I’m Trying Hard to Take It Back*

February 22, 2018

Yesterday was a no art day. I went to book club. I was tired. I think I might be getting sick, which would probably mess up the weekend’s plans. I’m holding out hope at this point. We’ll see. I did grade a little bit yesterday, but mostly I read a bunch of stuff online about our stupid president and his belief that arming teachers is the best way to solve the school shooting issue.

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If someone told me I had to carry a gun to do my job, I’d quit. If someone told me that someone else on campus was carrying a gun, a teacher or a coach, to apparently protect us, I’d quit. I wouldn’t trust the idiot who thought that was a good idea. The idiots who believe more guns solve the gun control issue can come teach. They can come work the monstrous hours we work, deal with the crazy behaviors and rules and testing we deal with, they can do the parent meetings and the staff meetings and the professional development and the reading of this book in your free time so we can not discuss it later and the grading and accountability and all that shit. They can look at their paycheck and see how they feel about being highly educated and highly disrespected by their own society. They can stress over the weekend and late into the night about lesson plans, kids with suicidal tendencies, and principals with crazy agendas. They can do all that.

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Oh wait. They can’t. Or they won’t. There are so many things wrong with this solution, I can’t stop banging my head on my desk over it. It’s bad enough that I have to consider my life over those of my students (because we would protect them). I did not choose that as part of my job. I did not join the military, the police force, or even the fire department. I do not fight in wars, I do not train in artillery, I do not shoot at targets. I chose to teach kids to think and grow. I chose to do something positive in society. I did not choose to carry a gun. I will not choose to carry a gun.

Sigh. So today is my last day with my current counselor…I started seeing her in 2013 because something really shitty and awful and devastating happened and it was beyond me. She has calmly and rationally pulled me down off whatever sky-high branch I flew to and helped me remold the pieces of my brain that broke back then so that they are mostly functioning. They’re not perfect…they never will be…they won’t even be that cool Japanese Kintsugi, where they mend broken pots with gold. They are stitched together with my drawings and my quilts and held with a few hands in place. The joining places do feel fragile at times, even now, but I think I’m OK. She tried to graduate me out of counseling a year ago, and I wasn’t ready. It feels like if I stop going that some massive horrible thing will happen again and I will fall to pieces again. I’m really paranoid about that. And when I tell her that, she nods her head and walks me through my achievements of the last 4 1/2 years and I say OK, I get it, I hear you, I’m not ready.

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Someday this will be a quilt. I’m not ready for that yet.

But I guess I’m ready to stop going to counseling. Because I know if more shit hits the fan (and it inevitably will…it’s just a matter of how and when, because that’s what it was last time…a how and when and out of the blue with no warning is not apparently a good thing for me), I will maybe freak out and maybe not and if I do, I know where to go. I know how to get there. I did it last time. I realized my head was broken and I went to get it fixed. I didn’t think it was fixable at the time, but it turns out I mend. I’m not the same person any more. But I am still me. I’m better at some things now and worse at others. I can’t see colors in the dark very well any more. I’ve got some major baggage that I don’t seem to be able to shed. I guess it’s enough to know it’s there and to manage it when it tumbles down on top of me.

So tonight? Tonight I will say goodbye to my counselor and hope I never need to see her again (strange relationship that)…and I will come home and hopefully sort some fabrics and start ironing them together, and this thing that’s pretending to be the beginnings of a cold will give up and move on, and the president and all his gun-toting cronies will disappear in some sort of a meteor crater that also sucks up all the automatic weapons and other stupid shit but doesn’t hurt any innocent people or children. Wait. That one is probably pretty unrealistic.

*Fun. We Are Young

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The Dew Will Settle on Our Graves*

February 21, 2018

‘Tis chilly here in sunny San Diego…some random cold front making it colder than Ithaca, NY, where the boychild is, but probably just for today. I’m pretty sure that will change soon enough. Cold enough to make me a dog sandwich on the couch, a cat sandwich in bed, though. Amazing how close they’ll get when it’s really chilly.

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Yes, I actually cut stuff out with the two of them like that. It wasn’t easy. I’m used to one box on either side of me and one on my lap. Instead the boxes were precariously perched on either side of dogs who move erratically.

Earlier, I graded…because that’s all I ever do…and this one was already half in my spot. She didn’t move until bedtime.

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It was a frustrating day at school. Independent thinking is probably not best achieved on the first day back after a three-day weekend. I still remember what happened Friday, but not so my little chickadees. And even once I got them through a review, then I wanted them to come up with categories. Oh My Goodness. You’d think I had asked them to cure cancer. In my top class, chock full of honors students, I got one table with three categories: True, False, and IDK. Um. Ladies. They’re all true. LAME. It’s OK…today they will have to use what they did to make more sense of the world. I’m just damn cruel that way.

So yeah, I graded because grades are due soon and I know I will run out of time. I always do.

But I also was done with grading and dinner and all that dishery (I even cleaned a bathroom…just one and not the floor) around 9:30 PM or so and I did a few drawings in between cutting out the last of the pieces.

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I like this one better…of course…because it’s weirder.

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I did about 2 hours of trimming last night to finish up everything…with a total of 9 1/2 hours into the process. Box on top is the trash. I’m putting it in a ziplock bag with the trimmings from the LAST quilt and mailing them to someone whose address I saved (seriously, I did…). Box on the bottom will get sorted into bins tonight for ironing probably tomorrow night.

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I have book club tonight, so I will go out and socialize with my tribe. Plus I read the book. So that’s a plus.

Girlchild has some access to Messenger this week, although she is back to camping in the wilds of Madagascar. On the beach. Near a hotel. Where no one likes to go.

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It looks somewhat like my Spring Break trip to the redwoods last year…except the trees are smaller.

She’s really enjoying this. I’m really glad.

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They seem to take care of the kids…unlike my group when I went abroad in college, which flew me to London and kept me there for about 3 days, but then sent me off to the wilds of Aberystwyth with zero support…although I think they gave us Thanksgiving dinner…that’s something. I guess we were less likely to die of a nasty disease in Wales. And they apparently spoke English there, although some days that was questionable.

Anyway, today I throw cellular respiration into the mix. That should make smoothies of my students’ brains. It’s OK…they’ll survive. I might not.

*Tom Waits, All the World Is Green


It Shines Like Destruction*

February 20, 2018

It’s interesting how I can get most of my to-do tasks done, except the cleaning ones. Those just suck and I suck at doing them. I just can’t get motivated to clean the kitchen floor. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t throw parties…I’d have to clean floors for that. I did clean the kitchen counters last night…and the stove, so I guess it’s not hopeless. I just reach an ending point on cleaning, and it’s never when everything is clean. I’d rather draw or something…anything else.

The project videos are done. It’s a miracle. I have plenty of other crap to grade, of course, but those are out of my hair. Next week, I get all of Unit 4, which will have to be graded in 6 days. And people wonder why I’m not going to a bunch of social stuff on the weekends. I did about 12 hours of grading this weekend, maybe more. Ugh.

No more 3-day weekends, which help with balance. Five weeks until Spring Break though. I can do that.

Sometimes school seems really heavy and hard. It’s usually right about now.

So add on hikes and art and whatever else makes the head rise above the slog…because I still have to go back every day and teach difficult subjects to kids who don’t necessarily want to learn. Labs help to keep them engaged, but it’s nothing if they don’t get understanding out of the labs…so we’ll see how that goes.

But yes, we walked the puppy yesterday…he needs exercise, and so do we…

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It was a gorgeous but chilly day. Good day for a hike.

Then I came back and finished up as much of my to-do list as I could…and in between cutting out pieces of the new quilt, I did some smaller drawings that could be quilts…

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I don’t really like all of them. And I have absolutely no time to make them, even more importantly.

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I realized last night that I have five openings in the next month…two in Los Angeles. It’s gonna get a little crazy around here.

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And grades are due for Trimester 2. I like this one…

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I needed those breaks, because I trimmed pieces for about 4 1/2 hours yesterday. My hands get tight…

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But I don’t think you can tell from here (trash top, to-be-cut in the middle, cut in the bottom)…I’m almost done. Like maybe an hour or two from finishing…with about 7 hours in. So that’s cool. It means I should be ironing together this week. My favorite part…where the image finally starts to appear (besides in my head). I hit the halfway mark on most quilts (on time) some time around finishing the trimming and starting the ironing. Although I need to be faster on this half, for sure. Keeping that in mind.

Meanwhile, back to school today, hammering the photosynthesis chemical reaction (which hopefully they’re getting by now), so I can throw cellular respiration at them next. Then tonight, I can cut out the rest of the pieces hopefully…

*Eurythmics, Love Is a Stranger


Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night*

February 19, 2018

I’m sitting in here, in my studio/office, listening to the rhythmic sounds of the septic pumper truck outside my window…once every 4 years, whether you need it or not? I don’t like waiting until there is a problem. Last time, we had to replace the whole septic field, so that was fun. Anyway, it means I’m trapped here for a bit (ironic that, because honestly, on the average weekend, I don’t leave the house much anyway, except for crazy errands etc. and the occasional meal). I have a bunch of schoolwork to do still, even after 4 hours yesterday of grading another period of project videos, plus 62 emails of makeup work. Done! All of it! Well, I still have more to do. It’s never-ending.

While I was working yesterday, Satchemo came in and investigated one of the cat hiding places in my office…this one will disappear in my remodeling plan, unfortunately for the cats.

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Then I headed out for the deck, because yesterday still bordered on warm enough (today is not…unless you live back east and you’re used to much colder than this.). Simba agreed and laid out on the deck with me…

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I tried another version of the drawing…

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And got somewhere this time…a much better start. Still needs more, and yes, I had to break out the liquid paper, because the lines weren’t going where I wanted them to go. It happens.

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Although now I’m annoyed that both figures are turned the same way. There’s a third figure that I think will fix that, and then I’ll draw off the bottom as well. I think it’ll be fine. If not, I’ll flip the skelly.

Back to the studio, where Kitten has picked her new sitting spot…

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Yes, Kitten, that IS why I put the fabric in those boxes.

Somewhere in there is when I graded for 4 hours. It was quiet and frustrating and I had to get up and stomp around the house a few times and hallelujah I’m almost done with that.

I had enlarged the drawing I did last week…200%. I didn’t want something too big. There’s a deadline I honestly don’t know if I can make. But here it’s taped together…

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And then I numbered it…hey…not too bad.

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There’s some tiny stuff, but not too much of it.

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And then I cut stuff out on the scoliosis for a few more hours. It’s slow…but it’s going…

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Time for art, time for work. Today is similarly planned…one last class of project videos, plus finishing up another assignment and inputting some of those grades, so kids can be happy or despondent. Seriously they should already know which based on what they did or didn’t turn in, but apparently that level of self-review is not fully developed yet. I think they hope for magic sometimes. I mean, sure, I blew off the video and half the pages are blank, but maybe she won’t notice?

I noticed. Anyway. It is what it is. Trimester 2 is notoriously bad for our kids. The number of holidays? Spring messing with their hormones? It’s hard to say.

With that, I am hoping the pump-truck guys are near to done so I can get my own shit done (ha ha…see how I did that? Shit? Yeah. OK.). Art, work, food, sleep. I want a dog walk today too. I bet the dog would go along with that.

*Sarah McLachlan, Blackbird (yeah, the Beatles song)


I Am Superman and I Can Do Anything*

February 18, 2018

Well I finally managed drawing on the deck on a sunny day. As opposed to drawing on the deck on a rainy day? That would actually be harder to do with the weather we have. I’m going to try again today, because it was nice. Duh. Of course it was nice.

If you are back East or anywhere else it’s snowing, I’m sorry. You’re thinking, seriously Nida? Why CAN’T you get your butt outside on a gorgeous day and soak in some of this obviously Southern California (those aren’t my palm trees) wondrousness?

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And the answer is, I don’t know. I have my weekly journal there, my sketchbook, a pile of art proposals that are coming up, the inevitable cup of tea? Perfect. Enough sun to warm my feet…bare feet. Yup. In February.

So I did this and rejected it…although there are things that might pop up elsewhere.

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Sometimes I just have to move the pen around on paper until better ideas pop in.

So I started another one, which might stick. It has some issues.

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That lower hand, for instance. I know where I’m going with this though, so it wouldn’t hurt to either start again or enlarge this and cut that crappy hand out and do another one. I think this might work.

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In the middle of all this drawing, I sold a quilt…a small one, but that’s money. That’s the grocery money this week and next. That’s a cushion I didn’t have when I wrote my post yesterday morning. That’s a deep breath.

I appreciate that. So that quilt will be winging its way (ha! It’s a bird) to Colorado on Tuesday. If the post office stays open late enough and I can book out of tutoring on time.

Then I came inside and graded more projects and videos. This was my second smallest class. I was going to do both the small classes at once, but after I got through this period and an entire video of one of the kids in the class yelling out “My ass itches” while the kid doing the video tried to keep it together (oh man, that other kid is in BIG TROUBLE on Tuesday…), I couldn’t bring myself to do another 16 of them.

Plus Kitten was being a pain in the butt. That tail was flicking at me the whole time.

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Two periods left to do. I’m doing the big one today. I might need mental assistance afterwards, but it will be done.

Then I started cutting tiny bone pieces out…

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After dinner out and a visit to a local brewery, we came back and I tried to video chat with the girlchild. Apparently they could hear everything I said, but she sounded like she was in a metal drum and syncopated. SIGH. It’s OK. I saw she was alive…good thing, because she leaves tomorrow for 5 days. It’s OK. I’m doing fine. Sometimes I get sad and miss my kids, and that’s OK. It would be weird if I didn’t.

So then after that, I cut more pieces out. The top one is the trash, the middle one is actual quilt pieces, and the bottom is what still needs cutting…which is a lot.

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But a lot of that is big pieces…all the details were on top, mostly, the last stuff I ironed down.

Girlchild did finally gt a picture of herself in the beach paradise of Antalaha, where she’s based for a lot of her stay…

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Look! She’s alive! And also barefoot in the sun (huh…well…genetics). We should maybe feel sorry for the boychild for being in New York right now in the snow and cold (or not…he chose that).

Today? I’m going to sit outside again. Really. I am. And I’m going to torture myself with more project videos. And I’m going to cut more things out. Really, just like yesterday, minus dinner out. And it’s Sunday. Which means I need to send the parent email for school. But otherwise, I have tomorrow off as well? So I can kinda be relaxed and sort of pretend my job doesn’t inhabit my entire life today, yeah? Maybe? Gonna try.

*R.E.M., Superman


Dancin’ and Singin’ and Movin’ to the Groovin’*

February 11, 2018

So I drove my quilt 45 minutes north of here yesterday and then drove another hour back (same distance, welcome to traffic), and while I was driving, an entire drawing populated itself in my head. I’d had a vague idea of it before, but it was flat out laying down lines and spaces during the drive, to the point that I don’t remember a good chunk of it (let’s hope all the safety parts of my brain were fully engaged). So when I got home, I could start working on one of the things that needed working on, or I could sit down and draw.

Well. Um. So even though I have a to-do list 17 miles long with some pretty damn important things on it, this was a compelling drawing, so I sat and drew for about an hour before we left to finally see The Last Jedi

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I did pencil in general shapes before I started, because the overlaps on this thing are numerous. So that’s about an hour of drawing.

And then when we came home from the movie and dinner, I finished it.

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Maybe another hour. It felt really good to get it on paper. So that’s that thing…I can plan all I want, but sometimes, I just have to do what my brain wants. I blow off what my brain wants when I’m working and when I need to grade things, so it seems fair to let it have its way sometimes. And now I have a drawing from it.

Here was the Oceanside Museum of Art yesterday…there was an artist’s talk going on, I think, but the quote on the building was cool…not that you can see it that well in a tiny picture.

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Luckily, it’s part of the installation with the wall above, so you can see the quote and its explanation by the artist, Marcos Ramirez, on the page associated with Undocumenta, one of the exhibits that just closed in the museum.

I finally took a decent picture of this so I can put it on Etsy. It’s 11″ square.

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It’ll be up there in a little bit.

And today? Today I actually have to do the things on my list. Like a lot of them. But that’s OK. I got a drawing out of it yesterday. I’m good.

*Wild Cherry, Play That Funky Music


Watch Her Moving in Elliptical Patterns*

February 9, 2018

Still tired. Seems puppy has forgotten how to not bark all night. I got the spray bottle and dragged my poor tired old body out of bed about 5 times until he stopped. Even with the coyotes, I’m like, dude, seriously, they’re outside. They’re not even right outside the window, slobbering on the glass. They’re like across a major road. No worries, OK? He grumbled a lot (he really does make a grumbling sound) and turned around on his bed a bunch and yipped a few times, but then either I slept through the rest (not likely) or he stopped.

I think about what I do with the dog and what I do at school with kids, and sometimes there’s not a whole lot of difference. There are kids who have forgotten (sometimes purposefully) how to do their work, how to turn it in, how to stay on task, and I have to stand on them. Not literally, but constantly remind them of what I expect until I get it. Or don’t. Because that happens too. Projects are cool because we see all this great thinking, but also incredibly frustrating, because a lot of our kids can’t handle a project, even when we break it down into daily steps. I walked around yesterday to every table and commented on one single part of the assignment: “You did it. Awesome!” or “You didn’t reply.” or “You haven’t done any of it.” There was very little surprise with the last one…the first one made a lot of kids happy or incredulous that their tablemate had done it. The middle one just caused arguments, “Yes I did.” Try again.

Anyway, today is the last day. They are supposed to do videos today…I’ve already deleted about 5 of them that were way too short. They will love me for that, I guess. I did email them and tell them why. If I don’t delete them, they usually won’t go redo them. “I did it already!” is what I’ll hear. They have the time to redo them…they need to learn that skill, the redo skill. Fixing things!

Anyway, it’s a long time until Spring Break…I can feel it in the air…the kids’ brains disappearing even though they’ve got 6 weeks to get through…us too, I guess.

Yesterday was long and exhausting. I had before-school meetings and after-school appointments and meetings. I took two quilts with me to my stitching meeting so I could do bindings. I was sure I’d be able to finish at least one, but I was sewing way too slowly…and I was late getting there, etc. etc. I have this much binding left…

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From the top down that side and barely around the corner. Of course, then I have two sleeves to sew on as well. But it’s almost done. Honestly I haven’t been working too hard on getting these done, obviously.

I also entered a show last night. I had debated it for a while, but I had a piece that seemed it might work, so I went for it.

Then I debated. I was way too tired to stand…and I’d made some significant brain errors yesterday due to tiredness, so I didn’t feel like ironing. I mean, I WANT to iron…I was just too tired at 10 PM to start. And I knew this week would probably go that way…it’s why I pushed to get started on the ironing earlier in the week. I’m hoping to get some done this weekend.

So I sat on the couch with a couple of animals, including this big goofball. “See my toy? Do you see my toy? I have a toy.” Yes Calli. We all see your toy.

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And I took the drawing from the staff meeting earlier this week, and I drew it bigger and added a head. So it didn’t turn out like I wanted it too (I wanted 5 heads, but I ran out of paper space…a common problem for me), but I just kept adding shit until I thought I was done. It was a good thing to get out of my head.

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I might need to do another one at some point, but this was cathartic for now. Back to the question…are they yelling at each other or trying to eat each other? I don’t know the answer to that. I guess to get 5 heads in there, I’m gonna have to start much much smaller. Good to know that too.

I have gaming tonight, so I know I won’t get to ironing…but I’m hoping I get a good night’s sleep. I do have to deliver a quilt tomorrow, so I should figure out where it is, dehair it, iron it maybe, and pack it up for delivery. That would be smart. And then a 3-day weekend, with at least one full day of grading stuff, but a big chunk of ironing as well…I need that. More fabric meditation.

*Phoenix, 1901