The Getting Up and Pretending

I’m not sure where my head is still…I forgot even more stuff today, left one ingredient out of dinner (the kids noticed, but survived), couldn’t find photos that I had already removed from the relevant email and resized, left my brain in a dusty corner somewhere. I feel so freakin’ inefficient and lame because I can’t seem to focus properly…only half my brain is engaged in life. The other half is somewhere else. Hopefully it’s in Tahiti or the Caribbean, having a grand old time, instead of what I imagine from all the TV shows, where we hope it’s on vacation but it’s really locked up in a damp cell with duct tape (students, that’s d-u-c-t, not quack like a duck) over its mouth, bloody nose from getting hit too hard, double vision.

Yes, the imagination runs in overdrive on a regular basis. I tried to remember stuff. I shipped my  journal and bought boxes for the quilt, which needs to get there next week some time. I should have packed it up tonight, but I didn’t have the mental energy…which is too bad, because I think the other four nights this week will be much worse than tonight. Oh well. I need to iron it and dehair it as well. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow night (cough cough, after tutorial, soccer game, and gym). Whatever. The show doesn’t open until May. It will get where it needs to go on time. Ish. I focus so hard on deadlines sometimes that I think it makes me a little insane. Juggling like crazy right now.

I graded papers tonight because I am now way behind. I rarely grade at home these days…it’s just not a priority. I try to do it at school, but sitting in the classroom during prep is depressing. So I avoid it. I have enough depressoid going on…I don’t need to make more. On the other hand, I do need to catch up. So I’m trying to balance those things out.

I exercised and meditated like a good girl…exercise is just an excuse to be able to read really, and that is never bad. And meditation…it centers me, makes me be more conscious of my inner state, which is often not good, but I’m much better at controlling it this year. My students I think are benefiting from my conscious understanding of when I am losing it, and taking control of that. Breathe. Think. Don’t react. Wish I’d known about it sooner…I think it would have made my life different and better years ago.

Then I came in to try to figure out the fabrics for the Ivy Memorial quilt, which has nothing to do with any art show or entry or deadline at all. I didn’t think there were that many pieces in it, but that is because I am a space cadet and forgot all the detailed tiny bits I put into it because I am freakin’ insane. It has 312 pieces in it, which is a lot when you consider its size…which is about 19″ high x 38″ wide…wow, that’s a lot bigger than I thought it was…and that’s without a border.


I laid out the first 100 pieces, which are all freezer paper, cut with a border if they’re meant to be wool, so I can cut out the wool on the line, or cut on the line if they’re meant to be cotton, because I will turn the edges under to applique them. Only a tiny bit confusing…

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Most of it is supposed to be wool, with a few cotton accents around, and I planned it to be mostly bright colors. Last year or the year before, I was searching for a run of flesh tones for the main figure, but I never really worked out the rest of it. I have a decent stash of greens and a few browns etc., but none of the brights I was envisaging for the flowers. I have red. That’s about it.

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I did manage to iron the hills and river behind the main figure…I had enough greens for that…this is what I’ve used so far for the hillside…

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And the river is done. But before I decide about the rest of them, I need to find the stash of leftover pieces from the two Sue Spargo quilts…there were brightly colored pieces in there that were big enough for flowers, which is mostly what I need them for. I think they’re hiding out in the living room in one of the boxes from my last cleanup. I never throw those offcuts away, those funny-shaped pieces left over from cutting out birds or flowers. Yes, I think that makes me a hoarder in some ways, but I think if I just keep watching a Hoarders episode every month or so, I will be motivated enough to keep the packrat tendencies down to a minimum. Besides, in this situation, I think it’s exactly what I need…little pieces of bright colors. I may track those down tomorrow night.

After I pack the box. Yeah, I know. I don’t think I’ll be doing either of those things tomorrow night, but who knows.

I could just do another drawing of a sad woman with a weapon…because that’s not disturbing at all. I try to explain that I get all my supremely sad and angry and disturbing thoughts out in my drawings, so I don’t need to follow through with them. Expressions of anger, sadness, grief, depression, even suicide. I don’t need to DO any of that, don’t want to…but do need to acknowledge the thoughts that ramble through the brain. It would be stupid not to address those thoughts, the ones that inhabit your brain in the early hours of morning and want to color your dreams. Naw. Bugger off. I saw you, I said I saw you, now go away.

It’s funny…I have this tiny little wool stash, only about 20 different colors and some small pieces of some others…so it makes it really hard for me to pick what I want. I like having a huge palette from which to choose. This is the biggest section of stash…crazy quilt fabrics on the left side, browns, yellows, whites, purples, blues, and grays on the right side (actually it’s taking over the left side too…I recently consolidated the CQ stash over as far as it would go). And below the shelves you can see is a drawer of green and one of black.

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Then to the left of that are the blues (3 drawers) and greens (3 drawers), with a drawer of grays and one of browns…

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There’s other stuff stacked on top, pieces large enough for backings and backgrounds, plus a hefty Kaffe Fassett collection and all the William Morris-type fabrics ever printed…there’s a bizarre combination for you.

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Behind me is one drawer of brown, one of orange, and one of red (spilling out all over)…I have another black drawer back there somewhere too.

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Then under the sewing machine desk are two drawers of brown, two of pink/flesh, and then a ton of flesh colors that won’t fit in there. The top pink drawer is broken…the plastic is so old and one of the fatter cats kept sleeping on it until she broke it. I keep meaning to try to replace it. I’ve been really good over the last two years about not buying backing fabric, about using up what I have.

Since I will never be able to afford to move out of this house, I’m thinking when the kids move that I will just knock down all the walls and make a huge studio. I’m sure that won’t hurt the resale value.

So yeah. I did some art stuff, not a lot. I worked. I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel completely buried by sadness…just heavy with it. Always so heavy. I work so hard at pushing that away, at getting up and out of it. I wish it would just go. But I think I would need to walk out the door and get on a plane to some foreign country and start completely over for that to really work…plus they’d need to wipe my brain (tempting, oh so tempting). But then who would make my art? So I stick with my dorky kids who argue with me like teenagers do, and the goofy dog who lay on my lap while I was grading, and the three cats who vie for my attention. Every day I feel like I’m just going through the motions of a living person, trying to act like a real live human so no one notices that I am actually an alien from another planet, infiltrating their world, trying to fit in. At least there is art and there are animals and snotty teenagers and books and sometimes even decent movies or television (although tonight was not a good night for that). Without those things, I don’t know that it would be worth it…the getting up and pretending. I do miss, horribly, going to the movies regularly. Sigh. Oh well. Life sucks and then you die (I said that in high school with no understanding of what it meant…now that I better understand what it means, I deeply hope it’s not true).

“‘That’s the thing about pain,’ Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. ‘It demands to be felt.'” John Green, The Fault in Our Stars



Hitting Me Over the Head…

So when you wake up in the morning and the first thing you think is holy god how can I just go back to sleep and stay there until everything feels better, not because you’re tired or sick but because you just don’t feel like you can negotiate all the interactions of the day or even the noise level, because it’s quiet now in the classroom and dark, but the gates open in maybe 3 minutes and then you have to deal…when that’s how it feels when you wake up, then there is not a lot of hope for the next 7 hours. 

And yet. I dealt. Because I have to. Because when it’s hard, you deal. Or you don’t and people around you have to suffer because you don’t deal.

I’m really NOT in a good place tonight. I tried to be. I crossed off like 6 things off my list (my lime-green post-it note from hell). I resized things and signed things and scanned things and dropboxed things (most of those aren’t really verbs, but I don’t fucking care…language is there for me to manipulate it). I signed the girlchild up for her SAT and the boychild and I assigned her 4 colleges…she is looking at veterinarian/zoology and writing, and now he is looking at law, even federal stuff. Wacky. I don’t even know what to think about their futures, except…hell…they are THEIR futures and I am simply here to sign papers and fill in financial aid forms and Paypal them when they need it. 

I just want them to be happy. The one thing their mom failed at so far, I want them to have that. I don’t care what they do. I don’t care what their fucking grades are. I just want them to get to happy. 

I’d like to get there too, but I hold out less hope for that. I was able to describe to the counselor what happy looked like; yes, I still remember it. She says I don’t think I can be happy again. It’s definitely hard to imagine, especially after tonight’s meditation, which was a giant pile of cry. I don’t know why. I never know why. He says if you can’t find your overriding emotion, then to look for clues. Seriously? My overriding emotion for the last 6+ months? Sad. Grief. Crying. It’s there every fucking day. Sometimes it’s low level and I’m like barely touched by it, barely touched by anything, numb honestly. Then there are days when I am on the verge of tears all fucking day long (today) and finally I just lose it during meditation and cry for 40 minutes straight. Just crying. That just sucks. It just sucks all your energy out and stuffs your damn nose up and makes your head feel like it’s going to float away on a sea of saltwater shit. 

Seriously. I could do without that. He asks, Mr. Meditation, is it heavy or light (the visualization)? It’s fucking sad, you asshole. Is it spacious or restricting? It’s just fucking sad. There’s nothing light or spacious about sad. It’s suffocating. It’s heavy. It drags you down into deep sucky mud and makes it so you can’t breathe or stop crying or see straight. Do I feel stillness or restlessness? I don’t even know. Be clear about how you’re feeling without judging it. I’m clear. This is fucking sad. I don’t judge it. It just fucking is. It may never go away. That’s what it feels like tonight, like suckers attached to your chest and they will never fucking let go. 

I’m sure that will be better tomorrow. Or Sunday. Or Monday. In 2021. Whatever. Fuck you.

I was listening to NPR before counseling and they were talking to an author, Jennifer Senior, who wrote a book about parenting and children called All Joy and No Fun. The author talked about how women (in general) have a running ticker tape of concerns going through their heads. Men compartmentalize and can put concerns away at work. I don’t know if that’s true. I haven’t been with the parent of my children for long enough that it seems irrelevant to analyze how we deal with the kids…because we aren’t really a team. When the boychild and I were trying to decide if I was a single mom, like the legal definition, well, no I’m not. I have an ex who has joint custody and pays money, but I do almost everything that is kid-related with virtually no support. I can’t imagine having support, having a team supporting the kids. I wanted that, but fuck all, when do I get what I want? I don’t know. I’ll let you know. I do all the SATs and ACTs and college apps and FAFSA and interviews and all this shit. I get very little help. I would have liked to have help. I would have liked to have had a team to deal with all this. I would have liked support, empathy, help. 

I must have done something very very wrong to be in this space right now. 

Or I just feel that way.

Yes, it’s a bad place. It’s OK. I’m sure it will be better tomorrow. Or the next day. You really just get to this point where you push yourself into bed and sleep and hope when you wake up that it doesn’t feel the way it did yesterday.

And if it does, you do it again. And pick up a pen or a needle or some fabric, and hope to god that it doesn’t ever feel like that again.

I dehaired and packed yet another quilt for a show that’s opening in two weeks in Ojai…

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I’m delivering it Sunday. Busy weekend.

The new Sue Spargo BOM? We’re not allowed to post finished or in-process blocks on blogs, because people were copying them instead of buying her patterns, so I guess for the next year-plus all you will see is supreme details and materials…here’s the materials for Month 1.

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I am so not ready to even start Month 1. First I have to get the embellishment done on last-year’s quilt Months 2-12. Minor issue. Packed up a bunch of stuff for tomorrow’s drive. Maybe I will get through Month 2…or even start Month 3. Who the fuck cares. It just occupies the part of my brain that likes to move thread around with needles. It’s not the savior to my sanity. 

The sleepover got canceled, by the way…thank god, because I was in no sane frame of mind. I decided to keep cutting out the freezer paper pieces for the Ivy Memorial quilt, started last year and abandoned.

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This is an interesting quilt in that it is mostly wool with cotton bits and pieces, with plans for lots of thread embellishment, so sort of a clash (clash?) between the Sue Spargo wool world and Kathy’s art world. I have no idea what will actually come of it…but I just wanted something to acknowledge Ivy’s existence on the planet. It’s never easy when things/organisms/people die too early. It just feels wrong and makes you obsess and drags you down.

So maybe this quilt will help me move on to a new dog. Who knows. I can’t afford a new dog.

I listened to this in the morning…

it helped. Maybe. Briefly. Hitting me over the head with a sledgehammer also might help.