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.

Send the Poison Rain Down the Drain*

June 22, 2014

Another late night. My brain refusing to shut down. It seems to need to process at the moment. Lots of that. I don’t know exactly what it’s processing. I just know it makes me feel sad a lot. Wish it would stop. Like, brain, just get OVER it. Move on. Accept the shitty stuff and find a new way to be in the world. No no no…don’t go back in the hole. I didn’t mean it. We DO like you. We DO want to be your friend…even though you’re a total downer. Look, we can fake it. We do it all the time.

Yeah. I’m faking it. Every day. Don’t get me wrong. I do like you…I just don’t know how to feel normally or even to behave normally most of the time. I just pretend.

Yes, we painted today…

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Exciting picture, eh? Yeah. Well, the smaller room is mostly done…two shelves and windows need a second coat. Then we can put all the furniture back and start on the next section of this big area we call the living room. It’s less overwhelming in chunks…just like I teach, eh? But still overwhelming.

I made it to book club, a discussion of Dan Simmons’ The Fall of Hyperion, which I liked (the book AND book club, held outside in a park on a gorgeous day, what could be better?). Book club seems to help me by injecting some intellectual discussion into my life…I get some of that with the kids, but I’m not around enough people during the day, especially during the summer…I like to think about what I read and figure out what it really means. Or doesn’t. Or if it’s any good. And why? During the school year, I often read the book club selections and don’t go to the meetings, because I don’t have time to go to all of them…all of them meet on days when I have the kids, which is problematic…at least for now. But summer gives me plenty of time with the kids, plus I’m not trying to balance lesson plans and grocery shopping on Sundays with 2 hours spent talking about books, so that helps.

I decided to work on the birds tonight instead of the big quilt. The boychild was using my computer because his is under the dropcloth in the room we painted…so I needed to be in another room anyway. This room, to be specific…with the dogs…

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Who needs people friends on your couches when you have dogs? It is true that there may be no ROOM for people with these dogs in the house. So instead of sharing room with the two goofballs, I worked on the light table behind Jake…tracing birds. First I numbered all of them. More importantly, first I entered all of them into my task-measuring app, because if I’m going to sell these, I need to know how much time I spent on each one, so I can come up with a reasonable price. Artists undersell themselves often, make their work worth nothing when you look at the time put into it. I find it easier to have the time totals up front, so I’m not just randomly making up a price based on my mood that day. It’s just easier.

I keep track of each task separately. It helps me to know how long each stage of the artmaking takes. What’s funny with these little pieces, though, is that some tasks take so little time that it seems like a waste of time to track it…like 30 seconds to number the pieces…in contrast to the 2.5 hours it took me to number the big quilt I’m working on now…the one I maybe should have worked on tonight? Yeah. Whatever. My motivation for getting the painted room put back together tomorrow is to get the boychild out of my office, so I can keep ironing.

Calli agrees.

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Jake? Not so much.

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I don’t know why they’re so sleepy. All they did all day was try to come in the room where all the white paint was.

So I started by numbering all 10 drawings, and then I began the tracing onto Wonder Under…

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None of these has a lot of pieces or is particularly big. It’s kind of relaxing to trace Wonder Under…but when it’s this quick to finish, it makes it even nicer. Look! I accomplished something (really small)…

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That’s 7 of the 10 traced. I decided it was getting late and it would take a significantly longer period of time to finish the last three (they are the biggest ones), so I quit. For now. I’m aiming for July 10…to have at least some of them ironed down. All of them would be nice, but I need to be realistic. I’m juggling a lot of balls at the moment and trying not to drop any of them…all while my brain is doing its stupid depressoid shit, which would make anyone normal drop everything.

Just keep making. Eventually it will make you feel better. Honest.

I also stitched feet again…

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The birds fill time. That’s 8 feet I finished…or 8.5. Not sure. Oh. It’s 8. What’s lame is that I was supposed to be outlining the eyeballs with the same thread as the feet, but I didn’t realize that, so now I have to go back through all the birds and do the eyeballs. There’s one bird whose feet are not that charcoal gray color. I have not figured that out.

Today’s painting session included the only ceiling that needs painting, I’m glad to say. Textured ceilings? Yikes. Super hell. Textured walls are bad enough. Tomorrow we will clear out the next room/space. Prep Tuesday, painting again on Wednesday, I think. I need the mirror guy to call back so I can deal with space number 3…because I think that will be the most challenging space to get done.

This song popped up on Pandora while we were painting today…it gave me the post title…

Which has got to be better than yesterday’s. Sad song, though…

*Elliott Smith, Miss Misery

On Skunks and Graduation

June 19, 2014

I awoke yesterday morning to the sound of boisterous urination outside my window…barely awake, I rolled over and tried to go back asleep, assuming whatever animal it was would go away, now that it had christened my house. No such luck. I hear sounds in the leaves, and then more rampant peeing. Kitten is flouncing about at this point, convinced the intruder will be coming in the window, plaintively warning me (who needs dogs when you have Kitten?). Finally I get up, peek out the blinds, and see a cute baby skunk gamboling in the leaves outside the window.

God Damn It. If there’s one baby skunk…and if anyone remembers the Great Skunky Stinkout of a few years back when I couldn’t even sleep in my bedroom, it smelled so bad, because someone scared a skunk right outside the window. It was like a chemical bomb went off…eyes watering, it was so bad.

Sigh. Back to bed, pillow over the head. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do about baby skunks. They’re cute, they gambol, they haven’t done anything wrong but be born skunks.

Yesterday, the boychild graduated from high school.

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Yes, their colors are orange and white…yick. I’m hoping mom’s pictures are better than mine. I have a few. There were over 500 kids graduating…

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and it’s a kamikaze seating event…they open the gates at 7 and people run for spots. Grandpa didn’t run, but he managed to have us in the shade for part of it, and it wasn’t too hot, so it turned out OK. Boychild’s random yearbook quote was used in the principal’s speech, which is amusing, because he had forgotten to get a good quote and doesn’t really like this one–“You can’t back into your future”–however true it might be.

You’re supposed to touch Odin’s hammer on the way down the steps (when they were freshmen, they were supposed to touch the hammer too…I’m fairly sure boychild boycotted both chances)…the school is Valhalla, the mascot is the Norseman. Odin showed up with no pants on, but I didn’t have the camera out in time. Wasn’t expecting that.

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He’s in the bottom left…one of two long-haired boys in graduation. Easy to spot!

So he’s done. We did take family photos…will have to see if they’re presentable online. Probably not, knowing us. This is what we normally look like…

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Well, except for the cap and gown, which we’re keeping for a Halloween costume. Midnight is the only one looking at the camera.

In typical Kathy fashion, I stitched…

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I got 7.5 feet done. There are a lot of feet on these damn birds, and they’re all bullion knots. Who knew I’d be an expert on bullion knots? Not me. Next weekend’s soccer tournament could mean a lot more feet getting done.

Boychild got a quilt from Grandma…

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Fabrics she picked up in New Zealand/Australia on their trip. He likes these colors…I don’t know if he’ll take it with him, but he will use it. He refused to put his face in the picture, so girlchild did instead. He also got a digital keyboard with stand and some other pedal thing for college. He’s taking it with him. He has a roommate, but this will fit under the bed and the stand folds up. He likes playing piano…has been playing for years. I guess the thought of stopping freaked him out…and this thing sounds really good. If you’re his roommate, don’t worry…he has headphones.

All in all, a pretty emotional day/week even. Apparently this is difficult for my brain…realizing he’s going to college in 2 months, especially after we spent time yesterday afternoon trying to figure out what he needed, looking at online pictures of his dorm and setup. It’s real. It’s time for him to go, and I used to look forward to this time, no more dealing with school stuff etc., but him going on to have his own life and be a grownup, and I still want all that, but it is harder to have him go now that my own future is so up in the air and messy. I know all of that is normal, but the depression makes it harder to handle…everything is right at the surface and hard to keep under control.

So today is the last day of school for me (except checkout tomorrow, which is starting to look like a clusterfuck due to the district deciding to put kids in the science classrooms over the summer without actually talking to us about chemicals and materials that can’t be locked up completely, so all of a sudden, I have about 5 hours more work than I usually do. I am so pleased about that.). I am fully in survival mode. I read a book yesterday and exercised and meditated (you mean you cried?) and then I finally…FINALLY FUCKING FINISHED cutting out the pieces for the big quilt for the summer…well, the first one at least.

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It took 22 hours and 17 minutes. LOTS of tiny pieces. Some I haven’t cut out yet because they’re so small I don’t want to lose them. I’m hoping to sort them tonight, if I’m still standing. It’s always questionable after the last day.

This song caught my ear the other day…

I did start writing a book…or something. I wrote 383 words on the first day. I was tired. I don’t have a serious plot line yet. I have a general idea. I’m writing a love story. Really. Except, you know, this is Kathy talking, so not really. I figure I can write it; I have enough experience in it. I might have to break it at the end, though, because that is what always happens to me. It doesn’t to other people; I’m aware of that.

Anyway. How many words should a book have? All of them.

Going to finish off my 12th school year…well, as an adult.


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…

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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.


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