I Have the Technology

January 10, 2017

The first day back, trying to balance food and bathroom breaks and kids who have been free to do whatever they want for three weeks, and now I want them to sit and do work for a whole 45 minutes. Today it will be 51 minutes and we’ll see how they do. We jumped right into the new unit…but I have three new students today. Sigh.

I do love drawing a new cover page though…and then hiding it so the kids won’t copy it (they still try…”Can you put it up on the screen? I just need ideas.” Use your brain sweetheart. It has lots of ideas.).

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I have to actually research stuff for this unit. I’m a little shaky on energy resources, having never taught it or officially learned it in school. Plus it’s changed a bit since the 70s. So I’ve been reading up…watching videos. Hoping I understand what’s supposed to happen in the labs and, more importantly, why.

I came home relatively early (quick staff meeting, hallelujah) and started trying to straighten up…putting away all the wrapping paper and accoutrement, breaking down all the boxes that came in during the last few weeks, putting stuff away…then I found another rug. My grandfather used to (he’s dead now) crochet rugs out of mattress ticking. They last forever and are washable. Case in point, the one on the left has been in my kitchen forever…and my grandfather died while I was pregnant with my now 21-year-old son. The puppy decided to pull on bits and pieces, though, so now it is holey. I found the one on the right in the closet (don’t even know where it came from)…but I don’t like the color. I realize most of you probably think it works fine with the kitchen (and it does), but I thought about dying it…unfortunately, it’s gotta be mostly polyester, so I’d have to buy dyes I think.

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Like I have time to dye a rug.

Next day of 1 Year in Stitches…I think I change the name every time I post about it. Fly stitches and french knots added to the lazy daisies…are they called that when the anchor stitch is long? Who knows. I just pulled a thread out of the basket and sewed with it until it ran out. That’s all I ever do.

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It needs more colors.

I cut for about a million hours yesterday…OK, for about 4 1/2 hours. I didn’t bring any schoolwork home. I just did some cleaning and then cut for a while and then made dinner and cut for an even longer while. My hand was sore last night, but not so much today. That’s good. This is about 12 1/2 hours of cutting total. As you can see, there’s still stuff in the to-be-cut pile…but I’m down to stove parts. I finished all the body parts.

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I wish I could say I knew how many hours are left, but I haven’t got a clue. At least 2 or 3, probably more. And today will be a long day, with tutorial after school. Tomorrow is the union meeting. I’ll be dead tired by the weekend. But hopefully done with cutting, then sorting, and on to ironing. I want to have the majority of the 3-day weekend for that. Progress. I’m feeling stressed about deadlines. Only one way to deal with that, and it’s to get some work done. I have to use time wisely, just like at school. I honestly think I’m more efficient about getting art done when I’m in session, because I don’t have a choice. It didn’t used to be that way, but it is now.

I also need to make a pussy hat this weekend…I’m not knitting. I know how, but it takes too much time that I don’t have, so fleece it is. I wanted to make a banner (or 7) like Stephanie Syjuco is showing on Instagram (@ssyjuco on IG), but I don’t really have time for that either. Patterns are here. You can find her on Facebook as well. She’s an artist and professor, but these banners are freakin’ awesome. Maybe I will bang one out this weekend. I certainly have the technology to do so.


I Dream of That Too…

January 9, 2017

That first day back to school after a break…ugh. I’m never ready. I even went to bed early, but the pup was barking at the wind (as far as I could tell) in the nether regions of the morning, so that wasn’t particularly helpful. I know I’m never prepared, I feel panicked, I didn’t finish everything. I didn’t even come close to finishing everything. Maybe I could have if I’d done less art…but that’s just crazy talk, right? Less art. Hmmmph. Not happening.

I did spend most of the weekend running errands and at a friend’s wedding, so not a lot of art happened. It’s OK. I knew it was coming. I did not make it to school beforehand. Oh well. I was a puppy sleeping pillow for a good long time last night…

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The girlchild is visiting her cousins in Seattle, so I’m second best…sometimes third best, depending on the boychild’s mood.

Once I got home from the wedding, I started trimming. I was pretty tired, though, so this is like the kind of stuff that will put you to sleep if you’re already halfway there…

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It looks like I have a lot done, because the big box is only half full right now, but most of that is body parts, and I haven’t even gotten down to the stove pieces. I have almost 8 hours of trimming in…I did a few hours on Saturday and a few on Sunday…

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And I need to move the already cut pieces back into the other big box. It’s more portable with two smaller boxes, since I was carrying this pile to hair appointments etc. But now, I am back to only cutting out stuff at home. Hopefully I’ll be done and sorted by the end of the week, so I can start ironing together over the weekend.

The wedding was nice, great weather, even a bit warm. The shoes did not survive though. I don’t have much in the way of shoes, so when my mom was going through her closet and cleaning out, both the girlchild and I took some…these made it through less than half of a wedding, unfortunately.

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In case you wanted to see how old shoes die. (They die on Kathy’s feet.)

I’m still doing the year in stitches…that’s Saturday…

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And Sunday…

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No plan. I just randomly stitch. It takes about 5 minutes max. Not bad.

OK, well I have to go to work. On a rainy day, so that’s like torture. Plus a ton of kids won’t show up because (a) they’re still stuck in Mexico due to border closures (protests about gas prices) or (b) because they might melt in the rain or (c) because the first day back doesn’t really matter, right? And it’s a staff meeting day. And my co-teacher is gone all week, because she’s on her honeymoon (which means I should be able to get all that grading done that I didn’t do over break on my prep periods, because I won’t be planning and I’m ultra-efficient…ha!). I am having a really hard time persuading my brain that it doesn’t belong to a full-time artist who works at home every day. It’s convinced that should be the case. Ah yes, brain. I dream of that too…


This Chapter’s Gonna Be a Close One*

January 7, 2017

Back to the post-it-note lists for the weekend. Today is a little crazy. Tomorrow too. Then a week of school. The last week of my kids being home. That part sucks. Although the amount of dishes and groceries has been a bit overwhelming. Plus three trips to the airport in less than a week.

Still debating going to school today. I think I will be fine if I get there on time on Monday…there’s not that much to do. Teachers have to set up boundaries…school intrudes on so much of our personal lives. I will be sending the parent email today…every weekend, I do that. I didn’t grade that last assignment. It’s OK. It will get done. And then there will be more. I meant to do it. I just lost momentum.

I did cut stuff out for about 4 hours yesterday…top left is trash, top right is cut-out pieces, bottom is stuff that still needs cutting (ie, most of the quilt). I’m hoping to do more of that today…maybe get to ironing by next weekend. That would be good.

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I cut for almost an hour at my daughter and my co-hair appointment. She sets up the girlchild’s hair color and then cuts mine and then cuts hers. So I sit there and trim stuff in between. Multi-tasking. I do a lot of that.

I got into a show in Camarillo with two pieces, which is good, and got rejected by another show, which is also good, because I need two of those pieces for my solo show. Seriously need new work for shows! But the solo show is kind of eating that up…which is not a bad thing. I need to draw. I keep saying that and not being able to find the time and mental space.

I think I meditated last night…maybe. I did do this…added the orange.

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It’s a double cast-on stitch. I had enough thread for two of them…but the eyeball asked for it.

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Honestly not sure I can stick with this every-day stuff. Although I blog almost every day. Routines. At some point, they do stick.

Puppy was stuck with me last night, because the girlchild is now in Seattle. She was home less than 24 hours.

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She went to see her cousins…so that’s good.

OK, so the to-do list is scaring me. Best thing to do is just bang it out. If I’m lucky, there’ll be some art involved as well…it’s my goal, anyway. Always my goal.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Can’t Stop


Something in Hand

January 6, 2017

So the ends of vacations often fall into this panicked attempt to complete everything on the list, which is always impossible. Yet I try. Check it off, cross it off, get it all under control. It’s not on the list? It might not happen then. I might forget about it completely until 1 AM 2 AM even 3 AM, when I am lying in bed…and I slide my phone out from under the pillow, where it records my lack of sleep, tossing and turning, and add that crucial task to the calendar or the list of things to do.

It’s at a point right now of What Do I Really Have to Do to Get By. What Is Absolutely Necessary. Is It Bad Form to Draw at a Wedding? OK, I already know the answer to that one, it’s OK. I multitask for survival’s sake. I know I have a staff meeting Monday. What else can I do during the meeting? Still paying attention, but not just sitting there. I’m really bad at just sitting there. I need something in hand. Stitching, a book, a sketchbook, scissors, whatever.

Yesterday was a rainy mess here. I went to school and started organizing for Monday. I’m still debating whether I need to go back Saturday to finish, or whether I can get through Monday without doing that. I’d prefer NOT to go in. I need the mental space to evaluate that. I don’t have that at the moment. Then I had professional development. There were a couple of things I noted as useful, but mostly it was like, yeah, I know that, I just haven’t found the time (while designing curriculum from scratch) to fit a higher level of that into my curriculum. There is a low level of it. I manage to get 2nd place in a roomful of teachers on a quiz…well, there’s an achievement…then back to school, in the rain, to drop my computer and head out to see Persephone.

We met in a German hostel or something like that, aged 16 or so, summer abroad program with AFS. She sang, I pounded on a piano. We were both unlike the more normal American girls and bonded. We see each other maybe every 3-7 years and it’s always easy. Yesterday was a trip to Goodwill…

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The color runs always fascinate me…

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I used to live in thrift shop clothing…I don’t ever have time to go there now. I rarely buy clothes for myself at all. It was fun…

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And we did the normal lunch and coffee/tea thing too…then I traipsed all over Mira Mesa to get to my stitching meeting. I didn’t do my day of stitch on Wednesday (already an issue? Yeah. I know.)…so I did that first…the yellow.

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Then added Thursday’s eyeball.

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And worked on the warthog’s bush. All couching. Crazy.

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I did cut a few pieces out last night, but didn’t photograph them. Left and picked up girls from the airport at midnight, in bed by 2 AM, then up early (well, for me) and out to take Persephone to the train station…a beautiful California day.

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And realized as the train was pulling away and we were waving at each other that we never took a picture together. Whoops. Oh well. I don’t think we did last time either. I never remember that kind of documentation.

Art interrupted by life. And a big ball of have-to hanging over my head. I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of it. I can feel it in my shoulders. My neck. My head. The reality is that I will get done what I can, and I may have to say no to some things. Today is still busy…girlchild leaves again tonight…but maybe later I will get fabric time. Or drawing time. We’ll see. Certainly I’m taking fabric with me to the girlchild’s hair appointment (mine is in the middle of hers and then we go directly to the airport). Oh yeah, see? Documentation…

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And taking deep breaths. Meditating. Trying to get what I can under control.


At Citibank We Will Meet Accidentally*

January 5, 2017

Back to school sort of this morning. Need to set up the classroom and do another training. Hopefully this one will actually have something I don’t already know. I’m never ready to go back. I always need more time. Such is the way of these breaks…we spend so much time grading or prepping anyway, or doing all the stuff we can’t get done when school’s in session. It’s hard to go back.

Anyway, the good news is that I finally finished ironing down all the fabrics for this quilt. It felt like it took forever…almost 25 hours when there’s only 1400 pieces? But then I figured out part of it yesterday…148 fabrics. That’s a lot…although looking at this, it’s a lot of grays and variations on white.

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The next stage requires a decent pair of scissors (always an issue for me…so many of them are very stiff, so they don’t work well) and a lot of time on the couch. Maybe 20 hours or so on the couch. OK.

Here’s the boxful of pieces…

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I wasn’t kidding about the full part.

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I should be working on that later tonight. Training, then hanging out with long-time friend. But the girlchild’s plane doesn’t come in ’til late tonight, so hopefully I’ll have some time to trim. When might I be done? Sometime next week. My three-day weekend just got full of ironing stuff down if I can get done trimming in time.

Yesterday during the day, the boychild and I did a ton of work…installed one rain barrel, although we still need some help attaching the gutter back to the wall…

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Noticed this problematic situation…don’t know when that happened.

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Took this wee beastie to the vet and then had to shampoo her with special stuff and sing songs to her for 10 minutes while it sunk in.

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Someone should redo my bathroom (ha! and the rest of the house…can’t keep up with any of it). We also did a ton of yardwork, pulling stuff down and out. Filled the two trashcans we had and left the rest in the driveway, pushed to the side, for next week. Spread all the extra leaves from the side of the house on the weeds in the front yard. Still one water barrel to install and a few more branches and volunteer trees to take out. I don’t know when that’s happening…after school (in the dark?) sometimes next week? Who knows.

So many things I’d like to get done over break that I didn’t get to. Organizing, cleaning, tossing. But my focus is on trying to get quilts done at this point…and survive work…and take care of the animals…and myself. Doing the best I can right now. It’s not great, but it’s what I can do.

*Cake, Short Skirt/Long Jacket


It’s Where My Demons Hide*

January 4, 2017

I keep thinking I’m going to get done with the ironing, but it’s taking a long time to get through the last of the fussy little pieces. So even though I ironed for almost 4 hours yesterday, I’m still about 100-150 pieces short of done. They need to be done today. Of course, today is full of other crap, as is the next day and the next day. Aargh. One assignment has still not been graded (oh well…it will get done eventually)…I need to find time to draw. I need to get this quilt to the next stage.

I couldn’t find piece 1103 for a while…turns out I thought it was piece 1193 instead and ironed it to the wrong reddish fabric. So I retraced it for the right fabric, and found 1193 and ironed it onto the red fabric. Silly stuff like that is why I’m almost 22 hours in to the ironing. That’s a lot for a 1400-piece quilt.

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I had a lasagne interlude and then some companionable TV watching…so I did my one stitch for the day, a whipped something or other. I should be better about documenting, but I can’t be I guess.

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Then back to the ironing with the cat. Hi Kitten…

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The fabric pile was getting seriously out of control…if it takes me 5 minutes to find the one yellow I know I already used in the quilt and want to use again? Then that’s wasted time…

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So I stopped and organized. That’s a lot of fabrics. This is part of why it’s taking so long. It took a run of 6 greens to make the small intestines, another 6 of browns for the large intestines.

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Complicated as shit. Anyway, all the innards are now ironed down and I’m on to the head…in fact, I just have the head and the two heads in the cloud left. Even the cloud is picked out (you can see it lying largely on top).

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So that’s good. But today is already designated yardwork and rain barrel day, so it’s gotta get done. Seriously, because the kids are gone in a week and a half, and then I’m back to no help at all. So much as I hate walking away from the quilt at the moment (especially with the deadlines crowding my brain, I need to get out there and hook this shit up.

*Imagine Dragons, Demons


Is This a Matter of Worse or of Better*

January 3, 2017

So on 4 hours of sleep, maybe, I power through today. Seriously. Ugh. Girlchild and friends had an early flight up north (road trip…remember how we used to drive for those?) and I volunteered to be the one up bloody early to drive. Came back and tried to sleep. Yeah. Not so successful. Part of the not sleeping was a panic attack about all the deadlines and school have-tos in the next 3 or 4 months. The other part was a throbbing ankle, which I twisted apparently worse than I thought yesterday. It’s OK…at this point in the day, I’m on the third cup of tea, I have food in me, I’ve showered, the ankle is feeling much better than it was at 4 AM, and I’ve calendared some shit. Written some shit off, because you have to do that. Started meditating regularly again yesterday (well, it’s not regular until I can keep it going)…it’s funny, because I feel like I don’t have the 20 minutes a day to do it, but I think it’s better for me long term if I do it, despite the time crunch. So we’ll see if I can keep that going.

Back to the hike…

So first of all, we were planning on a waterfall hike, Sill Hill, off Middle Peak in Cuyamaca. We got up there and the road was closed to all but residents from mid-December for an unknown time for replanting. OK. Well. So then we looked at our handy-dandy map and picked a trail across the road, one I’d been on part of way back when on a hike of all three peaks (Middle, Cuyamaca, and Stonewall, which you can see in the picture below)…but when we started on the trail, this is what we found. I’m not sure if that’s an over-enthusiastic stream or the trail. But it was wet. And bloody freezing. So we regrouped…

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Maps help for that. We picked something a little further south, not really a trail, but a loop anyway, out Cold Springs or Stream (there are both) Trail and then picking up a few fire roads until we met up with another trail that dropped us back on Cold S-word Trail.

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Cuyamaca will have burn evidence for years to come.

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It was not warm…42 degrees at the start. It threatened rain, but never did. All those layers that we needed at the outset came off and were shoved in packs.

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It was pretty out…

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Even picking up some manzanita and cactus on parts of the trail…

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As well as interesting rock outcroppings…

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There was fungus everywhere, which is wild, because it probably snowed here over Christmas weekend.

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We started analyzing tracks at some point…after we saw the first deer (well, girlchild saw it…most of us just saw deerbutt).

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Crossed one stream…

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Down the fire road next to the stream.

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More deer! Yeah, we didn’t get too close. They moved away.

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And then we started out that fire road across Green Valley towards the road.

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Trees that escaped the burn.

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Trees that didn’t…actually, this one might just be old instead of burned.

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Then somewhere between that last photo and the next one, we heard a noise. A loud noise. And we know now that it was mountain lion. Like close. So the girlchild and I were like, um, let’s get in a group and hike away from it…loudly…and the guys are like, um, no, let’s investigate, so even though it was pretty damn close, they both sort of wandered up to the bushes where the loud roaring growl came from. So now I know they’re insane. We eventually got them to come with us, thus avoiding the 14th California injury due to a mountain lion, or worse, the 7th fatality.

The kids had to wait for us old people quite a few times…I don’t apologize for that…I have old body parts.

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More fungus…

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Beautiful stuff. That’s the first time I’ve heard a mountain lion in the wild. I came home and Googled mountain lion sounds, because they were like, no, that wasn’t a lion, and I was like, um, yeah it was, and I was right. So that was scary.

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Girlchild likes to explore, even when it means walking on a tree branch…over water…

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There was a nice pool in there…

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Burnt-out trees have a similar fascination…

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Way up in the distance is the boychild…I guess he’d decided the mountain lion was no longer tracking us at this point. We were within range of the road by then, so he was probably right.

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It was about 5 1/2 miles, mostly level, about 550 feet of gain. I’m feeling it today, though the ankle is feeling better finally, so that’s good.

I ironed in the afternoon, still trying to get all the flesh ironed down…

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Then we had birthday dinner etc…here’s Simba and his mohawk…

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It’s not very obvious in this photo, but he’s growing additional fluffy bits that make a nice dinohawk.

There was cake, although we decided against 21 candles, for fear of burning the cake down…

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Puppies like cake apparently.

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Here’s my 2nd day of stitching on A Year in Stitches. I just cut a length of some leftover thread from a Sue Spargo bag of bits and pieces (from the last quilt I think?)…and I stitch randomly until it’s done.

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I picked a smaller hoop because the big one was hurting my hands to hold. I have spring hoops somewhere. At some point, I’ll find them…they’re easier to use, I think.

So after last night’s panic attack, I’m trying to get everything done today! No really. I can’t possibly do that. But certainly having a plan helps me. I know Thursday and Friday are pretty trashed this week due to school and some other stuff, so that leaves today and tomorrow! Yeah! OK, so that’s how I start panicking. But getting the ironing done today would be a plus. So that’s the only plan I’ve really made. It helped that I went through some of the deadlines and figured shit out earlier today. There’s only so much I can do…

I should keep that in mind.

*Amanda Palmer, The Bed Song