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.

Trying to Find the Way Out.

June 5, 2014

The boychild trying to amuse me in the morning (because he didn’t take the recycling out again): Shows me his super-expensive (required by the course) graphing calculator, which you can program to do certain functions, pushes a series of buttons and tells me to hit enter: his calculator then tells me it sees dead people. Sigh. Grin. This because last night Calli (the Golden Retriever) seemed to either be scared of her shadow in the entryway or telling me there were ghosts outside the door. Not sure which. Put her to bed so I wouldn’t have to think about it. Then thought about the fact that my protector, the dog, is hiding behind ME. Hmn.

I’m trying to control parts of my life so that the uncontrolled parts don’t feel so vast and empty. In trying to explain yesterday to one class why kids cut themselves (yes, teaching sex ed covers a wide range of topics, including suicide and depression and cutting), I tried to talk about the need for control, and how in some people, it gets messed up. That their need for control is so strong and their own lives are so out of control, that what they choose to control seems crazy to the rest of us (anorexia, bulimia as well). I left school and went and controlled some stuff (refi’d my mortgage). Then went home, where the chaos reigns, and tried to deal. I can control the errands. After that, it’s questionable.

My knee is having major problems. This is not good. I’m not hiking until it stops. I may need to deal with a doctor on this one. It sucks. I hate that the body gets in the way of treating the mind, because hiking and walking treats my mind, the depression, and I’m not going to be able to do that for a while. Not sure how long. Hate this.

Girlchild had her followup back appointment, post-surgery. She’s cleared to start soccer practice and running in two weeks. She was hoping to be cleared yesterday, so she ended up being depressed about that. Mad because I had scheduled it then and not when she would be allowed to play. I don’t think that’s how we planned it, but whatever. So it was a weird day, because I only taught half the day, but I had to get up early and deal with freeway traffic and crap.

Back to that place where it feels like the sky is pressing down on your shoulders, blocking your ability to breathe. It feels like a heavy blanket…ironic, because it is a beautifully sunny day out there, it’ll be in the mid-80s. It’s spring going into summer in Southern California…where depression feels completely out of place, because nature just laughs at you. Not only am I going to fuck your KNEE up, but I’m going to make it a beautiful day! So fuck you. Wow. I see how it is.

I try to pull myself out of these. I was dancing in 6th period to 70s funk (some of the kids know some of it). I graded a bunch of journals when I got back early from the doctor’s appointment. I can’t send my sub home early, so I might as well use that time. My goal was to not have to work last night. Turns out I didn’t have the energy anyway.

I did manage some cutting, about an hour (it’s always about an hour…).

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It’s getting there. The pile in the middle, the to-be-cut pile, is getting noticeably smaller. There’s a lot of big fleshy pieces in there now, which are easier for me to cut (and deal with mentally). For some reason, the small tiny bitchy pieces just depress me. I pick up a piece with a ton of tiny pieces on it and I just feel overwhelmed. But when I pick up a huge piece that probably has just as much complicated cutting going on, it seems more doable. Makes no sense. I haven’t managed to go back to ironing the other one together either. I’m just too tired these days. Ironic. I’m sleeping more. The other side of depression? Sleep instead of wakefulness? Or something else? I’m always having to second-guess what my body is doing. And the brain. What does THIS mean? What did I do to cause this? Blood sugar, sleep, weight issues. All so uncontrollable. Maybe I will have to clean something to make it better in my head.

I enjoy some parts of journal grading. It really is a relief to grade a perfect journal…

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and then some of them are so creative…

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Guess which one was done by a girl and which one was done by a boy. I wish that weren’t so obvious, but it often is. Not always.

I think my mood is connected to something disappointing that happened at school, disappointing because of the kids involved and because I had just talked to them about the three results of bullying in middle and high school: 1. the kid just deals with it and moves on. 2. the kid attempts to or succeeds in killing him or herself. 3. the kid stockpiles guns and comes back to school and kills you for being an asshole. (I don’t use those exact words, but…) And then it doesn’t seem to matter what teachers say, because they still do that shit and consequences still happen. So I already know I have to go to school today and be visibly and verbally disappointed in behaviors that are totally normal in our society (our brains really are fucked-up messes) for reasons of control. Because if you feel like less of a person, then you turn around and make someone else feel worse.

It’s OK, guys. My brain is doing it FOR you. You don’t have to do a thing. I can bully myself.

I will find a way out of this shit. I swear. I don’t want to live in here. I want to live somewhere else. Like out there. Where the sun is shining and the birds are singing. I can hear them; I just can’t find the way out there. Seriously, that was last night’s dream, running around school hallways, trying to find the way out, trying to find my kids (my students). I don’t know what that’s about.

An article about the Quilt National exhibit in San Jose is here.

An article about the Earth Stories exhibit in Michigan is here.

My work is in both, but you can only see mine in the second article.

I’m Never Where I Want to Be…*

June 1, 2014

I spent over 8 hours yesterday grading. The night before, I spent about 5 hours. Today, I’ve already spent 3 hours dealing with school stuff, although not all of it grading. It’s time to pay the piper? It’s not pretty, that’s for sure. I’ve still got at least another 6 hours just in science journals probably, and I think I’m officially about to kill someone. This isn’t healthy. I am trying to get it all out of the way so I can get some art brain on this week, because I’m still wallowing in deep sad shit from hell in my brain; in fact, the responsible part of my brain just stood up from her chair, where she is quite sensibly knitting a scarf (I don’t knit) in scrubs (I don’t own scrubs), and she pulled the curtain around the bed where the rest of my brain is connected to tubes and looks quite beat up, and she told me that now is not a good time. Come back later.

Well. OK then. I need to draw. Or something. There’s no fucking time! Groceries and errands and organizing shit and someone needs to take the tux back (boychild) and I’m supposed to go to a work thing tonight and probably I should bring a gift but I don’t have a clue what and then I’m supposed to go over and pick some stuff up from my parents.

Let’s talk realistically about how much can get done in one day (not much).

Last night, black cat (hard to see) lying upside down on the couch near the pile of crap I was grading…

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See that pile of notebooks? That’s one class. One of my smaller classes. I have five classes. It was a long night. And then when I finally went to bed, I couldn’t fall asleep.

I did try to settle my brain before bed. I cut stuff out for a little less than an hour…

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Left pile gets higher. Middle pile gets smaller. See the uterus? And I think heart parts are on top of it. Yes, I keep all the trimmings until the end. I am well known for dropping real pieces into that box by accident. Didn’t I say something about being done this week? What a joke. I’m over 14 hours.

I took breaks during the day…I did go to the gym, where I finished this…


So I’ve read both Hyperion books now (yes, I know there are more)…and I really liked them. When I didn’t hate them. When I wasn’t slogging through vocabulary and world-building that was heavy and torturous. Yup. I know. It doesn’t sound like a recommendation but it is. Just because something is challenging to read doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. These are worth it. This is a book club selection for me, and strangely, the book club organizer has set up the next meeting by saying it’s going to be about why we shouldn’t have read these. Interesting.

Then I got the boychild ready for prom and followed him somewhere to take pictures…

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He went with a group of kids (this is a small portion of the group)…

And I planted some stuff that was going to die if I didn’t plant it soon. So I took breaks. But it still sucked. I’d like to say I got a lot done (and I did), but there’s still so much to do and I am just behind all the time.

I had plans for today and they all got fucked up. Sigh.

I’m trying so hard not to feel like this all the time. I have all these inner conversations that just suck, and during the last 2 minutes of meditation, when he says to let my brain go and do what it wants, it literally SCREAMS at me, at the top of its brainy little lungs, just full on screaming. That can’t be good.

So last night, as an additional break between grading, I read this…


Short. Really good. Made me cry. I guess the Wall Street Journal might make me cry right now too, but this was good. Sigh. Took me 11 days to read The Fall of Hyperion and less than 12 hours to read this one. Take what you want from that.

Boychild is mad that I’m posting that picture. He’s mad that I won’t take his tux back for him. He’s mad that I exist at the moment, although I did all the grocery shopping for him. So. Whatever. Teenagers. Sheesh. Oh yeah, and he’s only had 2.5 hours of sleep and he’s NOT cranky (my ass).

I’m cranky and I had 7 hours…really shitty hours, but mostly sleeping. Maybe.

OK. Tonight. Sigh. More art, less work. After I go to a work-related party. Yeah. I know. But these are the good people. Maybe I will leave with the brain in a better place, cuz it ain’t there now.

*Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill (Sion’s fault)


May 22, 2014

I have that weird weather throb in my head again. It’s been there for two days now, as the weather flip flops around from hot to cold. It means monster headaches. It means taking all the Motrin I had in my purse yesterday and gulping it all down and actually calendaring Get More Motrin on my phone so I wouldn’t forget to restock my purse stash before school today, because today we are doing microscopes and heads might roll. Seriously.

Yeah. So I’m having issues balancing blood sugar again and now I know it is at least partially (if not completely) hormonal, which sucks, because I can’t control that. So I’m having to remember to pack extra food that isn’t high in calories but will keep me from passing out at inopportune times, like when I’m teaching or driving. I’m hoping when I get out the other side of menopause that it all calms back down to the semi-normal level of blood-sugar-tending that I had to do before all this, because this is just annoying. I get so paranoid about food. You have to be obsessive about it. I envy people who just eat whenever they like, whatever they like, and don’t have to think about what it will do inside you, or worry that I’m having to go to 2 meetings after school and I need to prepare for that like I’m going camping or something. Like there will be NO Food Available (and certainly there’s the issue of you can bring food but we won’t let you eat it in here, which has been an issue in the past…I just argue medical necessity).

I don’t feel very organized at the moment, either at home or at school. Both places have too much going on and I’m getting overwhelmed. Deep breaths. Make lists. Calendar shit. Pick your battles.

So I should have graded tests last night, and I didn’t. I always have to look at the overwhelmed feelings and try to figure out what’s going to be best for me tonight. Is more grading going to make the difference? Or does it need to be exercise and meditation and artmaking? The latter is winning most nights, at least some combination of those. It’s been difficult lately to find time for all three, especially since I’ve been working really hard on getting more sleep…even an extra half hour or so a night I think will make a difference. It seems like every two or three nights, my brain pitches a fit and doesn’t want to sleep. I don’t even go to bed until my brain has capitulated, decided that the idea of sleep is not a heinous thing. I don’t want to lie awake, letting it wander. That’s when I end up back in the pit.

This morning, I woke up with the alarm, screaming in my head, “Stop it, Fuck off, Go away!” Um. OK. And adrenaline surging. Not a good way to wake up. I have no idea what was going on in my head. I was watching The Americans while I cut out pieces last night. I’m reading The Fall of Hyperion. Neither seemed relevant to the dreaming. I wanted to draw last night…maybe I should have (ran out of hours, minutes, seconds).

I only cut stuff out for 47 minutes. See, when you’re thinking about how much I get done, realize that most nights, I get an hour in. That’s it. I don’t spend a ton of time a day (wish I could). Less than an hour last night…which is why it still looks like this…

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There is still a lot to cut out. I’m 9 hours into the cutting. I had estimated 12. I think I’m wrong. Who knows…but certainly I spent a good chunk of that time cutting pieces out that looked like this…

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Yup, that’s full on crazy. Those are the outer parts of the octopus suckers. Technical term. Holy crap. I think they really are just called suckers. If you’re in the mood for sorta irreverent sciencey talk about octopus suckers, yet highly educational irreverence, go here. I’m not really sure how I ended up with the science leaning. Coming out of college, I was pure literature and art. There’s some really cool vocabulary in that article though, like ‘infundibulum.’ Yesterday, I taught my students ‘endoplasmic reticulum’ and told them to pull THAT out at dinner time. Earlier this year, I taught them ‘vex’ and ‘irk.’ They’re still using those words. I love that I have taught 160 middle-schoolers to say “You VEX me,” instead of all those other lame words they use.

Which reminds me, someone told me this weekend that my use of the word “DUUUDE” guaranteed my California residency (I was not actually born in California…born in an Alaskan military hospital to two California parents though).

Anyway. Another hour of cutting stuff out and I might have had some mental balance, but I had to consider the sleep component as well.

Midnight was a worthy couch companion…

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She misses her mommy at night and harasses me instead.

If I’m at the computer, I get Babygirl (stupidest name EVER)…

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who insists on sitting ON the mouse, or IN FRONT of the screen, or trying to drink my tea or eat my oatmeal. And then she gets all pissed off if you don’t pet her at the same time. Try resizing photos when she’s sitting there. It’s impossible.

I wanted to clear out a couple of posts-in-progress last night on hikes and Earth Stories, but girlchild needed my computer to write an essay (the computer she uses is apparently barely functional at the moment, which is unfortunate, because I’m not able to get a NEW one…she can use her brother’s when he gets his graduation laptop, whenever that happens). Then she asked for my advice, which is like asking someone to tell you if your butt is big, when you ask a writing mom with a Comparative Literature degree about your intro paragraph and she actually tries to help you, but you’re an emotional 16-year-old and holy god, why did I even open my mouth, because there were tears and it was not pretty. I should have just told her that her butt looked big. It would have been less traumatic. For both of us.

Remind me never to talk again. Seriously. I’m done with it.

Little Pieces

May 8, 2014

I’m 18 hours and 23 minutes into ironing fabric for this quilt…this quilt that does not yet have an exhibit to call home, and is probably destined to be like a couple of the other quilts I’ve made, where no one wants them in a show. Oh well. I like them to be in shows, but honestly, that’s not why I make them.

I’ve made it into the 1400s, but not very far, about 20 pieces in. So I’ve got about another 350 pieces to go. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m in the fussy little piece section now…

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See all those little pieces? There’s like two tiny pieces ironed onto one little piece of THIS gray and two tiny pieces ironed onto one little piece of THAT gray. It’s a little piece bonanza. So it takes more time. Or maybe it’s just that this thing takes X time and X seems to be a larger number than normal. It’s still not taking as long as the Earth Stories piece. But it seems like no matter how much ironing I do each night, I still have about 4 more hours to do…I find that strange. Like time is stretching out and the fabric is breeding or the Wonder Under is undergoing mitosis.

Or I’m thinking too hard.

At least there will be no shortage of things to work on this summer (besides my sanity, a clean house, and a better yard). I have a lot of stuff in progress and a whole new quilt I have to make by November that only barely exists in a sketch in my brain.

I’m not worried. My summer is pretty empty. Well, except for soccer and working and all the other shit that will rain down upon me that I don’t even know about yet.

You know, like it does. All the little things. That’s what’s overwhelming me at the moment is all the little detailed crap that I’m supposed to be handling and getting done every day, and which is really NOT getting done because I keep doing healthy things like meditating and exercising and making dinner and then I do other things like making art, because if I didn’t do that, I don’t know who I would be. I’ve really thrown the balance up in the air this year, and I don’t know how successful it’s been. I think I need some distance from it to decide.

Here’s what it looked like last night when I was picking fabrics for the face-in-a-cloud section, which is only like 8″ square…

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Each fabric had no more than 4 pieces on it…and some only had one. I’m running out of room on the ironing board.

See the face in a cloud in the top right? That’s what I was ironing.

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I also ironed the headphones and cords…basically all I have left is the wolf, the iPhone, the snake, the bird, the dog, and the giant skull eyeball. It doesn’t seem like much when you realize how much I HAVE done, but it requires some mental attention. I quit last night right before the wolf, because I was too tired to think WOLF. I had done over an hour of ironing, which seems to be the right amount for working every night at the moment. In my old life, I would work on it every other night, but for longer usually. I actually didn’t usually get ironing of big projects done during the school year at all. So I guess that’s changed.

Everything’s changed.

I was going to write all this last night, but WordPress was having issues, so I went to bed (a little early!) instead. I should try to do that more often, but then I’d get even less done. It would be nice if I could get some sense of life fulfillment from my job…and you’d think as a teacher, I would, but it’s so much hard work and paper pushing that it’s hard to see the good stuff until you’re 6 months past it.

I realized how much irritation I was carrying yesterday at work, but then I remembered that we don’t have much of the school year left, and this is normal. The kids want to be on vacation already. There’s all these end-of-year pressures of awards, grades, cleaning up, preparing for next year…I have a boss who sends messages demanding meetings at certain times without ever thinking that we might already have things on our calendar. I seriously get emails that say “See me during Period 2.” or “Meet here at 3:45.” and you’re thinking, wow. Dude. I already have a parent meeting during Period 2, thanks for asking, and at 3:45, I’m doing this presentation thing. And there’s often no information telling you the purpose of the meeting, so then you’re left wondering if this is a bitchslap event or just a check-in. A decent boss emails you and says, hey, we need to talk about X, here are the times I have available. I realize you’re busy doing your job; when would be convenient for you?

I guess that is too much to hope for. I just take a deep breath these days, do a little weird dance in the hallways to make the kids laugh, or randomly yell “Dress Code!” into the hallway (that’s actually really fun to do…I’m not even dress coding anyone, but they’re so paranoid it will be THEM that they all jump). OK, yes, it’s time for vacation. Someone on last week’s hike (which is still in a picture file and not in a blog post) said they were surprised I wasn’t in a tower surrounded by a bunch of guns. Well, isn’t THAT a nice image to put alongside my teacher image.

Now you know why I exercise so much and make so much art. Otherwise I’d go even more nuts than I already am. I’m leaving the guns alone though. I do better with pen and paper. And honestly? The kids aren’t the problem…they may drive me bonkers on a regular basis with their shenanigans and laziness and moody crap and drama, but it’s the adults that cause the real trauma. I know the kids aren’t old enough to control their shit. I wish the adults remembered that they are.

It’s Not the End of the World…

April 27, 2014

I have this way of dealing with life at the moment. I just divide it up into these blocks. There are the blocks that are mindless, things I have to do and can almost do in my sleep (strangely, school is one of these blocks). There are the blocks that are sleep; they’re short. There’s the blocks that are art…I try to fit one in a day. There’s exercise and meditation and a hike a week. There’s the grocery store. I divide each day up again. The block that gets me up and out the door for school. The block that deals with the time right after school. Blocks that aren’t already filled or designated, I make sure there’s a plan for those, because it’s the fucking down time that messes with me. There are some blocks I used to have that I don’t have any more. They’re the hardest to fill…and they need to be filled. It’s kind of ironic, because it’s not like I have time to add groups of new friends or activities, but I almost have to in order to make sure there’s no down time for the brain to sink lower. I need to keep it occupied.

That said, those of you who are parents (or just empathetic to parents) know that you can plan all you like, but life is gonna bitchslap you some days. Tuesday the girlchild had some things that looked like bug bites. She showed them to me, they were itchy, there were like three of them. Wednesday, there were more, but they were moving around and we talked about washing her sheets this weekend (except Tuesday night, she wasn’t at my house), still thinking bug bites. Thursday, they were somewhat worse, and I decided they were hives. We talked about stress (she is still making up work from her surgery AND AP tests start next week…good enough reasons to BE stressed, but she said she wasn’t). We talked about food and soap and lotion and all that good stuff. Nothing new. Apparently Thursday night (again at her dad’s) was bad, but eventually they went away and she went to sleep. When I texted her during the day on Friday and suggested the doctor, she said no way, it was fine, she was better. I got home Friday, she was not home yet, she slammed in the door about 15 minutes later yelling for me, lifted her shirt, and holy shit. Hives everywhere. Solid. Yeouch. I called the nurse, who asked 17 questions, then sent us to Urgent Care. Meanwhile, the kids have been watching way too much House (and I’ve already seen them all), so we were diagnosing her. (Lupus…no, not really). We took her in…you know it’s bad when the staff at Urgent Care gasp when they see it. Anyway, a couple of tests later and we still know nothing, but she has Benadryl in her and they’re prescribing an epi-pen. Sure enough, she was asleep (love Benadryl) by the time she got home, pretty much, and the hives were gone by midnight. Hopefully, whatever freakish thing that caused it is gone, out of her system. Impressive bumpiness, though.

So that was not a block of time that I had planned. It never is, when you’re a parent. I do think that most parents (the ones who pay attention) are much better at dealing with life because of shit like that. You have your afternoon/evening planned, and hives just fucks it all to hell and back. Seriously. It happens all the time, so often, that you always have a contingency plan. It’s how I survive. The back of my brain is always trying to budget time here or there to deal with bumps in the road like that. Like What Will You Do if the House Floods with Human Waste? And you already have a plan for that…and the zombie apocalypse…and random visitors.

So I dealt. Ordered dinner instead of cooking it. Did a little grading, but not a lot. Blew off the exercise in favor of meditation. Made it to bed at a reasonable hour because I knew I had a hike…a hike that might get moved due to weather issues. No problem. I can adapt. I just roll with it. I’m not always happy with the adjustment, but in the end, and I don’t know again if this is the depression or the meditative practices talking, I just need to go with the flow. It’s not the end of the world. There will be another day for ironing fabric. One day of missing exercise will not end my life. So we joked with the doctor about how she needed to send her staff over to check BOTH houses for mold and drugs, and girlchild was probably lying about sex or drugs, because they always do, and when would they start random medication? Yeah. We do watch too much House.

So no art last night. I did hike this morning…interesting story. I’m now three hikes behind on the blog! Aack! It’s OK, one is a repeat…the morning hike did not turn out to be strenuous enough to count for exercise, so I dragged the boychild and the two dogs (girlchild and ex are in Lancaster for National Cup, which no, she is not playing in…just supporting her team) out on a long, bitchy hike…

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Because I’m nice like that. Jake on the left, Calli on the right. This is Mt. McGinty, take 2. I think I can do it by myself now. Maybe. More on that hike later. Whenever later is (did I mention grades are due on Tuesday and I’m not done with them? Whatever. They’ll get done. It’s not the end of the world.). The dogs were extremely tired by then and were apparently huddling together for support.

Then we came home and I managed the depressoid hour of grocery shopping (Saturday night just sucks bigtime. The only plus is that it’s quiet and there are no lines). Drove to Sonic for dinner, because there was no way I was cooking. Plus I am feeling down and out and overwhelmed by shit that I can’t control, so I have not been eating great the last few days. But I got time with the boychild, and he’s moving away to college in a few months, and he won’t call, text, or email when he’s gone, so I’m kinda saving these moments up with just him for later. For when he’s gone. Makes me sad to think of it, but he’s an adult now and this is what he needs to do. I’ll be OK. I’m not a child. I can handle him leaving. I’m just sad about it. It’s OK for me to be sad about things. It better be OK, because I feel it a lot. It’s OK to not be happy when things don’t feel happy. It’s not abnormal. It’s not broken.

OK, I AM broken, but not because I am sad. I am sad because I am broken. Or I am sad AND I am broken. Hard to say.

Then I graded for a while, trying to get all the loose ends tied up, or at least enough of them to make a difference. Or something. I still need to input everything, but I’ll deal with that. It’s not the end of the world.

I feel like I already survived the end of the world. Like three or four times. Godzilla wasn’t there. No one was. Just me.

So then I started ironing, awfully late. Later than I had originally planned for today, but today’s plans came apart at the seams at about 5:20 this morning, or maybe even last night, and so I just two-stepped it and dealt. I’m good at that.

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I’m through the 400s…into the 500s. I could have started ironing the 500s, but didn’t feel like starting it. Depressing subject matter. Couldn’t look at it. Need some distance from it. Maybe tomorrow night. I just ironed all the leftover bits from the body…the heart and the nipples and the eyeballs and the hair and the eye she’s holding onto, or is she trying to catch it? Who knows.

Tomorrow is gym and a meeting and chaos and grading and exercise and meditation and maybe ironing. Hopefully ironing. A little bit of progress a day makes it better…

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It does. This is the pile of fabrics used so far…I’m not even a third of the way through, so there will be lots more.

There is a lot on my plate at the moment. I’m trying to divide it up into doable chunks, things I can handle. There are a couple of things I can’t deal with at all. So I’m not. It’s not the most mature way of living my life, but it’s what I can do at the moment. Really, there should be times in your life when everything is smooth sailing and then times when you are challenged to even get through the next 10 minutes, but that challenge…that’s probably what makes you who you are. Not how you deal when it’s easy…but how you deal when there’s too much and you have no help and stupidity reigns around you. That’s when it’s important. And if you’re a selfish asshole when that’s going on, then you suck. I’d like to believe karma will kick your ass, but I have no evidence of that.

So yeah. I’m ironing. I’m making art. What more do you need to know.


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