Less Yelling

Already there are angry voices, upraised tempers, red flags flying. I’ve had a single sip of caffeinated savings (saving my brain from?) and I’m trying to deal with it’s my fault and why don’t I and anger anger anger. Why the anger? I don’t know. Because I had an eye doctor appointment instead of time to shop for heels and a dress. Sunday it will be anger because I have to finish grades (my job) and can’t go shopping. I’ve said this to myself so many times in the last 5 years…am I just doing it all wrong? Like there’s an easier path and I didn’t take it because I just didn’t know what were the right actions and the right words? Like I got the wrong life manual when they were handing that shit out, and I took the Tread on the Hot Coals manual for ninja warriors (do they do that?) instead of the suburban mom manual? OK, I’m not a suburban mom, it’s true, but I have a lot of the right ingredients for that. Soccer mom. Conventional job (that kicks my ass at the moment). I have a house and a Subaru and a dog and some cats (OK, I have half a dog…it goes back and forth between two houses). But somewhere in all of that, I couldn’t follow instructions. I couldn’t just do that, and some people do, but I couldn’t.

Is it the artist that screws everything up? Is it the divorce that makes it harder to manage the kids and the financial crap (well, yeah, duh)? Is it my fabric hoarder tendencies? My workaholic bent? What the fuck?

I slept in. There are four days left of school. I’m still tired. I stayed up late grading things (ALL the things actually) and packing up two quilts going up to an LA show opening in two weeks. Girlchild came in and vented. I let her. I listened. That’s all anyone needs when venting is happening…listening. Acknowledging that they’ve been heard. Then it’s out and dispersing and the mind is clear. I get that. So I vent here, quite a lot. You might have noticed.

I love my daughter, but she is hell on wheels sometimes. I’m sure my mom would say I deserved that, as I wasn’t easy either, but as an adult, I realized some of the things about my relationship with my mom that I wanted to try to avoid with the girlchild, so there were things I said I would not do, and for the most part, I have succeeded in that…and yet, I still have this opinionated spitfire (shocking, I know) who wants to kick authority in the nuts. And I GET that. I still have that in me. But I’m not the enemy.

So I’m sitting here crying because I am completely overwhelmed and scared about the future, especially financially, and I’m getting yelled at for not being psychic about food needs in the house and why no one will put dishes in the dishwasher but me. I’m about to go nuclear, I guess.

Deep breaths. Grades are close to done. I have to input everything, so I canceled my book club on Sunday (not done reading it anyway…hard read). I will go to the eye doctor (probably should have scheduled it later in the month), deliver the quilts, go out to lunch with the kids’ uncle from the UK, and then deal with some scary stuff that will hopefully stop being as scary. Then plan for the last four days of school, which are survival incarnate. And hopefully get some peace of mind in all of it.

The quilt sat last night, ignored, wrapped up and over the machine so no cat could besmirch it with their hairy bottom.

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I would have liked to have quilted, but the other things were louder and more…not important…but desperate in terms of timing.

Two quilts ready for delivery.

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I think I can hang in there this week. I don’t really have a choice, so the thinking part is moot. And that moody beast…hell, she’s going to college in just 10 weeks. I’m sure her stress levels are through the roof, so we will have to come to some uneasy truce about how to survive the summer in the same house. And then there will be less yelling here.

Quilting Peace

I got lost in the quilting place last night for about 2 1/2 hours, making up for the lameness of the night before. It’s not a bad place to hang out, as long as you keep an eye on the clock and remember you have to go to work the next day. At some point, I looked up and thought, “Holy crap, it’s after 11 PM. When did that happen?” That’s not entirely a bad thing. Thursday nights the kids aren’t here, so I don’t have their constant noise and verbal reminders to stop and look around or even get up. The cats hang out in here with me, and my bladder makes me stand up occasionally, but mostly I’m attached to the machine and only changing position when I need to replace an empty bobbin. It’s very meditative and calming. I should probably always plan to be quilting around the last two weeks of the school year to get that benefit.

It probably helps that I had counseling last night too…where we admitted that I might be in counseling for the rest of my life. Nice. Oh well. I also read a couple articles linking artistic creativity to mental illness, though the link is still a skinny thread and not a damning rope. What came first, the illness or the art? Or are they so intricately linked as to be unseparable? (Why does WordPress not like the spelling of unseparable? It’s a word, you asshole. I mean, there’s plenty of times when I use nonexistent words on here, but this isn’t one of those times. Don’t you love that WordPress annoys me? Yeah, it’s the end of the year.)

So this is where I am, making a shitload of art, trying to balance work with that, hoping to figure out the rest of my life at some point DURING the rest of my life. I did miss a bunch of counseling appointments recently, her fault and mine, so maybe that was part of the balance issue. We admitted that my life currently feels CALAMITOUS. Great word by the way. Actually, by yesterday, I had accepted calamitous and moved on to some internal acceptance that I was living day-to-day until after June 18. That’s not that far away. Don’t notice all the calendar items piling up on June 19. I’m cleaning up my entire life on that day. Ha! Like that’s possible.

So I quilted. I mentioned that. I had made it about 2/3 of the way around the bathtub on Tuesday night, so I kept going around, stitching around things when I ran into them, like this wire soapdish…

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I keep drawing some version of these, which is funny, because we don’t own one. Our bathtub sucks, honestly. I dream of a nice big deep bathtub with a wire soapdish. Strange, I know.

Once I got all the way around, I started on the smaller figure…

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I got her completely outlined…

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And started doing other body parts and the water down the one side of the tub, picking up some of the hair and face until I realized it was well after midnight.

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Whoops. Do need to work today. And this weekend is not clean and easy. And grades are due Tuesday. I think. Maybe Monday? I should probably figure that shit out.

I have 5 1/2 hours into the quilting. I’m still outlining. I’ve been sewing pretty slowly, I guess. I am more than halfway done with the outlining, and because of the image taking up most of the background, there’s not much quilting outside of the outlining. I am going to use white thread in the bathtub area to deal with the shadowed areas, but otherwise I’m leaving the big areas alone. I am outlining the shapes in the water, but it’s pretty subtle I think.

A friend’s mom died yesterday, finally done with feeding tubes and all the other detritus of two strokes. She was my second mom in middle and high school, good friends with my family, so when my mom and I weren’t seeing eye to eye (which was often), I could hide there and Sandi would just let me be, because she had four daughters and knew what that dynamic looks like, which is why I don’t get jealous over my daughter hanging with her friend’s mom. It’s a safe place and away from DNA-related drama. I got a bunch of Sandi’s fabrics a few weeks back when they cleaned out her sewing area in the mountains, where we had Thanksgiving dinners, comingling our families for years. Some of those fabrics are in this quilt, and it seems right that I am working on it this week, as I keep losing control of the tears for a woman who accepted my crazy without question, while remaining friends with my mom. She was a good person. Hope she’s OK with my appropriating her stash.

Yeah. She is. Peace out, Sandi.

I Just Can’t Seem to Manage It

I don’t know where my head is this morning. Turbulence. Headache already, and it’s not even 8 AM. I haven’t even left for school. Haven’t finished the first cup of tea either, so maybe that’s part of it. My to-do list is too long. My stress levels are too high. I need more help than I’m getting, but my stress levels increase when I have to start arguing for that. I’m close to crawling into bed and pulling that pillow over my head that drowns out the damn early morning birds and maybe staying there until July.

I think I wrote the same thing last year. Which is sad. Or…normal. Hard to say. Maybe my normal isn’t that healthy.

I posted this comic on FB…


I love Purje’s work…she seems to really get what it’s like to be an artist. And I’m not sure I do the center row well. I try to, but I feel like a mutant sometimes. I do shower regularly. I sleep less than a third of the day (I sleep a quarter of the day). Right now, last night, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and not be me for a while, maybe experience someone else’s life and see what that was like for a week or two. Give me some perspective, because I’m not sure I have any, and I’m living day by day at the moment, terrified that someone’s going to come ask me for more money than I have. Oh wait. They already have.

Any time I think I don’t need my counselor any more, life bitchslaps me back into realizing maybe I will never NOT have a counselor.

Suffice it to say that I did not curl up into that ball last night. I cried a lot; there are tears in almost every quilt I’ve made in the last two years. They open the floodgates, tap into emotion. They are my brain in fabric.

I pinbasted instead.

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Because when you’re in a horrendously sad and depressive mood, crawling around on a tile floor closing a million safety pins seems like a good idea. I should probably apologize to my neighbors now for the music. Whoops. But hey, that makes up for that crazy pirate party you throw every year.

And then I started quilting, because that’s the next step, and even when I’m flailing and cursing and flopping around in a depressive place, my brain knows how to do this process…and it just does it. Because not doing it is worse. I see people who don’t do it at all, who succumb to inertia and express their unhappiness with that and don’t change it, and yes, depression kicks your ass on that, and maybe I was lucky because the process memory was in my brain before the depression, so it is just dragging me through, whether I like it or not (strange metaphor for parenting there).

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And in quilting, there is that meditative space where your brain can inhabit the needle and the hands moving the fabric, prethinking only enough to realize where to push the needle next, to guide the fabric through. The rest of the brain settles down into a curled-up ball and tries not to think about life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, because honestly, it can’t handle all those questions and not-answers at the moment. It just feels broken and damaged and irreparable.

And maybe that’s what I am. Broken. Damaged. Irreparable. If that is the case, then I will have to live with that.

So I quilt.

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And I find tiny bits of joy in outlining a cat’s face.

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Or in these tennis shoes. They pop with the lines done. That’s what I wanted to see.

It’s not exactly how I want to live my life, but it’s where I’m at right this moment…looking at this one day and deciding what has to be done (which will only stick for a short period of time until someone else adds to my list). The sad part of the brain obviously cried most of the night, because my eyes feel it, my head feels it, and I just don’t want to feel any of it. And that’s not an option. You can’t turn the feeling part off. You can slough some of it off onto paper or the screen, send it out into the world where a bunch of people read it. But you can’t make it stop.

So yeah. Today I’m not funny. I don’t have pithy remarks about parenting teens. I don’t have answers. I don’t even have the energy to get out of this chair and go to work, which is lame, because I don’t have a physical excuse. My body functions. I don’t have a disease that physically inhibits me. I have no excuse.

I just can’t seem to manage it.

It’s Just Better That Way

At certain stages in the creative process, I just flail. It’s like I can’t concentrate, like my brain can’t connect to the piece. I don’t care about it yet. I’m just doing because I know I’m supposed to be doing, and if I’m tired or cranky or otherwise in a moody place (welcome to my world), then I can’t barely force myself to make anything.

Last night was one of those nights. The Should Do’s marched by in a relentless line, and I graded papers, because I have a shitload of journals that got handed in yesterday and the rest of the pile will get handed in today, and that means I will be grading until they bury me in the ground, which might be tomorrow. No matter what, I have no recess, no rest, no time off. I need to grade my ass off. And I did grade some…and when I was done, I exercised, because that is good for me and I miss it, and even though my foot is killing me by the end of the day, I still need to be physically active in a cardiovascular way. Damn doctors making me wait for the referral to the next level though. This is no sprained ankle. It’s not even my damn ankle, you fucking idiots.

Deep breaths. Art brain showed up after all that and suggested drawing or cutting things out (pretty easy to do), but I was beyond tired at that point. I sat and finished watching the show I was mired in, and then went to bed. Woke up depressed because hey! I didn’t make art. DUH. Stupid brain. You should know better. And today is an uber-long school day, thanks to my service to my school as a union rep (hate those meetings…but I can grade or draw during them)…so by the time I get home, I will be exhausted again. It’s never-fucking-ending at this time of year.

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(excerpt from Y The Last Man: Vol 1…a somewhat amusing yet sometimes kneejerk treatise on what the world would be like with no men. Apparently some women would be assholes still…but I’m amused by the y chromosome comment, because some of my smart kids were thinking that through as well when we were learning genetics.)

Note to self: Let art brain win tonight. It’s just better that way.

This Mood

So many things achieved. I hate when my mood doesn’t reflect what I’ve gotten done…some of that is moody hormones, unfortunately, but some of it is getting bogged down by other crap that just won’t leave me alone. The little stuff is really getting to me at the moment. Need to dump that mentality. Must be getting to the end of the school year.

My two quilts are going to the photographer today…I dehaired and ironed them this morning, got up a little early to make sure I had enough time. Probably won’t finish writing this before I have to go, but that’s OK. I graded papers last night too. Girlchild and I were going to go to this art and music thing, but it was canceled for the rain (yes. we had rain. a miracle.), so she went off to dinner with friends, while I watched the series finale of Sons of Anarchy. Sheesh. Well, it’s done anyway. I think it’s hard to end a series well (Sopranos for example, not as an example of ending well). At least they got to make a decision about how to end it, instead of just not being renewed.

So I finished tracing the Wonder Under on Bathtub 2 last night…

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And no, Kitten wasn’t helping. She mostly sat around on the papers I needed and then rolled around presenting her belly for petting. Then attacked. It’s nice when she comes out though.

It took almost 8 hours to trace this quilt, which is more than I would have guessed, but there are some whopping big and complicated pieces in the bathtub and water that took more than a minute or two to trace. I usually figure about 100 pieces an hour. Tracing big pieces takes longer than small.

The next step is to cut them all out and then move on to the ironing. I need to clean up the studio first though. There’s some stuff in there that’s been there so long, I don’t know what it is. Time to get it out of the way. Summer cleaning is how teachers think. We don’t Spring Clean. There’s no time. Summer is when our brains like to get rid of stuff and reorganize and move stuff around.

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So that’s on the list. Even starting now, I think. I can’t iron fabrics for the next quilt without some major cleaning in here.

I’ve had some conversations about smaller quilts I can make for sale this summer. I don’t want to do all cats, but I will do some. I’m thinking of a different owl and maybe a raven…and possibly one like the cancer donation quilt I did with the hands and the heart, but simpler. So I’m finalizing all that in my head and figuring out how to fit in at least three major quilts between now and the end of September. Ha! Wow. Crazy much?

Honestly, though, I’m kind of looking forward to putting some sort of plan together for summer work on quilts. It helps school feel less crazy. It helps quiet nights at home seem less lonely. It helps with the frustration of my job. It helps temper the teenaged mutant attitudinal beast who is currently on my couch, bitching about everything I say or do (walking away, my sweet. I love you, but I’m not in the mood). I’m crying at the drop of a hat these days, stupid hormones. Fuck. Going to draw today. Seriously. They’re whirring about in my head, causing strife and stress and nausea (oh wait, those are the hormones, right?). My photographer gave me some really positive comments about the quilts I dropped off…not that I didn’t like them, but I keep having this discussion about pretty versus significant. I prefer the latter. Most people like the former. I have to find the happy place between them for the stuff that sells easily and then keep making the big stinky stuff to keep me sane. Like sanity is my strong point! Whatever.

This mood. Sheeit. Dammit brain, I finished all this stuff. Would you back off for a bit? Sigh. We can engineer bridges, put humans in space for months on end, we know how to replace a lens in an eyeball without stitches, but we can’t find an acceptable treatment for menopausal crap? This world we live in. Don’t tell me it’s equal. It’s not.

Tip the Balance

Usually I write my blogposts in the morning. I used to write them at night. I’d meditate first and then I’d write. Often it would be 1 or 2 AM when I posted, because I wasn’t sleeping hardly at all for about a year. Now it’s easier to go to bed earlier and write in the morning. I suspect the writing is different because of that, but maybe not. Plus I get a few more hours of sleep…not a lot.

I’m writing tonight, knowing I probably won’t post it tonight. I’m kinda hoping that what I do tonight will modify my mood so that tomorrow morning sounds better, feels better, and according to all the happiness mythology, IS better.

It was a difficult day. Kids were not in the mood to do work, and I was asking them to do work. Not particularly hard work, and the ones who know how to do work and like to do it, or at least know that they have to do it, they were doing it. The others were not. My patience was incredibly thin to start the day (lack of sleep? stress? I don’t know. No art for days?), and by the end of the day, our minimum day, I was at nothing percent. Nada. Nichts. Ain’t nobody home. We had a meeting after school that was incredibly depressing…worrying even. And I know I’m not supposed to worry about future events, because there is no point. I’m not supposed to assume next year is going to suck dingdongs because maybe it won’t. I’m supposed to take one day at a time and not think about the future.

I have to tell you, it is a hard habit to break. But I’ve been telling myself that since the meeting, don’t worry, don’t think about the future (except I’m being asked to think about it, so that makes it significantly difficult), the meeting where I almost broke out in tears, and when I have to meet one-on-one later because I expressed my concerns, I will most definitely cry. Because it’s hard to explain to most people what it’s like to feel money stress hanging over you for years. To feel parenting stress solely on your shoulders. Those that have experienced it, they know. But when you then add the stress of trying to balance the parts of your life, and someone wants to add more stuff that you REALLY don’t want to do to a job that already sucks up so much energy and so many hours, and you have fought to keep your hold on the other part of your life, the art part, even just the part where you have time to do the dishes (I haven’t yet since last week), it’s like a tug-of-war game, but it’s not a game…it’s your fucking sanity, it’s your life. And I’m holding the rope and the knot is slipping over the center line, and everything on the other side of the rope (job, money, time, demands of children, demands of boss) is getting heavier and heavier, pulling harder and harder, yanking at me, pulling my shoulders out of their sockets, and I’d really just like to throw my hands up and let go of the fucking rope, let go and walk the fuck away, turn my back on ALL of it.

Yeah. So I’m meditating tonight. And I was drawing earlier. And I’m trying to at least get a tiny grip on some sort of strength to get me through most of tomorrow, because that’s all I need. And then tomorrow night, I can negotiate for Wednesday. And so on.

Tonight though. Geez. Universe. You suck. Walk the fuck away from me. I am not talking to you.

It’s the morning now. So much for my hope for today. I was apparently a horrible person this morning because I suggested watching Friends would not help learn Physics. Huh. What do I know? I love my kids, but going away to college is something they really need to do, not only for their growth and maturity, but for my sanity.

I drew this last night…

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I don’t know what it is about sitting in a bathtub. It reduces stress, makes you feel calmer, but you’re naked, so there’s this vulnerability while you’re in there. You can’t get out quickly, but that’s supposed to be OK. I used to take baths all the time at the old house, prekids, predivorce, prewhatever. The bathtub in this house kinda sucks, plus it’s in the kids’ bathroom. I think if I got into a bathtub right now, I might never get out.

I liked the hand and wineglass in this bathtub drawing…

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But wanted to try to make a better drawing…this was more of a quick sketch one night. So that’s where the second drawing came from (it’s actually the fifth). I don’t know if the other one is done. I have to think about it.

I did all that because my head was a mess. I meditated in the middle of it. I didn’t do anything else last night, because by the time I got home from school and did the grocery shopping that I didn’t have time to do Sunday (forgot the toothpaste, dammit), it was late. And then I was trying to pay the deposit for college and that was apparently too much stress for the girlchild, who admittedly is about to lose all her friends (try to tell her they don’t all go away, but she says I know nothing, because you know, I don’t.), because she went off. And I eventually got it paid, but decided that making dinner was not my problem. I was no longer hungry. I could eat a bowl of fucking Cheerios and I’d be OK. I had used up all my parenting dollars for the night. To her credit, she cooked dinner and fed both of us.

I went to bed and hoped that it would be better today. No comment on that. I can’t judge the whole day on the first 40 minutes. I can’t let the first 40 minutes color the entire day.

Here’s the two birds I almost finished over the weekend…

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I still need to add some of the lighter green to the tailfeathers on the upper bird. I should have done that in the car on the way home on Sunday, but I don’t think I had the energy. I actually don’t remember the car ride back on Sunday. I know I was in the car, because I’m home now.

Seriously though. One of the things I hate about these moods is that I don’t feel like they are entirely situational…I think a big chunk is hormonal, and that is out of my control. My science brain wants to know what percentage is my hormones and what percentage is whatever other shit causes random sadness and depression. I need a mood pie chart. (I just spent ten minutes looking at semi-disturbing pie charts that either blamed moodiness on spilled gin or the genetics of your parents, both probably factors at some point or another.)

Fuck this. I drew. Tonight I don’t know what I will do, but it won’t be school-related. Sorry Mr. Bossman…you didn’t make me want to spend more time doing it. You just strengthened my resolve to keep the balance, perhaps tip it even further towards taking care of me. (In reality, I will find that difficult to do.)

Trigger Warning

I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s book of short stories, Trigger Warning, and I’m one of those freaks who actually reads introductions and other frontmatter (whoa, there’s a word from my previous life as a book editor), plus I really like Gaiman’s work, all of it, and then I come to his explanation of the title and the stories he’s written, and he describes “life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you.” This quote has been sitting in a draft post for a few days, like whenever I started reading this, and this morning, this morning it is true again, because it is always true. And it’s stupid stuff that will hurt you sometimes, stuff you didn’t even see coming at you and that wouldn’t normally bug you, but you woke up in the middle of the night (well, the middle of the early morning, because you don’t go to bed until the middle of the night) and it’s your body that woke you up, because it’s conspiring against you to hemorrhage only in the dark hours when you should be sleeping, and then without warning (see, Gaiman knew about that too), so I guess I should be pleased that at least my body wakes up for such events, so I can do something about it, although the endorphin rush was not necessary, and then in the morning, bleary-eyed, trying to read email and there’s random email, probably a brain fart of some corporate system (go ahead, I know you want to rail against corporate crap, but you use it all the time, even when you do rail against it) and the stuff that comes through derails me so thoroughly that I can’t seem to focus at all this morning.

Which is unfortunate, because I leave in 27 minutes to deal with 140 7th graders.

Whatever. Managing my brain has become a fulltime job. I get a few days off a week, more than I usually did, but apparently this is permanent damage. I really hoped it wasn’t. Maybe I need another two years to get better? Maybe better is never. This is the new better.

Yesterday, by the way, was the worst possible day to go copy drawings. I didn’t even think about it, because I did my taxes in January. So yes, after waiting in line, I commandeered a copier to DRAWING ENLARGEMENT instead of copying all my tax paperwork. (I don’t copy tax paperwork…I do it all online. I don’t mail those assholes shit.) I heard the snotty comments (in Spanish) in line behind me, and all I can say is, don’t leave it to the last minute, sistah. And get off my case. I’m working. And stop assuming us pasty white chicks don’t understand your language. Your grammar sucks.

At home, first of all, I graded papers. Then I hauled my tired self off the couch (first week back to work is always painful) and cooked dinner (reheat from last week’s frozen lasagna, thank god) for me and the girlchild, who forced me to watch multiple episodes of Friends (I may shoot myself soon). At some point, I was finally able to stand up and start cutting and taping. I started with the enlargement of that crazy person I’ve been working on. I only enlarged to 200%, because I realized the finished piece can’t be more than 60″ either direction, and I still need to add another figure…

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Then I tried to figure out how much to add on the bottom (MATH! I needed to finish her legs) and the side. When students ask me “how will we use this when we grow up?” I have answers. Here’s my pile of leftover pieces from cutting it out…

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They’d make interesting quilts in themselves. Abstract cuts like that arm? I can see that as a quilt. No one else can, but I can.

Kitten. You are not helping. I gave her the evil eye…

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And she eventually left to stare out the window instead.

So there’s the original drawing from the sketchbook with the stuff added on top, bottom, and left side.

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Yikes! That’s a lot of space. I don’t need to fill it all. Really. I don’t. OK. It’s hard to NOT want to fill it all, but I will control my vision. It’s going to be a pain to draw it at this size though. I may need to do a pre-drawing, like I did with the first version of this one. We’ll see.

I also copied three of the bathtub drawings.

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And then had this long stupid mental conversation with myself about how I should number them, because I’m sure they will have different names, but they will be called Bathtub 1, Bathtub 2 etc. until I figure out those names, so should that be in the order I drew them? Because I think there are five of them and this is like 1, 3, and 5? Or should it be in the order I make them, which is hard, because I don’t know which one to make first, but I know it won’t be the first one. But I feel like it should still be number 1 because it was? Aargh. Who gives a fuck! Well. Obviously I do. It’s OK. I don’t have to number them until…fuck…until I start taping them together. Like tonight. OK. Decision-making part of brain is offline. Maybe it will recover by tonight. And this decision is so fucking crucial to my life, right? Sigh.

(That outcome is unlikely. The brain recovery one.)

At that point, I was too tired to keep standing and taping and cutting stuff, so I came into the studio/office and starting hand-sewing binding…

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Because it’s 18 thousand miles of sewing and it has to get done at some point. And I was too tired to do anything else. And I took myself to bed earlier than usual (a good thing, considering the middle of the night wakeup call).

I know part of the brain stuff is just pure exhaustion…so I’m trying to be good to myself and push all the bad stuff into the corner behind that pillar over there (ah, meditation training…thank you). First I had to go Google the spelling of pillar because it totally looks wrong. Sigh. Cannot trust the brain. Really can’t.

Oh, and in case you didn’t see this on Facebook, the show I’m in was written up in our local online paper (usually a conservative paper that I never read) and I got into the article…you can read it here…written by a man and not blaming all of our power on the being of woman. Thanks. Appreciated.


Stitched Down…

I sewed a lot yesterday. I also stressed about taxes and colleges and flights yesterday. There will be more of that today. But I did finish the stitching…it took 6 hours and 21 minutes. I suspect a good hour of that was fighting with the machine and having to restitch part of the whole bottom section on Thursday night. Still, it’s time spent, and I keep track of that, because that’s part of how I price the piece…

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I even went to a gaming party in the middle of all of it, ate, drank, played some Cards Against Humanity and almost won, and then came back and finished up.

Once the machine was behaving, it was easy. I just kept going until it was done. I got up every 30 minutes or so to stretch or warm up my tea or pee or walk to the mailbox…anything to get me out of the chair. I had a major tweak in my shoulder/neck yesterday from the night before (maybe the not-sleeping part of the night)…it’s still sort of there today, but much better. I didn’t get much else done yesterday, of course, because that’s how it works. When I buckle down and get serious about getting the art done, I don’t leave the house. I don’t do yardwork or housework. I don’t run errands. I don’t grade papers. I don’t do shit but get the art done. I even forgot to eat for a good portion of yesterday…realized around 1 that I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch. Whoops.

The cat slept behind the machine, obviously not concerned about the vibrations…

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Sometimes they like the machine and sometimes they don’t. Limbo didn’t like it. He’d make that complaining cat noise and then leave. I miss that cat. Babygirl didn’t seem to mind yesterday, even when the quilt top was on top of her at one point.

My brain is in a better place today. Maybe I sewed it all out. No. Some of the angst and stress and badness are still there, lurking around a corner. Maybe they will always be there. Maybe that’s just who I am. I don’t know.

Can’t even come up with a decent title today for the blog post. Fuck that.

My real problem this morning, besides having to clean the entryway floor so I can baste the damn quilt, which is a big sucker, is this pile…

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on TOP of the quilt, tax stuff…not mine. My taxes were done in January. These are the boychild’s taxes I’m trying to do, and I don’t understand any of it…it’s college funds that matured and rolled over and were somewhat dispersed, and it all makes my head want to explode. So the ex will deal with that or we will find a professional, because I can’t finish his financial aid without all that. It took me an hour to find 19 years’ worth of data on one financial fund. Ugh.

So I take a deep breath and consider the fact that I finally have most of a cup of tea in my tired brain, and I can clean the floor and then piece the backing and pull the batting out of the dryer and then get it all laid out, and worst-case scenario, the only thing I will accomplish today is the start of quilting this beast…and then perhaps my Easter will be a quilting day. Because that’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday. Everything else is going to get solved, one way or another, except for possibly the angsty depression that I carry around all the time…and I have been living with that long enough to know that I don’t have to listen to it. Depression panics and says the worst things ever, and the next morning after a cup of tea, it all seems manageable. Mostly.

People like this quilt. Maybe that’s all I need to know or care about right now. That and the 12-plus hours it’s gonna take to quilt it.

I Just Don’t Know

This damn piece is giving me angst. It shouldn’t. That’s what I’m told anyway. Wish someone would tell my art brain to get over the shit that bugs it so I could settle into my own existence. Apparently not an option. But maybe that’s why I make so much art…because I never settle into myself. I’m always questioning what I’m doing and how it makes me feel and whether it was good enough. Good enough for what, I don’t know. But that questioning, I don’t know that it’s abnormal in someone who creates all the time. Maybe that’s the difference between me and the people who did art in college and occasionally do something crafty, but they don’t stay up until after midnight every night making some piece that won’t get into any shows because it’s too in your face.

I just don’t know.

After running 17 errands in the morning, I was able to pick up my newly cleaned and tuned machine and I pieced the background. I also decided I didn’t feel like cleaning the entryway floor to lay it out. I thought the piece would be pretty easy to lay out, because it’s basically one large piece that’s all ironed together. If I had to place a bunch of smaller pieces and make them all fit together, I would have done it on the bigger floor space.

So here…it’s a little crowded, yes.

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Couldn’t even get it flat. Oh well.

I laid it out anyway. Sometimes I’m kinda stubborn.

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I tacked it down on the floor (this might be why my floor is dying…I do in fact iron on it.)…just enough to get it up on the ironing board, where I did the 30 seconds with steam thing that makes it stick better…enough that I can stitch it down.

And then the water droplets had to be placed…and I hung it up…

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This thing is big…59″w x 66″ h. I thought 4 hours to stitch it down was probably an underestimate…but I did start yesterday…

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And everything went fine for the first hour or so, and then I don’t know what happened. Something broke threadwise and I pulled everything out and tried to restart the stitching, and then spent probably 45 minutes fucking with my machine, cleaning stuff out, resetting it, turning it off and saying abracadabra over it, swearing and assuming I would have to take it back today to get fixed and I would never get done. Thread was tying itself up in huge fucked-up knots that somehow translated to shit in my head. Love that. Art brain. Get out of that hole. And then it magically started working again. And I spent an hour restitching all the crap it had fucked over. I’m sure it wasn’t really magic. I did something and that fixed it. But I don’t know what that something was.

When I finished restitching, honestly I didn’t have it in me to keep going. I was just depressed and frustrated with the whole thing. And with life in general. So I walked away and tried to sleep (ha!). Yeah. That was kind of a failure too.

Fucking Pandora is in pretty perky mode. I want to punch it. Where’s my screaming angry young men when I need them?

Seriously, though, I’m fighting a lot of stress about well everything I think. I’m about to crawl into a ball and lock all the doors (probably not realistic considering girlchild lives here half time…apparently) and not come out until I have to…which might be sometime around April 13. I’m sure there’s some people expecting me to show up before that, but I don’t know if I can handle that. Dammit, I unlocked the front door. The Golden Retriever is now here, lying on my floor. It’s harder to be depressed with a Golden around.

I’m trying to decide whether to stitch for a while (I might not stop) or to go to the gym first. I really should go to the gym. I have a social thing tonight. For a hermit who is feeling overwhelmed and antisocial, that seems problematic. Because otherwise I would go to the gym tonight. I like it when it’s quiet there. During the day is not so quiet.

This song was in my head too much yesterday…not sure why.

Not even sure I like it. Certainly can’t watch the video without getting sick to my stomach. Maybe just the lyric “I don’t know what I believe.” Maybe that’s all I’m hanging on to today. Trying not to think about all the crap I need to do. Trying not to think about that pit in the floor that’s screeching at me. Need to meditate more.

OK. Pandora has figured out I’m feeling depressed and is now playing depressing music. I’m not sure that’s helpful, Pandora. Really, you need a better formula.

A Sliver of a Place…

Eleven hours plus…I really wanted to just throw sleep to the wind last night, ignore the fact that my job requires you to be ON at all times and being asleep is not an option, and finish ironing. I am that close. Maybe another hour or so. But I was tired. Huh. Stupid body. What do you mean, you want to sleep? You suck at it. Yes, practice makes perfect, but you’ve been attempting this for 48 years now and obviously you just don’t have a talent for it (seriously, as a kid, I didn’t sleep well either). Just give it up.

Mom brain realizes it’s only Tuesday and I have to survive three more days of school, and lack of sleep makes me cranky, and I’m already cranky with the kids because they think grades are magical things that I bestow upon them, and if they have an F, it’s because I did not bestow upon them something better. It’s never that they just didn’t do the work. It’s on me.

So that was part of the frustration of yesterday that dragged me home behind my car and made me too tired to stand at around 11 PM.

OK, yes, I know. Many people go to bed WELL before 11 PM. It’s a perfectly reasonable bedtime. But when you know you could finish the monster task you’re on by 1 AM? Sigh. Well, obviously I was tired. Annoyingly, I’m still tired this morning, even though I have an extra hour of sleep under my belt. Hopefully I’ll finish tonight (the ironing. Not the sleep).

Last night, I ironed a fox and some thorns and some clouds and lightning. Honestly, it wasn’t much. I added some browns for variety…

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There’s some orangey browns for the fox too. But everything else was already in the boxes. The browns on the left, I didn’t put them away because I need them to hold up against the greens I haven’t yet picked for the leaves that grow on the brown branches (hello convoluted sentence). That’s where my brain balked, because I have multiple overlapping leaves, so I will need a run of greens and I was just too tired to contemplate it. It’s probably a good idea I didn’t, because my brain is sort of offline at the moment. Or there’s too many things in it. Hard to say which. Needless to say, I have a cut on my finger from cooking brainless last night, I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered, and my eyes are still at half mast.

It’s no fun to be annoyed by one’s own existence. I need to clean house, trim the bougainvillea so people can park in the driveway, clean up around the pool, fix the kitchen window screen, cut a piece of glass, buy a frame, hang some art, clean up, put the suitcase in the garage, dammit. How hard is that? The answer is that it all seems to take up so much time and I only have a few things I want to spend time on at the moment, and none of them involves a mop or clippers.

I’m in the 700s, smack dab in the middle of them…

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Although there are some 600s shoved off to the side…mostly roots and grassy bits that I haven’t dealt with yet, and then all the leaves, I think. Then all the big stuff on the bottom is up in her hair…so yeah, I am nearly done. It’s hair and some facial details (lips, eyes) that are not flesh tones, and then the sun on her head and that’s it.

Dammit. Why didn’t I just finish it off last night (you were too tired). Fucking limited hours in the day.

Ah yes. I’m in a mood. An artistic mood. One that tromps all over all the other moods. Except they’re still there. I’m still fighting that low-level depression that messes with sleep and happiness and contentment. I think one of the things that makes me keep creating is that I’m never satisfied…that when I finish one, it’s not enough. It doesn’t fill up an empty inside me, so I have to make another one. No, that wasn’t The One…and there will never be a The One, guys…I know that…there will never be A Piece that makes me think, OH! That was it. You don’t have to make any more art. You’re done. You did it. That was The One. Fuck that. I keep making because it’s NOT the one. Because there’s still something to be said. Because I couldn’t put it all in one piece. Because that one said This and I still need to say That.

AARGH. It was a frustrating day yesterday and I’m still carrying all that inside me. Maybe if I’d stayed up and not slept and finished, it would be OK. Or maybe I would still be frustrated. And fucking tired. Wait. I am tired.

Here’s the bin of stuff to be cut out…it’s going to be very exciting over the next week watching that pile get smaller and smaller…

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OK. Not really. I mean it’s slightly more exciting than watching paint dry, and sure, I get through a ton of stuff on my Tivo, but it’s not thrilling to watch or write about. But then the FOLLOWING week, I’ll be ironing it together, and that surely IS exciting. Plus it will be Spring Break, and Goddess knows I need that at the moment, even if it will be hours and hours of no one being around. There is no making my brain happy. Make art, which mostly has to happen in this solitary place, but you still need people…but not the ones that cause drama and scream at you. There’s a sliver of a place in there where I can exist and be content…if my brain lets me.