Spread-Out Thinking

OK, what’s weird about all this pandemic stuff is that time is still flying by and I don’t have enough of it to get everything done. In fact, I don’t know how my co-teachers are doing everything they’re doing, especially those with little kids, because I can’t even see straight some days, there are so many things on the to-do list. I did schoolwork yesterday for a good chunk of time, maybe 10 hours, with a break to empty one composter and have lunch. Then I was back at the computer stuff, which I finally put up on the ironing board, put some music on, and bounced around a little, because the loss of daily movement is annoying.

It helped a little. I ended up sitting a lot though, just because some things are easier that way, plus if you think about the correct posture and hand/arm positioning (as someone who had a tendonitis on the way to carpal tunnel syndrome, I wonder how all this bad office seating will affect people), sitting is easier for that. I did briefly consider a treadmill desk and/or a treadmill, but shut that down in the crazy brain.

Speaking of crazy, despite deaths continuing and the graph still reaching upwards, San Diego is opening restaurants and malls. We had this discussion at my meeting last night…how many are ready to go back? Outside? Maybe? Even then, big groups of people outside makes me nervous. The mall? Geez. No. Why? I’m sorry if you have a business that was negatively affected by this. I’m sorry for lots of things right now that I have no control over…people dying, kids in bad home situations who are stuck there, people losing their jobs, people who are still in the hospital, the elderly in homes who can’t see their family. But let’s not make it worse?

Yeah. That. Wednesday’s drawing during the staff meeting.

I’m going to redo it slightly today or tomorrow for my Patreon. Her head bugs me. We’ll see how that goes.

Or not. I just don’t know. I like it. I may do a large one. Just because.

I cut these out the other night, so I can iron these two little babies together.

Need to finish these two this weekend so I can give my Patreon patrons a choice.

I finally finished the back of the cross stitch…so it can hang up in here now somewhere that the students can’t see it.

Looks good.

Before I could start ironing last night, I finally had to organize by color. It was driving me bonkers. There’s a lot of different fabrics in this thing.

OK. I remember starting this. I think it was almost 9 hours ago. Seriously WTF where do the days go and how? My brain is all spread out trying to think about where I was and what I was thinking 9 hours ago. Fuck if I know. I went to school and stood around and directed kids to and from the locker rooms to empty their PE lockers. Then I went and scored enough flour for at least a month. Well. You’d think that, but then everyone made bread and the house smells like bread but I don’t think I’m allowed to eat any of it. I worked outside for a good long time and then came in and did math, English, and science in Office Hours. Then I completely forgot that my regular stitching Zoom had been rescheduled to whatever fucking day today is, I really don’t know, so I was late logging onto that. And I ironed some little quilts that I’ll show you later, and then ironed some more fabric down for this big monster of a quilt…

And now it is 5:40 PM and I am totally exhausted. This was last night though…a variety of weird medical things that are in the coffin that is in my quilt.

It’s not the first time I’ve put a coffin in a quilt unfortunately. So this was last night’s progress…

There’s been more today, but I’m hoping there will be even more tonight and maybe I’ll even finish tomorrow and get on with the next fucking step.

Dots? Oh yeah. More dots. You’ll miss them when they’re gone. It’s the one under the green spool…

It was pretty easy…ooh…now it’s to the right.

But not as easy as last night’s dot…under the yellow-green spool…

All chain stitch, only two colors, although I started and then had to redo it.

Yeah there we are.

I exercised yesterday. Luna was perturbed. Those are my art supplies, but that’s the girlchild’s pile.

Exercise is important. By the end of the week, I don’t get much of it. I want more. But I’m way too tired right now.

OK. So. My goals for the day have changed somewhat. I’d like to finish ironing this quilt, but I’m not sure I have the stamina for that. I need to make my dinner. I need to finish this monster asshole of a progress report plan that our team came up with and I could totally reject, and certainly thought about it, but it will be easier for the next three weeks if I DO do it, so I do it. And sleep. Can I haz sleep? Yeah. That would be good. Oh wait. I forgot the puppy picture.

There you go. Now everything is better.

Notice Something New…

It’s Friday. And I sold a quilt! Woo hoo! Someone from Arizona saw Desert Daughter at the Front Porch Gallery back in January some time, and recently contacted the gallery and it sold! I’m very excited…here it is with Arline Fisch’s wired art.

It’s nice to have people buying work right now…although I will turn around and pay off part of the girlchild’s college loan with it…getting close to done with that, and then all the income from these sales will go into the fund to remodel the bathrooms and kitchen, which really really really need it.

I need to make another Daughter quilt when I finish this big one, which is nicknamed Rona at the moment. I laid out all the Wonder Under I’d traced…

So that’s about 11 yards…one of them isn’t full, but the rest are. That’s a goodly amount.

I started cutting them apart Wednesday night…and luckily, the kittens weren’t interested.

Somewhere in the middle of cutting these out…well, at 1 AM that night, while I was trying to sleep, my brain started to fixate on how freakin’ big this quilt is and that there’s no way in hell I have a background big enough for this, and I don’t really want to piece it, because the quilt has so much detail on it that making the background busy is not a good plan. I hate buying fabric online in this situation because I can’t see the color properly. But one of my local quilt shops is doing one-on-one appointments. I can do that. I texted the owner and I have an appointment (with a mask and maybe gloves?) next Saturday. I need 5 yards for the background and if I’m smart, I’m going to find a couple of possible bindings and buy them too, because I’ll need a yard and a half for that. Fewer trips, better…much as I love fabric, it’s not necessary to be shopping regularly for it.

Thursday afternoon was my weekly stitch-in via Zoom. I actually did schoolwork for the first 45 minutes, but then sat there and cut out a yard of Wonder Under, yard number 2…

Not the most comfortable cutting space, but whatever…does two yards look different than one?

Hard to say…nighttime put me on the couch for yard number 3…

My hand hurts after switching to cutting, but it’s OK…only 8 yards to go…

Three yards seems to fill up the box a bit. I’ll probably get done with these sometime early next week, then sort them, clean my office, and start picking fabrics by next weekend. I’m hoping.

There’s been a ton of overwhelming work stuff going on this week, the second official week of teaching online. Wednesday and Thursday were crazy busy with work and meetings and to-do lists and texts. At some point, overwhelmed was all I felt. Today is better, but now I have to prep a ton of stuff and forms and shit for next week. I’m trying to keep Saturdays free of work, but that’s getting harder.

This was Thursday’s (? or was it Wednesday’s?) attempt to collect data from all the science assignments for all 160 kids…

There are pros to this…I remember how to be outside…although when the high 90-degree temps hit next week, I will NOT be out here.

Another pro…seeing kids in video! I totally miss this kid.

I was so happy to see her. And her happy brother.

I finished stitching the Nasty Woman cross stitch in staff meeting number 1 on Wednesday…

It’s been washed and needs to be ironed and finished into the hoop provided. Then it can go on the wall in my office under my Feminist AF hoop. Where the kids can’t see them.

I worked on this drawing a little bit during that meeting as well.

She has a head now…still not done. This is relaxing too. Seems like Calli is more relaxed than I am…

I had to go get her arthritis meds from the vet, who have a very good setup.

No interaction with other dog/cat parents. Super easy.

There’s not much on my destinations or events at the moment…

Although my phone knows when Summer Break is…it will feel much different this year.

Still sewing dots…Wednesday night was a butterfly…with the metallic thread being a pain in the ass…

Mine got all twisty and had to be stitched down.

And then last night’s…the dot wasn’t quite round, which became very apparent in the stitching…

I ripped the Palestrina knots out once, because I couldn’t get them to go down the middle…finally just left it the second time…

It’s the one on the far right…not round. Oh yeah. Oh well. Butterfly is wonky too.

OK. So what else? Girlchild is socializing with the puppy, who is kinda bitey.

All of us need a chiropractor and/or masseuse. I found an old electric massager (circa 1960-something…came with my house), but everyone is scared of it. I’m not. We also have an amazing stash of heat pads and creams for such types of pain.

This plant is in my yard. I don’t know what it is.

But it probably needs to be planted for real and not just half-assed shoved in a pot.

Speaking of that, I’ve walked three days this week, with the goal each time of noticing something new, a plant I haven’t seen or hasn’t been blooming…this was a great find…

We have agave, but not this type, so I shoved that babe in my pack.

Man that’s bright…

And this is sweet…

Gotta keep those eyeballs open…

Plus it’s good for me to get outside and moving after spending hours sitting in front of a computer.

These guys are either napping intensely or rampaging intensely.

It’s difficult to keep up.

So my goals today include trying to get all the schoolwork I can get done…done. Filling out forms, fixing typos, setting up online posts, attempting a new form of organization to support the kids (and me!). Also I need exercise today. Pilates would be a good choice. I’m also gaming tonight, but will be cutting out Wonder Under as well. Maybe I’ll draw. Maybe I’ll nap (that sounds really good at the moment…REALLY GOOD). Stay safe, stay well, buy some art, make some art, get outside if you can and just soak up some of that Vitamin D. With sunscreen. Seriously.


It IS a word. Shut up.

Oh holy craphole of days, in which I plan on xyz and manage to only get through a, which wasn’t even on the list. And xyz languish, unfinished, unfortunate, because I would probably FEEL better if I had managed xyz. I had a two-hour respite last night hanging out with stitching friends…in which we analyzed our children and our failings (or not) in regards to them. Since I’ve been yelled at in person and via text every single day this week, I’m obviously failing big time (or succeeding, depending on how you look at the parenting spectrum). I have to admit that I’m running especially low on parental tolerance, and it feels awful to be sitting on the couch as they scream away from you and you really just need to have someone hug it away, because I only have so many resources within me to deal with the crap that is thrown and I guess I’m on the low end at the moment. And of course, a lot of that is hormones. It’s hormones, I think, that take whatever small emotions I’m feeling about being overwhelmed, too much work, not getting it done, irritations, rejections…the hormones take that messy soup and just charge it with crazy electricity and make my head spin and spill salty water over the world.

Holy crap. I just got an amazing idea for a drawing. Dammit. I have to leave for school in 34 minutes. There’s no way I can draw it in time. And grades. I’m buried. I can’t draw today. FUCK. It’s OK. I wrote it down. I typed it down. Whatever.

So I found out yesterday that I have one day less than I thought to complete grades (competing calendars…I should have know better than to pick the one that benefited my crazy schedule), so basically I just need to grade until it’s done. Then, if I’m lucky, there will still be part of the weekend left to quilt. But previous experience with long weekends is that it gets frittered away, wasted by lame-i-tude and whatever. Mostly OTHER people’s crap, not mine.

I’m confused by people with a constant positive attitude, like they’re never angry or down. I get there eventually. I talk myself out of the crazy downer that tells me I can’t get it done. I yell inside, yes you can and here’s how. I know I will get there, but it’s hard for me. And when people say they want “no drama, positive attitude,” I think, well fuck. You must just have an easy life. Or you’re genetically wired that way. And I’m not. And if I were, would I make the art I make? Fuck no. I don’t know what I’d make. Maybe nothing. I realize my responses to overwhelming shit are part of having a positive attitude, but hell, sometimes people have a rough day or week (or year). Being positive to me means you still got up and took a shower and packed a lunch, and tried to figure out how to manage the day without assuming it would all go to hell in a handbasket, and if it DID go to hell (like all week has), then you get up the next morning and you do it again, trying to figure out what to change to avoid the handbasket part (because doing the same thing again is kinda stupid if you want to avoid what you don’t like.). So fuck you for reminding me that I’m broken in that way too. That there’s something wrong with me for not being perky Pollyanna. Look at my art. Do you like it? Where the fuck do you think it comes from? Then don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong.

So I didn’t quilt last night. No time. Too late. Too tired. Wrote a little bit, not enough (see why I needed the word cushion?). Graded a little bit, not enough. Should have blown off the social stuff, but since that was the only thing all day that felt calm and nice, that would have been stupid. Didn’t read. Didn’t meditate. Didn’t exercise. Didn’t clean. Didn’t fold the fabric in the dryer. Didn’t eat healthy. Didn’t solve the world’s problems or even my own.

I did. I did throw away my trash. I did enjoy that episode of Dr. Who. I did (not) clean off the kitchen counter. I meant to clean off the kitchen counter. I did feed animals. I did take my meds. I did brush my teeth. I did finish the UK Xmas shopping (I should actually jump around a bit on that one, because that’s been hanging over me and I get no help on that front and now it’s done and I need to get someone to help me wrap it and pack it all up. I WONDER who that will be. Yes, the screamer. Fun times.).

I did.

So I got up this morning and I showered and I ate breakfast and I pondered my lunch options and I made a plan for the day, and at no point did I assume it would suck or that I would not get through my plan and I remembered that I did this last night…

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And I told the part of my brain that is whinging about the fact that I will never ever finish this to shut the fuck up, because I will EVENTUALLY finish, but maybe the girlchild will be speaking to me normally by then and not assuming everything I say is a criticism of her existence. Because she’ll have kids of her own and she’ll realize how fucking hard it is to do it even with someone else’s help and yeah.

Shit, I’m having a bad time of it. Tell my brain to get all that emotional shit into the laundry basket and shove it in the corner, because I’m not going to make it through the day otherwise.

Because dammit, if I’m going to criticize ANYONE’S existence, it’s going to be my own.

Meditate the Fuck through It

Yup. I think that is my mantra for the new school year, which officially starts in 13 days. Don’t count team meetings and getting the room set up and prep days and professional development. Because if you count all that shit, I started yesterday. It’s a matter of looking at everything they want me to do (“they” being an amalgamate of all the people who want me to do all the things) and deciding what pieces are actually possible to do and how much of the doing I will do. And where is the line, the balance, between being a fucking awesome teacher and getting institutionalized for overwork. You take a little piece at a time. You pick one thing, maybe two, that can be different. You don’t rewrite everything. You don’t become an entirely different teacher. You do a little at a time and remember that working yourself into the ground doesn’t help anyone.

There’s been a lot of deep breathing the last two days. I’m OK. My meditation app now includes short, 2-minute refresher meditation blips…passing period is 4 minutes long, so I could meditate in between each class. You laugh, but I did that last year on way too many days. Close the door behind the last kid, gather up the journals, take a handful of deep breaths, wipe tears from eyes, open the door for the next class full of kids. It’s not the best way to live, but when you are in survival mode, that is what you do. Last year, I survived. My counselor has decided that this year, I will have a fulfilling school year. She promises me this. She calls me on my negativity. I call myself on it, but I’m not as good at it. In fact, I mostly suck at it. The parts of my brain argue with each other and there is rarely agreement. My daughter calls me on it too. I guess that’s a good thing. It’s hard to be positive when there have been so many disappointing developments, so many high expectations just completely trashed by someone else. That said, I manage it with art rejections. I’ve been rejected from a ton of shows this year. I can’t get into anything, apparently. Do I stop making art? Do I question my purpose in continuing to make art? Not really. Briefly, and then the art brain tells me to fuck off and ignore all those losers who reject my work. It will get in eventually. I won’t stop making it. I wish I had that confidence in the rest of my life, in my job, my love life, my relationships with people. Why can’t the art brain get all hot and heavy with those parts of me? Where does her attitude come from? How can it just be in part of me and not in all the parts?

All philosophical questions for the middle of the night. Remember how I was going to be done quilting on Tuesday? Yeah. Well. Fuck that. I’m still quilting. I’m 15 hours in now…

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So maybe 20 hours was an accurate guess. I have about 1/3 of the quilting around the outside of the image done, maybe a little less than that. I didn’t have a lot of quilting time today. School. Other stuff. So I’m doing a stipple to fill in the background…dark blue thread on dark blue fabric at night. In bad lighting. And the thread was doing really well for a good long time, and then it started breaking. Bastard.

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So I gots a little frusterated in the last hour or so. There was swearing and yelling and growling and application of oily crap that keeps the thread from breaking.

This is the backing…

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I have most of one long side, all of the top and about half of another long side to do…hopefully done tomorrow. Why do I even predict things like that? I already know how busy tomorrow is. Saturday is busy too. Sunday? Sunday is wide open. Next week. Sigh. I always want to have more done than I do. Always dissatisfied with my progress. High expectations and not meeting them. But it’s a good thing to have high expectations with the artmaking. I’m more realistic with the outcomes. I don’t often chastise myself for not meeting them…I just revise. Again…lessons to apply to the rest of life?

Stitching with friends tonight…still working on the never-ending Christmas stocking…

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I post these pictures to prove that I’m actually doing SOMETHING…something besides endlessly stitching around and around in dark blue thread.

This quilt will be done soon. I want to get the binding either Saturday or Sunday, get it stitched on next week. Call the photographer. Move on to the next project(s). I need to build a fabric house, complete 5 birds, and get the gender equality drawing done. I think my brain will be less panicky if I can make headway on that in the next week. Plus school. And clear out all the stuff in my bedroom that belongs in the living room. If I move it out, I think I’ll be more likely to deal with it. If I work on just one positive thing achieved each day (hung a piece of art, finished one step in the next quilt, crossed one thing off the list), I think it will all feel better. This is partially why I’m doing the GISHWHES thing…it’s goofy stuff (we shot a rock album cover last night, and tonight I added the band name and album title and submitted it), but it’s fun and I am actually getting these silly tasks done. It puts my brain in a different place. I need my brain to be in a different place. I need it to stop going over and over what I did wrong, when in reality, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just wasn’t psychic. Again. There’s a drawing in there somewhere. At least one. I need to find time for that too. The drawing is part of processing the bad shit out of me. The drawing is a way to vomit it up and get it out, like a hairball. Poison in the brain. Disgusting on the carpet.

Sigh. One of the projects that needs to be done before the end of the month is a floating house, and I have all the materials (coathangers, wire, organza, tulle) and I was thinking about what the house meant and how to build and decorate it, and all of a sudden, I thought: worry dolls. I need worry dolls. Kathy York’s quilts reminded me of them. So I’m hanging worry dolls off this house, but I think I’m also going to write some of my worries down, either on tags tied to the dolls, or maybe just right on the house itself, on the bits hanging off of it. Write down the worries, have them pulled down, weighed down, by the dolls. Because that is what worry feels like, extreme financial worry, worry for sending the boychild off to college, worry about my own job, worry about finishing stuff on time, worry about the girlchild applying to college, worry about my future, worry about so many things. Maybe if I tie all that to the floating house, I won’t have to carry them around myself.

You can see why I need the meditation.

Ironing Birds Very Very Flat…

It seems ironic to take something that can fly wherever it likes (well, within the atmosphere) and to make it flat and iron it onto a very flat piece of fabric. Those birds…some of them actually exist as quilt tops now! Except they’re so small, some of them could be potholders…the reviled statement about any small work…”Is that a placemat?” Maybe this is why I work so big…”Is that a bed quilt? It’s not the right size.”

So I ironed a bunch of birds yesterday, mostly because I was at Susan’s house and it was a portable thing, which most of what I have to do right now is not.

I started with birds cut out in tupperware…

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Which I then ironed together with the drawing under the teflon…

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And then I would try them out on a variety of backgrounds until I found the one I thought worked best…

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This one seemed to need an asymmetrical background. I may change my mind later…

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Most of the rest were a little more standard, wanting to sit in the middle of their square or rectangle…

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So then I had to decide, light or dark?

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Bright or not?

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This one looks really different on this background…I tried him on like 5 different shades of blue and this is the one that talked to me.

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Here’s his twin with the eyeball…

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Slightly different fabrics for him…including the background…

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And one that’s not so square…

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Seemed to do better with dark.

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So that’s 5 done to this stage. I also cut out the other 5 yesterday afternoon and evening. It didn’t take long. I was hoping to iron the rest together tonight, and I may still get to that, but I’m not feeling well…combination of tired and hormones and cramps and crappy mental shit that goes along with a bunch of other stuff.

BLAHHHH. Exactly. That feeling.

I ironed the 5 above onto backgrounds in about 30 minutes between hanging out with Susan and friends and leaving for my monthly stitching meeting, the only place I work on this…

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Girlchild’s Christmas stocking. It’s really slow. I gave up on trying to stitch the white AROUND the motifs and started stitching the damn motifs. It took a lot of counting…and then counting again, because we were talking about birds (shocking…real ones, not Kathy ones) and books and writing and movies and how I should make my own Meetup group of people who want to sit in the 2nd row at the movies and sit through the credits, and how I would still be the only one going. I must become one with my freak status. Even in the Art House Movie crowd, I am a freak. That is very sad.

In the parking lot, I documented these three (no, there are four) badly drawn penises…

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Materials: dust, car window, finger

I’m debating doing a series of quilts a la Keith Haring with replicas of my students’ badly drawn penises, but then I’d have to give them credit, and that would probably lose me my job. See, I DO think these things through!

Then after that, I had to drive to North Park to pick up 4 teenaged girls at a concert, but we weren’t sure when it would be over, so I had packed my sketchbook, yes, the BIG one, because I have no fear (really, apparently I don’t) and I was just going to hang out near where the concert was, in like a coffee bar or wine bar or anything that had the word bar in it? And draw until they were ready for me. Because I told the girlchild it wasn’t safe for her to walk around down there, because of some recent assaults, but I guess I was safe because I had my sketchbook.

I had gotten the drawing to this point the night before because I was too tired to keep making art stuff, but I didn’t feel like going to sleep, so I sat in front of the computer, watching videos, and decided to be bold, rip the previous drawing out of the sketchbook…this one…

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because the male figure just plain old sucked…reminded me of Draco in Harry Potter, and that’s not what I wanted. However angry I might be with particular males in the universe, my goal in this drawing is some vision of equality, of working together, of being different and yet on the same team. We can’t be the same. It’s impossible. (As I sit here dealing with menstrual cramping from hell and wondering if I can just go overmedicate myself and go to bed right now, I’m fairly sure none of the males in my life have ever felt this uncomfortable for any reason, let alone once a month, every month, for the last 35 fucking years…oh wait, I didn’t have my period while pregnant…but then I was just puking my guts out. That’s a separate hell.).

Plus the hammer bugged me. Not that there shouldn’t be a hammer in this quilt. There totally should be. Just not in his hand. She’s holding a baby. He’s holding a hammer. Not working for me.

So. I put the original drawing under a blank page and basically traced the female figure…

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because she was mostly OK. I changed her tattoo, I added some arrows, because I had forgotten them the first time around, and I gave her lungs. Can’t breathe without fucking lungs, you know. Yes, I am venturing into the 1500+ piece range at the moment, and I need to deal with measuring this piece too, because it has to be a particular size. Then I made another pass at drawing a male…different hair, different mouth, stronger face. Better. But then what? I had an idea that I wanted a tree to be growing from them, between them, and that the tree might hold some things that would be relevant to both genders, that were maybe in the realm of male or female in the past, but could be either now, like hammers and aprons and lawnmowers and Valium. Wait. Not Valium. I also debated about what to do with their arms in the middle…I was going to put their arms across each other’s shoulders, but I wanted them joined, not necessarily leaning on each other…the arm/shoulder thing seemed awkward.

Really, if you had been watching me, there were short bursts of drawing, then long moments where I just stared at the drawing, and you couldn’t tell, but I was visualizing things (like arms over shoulders) and trying them out on the drawing in my head, rejecting some, setting some aside, deciding some might work. I still have some saved in my mental clipboard.

So when I got to the bar last night, I plopped my money down for a single glass of wine (I was driving 4 teenaged girls and it was already late) and sat down at a table in a mostly empty wine bar, pulled open my sketchbook and started to draw…and no one bugged me and it was dark (not necessarily a plus) and when I couldn’t visualize what their hands should look like (I guess it’s been that long since I’ve held a hand…telling, that is), I Googled stuff until I found a few and stared at them until it made sense to me again.

And I drew…

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Yes, I stopped there. Not because I’m afraid to draw a penis in a wine bar. I’m not. It’s just that the girls had texted me that they really liked the band they were watching and we negotiated a pickup time and it was time for me to leave and go get them a half block away. (Actually, first they said they would walk to the coffee bar I was at…um…WHOOPS…not at a coffee bar) So I did.

There’s a couple things that need fixing, and it’s definitely going longer (although I don’t know how much longer…should figure that out). I didn’t work on the tree because I’d like to go taller too, and I don’t know if I have the space. So I’ll finish his body to the knees and then run a copy so I can continue the drawing down. And I will check the measurements before I do that. But I’m feeling much better about this project now, because I was able to get my head out of the shit in which it had been wallowing. Whatever my experiences in relationships have been, I do have an incredibly clear idea of what they SHOULD be…I always have…perhaps that is what gets me in trouble. I expect teamwork and cooperation and gender roles being questioned and negotiated with care for each other. I don’t have to be the cook just because I am a girl. I can mow a lawn even though I am a girl. You know, that shit. Hate that shit.

I expect both people to pay attention. I don’t really think those things are beyond most people’s ability…I just think most people treat other people badly. A good relationship requires attention and work, and if those things are diverted or ignored, then the relationship will fail.

I can believe in it even if I’ve never experienced it. Maybe that’s what this quilt is really about…a dream of equality for me personally, with the hope that my own children will get to experience something like that. It’s difficult to draw a dream…nightmares are so much easier. Reality…it’s pretty easy to draw as well. But hopes? Wishes? Dreams for something better? That’s harder to get right.

I Am Sorta Here

Maybe. I think. It’s hard to know what day it is or what’s coming next. I don’t seem to have a handle on the big picture. Grades are due soon. I need to do those. Like today. We set out yesterday evening to try to deal with Father’s Day and graduation clothing, and we flailed massively on the former and succeeded on the latter, although I think I have to go back today because the one thing we were supposed to look for, we didn’t, because I think I was so tired and low-blood-sugar that nothing logical could happen. Dinner consisted of whatever we could find at Trader Joe’s to supplement what was in the fridge already and that wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to prepare. I hate eating like that, but it was a necessary thing. I should remember that Friday nights near the end of the school year are a giant clusterfuck and prepare accordingly. We’ve already decided that when both kids are at college, I should spend the first Sunday of every month cooking meals and freezing portions so I can eat normally all month without having to think about it every night.

I did manage exercise both nights I blew off writing. See, I can do THAT. That’s brainless. I had a stitching meeting on Thursday…

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The stocking that will take 20 years to stitch. Progress is so slow. We did talk about many things, most of which I’ve completely forgotten, although I remember photo cards and female comics and grandbabies and travel plans and cool quilt and art exhibits coming up, like Quilt National will be at the Oceanside Museum of Art, but not the part with my quilt in it, which is up in San Jose right now. So I’ll still go to the opening down here because I couldn’t go to the one up there. Make sense? Yeah, not to me either.

My mood is a mess…overwhelmed still. Keep saying no to things like that helps…it doesn’t, because the have-to’s are way bigger than the ones I can say no to. Organized art entries slightly to make sure I had stuff to enter where I WANT to enter for sure. I mean, who doesn’t want to get rejected by the big shows over and over? Yeah, I know. Sometimes you get in. That’s why I keep entering. But it means finishing the two that are in process AND starting the one for November AND getting those house things done for the border show…I don’t even know where to start with those.

Bleeding money, that’s for sure. Everything costs money.

Anyway. Deep breaths. Taking one day at a time. I have a list for today and I’m going to go on a short flat hike to see if my knee is improved. If not, I’m going to call the doctor, because it’s not OK. Going to get the damn grades done. All that will help, and then I can focus on the artmaking like I want to. Stop panicking about the other stuff. I’ll figure it out. It was the counselor’s advice to just take one day at a time, but I laughed…because then I will never ever get the stuff done that I don’t WANT to do. She reminded me that it’s my vacation and I need to recharge before starting a new year with a new principal, a new team member, a new curriculum style and classroom function, etc. She’s right. Doesn’t mean the stuff won’t need to get done though.

On Thursday night, I managed a few minutes of cutting…

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I really am SO CLOSE to finishing that it’s kind of lame that I haven’t. Of course, then I’ll have to do the hard part: sort a million pieces and then iron for a week or longer to get it all together. Mind-boggling. More overwhelming. Except I want to see what it looks like. Isn’t that funny? I don’t know what it will look like. Kind of a strange way of working.

I have some other plans for smaller pieces this summer too…maybe I am planning too much. Looking back at last summer (which I hate doing, because it was such a nasty beast of trauma), at the end of school, I was still ironing pieces down to fabric on Wise Choice, and I had Buried Under partially quilted I think? Then I had to make Babygirl and a couple other smaller pieces. Plus I started working on Love (not). So I am further ahead on the Menopause quilt, which is actually about half the size of Wise Choice, so it shouldn’t take as long. I’m a little further behind on the Mammogram quilt, but it won’t take long to stitch down and catch up to that stage. I know how many hours I put in last summer…art quilting is about all I did. And I don’t have that kind of time this summer…too many other things to do. So we’ll see.

I can’t really take it one day at a time. I have to be able to see the big picture. I’ve spent the last three months with my head under the pillow, not thinking about the big picture, and now I have to deal.

I think I’m calling in sick this week. Seriously, my brain just wandered off again. It doesn’t want to manage all this crap. It wants to hide. Reading books is a good way to hide…it’s another world, a protective space, somewhere I can live that doesn’t require me to constantly be picking up after people, where things aren’t demanding my attention. Really, I am only sorta here. Just checking in. Expect more calm sanity after the end. (four more days) I should have a blog category for overwhelmed, it’s such a common occurrence. I think I’m doing it wrong.

More Is Better

Hey. So I’m feeling much better tonight. I think the biggest issue with the hypoglycemia is that it comes fast and I feel like crap with it, and it takes a long time for that to go away. The effects of last night’s episode continued well into the morning. I don’t think I started feeling OK again until after lunch. And I ate normally. So. But I ate normally the day before too. It’s the unpredictable nature of the crashes that is difficult. I worry about being alone and having it crash fast and not having someone around to help me. Anyway. The doc and I will have a conversation. We’ll figure it out. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, today was our team’s field trip to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Museum in Balboa Park. We saw one of the IMAX movies on the human body (probably it doesn’t help that IMAX makes me want to puke…but it was good), then we watched 140 or so students try to destroy all the exhibits inside the museum, and then let them out into the sunny gorgeous day to run around and eat and act like goofballs. It was a really well-managed field trip, thanks to one of the team teachers, and I didn’t feel anywhere near as crazy about it as I have in the past. And there’s only one day of school left until Spring Break, when I will have a little bit of freedom. I do have about 700 errands to run and another 30,000 things on my to-do list, but hopefully art will be part of it. After last night, I’m kind of trying to relax my desire to get a lot done. I think I will get done whatever I can, and I will have to be happy with that. Or at least content. Happy is still not part of my vocabulary.

So I practiced that tonight after getting home from my stitching meeting (which is really just hanging out with good people and sometimes we stitch and sometimes we don’t and we try to support each other with our wacky lives and existences…which is all you can do sometimes…is support). I ate some food…I’ve been paranoid about food today. Shockingly.

Then I traced for about an hour…

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It’s still going really slowly. I’m in the middle of the lowest body on the piece…

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She’s got some weirdly overlapping pieces, which means I really have to think while I’m tracing about what goes on top and what goes on the bottom, since I draw the overlaps into the pieces. I’ve finished her legs and belly, and am just starting on the arms. I was getting tired, so I tried to find a decent place to stop…I’m in the 370s, over 6 hours in.

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This piece really is a bit crazy. See all those empty spaces? I try to fill them in as I’m tracing smaller pieces. I try to do a decent job of fitting pieces in so I’m not wasting too much Wonder Under. I also try to trace pieces that I know will be the same fabric together so I save on cutting time…I only have to cut them out as fabric, not as Wonder Under as well. That really helps if the pieces are super small too…I often don’t cut them out until I’m ironing everything together…like I already know I won’t cut out the fish eyeballs until the very last ironing minute…which will be in June, at the rate I’m going.

The yawning, though. I had to stop. I had to make myself stop.

I got some done on the girlchild’s Xmas stocking at the stitching meeting…

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this piece is really slow. But it’s meditative. I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to actually meditate for real lately. I think I need to go back to doing it earlier rather than later at night…if I’m tired, I can’t handle it. I get the feeling he’d really like me to meditate in the morning, but I find that difficult. I’m not even really awake in the morning. I feel like you should be awake to be mindful. I’m a night owl. That’s why we call it meditative PRACTICE though…you’re supposed to actually practice it. Plus practicing makes you better at things.

Anyway. At least I’ll get some more artmaking time in the next few weeks. Nothing major, nothing lifechanging. Just more. More is better. Hopefully more is better will apply to hours of sleep as well.

Watching the Mood

I couldn’t process enough to write last night. It’s interesting (to me at least) that I use the blog to process where my head (and body) went during the day. It helps me have some sort of closure about feelings and actions and progress…in my emotional life, my artistic life, and my work life. I need to see progress, moving forward, or I get more depressed…ironic that…being depressed makes me more depressed. I’m depressed about being depressed. It really is a stupid vicious cycle and the lamest stuff sets me off. I do my best to process my way out of it, but it doesn’t always work.

I don’t even know what it was about yesterday…I worked my ass off running a Jeopardy test review game yesterday. I didn’t have time to think in class, but apparently that fucked with my brain even more. Like I know today will be bad…it’s a test day, so it’s quiet (except for the dipwads who aren’t prepared and want to let everyone know that and disrupt during the test, which is why I give my little personal responsibility speech beforehand), and my brain has PLENTY of time to wander the sand dunes of depressoville. There’s not a whole lot I can do about that except realize it and try to talk myself out of it. But yesterday? Busy days are usually the OK days, the days I didn’t wallow, didn’t ruminate, didn’t do the Eeyore thing, the Marvin the Paranoid Android thing. I’ll be numb and flat, but not down and out.

At the end of school, I got a text from the boychild with this…

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who had been hanging out with Calli in the back yard (Calli being the girlchild’s Golden Retriever). Um. I knew we had raccoons…I’ve heard them on the roof and in the tree outside my bedroom window…seen them in that tree too. But lying on the pavement outside the pool fence? In broad daylight? No, it had no rabies symptoms. By the time I got home, it had gone into the pool enclosure and was lying on the deck by the side of the pool (like you do in San Diego in winter), snoring. Loudly. Seriously sleeping and snoring.

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This morning, it’s gone. Which I guess is a good thing, because I thought maybe it was sick and I’d get up and find a raccoon corpse in my backyard, a corpse the size of a small Golden Retriever honestly, and then I’d have to do something about it. Raccoons are beautiful creatures, really. I just don’t want it living in the backyard with the dog, I guess. Calli probably thought it was a big fat cat (she’s not very smart). Yes, we have skunks too…hopefully she’s figured out that they’re not cats.

It rained yesterday…so that raccoon was sleeping out there in the rain when I left for the girlchild’s game. There is nothing more miserable (in San Diego…not part of the Winter Vortex at all) than a winter soccer game at night in the rain: cold metal bleachers, wind, rain, everyone huddling under umbrellas and still getting wet…

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The girl on the left had just arrived…that’s why she’s still relatively dry. I actually managed to stay quite dry until I had to leave early for my meeting. I had a waterproof blanket, the umbrella stuffed into my bra so I could stitch during the game, and a padded seat under my butt. Two jackets? I did OK. I did leave early though, so I did not suffer the entire game…

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We haven’t had too many rainy games this season, so I shouldn’t complain.

This is the progress from Academic League and soccer…

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It got too hard to do drizzle stitches in the rain, so I eventually quit on the tail of the bottom bird. Remember my original plan (hope?) of finishing 3 of these every two games? Not happening. At all. Oh well. It’s not that it’s hard; it’s just time consuming. Maybe THAT’S what I should do during the test today, instead of grading and logging in papers (no, not really…I need to get caught up on grading). The birds will get done eventually. It’s not the end of the world.

At my stitching meeting, I continued my incredibly slow progress on the girlchild’s Christmas stocking, started when I was pregnant with her in 1997. Oh yeah.

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It’s a good thing she is semi-patient. She’s really not, but… The pattern is irritating in that the symbol for the mauve color is darker than the symbol for the green…but the green in real life is darker, so my visually addled brain keeps confusing the two colors on the pattern, because it thinks the darker symbol is the darker color…which is really weird when you think about it, but then also very logical. I suspect most designers don’t think about things like that: the darkness of the symbol corresponding with the darkness of the color. The mauve is a filled-in black circle and the green is a letter S, very open and light. Even making it a G instead of an S would have helped my brain, I think. So I kept losing my place (no, I don’t use highlighters).

Anyway. Did I do anything art-related? Nope. No energy. Absolutely exhausted on the drive TO stitching…finally went to bed sort of early (for me, anyway), and then was up in the night with an unhappy tummy. There’s seems to be no winning the sleep game at the moment. I really tried to get motivated on two different things, but even cutting stuff out sounded like more effort than I was capable of last night. I’m sure that’s contributing to the low mood. It’s lovely that I know all the things that are affecting me, plus and minus, but I still can’t seem to get far enough ahead of the moods to prevent them from happening. I mean, this is MY brain. I do a pretty damn good job of paying attention to all the stuff it’s saying and trying to treat it right and listen carefully and act accordingly, but it doesn’t seem to matter. When it’s in a mood, it’s in a mood…a 6-month-plus-long mood. And yes, I do often wonder if it’s still a mood or if this is just the new me. Not OK.

Tonight…it will be better…whether that’s artmaking or sleep or just spending time with those cranky-ass beasts I gave birth to…it’s got to be better.

Sew Together the Days

You know, I used to get really excited when I’d finish picking the fabrics for a quilt…it was a turning point past really the most difficult part of the visualization. I basically color the whole drawing in my head and hold it there until I finish ironing, sometimes for days, sometimes weeks, occasionally months (really hard and not recommended). That said, it is also probably the most creative part of the quilt, besides the drawing itself. I can’t actually SEE the finished quilt, but each fabric is going to go with the one next to it and behind it and make the image in my head. It’s challenging…I need mental energy of a certain type to do that step, but it’s also somewhat meditative. I get lost in my alpha waves for at least some of it and it brings me some peace…sometimes even joy when I finish a particularly difficult section, especially like flesh tones.

Sigh. Not so much any more. There is a certain sense of relief that this stage is done this time, just because I am so tired and stressed right now and this seems to help and also hinder. The need to get it done keeps me up late, and once I’m ironing, it’s hard to stop, and when I do stop, I can’t get my mind to stop. It just wants to keep going. Pros and cons: the high of the creative buzz but the low from not enough sleep and the NEED to keep going. I had more buffers before, more balance, more things to do that would give that part of my brain a break, but also a break from the stress. I don’t have many of those any more.

I finished ironing the fabrics for Celebrating Silver tonight…finishing the owl up.

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There were 88 fabrics in this quilt, mostly browns and grays by the look of it. Lots of flesh tones too…

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Not in numbers, but in volume. Now I have to cut them all out.

I currently have almost 38 hours into this quilt. It took 13 hours and 12 minutes to cut all the fabrics for about 1250 pieces. Not bad. I usually figure an hour for 100 pieces for that. It will probably take less time to cut them out, although there are some significantly bitchy pieces to cut, if you look at that bin up there…the tips of the owl’s wings, for example. I’m figuring about 10 hours for cutting, and I already have 2 hours in. So maybe I’ll be done by next weekend? You never know. It could happen.

Meanwhile, I did spend time with my stitching friends, geeky stanchions of my sanity. We played with technology, googled Katniss’ cowl/shrug from Catching Fire, which the designer calls “woven, then knitted,” which makes no sense…but whatever…

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I think we finally decided that they had woven something and then knitted the woven something together. Or whatever. And all the knitted versions suck.

We talked about stitching and children and Christmas ornaments (I never did look at the damn Just Cross Stitch ornament issue…Kathy will have to bring it back in January). It was a good two hours of not having to be the sad Kathy or the stressed Kathy. I finally restarted the girlchild’s Christmas stocking (originally started in 1997, don’t laugh). I couldn’t find the cream thread at all…it must be hiding somewhere. I must have pulled it for something else, but now I can’t find it. Sigh. This is how we end up with stashes the likes of mine. I lost two pairs of embroidery scissors in the search, but found two other ones, one of which I didn’t even remember owning, sad but true.

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It’s a very exciting start. It’s actually fairly large stitches, which helps with my blindness, and I’m actually doing it on stretcher bars. It’s been ON those bars since 1997, so obviously I haven’t needed them. I told the girlchild not to expect it until she turned 21 (she’s 16. I should be able to meet that deadline). Every Christmas she would complain that everyone had a handmade stocking but her. Yes. I suck.

The right eyelid is still twitching, although off and on now. Ironically, I got in a screeching argument with the girlchild before I left for the stitching meeting where I was working on her stocking…OK, she was screeching. I was holding my brain together just barely. Typical for me at the moment. Just barely held together. Just by a thread. Grades. Cars. Something else. I think I knew everything when I was 16 too, so I get it…but I could use a break. I even asked her dad (jokingly, honestly, because I already knew the answer) if he could handle the grades conversation. He said quietly, “It won’t work if I do it.” Dammit. I don’t know if I have the mental strength to lay down the law right now.

I have about three drawings in my brain…not sure when they will be allowed out. Hopefully soon. I have been picking at the Christmas shopping…not happily, but getting it done. I’m buried in Have To and distancing myself from the emotional swamp that is my brain. Let it meditate. Let it psycho dance over there in the corner. I exercised tonight, but not at the gym…I’m scheduling the gym as often as I can. I slog through the days. Too many art show rejections lately. They don’t usually bother me, but at the moment, I could use some encouragement. Is the only purpose to my artmaking to fill the days so I don’t get more and more sad? Or is there actually an audience for my work? Or is it just too damn difficult to process? Who knows. I don’t usually care, but I’m feeling purposeless at the moment. WHY am I doing this again? What do I gain from it? Is it really sanity, because if this is sanity, well honestly, it kind of sucks. I think I need to work on some goals beyond “finish this part of this quilt.” I don’t know what those goals will be, though. because I have to want something to have goals. I’ve given up on wanting, because it just hurts. Wanting is sharp stabby things in the soft parts.

Shitty week. When you feel useless and worthless and like you’re doing it all wrong. I know that’s not true, but I need to find some piece of something that makes it all feel better at the moment. Time for a hike? Wish I had time. Or life drawing would help. Also no time for that. Maybe I just need to go get the Christmas tree…that smell. Sitting with the tree, lights on, in the dark. That always helps my mood.

“Searching for a light, a thread that will connect this moment to that one, a way to sew together the days so that they make sense.” Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

I’m trying. I suck at it, but I am trying.

Not in Focus

My camera was taking blurry pictures earlier this evening. Seems my fingerprint was smeared across the lens. I feel that way all the time, blurry, not in focus. Trying to stay sharp, keep the important stuff in the front part of my mind (or on my electronic calendars, so I have some chance of remembering). Trying to get a hold on a new life, a new existence? Also fuzzy, unfocused. Can’t grab on to anything. If I’m not already doing it, it’s not getting done. Even as simple as changing up my exercise routine, per my health coach…sheesh…I think I need to write down the routines (type them on my phone, duh)…because it’s just too easy to keep doing the same thing. I don’t have the brain power to be creative at the gym. I’m all used up.

I’ll get there. I guess. I only have 5 more health-coach meetings. That’s OK. I think they’ve served their purpose. I’m trying to pick her brain as much as possible before then, though…types of exercise that are more useful, how many reps, what helps build muscle mass. Fun stuff. Something to focus on besides my lack of focus.

I had my monthly stitching meeting tonight. Nice people. Distracting. Good thing. Needed some. Distraction.

Noticed as I left that they all have uncolored hair…they all are naturally gray/white…unlike my work cohorts, who are all coloring their hair (if they’re old enough to think they need to). I fit in with the first crew…it’s going white and crazy all by itself (my hair, not the crew).

I finally finished this…

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Now I have to frame it…it’s a gift. I’ve only taken about 4 years to get it done (started in June 2010…maybe May…so 3 1/2 years). Seriously. It means I’ll have to pick something new for the next meeting. Not a problem. I have no shortage of things in my stash, many already started. It’s more about the process than the product, obviously. I made a ton of mistakes on it, stopped reading the instructions a year ago. Oh well. No one but the designer would know.

I also finally pulled this thing out from under the cat the other night…

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It was almost done…I had decided it needed another flower and leaf, so tonight I sewed some of that on. I’ll need to finish sewing on and do the embellishment…then I can sandwich and quilt this one. Probably not a huge priority, that part of it. It’s last year’s Block of the Month from Sue Spargo. I was so close to finishing. Oh well. The world’s not ending soon. I have time.

I managed to only feel sort of like shit on the way to and from the meeting…this has been a difficult drive for the last few months…too many memories. I can’t handle memories of good stuff, because it hurts too much to think about it being gone. There’s nothing replacing it. I’m not forgetful enough to disremember looking forward to the evening of stitching and what came after. I remember and my gut gets torn open. At least I could relax a little during the meeting itself. Forget a little. Much as I ever can.

Thought I would get some useful stuff done when I got home…not. I exercised and meditated (necessary), but my tired brain is telling me to go to bed, so I will do that soon.

Calli this morning…

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She really didn’t want me to put her outside. Please mommy. I could just sleep HERE all day.

This is what you do with your leftover spiderweb stuff after Halloween…

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Because he needed hair, that’s why. I also did the Can Can with a student. What’s funny is he went along with it. Sometimes I wonder…about them as much as me.

The reason I pulled that wool quilt out is because Babygirl was sleeping on it the other night…

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So I gave her the boychild’s baby quilt instead. She seemed OK with that, but that’s what reminded me that I needed to finish the wool quilt. I guess that’s a good reminder.

The wonder of teaching middle school: I always tell the kids, “If the fat old lady can do it, then so can you,” especially when talking about exercise and homework and stuff like that. Today, one of my kids says, “Ms. Nida, who’s the fat old lady?” I answered, “Me.” He said, “You’re not fat.” “But I’m old?” He smiled. Sweet kid. I laughed. I guess I don’t qualify as fat any more. Nice to know (but I’m still old).

Bed time. Still not focused. Walking through fog. Slowly. Quietly.