She Totally Confused All the Passing Piranhas*

December 10, 2016

You know what’s annoying? Every time we make some sort of laminated card thing for class, where every table gets X number of cards in a bag and then they have to do stuff with them…every single damn time, we end up with cards getting lost. We laminate them because we want to reuse them every year, but middle-schoolers basically guarantee that we will have to first of all, count every damn bag out (this is what a TA is for), then figure out what card or cards are missing from each bag, and then make X number of extra sets to fill in the blanks. I hate that shit. It’s an organizing nightmare, and we don’t have time for it. At all.

Yes, there are only five days of school until Winter Break. I thought I was getting this huge copyediting job this Tuesday, and I knew break was going to be difficult. Hard to find time for art, because I would have to work. And both kids are coming home. But then that job got pushed out…again…I think that’s the third time. And now break is free (well as free as it ever is…still gotta grade). So that’s a bit of a relief. I’m trying not to think about how I’m going to do that copyediting job without any vacation time to focus on it, but whatever. I’ll deal with that when it actually shows up.

Meanwhile, our students are going bonkers because it’s almost break and Christmas and all that. I did remind them that not everyone does Christmas. What?! Their shock was evident. The bonkers kid behavior is not pleasant. Teachers do not enjoy that. I guess the fact that they will have to take home progress reports next week might help, but not based on what I’ve seen in the last week.

My patience is worn thin. I know it, at least, and try to make myself relax as much as I can, both during school and after school. I feel like all I do at school is hug kids and wipe tears some days, and I’m not really the mama bear on campus. So you know they’re desperate. I’m the one you come to for sex ed or weird science questions…

Anyway, so I was motivated last night to get through grades (I still have about 100 emails to deal with), so that took a few hours. I also wanted to get a tree, but last year, I got zero help from the kids in decorating it, and I also knew I didn’t want another big tree, because between having my (not elderly…they’re not…but knee surgeries etc means they shouldn’t be down on the floor trying to make the tree stand straight) parents help and doing it myself, plus the puppy…I’m pretty sure he will just want to take all the ball-shaped ornaments and destroy them…so I knew it needed to be up off the ground and smaller. I can’t put it on my light table, dammit, because I need that. So I have this desk that I’ve wanted to clear off for a while. It has a pile of crap (they always do) and the third computer in the house, one that’s never used. So I unhooked everything and moved it around, clearing the surface.

And like all trees, within about 5 minutes of getting it up there, one cat appeared.

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The next one was not far behind.

It was still not easy to get everything out of the garage…I start thinking about what needs to happen before I get really old (I barely got the Xmas decoration box down without braining myself). My SIL said I should separate out all the kids’ ornaments this year into one box for each kid (she’s already done this, and her kids are 5+ years younger than mine) so that when they do move out, it’s not a pain to figure out what’s what. That would help. Smaller containers too…and not on the top shelf. But all that means trying to clear out the garage, which just terrifies me. It does need help.

Now did I get lights on the tree? Hell no. Too tired. Ate dinner, finished some section of the grading (probably 4 or 5 more hours to go, unfortunately)…and then sat down. Within seconds, I had Simba and Midnight competing for lap space. He used to bite her, but then I started praising his boisterous ear cleaning, which Midnight actually seems to like. So now he does it all the time. Her ears are very clean. Sparkling even.

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But none of this behavior is conducive to my getting anything done. She eventually settled on one side…

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With him on the other. Room for the sketchbook. Awesome.

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At some point, I realized I was too tired to draw, though, so another early night. Trying to stay well and get what I need. It’s a difficult balance. Today especially…going to an educator meeting to prepare for the next four years of attacks. Mind-boggling looking at the people being chosen to lead us, people with no experience in reality. One of my high-school classmates posted some idiotic statement about the new Secretary of Education, that she must be good because the teacher unions were going nuts. Sigh. So yes, I refrained from bitch-slapping him, because I reminded myself that he was ignorant. Many people are. And if you think deVos is a good choice, come spend a week in my classroom and see what it’s really like. I have to deal with enough clueless people at my job (OK, most of them are 12, but not ALL of them). You should educate yourself before you spout nonsense. And the attacks on science annoy me too. No one on any governmental science committee should NOT be a scientist. Fire their asses. They’re incompetent and ignorant. Should be a good meeting.

But here’s where I got last night. I think I’m ready to enlarge this part and add to the top and bottom…well, and sides. Yeah. Which means not sitting on the couch, unfortunately…but whatever. Puppy will miss me.

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Midnight will just try to sit on the drawing. She vomited on the last one. That was nice. Yeah. And I think I have three social things tonight, although one is with total strangers, crashing another company party (actually I think I’m allowed to crash this one). I’m going to take my stitching to the educator meeting to keep me calm and focused.

As far as finishing the drawing, I think it’s going to be a few days at least. I might get time this afternoon, but I doubt it. And I draw better at night for some reason…so if I finish grades, Sunday night? Anyway, maybe I’ll be tracing sometime this week? I hope so. I want this one done by the end of Winter Break. Seriously. That’s crazy, of course, but it’s what I want. Maybe I’ll be uber-efficient on vacation for once. You never know. It could happen.

*The Presidents of the United States of America, Lump


Sometimes It’s About Massages and Brain Size

December 8, 2016

It’s not in my nature to waste fabric. Well, yes, I take big pieces of fabric and cut them into smaller pieces and then iron and sew them back together. It’s already a strange concept. But I don’t like wasting what I’ve got. It’s my palette. I don’t even like throwing out the tiny scraps left over after I trim the ironed pieces. But I do. Because it would be crazy to keep that stuff (I do keep it until the quilt is done, in case I need a tiny piece of something…because if I’m gonna lose a piece, it’s usually a little one).

So although I finished the newest quilt on Tuesday night, I hadn’t thrown out the scraps yet or put all the other fabric away, because I knew I had the leftover pieces from when I cut the head out backwards. Now I also cut out the bird and the sun/cloud conglomerate backwards, but I ended up using them in the quilt anyway. I couldn’t do that with the head because of the shoulder orientation. It wouldn’t fit right. But I saved those pieces. I had spent time cutting out the Wonder Under, ironing them to fabric, and trimming them. Dammit if I wasn’t gonna use them. (Yes. I am currently channeling my Depression-era grandmother.)

So I did. Here’s the bin. It’s even labeled Backwards. The question was which pieces did I pull from here to finish the other one (answer: cat ears, cat top of head, cat eyes, cat eyeballs, and human eyelid…plus two smaller pieces that seemingly just disappeared)?

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The real problem was ironing on the back of the pattern. I couldn’t see it. So I had to redraw it on the back. Now when I look at this, it’s obvious to me that there’s another problem…flipped letters. I didn’t actually realize that until later though, when I was on the phone with the girlchild and she said I should just leave them backwards (I didn’t…but I do have one quilt where everything is backwards because I traced it all wrong and couldn’t bear to retrace).

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So here it is backwards…in process…you can see the box of scraps there. I had to fill in a few things…small pieces. And I decided to make the words right way round. I didn’t cut new ones. I used what I had.

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Backwards head…

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Regular head…

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Creepy, huh? And honestly, I’m only doing this because I hate to waste stuff. It only took about an hour to iron it together. Not bad.

So yeah, I’ll quilt it etc. and stick it up on Etsy. It’s not tiny, actually, because of the hair. And it’s weird. Then again, everything I do is weird.

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As evidenced by this drawing done during a teacher training yesterday that I was a bit irritated by having to sit through. I hate when the voice in my head is yelling “No DUH!” the entire time.

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So first of all, the statement at the top is not what I think…but what some kids might think (funny, I’m always careful to explain I don’t believe that…that smart people do some really stupid stuff. I could insert names here if I wanted to.). Then the stuff about brain size/weight…I actually wanted to check that out, because I remembered that Einstein’s brain wasn’t particularly large, and I always thought that it was the connections that were more important than size, although even those can be regrown to some extent. And this morning, I found this…confirming that (as we all know) size isn’t everything. And yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now, drawing is my safe space. The Affect not Effect was because the damn program needs an editor. I hate it when apparently educated people can’t edit their stuff. It’s one thing to get it wrong. It’s another to not realize you get stuff wrong and have someone who is better at it check your stuff. We’re teachers, dammit.

I probably scare some people in trainings. Generally I try to sit with people who won’t be scared. In the old days, when we got a paper agenda for staff meetings, people used to try to sit next to me (because it was more fun to watch me draw than listen to the principal). Seriously, though, it entertains the part of my brain that otherwise gets me in trouble. Plus it keeps me awake. And any angry or pissed off or bored parts will have something else on which to focus.

There is a cat currently sitting on my computer mouse. OK. Moved her. Lab day today. Too tired for that. Oh well. It’s not like I get to ignore the tired stuff. I did get my first ever massage yesterday, in an attempt to move the joints in my neck and back that have been semi-frozen about a month. We got all but one of them. But more importantly, holy crap, massages are wondrous. I can’t afford how wondrous they are (seriously, I could get addicted to that). But it was a positive thing. So there we are. You learn something new every day. Sometimes it’s stupid stuff, like how much vomit a Golden Retriever can gack up. But sometimes it’s about massages and brain size.


The Images Stuck in Your Head*

December 7, 2016

So a huge feeling of relief as I finished that quilt yesterday evening. And then I sat around for about 10 minutes before I got started on the next one. To my credit, it’s been drawing itself in my head for a couple of weeks. I think. I’m not sure when I did the first part of the drawing, and certainly this idea has been percolating for months. The second one is also germinating in that chemical slop that lives in my art brain. The third one? I’m not sure. Yet. I had an idea, but it’s gone. But I’ve got time on that one. The plan? Finish the three skinny ones for one wall, then the small one for the other show, then another bathtub, unless one of them gets into that other show…then I might need two bathtubs. Yikes. OK. Don’t worry about that right now. Got enough on my plate. I do have one bathtub drawn and enlarged and numbered though. So that’s a plus.

Including science. Teaching it. Trying to understand what I’m teaching (some days)…prepping for and cleaning up after labs. Just trying to see the big picture for the next unit. I honestly am mostly ignorant of a lot of what I’m doing these days until I realize I’m ignorant and start reading or watching videos. This is so much easier than it would have been 20 years ago. YouTube saves my butt.

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Using up ALL the balloons in the world. ALL OF THEM. OK, not really. Certainly we’ve used more AlkaSeltzer this year than I thought possible. And we’re buying stock in vinegar, baking soda, and yeast. And handwarmers. Don’t even ask.

So it’s a relief some days to come home and just sit on the couch with all the animals and a TV show and needle and thread. I know some of you understand. Even though all I had to do was two sleeves, top and bottom, and they’re pretty boring (and I finally poked a hole in my finger…knew it would happen…no callouses)…it was still relaxing.

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Which is good, because my neck is sorta half frozen in a bad place at the moment. Today I’m hoping is the day we finally budge it (after a month plus of trying a variety of things).

Anyway, there she is, fully bound.

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A mere 85 hours of work, completed basically from about November 1st to now. Five weeks. Not bad. Should have been able to do it faster, but whatever. Life kicks you upside the head and you just bully through. Photographer delivery tomorrow.

Amusingly, I was cleaning up before starting the next one, and I found these…the pieces I traced correctly but then lost and had to redraw or steal from the wrong-way-round pieces. I never even cut them out. Wow. Tired much?

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Cat head. Legs. Eyes. Inner ears. Top of head. Yes. I can recognize pieces just by looking at the shapes. Granted, I also know what I was missing.

I might still iron the other head together and make a mini quilt out of it. It’ll be hard to figure out the time taken to complete it, because some of it is tied up in the others of the other quilt, but I bet I could do some rudimentary math and figure it out. So maybe that’s also a goal this week. I can toss it up on Etsy for that crazy person who wants a head on a quilt. You know you do.

Meanwhile, I pulled this back out. I need to get this part drawn enough so I can enlarge it and add the rest of the body and head. I did this back in November some time. I didn’t date it…I usually write the date. Dammit. It’s probably in my blog though, huh? Yeah. I bet it is. (this is why I keep this thing…it’s my brain when I can’t remember shit.)

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Uh huh. November 22. Found it. I thought it was earlier than that. OK. Well with a cat on one side, a giant Golden Retriever sprawled on the other couch, and this little guy behind me on the back of the couch (I am NOT a cat)…

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I kept going…

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I like where I’m going with this. I’m not sure about the head, but I do know what’s going on down below and behind and around her. So I will probably keep drawing on this tonight and then copy? Tonight? I do have a copy place that’s open until 10 or 11 PM (well hallelujah for that, right?). Or maybe I’ll draw and then do the other head. We’ll see what I’m in the mood for at the end of the day. I’m getting my first ever massage and THEN doing chiropractor right after. I met the massage therapist…I’m OK with Viking women going all crazy on my back and neck at the moment if it will help.

It’s nice to finally be moving on to the stuff for the solo show.

*Elliott Smith, Between the Bars


Even If the Skies Get Rough*

November 23, 2016

Aargh. So I was not very efficient yesterday. I could blame missing the kids, I could blame post-school brain. I could just say…hey…sometimes I can’t do what I need to do. I did walk the dogs. That was good.

And I started one drawing…just in pencil, because it’s not very high on the list. It’s just in my head, so I needed to start something.

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I don’t usually start in pencil, but I needed to for this one.

Then I started one that’s been in and out of my head for about a month…maybe more.

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This will be part of my solo show at Visions next year. I’d like to get it to a point tonight where I can enlarge it to draw the rest…because no way is it going to fit on one piece of paper. I guess I could enlarge it now…maybe. I’ll think about it.

I was supposed to spend all day yesterday cutting out pieces and then starting the ironing process. That didn’t happen.

If you walk dogs, they sleep.

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I spent about an hour with Expedia and the kids trying to reroute the boychild to the girlchild. I couldn’t make it work last night, so he’s going today. Hopefully. If the universe doesn’t fuck with us again.

I did eventually start cutting stuff out…

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And honestly, I got a lot done. All that’s left are the flesh fabrics and the sun and clouds. That’s not much, but it was more than an hour’s worth, I think. So I didn’t finish it last night. Puts me behind. Sigh. Giant sigh, actually. I still need to actually grade things. So I’m going to try to double up my efficiency today to make up for yesterday’s brain.

I miss my kids. Did I say that already? Yeah. Well. Three weeks. They’ll be home then. I can do that. And hopefully sometime today I’ll start ironing this thing together. It’s easier to stay on task when I’m ironing than when I’m cutting stuff out. Cutting just feels like it takes forever. And it doesn’t.

*Jason Mraz, I Won’t Give Up


I Don’t Know Why Sometimes I Get Frightened*

November 11, 2016

Yes. I have the day off. Thank you, veterans of the world. I’ve been reading too much (as many of us over-educated people apparently do) lately, and am disturbed by references to how major conflicts and wars began in the past and what we are seeing with Brexit and TrumpWorld. Though I am not pro military in many ways and I wish we could coexist in this world without always trying to force each other to behave, I also realize the Hitlers and Putins and Mugabes of the world probably need a military force in order to make them behave. A worldwide force. So for stopping concentration camps and dropping atom bombs, I will say thank you to our veterans. And for anything that we need to do in the future…protecting human rights for all…not just whoever seems to be in charge.

That said, holiday or not, I am going to work as soon as I finish this. I have a pile of work that is taller than I am, I think. I can’t go into this weekend with that hanging over me. I want to get a good chunk of it done. Especially since I know I have a quilt that needs to get done over Thanksgiving week…because I’m starting a copyediting job right after that. So time is tight.

But my brain is in this place. We met last night for the next show my women’s art group is planning and we revised it in light of the election. And on the way home, the drawing for it popped into my head. I need time to sit out on the deck and draw that. Although the mosquitoes are back. So maybe not on the deck. Sigh. But the world does not feel safe at the moment, not for women, not for LGBTQ, not for my refugee and immigrant students, not for anyone who does not want to feel attacked all the time. There is a call for people like me to better understand those who voted for Trump, and I have a hard time getting past the reality that a lot of it was probably a sexist choice or a choice based on fear of change. But I will listen. And I will act…if that act is making more art, or if it is marching in solidarity somewhere, or if it is speaking up against racism and sexism and xenophobia everywhere (I already do this in my classroom), then so be it.

I came home and finished tracing the Wonder Under on the new piece…just over 10 hours…

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It’s 5 yards…about…of Wonder Under. I almost met my revised schedule on this. I think I wanted to be done tracing on Wednesday and cutting on Thursday.

Midnight. You are such a dork.

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But I did start cutting…got two yards cut out. And watched all of Colony…dystopian societies with revolutionary groups fighting for freedom and rights. Huh.

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This morning, there’s the remaining three yards waiting for me. Tonight?

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If I get enough work done, yes. Finish cutting them out this weekend and sort them. Start picking fabrics by Sunday night? Maybe. Ouch. Way too much to do. Grading. Finishing that worksheet for Tuesday’s class (waited a bit too long on that one). Planning for after break…just getting the normal school stuff done on top of this grading pile. And the holidays coming…

Yesterday, I had this one group of kids fighting over the lab equipment, and then the two boys were denigrating the one girl who was trying to do her part, and I finally went off on them. Quietly. Which I think scared them. And I asked them what we were learning in homeroom about how to listen to other people respectfully, and I asked them why they were trying to make the two girls feel bad for “not doing it right.” They froze. And their faces dropped. And they heard me for once. Hey, that age…when they DO hear you, that’s a big one. I’m keeping that moment in my heart and head at the moment. That was a success. They worked together after that. Mostly. Because one of the boys has some major shit in his head. But those moments give me hope.

Yeah. I need a hike today too. I bet the dogs do too…so despite temperatures in the 90s and early sunset, I’m going to push that into the schedule. Because I have to take care of this stressful, panicked feeling. One of my art friends said, “Make Art Loudly.” Yeah. That.

*Split Enz, I Got You


When the Evening’s Thin*

November 10, 2016

So many conversations going on. So many worries. So many stories of hate out there. My students who wouldn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Hell, I’m with them on many days, but I told them, this is YOUR country. Not Trump’s. Be angry. Be scared. But remember this is your country. Hard for some of them to hear, as refugees. As immigrants. I remind them my own family immigrated here. We didn’t start here. We left oppression, starvation, and came here.

I had a long meeting after school, then a longish phone conversation. The plus is I got the copyediting job, but it will start later than I thought. In some ways, that’s good…it gives me a chance to finish the grading I’m trying to do on the last HUGE unit, plus the quilt that needs to be done by December (ouch. scary.). And then December will be a bit of a bitch. But I’ll have some money by the end of it for college. And I need that right now.

I did grade some stuff last night. And then I went back to tracing…

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At one point, I thought I could finish last night…but then I realized I had another 150 pieces to go, which is at least an hour and probably closer to two. And it was midnight. Hmmn. And I had to be up early for a meeting. Ugh. Yesterday, I lit about 45 candles. For science…although I did briefly say some good thoughts to the goddess while doing it. And I don’t do that often. I didn’t set off any fire alarms. I feel pretty good about that. Today I think I will have to tie knots in 45 balloons. We’ll see.

Tomorrow I walk these guys…except it’s in the 90s today and supposed to be tomorrow as well (is it November? Really?).

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Someone left my yard gate open and both of them got out yesterday evening. In the dark. The little one doesn’t come when he’s called, but he follows when the big one and I run away from him. I’m a little creeped out by the gate…who was here? Pool guy doesn’t come on Wednesday. Plus the pool was full of leaves, so I know he wasn’t here. This living alone thing is scary sometimes. I reminded a friend who called last night that she was lucky to have someone to cuddle with in bed tonight…so she should go do that and enjoy it.

Tonight? Another meeting. But maybe I’ll finish tracing and move on to the next step. And maybe I’ll find time to draw. Because I think that would be a plus over the next few days. I need some space for my head to get out on paper. As many of us do.

*Sarah McLachlan, Building a Mystery


Everything’s in Order in a Black Hole*

November 8, 2016

I don’t talk about politics much on here. I mean, I talk about political things, but the election crap this year has been more than I wanted to handle. Too much crazy. I voted weeks ago, basically as soon as I got my ballot and found 3 hours to read everything (San Diego ballot this year was hefty hefty hefty). I suspect most of you might guess my politics just based on my regular rants, but just in case, I got this…

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which might be dangerous in my part of town. But whatever. I stand by it. And I raised my kids to stand by it. Luckily, I will be distracted by teaching all day, so I won’t have to hear about voter turnouts etc., and I can choose not to watch the chaos tonight. I’d really just rather wake up tomorrow to a new world. Except no matter what happens, tomorrow will be filled with chaos. Ah well. At least I now have the right to vote, despite my uterus and its apparently harmful effect on my brain.

Whatever your thing, go vote. Then hold them to their promises. Or fight their crazy. Whichever seems appropriate.

This text from the girlchild from yesterday morning is still cracking me up.

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(she was writing an essay.)

So yesterday, I finished grades. At least mostly. Which is good, because they’re due at 2 today. I dumped a couple of assignments. They just weren’t in the cards. That happens. And then I bid on a copyediting job. Which seems crazy, when I look at my deadlines, but it’s a pretty compact job, though not small, and would give me a good chunk of money towards paying the next college bill. I can’t ignore the multiple thousands I need to come up with in the next 6 months. I can’t just scrimp and save to get them. I need to do more work…work that’s paid. So if I get that job, the next few weeks will be a bit crazy. Oh well.

Then I finally made it to the artmaking space…both in my head and on the light table. There’s no motivation like the potential start of a new time-sucker to get you going…

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It’s not going particularly quickly, unfortunately. I didn’t start until after 10 PM and I’m only in the mid 200s…with 800 pieces total in the drawing. And the next big assignment to be graded gets turned in today. I’m not ready. I need a break from hours staring at a computer. That’s the thing…it’s never-ending.

So I trace for three more nights? Get done (might be wishful thinking…there’s meetings galore this week). I have Friday off. It all depends on whether I get this other job. If not, it’s a piece of cake. I start ironing over the weekend and cutting stuff out next week, ready to iron together over Thanksgiving, then quilt etc. (while finishing grading…and possibly copyediting for hours). Yeah. So I’m kind of in flux at the moment. But much much MUCH happier and more relaxed today after tracing last night. Interesting how that works. Make time for art. Shee-it. You’d think I would always be able to do that, but apparently not.

*Arctic Monkeys, Fluorescent Adolescent