Triggers: places where I have no definitive purpose. I had to limp the car in to the car guy, stopping every 3-4 blocks to get it to stop overheating, girlchild following me, turning the engine off at every signal. She had an early appointment and was tired and cranky, so she didn’t want to go back home. She needed makeup for her senior photo today, and though I had tried getting it last month when I was in a store I visit approximately once every 13.5 months, she didn’t answer the text in time, so of course it was my fault she didn’t think of it until 9 PM last night. So she argued I could drop her at her appointment, go to the mall (aaargh, shoot me now), buy it, and come back in time to pick her up.

Sigh. I hadn’t eaten. I thought I was going back home. But I pick my arguments these days, and sometimes it’s just easier to go along with her.

So to the mall I went. And realized Walmart and Target are here, so I might as well get school supplies off my list (your friendly neighborhood public school teacher just spent $150 of her own money on your kids…one woman thanked me for my service when she asked why I was buying so many folders.). Because that’s not depressing. Half the mall stores aren’t even open until 10 though, so I’m typing this on my phone in Panera (better than Cold Stone for breakfast), where Wyatt cheerily and spacily took my order (oh my lord, you dear sweet boy…who hired you?). But I still have 25 minutes until Macys fucking opens and the muzak and early morning mall people are driving me nuts. And I just realized the kid who told me I could keep the plate that he did his cell model on must have stolen it from Panera. Ok, probably not. I don’t want to accuse someone of stealing just because it looks exactly like this plate in front of me that had over 500 calories on it that I will have to burn off later.

And you know what? The mall, by myself, is a fucking trigger. It makes me sad. It makes me depressed. Sitting around and watching mall people in the mall doing mall things, all being mall-like, I shouldn’t be there. If I go in knowing exactly what I need, like a target strike, and get the fuck back out quickly? I’m fine. Or with other people, I’m OK. Mostly. Depending on the purpose and the people. But this really fucked my mood for the day. I was doing OK yesterday. Not great. Just OK. Bearable. Not drowning in anything. Today. Today is different. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow does not include the mall.

At comic book club, we decided we didn’t like the book…Pretty Deadly, Vol 1. The art was nice, but the story was just not present. Or coherent. Sigh.


Or should that be comic-book book club. Or comic book² club. No one knows.

I did quilt a lot yesterday. I got everything done up to the breasts. I only did about 4 hours though. I wanted at least 5, but when I got home, girlchild wanted help picking her photo outfit, which turned into “what’s my favorite color”…

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(yes, that’s a snake on her head and no, that’s not what she wore for pictures, although I did double dare her), and I needed to draw something for GISHWHES, and my SIL called and I talked to my brother, because he remembers “write me a note telling me WHY,” from middle school, and then it was really late and I knew I had to get up early to deal with the car. And tomorrow is a total loss (first professional development of the year, expect nothing and you will only be surprised by whatever it is, although the over-2-hour long movie presentation planned for 1-3 PM will make me sleep…is he fucking NUTS?). And now it’s after 4 PM and I still haven’t started quilting today. FUCK.

My scheduling has deteriorated into a WTF moment. I am losing it. Deep breaths. I achieve small things each day; some days the achievements are smaller than others. They are still achievements.

I think I need to go crawl into a ball shape and put a pillow over my head, and then maybe my eye will stop twitching and faeries will come and organize the hoard, plus make a reasonable schedule of all the tasks that need to be completed before August 31, and if I’m lucky, they’ll suss out my personal life as well so I can feel more human and less like everyone’s mom. EVERYONE’S mom. Yours too. Or a sad ball of snot. That’s not your mom.

So quilting…

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And more…

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And even more…

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Not much to say, except wow. There’s a lot of quilting on this sucker.

Learning to think differently about things is not the same as positive thinking. When people tell me to be more positive, I think actually it is more useful to me to have a neutral response to things that might normally cause me to stress excessively. For example, when my credit card number was stolen, in the past, I would have freaked out and stressed and verbalized all that. Instead, I had a very neutral, calm response. Shit happens. Go through steps 1-3 and shit will go away. And I did that. And it did. So as more stressful things are popping up this week with school coming closer for me and the kids, and the thought of sending boychild off with all the stuff that goes along with that, I’m better off thinking about major stressors in a neutral way. It’s in my nature to want to be prepared, so I have a couple things in my brain for one thing that’s coming up that is causing some PTSD related to authority figures. There’s a mantra in my head from a recent stressful event…”don’t say anything until they’ve talked. don’t freak out. don’t say anything.” One friend said I wasn’t being true to my self, but I’m not sure that my self is particularly helpful in these situations. Sometimes she just needs to calm down and hear all the words…and all the NOT words, because there seems to be a lot unsaid. I spent the last few years feeling attacked for having the wrong feelings and saying the wrong things, and feeling like no one was listening to what I was saying, even though I was the only one actually communicating. But what I said was never heard. It was never considered. In multiple parts of my life, that is still the case. I feel a need to guard my self more carefully now. She needs more protection than she used to, and it’s possible that communicating what she’s thinking is not in my best interest at the moment. Maybe I just need to hold what she’s thinking carefully in my head instead of putting it out there. For now. I’d love to be able to trust someone enough to not feel that way, but I don’t.

“If we decide to think positively, that may be useful, but it is not meditation. It is just more thinking. We can as easily become a prisoner of so-called positive thinking as of negative thinking. It too can be confining, fragmented, inaccurate, illusory, self-serving, and wrong.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

To me, all that overly positive thinking, the cliches and cute little things on Pinterest and Facebook, it’s just a mask. It’s not real. It’s hard for someone like me to read them and think, oh yeah, if I just THOUGHT hard enough (because I don’t think hard?), I would be happy. It’s magic. I’m just not doing it right. No, ma’am. You’ve spent two years being told you weren’t doing it right. I was doing. I was talking. I was thinking. I was watching. There is a change that needs to happen, and it is, slowly, like a snail traversing gravel, but it’s not about cute little maxims. It’s about changing the response. Letting the big bad stuff just roll over into the swamp behind me. Pushing forward through hanging vines and snakes without letting them grab on and trigger that fear, that fight-or-flight response, that adrenaline rush caused by stress. Or even that sad wave, so different than the fear, more of a washing over your head than an electrical charge to the heart.

OK. With all that in my head, it’s probably best that I quilt for the next 10 hours before talking again.

The Giver

I’m re-reading The Giver for book club. It’s amusing because (a) I used to teach it to my students (homeroom…it could be argued to be a science book, but only with a significant stretch) and (b) when I tried to get a copy of it, the library had 47 holds on 7 copies, so I turned to my teacher friends. Before, though, I realized that I have read it and both my children have read it, but we do not own it (no one really liked it). Almost every teacher friend I knew was sure they had it but couldn’t find it. One found it but didn’t have time to drop it here on the way to Alpine, and I could have driven out to her, but the timing was off, so another friend went and bought a copy for her classroom (because the movie is coming out and she is actually the language arts teacher so it kinda makes sense) and left it on my doorstep for me. Nice friend. I suck as a friend at the moment, I think. Meditation is asking me to look at how I’m being kind to others, and I don’t think the cats count. I’m not being UNkind, but I’m not putting anything out there, I think. Can’t. Can’t handle kindness back.

So Meditation has turned into Weepitation. Latin word for cry, the verb, is fleo. Meditation = Fleotation? That just sucks. I’m sticking with Weepitation. Sobitation. WAIT. Tears is Lacrimae. MUCH better. Lacrimaetation. There we go. Dear Mr. Meditation. I’m doing it wrong. Seriously. We’re in the Happiness module and the whole last 10 days have been about Kindness, and all I’ve done is CRY. That’s not kindness. That’s just plain mean. My kindness for yesterday? Girlchild forgot her gym pass…I had just dropped her off (already nice of me, at the drop of a hat) because of the Nida Car Shortage (which ends in just three short weeks when the boychild wanders off to college), and then I had to drive BACK here to get her pass, because she won’t go in and tell them she forgot it, it’s too embarrassing mom. As I handed it to her (and I didn’t even get angry or stressed or anything), she said, “Sorry. I’m retarded. Love you.” Huh. That made me cry. See? Kindness makes me cry. Please be mean to me. We’ll all be better off. There will certainly be fewer tears. Maybe I could go back to Meditation then.

Many things conspired to make yesterday what it was. Nothing was fixed. Nothing got finished. Things I meant to do didn’t happen. Whatever. Move on. What it meant was that after I ate dinner, after my stomach said, “Yes, you may eat. I will allow that now.” then I needed something really low key and not very demanding, yet artistic to do. So I did something REALLY low-key.

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Yup. I taped an enlarged drawing together. And while I was doing that, I updated all the Microsoft shit on girlchild’s computer, which prompted a flurry of disdainful texts from the boychild, who does in fact think I’m an idiot…this from the kid in long pants in Southern California in July (it was still July yesterday) with a Golden Retriever on his lap…

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Yup. Not listening. Also lots of texts about how he’s not going to do all the required things for orientation at college (you can raise them, but you can’t make them do mandatory things). Yup. I taped that fucker good. The drawing, not the boychild. Or even the Golden Retriever.

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And then I couldn’t deal with anything else. Sad but true. Not measuring it and adding to top and bottom, not even TAPING more paper on for the drawing. Nope. Not doing it. Could not handle it.

The Mammogram quilt is almost fully bound…just have to put the sleeve on it, but I’m busy today, so maybe tonight. I could easily have finished it last night if my brain didn’t get in the way. And I didn’t start quilting the other one at all. LAME. Whatever. The brain’s in charge and she’s a dumbass at the moment. I will welcome her back with open arms when she gets out of the quicksand mud again. Until then? We do not speak.

So I gave up and went to bed.

When life gives you lemons, you get out of bed after tossing and turning for an hour and you make yourself a nice hot cup of tea, because you’ve been British-trained to think that tea fixes everything, and the caffeine doesn’t really have an effect on you any more, in fact, you think tea runs in your veins instead of blood, based on how much you’ve drunk just to make up for the super late nights in the last year, but you did actually go to bed at a reasonable time last night because you knew you’d have to be up early this morning, so that totally fucking backfired says 4 in the morning, so at 5, you get up and make that magical cup of tea and grab the book you were reading for book club last night, because it’s easy and you’ve read it before and you know how it ends, unlike your own life, which is currently a badly written George R. R. Martin slashfest, except no one dies, they just disappear, and you read The Giver (yup, that book) for about an hour until your brain admits that it might like to go to sleep again, even though your neighbor just fired up his dumptruck and drove off to work, but he gets up REALLY early, and you put the bookmark in and when life gives you lemons, you don’t make fucking lemonade, because it’s always too sweet or too sour, it’s never just right, and you don’t even really LIKE lemonade, you only drink it if there’s no water and the only other choice is soda, so you make lemon chicken instead and you sit down at the table and you eat it by yourself.

After you fall asleep again, you dream. And as it often is lately, when you remember your dreams, they are happy and perfect, because everyone got rid of you and you were the problem. You know better than that, but you still feel it in your gut when you wake up and start yet another day where it will end with you trying to sleep and not doing a very good job of it.

I didn’t really make lemon chicken at 5 AM. Everything else happened though. And that damn book? It is really well-written, I have to say, even though it’s so pat and perfect that it kinda drives me nuts. Even the parts that are supposed to NOT be perfect…they are. Of course, I’ve read the damn thing 5 times and taught it to 6th graders, so I’m probably not capable of reading it with a fresh eye any more. I will, however, be able to discuss it at book club now without saying things like, “I don’t really remember anything but the snow.” Although the snow might be the most important part.

Purple’s a Bitch…

I’m fairly sure the guy who runs my meditation app did not expect me to be using the breathing/thinking exercises to deal with purple thread. But that was the most useful thing I used it for yesterday, and you know, it wasn’t REALLY about the purple thread or running out of the purple thread with only 8 square inches of quilting left, or that I also needed binding, and I couldn’t get the binding in the same store as the thread, and that I had just been to JoAnns (hate that place) the day before for OTHER thread and things that I probably didn’t need (is now really a good time to relearn crochet? I think not. Shut up, Susan.) or that the girlchild wasn’t home yet from the beach and she had been on the phone with me (on her friend’s phone, third time in the last week her phone has died and she has called on a friend’s phone…I laugh about this) because she was convinced her soccer shoes were here (they weren’t) and that I had purposely moved them. Because when I come home from the gym at 8 PM, instead of showering, making dinner, and quilting…I move soccer shoes.

I don’t, by the way. So once the hurricane blew out of here (ie, the girlchild…I was still on the phone with her dad, who had located the shoes at HIS house, when she blew into HIS house with the same level of screechy noise, so I got to hear it again), I was able to leave for thread and binding. But by then, all that shit had settled in my gut, my chest, plus people are emailing me and texting me about school, despite my constant requests to Leave It until August 1 (which is tomorrow, yes, I am quite fucking aware), so I started to breathe in and out. I breathed the purple thread IN and breathed the irritating crap OUT. Seriously. Meditation. It’s good for you.

So my goal (ha ha ha!) was to finish quilting the Mammogram quilt in the morning (I did actually START in the morning) and get it bound early and then start quilting the Menopause quilt.

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I guess technically I did finish in the morning…it was just the NEXT morning and before I ever went to bed. Cuz that’s how I roll.

You’ll notice a black cat in lots of these pictures, because apparently she wants to help out with the quilting. It took a lot longer than I thought it would. A lot of that was breaking thread.

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I finally changed the needle (again) and that didn’t help at all. Sigh. Never really sure what helps. I can go for hours with no problems and then they just start up and I clean and replace everything and it doesn’t seem to matter (wow, kind of a metaphor for life there).

So here’s the deal with purple. It’s a pain to match. Yesterday was about two hours of trying to match purples and either giving up and going to an entirely different color or making an effort and getting the same purple. I actually had three or four dark purples that I thought might work, so I started with one, and then I got this bad feeling (my poor stomach yesterday), so I stopped, pulled the quilt off the machine, and went to find some real light. Out on the deck. In the sun. Yeah. So that was not going to work. It was too blue.

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So then I went to the quilt store, which I had been planning to go to anyway for binding. I had enough of the purple to bind it, but it doesn’t really finish the edge if it’s the same color. I like something a shade darker in that case, so I folded the quilt up and headed out there. And then spent about 45 minutes trying to find that dark purple binding fabric.

Purple’s a bitch. She’s either red-tinged or blue-tinged or even brown- or gray-tinged and there’s never enough choices. In fact, if you find a good solid purple, you should just buy it, because it won’t be there again. I tried many purples. They all sucked. So then I laid the thing out on the floor somewhere that people weren’t hanging out, because GIANT BREAST is why, and I realized that either red (to go with the arteries) or blue (to go with the lungs and the bird and the giant eyeball) would be good choices. I had already tried gray and black (FAIL).

So I pulled a red or two…GAACK. Not happening. Then I pulled a turquoise batik and it was…OK. So I went back into the main part of the store and hung out in the blue section, trying to find something close to the blues in the quilt. I was there for a while. I had the quilt on the floor, but folded up so you could just see the face and the bottom of the hips, but nothing else, and I was putting fabrics underneath to see how heinous they were (sigh, really searching for that perfect blue…at least there were more choices), and a nice old lady came over and said, “How lovely! Can I see the rest?” Oh dear. Um. You look very nice and I don’t know whether you can handle the GIANT BREAST. So I said, “It has nudity, if that’s an issue,” and she continued to smile beautifically (I can’t wait to be old enough to have that smile all the time, like you’ve gotten past the nasty shit and you realize you’re old but it’s wonderful to be out and about and in a fabric store and no one is going to scream at you when you get home and if they do, it doesn’t matter because you can take your hearing aids out), so I unfolded it, and she clapped her hands together twice and clasped them to her chest and said, “Oh that’s FABULOUS. It’s WONDERFUL.” Wow. OK. Thanks. Smiled at her? I did. And I said thank you. Because my mom raised me right. And then I went back and got the turquoise batik that didn’t send my heart into paroxysms of wonderment, but would probably work.

Then I came home and decided to use the turquoise fabric I had lying around from when I did the bird quilts. It’s OK. I can use the other turquoise for something. It’s that standard Turq Batik color, but the one at home was darker and slightly…um…stronger. So shopping for binding? Waste of time. It was here. That is ALSO a metaphor for life.

There’s the 8″ square that still needed quilting…I got to it around 10:30 PM.

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Because I didn’t get home from JoAnns hell (quilt store didn’t have the right thread, so I had to go out there again) until after 6:30, and then I had to cook dinner and I did all the dishes that had piled up that can’t go in the dishwasher and then I exercised AND meditated AND did physical therapy. So it was late. I did about 3 hours of quilting yesterday, for a total of 8 hours. I was thinking it would be more like 4 or 5, but I think all the outlining is slower than background quilting, and this sucker is mostly image, not background.

At that point, it was almost 11:30 at night and most of my friends and family were asleep in bed. Well, neither of my children were. And I knew what my plans were for the next few days and what I needed to get done and the limited time I would have, so I laid it out on the entryway floor…

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And I trimmed it. Yes, that’s a really dark picture. My camera likes to make random decisions about when it needs to flash. It trimmed really easily (nice quilt). And then I cut the binding and started sewing it on.

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Yup. It was late. And then I pinned it down so when I’m at my sewing meeting today, I can do the handsewing. This whole sleep thing? Yeah. Fuck it.

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But if I finish her today, she’s a July quilt. Otherwise, she’ll be an August quilt. Probably gonna finish tomorrow. I’m still significantly behind my original schedule for this week, but that’s reality for you. Slaps you upside the head. And then I meditate through it. Because none of it really matters. I’m glad to have this one done. A year and a month from drawing to finish (there’s reality again for you). Got tons of stuff in the mix at the moment. It all wants to be made, and since the rest of my life is such a clusterfuck, especially with school LOOMING the fuck around the corner again (funny how that keeps happening), I need the art to be the balance. Last year, I took very little work home on a daily basis. I made art almost every fucking day, even if for only 30 minutes. It saved me. That and Brussels sprouts. And my kids. So that’s still on the table for my sanity.

OK, so it’s time to go out into the world and runneth the errands of the kingdom. Or something.

Working Through It

It’s been one of my (many) mantras this year, work through it. Just keep making. At some point, it will feel different again. The plus with making quilts the way I do is that there are tasks that can be divided up and finished in shorter periods of time. If something is long and difficult, this is how you get through it, one chunk at a time. So when I’m sitting there stabbing needles into that one place on my right middle finger that gets a callous when I’m doing a lot of hand-stitching, I know that it is not an endless, Dante’s-Inferno-of-Stabbing-Pain, but a task that will end, and if it is supremely heinous, then there will be a new and different task to follow it.

I finished three more bindings yesterday. It was difficult, but Endeavour Morse helped me survive it. I never watched the Inspector Morse series, but I like the prequels.

This is Bird 4…they have names now too. I have a hard time remembering the numbers.

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Also known as Diving Bird. Obv.

In pricing them, I’ve really only looked at the time. Quilters Newsletter Magazine recently had an article on pricing your work, and I do usually use a combination of time and size, looking at both calculations and arriving somewhere in the middle.

This is Bird 5

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aka HeyBird. The article was interesting in that it touched on two points: those who underprice and undervalue their time are hurting the rest of us…and it gave actual pricing info from some quilters, including Luke Haynes and Caryl Bryer Fallert, both more famous in the quilt world than I am, but I was able to compare my prices for my work with what they would charge for something similar…

This is Bird 6

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aka Curvy Bird or maybe Falling Bird. I haven’t decided. And I found that my pricing formulas do actually make sense. You are paying for my 25 years of experience, my drawing ability, my quilting ability, and for the rarity that is a small Kathy piece without boobs in it (as my daughter would say). Because honestly, this opportunity may never arise again. I find these little quilts a pain in the ass to make, and they don’t give me any satisfaction to make…except when I see them in a pile. That’s kind of cool…a pile of birds. Until the cat tries to sit on them, and then I have to hide them again. And my prices are significantly lower than Fallert’s (as they should be).

Updated: I had to add this after a conversation with the boychild. Minimum wage in California is $9/hour at the moment. If I sell these birds in a gallery, I can lose up to 50% of the price to the gallery (understood, by the way…I’m not arguing against that), so I have to consider the pricing with that in mind. The smallest one, right now, is the only one priced under $100, and if it sold in a gallery, I would get just over minimum wage. Sigh. But these weren’t complicated and I didn’t draw NEW birds…these are existing birds from drawings and quilts that are already done. Plus I think most if not all of them will sell outside of a gallery, so I’m OK with the pricing.

Four more to go, but I already set up the sewing machine last night to start quilting Mammogram. I want to get on with it. Next week is really the last WHOLE week I have free from school stuff until December (oh my god, that is so depressing). I need to use it wisely. This is why as the summer goes on, I become more and more hermitlike. In the early days, I leave the house for lots of errands and fun stuff and lunch with friends (not really), but by the time August 1 rolls around, I’m in lockdown mode. School looms towards me, swinging claws towards my free time and my sanity, and Fall is notoriously bad with soccer slamming me as well. Although this year, there will only be one kid around…one kid who has taken on coaching her OWN team (am I required to go watch that? I feel like I should go at least once.).

And I am exercising and meditating every day. Another way to work through it. One chunk at a time.

“Keep mindfulness alive even in the darkest moments, reminding yourself that the awareness is not part of the darkness or the pain; it holds the pain, and knows it, so it has to be more fundamental, and closer to what is healthy and strong and golden within you.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

Insert Quote about Tomorrow…

Stitching down. I had to negotiate with myself to keep stitching tonight. I started late…today was exhausting and I didn’t sit down at the machine until almost 10 PM. Tomorrow will hopefully be better. I have 3 1/2 hours into the stitching-down process and I’m about a third of a way through. I could finish tomorrow. Maybe. If I’m crazy and don’t listen to my chiropractor. Place your bets now.

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I had to re-iron some stuff because it won’t stay stuck. It’s humid here; in fact it was raining yesterday afternoon and misting this morning. So the Wonder Under is releasing.

I’m still down in the water section…I think of it as the aquarium section, like she’s sitting in front of a giant aquarium, except I think she’s really IN the aquarium. There’s a lot of stitching in there…

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Those damn octopus tentacles…

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Those fucking beautiful octopus tentacles. So I made a deal with myself that I would stop when I finished the water section, except then it made more sense to finish the silly boat above the water…

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So that was the new deal with myself, except my self kept trying to say I’d stop at midnight, because I have to be up early to deal with carpet people, but mostly because this stitching-down stuff is mentally and physically difficult and I get upset and bored. Anyway. I finished the fucking boat. That boat that is the bane of my existence. All my pain rides in that boat. And it can’t even face me.

Sigh. Have I told you how much this month sucks? Please time travel me to a new place and time. I’ll even deal with Dr. Who if I have to, but only if it’s this one…


He looks like a nice guy. The others, not so much.

Hey, signs that you raised a Geek Girl (besides the fact that she’s seen every Dr. Who episode): She wanted me to sit with her on the floor this afternoon (I actually fell asleep down there with the dog curled up next to me…she was also freaked out by the lack of furniture)…and was reading me stuff from a Harry Potter Pinterest board. Yup. That’s a geek.

SIL, she says change is good. I don’t argue. It’s usually true. Except when it’s not. I know the change in my house WILL be good; right now, though, it is sorta hellish. Maybe the change is good once the changing part is done, and the process of change is just painful and torturous.

All the furniture is out except that damn light table (and the girlchild)…

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The light table would have to come apart to get out, and it’s just not worth the work. They say they can move it around as they work. It’s not that heavy. It’s lighter than the piano and we moved that.

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get everything out…on the deck, on the driveway, and in a variety of rooms…and as soon as we did, girlchild brought in a pile of pillows and blankets and complained that we hadn’t reconnected the TV properly. There was a web of cords back there, and we untangled it, but I’m not sure we’ll ever get it back right. It may not matter. There were two cords that were attached to one thing but not another.

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Why I fell asleep on the floor with the dog? Stayed up too late last night, plus all that work. I was tired. My doctor called me her hero because of my blood tests. My A1C is normal. Let’s ignore my daily blood sugars. But we’re reducing another med. My liver says thanks. My diabetes is CURED! Not really. No one cures it. Stop telling people it’s cured.

There’s at least two places on the walls that are already damaged and there’s a molding issue and boychild’s damn dirty feet already made one wall dirty (seriously?). I think I’m going to hang a sheet where his dirty feet go. The kids want a new chandelier (and so do I, because this one is uncleanable), but that’s not on my list at the moment.


Although it’s fun to Google those…

chandelier 2

Maybe I should make my own…


Because these aren’t wild enough…


It’s a big space.

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All those white walls, all they do is make me want to go grab a bunch of spray paint cans and graffiti the shit out of them (reasons why you shouldn’t let me help you remodel), but then some sense of reality takes over and I realize I don’t ever want to do this again, so I leave it alone. White will do. I actually HANG art on my walls, unlike most people, so it will not look this blank for long…although the boychild likes this and girlchild complains about the dark furniture.

The great Rift Valley…where the carpet seam was, where the dogs nibbled and feet wore away at it. These carpets are from the early 80s.

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I did actually sit in the middle of the floor by myself for a bit to eat my dinner. I’ve been sitting at the table on the deck since we started painting, but it’s hard to get to at the moment. I was visited by two different cats, seriously confused and perturbed by the lack of furniture to (a) scratch, (b) hide behind, and/or (c) lie on.

You can see we managed to get the piano into the entryway. Boychild likes the acoustics there (less fabric, higher ceilings), but I’m not leaving it there. Maybe I should take up piano again.

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Tomorrow we get carpet. Then we move everything back. Well, I’m reconsidering some of the everything. But I’m not sure how much I can really not move back in.

I’m trying to keep control of the emotional landslide I’m currently living in, so I’m being good about food, exercise, and meditation. I suck at sleep, but there are other factors that affect that, like my thyroid meds, which I’m trying to be better about taking as well. Because that was the one number that was off…STILL. Meditation has gotten easier, in that I don’t have to focus on someone I’m not happy with any more…instead I’m taking on the whole world and taking in all their pain and suffering and “sharing my feelings of joy and happiness.” Um. Mr. Meditation, I don’t have any of those. I have feelings of relief sometimes. Some mental peace at times. Some thoughts of, Oh, Thank God, That’s Done (when the couches made it out of the house and no one died). That’s all I got. Perhaps someone else who is meditating can forward me some of their joy and happiness so I can share it out.

Things that made me cry today:

1. The season finale to Sons of Anarchy (yes, I’m behind in watching stuff). Dammit, SOA, I count on you guys for a good dose of violence and none of that pulling at the heartstrings shit. This is why I watch you and X Files. Don’t fuck with me. Oh yeah, and that fork thing? You jumped the shark. Plus I knew you were gonna kill her. It was the meanest thing.

2. Elton John (goddamned Pandora)

3. Meditation (see above)

4. Random shit at the gym, including a sweet kiss between two people I used to work with in a former life, who weren’t together then but now are. It wasn’t a bad thing that they kissed. It was sweet. So I guess that’s my issue. Sometimes things that make me cry are all about what’s missing.

Tomorrow I stitch. Tomorrow, the world rights all the wrongs in my living room. Tomorrow, I can start putting it all back and the Hoarder house will go away. I’m hoping that helps.

I Could Get Back Up…

I haven’t written much about meditation lately because the current sequence on my app has been difficult for me, and because of that, I haven’t been meditating as much. I’m trying to get back into it because it does help with my nasty moods, but also because if I keep going, I’ll get past this section that I don’t like. Not entirely altruistic, eh? Whatever. I know why it’s hard…he wants me to be all kind and benevolent towards someone that I dislike…and the fact is that there are very few people like that in my life at the moment, and the few that are there, hey, well, I really don’t WANT them to feel better at my expense, which isn’t exactly how he words the meditative process, but I have an anger bomb inside me at the moment and it’s making these sessions difficult to swallow. He acknowledges that, but says I just have to get past it. Um. OK. Mostly my mind wanders when I’m supposed to be wafting good thoughts and happiness towards the person I dislike, but I can’t even picture the person(s), so my brain just takes a breather and goes on about something else.

I get what he’s saying about feeling and mood and crap, I’m just really not there. I suspect I’m not doing it right. Whatever. In general, the meditation has been helpful and I’m sure it will be again. I just need to get past this section.

I have other ways to find meditative peace. The ironing continues…

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Albeit slowly. Here I am ironing the parts of the face on the drawing, to be placed eventually on the face itself to the left. At first, I thought I hadn’t gotten much done tonight, about 100 pieces in two hours? It didn’t seem like much…but I forgot that the face was in the 1200 box and consists of about 43 pieces (OK, that’s precise, not about). Then I ironed from piece 470 to 618 or so…about 190 pieces in two hours makes more sense. I’m 8 hours in now.

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This was slow going. Lots of little bits and pieces…once I finished the woman, I ironed her onto the background…

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She’s still missing a fingernail. Apparently she’s missing an elbow shadow as well. There’s an eyeball in her hand now too. Can’t see that in this picture.

I wasn’t going to go on to the next section, but then I realized it wasn’t very late, so I told myself I’d do another 30 minutes (you should know that “not very late” was 11:08 PM).

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No one should listen to me…this is an hours’ worth of work. Tiny pieces…and no, it’s not done. I thought about trying to finish it tonight, but I’m tired.

I spent three hours this morning at life drawing…

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There was something wrong with every drawing I did…this one has one leg that’s too small and too short.

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That’s the wonder of drawing in pen, though…you’re stuck with it. I did all the short poses in pencil, but still erased nothing. Her right arm has giant issues. Just imagine the drawing without it. I still enjoy the process though, getting your head into looking at the figure and the shadows. It’s more about the process than the product. I’m planning on going to these all summer. It’s cheap, just $5 for 3 hours. Not a bad deal. Even when the girlchild is texting you the whole time because she’s BORED. Holy hell, child.

I had the two of them clean out the cupboard in their bathroom…it’s a catch-all for art supplies and kid crap…I still had their painting aprons from when they were little. I packed up some stuff for the thrift shop (all the big kiddie paintbrushes and the aprons) and tossed a bunch of dried-up paint and mismatched containers…then managed to find space for some of the art supplies that had been stored on top of the piano (this was the original plan)…because yes, in all good Hoarder’s houses, that IS where you keep random art supplies. So now the 10 palettes we have (between me and the girlchild) are all in one place with all the paints and inks…in case you’re coming over and need to find them. We have the mother of all palettes up there now (inherited from Aunt Betty, who really WAS a painter…mom of Babygirl, in case you’re wondering). I kinda wish I were more of a painter so I could use this thing.

I do use palettes, just not very often. Some things are just harder to get rid of…my SIL and I had a conversation about this last night, and she told me about cleaning out her grandmother’s house, which she thinks cured her of hoarding…I’m a packrat…my whole family is. But I think a lot of mine is just a lack of time. I’d love to clean out every cupboard in the house but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. And she did allow as though my second job (artmaking) required quite a few supplies. Oh yeah. I guess. Shall we talk about all the other artistic pasttimes that are in this house? I’ve done all of them, I think.

I kinda lost momentum with the kids today, though. I pretty much did all the clearing out on my own once they had gotten it out of the cupboard, and they only did the top section…then I went and did the whole of the next living room section. Tomorrow is pretty chaotic, so I’m not sure I’ll get through the whole next step, the spackle and wash. But whatever. It will get done. I boxed up all the stuff we took down off the mantle shelves too, so it’s not like I didn’t get anything done. I just didn’t get the piano and bookshelf moved before the kids left today for their dad’s, and I really couldn’t move them by myself.

Still controlling moods with distractions…good books and drawing and ironing and cleaning. The bad times are when I’m trying to fall asleep, which is partly why I stay up so late, so I’m so tired when I get in bed that I essentially pass out from exhaustion. Also when I’m waking up in the morning…no lying around and contemplating the day. I used to really like having time to do that. Now it’s just torture. And at the gym, when I’m lifting weights, because I can’t distract myself with a book or something else. I was trying to persuade myself to write my book in my head during that time, but then I couldn’t remember everything afterwards. I can’t really type into the phone while lifting. I need some sort of memory recorder…like I can just think stuff into a folder (Google Drive in the brain!) and then access it later? I don’t know if that would be good or bad in the long run.

Anyway. Probably need to attempt sleep soon, but the brain is wide awake. That’s one of the problems of ironing at night…my brain doesn’t want to let go of that alpha art brain mode…it just wants to keep going until it passes out. It even considers all-nighters. But I know I have to be up relatively early tomorrow, so I need to at least try to get the brain to shut down. Maybe that’s the core problem with getting rid of the depression too…that the brain doesn’t know how to just drop something…it worries it like it’s a little dog. I’m hoping sometime in the future that the part of my brain that is wreaking all this havoc will come back into the herd and be one with us. It’s kind of annoying having it being so mopey all the time.

I had this song stuck in my head this morning…I have no idea why, but when I told the boychild, he started singing it, so all I can think is that he was standing over me in my sleep, singing softly to me.

You know. Like they do. I am an optimist. Really. It’s hard, but I’m always trying to find the positive. I don’t always say it out loud, but that nasty part of my brain that is sad and hiding…it’s not really who I am. Like the daily crying. That’s not me. Except if it goes on for a year, then is THAT who you ARE? Or are you still the other person that you used to be? I don’t really have an answer for that. I do still have some part of me that is hopeful, that is trying to make a future picture in my head that doesn’t feel awful. So yeah. I guess that’s optimism. I could get back up (from the song)…

Falling Apart

I spent my weekend ironing her together…

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Really, she deserves better than me. A nicer artist, one who doesn’t bitch so much about her parts. And once I’d gotten her all together, there was the issue of backing. Well, I had one left over from the Celebrating Silver piece…I’d originally wanted to do it on this dark purple batik…

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which really IS dark purple in real life (my camera can’t handle it). And I couldn’t remember if I’d picked something else for this piece. I doubted it, since when I pick backgrounds, they go in a specific pile to the right of the door…and there were the two I bought for the Menopause quilt, which is up next in the progress pile, and then the purple was still sitting there from January or December or whenever it was I got ballsy and bought a whole ‘nother background for the first time in my life.

So I auditioned it…

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And I had already convinced myself that it wouldn’t work, that the hair was too dark, and maybe I should pick a blue, but then that would make the lungs too important and the bird wouldn’t stand out enough, and fuck it, maybe now was the time to go with yellow, but I fucking HATE yellow.

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Anyway. It worked. It’s a good thing I don’t really listen to my brain. It’s a stupid prat most of the time. It worked. I ironed it down. Total ironing time from start to finish? 6 hours and 8 minutes. This is not a particularly large or complicated piece. It’s good to have some of these in your stash…not huge but with a forceful impact. It has 366 pieces. That’s like nothing for me. So now I have two tops ready to be stitched down, sandwiched, and quilted. Hopefully I’ll start on one of those this week. Of course, I have to do grades too, and at the moment, I think I have a meeting every night this week…close to it anyway. So I’ll try. Then I’ll start ironing the big one together, and maybe by then, I’ll have enough brain power to draw the one that has to be done in November. Plus there are like three other drawings that want to be quilts right now. These two were just the least challenging emotionally. The next one will be a bitch to make and a bitch to finish.

Such is the artmaking at the moment. Bitchy.

Last night, I did a night kayaking event…

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We loaded up on the kayaks at about 8 (there were a lot of us) and then set out in Mission Bay towards Sea World…

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Why? Fireworks. On the water…for free.

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It was awesome. Well, except there were a LOT of kayaks in a small space, so that was difficult. There was one kayak of two young girls who were always in sync (unlike my partner and I, who had never met, let alone kayaked together), but overcorrected like crazy, so it looked like they were tacking a sailboat directly in front of us. Avoiding others was a challenge.

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It was about 6 miles and 2 hours. And did I mention how awesome it was? We were sopping wet by the end.

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Kayak oars just drip water on you. But it was June in San Diego, slightly chilly, but not too cold for flipflops. The lights on the water were freaking beautiful, my kayaking partner and I had a lot in common (divorced moms, kids the same age, etc.), so we had a good conversation while waiting for the fireworks to start. I had never kayaked at night, and I loved it. The peaceful feeling of being on the water and not really being able to see anything was great. Plus it didn’t hurt my knee. I might try a baby hike next weekend to test the knee out. Who knows.

Anyway. That was a good thing.

I got notification on Friday of yet another rejection: “Your work isn’t quite right.” Yeah. Whatever. I had actually forgotten about it…a European magazine that was interested in writing an article about my work, but not everyone was on board, so there we are. I’m not trying very hard at the moment to put anything out there. It takes too much energy…energy I don’t have. So much energy wasted dealing with teenagers, trying to negotiate shit. That would be my own kids, mostly. My counselor said I should just ask her (them?) to tell me what they want from me. So often, though, the answer is “I don’t know.” It’s true…they don’t know…they just know to pick fights, to push away, to make it difficult. Again, I know it’s normal. I just can’t handle it.

And then one of the teenagers in question turns around and offers to cook every night this week and comes up with recipes for every meal (OK, every night I have her anyway). I might have to cook one or two of the meals, but I didn’t have to come up with them. That’s a gift in itself. I think I try to take every positive interaction and hold it close to kind of cushion me against the negative ones. It’s hard, though. Very hard.

Meditation talked about being present throughout the whole day, this concept of being mindful (sometimes I think I am Way Too Mindful, that I would be better off if I were a bit more oblivious…there is no Obliviousness Training). He says that everyone wants to be happy, but negative emotions can be so strong that we can’t banish them. That’s where I’m at, I guess. Although I do manage some days to banish the negative, but there’s no positive to fill up that space. I get brief snatches of enjoyment: when I was kayaking, when the lights of the fireworks were reflecting off the water, when I hung up the new quilt top. Then reality kicks in and tries to brush all that aside. “You didn’t prep for school. You should have graded more. You shouldn’t have spent money last night on kayaking.” That’s a hard one, the money. I have to really budget for any frivolities. Seriously. Like how many book clubs meetings can I do a month, because each one wants money for parking and money for anything I might eat or drink there, and I can’t just put off eating for hours any more…my blood sugar raises its ugly head (actually, it sinks like a stone), and on good days, I remember and feed myself or carry food, but every $20 on a glass or two of wine or a kayak for a night…it all adds up. Everything I have planned for the summer is going to cost more money (renting a wallpaper steamer for the two bathrooms, painting interior of the house, steam-cleaning the disgusting carpets from the 1980s, going to life drawing, making quilts). I so much want to take a week-long trip somewhere away from all this shit and just recharge, and that isn’t going to happen. There isn’t money. And where would I go? I would probably just fall apart.

I am falling apart. I’ve been falling apart all year…like a constant tipping over and pieces falling to the ground, then cycling back up to do it again. Nasty shit that. Falling apart over and over again so I can fall apart again. Broken.

This Is Where Things Are Right Now.

It’s been a rough few days, physically and emotionally. I’ve been running microscope labs for three days and then went right into frog dissections. These take lots of time, energy, class management, cleanup, and dealing with squealing teens, which I just don’t have the patience for right now. I suspect MOST teachers are running low on patience at the moment. There’s nothing abnormal about that. But Tuesday night at the gym, after spending over an hour with the boychild and his dad, trying to navigate through college and immunization crap, I hadn’t apparently eaten enough and my blood sugar crashed at the gym. Badly. I didn’t have my tester, but I did have glucose tabs with me. Here’s a sign of how your brain doesn’t work when your blood sugar crashes: I kept exercising. I know. Silly. It was OK in the end, though…although I felt like crap for the rest of the evening…that’s also unfortunately normal. So I didn’t have the energy to stand and iron…I cut pieces out instead. Silence abounded. Sadness followed.

It’s OK, the next day, right?

Fuck that.

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My cutting view: TV, messy house, pajamas on, single glass of wine. I get my hour in, then I go to sleep. The sleep of the exhausted. That’s what low blood sugar does. Fucks with me.

And I keep getting emails from places that annoy me…like Good Housekeeping, why? I don’t think that a new everyday hairstyle or a pop of color in my bathroom is going to change my mood…although the bathroom is on my list for the summer. And House Beautiful? What the fuck? I’m not into that stuff, reading about it, it’s just depressing and reminds me of how lame I am at the moment. Comedy shows? Not my thing. Delete delete delete. Comedy shows are full of mean people being mean to people. Fuck them. Take me off your fucking list, unsubscribe over and over again. Just leave me the fuck alone. Comedy isn’t funny.

Deep breath. Normally I would take a weekend or a short vacation right after school got out and clear my head. That’s not happening this year. No money. Nowhere to go. No one to go with. One kid will apparently be in Palm Springs (or Palm Sprongs, which is what I’m calling it now), which is fine, or it WOULD have been fine if someone had actually talked to me about it instead of assuming that because I have no life that there doesn’t need to be communication. I feel like I need an artists’ retreat or a self-reflective place with lots of meditation time, but I think that would also be a mistake right now. I don’t have enough emotional support to do that. Maybe what I need is to be in my own space, cleaning and rearranging and painting my own life so I can move on past this mopey shit. Damn mopey shit has tentacles that don’t let go. Release me, you fuckwads. Let me be someone else, someone who is not this sad person. I’m tired of her. She’s not fun to be around and she just makes me feel worse.

Funny that the me is still me. Can’t get away from me. Me me me me…fuck me.

So yesterday, I knew it would be rough…first day of frog dissections, plus I had a 2-hour science meeting right after school and then I had to sit through a 2-hour teenaged driving course (required by the school so the girlchild can drive on campus next year without her brother around, who already sat through this). For those of you who remember Red Asphalt…I just saw Red Asphalt V. Sigh. And three other videos that I show my students every year about driving and drinking and texting and all that crap. So I packed food (I learned from the day before…this is my new existence. Eat or pass out.) and I drew during each meeting, because otherwise I would have fallen asleep…

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Post-it note with ballpoint pen: not my favorite materials, but I left the sketchbook in the car.

Then I drew during Red Asphalt

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She’s remarkably calm-looking, considering what I was there to see and listen to. Surprisingly, girlchild got mad at me for reading on my phone during the presentation, said it was rude, but had no issues with my DRAWING during the sheriffs’ talking. Not rude to draw.

So Tuesday night, this is what it looked like after I cut pieces out…

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And this is after Wednesday night…

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Can you tell the difference? Sigh. It’s no wonder I’m depressed. It’s fucking neverending. I mean, I can look at those two photos and see that I got something done…but it’s taking for-freakin-ever. I’m at 11 hours and 38 minutes. There is no way I’m finishing in a couple of hours or so.

Same with this post. I need to go to school. Who knows when I’ll finish.

From meditation, the title. This is where things are right now. Live in the moment. In the moment, I am tired, frustrated, dejected, sad, depressed, overwhelmed, disheartened, anxious, stressed, barefoot, drinking tea, reminding myself I need to iron the boychild’s clothes for the awards ceremony. Mr. Meditation talks about opening a space where we can envision change, even if change is not happening right now (I imagined a mountain meadow with peaks and trees all around, because he said to open the space). Lifting oneself out of the depressed space. Can’t do that. Fuck you. But now I’m sitting in a meadow with all that other shit towering around me. I don’t know if that’s better. It’s easier to hide in the trees than out in the open.

Frogs are done. I even did the dishes already (science labs=dishes). Tomorrow we start sex ed. I don’t know that it will put me in a better mood. When you read all that futuristic and dystopian fiction, there’s always pills or medical conversion chambers or genetic engineering that makes sure that people don’t feel bad or sad…OR…they kill all of us mutants and don’t let us reproduce and make more deep reflective thinkers like us. Society doesn’t want to deal with the likes of us. Even though we make amazing art, visual, verbal, musical, dance…they don’t want to admit that the brain falls so deep for so long. This is where things are right now. Tomorrow maybe I will have a donut and they will be somewhere else.

The Environment in Which I’m Sat…

I spend a lot of my life mediating…with students, with my kids, honestly, with my own brain. It’s not always pretty. I think of mediating as trying to see both (or many) sides and to come to some place in between where everyone is probably not happy but not completely unhappy either. I haven’t found mediation all that successful in my relationships, mostly I think because some people are incapable of seeing the other side…they’re so convinced that they’re right that they can’t see a solution that doesn’t include their rightness. That’s kinda where I’m at with the girlchild at the moment…she’s so sure she’s right and I’m not (and her dad’s not and the counselor’s not and the world’s not) that she can’t see straight. And there’s really nothing I can do about that except to keep saying the same calm and reasonable things over and over again, and occasionally tell her I still love her (even though she’s still screaming at me for the slightest things). She’ll come around. It might be 2020 before she does, but she will.

I realized today that I have been lax again with my meditation (not mediation) (too much need to get to the fabric-choosing part of the evening), and I think that is part of my problem. It helps to center me, stabilize the emotions. It’s not that I don’t feel when I’m meditating…on the contrary, I think I cried through the whole damn thing tonight, mostly because it was talking about seeing the things you needed to get rid of, the things that were troubling you most, seeing them almost as black smoke drifting around you, and then having it waft away and be replaced with an increasing sense of happiness and relaxation. I can’t quite get there, though…I see the black smoke and I get lost in it. But I’m hopeful that I will get there if I’m a good little meditator (so close to mediator) and keep practicing the visualization.

One of the things Mr. Meditation says that I like is he talks about sensing “the environment in which you’re sat.” Such a British turn of phrase…like I’ve been placed here. It’s true…this IS the environment in which I’m sat. I think at some point I’ll be able to just get up and walk away from that environment, if I choose to (and I will), but for now, I was sat here. I have no choice. There were very few seats available and this is where I was put. When it’s time to leave, I will choose to get up and go and sit myself elsewhere, or perhaps not sit at all. I’m not good at sitting still as it is. Maybe I’ll just start running and you won’t be able to catch me.

Meditation lets me be very metaphorical, philosophical, in my head but not in a bad way.

I came home to tree parts everywhere…nine trees on my property were being trimmed. Some were dangerously large or overweighted on certain branches that were over the house. Some are just in need of a serious pruning every 5-8 years or so…ah, the eucalypts and their tendency to drop crap (or themselves). Anyway, it’s a different look now…more light and air, although probably more sun as well (not so good for summer). Now I can move on to the next step of replanting the trees that were taken out for the septic and then replanting the grass area, except I’m not doing grass this time…something more native, meadowy. Nice to look at. I don’t have little kids any more, so the grass isn’t needed. I’m sure my neighbors will be glad to have me do anything in the yard. There are only so many hours in the day. When I get home from school, I have very little energy…it comes back later at night, but too late to do yardwork (in the dark). Replacing the trees is high on my list, though, because I tend to dress in front of that window and it’s a bit exposed at the moment, which I keep forgetting about (damn, now all the voyeurs will be trying to figure out what window I mean…get away!). I just want my private yard back and now I can have it.

So I mediated today. And I meditated tonight. And about 10 minutes of a Hoarders episode during cooking dinner persuaded me to clean out a huge pile of stuff and toss it into trash and recycling. I’m trying to do a little every day. Get the house under control. Maybe.

I then had to persuade Babygirl to get off the ironing board…boychild helped.

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There was talking and petting. And then toe-cleaning. Very important, the toe-cleaning aspect.

I am still ironing all the non-fleshy bits and pieces that make up the main figure.

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Today I did heart and veins (cool, huh?), a couple of tattoo-things on the arms, plus eyeballs and other random bits. I just have the lungs to do in the body, and then I have the hairy bits. I think there’s about 20 pieces in the 1100s at the moment, and then I’ve got most of the 1300s. It seems to be going pretty slowly. I don’t know why.

The box is getting fuller…this is the second box with pieces in it, too.

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Most of what I did today was fussy little piecing. There’s a lot of mental action going on when I do this. I have to evaluate each section and the pieces within that section with how they relate to the whole piece and the coloring I’ve done so far.

It really is one of the places my brain is the calmest, the most peaceful. I’m hoping one day it hits happy again.

Content is the closest it will consider at the moment.

Here’s the fabrics in progress from the other side. It really is a large, chaotic pile.

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At some point, I got tired again. Weird how that happens. I couldn’t figure the lungs out, so I quit. I think I still have 4 or 5 hours left…I have 16 hours and 18 minutes in at the moment. This alternate life I have, the other job, it’s not nothing. It’s a significant part of my life. It’s huge.

The other thing I tortured myself with tonight was trying to figure out the financial aid appeal for Cornell. I had to take out a loan to pay for the septic, but they want this complicated calculation of all my expenses and income as part of the appeal. I swear they do this shit to persuade us NOT to apply for more aid, because this is in fact a giant pain in the ass, where I have to figure out the monthly average of a wide variety of expenses, including gas and car insurance (we spend a TON on gas) and utilities. I think I prefer not to know these exact details. I have a general idea of my finances…I don’t want to know how many thousands of dollars it takes to keep the lights and the heat on.

This is what part of my calculations look like…

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Holy Hell. Shoot me now. I’m not done. I promised myself I’d start, but I didn’t have to finish.

That’s kinda how I feel about everything at the moment: make a start. You don’t have to finish. You may not be able to finish. You’re going to do your best. Sometimes your best will suck and you’ll just take a deep breath and let the tears roll down your cheeks, and then you’ll try again, dammit. Just start, though. That’s all I ask. For now.

Stupid Fucking Titles

One of the things that’s been out of whack the last two days was my blood sugar. I kinda blamed it on going back to school, but it turns out it’s all hormones. My body went all girl-ballistic today after 2.5 months of nothing. I’d be OK with that, with having an explanation for the random-ass flurries of crying in parking lots and into my pillow…at least I have a good reason now…but today was not a good day for hemorrhaging. Luckily, I wore my black (OK, I have lots of black…this is not a new thing), because right about the time I was thinking, yeah, this method of staunching the flow is not necessarily working, the whole school went into lockdown. Some (as my boss put it) “bad guy” was being chased around the neighborhood by police, and there was some possible danger to our students, so we covered windows, locked doors, shoved kids under desks. Kids were convinced it was a drill. Hell, I knew better. It’s testing. No way in hell would my boss do a drill of any sort during testing. So we waited a bit, with a few freaking out and a couple showing me their true colors (please get your head out of the window before you become a target), and then they told us we could “continue to teach” with lights on etc.

Teach. During a lockdown. With middle-school kids who were supposed to be released to lunch 10 minutes ago. Are you smoking crack? I put in a movie, turned the lights down, realized I needed to deal with blood flow, and asked my co-teacher to watch my class; I think she thought it was a blood sugar issue. They released us about 30 minutes later and adjusted schedules, and I dealt with blood again. Hmn. This is not working. I still have three classes to get through. I’m in trouble wardrobe-wise. I love being a perimenopausal woman. Really, I do. It’s a challenge to not go out and kill people some days, because the sleep issues, the erratic bleeding, the hormones, the mood swings, fucking hair falling out…there is no fucking way to be a normal person when all that is going on without some serious help (mind-altering drugs, alcohol, I don’t know what else). Deep breaths. My workplace has a nurse’s office. Nurse offices have additional supplies…I brought in the heavy artillery and made it through the rest of the day, medicating myself for the cramps from hell. This is why we female teachers have very little patience with a 12-year-old who says she has cramps. Sweetie, I just lost a tenth of my blood supply and I’m still standing…what’s your problem again?

Anyway. The quilt I’m working on is so fucking relevant at the moment.

Before all that happened, during my prep, I made the mistake in my delicate frame of (weepy) mind to preview some videos about Huntington’s Disease for next week’s homework. Yeah. Watching videos of people you know will die a nasty death. Watching videos of people trying to decide whether or not to get tested. Hell, I should have just watched videos of babies been born and promptly dying in their parents’ arms or young cancer patients falling in love. Crying ensued. I’m a freakshow at the moment, a disaster area of salty proportions. Watch me lose it!

Like I said, at least now I know why. But I got home and was supposed to go to the gym, but between blood flow and cramps and general crappy feelingness, gave up the ghost on that. Sat around and read for a while, then watched those two episodes of House where Amber dies (OH MY GOD, because that’s not weepy at all) with the girlchild. It made her cry too, though, so I felt a little bit more normal. A tad.

It’s OK. I have the bike at home. Eventually the meds kicked in and I could sit on the bike for a while, plus I meditated and ate and did a little grading. I read.

Then it was ironing time, my special time with fabric, when my brain wanders off to its Not-Quite-Happy-Place (we still haven’t found happy…it’s a fucking lost cause), where my scissors and iron cheerfully dance in the summer surf. Or something.

It might be past my bedtime. Or I’m lightheaded from blood loss (certainly a possibility).

I knew I had to iron the lower body figure tonight, and those are generally a bit more time- and energy-consuming, trying to figure out what shade of flesh-colored fabric each part needs to be…I started with a run of 7, but that strangely turned into 9.

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I’m not sure how. OK, I think it had something to do with not having enough of the first two fabrics, but wanting to start with something lighter than the third fabric, but not finding exactly what I wanted, so I kinda used the first two interchangeably. I can tell you the last one is something I hand-dyed myself. I call the formula FleshMud. OK, not really, but I have no idea how I got the colors in there (it’s not as black/gray in real life).

So I ironed down a bunch of pieces.

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While Director Skinner observed. He’s a nice guy. He was very encouraging.

This is the chick I was ironing down…

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This was in the early days of the drawing. She ended up being way more complicated than that…just like in real life! Wow. So philosophical tonight.

She started at piece 316 and went through 469, but then I had forgotten to number the face, so that was piece 1211-1247…or 1248. So 153 plus 36 (ugh, math in my head…) equals 189 pieces. Ahright. I’m up to about 6 hours in this thing. The ironing part, that is. I really need to do grades this weekend too, though, so I don’t know how much I’ll get done over the weekend. Hike. Meeting. Boychild in the house due to soccer tournament. Not a lot of free time.

But I am getting it done. There is progress. I can get my head around progress. It makes it somewhat better…it being LIFE, the practice of living. I actually find it very difficult to STOP ironing and go to bed. I just want to keep going and going until I’m done…like 1776 pieces done.

Anyway, with any luck, tomorrow will have less blood flow, no lockdowns, grading success (really unlikely), exercise, meditation, and fabric fondling. Hopefully there will be less screaming obscenities in my head as well, because I’m not finding that helpful. The section of meditation I’m doing now is about releasing bad feelings towards other people by imagining them happy. You start with yourself (this is very difficult for me, imagining my own self happy…I usually fail in the time frame they have allotted for that), then someone you see as a role model or someone important to you in some way (I have about 3 people I slot into this section), then the second person is someone you’re very close to (my kids alternate in here, based on which one seems to need it most, like today it was girlchild and her hives), then the third person is someone who don’t know very well (there are lots of these at work and on hikes), and the last person is supposed to be someone with whom you regularly have a negative reaction or negative feelings. There are two people that are obvious picks for this, but I am supposed to imagine them with happiness suffusing throughout them, and I just don’t think they deserve it. Mr. Meditation realizes that and tries to persuade me that my anger/frustration toward those people is hurting me, not them (fuck you, Mr. M…do you think I don’t KNOW that?), but I just can’t let them be happy in my mind. They don’t fucking deserve it. Anger strong. So there’s all this conflict in my head over meditation at the moment, which, shockingly, makes it hard to meditate.

Insert crying there too. Fuck me.

Seriously Mr. M…I can imagine them dying in volcanic explosions, as firebombing victims, in horrible plane crashes, from nasty cancer that makes them vomit profusely. And you want me to imagine them happy? I can only be ironic about that and imagine them in situations that would make NORMAL people happy (like weddings or traveling to foreign countries to lie on the beach and party), knowing damn well they would be miserable. Then I smile. In a sort of evil manner. Really, I shouldn’t be allowed out.

So yeah, not so healthy.

Back to the fabric. There’s a meditation that doesn’t inspire anger.

Yeah, I also gave up on a good title tonight. They all sucked.