One Thing at a Time…

Writing is hard, y’all. OK. Not for me. The words spill out of me like drool, honestly. But that’s practice. I wrote my first blog post in 2004. Even writing essays in high school and college, I just sat down and let it pour out. I’d do one readthrough and that was it. Done. And that was back in the day of typewriters and that weird white tape you’d type over to cover up whatever you’d mistyped. I can’t remember why I used that over liquid paper. Because you didn’t have to wait for it to dry? It wasn’t as lumpy? There’s a fine line between coverage and lumpy. MY ANALYSIS OF LIQUID PAPER. Exciting stuff. But often frustrating. But writing? Writing this every day lets my brain just spill all this crap out, plus I make plans for the day and the rest of the week and projects, holding myself accountable for shit. It’s probably how I can get so much done, even when it feels like I’m getting NOTHING done. Do I want to be sitting here the next morning thinking WTF I did nothing? Well that happens sometimes and it’s OK when it does. But making art makes me feel better as a person about the other stuff, so I want to be damn sure I’m doing it. Lots of it. Tell my students it gets easier when they practice? Uh. They don’t want to practice. They get frustrated. Sometimes I wonder why I work so hard at their writing in science, and then I remember how you keep the really high level science jobs. You write. You communicate in words. You document your shit. Sigh. They have to write so much on the state tests and some of their writing is so difficult to read. So no, I didn’t grade any of the other written assignments last night. That stuff just hurts.

Meanwhile, I’m up early for another parent meeting. Maybe this one will actually show up. I’m not sure if I should email the one who didn’t show up yesterday and make some comment about how I have to get up early and get to school early and set up my classroom early to prepare for their being here, and even go pee early so I know I get to pee before school starts, but their lame-ass behavior, like if it’s an emergency and you couldn’t make it, then call or email, but don’t just blow me off. Annoying. So many of those this year. And then they never reschedule. The kids react to it too…they’re all worried about the meeting and then when the parent doesn’t show, then what does that tell them? Sigh. Ugh. Parenting is hard too, but you still gotta do it.

Lecture aside. For now. I won’t have a voice for it in class. I gave a quiz yesterday. I graded it last night. All of them. 160 or so. Good stuff. Still behind on grading other stuff, but I’ll get there. While I was grading, Kitten kept sitting on all the papers…so I turned on Cat TV for her.

Not that it stopped her from sitting on all the papers…she did watch the birds though.

I graded until about 9:30 and then started ironing…I hit the tiny pieces stage…

Her thighs have a lot of nature on them…these California poppies and the bees we’re trying to keep alive out here.

Plus a Joshua tree, a turkey vulture, and some cactus.

I wanted to get further last night, but these are tiny fussy things. I got about half of the 600s ironed…maybe a little more than that. I have another couple cactus to iron and then the monarchs…speaking of fussy. A rattlesnake, a bunch of toes, legs…and then that’s it. I have a science meeting after school today, though. I wanted to be ironing to the background tonight and I’m having to revise my plan. I suspect I’ll be lucky to get to that. So I’ll hope I get it all ironed together tonight…I’m still on track, still OK. Mostly. Still tired. Still got too much work to do. Still wondering what I’m working on next. Still don’t know what to get my dad for his birthday. All the things in my head. Plus I want to read my book. And be healthy enough to go to the gym. Ugh. One thing at a time…well…unless I can do two.

Plans. They Work.

Ugh. I’m tired this morning. Neck hurts. Muscle? Or headache that comes with this cold? Or the trying to second-guess everything that will happen today in class. Lockdown drill with some challenging folks. I’m going to pre-meditate. Like meditate beforehand. Except I also have a parent meeting. Aack. Too much. I have book club tonight and I don’t think I’m going to go. I’m not in the mood to drive all the way across town and be outside. I like the people. I’m already tired. I’ve got chills this morning. NOt good. I’d rather stay home and rest a bit, iron some more. I already have a school meeting for two hours tomorrow after school. And another parent meeting. I just need some rest. And some Motrin for the neck/head thing. Then I’m going to meet with this parent and explain that it’s the kid who has to figure his shit out, and then I’m going to give a quiz, which is gonna freak everyone out, and then maybe after all that, I can come home and take a nap or read my book on the couch for a little bit before grading some and then ironing some.

Last night was the SAQA Local Connection meeting…with this crazy mural again.

I stitched for a while. I forgot to take a picture. We only had 4 show up. Not sure what this means for the future. We’re taking a break until January because of the holidays. I’m still working on a monthly stitching group, I guess. Maybe I’ll just hang out at a Starbucks and see who wants to hang out with me.

Kitten does…as long as it’s at home and no other beasts are around.

I get it, Kitten, I do. I graded a little when I got home. Not a lot…just a little.

Then I ironed…got the rest of the torso done…

This giant thing keeps trying to slip off the ironing board. Fabric is surprisingly heavy.

I got down to the uterus and then it was going to get very complicated, plus it was almost midnight. So that’s bedtime. I almost finished the 500s…so that’s just 300 or so pieces to go…mostly tiny little detail pieces though. So time-consuming. But maybe I’ll finish tonight? Probably not. Probably tomorrow. Iron it to the background. Stitch down. I got this. Just emailed the photographer. He’ll give me a hard deadline. Then I’ll see if I can pull it off. Plans. They work, people, they work.

I Stormed…

I am Edward Koch from South Carolina usa . I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my wife’s anniversary which is just around the corner. I stormed on some of your works which i found quite impressive and intriguing.

So I get these types of emails all the time, total scams. I usually don’t waste time on answering, but I did appreciate that he STORMED on some of my works. I also STORM on them. No really. I kinda do. Anyway. I’m guessing no money will be made from Mr. Koch from South Carolina.

3 AM barking from the pup. Ugh. Still fighting this cold. Double ugh.

So I have another writing assignment I’m grading. The last one took over 9 hours to get through, and only about 110 kids actually turned it in. I’m trying to do this one in batches, but not batch sizes that kill me. I was trying to finish one class last night, but I’d done a couple of fairly frustrating ones, and then I got to this one…

This is where my brain said, no, stop, you can’t, you don’t even know what to write in response because none of it matches up to anything you gave them. Well, we did do a lab called Growing Air and the smiling thing is a balloon I drew a smiley face on so they could see if it grew or not and we did talk about solids and liquids, but that was the other assignment. So I took a deep breath, remembered that this child has a significant understanding problem (maybe we should do something about that, but I don’t know where to start? Well, I do…), wrote her a solid response and invited her to tutoring. And then I quit for the night. Because I couldn’t. Not any more.

So I ironed. I STORMED the ironing.

Honestly, I spent the first 20 minutes trying to figure out how to iron stuff on this huge piece without the rest of it falling off the ironing board. Problematic.

I made it to the body! Always iron the eyes together separately and then place them on the face, so as to not have crooked eyes.

I ironed the head separately from the landscape…it was just easier…

And then fit it and the background into the existing stuff…

You can see where the arm belongs between the foreground pieces…I got one arm done and a goodly chunk of the other arm, plus part of the torso.

I wanted to finish lungs and heart, but knew it was already midnight and I’m fighting illness, plus I had to be up a little early for a parent meeting…only 3 of them this week. Ugh. Tonight is the SAQA meeting…I can’t take this with me, but I’ll find something to work on. Then I’ll come home and iron some more. I might finish grading that one class of assignments. Maybe at tutoring? I don’t know. It’s hard to concentrate there and I am trying to help kids do stuff too, so it’s not really a great place to work. All the newer teachers will be at some meeting, so I’m not even sure who will be there with me. Awkward. Oh well. Taking my sick self to work. Happy about the progress on here…hope it continues. I think I hit halfway last night? There’s a lot of details in the body…so that will slow me down a bit, but my current goal is to be ironed together by Friday and then stitch down Saturday, sandwich and quilt starting Sunday. I’m tight on time really. Always.

Handed to a Resident…

So last night, I’m sitting there watching part of a movie and part of something I’m grading (very exciting, both of them) and my phone tells me a package has been delivered. In some ways I love this, and in some, ugh. Too much. But the link says the package “was handed to a resident.” Really. Hmm. I look around the room. Not me. Not the guy on the couch next to me. Not the boychild in his room. Not a single dog has barked (this in itself is strange). I check the front door…nothing. OK, we have this weird other door that people sometimes try to use as a front door, mostly because I need to build a fence…there used to be trees blocking access and they had to be taken out for the septic system redo. Anyway, out my bedroom door, there’s the package. Delivered to a bunny maybe? Because no one else was out there. Interesting. Good thing the sprinklers had finished. I guess the plus is that we actually found it. I do appreciate the drivers who photograph the package where they left it…sometimes it helps me find it. Otherwise, I might be wandering around in the dark, wondering where they thought was an appropriate place rather than just walking up the steps to the actual front door.

The weekend in review. Sigh. Yeah. Well. I walked the dogs on Friday…I’ll be glad when the boychild’s toe is healed enough for him to come along. There were no coyotes…

but there were two people with loose dogs. I hate those people. I don’t care if your dog is friendly. Mine aren’t. Put your damn uber-friendly (one of them was a pitbull dammit) on a leash. For the coyotes’ sake and mine.

I did seem to tire them out, which was the plan. Me too…

I graded a bunch and went to bed early. The week kicked my butt. Then got up early and drove up to LA to see a sick relative…

Going up wasn’t bad. Coming back was sort of hellacious. I made it back eventually. Smelled the fire up there. Ah, memories of growing up in LA.

Saturday night was some art, some food, and then collapse. Super tired. And then up most of the night with what turns out to be a cold. Hoping I didn’t get my relative sick too…I thought I was just tired Friday and Saturday. Apparently I was coming down with the Ick that everyone else has. I got up early on Sunday and graded. I wasn’t sleeping anyway.

Kitten hung out with me on the couch. No dogs. She likes it.

Sunday, I napped, I worked, I grocery shopped, I laundered, I prepped lunches and breakfasts and then cooked dinner. Did I say I napped? Yeah. I did. And then I ironed for 2 1/2 hours.

Added a bird to the seashore…ironed the Torrey Pines’ cliffs…

Another bird…

A deer…

Well, it will be a deer, once its face gets where it should be. So this is where I’m at…well, a little past this. My ocean is definitely wider than the ironing board…kind of a pain, actually.

I did manage to iron the hills/mountains to the right and then a sun and cloud.

Deer in place…

So I got most of the way through the surrounding landscape…just a hill in Anza Borrego to go. Then the flesh. All the 200s are ironed down…almost. I’m running out of time. As always. I will figure it out. I always do.

Today I feel like crap. Mostly crap. I have meds. I have tea. I will want a nap during one of the two staff meetings. Maybe I will just do that.

More Zen…

My head hurts this morning. It’s weird, I was just thinking that it had been a really long time since I’d had a headache. I go through cycles of daily headaches…some because of sore neck, some because of weather, some just because. But they’ve been mostly gone for a few months…along with the hot flashes. But here it is. My neck is sore. I’m stressed. I’m tired. I need to be zen today. I was not yesterday. Worried about the cat, overwhelmed at work still, too many things to do. Looking forward to just sitting and cutting things out tonight, plus some stitching time with friends. It is Thursday, isn’t it? My brain has no idea what day it is.

Satch is still with us. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with him except for the fact that he is not better. He goes back to stay at the vet today. Maybe. It’s possible that all this is not doing anything for him. Always a sad situation. Been there so many times.

Poor baby. He’s not happy.

I did make it to the gym yesterday. I really needed it after slogging through the day. So many kid issues. I finished a book and started another one, came home and graded one thing. Boychild cooked. Smelled so good. Petted a cat or two, a dog or two.

What a dork. Sweet lovey dork.

Then I finished the ironing…

A bunch of tiny pieces at the end. It took almost 18 hours to iron them all down. I feel really slow. Cutting will continue tonight.

Here’s the 151 fabrics I used…

It’s a lot. It’s always interesting to see the mix. In reality, there’s a lot of blue space on the quilt…lots of little pieces are green. Looking forward to seeing it come together.

Oh yeah, the next local SAQA meeting is coming up…

I’ll be there. I don’t know what I’ll be working on, but I’ll be there. Be there too.

I’m going to be more zen today. Well. You know, after I cry all the way to work over the old man cat. Then I can zen. Or not. If you know me at all in person, you probably know zen is not my forte. Ironic, because I really wanted to be named after my grandma’s middle name, Zenobia, so I COULD be Zen for realz. Like the name would make me more like that. It’s a thought.

Magical Hope

Hard day yesterday. Just a lot of input into this introvert’s brain. It’s strange, because I do work with kids, and loud kids at that, kids that require so much interaction, but most days, the introvert just takes a lunch break and a few moments here and there, and then survives in all the moments before and after school, like sitting here writing in the morning or ironing fabric at night. Or on a hike or at the gym. But yesterday was a LOT of interaction and movement and honestly some babysitting, which I don’t like, and that made it hard. I don’t think today will be different, but I won’t have tutoring at the end of it. I do look around every 20 minutes or so and sort of revel in the kids who are hard at work on what they’re supposed to be doing, occasionally raising their hands and asking a question or needing help. I realize that maybe 10-20% of the kids are demanding the majority of my attention and causing all of my irritation. More moments of realization are helpful. The kids are good. Some are awesome. A few need serious help. Some are just dicks, but they’re also kids and dealing with shit. So there’s that. Very few will always be like that.

It’s what has gotten me through 16…wait, almost 17 years of teaching middle school. It’ll be OK. Tomorrow will be easier. Tomorrow we go back to teaching what we know, how we know it will work. It will be better. I could use a break from all the administrative crap of paperwork and forms and kids going on emergency trips who need an independent study contract at the last minute. Please. And thank you. Like now. Plus the rushing around trying to do all the other stuff. But otherwise. It will be better.

Satchemo is still not apparently eating, despite being plied with kitty treats and glasses of water on the ground. He is drinking a little, but definitely not well. Vet today. I don’t think it will be good news, but maybe he will feel better.

I had tutoring last night, so I was exhausted when I got home. But I graded an assignment and part of another one, just to get through them. They were piling up.

Then on to the ironing…

I really just have all this filler stuff to do, lots of little pieces and color choices. These are poppies…and this is a Joshua tree.

Maybe this is why it’s been taking so long? Because every 20 pieces requires 6 fabrics? Who knows. Or I’m just slow.

I ironed for 2 1/2 hours last night…I only have this stuff left to do. It’s a cactus or two, some landscapey dirt, a bunch of monarchs, and a rattlesnake.

In about 150 pieces. No…the flesh is already ironed, so maybe 100 pieces max. But it was midnight and I knew today would be tiring. I’ll finish tonight and then go back to cutting stuff out. This was the pile of chaos at the end of all that ironing…I just pile them up as I go.

But one side of my brain gets all perturbed by that and fixes it…

That part of my brain is still disturbed by all the colors not being together. I will resort to that at the end. There’s a certain level of satisfaction to all the greens being together from light to dark. Seriously.

I’m over 16 hours into the ironing. Crazy for 900 or so pieces. Oh well. Here’s what’s left to be cut out…

Because I’ve already done some of it. I’m hoping to have it all cut out by the weekend. We’ll see. I do have a deadline.

This is good.

Too bad I can’t show it to my students. OK, off to work. Hope the kitty gets better. That seems like a magical hope…much like my hope that today will be easier than yesterday. Yup. Well. Life.

This Had a Title, but WP Ate It

It’s the last day of September. I’m OK with that. I like the sound of September, with the hint of Fall, but I hate the Southern California teacher-time reality. It’s usually hot and dry and exhausting and overwhelming. October brings a little chill in the air (well, not any time in the next two weeks, can you say 80s across the board) and those beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds scuttling across them. Plus the kids settling down and the admin stopping the crazy to-do list that they put on top of everything else and getting back into a routine. Hopefully on all that. First we will have the panic of the first progress report with standards-based grades, in which everyone fails until they figure out how to prove they are proficient. PROGRESS people. No one should be perfect to start. Then you’re doing it wrong.

Well. OK. I had one kid who rocked the first assignment. Well played, sir, well played. The rest of the panic is palpable, except for those who haven’t yet figured out that they never turned in the assignment…which might be better than those who mucked it up so badly that I had to put my head down and/or walk away from the computer.

I still have one class of 26 essays left to grade. That makes me nervous, because everything is due tomorrow and I’m not done. But I finished the other class at 10:30 last night, mostly because I was texting another teacher at the same time, trying to help her with the grade program, which upgraded and fucked its own self up, but also because we’re shifting from everything being an academic grade into effort being something totally different than proving you know the stuff you’re supposed to know. It’s really more you can prove you understand how things work when it comes to science. It’s not facts…it’s concepts. And those are hard. Hard is good, though. Hard is learning. Hard is thinking. Hard is working. They will get better at this. Someone should tell their parents that (oh wait, we did).

With that, know I spent a good 6 hours grading on Saturday, with a quick trip in between two of the classes before I tore my hair out. I needed to go to the post office, and I stopped (as a reward, yes, you’re right) at a fabric store I don’t usually go to. Not because there’s anything wrong with it…the one I like has 7000 more bolts of fabric or so, which gives me a lot more choices. But I stopped here because it was on the way home and I needed a fabric fix. And they were having some sort of event where I got to spin the wheel (woooo!) and I won something! OK, everyone won something…that’s how the wheel was set up, but I won something pretty good…

Oh yeah. $25 off next time. Wait. That means I have to go back. OK. Well. There we are. Next time I have to grade one of these essay assignments, eh?

We had no real plans for the night except getting the fuck out of the house and hopefully moving bodies to get my brain out of the shithole it was living in…there’s a reason I never became an English teacher even though that’s what one of my degrees is in. So we parked on one side of Balboa Park and walked all the way across it to a restaurant on the other side…

It was good. I needed the exercise. I needed the fresh air. I needed to get away from weird explanations for the states of matter.

We came back and finally watched Capt. Marvel, after sitting on the same DVD from Netflix for the entire summer. Plus SOMEONE watched it without me, despite our agreement. I had plenty of stuff to cut out. Even though I’m not done ironing, I can still start cutting.

The cat snored through the whole thing. He kept trying to get onto my lap, but eventually gave it up. So that’s two hours’ worth of cutting tiny flesh pieces out.

All the stuff that’s done is on the left, stuff to BE done on the right, and the trashy bits on top. Just in case.

I’ll throw them out eventually. When the quilt is done.

Sunday dawned with a giant crazy to-do list in my face, which I dealt with after going to the gym. A necessary thing. I finally got to the grading in late afternoon…yeah. I know. It was a day. I did prep all lunches, grocery shop for the week, go to my parents for dinner…all the things.

I could have kept reading essays at 10:30. Wait. No I couldn’t. I was holding my head together by then. I finished that period, got up, and came in here to iron. At least for a while. I needed to.

Here’s the dogs at my parents. I was trying to draw the September drawing for my Patreon. I did draw something, but I don’t like it.

So I’m going to try again tonight after grades are done. Assuming grades are ever done. It might be tomorrow. Technically that’s late, but I sent a message explaining. Hopefully that’s OK. This is my reality. I didn’t procrastinate…stuff just got moved and this is when the assignment that needed grading got turned in. I’m trying. Ugh. It hurts. Grading, not drawing. I just couldn’t get my head out of grading enough to draw well.

It’s OK. There’s always more paper for this. I guess even if there wasn’t paper, I’d still be making marks on something.

So I ironed for about an hour and a half…adding to the pile of fabrics used and pieces to cut out.

I ironed the heart and the eyeballs and the hair and the veins and arteries. And a thorny pubic area. Nice. Oh yeah, and some redwood trees. Technically not found down here, but oh well. I like them. They fit. I still have quite a few pieces to go, but I have no idea how many, which is kind of a metaphor for my life right now. And that’s fine. Now I have to go to school and try to explain to a bunch of kids why their grades aren’t what they want right now, and then tell them I’m not fixing it before progress reports, but that it’s totally fixable, and then writing myself and my co-teacher a note about having the first standards-based assignment WELL before the progress report due date so we don’t ever have this happen again thank you piloting curriculum and general bad timing. Yeah.