You Wanna Elaborate on That?

August 29, 2014

I didn’t do well last night. I was fine as long as I was ensconsed in my book, lost in someone else’s reality. As soon as my brain was allowed its own space, it sank like a stone. It’s strange, because I’ve spent most of the week in a daze, just floating above any major issues, cushioned by school’s chaos and busyness, unable to really feel anything. Apparently a few hours at the gym and the girlchild being gone were enough to throw me off. Not a good sign.

But I’m better, I think. That word better is troubled though, because it can just mean you are not as bad as you were, or it can mean everything is all good, you are cured, healed, in remission, I don’t know. I know I’m not that, and after last night, even what little progress I occasionally feel on the Better Continuum seems kind of fake.

I’ve read 350 pages of my book in 36 hours. You can tell I’m trying to hide from something. Yeah, it’s a pretty good book, but it’s not THAT good. I just wanted to curl up on the couch though, wishing it were cold enough for a big blanket and a steaming mug of tea (OK, y’all know I was drinking the tea anyway), reading until my eyes fell sticky closed and that peaceful dreamless sleep took over.

Huh. No dreamless sleep lately either. Just tortured crap that I can’t really remember when I wake up, but feels bad and stressful and dangerous and did I mention bad?

Sigh. And then I walk through the house and think about all the things that need to get done and how I’m not getting them done and I just feel like climbing back in a hole. It’s quiet in there. I don’t care about the mess in my room in there. I don’t care about all the other crap I’m supposed to care about. Well, I care about my kids and my art, although sometimes even that is back over there and I can’t get to it.

It’s a 3-day weekend coming up. It’s full of stuff I need to do, including a major installation, but I’m hoping to find my brain some space, some time, to get closer to better. Last night felt bad and I still feel bad today. Tired is part of it and hormones probably are too (who can tell? My body does what it wants, when it wants to.), but maybe more sleep and exercise, plus some drawing will help. I’ve been really good this week about not bringing much work home (it helped to have girlchild and a teacher’s aide do a lot of the grading and organizing this week). I’ve done art every night, although sometimes very little.

Last night, I put the binding on one of the 3 remaining birds…

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It wasn’t that late, but it had been a long day with a full day of teaching, using Chromebooks (which went really well, actually), and then the gym, where I was obviously tired, and then cooking dinner. I was hoping to do all three of the bindings, but realized how tired I was with the first one and went to sleep instead. Well, I went to bed. Sleep is something else. It came eventually.

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So I will try to finish the other two tonight, or if the girlchild is needy and wants me in the living room, which she has been this week, then I will try to get that damn drawing done. My brain is really fighting that. It’s so hard to conceive of gender equality at the moment. Things you want that don’t exist? The bigger problem is that I want it to be a positive quilt, because it really is something that I would like to aim for. The entire show is about equality…imagine trying to draw something about racial or LGBT equality when you were being subjected to inequality on a regular basis. If you were in a good state of mind, a positive frame, you could imagine this and have an easy time of producing a piece that showed all your dreams of the future, of equal rights and access etc. But if you aren’t in that place, if you’re feeling dragged down by your existence, then it is that much harder to visualize a better way, a positive outcome. I know what it should be. I’m just not sure I have evidence of its existence.

It may not matter. Didn’t I say I needed to be done with the drawing by the end of the weekend? Yup.

I’m hiking this weekend. I might go to the sci-fi writers meeting, although my brain currently thinks I need the time at home. I’m finishing three bird quilts and delivering and installing two bird quilts and a floating house. I’m getting my photos from the photographer on the two most recent quilts. I will finish that damn drawing. I will pack stuff up for the boychild for shipping next week. I will read my book. I will go to the gym. Girlchild wants to walk the dog around a lake. I will write. I will draw. Notice I wrote it last. Maybe I should draw some bad nasty stuff and then try the other one.

The title is a quote from Agent Doggett on X-Files, so you have to imagine his voice, sarcasm and all. I think I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s in my brain, what’s causing it to sink like it did last night, to hide in fluff like it’s been doing all week. I’m trying to find the brain I had before, or at least pieces of it, the pieces that were happy. It’s actually impossible to get it to stop thinking…trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve yelled at it. I’ve ignored it. None of that works in the long term. I can’t box up all the stuff that hurts or that I don’t like and lock it away somewhere. It breaks out of the box, comes hunting me down, more pissed off than before. I’m really better off grappling with it whenever it shows up, relieved at least that it’s not as omnipresent as it was say a year ago. But hopeful that in another year it will be even less apparent.

With that, apparently I have to go to school. I don’t quite have the energy, but I usually find it between here and there. Sometimes.


Staying Up Late in the Name of Laundry

August 23, 2014

Oh yeah. Friday night. Hell, it’s Saturday morning. I meant to write this earlier. Really. I’ve been kinda sideswiped by life. Starting school, sending a kid off to college, that whole lack of sleep thing, which reminds me, the only reason I’m up now (because I’ve already fallen asleep on the couch once) is because I’m in charge of late-night laundering again. Girlchild dumped it all in the washer and then went to bed, and I’m fairly sure she needs it early tomorrow morning for soccer. Hmn. Motherly duties.

Staying up late in the name of laundry. Wish it was something a little more meaningful, like reducing waste or reversing climate change or curing cancer. But no. It’s because of laundry…laundry that could have been done at ANY time today. Without my assistance. Yup.

Thursday was an exceptionally long day, up early to send the boychild off (he has arrived and moved in, although reports on the roommate have been limited to insider knowledge about his plethora of monogrammed towels and accessories), then worked all day and went to physical therapy and then quilt class. I had been hoping to get all 5 birds quilted last night.

Wow. That’s crazy talk. What’s funny is that I was so tired that I couldn’t quilt FAST, so I kept moving the quilt in tinier and tinier squiggles…

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I’m not sure that was a good thing. Lord, the lighting is horrible in this picture. Suffice it to say, it’s quilted.

I did miss stitching down the underside of the neck somehow…

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So I’ll have to do that tomorrow. This is one being made for the Art Produce show, so there will be no binding, just a satin stitch. Also hoping to do that tomorrow.

I didn’t fully finish quilting the second eyeball bird.

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Toldja I was quilting fucking tiny. Finish it off tomorrow. Then quilt the other three. Faster. And in a less anal manner.

Today was similarly crazy, although I got more sleep. I also started the 5 loads of laundry from the boychild’s room. Cleaned out his trash. Picked up the books in there. He won’t like that I didn’t alphabetize by author, but I need to leave something for him to do when he comes home, right? Plus I think I want to read half of them. Next week, I have to ship his piano and some other stuff. Yes. I said Ship a Piano. Don’t laugh.You want me to ship YOU a piano? I will. I have extras. I shipped paintings and etching plates home from Britain when I lived there for a year. We had to have a special crate built for some of the stuff that I sent home from there and it came via ship. Had to be picked up from the docks in Long Beach or somewhere around there after it cleared customs.

I forced my hand this morning and contacted my photographer to take pictures of the Mammogram and Menopause quilts. That meant I had to actually FINISH the second one, so I finished up the binding tonight. Tomorrow or Sunday I’m going to do some inking on it, I think. Maybe some embroidery. I get myself in such a rush that I don’t do so much of that any more. Both are being photographed early next week, so I will have to make sure they are DONE. For reals. Then finish all the birds and the floating house (I think I’m done with it…although…no…sigh…I don’t know). Then get the drawing done on gender equality, which has been kicking my butt all summer. It’s become a significantly high priority, which I actually think is a good thing. It means I can’t come home from work and procrastinate by staring at the computer. I have to work on art in order to get it done in time. Like every day. Seriously. I think that helps me keep a balance.

So yeah. I did that on purpose. Uh huh.

The art brain is excited about it anyway.

So my plan is (you know how I love to have plans that I can later dash to pieces) to get it fully drawn and numbered by Labor Day weekend, and then start tracing it in early September. I need it traced and cut out by mid-September (yikes. deep breaths. There’s only a million things happening in the next three weeks, because that’s what we’re talking about is three whole weeks…three whole weeks with an art installation that will take two days and revolving openings. Back-to-school night. Two of them. Don’t Think About It.). Then start choosing fabrics in mid-September. It’s about the size of the Celebrating Silver quilt, a little smaller, so maybe 15 hours of fabric-choosing. That’s at least a full week and a weekend. And another week plus to cut the fabrics out, so ideally, it’s fabricked by the end of September. October is for ironing and quilting. Holy crap. I’m in trouble here. I need another month. I don’t have another month. OK. Well, that decides some things, doesn’t it? I do think I have until mid-November. There’s a 3-day weekend in there. I don’t need to sleep in November, do I?

I need to get my act in gear. Good thing I have no life. Well, except for my job. And the girlchild’s soccer. And all the art stuff and hiking and book-reading I do. And the gym. Sleep? Eh. Not so much.

At least I have a purpose for the next few months. Besides surviving school. And flipping the laundry in the middle of the night.

I do miss the boychild. There is an empty space where he would normally be. But the girlchild has been a little less crazy this week (well, if you ignore the food issues because of the lost wisdom teeth and her freaking out about coaching soccer without her dad around to help). She’s been less screamy. She may just be lonely.

Anyway, I have a teacher’s aide at school this year, one of my good boy students from last year who follows instructions well. I’m going to use his talents best I can to reduce my load. I’m going to collaborate with my teacherfolk to get up and running on these Chromebooks and get off of paper. Google is trying to fix my Classroom access so I can actually use the system the way I want, but until then, there are other apps that will do. I’m doing a lot of winging-it this year. There’s a lot of change in the air at school and it seems positive. Well, some of it is just plain weird, but mostly positive.

I still have to stay up for another 45 minutes though to flip the laundry again. You know, in the past, I have gone to bed and set an alarm for an hour later to wake me up enough to go turn the dryer on. It’s a little crazy, but it works. I’m a little crazy too, so it makes sense. I started the school year with a little crazy in mind. I think my students are a tad freaked out by my crazy, but I really don’t care. I’m gonna hug their little brains with dissections and nerve-cell-exploding ideas about genetics and nutrition and what WHITE means (that’s in light and pigment and even in skin color). In fact, I might just do a whole lesson on What Is White (I do a lab called What Is Black?…I should just connect the two). Just after I do the Zombie Apocalypse unit. Seriously. I didn’t have the brain power last year. I was deep in a nasty-ass hole made by someone else. I guess I’m good at dragging myself out of holes that other people make for me. I think the next time I have to do that, I’m gonna go all wizard and demons killed with sharp silver blades on someone’s ass. Because it’s not cool to do that shit to people you’re supposed to care about…

You know, with the boychild gone, there are way too many leftovers in the fridge. Girlchild and I need to adjust the cooking volume. Mr. Bottomless has left the building. And is that skunk I smell? It surely is. Nice.

It has to be bedtime.

 


I Must Proceed…

August 20, 2014

A day. A bruise on my hand. Realizing at the gym that all the raucous music and distracting literature in the world can’t keep me from thinking. Dammit. Boychild leaves for college in 30 hours. School starts in 8 1/2 (yes, I should be asleep…I may finish this in the morning). I left school at about 1 PM today. I was done. I had stuff in my head that was unsettling me, throwing me off, and honestly, there wasn’t anything left to do. I came home and finished up what I could. I did physical therapy and the gym and meditation.

I did all the things.

And then I started in on the birds…this is number 13, Diving Bird 2.

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It’s the same fabrics, but I flipped it by accident…

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traced it upside down onto the Wonder Under. It’s a pain to iron then, because I can’t see the pattern through the paper as well. I did that once with an entire quilt. It was very frustrating. This one is not the same size, because it’s supposed to be 8×10 for the Art Produce show…so slightly different.

This one was the same, although…

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I think the background fabric is different, because I was out of the other one.

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I think. Not sure. Yeah, it’s different (you didn’t even know I clicked over to my website to look, did you?). Yes, I use my own website to figure out what I’ve done, thought, planned. So that was Bird 14, Hey Bird 2.

The last one was completely different fabrics…

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because I knew I didn’t have enough to reproduce it as it was in the original. Well, that was the second version of it anyway.

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And then I fussed about the background and decided on this one. It’s a little smaller than the other one. Maybe. Not sure. Won’t know until I finish it. Stitching and all. Hopefully tomorrow night I can stitch some down. Maybe? Who knows. Boychild is not packed for college, although he finally started thinking about it. It’s OK. I’ve already shipped two boxes with bedding, towels, and sundry other items, including a Horton Hears a Who plate. Because who doesn’t need that? Girlchild is already planning what she will bake to send him. He will gain the Freshman Fifteen because of his sister. Or he will be best friends with everyone on his floor. If he’s smart.

I wanted to finish watching the X-Files episode that was on Netflix, so I worked some more on the binding for the Menopause quilt…

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I think I need to call my photographer and just set a drop-off date, because that will force me to finish it.

I gave boychild one piece of roomie advice, which he will probably ignore: Assume positive intent. I wish people did that with me. Because I’m really not out to get anyone, and I’m voted most likely to let you show me who you are, even if I have prior experience with you as an asshole. Yes, that has been on my mind today. Sigh. I always tell my students that I don’t care if your older brother/sister was a total asshole (OK, I don’t use that word), I will not hold it against you. You are your own person and I am waiting for you to show me who that is. Especially that kid who got 12 suspensions last year. I don’t wanna know about it. Come into my classroom clean. Start over. Clean slate.

Wish I could do that with my life. Wake up one morning with everything erased. Start over. There’s so much baggage weighing me down at the moment, I don’t even know where to start getting rid of it.

Anyway. So. School starts tomorrow and I might even be ready. I can’t get onto Google Classroom because I’m not special enough (or I am entirely too special), but I know how to use Edmodo and will do that if I need to.

Mental status? Eh. There’s so much change and shit rolling around that I’m just pushing everything into the corner again. I have a big bubble around me and I try to bounce all the unhappy and nasty off of it. I saw 5 of my girls from last year today and got hugs from all of them (let’s not tell them that I couldn’t remember their names for another 5 hours because I am that lame). So I’m sorta holding everything at bay. I cry because I realize the boy will not ever really come back. He’ll be here for vacations, but then he’ll graduate and get a job and go off into the world. I’ve been a full-time mom for so long. I expected to have a transition stage, but there was something there to transition into. I’m not sure what I’m transitioning into any more. More quiet with fabric. I don’t know if that’s good or not.

I have this sketchbook that fits in my purse and I used to carry it (or others before it) in my former life, when I went out to dinner once or twice a week, and I would always draw while waiting for dinner to come, and I would date and locate the drawing, so there’s all these names of restaurants in all these old sketchbooks. Now there are only dates, because I never really go out to dinner any more. The first few a year ago were at the movies, when I was trying to feel semi-normal and I would go to the movies on Saturday nights and sit there by myself and cry in the movie theater.

Now I just don’t go. I miss them. I can’t afford them…financially or mentally. So I just don’t go.

None of this is particularly healthy. Maybe the drawing is. I need to do more of that, I think. In between all the other stuff. Sigh. Time. Such constraints. And ALL the FEELS.

I am so not ready for the next few days. Or maybe I am ready, but ready means that I will cry. I am sad now and maybe in two days I will be all saddened out and it will be OK again. I just don’t know. I made the mistake the other night of looking at all the photos I was trying to put away, to find a home for, and there was the girlchild, not even age 2, at my brother’s wedding, and the boychild, happily wearing a button-down shirt and tie, shaved little head, big smile on his face, age 3 1/2. Girlchild holding her sippy cup and her hair isn’t even girl-length yet. It took so long for her hair to grow.

And I know I didn’t do it all wrong, because boychild is off to a good school, to Cornell, where he will be exposed to lots of smart people and hard thinking and he will come back a different person, and I know he is there because I did a good job raising him, but it still feels like I did something wrong. Like I didn’t follow the rules so I’m being punished. And I know that lots of moms (and dads) feel sad when their kids go off to college, but it feels like abandonment. I want to lecture him on all the diapers I changed and how long I nursed him and how long it took him to potty train, and dammit, call your mom occasionally and send some pictures of your roomie and where you live and don’t forget that she was there for you. Eh? OK? I see him rolling his eyes from here.

Yeah. I think I’m just gonna be surviving the next few days. Weeks.

I must proceed.

Yes, that’s e. e. cummings he’s talking about. I read Barron Storey’s blog, well, look at his drawings anyway. Must Proceed…


I Will Not FedEx Your Underwear

August 15, 2014

Parenting. Is sometimes one of the weirdest experiences. After a series of texts this morning where I tried to explain to my daughter that I was busy trying to get ready for school and deal with life tasks, I ended up (giving up and) driving to her dad’s house and delivering a check, her mascara, and a pair of underwear. Seriously. He seemed to think she had underwear there but didn’t want to look for it. And I’m wondering if in a year from now I will be FedExing her a check, mascara, and a pair of underwear to college. Because that won’t be happening. I’m making that clear right now. (Just so you know, girlchild doesn’t read the blog. Occasionally she skims for pictures, but that’s it. And if she knew I was writing about her underwear issues, she would scream at me. Then again, she screams at me for a lot of things and I basically don’t hear it any more. I’ll get screamed at later for something else I’m sure, and since I’m the parent in charge of soccer this weekend, because her dad has another team going to another faraway tournament, the screaming will probably make me cry at some point this weekend because I’m not in a great mental space and then she’ll get upset about that and and and. So the underwear comment is the least of my worries.)

While I was there, ex and I had a discussion of the boychild’s imminent departure for college (less than a week now) and how unprepared he seemed to be to actually FLY out of here (with his dad, who seems similarly unprepared). And now I have to make a list for them so they know what to do when they get there. 1. Find room. 2. Find all the boxes and books that are all over campus that we’ve shipped out there to make sure he has bedding and textbooks and maybe even clothing. 3. Get him anything else he needs. 4. Don’t text me, don’t call me, don’t panic and freak out. Deal. Am I allowed to put that on the list?

Because it’s not like I’m starting school next week guys. It’s not like my room’s not an utter epic-fail disaster at the moment because of the kamikaze destruction I had to do at the end of the school year so the summer school special ed classes could SAFELY be in a science room. I don’t know where anything is. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I can’t focus on any of it.

So yesterday, I did the online stuff I was supposed to do to “train” me for using tech in my classroom (cough cough. not helpful.) and then went down to my classroom and did that crazy thing I always do, where I start one endeavor (empty boxes, unlock cupboards) and then like a squirrel enticed by a nut stash, I quickly switch to another task, and then while doing THAT task, another job rears its ugly little head, so I start that, and then I wander back over to the first one again, until I sit down somewhere, put my head in my hands, and wonder if I might make a good barista. Or a wonderful gas-station attendant. Or perhaps a bagger at the grocery store. These seem like worthy tasks. I might feel more successful. I might be less crazy.

Then after I finally gave up and started driving home, I notice movement from the car next to me at the stoplight. It’s one of my former students (a real jerk that year) waving at me. I roll my window down, music blasting, tell him his music isn’t loud enough and wave back. Take off when the light turns green. He’s on Clash of Clans with me (except he doesn’t know it’s me) and reports a Nida sighting.

Fuck me. This job will alternately save my life and drag me under.

And you wonder why the meditation and exercise are so important to me. OK, maybe you don’t wonder that.

I did exercise yesterday, after I found and ordered the rest of the boychild’s textbooks (he was here…he’ll have to do it himself in December or whenever he signs up for the next lot. Like a good teacher, I have now provided direct instruction and modeled best behaviors. He can now do guided instruction by texting me his questions while he’s trying to order for next semester. And hopefully by next year, he will have graduated to independent practice and I will just be the one paying the bills.). And then I came home and stared at the things I needed to do and I picked the ones that hurt least. The ones that gave me the most peace of mind. The ones I could handle the best.

Because my brain was slipping back into that depressoid place. It was quiet here last night, third night running with no one but cats. Hours of silence and no interaction with anyone but the chick at the gym who scanned my card and the guy who handed me my dinner. “Hot sauce?” “Yes please.” He’d already put it in there. I only go there once a month…it’s all I allow myself…but he knew I wanted the hot sauce. Thirteen hours of silence.

I worked on the binding for the big Menopause quilt, which is almost done…

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And I cut out all the Wonder Under for the 5 birds that need to be done by the end of the month.

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Actually, I have leeway on three of them and none on two of them, and they have to be a certain price, so I will be shortening up some time on those two to make them hit that price in my head. Plus there’s a gallery commission on them. So they won’t have a hand-stitched binding. I’ll satin stitch the edges. Much faster.

But I”m almost at the point where I can call the photographer on the two big quilts I will have finished this summer, and then I need to really really really get my butt in gear on the next big one. Maybe tonight I will work on that, or iron the birds down to fabric. I’m stuck on soccer fields all weekend (actually, if I’m lucky, we’ll have Sunday afternoon free) and then school takes over my life. School and soccer.

There are so many things that need to be done and I just don’t feel like I can handle all of it. So I make a list and start crossing things off of it. It’s the only way to survive this type of shit. Right now, my list consists of: 1. find my watch 2. take meds 3. make more tea (you need it) 4. go to school and make it happen. I can’t get beyond number 4.

OK. Going to look for the watch.


Because It Has to Be…

August 14, 2014

So I hiked last night. I think it will be very difficult for me to pull these hikes off during the school year, though…the mid-week after-work hikes? I didn’t get home until 9:30 and then cooked dinner and laid around like a sloth for a while, which is what you do after a 5- to 6-mile hike at the end of a long day, and then I did some more stuff on the floating house, but it really sucks hours out of your day. Three hours just gone. And I’m gonna need those hours. Sigh.

We did Iron Mountain again…

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It’s a nice hike. Not too hard. Harder coming down in the dark. We led a Swedish team of kids down (actually, although I was in front, I led no one…Gail had to tell me where to turn, because I suck at that).

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It was beautiful at the top. We ate snacks and talked and watched the sun drop below the marine layer and the colors reflecting off the mountains and clouds to the east.

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Every time I get to the top of a peak in San Diego County, I look out and see this beautiful undulating, rocky landscape that is home. Maybe I need to put mountains on my floating house (shit. I don’t think I have the right colored organza for that). The surrounding landscape is home too. Living in the UK for a year, it never felt like home. It was too green and verdant, and although it was undulating (I was in Wales), it wasn’t very high or rocky. It was hills with sheep cavorting across them. It didn’t take long to climb to the top of anything. You were never very far from sea level.

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And I tried to figure out last night, Why Hiking? What is it about putting the pack on, pulling 720 foxtails out of your boots from Saturday’s hike (seriously, I am not kidding), slathering deoderant on so you don’t smell too bad, stomping up a steep slope in the late-afternoon August heat, into the cool shade of the back side of the mountain, shading your eyes from the low-slung sun as you come around the corner facing west, summitting the peak, taking your pack off so the sweat drenching the back of your shirt can dry before heading down, thinking the downhill might never end, slipping a bit because you’re hiking in the dark, blinded by the lights behind you that splash your giant silhouette across the trail in front of you. And you don’t have dinner waiting, you barely ate all afternoon, you had a handful of peanuts and two grapes and five carrots at the top. And you come home covered in dust and needing to shower, sweaty to the core despite the cool night breeze for the last half of the hike. Why do this? What does it bring? There is this sense of accomplishment, of survival sometimes on the longer/harder hikes, this mental rush from the adrenaline, the serotonin release, and it makes you turn up the music LOUD on the drive home and you feel all I Am Strong for a while, and then the rush slips away and you are sad. Because there is no dinner waiting; there is only silence. And yeah, you did it. Good. You will strengthen this body and make sure it lasts as long as possible. This is one reason why you hike. And you hike so you actually TALK to people in the evenings or Saturday mornings, because otherwise the silence overwhelms you. But that feeling doesn’t last. It’s not sustainable. And that is the depression talking. It always has a cord around your neck, pulling you towards the hole, and when you are tired from the hike and you haven’t eaten yet and the thought of cooking something is already exhausting, then that cord can pull you back down really easily.

I came home and meditated while dinner was cooking. Jake, the German Shepherd, was not very respectful of my meditation time and kept plopping toys into my lap (I had left him alone all day). Tired won for a while. I worked on the house after professional development yesterday, before the hike…

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I started the veins on the other side of the house…I run the stitching line first and then trim…

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And then I put a second layer on top. Because if you’re using organza, you should overlap it.

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And I’m not sure I like it at the moment. I liked it last night, but today I’m not so sure. I have some other stuff that needs to go on it. But I may just leave it hanging there for a bit to get used to it. Maybe. And I have another idea for something I want to do, but I’m supposed to be simplifying my life, right? So it doesn’t overwhelm me right as school starts?

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It looks so different in artificial light…

I just don’t think that’s in my nature. Simplifying. I mean, maybe on some level, because last year, I worked really hard to streamline stuff so I wouldn’t have to bring so much work home, and I think that worked, but…reducing the amount of time I’m in the art mode? Or the number of things I work on? That doesn’t seem healthy. I know I cause more stress to myself by taking on artistic projects, but these are also the things that keep me functioning. They keep me from falling into that hole and staying there. Even though I’m barely out of the hole, hanging on by my fingernails, slipping back down on a regular basis, at least I’m mostly out. And that’s the art. The hiking might help a little, but it’s the art that sustains me.

Anyway. Back to school again today and tomorrow. In the old days, I would have fought it more, stayed away longer, but in the old days, I had more that was at home that sustained me and kept me recharged. I don’t have any real rechargers any more. I don’t feel like summer has given me the break I need to start a new year of teaching, but I think it will be OK. It will be different, and I don’t know what that different will look like, and I’m sad about some parts of it and excited about others, but I also know at the end of every day, I can come home and draw or sew or cut up pieces of organza and hang them from a coathanger in some crazy-ass desire to express what home is. And for now, that is enough. Because it has to be.


Meditate the Fuck through It

August 8, 2014

Yup. I think that is my mantra for the new school year, which officially starts in 13 days. Don’t count team meetings and getting the room set up and prep days and professional development. Because if you count all that shit, I started yesterday. It’s a matter of looking at everything they want me to do (“they” being an amalgamate of all the people who want me to do all the things) and deciding what pieces are actually possible to do and how much of the doing I will do. And where is the line, the balance, between being a fucking awesome teacher and getting institutionalized for overwork. You take a little piece at a time. You pick one thing, maybe two, that can be different. You don’t rewrite everything. You don’t become an entirely different teacher. You do a little at a time and remember that working yourself into the ground doesn’t help anyone.

There’s been a lot of deep breathing the last two days. I’m OK. My meditation app now includes short, 2-minute refresher meditation blips…passing period is 4 minutes long, so I could meditate in between each class. You laugh, but I did that last year on way too many days. Close the door behind the last kid, gather up the journals, take a handful of deep breaths, wipe tears from eyes, open the door for the next class full of kids. It’s not the best way to live, but when you are in survival mode, that is what you do. Last year, I survived. My counselor has decided that this year, I will have a fulfilling school year. She promises me this. She calls me on my negativity. I call myself on it, but I’m not as good at it. In fact, I mostly suck at it. The parts of my brain argue with each other and there is rarely agreement. My daughter calls me on it too. I guess that’s a good thing. It’s hard to be positive when there have been so many disappointing developments, so many high expectations just completely trashed by someone else. That said, I manage it with art rejections. I’ve been rejected from a ton of shows this year. I can’t get into anything, apparently. Do I stop making art? Do I question my purpose in continuing to make art? Not really. Briefly, and then the art brain tells me to fuck off and ignore all those losers who reject my work. It will get in eventually. I won’t stop making it. I wish I had that confidence in the rest of my life, in my job, my love life, my relationships with people. Why can’t the art brain get all hot and heavy with those parts of me? Where does her attitude come from? How can it just be in part of me and not in all the parts?

All philosophical questions for the middle of the night. Remember how I was going to be done quilting on Tuesday? Yeah. Well. Fuck that. I’m still quilting. I’m 15 hours in now…

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So maybe 20 hours was an accurate guess. I have about 1/3 of the quilting around the outside of the image done, maybe a little less than that. I didn’t have a lot of quilting time today. School. Other stuff. So I’m doing a stipple to fill in the background…dark blue thread on dark blue fabric at night. In bad lighting. And the thread was doing really well for a good long time, and then it started breaking. Bastard.

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So I gots a little frusterated in the last hour or so. There was swearing and yelling and growling and application of oily crap that keeps the thread from breaking.

This is the backing…

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I have most of one long side, all of the top and about half of another long side to do…hopefully done tomorrow. Why do I even predict things like that? I already know how busy tomorrow is. Saturday is busy too. Sunday? Sunday is wide open. Next week. Sigh. I always want to have more done than I do. Always dissatisfied with my progress. High expectations and not meeting them. But it’s a good thing to have high expectations with the artmaking. I’m more realistic with the outcomes. I don’t often chastise myself for not meeting them…I just revise. Again…lessons to apply to the rest of life?

Stitching with friends tonight…still working on the never-ending Christmas stocking…

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I post these pictures to prove that I’m actually doing SOMETHING…something besides endlessly stitching around and around in dark blue thread.

This quilt will be done soon. I want to get the binding either Saturday or Sunday, get it stitched on next week. Call the photographer. Move on to the next project(s). I need to build a fabric house, complete 5 birds, and get the gender equality drawing done. I think my brain will be less panicky if I can make headway on that in the next week. Plus school. And clear out all the stuff in my bedroom that belongs in the living room. If I move it out, I think I’ll be more likely to deal with it. If I work on just one positive thing achieved each day (hung a piece of art, finished one step in the next quilt, crossed one thing off the list), I think it will all feel better. This is partially why I’m doing the GISHWHES thing…it’s goofy stuff (we shot a rock album cover last night, and tonight I added the band name and album title and submitted it), but it’s fun and I am actually getting these silly tasks done. It puts my brain in a different place. I need my brain to be in a different place. I need it to stop going over and over what I did wrong, when in reality, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just wasn’t psychic. Again. There’s a drawing in there somewhere. At least one. I need to find time for that too. The drawing is part of processing the bad shit out of me. The drawing is a way to vomit it up and get it out, like a hairball. Poison in the brain. Disgusting on the carpet.

Sigh. One of the projects that needs to be done before the end of the month is a floating house, and I have all the materials (coathangers, wire, organza, tulle) and I was thinking about what the house meant and how to build and decorate it, and all of a sudden, I thought: worry dolls. I need worry dolls. Kathy York’s quilts reminded me of them. So I’m hanging worry dolls off this house, but I think I’m also going to write some of my worries down, either on tags tied to the dolls, or maybe just right on the house itself, on the bits hanging off of it. Write down the worries, have them pulled down, weighed down, by the dolls. Because that is what worry feels like, extreme financial worry, worry for sending the boychild off to college, worry about my own job, worry about finishing stuff on time, worry about the girlchild applying to college, worry about my future, worry about so many things. Maybe if I tie all that to the floating house, I won’t have to carry them around myself.

You can see why I need the meditation.


Exorcising Demons

June 6, 2014

It’s interesting how angry I am at this piece. At all of them maybe. Certainly at the Earth Stories piece…I don’t ever want to see it again. I may get over that. I’m angry at myself for letting my emotional existence affect my enjoyment of making art. Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense. There’s no point in being angry at myself for something I don’t really have any control over…despite all the happy shit on Pinterest that says it’s my decision to be this way. Fuck you Pinterest. Seriously. Who asked you?

Yeah right. Anyway. I’ve avoided this sucker all week…too tired to stand after work. Seriously that tired. Somehow today, when I taught just like always, then went to finish up the refi after work (this might be how I survive the summer), then came home and went directly to the gym, came home again and cooked and did dishes…plus graded papers. On a day like that, you’d expect me to just collapse on the couch, never to rise again.

Fuck that shit. I’m not going to be that person. It may kill me to keep making art when it feels so sucky to do so, but hell, it can’t be worse than sitting around and doing nothing. So I ironed…and I wasn’t sure about it at all until I saw the photograph.

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Oh yes. That’s nice. That’s going to kick some butt when the fingers are all stitched down and outlined. I am liking that hand. It’s a pain in the butt to iron, of course, because the overlaps aren’t logical and nice, but I’m getting there. This is about two hours in (with the torso already ironed below). Not a lot of pieces…just a pain in the ass. Nothing new in Kathy Art world. Welcome to my ability to punish myself with my own artwork.

I also cut pieces out…

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a little of both worlds tonight. I’m 16 hours into this, and probably still have at least two to three more to go. This is the biggie that will eat up a large portion of the summer. Plus the next one, which doesn’t exist. Then there are at least 3 drawings done in the last year that want to be new quilts. Plus I need to do some smaller ones for shows that don’t like boobies. Assholes.

Who needs a personal life. I’ll just keep making art and hiding in my room, coming out for work and the occasional something or other. Fuck the world. I wrote that all over my notebook in high school. FTW. Not sure my attitude’s changed much in 30 years. I guess I’m more likely to say it out loud now.

I’ve spent all week explaining to my female students that Nature isn’t fair, that there isn’t an equivalent to their 40 years of periods and giving birth for the boys…although I personally think that giving birth and nursing babies is one of the most fucking awesome things I’ve ever done (not wanting to do it again, though, and pregnancy was hell for me, like want-to-die hell). But it would be nice to not have the rest of it. They’re pissed, my girl students. They don’t think it’s fair. They want payback. I don’t blame them.

I was ironing and the cord was hanging down in front of Babygirl. Apparently she thought she needed to play with it (smart animal) and got her claws stuck in it while I was ironing…

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Sigh. She is not particularly bright. So she’s semi-yowling and trying to rip her claws through an electrical cord, and I’m trying to free her from the nasty beast, and she’s trying to kill me in the process, because that’s how her tiny little brain works. I do feel sorry for her. We take in the losers and the mutants here.

The mood is still bleak. Then I look back at that ironed breast up there and smile, slightly, to myself. That’s good. Keep doing that. The smiles might stick if you do it enough. You don’t have to like them once they’re done. The Earth Stories quilt? It can travel for years. I don’t particularly want the memories of making it under duress back in my house. The quilt itself is fine…it’s all the emotional shit that’s sewed INTO it that can go fuck itself. So yeah. When you make art to exorcise your demons, it’s better if they stay gone, out, far away. Don’t let those assholes come back home.


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