Move Through the Room Like Ambulance Drivers*

April 19, 2018

It has been pointed out to me that I am in a crappy mood. I agree. I am. It’s true. I do my best to counteract such moods: spending time reading my really interesting book, trying to draw every night, exercising on occasion (I’d like to do more of that), and messing with student brains. I had a kid write “Nida your a bitch” on one of the desks. OOOHH…that’s original sweetie. I have to agree as well. And right back at ya. So I erased it and then started a conversation, although I’m fairly sure this is a different kid…

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I’m pretty sure I know which kid this is and which kid thinks I’m a bitch (the one I called out the other day for constantly trying to copy the people at her table, which is why I moved her to a different group this week. HA!). Can you see me rolling my eyes from here? Yesterday had a lot of fun components (not really) that ended in a load of stressful crap that better not show up in my class today…or tomorrow. All I can say is that at least they have bad aim, so I didn’t get hit.

Then I drove down to a show I’m in that I haven’t been able to see yet, because the gallery was supposed to be open late, but it wasn’t. So that was annoying, but I took it in stride. Because what else are you gonna do? Pitch a fit? Nah. Drive home, make a cup of tea, read a chapter. I graded a little bit. I’ve been unfocused on that shit lately…hard when you have to babysit in class after you’ve assigned something, stand over them until they make a start, stand over them so they don’t hurl epithets about Your Mom. Your Mom wants you to get to work, you sweet little dear child, not pick a fight with some other 12-year-old.

My patience is worn thin.

Dark dog…

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After dinner, I finished the drawing…eventually I started numbering it…

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I knew it was not going to be just a few pieces. They never are.

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There’s the thing I put in the bottom corner…the backpack.

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There’s the 1000th piece. I’ve never ended exactly on 1000. Yes, odds are I missed a number or didn’t number some piece. I find myself transposing numbers as I write them. I think 783 and write 738. I hope that’s not some form of advancing dementia.

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It’s not huge, but it’s not small. Maybe 36″ wide? I’m not actually sure I can finish it in time. But you know me…I’m gonna try.

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Besides, it’ll give me something else to think about…because I’m finding school very frustrating right now. And I’m still low-key fighting this illness. And I ate jellybeans at school all day yesterday because I was that stressed. The right eye is twitching, but not constantly yet, so I have plenty of stress levels left. By the way, if you live with a teacher, and this is the first year you’ve experienced the End of the Year Syndrome, have patience. They give us the summer off for a reason.

Here’s Simba in one of his favorite sleeping spots. He really likes that pillow.

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He’s cute. That’s another thing you can do when you’re stressed: Pet the animals. Or try to comb out all their winter fur blobs. It’s satisfying.

*Beck, Where It’s At



April 18, 2018

So I moved the jury duty to July. No plans for July, I guess. Day by day. Sucks. I guess I will hope I don’t get called on the days I already have stuff planned. I’m still really irritated that the one single month a year that is usually NOT stressful will be stressful on a daily basis. I will have to set up some sort of prayer circle each night before I call to see if I have to go in. Burn some sage over the phone, sing to the goddess of teachers on summer vacation, trying to replenish the patience that gets us through the year (I don’t have much of it left right now).

Meanwhile, I think my body is trying to fight off the nasty-ass cold from hell that permeated my house last week. I have been fighting the scratchy cough, which I thought was from having to talk too loud in class, but last night it was more than that, and this morning I have the baby beginnings of a migraine. I don’t get migraines. Seriously, I’ve had two in my whole life. I know, bless me, but this is way back behind the bones and it’s vibrating like a mofo.

So stay away, weird illness. I don’t need you. I got shit to do. Yesterday, we didn’t even sit down to dinner until almost 9 PM (see notes from yesterday, this week is not working well)…and then, while letting Dirk Gently make me giggle (I really do love that guy. And Farrah. And Amanda. And maybe even Todd.), I was working on BALLS. Still with the balls. With Satchemo’s help…

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OK, dude. Not really helping. “I want to touch the quilt.” “I know. I don’t want you to touch the quilt.” “I’m going to touch the quilt anyway.”

Sigh. Yup, he’s still there. Touching the quilt.

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You realize that after I get all these bastards sewn down (which has taken me over a year, because I didn’t really do it for a long long while), I will have to embellish every goddamn one of them? Yeah. Me too. It’s OK. I got this.

After I did that, I considered grading, but I did tutoring after school yesterday, which was work, hard work, it’s so exhausting, so I didn’t FEEL like working. I get to a point where I just fight it. Too many hours already. So I didn’t. It was after 10 PM.

I stood up, went back to the light table (biggest piece of furniture in my living room), assessed my day, wrote a to-do list for the evening (evening! Ha! It’s night now, baby.) and the next day, and then started to draw. Fireplace done…and then the figure in front. So what’s interesting about this drawing is that I started it July of 2014. I did the two main figures and then realized there wasn’t room in my sketchbook for the rest of the vision in my head. So I enlarged it 250-300% (don’t remember which…it was a while ago), taped it together, and then put it on top of the piano to wait. Or percolate. Or something. Because honestly, what came out last night (and the few days before) was almost line for line exactly what has been sitting in my head for the last 3 years and 9 months, minus 8 days.

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I can’t remember my phone number sometimes. I can’t remember what month it is. I don’t know if I made my lunch or where I left my damn keys, but I remember that picture in my head. That’s crazy. It was a relief to draw it…seriously, a like-Ima-gonna-cry relief. Weird. I still need to do something in that space around his feet, because the empty is bugging me (that’s really what my drawings are about…the empty space bugging me until I fill it)…but as I was trying to fall asleep last night (at 12:18 AM, way too late), things were popping into my head and trying themselves out in that space.

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Anyway. That’s cool. I have a ton of stuff to do today, but hopefully I’ll get the last bits of this drawn tonight and maybe have time to number it. It’s a relief to get it done. I keep saying that word. Relief. That’s not the name of the quilt. Yet. It does have a name…it has from the beginning.

Like I Have a Choice…

April 17, 2018

Well I came home yesterday and had a minor nervous breakdown…not because of school. That went OK. Not perfect, not amazing, just OK. Sat through another hour of how to deal with a shooter on campus (doesn’t make me feel more prepared, trust me, although as science teachers, we have a more useful arsenal than most for the FIGHT section of Run Hide Fight. Yes. That’s what we learn in staff meetings. Fun stuff. Actually kind of upsetting stuff. I really don’t like it. But then again, there’s a lot of things I don’t like…fish, chocolate…allergic to both. Staff meetings, grading stuff, trying to explain to middle-school boys why they need to shower every single fucking day. Nope. Don’t like those things.

But no, that wasn’t it. I even stayed for about 45 minutes and reworked all the groups for the project they’re doing this week, because I realized how many kids would be out of my classes on Friday because an elementary school is coming to visit, and that means those kids will be helping with that, and it just wasn’t going to work in a group of 5 kids if 4 of them were gone on the day the project is due. Plus there were some groups that were dysfunctional. It’s not fair to put one hardworking high-level kid in a group when you know they’re going to end up doing everything. So I redid all those.

And then I came home. And got the damn mail. US District Court jury summons for the entire month of June. You know, the month when I teach sex ed. At the school where we either get no subs or we get subs who are incompetent and discuss bitcoin with the kids when they should be working on ecosystems. Or the sub who…well, I probably can’t talk about that one, because it’s an ongoing investigation. So every night, I’m supposed to call and get my status for the next day, and then if I have to go in, I’ll have to write sub plans right then for a sex ed unit that has no script for a teacher who doesn’t know my kids and probably really doesn’t want to talk to them about puberty or penises or HIV, and may actually be completely ignorant (I swear, when I did the training, there was a male science teacher…SCIENCE TEACHER…old enough to know better, who said he thought you couldn’t get pregnant the first time you had sex. Fucking A.). You’ve gotta be kidding me.

I was pissed. I still am. I do my civic duty every damn day. I don’t need more of it. So I walked the dogs, and I was still pissed. I tried going online to figure out how to postpone it to my vacation, to my break from my school year, to the one month a year when I can do all my doctors’ appointments, do my yardwork, run errands that take more time than 20 minutes…the one month a year I don’t get PAID. Yup. This is how I want to spend that month. The website is faulty. The website lies. I’m going to have to call in between 9 and 4…interesting, since those are my teaching hours…and sit on hold for at least 10 minutes, they say. Well then maybe you should make the website functional so I can do it there. Downtown too. So parking. I’m so annoyed. If I can’t postpone it, June will be a very difficult stressful month. Wait. June is always a difficult stressful month. Fun stuff.

And then we didn’t plan well for cooking this week. Well, there’s meals planned, but they’re all meals I know how to cook and it’s just easier (especially when you’re pissed off) to just do it yourself than to have the presence of mind to explain in detail to someone else what you need them to do. You can push the recipe over toward them (that didn’t work), but I really don’t want to be in charge all the time. I’m in charge all the time every day at school. I would like to come home a couple times a week and not have to deal with cooking. So I guess that’s my rule for next week, eh? Yeah. It is.

Stress. Need to find time to make the phone call (I have 3 other phone calls I need to make that have been on the to-do list for a long time). Need to grade stuff (did none of that last night due to mood from hell). Grades are due in a week. Again. Never-ending.

So eventually, I was able to push most of that shit over to the side, a big pile of festering fucking crap of when am I going to get everything done, so it’s still there, smelling up the place, but art brain is a pushy broad and gets her shit done. Holds her nose when she has to, breathes through her mouth.

I had that drawing of the two figures, which is from 2014, one of the ones from when I was broken, but the image in my head never made it completely onto paper. Which is interesting, because it’s all still in there, the drawing. I pulled it right up. Can’t remember what that thing with the three legs and the pump-like structure is called, but I still have a drawing in my head from more than 3 1/2 years ago…and I taped more paper around the edges. This is Calli probably getting offended because I’m bopping her in the head with the paper…or maybe she’s just giving me a loving look because I walked her.

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And I started adding the fireplace behind them that’s been in my head this whole time.

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It still needs fire and stones, and I gave him feet…but I still need to draw the third figure in the bottom section. Tonight hopefully. This deadline is before the other one…so let’s see if I can get going on that. Sigh. Trying to put all that angst into this piece instead of letting it sit inside me. Hate this shit. I really look forward to 8 weeks (it’s not even 8 weeks) of not thinking about or worrying about my job, so having something else I have to worry about instead, every single fucking day? I really can’t. Sigh. Like I have a choice. Plus how am I going to take any copyediting jobs over the summer if I can’t be sure I’ll be able to work on it every day? I can’t. That’s what it means.

Meanwhile the boychild is like…whoa! Jury duty! That would be so exciting! Um. Can I transfer it to my unemployed college graduate? Nope. No ma’am. We’ll torture him later. You? Now.

For a Minute There I Lost Myself*

April 16, 2018

Most common nights that teachers don’t sleep: (1) The day before school starts in August (or September, if you’re on that track). (2) Sunday nights. I don’t even know why. I totally tried to shut my brain down. It just didn’t work. I was talking to the girlchild right before, but I also was just glad to hear from her (earlier that day)…the no-internet week was difficult. Meanwhile, boychild is sending me pictures of lost weather balloons (REAL ones, not the Roswell kind of weather balloons).

Some weekends just aren’t long enough.

Yes, I spent most of Saturday in a car. Then talked about my work and all the other quilters’ work (because I was the token quilter there). Then we took all the work down and shoved a bunch of it in my car and drove back. Woo hoo! Ugh. Sunday was like it always is…do some work, clean up, do some yard work, grocery store, prep some food, hopefully get to some art. And the art started early, because I had graded all the makeup work and couldn’t handle anything else. There have to be days of the week when you don’t work. And I already had.

I have my post-dinner routine that will get this quilt done…we finish watching whatever not-quite-an-hour-long show it is and then I sew more balls on until the show is done. I’m on the last thread color…I think. I missed one pink one and some of the red ones seem darker, but let’s just say I’m close to done with sewing them down. Then I need to embellish them.

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I was actually looking up how to quilt wool last night, because the quilt BEFORE the birds has been pinbasted for a million years. I feel like it needs a heavier thread than what I usually use, but the woman I watched on YouTube used a thinner thread. So now I don’t know.

Anyway, so I am trying to get the other one done too…I guess this is number 3. I have all the wool cut out for September and October, but nowhere to put it. So I pieced September to one of the first blocks I embellished…

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And then pinned down the beginnings of stuff.

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I think the whole thing gets sewn together after that, which is a little scary. Don’t worry…it’ll be a while. I have a ton of embellishment left to do on the other piece that traveled with us throughout the Southwest. I didn’t get much done.

This was because the boychild needs to come home after college and may well be driving.

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I was just curious. It’s about how far we drove over Spring Break. But with no help. Long way.

Then I started drawing…it was easier last night. I added an octopus and a jellyfish. So much for keeping it simple.

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Then Christmas lights, of course…and the requisite bones.

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Stardard fare…some ribs, a uterus, the inevitable iPhone, some stuff from the past, and gingko leaves.

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Her hair on the right side…haven’t decided the left side yet. There’s more to add in there.

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This might be a little crazy.

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Found the other drawing I was considering for the time theme. This is good. It’s almost done, as far as the two figures are concerned…

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There’s a third figure I need to draw…but I need to add paper to do that. I think I’ll try to do that tonight, because this deadline is earlier than the other. Honestly, I’m not sure I can finish both. So there’s that. Never let that stop me yet though.

Wow. This is a tired way to start a week. Ugh. Oh well. Must go on.

*Radiohead, Karma Police

Grading and Weeds…

April 14, 2018

I got a good night’s sleep last night after an hour of drawing (yes, only an hour…you can thank my day job for that). It was delightful. Except when one of my neighbors was slamming car doors at 1 AM and the puppy decided he needed to protect us from that.

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Seriously, this dog is the biggest (sweetest) asshole there is. I finally got up and sprayed him with the water bottle (No BARK) and he grumbled for a while, let out a few rebellious yips to show I’m not the boss of him, and then went to sleep. Until 3 AM or so when he did it again. Yup. I’ve got control of that beast.

Yeah, I graded last night. I came home and finished the other big assignment that I was supposed to finish over break. I still have more to do, and progress report grades have to be done in about a week, so I’m trying to be on top of it all. LAST PROGRESS REPORT OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. Yeah. That’s good. I like that. I had to really force myself to grade the last period. I wanted to put it off so bad. But no.

So while we were driving around last week, in the middle of the night (well, no, at 3:11 AM when someone in the hotel room next to us was banging on the door and yelling LET ME IN over and over again), I got this amazing idea for a drawing that related to time (one of the topics I need to hit in an upcoming quilt…I have two dueling deadlines of course). I sketched it briefly and described it (the picture is still indelibly inscribed on my brain, so that’s enough), but now I need to get it out of the head and onto the paper. I tried earlier this week and failed, but I will try again. But when I started trying to draw it, I realized it was going to be huge and massive and I like to do at least one really big quilt a year, usually in the summer, but the deadline for what I was trying to do is early June. So then I thought about this other drawing that I started ages ago and needs finishing and would also work (and would be much smaller and doable in the next two months), so I had sort of decided to pull that one out and finish it for that show, and then draw the other one for summer (although there are two other deadlines I’m interested in for early fall, so there’s that as well. Aaugh.). All that decisionmaking, though, made me give up on trying to do that drawing first, so I started this one.

This one is kind of about me as an artist, starting way back, although not TOO way back, because I don’t remember everything, but just thinking back to what influenced me, what kinds of art I’ve made, what’s made me the artist I am…so that’s this. There is, of course, no guarantee ever that it will get into the show for which I make it…that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s an idea that spoke to me and I’m drawing it. All good.

So when I finished grading, I did some more stuff on the one arm in the air, worked on her hair, added lungs and then worked on the other arm, which lead to upper thighs and a uterus (you knew that was coming, yeah?).

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Obviously there’s some stuff that needs to happen in the middle. That’s still whirling around in my head, although a gingko tree is in there somewhere. I used to be a screenprinter; hence the squeegee.

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I did photography when I was younger…but also sewed. I learned to sew when I was 8. I might have embroidered before that. Thread, fabric…all part of me forever. Art also a part of me forever.

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I’m driving to LA today and talking and taking down a show, so I’m not only missing the March for Science (dammit), but also not getting a lot done today in the art world. The show was supposed to be up for another 3 weeks, so I’m more than a little irritated that we have to do takedown today, but whatever. Some people in the art world are flakes…we all know that.

This popped up in my email as being from 9 years ago (I think actually the book I made from these is 9 years old…some of the pictures may be older). It’s my kids and my brother’s kids…all so tiny and cute.

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And smiling! Mostly. Kinda weird. And no, I still haven’t heard from the girlchild. She’s either walking back from that village tomorrow or Monday, so hopefully she’ll reappear. I know she has to check in with her local advisor every two days, and if there were a problem, he would have contacted us, so that’s what keeps me from freaking out. Mostly. Mom brains. They’re so annoying.

Other annoying things: Apple’s new update to iCloud now does not allow me to select multiple pictures. Their solution says to use iCloud on my PC, except it still thinks I have a corrupt database and wants me to sign out of it. That bug has been around for months with no solution. Buggy as hell. iMessage is also still buggy as hell, and that’s on an Apple device. And then one of my local school board members (one I did NOT vote for) is pro arming teachers…unfortunately, I think it’s another two years before we can vote him out. Sigh. Stupid stuff.

So driving to LA…gonna pray to the traffic goddess for no accidents or stupidity (ha!)…hoping for good attendance at the talk and an easy takedown. Tomorrow? Not much to look forward to…grading and weeds. That’s about it.

When I Pick Up the Pen

April 13, 2018

The opening last night was nice…the show itself looks really cool, some really interesting work. Although all these local shows can be a pain in the butt for delivery and pick up of work and trying to get to all the openings, I like the opportunity to put my work in with other people’s work that I’m not usually hanging with. There were a few FIG members in this exhibit, but there were a lot of other people whose names I didn’t know. It’s cool to see my work hanging out with theirs.

The show is Art That Cuts, and it’s only at Mesa College through next Friday. Definitely worth a visit, though. Bhavna Mehta was the juror and the class on campus designed the exhibit and all the stuff that went with it. I often say I would have loved to have taken a gallery class like that when I was in school. I even occasionally think about it now (and then slap myself a lot because I don’t need to take that on right now).

Helen Redman is still rocking the art world in her 70s (I wanna be 70 and still making art)…this is her piece To Become Her.

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And Bhavna’s two pieces Beat and Wade…combining paper cutting and embroidery.

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My piece, Some Like It Hot, is hanging on the wall with their work, which I loved…

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This piece was fascinating…lots of sewing paraphernalia, but then there are rattles…from rattlesnakes…and they’re wired to rattle…

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So there’s this constant low-level rattling going on that is just so dangerous sounding…

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The piece is Now Is Not a Good Time by Margaret Noble.

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It’s a fascinating piece…here’s a link to a video of it from her website.

This is one of three by artist Kirsten Francis, Sounding OFF

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I was looking at her work and I liked it, and then I read her name and thought, hey. I know that name. Why do I know that name? There was a printmaker about a million years ago whose work I just loved, but never had the money to actually buy any of it. But I saw her at Artwalk or something. Well this is her. Obviously, she’s moved away from the printmaking, but I was so glad to see that her work still speaks to me. Weird, huh?

These were fascinating. One of the materials used in making this? Fire. A beautiful piece, Colour Bunny, by Vincent Wray.

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A detail…

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This is a tiny piece, but so detailed. Little Hands, Little Feet by Nicole Waszak.

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And this piece…Resistance through Existence II by Martha Gil…her Instagram is @gildednopal. Definitely worth a look at her nopal-influenced uterus stickers on Etsy.

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Home after all that, picked up dinner for me and the sick guy, who was getting all the sad looks from Calli.

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I was pretty exhausted. I did some sewing of wool circles and eventually made it to a standing position to work on this…it’s slow. But it’s coming.

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Yeah that one boob was way too high. Although that’s more realistic. Oh well.

Tonight was to be gaming, but sick guy is too sick. So I’ll be grading. It’s OK. I need to get it done. And maybe I’ll have the energy to draw as well. I won’t be marching for science unfortunately tomorrow…I’ll be driving to LA instead for an artist talk and take down of a show. Long day.

But first to get through this one…to the fun stuff, when I pick up the pen.

Today I Read

April 12, 2018

The first week back to school after a break is always hard. This one seems to be chock full of meetings and other afterschool stuff, which just makes it harder. I’ve needed to go to the chiropractor for days, but had to reschedule to pick up my car, and now it’s gotten worse. Today is the day! Hooray! Tonight is also an art opening. Yesterday was book club…there was a lot of discussion about the characters and the world the book was written in…The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison.


I used to do book reviews on here all the time. I don’t know why I got out of the habit. I still read all the time. Anyway, this book was good, good enough for me to read the whole thing in about 3 days flat over break (while driving around New Mexico and Arizona), mostly because I panicked and realized book club was this week. There’s a lot of interesting geological science in the book, obviously from a fantasy/sci fi viewpoint, plus some version of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future. All the good things! And the 2nd book is already available…I think the 3rd book is out as well.

I also started (and finished) Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire, which is a pretty trite title for a kind of dark little book. It’s short and not sweet, but definitely an interesting read.


I know I’ve read something from McGuire before, but I don’t even remember why this was on my list (probably someone at book club mentioned it and I requested it from the library). Honestly, at the beginning of break, every book I’d requested from the library showed up at once, so I had to re-request two of them, and this was one of them. It’s about, well, wayward children, but those who go into different worlds and then fall out of them for a variety of reasons and can’t figure out how to get back. It’s a fast read.

I now have two books (only!) on the library app. And about 2 weeks to read both.

Last night, when I got back from book club, I was too tired to engage the drawing brain, so I finished the McGuire book and started a new one, a Louise Erdrich book (been reading her for years). It’s not like I have tons of time to read…I have to usually choose between reading or art, which might be why I’m reading less than I used to. I miss it. I miss sitting around on the couch for a couple of hours, immersed in a novel. So often these days when I try to do that, I fall asleep. Or I feel guilty because I know I should be grading. I didn’t grade yesterday because I had a union meeting and I was making a slide presentation for today so I wouldn’t have to write the same stuff 5 times. Grading is kicking my butt right now. I can’t find the time.

Did I tell you my sleep apnea study was fine? I sleep normal…for me. Which is badly. Unless I’m on the couch trying to read a book. Then I sleep fine. Although I woke up to the sneezy cat on my chest.

Anyway, after tonight’s opening, I’m hoping I have the energy to come home and work on the drawing. I miss making art when I don’t do it. It makes the next work day harder. I feel emptier. So I guess reading fills the space with a story right then and there, but art makes me feel like I accomplished something, that I’m making something, and that’s somehow more important to me. Good to know.