Hope Is a Wonderful Thing

Ah September. You have held off on horrible days of heat…just a few here and there. I actually needed a blanket last night. Have I mentioned that the hot flashes have wandered off? Knock on wood. Don’t let them come back (I know they will). But as always, school is kicking my butt and making me feel like I have to pack in NON-school stuff to keep me sane. Oh yeah, that’s why I make as much art as I do…otherwise, I’d go bonkers in this job. Yesterday was a slog…getting most of the kids to understand what I was talking about (this pilot curriculum sucks balls, to quote my co-teacher)…but also realizing that about 30% of them were totally and completely tuned out. Sigh. SIGH. Direct instruction. And the teacher who sent a kid down in the middle of that and wanted me to find papers? WTF? Like call first. Seriously. No. NO. I have a student who yells no all the time and I can totally bond with her over that. It might get her to stop too, because I think having something in common with me is her biggest fear. I don’t blame her.

Today they write me 7 whole sentences showing me they understand the standard. On the one hand, I’m kind of looking forward to finally seeing how they write. On the other hand. FUCK. It’s gonna hurt my brain. And depress me.

It’s OK. Sunny smile! I can’t grade them until after next Thursday. That’s the due date. I have a week!

But seriously, I’m so behind and confuzzled and overwhelmed and please don’t ask me to do anything else, but I have two meetings at the same time this morning and I don’t know how that is gonna work. At all. And a 2-hour meeting after school about this pilot curriculum. Really, I’d rather be throwing the Navy UFnotO videos up and having the kids write about that. Totally. Fuck the curriculum. Let’s talk about aliens!

I did go to book club, which was totally fun and interesting. We all loved the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, 4 novellas, and she’s coming out with a full novel in May next year (yay!). It was a good mental release to go hang out with a bunch of smart women and talk about the world and how to escape and books and movies. I really appreciate that group, even though the trek out to Point Loma is so freakin’ far.

I managed to cut stuff out for about 30 minutes before I went to bed.

I have about a yard and a half yet. I’m hoping I have the energy to finish tonight. Hope is a wonderful thing. It’s not hard. I was just really really tired.

Calli was making a really funny face, but stopped as soon as I took her picture.

Of course.

OK, off to the two overlapping meetings. We’ll see how that goes. Yesterday someone sent me a donut and I ate it. It was not a good day for food, that’s for sure, but my blood sugar has stayed OK. Mostly because no more hot flashes, eh? I wish my medical coverage thought sending a diabetic to an endocrinologist who actually knew what they were talking about was a good thing. Or even had a diabetes education program that was useful. They won’t answer email. I have to go SEE them. What kind of old-school world are they living in? Not mine. I need to be able to Skype them in the car on the way to the chiropractor. Anyway. Art tonight! I must!

Good Times…

Hmmmm. Friday the 13th. Full moon tomorrow. All teachers know what I mean. Today could be interesting. It’s been a long week. The weekend won’t be long enough to recover fully. Then again, it only is when it’s got three days, because we usually work for one of the two days. I’ve got 68 videos to watch…all less than 90 seconds (that feels longer than you would think). I’ve got some art to drop off. I’ve got some art to look at. Monday, I’ll have a new non-leaking kitchen faucet. These are all good things. Well, except for the videos. That’s somewhat painful, to be honest. I know, I bring it on myself.

We are 3 1/2 weeks into school. It feels like longer. I still don’t know everybody’s name. I have these three girls who all look similar (they don’t really) and I’m still trying to tell them apart in my head. They are very different. I’m not sure why my brain can’t get a hold on this name stuff. Today, I walk around doing name stuff. In my head. It’ll be good. Watching the videos will help too.

I got home after the first school day this week where I didn’t have a 2-hour meeting, talked to the plumber, and then went to the gym. Finished my book. Remember reading The Lottery in middle school or high school? That awful story? My book club read another book (We Have Always Lived in the Castle) by Shirley Jackson, the author. Guess what? She’s always disturbing. I guess I have to read The Haunting of Hill House next.

Anyway, I came back after working out, ate some dinner, and then started tracing again. I’m about 7 hours in…

It’s boring as hell for you to look at, I know. But it’s so incredibly mellow and meditative for me. I like this stage for that peace. Then again, a lot of the quiltmaking is like that. The ironing, the cutting, the tracing. The quilting even, although it’s louder. The repetitive motion of the shoulders and arms…it’s really nice. Anyway. I’m in the high 300s…so not even halfway. I don’t think I’ll get much done tonight…I’m exhausted and we’re going out to an art thing tonight. My goal is tomorrow, around art delivery and hopefully another trip to the gym. We’ll see.

These guys…

They were waiting on the boychild to take them to the other house. The little one went batshit when the plumber showed up.

OK, plan for the day: survive it. Stay calm and focused. Get the shit done that needs doing. Enjoy some art. Then trace a little and collapse into bed. Literally collapse I think. Good times.

Grind It Out…

I’m staring out the window at lovely fog. And it’s quiet out there. I always forget how LOUD middle school is. It’s not that I don’t like loud. When it’s music (I picked) or probably even me, I’m loud. But a thousand kids is really loud. A class full of 37 kids is loud. You’d think it wouldn’t be on the first day of school, but it is.

It was a long and tiring day. This week usually kicks our butts…and then next week does it again…and then we get a 3-day weekend to recover. At some point, the body remembers how to do all the things without collapsing, and the feet get used to a million steps and wearing shoes and standing all the time, and it gets easier. And you remember not to drink a lot of water because you won’t be able to pee for another two hours. That part sucks.

My team had it together. For now. Because the amount of noise we had yesterday does not bode well for a quiet year. We knew it was coming. It will be fine. We will survive. But my first school-related text this morning was already about someone needing to switch classes because of behavior. OK. Usually we get two weeks of grace period. Not this year.

We did an after picture, but we still looked pretty good. We should do a last day of school photo, or the day before Winter Break, which isn’t in my calendar yet, but should be. Today is the first lab of the year, so that should be fun.

I came home exhausted, too tired to go ship the actual quilt box (I’ll do it this morning on the way to work…it’s easier for parking anyway). I needed to copyedit, so I started with checking all the Bibliography references and all the things I’d tagged as issues (double spaces, use of the word ‘kids’ instead of something more formal, weird quotation issues), because they were pretty brainless and easy…just time-consuming to check. By the time I was done, I had enough caffeine in me and recovery time in to be able to reread the whole section. I sent it to the author last night. So we’re up to 8+ hours of school, another 3 1/2 hours of copyediting, and then I ate dinner and finished my book. I liked it. It’s called Burnout and it’s by Emily Nagoski.

It won’t solve my problems for me, but it helps me remember to say no, even if I’m flattered that someone would want me to do something. I’m throwing two things around in my head right now that I should say no to, and hopefully I will, because there are already way too many things in the air. I also get into this stress survival mode and really shut down sometimes (Um. Like now), fully realizing it’s not healthy, but I’m often not sure what else to do but put my head down and get it done. So I do self care like draw and art and hikes and the gym, but really that doesn’t get rid of the stressor or deal with why it’s even there…and that’s a problem. Anyway. This is a start for the new year.

After copyediting, I quilted. There’s just way too much I need to get done in the next 10 days. The quilt has to be done first. Kitten was monopolizing the other chair in the office. Yes, I need two. Because cats.

My goal was to outline one half, just like when I did the stitch down.

There were some bits I forgot to stitch down, so I had to go back at one point and do that in the middle of the outlining.

It took me about 2 hours, but I got one side done of the outlining.

Tonight, hopefully, I’ll do the other side, and then Friday night is the background, then trim and bind on Saturday. Ready for the photographer Sunday or Monday…early even! WTF. That’s crazy. I was so sure I wouldn’t be able to finish it.

Well, I’m not done yet, so knock on wood. I need to finish copyediting the final bits on Part 3 in the next two days…then I’ll focus on the quilt and get Part 4 and the Bibliography done next week. I do also have a bunch of school stuff I need to do, like record us/me/my partner reading a whole chapter of a book without mispronouncing anything or (and this is harder) swearing. Oh yeah. That should be interesting. And do I have any idea what I’m working on next? Fuck no. That conversation can happen in my head later, like on the weekend. When there’s space for it.

Ah yes. Kitten shapes. They’re so weird and abstract.

OK. Back to it. Another grind it out day.

Both Sides of One Coin…

What a morning. I’m up! Not packed, not ready, showered, but the laundry wasn’t dry (long story, my fault for not changing the thingie and it took 10 minutes for me to figure out how to change it because I hadn’t had my tea yet). Simba got bit by a coyote this morning…not here, but at my ex’s. He’s OK, but I need puppy cuddles. We’ll pick him up from the vet later and hopefully he will run next time. Calli apparently went after the coyote (oh great, 10-year-old gimpy Golden Retriever). We do live with the wildlife here and need to respect it and then yell at it and spray it repeatedly with a hose so it won’t come back. I actually occasionally buy wolf urine pellets and sprinkle them about the edges of the property. I don’t know if it works…but I haven’t seen them on my property (just down at the end of the driveway) in a while. He’s OK! That’s the takeaway.

Not a current picture. I haven’t seen him yet. Today, we’re supposed to be driving to Lake Arrowhead. I’m only up for a day, because I have to be at school on Friday. Sigh. I was at school yesterday…got in there and had no desks, so I moved a few things out of the hallway and then started pulling stuff out of cupboards. At some point, one of the custodians started bringing desks in.

Ironic because I had already gotten an email from one of the Assistant Principals about using my tables to sort Chromebooks. I’m like SURE! What tables? Anyway. I’m not there today or tomorrow, so just don’t leave a mess.

We’re doing a portfolio thing this year, so I needed new things. New system. Originally they were not in rainbow order, but my brain rebelled and rainbowed them.

Can’t help it.

My boards aren’t done. I haven’t found everything. My tech isn’t set up. Did I mention I haven’t found everything?

I spent a couple of hours trying though…there’s two prep days next week, so hopefully I will be more prepared after that. Right now, it just feels like chaos. All this stuff and the stuff on the other side had to be locked up because of summer school.

The plus is that I toss stuff at the end of the year, and then I toss more stuff at the beginning of the year, because I’m like, why the fuck did I keep this? But then I keep stuff for 16 years and I don’t know what to do with it. Anyway. More to do. Honestly, it’s less about what I do to decorate and organize and more about what I do with the kids. I always remember that part.

As part of the new-year resolutions, I’m reading this book about burnout. It’s called Burnout and it’s by Emily Nagoski, but this caught my eye.

It’s the science part I like. A good way to start the new year anyway.

Calli agrees.

Resting up. Literally.

Two caterpillars yesterday on the milkweed. I haven’t seen a lot of caterpillars…lots of butterflies though, so that’s good.

Lots of aphids.

So I copyedited a good chunk of the afternoon. Lots more left to do. I’m copyediting a book about trauma-sensitive schools and one of the stories set me off yesterday. I work with a lot of traumatized kids. It’s hard sometimes. Hence the burnout book.

And then I ironed a bunch…

I was trying to finish last night…worked on the other side…

She was fussy…and I had to iron both sides together on the floor…it was too big for the ironing board.

Then I went back and did the hands. They’re holding hands. You can’t have light without dark. Not good and evil. Not good and bad. A spectrum. Working together. Both sides of one coin. Coyotes and domesticated dogs. Teaching and art. Or something like that. Anyway…I wanted to get it on a background, but I needed to piece that and it was already after midnight. And right now, I need to leave in about 15 minutes to deal with the girlchild’s hair and then hopefully get the puppy and go to the mountains. I might get to this Thursday night, depending on how late I get back. I NEED to get it done.

I honestly have no idea what I’m working on next. That’s weird. Huh. OK. Well then. I’ll have to think about that while I’m traveling. Lots of driving, that’s for sure.

Elephants and Memes

It’s hard to find the time and energy to make art every day. I know I feel better when I do, but sometimes, things conspire against me. I did not make art yesterday, first time in a long time. I did go to book club and enjoyed the discussion. I loved the book…The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander…

Elephants…radiation…how can you go wrong? My book club is sci fi and fantasy, though, so at first, I was like…wait…did I get the wrong book? It’s not really either…just alternative history, which I guess is sort of fantasy? But not really. Anyway, it’s short, so I might just read it again, and then I’ll probably read Radium Girls just for the fun of it. After I read the YA version of The Martian and the actual book (not the graphic novel) of City of Ember, so we can teach them next year. My co-teacher and I just wrote a proposal to get our team paid for planning cross-curricular units based on the two books. Looking forward to it! Hope it works out.

Anyway, before I ever left for book club, I was sitting on the couch grading…

Grades are due Monday. I’m close to caught up…except for the makeup work. I figure that’s Friday and Saturday. It’ll get done, but I’m not sure how much ELSE will get done. I have a team breakfast this morning and I’m supposed to bring cookies tomorrow morning for the office staff. Today is a clusterfuck of time…pick up quilt from photographer, stitching meeting, make cookies while grading? Or something. I’m already tired. I forgot to sign certificates. I need to remember where I hid the medals. It will all be fine. Eventually it’s all done and you walk out of your classroom into the summer. Kitten was helping me deal with email here…

I think I was putting my Patreon link on my Linked In. Long story, because I don’t really use Linked In. But people do. This weekend, I need to work on the next video for my Patreon. I have a couple of videos of my working on the last drawing, but I want to record the simplified one as well. And I have video of tracing Wonder Under. And the amazing video of me mopping. Very exciting stuff. It is actually. Exciting to me anyway…possibly less so to Kitten…

The assignment I was grading included the kids trying to make a meme about school…

I actually was amused by a few of them. Mostly they just copied from the internet, but a few kids actually used a meme generator or made a meme of their own.

I’m somewhat amused and/or irritated by the kids still trying to turn in late work. All of it was due last Friday. I’m just watching it trickle in and thinking, WTF were you thinking? It’s true I think that a lot with this age group, but especially at the end of the year. You can see why I make so much art…it’s literally a balm to the crazy. A salve for the insanity. A peaceful space in the overwhelming chaos that is my day job. Exactly.

I made my own meme last night after the man came back from his night with the guys and guiltily admitted…

Like holy crap, Batman. What were you thinking? Sigh. He knew he was in trouble already when he said it. I don’t even have time to watch movies right now.

It’s fine. I’m not dying over it. (cough Avengers Endgame cough) I’m really looking forward to having the time to think a little more clearly, plan better, get my hair cut, pee without having to time it, read a freakin’ book! without worrying about whether I can “waste” that time, Sleep IN (hell, sleep at all, because that’s been an issue all week…sleeping like shit right now, hence exhaustion). I was so tired last night that I called Tinder Timber…which I actually think is a much better name for it.

OK. Gotta go feed kids. And then manage the questions about deep throating. And do other things. I will be stitching later though. That’s a plus.

The Never-Ending Crazy Not-Balance

Normally we’d be going on Spring Break about now. But no. It’s OK. I can handle it. Just three more weeks. It better be just three more weeks. I can almost do that. I just don’t know if my kids can…my students, that is. I’m hoping they can. Me? I look at Spring Break and I see an awesome trip I’ll be on, but I need to finish a quilt before I go and get it photographed, which isn’t an easy task, plus I’ll need to grade as much of the stuff that gets turned in on that last week before we leave on our trip. Ha! Which is somewhat more challenging. And there’s another quilt that needs to be done relatively soon after that, with being gone on a trip, plus going to Boston for the girlchild’s graduation, plus all the other school stuff…it stresses me out to think about all of that, but then there’s travel and life oh yeah and a concert in LA. There are some amazingly good things coming up in the next few months. I just need to survive some of the amazingly stressful things too. As always.

Yesterday, I spent almost 2 hours in traffic to deliver two quilts to a show. It really wasn’t that far…it was the time of day plus rain plus accidents. Then I went to the gym, because my meeting got rescheduled and I hadn’t gone to the gym this week due to crazy night stuff, so that was a good thing because…well…exercise and then also I finished my book! The one that was due back to the library like last week, so that was lame. I can’t keep up. It was Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, and it was interesting…I’ve always loved Kingsolver’s books, but I’d read a review that complained about the politics, and now that I’ve read it, I’m like, um, so you are a regular reader of Kingsolver and you’ve never had an issue with her politics before? Huh. Well. (I didn’t have a problem with it). I liked the two stories in different times of this piece of land and what was around it, some of which ends up being true. The story itself wandered a bit, but I still enjoyed it. It’s definitely political on a minor level, but also deals with climate change, which I consider scientific, not political (mostly because I think the politicians should get out of that argument, due to their incredible ignorance on the subject).

Dinner was super late and I was tired. I brought work home again and did none of it. Seems to be a common problem these days. I will put my health (aka exercise) in front of my job, for sure. And often I put art there too, since it loses out during the day. I did get around to artmaking eventually…

I ironed the heart and all the arteries…plus a tree and a tattoo of sorts. Again, I’m not getting a LOT done each night…but I’m getting some of it done. I’m a little worried about time…there’s three weeks left. That’s it. I’m not as far on this one as I would have liked to be…I have a show to go to tonight, a meeting tomorrow…and a ton of grading that swallows up my time. Plus that meeting will inevitably mean more work. Ha! Sigh. The never-ending crazy not-balance.

I’m still in the 300s…out of 800, although I’ve done a bunch of ironing of the pieces in between, because all the flesh is done. I should remember that and not panic so much. Tonight, I don’t think I will have the time or energy to do any of this. Tomorrow? I will try to make time. I want the ironing done this weekend…I don’t know if that’s possible. Probably not. Who knows.

I came home yesterday after the rain storm to a frantic Golden Retriever who now associates rainfall with thunder, and she hates thunder. I didn’t notice right away, but she had panicked and tore through the bedroom and closet in her distress…

Poor puppy. She tries to hide and pulls everything out in the process. Boychild wasn’t home because he took this one to the vet for her continuing eye issues…

She’s been watching Love, Death & Robots. But she doesn’t have glaucoma. Good to know.

OK, so I need to go to work and manage the kids’ turning work in (hopefully turning it in) and finish grading the last of the giant science unit and finish an independent study contract for a kid who never does work in class so that seems like a total waste of time and go to at least one meeting and do duty and who knows what else will come down upon my head but at the end of the day, I will be standing at a music show for about 3 hours (that ought to be interesting) and then probably collapsing into bed. Bed, sweet bed. You know it’s bad when I just want to go back to bed an hour after I got up.

Art and Sleep

Sitting here this morning, listening to Amanda Palmer’s morning voice ramble. A great way to start the day…

Lately, when I’ve been opening the WordPress app, on the first try, it always says my website refuses to open. REFUSES. Hmm. Like I asked it and it’s like, no, not right now. I don’t wanna. And then I refresh, and it’s like, OK, sorry, I thought you were someone else, here you go. Yes, I attribute even the internet with feelings and thoughts. The entity itself refusing to interact with me. Talk about bringing your job everywhere with you.

It’s OK…my job is my job. It is what it is. It’s not easy most days, but sometimes, there’s just two kids who normally fight you tooth and nail, and for some unknown reason (it was a full moon last night), they sit down and do the work. You have no freakin’ idea why, because it’s the same two that wouldn’t let you fall asleep last night, because you were so worried about how to engage them in a project that was harder than they might be capable of, and then they just do it. I can’t even roll my eyes that far back in my head.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I can even finish what I’m working on in time, and the answer is…maybe. But I have to be careful about what else I add into the mix, because everything is taking too long. So that means working every night on it. It won’t get done if I don’t. Last night was tiring…I came home from a lot of walking and questions and helping, and I packed two quilts that need to be delivered today after school…the girlchild’s bed is useful for such endeavors.

Calli was having some post-thunderstorm issues, following me around and panting and staring into corners.

Then I had to drive across town to pick up the ceramics that we painted on Saturday…

Wait. Guess which one is mine…

My friend had never painted ceramics before…so you can’t judge her turtle. You can’t put naked people on a turtle. He looks good. He’ll look even better with a plant in him. I can never have enough mugs. I think. The boychild thinks I have enough.

Then off to book club, where we discussed Borderline by Mishell Baker.

We’ve been reading a lot of books off the Sirens conference list. We all grew up reading so many male authors…and we are a women’s reading group, so it only makes sense that we gravitate toward female or other-gendered authors. Baker has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and she writes a character in a fantasy novel who has the same disorder. There were things I liked about this book: the interactions between people in the house specifically. I’m not a huge fan of urban fantasy though, and this one was set in Hollywood, so that’s not my fun place either. The rest of book club mostly liked it though, so maybe you should listen to them! I’d give it a solid 3 or 4 out of 5. It was well written…so that’s a plus. I think I fall more solidly in the sci fi realm for books though.

After that, it was late and I was tired. I sat here for a bit…

With these guys. That was nice. But eventually the art brain kicked me off the couch, into the studio. I didn’t iron for long…too tired. But I got the things in the sky ironed…so a spaceship, a rocket (missing one piece on that), some clouds, raindrops, and the stars…they’re all done. It doesn’t sound like much. It isn’t much. It’s something though. I’m hoping to have more energy tonight. Ha! Thursday night. What a joke.

But there’s the pile…

Didn’t even organize those fabrics afterwards. Sleep was nice. More tonight. Art and sleep.