Maintain, Dammit. Maintain.

September 28, 2014

Deep breaths. Keep thinking of the positives. I finished ironing last night (it was 2 in the morning). It took 14 hours and 14 minutes to pick all those fabrics, about 3 hours more than I had predicted. At one point, all I had left were these…

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and I considered stopping, because it was freakin’ late and I was tired and I’ve been fighting a hormone/weather headache on and off for 4 days and it was back (it’s back now too…making me think stress is the third arm of it, the part whacking at my brain right now). But I thought…fuck. I’m ALMOST FUCKING DONE. Just do it. If that doesn’t tell you more about who and how I am, I don’t know what will.

Cutting out tree parts is a pain in the ass, because they take a huge piece of fabric and don’t fit together well. It’s time-consuming…

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and hard to find big enough pieces of fabric in my stash. But I did it. Ninety-four fabrics later…

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There they all are. Heavy on the grays, strangely. So I sort of met my deadline on that and now need to cut them all out by Tuesday. Ha! I might need to revise that.

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I’ve started, sure, but I am so freakin’ buried in schoolwork right now. Trying to tread water, keep head up and breathing. Deep breaths. Meditating every day at the moment, which yes, I should be doing anyway, but the fabric choosing was taking care of that mindset until Friday. Friday things started to implode in my head. I’m overwhelmed. I need to step back and make my lists and deal with one day at a time. I can’t lump it all together and try to deal with it all at once. I can’t even go Big Picture at the moment.

I’m 37 hours into this quilt. Cutting out should take a while. Apparently on a similarly sized quilt, it took 13 hours to iron and 15 to trim the fabrics. If that’s realistic and I have 13 hours to go, I’m not going to get anywhere near finished until next weekend. Then I’ll start ironing. Maybe that’s my goal: to be ready to iron sometime next weekend. (Kathryn: no hiking, reduce social events as much as possible? Fuck.) I’m really busting my butt on this and at work and it’s starting to show. I’m really incredibly tense (chiropractor this week!) and I have no mental release really. I’m so deep into the have-to list that I cannot get focus. This week is ugly too. They all are. Who am I kidding?

Anyway. College stuff is paid. Boychild still doesn’t have a job. Girlchild is currently waiting for me to come help her paint her parking spot (she’s a senior), but I have to go grocery shopping first. I remembered to buy dog food yesterday, but forgot the cat food. Midnight broke into the food cupboard in protest and ripped open the other cat food bag, the one she doesn’t like. I regularly have to duct tape holes in cat food bags because of her. I still have one class of tests to grade and I have 5 kids who don’t really read or write English who honestly need a curriculum at about a kindergarten level, but with 7th grade content. I haven’t fully planned this week’s lesson yet, and I’m about to blow off any connection to technology, just to save my sanity.

But I finished the God-Damned Fucking Ironing.

I am the crazy-haired woman all in black who is standing in the middle of the produce section at the grocery store in meditation pose, eyes closed, deep breathing. You should just walk around me. Maybe give me a hug while you do it.


Finally Ironing Myself to Fabric…

September 21, 2014

I met my goal. I ironed for three hours. I was really tired and had to rest twice. It makes it sound like I’m running a marathon (kinda am). Brain power needed to color pictures in head and find appropriate fabric colors is apparently quite a large amount. So after soccer and the gym, not much brain power left. Plus haven’t slept much lately. Keep fucking stuff up because of that lack-of-sleep thing. I slept finally Friday and Saturday nights (well, minus middle-of-the-night freakouts), but I feel more tired right now than on school mornings, when I only have 5 hours.

Probably I should avoid ironing myself into the quilt. Hard to do when I’m tired already.

Both kids are texting me this morning. So it’s quiet, but people are talking. Weird, huh? I haven’t had enough caffeine to deal with either. Too much information crossing.

So I started by cleaning up this space yesterday…

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Because that’s where I lay out the Wonder Under pieces while I’m trying to figure out what to iron them to…I was trying to get that done before the soccer game, but it never goes the way you want, does it?

I managed to get a pile of fabrics on the ironing board…

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(moved from one place to another…very efficient) and then later got them into piles by color and realized I have way too much fabric at the moment. I know that doesn’t make sense. I do keep buying fabric, but I don’t buy a lot at a time, and mostly it gets used up in backgrounds and backings and bindings and sleeves, but apparently I’m still adding more than I’m subtracting…something to do with how little of a particular fabric I use at a time? Or they are breeding.

So I didn’t start actually ironing until 9 PM.

Not particularly efficient sometimes. Really. I had all day. I’m not sure what happened.

Well, this happened…

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They won 3-1…and they made all 4 goals (whoops). Between drive time and having to be there 45 minutes early, I usually lose 3 1/2 hours per game. iPhone Sep 21 14 066 small

Girlchild headed the ball into the goal, her first header goal.

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She did the happy dance. The ball on the right comes over and she’s the one in red in front of the goal. Right in front of the goalie and her white-shirted teammates, who probably blocked her getting to the girlchild. Yes, I forgot my camera at home, so these are all phone pictures.

Then we came home and there was some of this…

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Because Katy needed it apparently (apparently her name is not spelled the way I thought, and she used to be KatyGirl, and that was way too much)…

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Or girlchild needed it. Hard to say.

Once she was gone and it was quiet again, I set up the room the way I like it…so I can see the drawing while I’m picking stuff out…Sep 21 14 007 small

and because apparently I have to have something underfoot and Calli was at the other house, Katy stepped up and laid her chubby little body out for me to step over. She is pretty mellow, though, and will not freak out when I step over her. She will follow me out of the room 700 times though if I leave to get my tea or pee.Sep 21 14 008 small

It’s not ironing unless I’m stepping over a dog. And piles of crap. You’d think I could solve the piles-of-crap issue.

I ironed for a while, got into some fleshy bits, not sure if I have enough of these fabrics for the larger figures…Sep 21 14 009 small

Guess I will figure that out the hard way. Yes, I’m still watching Star Trek. It really is awful dialogue at the moment, The Next Generation. I keep almost bailing on it, but I love Picard too much to leave him.

It’s amazing. I have so many flesh-colored fabrics and I keep coming back to the same ones, time after time. I try to branch out, but trying to get tones that go in a nice range is difficult. This one’s too brown, this one’s too pink, too peach.

This is what I’ve used so far…grays, reds (there was a heart), lots of pinky colors…

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I only got about 185 pieces ironed last night…actually, no, it was more than that because I was pulling from other bins for the scales…

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I stopped because it was after midnight, I was tired, and the next two things were very complicated birds. And I don’t know what color I want them to be. I could go for realism or crazy. Tempted by crazy. But still trying to color it in my head. Probably going to wait a bit before I start. Maybe. Blue and orange? Purple? It’s gotta pop on the background…

Anyway. It’s progress. Three more hours of ironing is my goal today, but I need to grade things too and grocery shop and plan for the week, so that could be problematic. In fact, I just went off and emailed the parents at school, because the kids have an assignment due tomorrow at 9 AM, and I suspect by my Edmodo stats (which I can unfortunately check on my phone, my iPad, and my computer) that many have forgotten. Of course, the app keeps crashing, so who the hell knows? Ah yes. 57 out of 140 submitted. Sigh. That is unfortunate. Easy to grade if they don’t turn it in, though. Man, that’s cynical.

The transition to technology is not without its issues. OK. Moving on with my day. Might be awake enough to deal. Hard to say.


Holding It in My Head…

September 19, 2014

So I’m done with that heinous task, the cutting out of 1070 pieces of Wonder Under. Total, it took 7 hours and 23 minutes. I’m noticing my estimates are fairly accurate in terms of hours, but not so accurate in terms of days. I think that’s because I overestimate my ability to blow off everything else. I forget about sleeping and eating and peeing. That shit takes time. It took me 5 nights. I did 3 hours yesterday. The shortest day, I did 40 minutes. Last night, I had quilt class, so I cut out for an hour and a half, and then I came home and decided I wasn’t going to bed until I was done. I even thought, only briefly though, that I should sort them all last night too, but I decided that was crazy talk. Because it was. It was after midnight when I finished.

It will take me another hour to sort them, so I’ll try to do that this afternoon/evening, depending on what other tasks arise. I really need to grade assignments. I was going to type ‘papers,’ but a goodly portion of what my students turn in at the moment is on the web, not in my hand. I finally got Google Classroom! Yay! I don’t know if it will solve all my problems, but it might solve a couple. Now I just need to find time to set it up and populate classes, which is complicated by the fact that more than half my students don’t have names in my Gmail. Which is maybe Hapara’s fault? Or Google’s? Or probably it’s just a planetary shift issue and will adjust when the magnetic poles flip and I become Queen of the Hinterland.

I am NOT sarcastic.

So finding time to grade stuff has always been a problem for me. I’m debating letting my teacher’s aide grade warmups. The girlchild does, when she has time (she has no time at the moment, and did not clean up the living room yesterday when I asked her to because Math. That was the answer. I don’t understand how Math can stop you cleaning. Art? I can understand that, but not Math). I can’t have him grade anything that requires me to check for understanding, though, and warmups are sometimes like that. Girlchild knows to hand me papers that trouble her. I don’t know. I can’t decide. Sigh! Poor guy; he has been very patient with me. I think I scare the crap out of him sometime…I wonder why certain kids want to be my aide. It can’t be fun.

Anyway, here’s the finished pile of very exciting, artistic, tiny little pieces of Wonder Under.

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You wish you had some of this. Admit it.

This means fabric tonight! Which yes, means I did manage to go to Rosie’s yesterday afternoon and pick out background fabric…

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This bright blue/purple called out to me. Some others called out to me as well, so I stood there and stared at the fabric that called and half closed my eyes and visualized the drawing imposed on the fabric, and then started coloring it in in my head. If it’s blue, am I using a lot of water in the quilt? If so, what will that look like? What things in the drawing are touching the background? What have to lace their way across it, like the trees I do? How will the contrast work? Trees can be problematic…browns tend to be medium range for trees (at least when I do them), so if the background is too close to a medium range, the tree won’t be as obvious. Same with dirt. Sometimes that’s a good thing…sometimes it’s not. What about the leaves? What about the main figures in the quilt? Will they show up well or fade into the background? What do I want them to do?

To the casual quilt-shop observer, I’m meditating in front of a row of bolted fabric. Well, you’re kinda right. It is a form of meditation. Using my brain to process the image. Who needs a fucking computer?

Yes, I also bought some other fabrics, some light/whites for eyeballs and fingernails (seriously) and two Halloweeny fabrics with anatomical hearts and skeletons and the like. I thought Rosie’s looked pretty empty of fabrics…maybe because Market is coming up? I don’t know. Lots of empty shelves. It disturbed me. I’ve been going to Rosie’s since I started quilting in 1987. That’s a long time…and yes, it’s my favorite San Diego store. There’s a quilt store closer to home (it’s actually moving further north, but will still be about the same distance) that I rarely frequent. It’s not got a lot of fabrics. It caters to class-takers, those that like to buy rulers. I only have two rulers. Actually, I think I have a couple more than that, but only because people give them to me. I’m still using the same two rulers I’ve had for probably 25 years. I don’t cut a lot of straight lines. I don’t take any classes really either. At the opening last week, someone offered me a brochure for a local art facility that does classes, and I’m thinking, um, yeah, I’m kinda past that stage. I might take a mural-painting class or a graffiti class at this stage in my life, but I don’t need to do a whole lot else. I’ve already done it.

So I’m trying to be excited about the next stage…it’s usually the hardest AND the most relaxing stage of the quilt…picking fabrics. It’s definitely the most creative, after doing the original drawing. I’ve been trying colors out in the drawing in my head. This one is pretty easy. Some are much harder. I can see this one pretty clearly though. So hopefully that will make it easier. Realistically, there’s social stuff I could be doing in the next week (I actually went searching for some), but I can’t. I need to get this done. I don’t have money to go do a lot of stuff either, so it’s better if I don’t. If I can get 3 hours done tomorrow and another 3 on Sunday (my goal), then 5 during the week…if I get too tired for the ironing portion, I can work on cutting things out instead. I’m still aiming for Sept 30 to be done with fabric and ready to iron. Gasp.

It’s nice to have a plan. Unfortunately, as we know, it will get blown up at some point, but at least I try. I’m being very hermit-like and antisocial trying to get this thing done. That part is depressing, but it’s necessary at the moment. When it cools off and soccer mellows out, maybe I can start hiking again. I would go next week, but am buried in meetings and a back-to-school night. Can’t really hike by myself at 9 PM.

I think it’s Friday. I’m onto the next part of the quilt. I made progress. Holding that in my head for now.


Shit. And Fuck. Deep Breaths…

September 16, 2014

I woke up this morning hoping that last night’s mood had wandered off in the still-sweltering heat or better, that a predator had jumped it from behind and torn it limb from limb. Even that it was lost in the streets somewhere, no GPS, unable to relocate me, find my brain, continue to wear on me. I don’t even know where it came from…it snuck up on me, as I persuaded myself that this art rejection was not crucial, that technology isn’t out to get me, that I can in fact finish all the things I’m supposed to finish and be allowed to make art and maybe even exercise and meditate and eat. Maybe.

But no. ‘Tis not to be.

The first assumption is hormones, those beastly chemicals that rule my world. Look at the calendar. Do some calculations. Fuck me. I don’t do calculations. I look at an app and it does it for me. What it can’t do is predict all the other factors: stress, lack of sleep, who’s demanding things of me, what stupid shit I will have to take on because of other stupid people, teenagers, did I mention stress? And I’m wondering about the effect of our new minimum days at school. On Monday, we push the kids through shorter periods, which confuses my brain and blood sugar, so we can have an hour of collaboration. Which we did, but my food schedule gets off and that doesn’t help. And I was frustrated by technology limitations, and went down to my room to complete a task I was told would take 15-20 minutes, and after half an hour, was so frustrated I was on the verge of tears. I am not stupid. I know how to use help menus. I know how to read. But it wasn’t working.

Hey, any time something at school (insert work here?) gets so bad that you are tearing up? Leave. Go home. Change what you’re doing. So I did, but got a call as I was leaving that the girlchild’s dog had disappeared (damn pool guy’s dad who doesn’t close the gate behind him). It’s OK. She’s dumb, but smart enough to run to the other house, where my ex found her. Sigh. And this morning? I just caught her chewing on the girlchild’s senior photos. Which cost a million bucks. Luckily, I got them before she did major damage. Sigh. So she’s lying on the floor behind me and she knows I’m pissed off at her.

I had this dream last night that girlchild was picking out Christmas presents for family members and she had them all piled up in the store, and I kept telling her to check the prices, but then I had to leave to be somewhere, and she was going to check out at the register, and when she handed the receipt to me later, every item on it was over $100 and one was $515 and one was $212 (where is my brain coming up with these prices?) and I almost had a heart attack with the total. You don’t need to check Freud for that one. Just the most recent bursar bill from Cornell.

No pictures today. Do you want to see another pile of trimmed Wonder Under? I don’t. I managed 40 minutes of cutting last night. I think my plan of being on fabric by Wednesday is fucking delusional. And I’m supposed to be doing a million other things too. Filling out forms, shipping quilts, grading papers, reading the three books that are due back at the library (how I cause myself stress over that, I don’t know.), picking a day for my formal observation at school. I hate this shit. Hate all of it. Just want to come home and have it be a different life for once. Pack up all my stuff and move to some island with a bunch of pygmy goats and pigs and one horse who isn’t too big and boisterous. Then I can pretend I’m in one of those novels where I am totally isolated and NOT surrounded by people, and there is someone who delivers supplies every two weeks or so and it turns into one of those gothic romances I used to read when I was in 6th grade or so, where there’s no sex, just heaving bosoms and breathy statements of love and support and the horse comes in and whinnies in a supportive manner.

Sigh. Even that would irritate me today, I think. Fuck the guy yesterday who told me I could do that computer thing in 20 minutes flat. Fuck him for making me feel stupid. Better…fuck ME for making me feel stupid. It’s OK. I know who can help. I have a plan.

So when I get like this, I know I have to take action to keep it from becoming worse, from taking me over. I need to be efficient today, despite the over-100-degree temperatures. I need to not let anything get to me, even though I have to go to school and teach 150 7th graders how to do technology, AGAIN. Even though I have to commit to an observation date with a screwed up calendar. I will go to the gym, the air-conditioned gym, with my book (that was due last Saturday) and I will make my body behave, even if my brain can’t. I will meditate, because although it makes me cry (still, yes…even when I don’t talk about it, it still happens), it also helps with these moments, the ones where the stress and unhappiness inside me are ballooning out, trying to tear out of my chest. And I will pack up that damn quilt so I can ship it tomorrow, and I will fill out whatever damn forms I need to fill out and I will cut out Wonder Under for at least an hour.

And yes, at this rate, I may not finish cutting out Wonder Under until the weekend. And then I will work Saturday night and Sunday morning to make sure I have a good start on the fabric part. Because ideally, the fabric is chosen and trimmed by September 30. (choke) OK. That’s my goal. You can’t always realistically reach your goals. At the moment, I don’t seem to be able to achieve any of them. All right. Dear universe, dear brain…I’m not happy with either of you, and in true Kathy fashion, I will be fighting your shit. You can make me scream, yell, cry, fall down and kick my feet against your crap, but I will still fight it.

Meditating that shit right now.


Zombies, Please Take My Brain…

September 11, 2014

Someone actually found my blog by searching “penis tortured on an ironing board.” Ironically, I was tracing a penis onto Wonder Under last night, but no ironing boards were involved. I finished the female figure and moved on to the male. I only got a paltry 110 pieces traced, but it was back-to-school night and I spent 10.5 hours at school and was the Walking Dead when I got home. Speaking of Walking Dead, the CDC has zombie lesson plans and a graphic novel that I’m going to use for the end of my “what is living” section. I’m not apparently living at the moment. Lots of parents and kids and parents who think you should know who they are because you’ve had their older kids, but hell, you don’t have a CLUE who they are. Sigh. I eventually figured some of them out. I think. But no, I don’t have your child’s grade memorized. Sorry.

Anyway. It’s done. I think it was successful. We certainly had way more people than we normally do, mostly because our current principal is like a circus/rodeo guy (not really; he just plays one on TV) and he did raffle prizes and gave out free pizza that was actually pretty good. We bribed them with extra credit if a parent or guardian showed up. Many came with multiple people (you got a raffle ticket for every person). All very strange. Different. It’s weird being a teacher and having your principal change every three years (I’ve never had one longer than that), and the personality of the school changes with it and all the teachers have to adjust and there’s issues with that because teachers can be a bunch of whiners.

Anyway. So the girlchild and I got home at about the same time, and I made a cup of tea and collapsed on the couch, and she did the same, except she had homework in hand (I didn’t even TRY to work. I gots books to read, don’tcha know). And eventually she said she was hungry and we cobbled together a strange meal of leftovers, some of which were so leftover that they should have been tossed out (they are now), and in doing so, I found some things that had gone bad. Food stuffs that were now really gross. We’re playing rock/paper/scissors to deal with the tupperware of fuzzy muffins. I really am not on top of all the household chores at the moment. I have school brain and art brain, and all other brains appear to be offline. Down for the count. Missing in action. I make plans to pack up stuff for the thrift shop or deal with the unfinished living room or hang art or clear the hallway, and it just doesn’t happen. I come home and my working brain flees, screeching, hiding under the bed. There’s not a lot left.

So I didn’t start tracing until almost 11, I think, because I exercised and meditated, and the meditation app was having issues, so I had to delete and reinstall it and then finally email the techs at Headspace, who apparently fiddled with my account last night. And then I started tracing, while the girlchild stressed about colleges and how to whittle her list in half…

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I’ve got about 650 pieces done…I think I could finish in two nights if exhaustion doesn’t take over (ahem. OK. Good luck with that.). So my goal is to be done Friday night. Then cutting out all the pieces starting on Saturday, getting that done in 3 days? Maybe? It could happen. Except I do have other stuff to do, as always. I set the goals and then I trash them. I’m trying to keep working as if I don’t know about the extra two weeks at the end that I just found out about yesterday. Let alone the offer of a couple weeks beyond that. Nope. Sticking to mid-November. And I don’t know what to tell the girlchild. I had her do some research to try to narrow it down. I feel like the college counselor should be helping more with this.

Boychild was texting complaints again. I offered suggestions that involved his making decisions and ordering stuff instead of me. He wants plants in his room. I remember plants. I used to have plants all over the house. And then I had kids and I had a choice: keep the kids alive or the plants alive. I guess you know who won. But it wouldn’t be bad to try to get back in the habit. He reminded me of plants. No, we’re not mailing him cactus…but we did consider it.

Both the girlchild and I are trying to give Babygirl attention, since the boychild is gone, and she likes him best and he gave her the most love and affection. I’m not sure she appreciates it. I have holes in my arms that imply she doesn’t. And girlchild gets a little psycho with the attention…

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We texted that to the boychild. I don’t think she really ate the cat. She’s old. Not very tasty.

I’m still bullying through Google and now Edmodo, which needs a beatdown. Seriously, it should not take 10 keystrokes to hand in an assignment. But it does. Eighty-nine of my 150 students have turned the assignment in. I know that because my phone tells me. I swear. This will make my life easier. Maybe. I’m a day behind in instruction. Do I care? Hell no. By the end of this unit, I’ll be more than that behind, and I am winging it and I just don’t care. I’ve got engagement. It’s all good.

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Seriously, this is just PART of the instructions on the board, and the thing is, most of them won’t (can’t?) read this. And all the intuitive poking around that I would do? They don’t. They just put their hand in the air or start yelling out, and they can’t figure out what to do next. Sometimes I type it up and put the instructions on the desk. It doesn’t matter; the high-level kids will still do it and the others will just sit there. And if I say it to them while demonstrating on my OWN account (because I have a student account set up), then some start to space out and get behind, or they are just really slow to hear things or honestly, English is their 5th language and they barely understand it in the first place. So I count on the expertise at your table! Who at your table knows what they’re doing? Have them help you. But really, I end up walking around and helping about half the classroom just LOG IN. I should pay the kids who do it right. If you log in and submit within 5 minutes of my instructions? Ten bucks goes into your student account (doesn’t have to be real money…could be play money that they exchange for food or something). But I need this system to work without MY having to run it. The amount goes down over time.

The password stuff is killing me though. We put password sheets in their planners and have them write their login information, but they forget or they write it wrong, and then I have to log out of the student account and into the teacher account (I would love to be able to have two tabs open, one with each, but it logs me out of one if the other is open…there must be a way around that) to reset their password and look up their login info. So their solution? Make a new account. My 8th period currently has 41 students, even though there are only 34 on the roster. I’m spending all day today helping the kids who couldn’t turn in their assignment yesterday for whatever reason, which includes deleting all the duplicate accounts. If you think that doesn’t sound like fun, it’s because it doesn’t. Imagine not being techy and trying to do this. I get why some teachers just take a deep breath and look away from the tech. It’s too much on top of everything else.

But my goal is that by December, this is something they can just do without my help. Really. I’m putting time in now so that it’s a smooth ride later.

I want zombie stories. That’s what’s next. Gotta have a hook.

I’m not writing anything sci fi at the moment. I’d like to. I sit down at the computer and think about it, and then zombielicious brain takes over and reads blogs or there’s something else that I have to do…send a contract here, pay a bill there. It’s never-ending. Time to write? Eh. Maybe in the morning. (I actually wrote for a little while last night, but hell…this morning I feel like I was hit by a truck. I’m so tired. BALANCE. Fucking balance.)

So yeah, I’ve been thinking, and the depression is still there. It’s hard to shake. Hangs around my neck, claws in. Yeah, it’s better, but it’s still there. I feel it in meditation. I feel it in the late nights. It’s there at the gym. It hangs out in the car with me when I’m by myself after a hike or the gym, on the way home. It helps me fill the gas tank at night, standing in the gas station, alone with that stupid black cloud, almost a black fur coat stifling my heart, my core. Snug fit.

I would love to have it be gone. I wish I could just shake it off. Been saying that for over a year. I think next week it will be 14 months. Well, technically longer than that if you go back to the low-level crap, but this severe shit, the stuff where your brain messes with you, colors the pictures wrong, tries to pull the blanket out from under you, trips you up in aisles (god, I miss the movies)…that’s been 14 months. And it’s still there. Smaller. Less deadly. But there.

That’s an owl I hear hooting in the background, telling me it’s past my bedtime. I’m not finishing this post tonight. I’m not nearly coherent enough. Actually, I might be way more coherent at night (morning), than I am after 4.5 hours of sleep…which is what I get on average. No wonder I’m a little nuts. The meditation keeps me relatively calm though. Seriously though…I think the owl is currently residing in the tree right outside my bedroom. I can hear it loud and clear. It’s saying, “Go the Fuck to Bed, you Dumbass.” That was 1:23 AM. Now it’s morning and I’m trying to add/edit. The caffeine has not kicked in, though, so I’m sluggish. I just want to stay home and finish tracing. I’d be done by noon, probably. Sound good? Yeah. I know. Must go to work. Honestly, it might be easier if the zombies took my brain and ate it. I think I’d get more done.


Google My Sanity

September 10, 2014

I spent all day teaching kids how to cut and paste on a computer. How to find things in Google Docs. How to open files and get things out of the trash (actually, I’m not sure I’ve figured that one out for Google Docs yet). I figured out how to do superscript by the end of 4th period (in Docs…I know how to do it elsewhere, but my computer and theirs are different, so there were some issues). Don’t raise your hand and tell me you can’t find the file when you damn well know you threw it in the trash. DUDE. Seriously? Ask the real question…Ms. Nida, how do I get it out of the trash? The plus with Docs is that they don’t have to remember to save anything. The plus AND minus is that they can mess with color and fonts on their answers…why do they always pick a font that is illegible? In yellow? The plus is that in Docs, I can change it all back. Google hates me at the moment though, as I am still not allowed in Classroom, so tomorrow should be interesting when they hand all these files in. What was more amusing was Google temporarily crashing this morning, as every device and app I had shut down. Yes, I had a backup plan. But it came back up quickly. It’s sad when I am using THREE devices at a time, plus poking around on the kids’ devices, in order to teach a class. Seriously, I had the Mac, my iPhone, and the Nexus tablet (school-issued). I left my iPad at home, because I don’t want it to get hurt or lost. So I have the kids watching something on my Mac through the digital projector, I’m emailing the APs on my phone, and I’m using the tablet to send documents to the kids’ Google Drives. You have to be semi-impressed (only semi-, because I wasn’t the most efficient today). It’s a major learning experience, but I’m actually kind of enjoying the change. Make them do everything. Make them prepare a report and send it to me. Make them create notes. I don’t have to be standing up at the front of the room so much any more. I can be directing it, but letting them do it all. It’s kinda cool.

I had to write about 700 words on the board as instructions unfortunately, because (1) kids don’t listen and (2) Google’s not as user-friendly as it should be. I love that the digital natives (my students) are not as tech-savvy as the media purports…they can’t handle finding a file with their own name in the title, let alone clicking on an icon after I’ve shown them the picture. On the one hand, the tech can be lots of fun and very positive to use. On the other hand, training them to do things that I do in my sleep is a pain in the ass. My goal is that they can do this by December…I can assign and demo a lab, expect them to complete it, and have them prepare the report in Docs and hand it in to me without all this crazy fuss. Are we there yet? Fuck no. But this damn science classroom is flipping onto the web. It surely is. And I’m running along after it, trying to get it under control.

Anyway. It’s a challenge to get through days like this, even though it was mostly successful…and then when I’m driving home, there’s a deep emptiness inside. I need something else that I don’t have. That hole is wearing. I keep thinking if I just keep going, making, working, cleaning, whatevering, it will eventually go away, that empty feeling. I will be OK with life as it is and find joy in moments. Sigh. Not there yet. It just seems shallow sometimes. Like I’m just on the surface of my existence…the deeper part of it is hidden, inaccessible, even lost. Not sure what to even do about all that.

Nothing I guess. Nothing for now. Keep doing. Making. Drawing. Reading. Being.

So I traced another couple hundred pieces tonight (found another 10 unnumbered pieces). I’m at the halfway mark in tracing now…which is cool. I have to really fight my brain to keep tracing though. I’m tired at the end of the day, and I went to the gym as well, so working for another 2+ hours feels difficult. I’m 5 1/2 hours in…Sep 9 14 001 small

So I guess my 10-11 hour estimate on the tracing step was fairly accurate. This is the view of Downton Abbey on the TV while I trace…no, I had not finished watching the last season. I save stuff up for a long time sometimes.

Meanwhile, while I was tracing, both kids were texting me, one from a third of a mile down the road, the other from New York, both complaining, although the girlchild was mostly complaining about the boychild, because they were texting each other as well. Apparently the piano arrived today. You’d think he’d send me a text thanking me for sending that fucker, but NO. I get complaints about how the bars for the hanging files are too long, even with the grooves you use to shorten them. I suggest tool usage. There are no tools. I suggest finding the maintenance guy (I am always friends with the maintenance guy) or asking the RA, but no, that is not acceptable. I suggest road trips to Lowes or Home Depot, but that is also impossible. IMPOSSIBLE. Sigh. Excuse me while I drive a toolset to Ithaca. I’m slowly weaning him off me, I think. I really feel like a suite full of intelligent boys should be able to figure this out. He was obviously in a mood, though. Granted, it was after midnight. But a THANK YOU for shipping crap would have been nice.

Have I mentioned that I am not psychic? This has apparently been an issue for others. Expecting me to be so. Fuck you. I’m not psychic. I listen. I pay attention. I just can’t always know what’s in your head if you don’t say it. Stop telling me all the ways I’m doing it wrong too. I can’t possibly be doing EVERYTHING wrong.

Mega sigh. Girlchild thanked me this morning for cleaning out the clogged toilet…again. I think the plumber is on dad’s list right now. My list is a challenge. Girlchild and are going shoe-shopping later this week. I need some shoes. Plus I have back-to-school night tomorrow night, so I will deserve it. Seriously, I haven’t bought any shoes except flipflops for over two years…maybe longer. Purple leather boots it is. For the boychild. I’ll ship him those with the pliers and screwdriver that he had in his drawers at home but didn’t take to college with him because they weren’t his. But they’re IN YOUR DRAWERS, so I can’t possibly know that and use them, so you might as well have taken them with you.

MAJOR FUCKING SIGH. Seriously. I need to go dancing or camping or anything with a large group of people who will make me laugh. Like I have time for that. Or money. I was pondering the counselor’s comment about my depression being gone. I think she’s wrong. It’s better, but it’s not gone. I took 4 online quizzes, because they are accurate predictors of everything under the sun, and THEY all said I was still depressed. Someday I’ll take one of these quizzes and it will magically tell me I am no longer depressed and I will throw a party. You’re invited.

Pro: The damn quilt is getting done. Ignore the Con. The cons are annoying. They need to go for a walk and get over themselves. Fuck the cons. Throw them in the Google trash, since I don’t know how to retrieve anything from there anyway.


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…

Aug 29 14 001 small

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.

Aug 29 14 002 small

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.


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