found two, signed up for one reluctantly, then found the other one and switched. Seems like with the three-day weekend it would be lame not to go on a long hike…so that’s what I aimed for in my planning.

Ugh. I’m hoping with more regular influxes of art activity the days won’t feel so shitty. We’ll see. I’m tired of the shitty feeling. I keep doing things to improve my mood, trying to think positively about my future. Yeah. Well. The fun thing about depression is that it makes it very hard to think positively about anything, and when past experience is slapping you upside the face, pulling your feet out of the mud long enough to even Stand the Fuck Up and Go Make Art is difficult. I can’t be that depressoid who does nothing but sleep. I can mope and iron fabric at the same time if I have to. There’s some chance of surviving this if I keep my hands buried in fiber.

Seesaw World…

January 30, 2014

Still freezing tonight. Must be fighting something off. I actually managed a social evening, although I was meant to socialize with 11 other people (and did for about an hour), but then ended up talking the rest of the time to the one other person I talked to LAST time I was at book club. The plus is…I like the books…and these are my people. Sort of. Counselor dings me for always remembering that I don’t fit in. Yeah well. I’m old. I don’t know where all the old people hang out, but it’s not where I am…actually, I am middle-aged. The old people are retired and they all show up, and the young people all show up, and all the people my age are on vacation? Who knows. The discussion wandered through books, cleaning, Myers Briggs, food, childhood, and god knows where else. For two and a half hours, I was mostly at peace. Good thing.

I was a giant stress monkey before that, though, because the financial aid stuff is due sooner than I thought, despite W-2s JUST showing up on Saturday. So I finished my taxes tonight. In January. Earliest ever. Tomorrow I will try to track down the vast quantities of data the other schools need in order to give the boychild an education. Meanwhile, he has another interview…someone should do his laundry so he has something to wear to that.

It was eyeball dissection day today…

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It was pretty easy. Sometimes I think I could do some of this stuff in my sleep. I think I’ve walked almost 2000 kids through eyeball dissection at this point. I need to do the dishes tomorrow. Exciting stuff.

Boychild had Academic League and knew some amazing stuff…

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He’s on the left. They beat the rival team by 10 points, but it was a tense match (funny to say that for Academic League, but it WAS!). Two of his answers were Walt Whitman and women, but I don’t remember the questions. One had something to do with the State of the Union speech, which I didn’t watch and he apparently memorized. Make me feel stupid, boy.

Girlchild had soccer last night…but he wouldn’t play her. I spent a lot of time watching the sky…

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The sunset was gorgeous…

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but I watched her get angrier and angrier.

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Don’t blame her. There are girls who mess up continually who are playing. It’s frustrating for her and for us.

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I think her dad is just going to stop coming.

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I will still be there. There are nice sunsets at the away games (which always face into the sun)…

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I stitch…I did this…

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Finished the bottom one, and started Month 3…just barely got started on the background stitching.

And then today at Academic League, I did this…

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Finished the background stitching on the blue ones and one of the purple ones (Month 4). I end up getting about 5 hours a week of stitching in at kid events. I can’t grade in the crappy light of soccer games. I guess I could have graded at Academic League, but I didn’t feel like it. Sigh. That will come back to haunt me at some point.

I really need to get some focus. I started tracing Wonder Under for the mammogram quilt, or whatever it is, lumpy breast…

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I did NOT get very far. Like I said, I didn’t feel right last night. I feel off again tonight, but not like last night. Obviously I’m doing financial aid tomorrow night or Friday night, whenever I can find the time. Lots of numbers to locate and input. Stress.

Trying to think about things I can do that will be good for me, like book club, but won’t take so much time. I thought about joining another book club, but I don’t have time to go to another meeting right now. Same with life drawing. Number of hours in the day is a finite number. I don’t have any. What was interesting about last night is that I went to bed about an hour and a half earlier than I have been for weeks, but I couldn’t fall asleep, and then I woke up for a significant stretch of time in the middle of the night and right before alarm time, so I got about the same amount of sleep as I have been every night (nowhere near enough). Have I trained my body to only allow itself 5 hours a night? Or is there something else going on?

Stop thinking so hard. Go to bed. Sleep…sigh…maybe it’s just not something you get to have enough of for a while. Maybe it’s like ice cream…it does affect my mood, though. Not enough sleep and I get more sad, more depressed. No balance. Seesaw world.

Emotional Sine Wave

January 27, 2014

I have another post I have mostly written, but I don’t feel like finishing it tonight. Maybe tomorrow morning.

Today was a numb day. I went to the gym. I managed grocery shopping (sort of a miracle these days…I forgot my reusable bags…again…the world will die because of all the plastic they gave me today). I went to one of my art group meetings (I forgot the quilt I was supposed to deliver for a new show, so I went back for that…didn’t get too far, luckily, and then I forgot the checkbook to pay my dues). Numb apparently equals forgetful.

It really does. I am so forgetful now…hence all the post-its and the calendar reminders…otherwise I’d forget my brain. Some days I don’t even know what day it is. I don’t know what month it is…I wrote a check earlier and dated it October 2013. What the hell? It’s like I’ve had some sort of stroke. My brain doesn’t like to remember stuff at the moment, so it chooses to tune out of everything. Hello, brain…feel free to join us here any time. I don’t think it’s going to get better without your involvement. Really. I know it sucks and all, but this is what we’ve got.

I finished a book, M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans


It was a gift from my UK family. It’s her first book, about a lighthouse operator in the early 1900s in Australia. It was good; I enjoyed it, even though it was tinged with sadness.

I worked on the third bird of Month 2…

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Thought I had finished it, but turns out I was supposed to sew in the moon as well…so I started that but didn’t finish. I sewed in the car on the way up and during the meeting; it was dark on the way back down. I’ll finish it at Tuesday’s soccer game and then start on Month 3′s embellishments. Very exciting stuff. The stitching itself is relaxing. I manage to stop grinding my teeth when I’m stitching mostly. The rest of the time, grind away. I have to consciously make myself stop holding my jaw like the world is ending around me.

Still too many things on the to-do list. Started my taxes because the W-2 finally showed up and I need that for the financial aid, finished the journal for Earth Stories and got it ready to ship, along with a bunch of other stuff I have to mail. Made a new to-do list. Boychild had one college interview today, so I ironed his clothes for him. He commented that men’s button-down shirts are not made for men with long hair. Never thought of that. He has another interview next weekend. I guess it’s good that he made it past the first pass…or maybe they interview everyone. Who knows. It’s all new for him, having to talk to strangers about himself, trying to sell himself, trying not to get annoyed by stupid questions…or at least not to SHOW irritation. I feel for him, but am excited by his having to deal, to manage, to grow up. He’s a good kid…man.

Came home and girlchild had made dinner, which is always nice. She hurricaned the kitchen (yes, that is a verb now) as well, but I needed to catch up on dishwashing anyway, so it was motivation to do so. All these tasks take away from artmaking time, of course. It was pretty late before I started my lesson planning for this week…well, I did most of it last year. I’m not deviating much…can’t handle that on top of everything else. I signed up for two more hikes. I need more outside time…more physical in nature time. More open space with fresh air and sweat and exertion and letting the toxic shit in my head float away into the sky while I stomp along a dirt path.

Two of my quilts are in a California Fibers exhibit at Soka University in Aliso Viejo through May 8…the opening is this Thursday from 5:30-7:45. The weird time is because there is a performance at the university right after that, so this takes advantage of that. I won’t be able to make it up there, unfortunately, but it apparently is a really nice show (that is only open Monday-Friday). I’m hoping to go up during Spring Break, I think. We’ll see. Earth Mother is there…

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As is Untied

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Both normally hang in my house.

Then next week, I have one quilt in another California Fibers show in Ojai, California, at the Beatrice Wood Center for the ArtsHere is hanging there…


ha ha ha. Here is hanging There. That’s funny. OK, not really. It will be there through March 30. There’s word that there may be an artist’s panel with some of us on March 30. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to that, but other artists will be there.

There are three California Fibers’ shows opening in January and February…this was a great group to join to get into shows. All three have been juried, so you still have to have good work that people want, but instead of pulling from 700 people for a show with 40 pieces, they’re pulling from a group of 30. California Fibers is a juried group and the membership call is coming up in April. If you live in Southern California, are willing to commit to 4 meetings a year in Oceanside, and work in anything that qualifies as fibers, you might consider it. Check out the website and contact the membership person.

The other art group I’m a member of is doing a 2-month exhibit in September/October about the border fence. I’m in a subcommittee (I didn’t commit to leading anything…see notes about forgetfulness above) that will be doing some sort of cross-border quilt/fabric construction. This group works completely differently than the other group…but they both are trying to be actively in exhibits and marketing themselves. It’s good, because I feel like my local SAQA group has become less active, even though we had a decent show last month that will be traveling to Georgia in March. We used to meet more down here in San Diego, and now there seem to be very few meetings down here.

If this is my life, if art is my focus, if art is the thing I have right now, then I might as well make it a regular thing. I’ve been looking at life-drawing classes as well, although then I need to balance exercise and hiking and art, because they all seem to want to happen at the same time. But if I can do it once a month, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. I miss life drawing. Yes, I miss sitting on an uncomfortable wooden bench for hours staring at a naked person and trying to make my drawing look like what’s in front of me. Sounds crazy. It’s a different head space though…not a bad one.

Anyway, I didn’t get to start on even thinking about real artmaking until about 10:30 tonight…and then it was a decision of What Next? I could draw, I could clean off the light table and set it up for tracing the next quilt, I could stitch down the smaller quilt that’s hanging in my office. I decided to finish cutting out all the pieces for the Ivy Memorial Quilt

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They’re freezer paper, not Wonder Under…yes, new and different. The quilt is mostly wool fabrics (or will be, since it currently doesn’t exist) with cotton fabric accents, and then there will be embroidery like you see on the bird blocks I’ve been doing. It’s not something I really expect to exhibit…I just want to hang it in the house, like above a doorway, so it’s wide but not high. Ivy died in May 2012 of liver cancer at the age of 6. For some reason, it was significantly more difficult to deal with her death, probably because of her young age and it happened really quickly. I guess I don’t deal well with unexpected bad stuff. Anyway, now that all the pieces are trimmed, I could start picking wool fabrics and ironing freezer paper to them…maybe tomorrow night.

I wonder if these numb forgetful days are an aftershock to the highly emotional days. I think I’m on some sort of emotional sine wave, up and down on some regular rhythm, somehow controlled by hormones or amount of sleep or exercise or something else I don’t understand (or a combination of all of those). It’s super super low and then I hit numbness…I don’t ever really get to the high point, though. It’s just less painful than some other days. Maybe the numb days are when I get enough of some combination of sleep and exercise and interaction with humans who give a shit. It’s hard to say. I have people say to me all the time, Hey, I read your blog, and then I’m like, well then you know I’m not having any fun with all this. I don’t know what to say to that. Well, then you know I’m a giant pile of depression and awful. Well, then, I guess you know that I was crying yesterday, I’ll be crying today, and tomorrow? On the menu is crying. I guess that’s OK. You won’t have particularly high expectations of me then, will you. You’ll know I can make good art but I can’t remember anything and I’m likely to dissolve into a pile of saltwater if you bring up anything that I find troubling…like really anything. Sigh.

Who the hell is googling my age, by the way? I’m 46, people. I’ll be 47 in a couple of months. I don’t know why it’s relevant. Feel free to just ask.

OK, taking the sine wave to bed…maybe I’m still on the way up…

I Need Better Shoes…

January 26, 2014

If I’m going to hang out at art openings, I will need better shoes. I may need a personality transplant as well, one that smiles and chats at the appropriate times. I also need to be much less judgmental, both of the art and the art wannabes; the fake is strong here.

That said, I did force myself to be among the living…

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and had a reasonably intelligent conversation with, of all people, another middle-school teacher who volunteers for the group that was raising money at this function. The group is 1:1 Movement, which is working on educating kids about sustainability and conservation. One of the things they do is give a plastic recyclable bag to each kid in a classroom and ask them to collect everything they would normally throw away for a whole week, and then they come back and look at what’s in the bag. The woman I talked to started saying all these things my students say about losing stuff, papers they got the day before, the pencil they brought to school…I hear you sister. They will come out to our school and talk to the kids…gonna see whether I can pull this off.

It wasn’t what I expected when I went…but I wasn’t really paying attention properly. They invited local artists to paint the recyclable bags they give the kids…

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And then they auctioned them off to the highest bidder…

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The money went to buy more bags for kids.

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I don’t have any money to spare at the moment. So I bid on nothing. I did start to walk out (way too many people that I didn’t know), and then stopped. I bought a jar of wine (drinks came in jars, which meant I spilt), and then went and sat down in sort of the center of things, OK, not the center, but there were still lots of people around me…

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And I did actually talk to about three whole people, one about my shitty camera (he had the same one and the same problem with the stupid lens covering…piece of shit!), one about the project itself (she was obviously an extrovert), and one about tamales. I know. I’m not an expert, but I did know where they were (observant tendencies).

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Mostly I just sat and listened to other people do artspeak and anti-artspeak and wow, I’m old here, aren’t I? And I don’t have a lot of tolerance for people. Sigh. So I people-watched and checked out shoes and clothes and who was walking around with whom and what they looked at and didn’t look at. But I stayed for at least 45 minutes. And I’m glad I had the conversation with the other teacher, because I will look into bringing them on my campus. I think it would do my students good to think more about what they waste…it frustrates me no end. Breaking pencils so they can throw lead at other students, picking up 5 pieces of white paper instead of 1 because they think they’re entitled to do so (I buy my own paper about half the year), losing assignments they picked up the day before, never having a pencil or lead.

Anyway. I did it. I went. It was OK.

I went to Road to California in the morning and afternoon with Julie and my mom…I will have to find time to write that post. It’s long and complicated.

The morning looked like this…

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Actually, it was much prettier than that, but the camera is not being my friend.

I stitched in the car on the way up and back. I always expect to get so much done, but even with about 3 hours in the car, I only finished two of the blocks and got a bit into the third…and the first of the two I finished was really almost done.

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I have done a lot of Pekinese stitch in the last few days. The bottom two are done (I could embellish them a lot more, but would never finish at that rate). The top right one will get finished in the car tomorrow (yet another drive for art-related activities).

And then when I got home, I needed to decide how to spend my evening. I needed to find something that would help my mood, rather than make it worse. I’ve had a bunch of drawings wandering my head for weeks, so I sat down and drew…

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It’s not done. Yes, it’s a bit disturbing. It will get more so, once I add another page to the left. Such is my brain.

OK, tired, exhausted. Really. That is the second time I’ve drawn a gun. It is the third time I’ve drawn tsunami waves. It’s not done.


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