Grading and Weeds…

April 14, 2018

I got a good night’s sleep last night after an hour of drawing (yes, only an hour…you can thank my day job for that). It was delightful. Except when one of my neighbors was slamming car doors at 1 AM and the puppy decided he needed to protect us from that.

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Seriously, this dog is the biggest (sweetest) asshole there is. I finally got up and sprayed him with the water bottle (No BARK) and he grumbled for a while, let out a few rebellious yips to show I’m not the boss of him, and then went to sleep. Until 3 AM or so when he did it again. Yup. I’ve got control of that beast.

Yeah, I graded last night. I came home and finished the other big assignment that I was supposed to finish over break. I still have more to do, and progress report grades have to be done in about a week, so I’m trying to be on top of it all. LAST PROGRESS REPORT OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. Yeah. That’s good. I like that. I had to really force myself to grade the last period. I wanted to put it off so bad. But no.

So while we were driving around last week, in the middle of the night (well, no, at 3:11 AM when someone in the hotel room next to us was banging on the door and yelling LET ME IN over and over again), I got this amazing idea for a drawing that related to time (one of the topics I need to hit in an upcoming quilt…I have two dueling deadlines of course). I sketched it briefly and described it (the picture is still indelibly inscribed on my brain, so that’s enough), but now I need to get it out of the head and onto the paper. I tried earlier this week and failed, but I will try again. But when I started trying to draw it, I realized it was going to be huge and massive and I like to do at least one really big quilt a year, usually in the summer, but the deadline for what I was trying to do is early June. So then I thought about this other drawing that I started ages ago and needs finishing and would also work (and would be much smaller and doable in the next two months), so I had sort of decided to pull that one out and finish it for that show, and then draw the other one for summer (although there are two other deadlines I’m interested in for early fall, so there’s that as well. Aaugh.). All that decisionmaking, though, made me give up on trying to do that drawing first, so I started this one.

This one is kind of about me as an artist, starting way back, although not TOO way back, because I don’t remember everything, but just thinking back to what influenced me, what kinds of art I’ve made, what’s made me the artist I am…so that’s this. There is, of course, no guarantee ever that it will get into the show for which I make it…that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s an idea that spoke to me and I’m drawing it. All good.

So when I finished grading, I did some more stuff on the one arm in the air, worked on her hair, added lungs and then worked on the other arm, which lead to upper thighs and a uterus (you knew that was coming, yeah?).

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Obviously there’s some stuff that needs to happen in the middle. That’s still whirling around in my head, although a gingko tree is in there somewhere. I used to be a screenprinter; hence the squeegee.

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I did photography when I was younger…but also sewed. I learned to sew when I was 8. I might have embroidered before that. Thread, fabric…all part of me forever. Art also a part of me forever.

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I’m driving to LA today and talking and taking down a show, so I’m not only missing the March for Science (dammit), but also not getting a lot done today in the art world. The show was supposed to be up for another 3 weeks, so I’m more than a little irritated that we have to do takedown today, but whatever. Some people in the art world are flakes…we all know that.

This popped up in my email as being from 9 years ago (I think actually the book I made from these is 9 years old…some of the pictures may be older). It’s my kids and my brother’s kids…all so tiny and cute.

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And smiling! Mostly. Kinda weird. And no, I still haven’t heard from the girlchild. She’s either walking back from that village tomorrow or Monday, so hopefully she’ll reappear. I know she has to check in with her local advisor every two days, and if there were a problem, he would have contacted us, so that’s what keeps me from freaking out. Mostly. Mom brains. They’re so annoying.

Other annoying things: Apple’s new update to iCloud now does not allow me to select multiple pictures. Their solution says to use iCloud on my PC, except it still thinks I have a corrupt database and wants me to sign out of it. That bug has been around for months with no solution. Buggy as hell. iMessage is also still buggy as hell, and that’s on an Apple device. And then one of my local school board members (one I did NOT vote for) is pro arming teachers…unfortunately, I think it’s another two years before we can vote him out. Sigh. Stupid stuff.

So driving to LA…gonna pray to the traffic goddess for no accidents or stupidity (ha!)…hoping for good attendance at the talk and an easy takedown. Tomorrow? Not much to look forward to…grading and weeds. That’s about it.

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All That

December 31, 2017

Ah, December 31, the last day of the year, the day you evaluate everything that happened in the last 365 days (hint: you only remember the super ups and downs mostly) and try to make resolutions for the next 365 days. Is it a leap year? Nope. Then I don’t have to come up with a plan for one more day. Oh good.

As a teacher, I usually make my resolutions in June (I am NEVER doing that again, stuff like that) or August (That would be a GREAT idea, but if it’s not, then it just quietly slides back into the mud or I angst about it for a while before it slides). I resolve to keep trying to make art every day, to keep trying to balance my job and my personal life, to keep the house less chaotic. I will fail horrifically at the last two and soldier on with the first. So there we are. I’d like to try to meditate every day again, but I made that resolution back in August and have sucked mightily at it every day since then. I would also like to exercise more…more dog walks, more hikes, and more gym visits. Maybe that’s the only thing I need to keep in my head…it is probably the most important at the moment.

I’m going to make a list of stuff that needs doing around the house…then maybe some of them will happen. My house is seriously in need of repair, after 15 years post-divorce with no spare cash to fix stuff, let alone remodel. I made it through the living room area, but there are other spaces that need help, and maybe this is the year we start that. I guess last year’s great accomplishment was cleaning out the garage…that was 20 years of accumulation. Thanks to the boychild for that assist. Maybe I should aim for this summer being the great studio/office redo…pull the wallpaper and the peeling flooring, which means pulling My Fabric Stash outta here, and then redoing all of it. New window would be nice. Certainly a cleaner space. Not sure it’s doable, but it’s certainly something I can put on the list, maybe price out what flooring would cost for one of the smallest rooms in the house. Next on the list? A bathroom. Or three. A kitchen. See, those are all big expenditures. Not happening with college still on the to-pay list.

But the brain, it thinks about things to change. Actually making change is hardest. As always.

Some things never change. Dog hugs.

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Yesterday, we went to a basic falconry class that was a Christmas present…it was very cool, not just to see the birds up close, but to learn about how they’re trained…and that they can fly away at any time when hunting.

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Beautiful birds…the one above is a falcon; below is a Harris hawk.

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It was a beautiful day, nice location. I’ll hopefully have photos of my experience sometime soon.

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Afterward, there was food and drink…this ice pattern was the closest we got to winter here in sunny Southern California. Where climate change continues to affect us, right?

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I came home and had some time before the next event…realized I was 4 days behind on this and did some filling in at the top to make it less bumpy.

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Tonight will be the last stitch on it.

Then out to see the band, at a campground on the bay. Strange venue, with the band inside this building with the ice cream store, but all the chairs outside. So I sat out there and listened and drew…not surprising to see this after watching them up close.

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I’ve always drawn birds, but rarely look at photos of them. They’re all fantasy birds. These guys had such long feathered legs and a square stance. I put him in this drawing…

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And then drew this after a long, drawn-out and semi-torturous text thread with the kids about dinner tonight, which the parental units rejected in the end. Whatever…

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I’m kind of annoyed with the whole world at the moment. Probably need to get out and about and get some shit done for that to change.

I came home to a cat who wanted to be up close and personal. Not a lap cat. A chest cat. My chin resting on you cat.

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Too close. Can’t stitch. Pushed him off and worked on the blocks from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Sewing through glue sucks. But I got more done. So that’s a plus.

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I’m not ready to look 2018 in the eye yet. I’m having a hard time getting too excited about it. Maybe that’s why people make resolutions? I don’t know. Like close out the year and write it off, have gratitude for the good things, resolve to change the bad things. Then it’s a tool for change. OK. Well. I’m still gonna have an idiot as President. I’m still gonna be making art about it. I’m working on some other stuff, positive stuff. I made some changes in 2017…I’ll make some changes in 2018. You’ll see them here. Have a good New Year’s Eve tonight…stay safe and warm as needed. Think I’m gonna read my book and go for a walk and stitch some. Cross some shit off a list. Pet some animals. Maybe play a game. Drink some tea. Eat a decent meal or two. Maybe draw. That. All that.


There’s a Secret Magic Past World*

August 5, 2017

My brain appears to be blank this morning. Or at least the part that’s available for writing is blank. There’s another huge part that’s trying to make a Saturday to-do list. I already know the boychild and I will be making a dumpster run, but he’s hiking right now. I didn’t have the energy to get up early to do that. I’m very protective of the right to sleep in…because I spent years getting up early for soccer games and driving to the middle of nowhere to sit on a wet field and wait for games to start. Plus sleep is this thing I’m always chasing…trying to do it right. Such a joke! Because one night of doing it right is never enough. So people tell me to go to bed earlier. OK. So then I can lie there for even longer, trying to fall asleep. This is not a new thing for me. My whole life has been about bad sleep.

So I had a number of hours in sleep mode last night, but I also had all 4 animals in the room. They were fussy after the boychild left to hike. And the neighbor’s workers showed up. Then Kitten had to boisterously clean all her parts and Calli started to whine about going out. Then Simba started with the snorts he does when he wants to get out of the crate. Sigh. Midnight was the only quiet one. So I’m sitting here, a little drugged on not-sleep, and Kitten is next to the computer, sound asleep. I guess I make her sleep through typing and The Cure, but it does not seem fair. Cat naps. Smart beasts.

So back to today. The last Saturday before school starts. (NOOOOOOOOO!!!!) Got some art stuff tonight. Just heard about another one of the art buildings we’ve visited multiple times…they’re kicking the artists out (Glashaus in Barrio Logan, for those who are local and maybe have gone there). Ripples from the horrendous Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Artists kicked out before fixing problems? Hard to say what’s happening there, but I know it’s frustrating for the artists in 21 art studios there. The downtown studio I used to have is now all living spaces. They could make more money that way. I couldn’t afford a studio any more…gave mine up when I was pregnant with the boychild. But I loved those spaces, free from the house to-do list. No distractions. Just a pure workspace. I’m lucky to have space in my home and to make art that is safe to do in a house (although we set up the garage space so I can screenprint again if I choose to do so). People working in glass and metal or needing space for kilns or whatever, living in rentals…they absolutely need reasonably priced space to work and store materials. This town doesn’t support that…never has. Art is so important to our existence…I wish the money people would see that and make space for it.

I had a conversation with an artist friend the other day about how we create alone so much of the time. She’s older than I am and the going out and interacting with others gets harder, for sure. I’ve gone through times when I really don’t interact with other artists at all. I’m socially not the best in the world (hello introvert), so that doesn’t help. I can see as mobility and energy lessen that it would be more important to save what you had for making art. Hard to explain that to non artists. But these studio buildings help with that. Plus the exhibition space. I’m going to miss the openings there.

Yesterday, I did manage some stitch down at my last summer daytime quilt meeting…Susan is knitting something that is apparently very brain damaging…

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I got more than halfway done, which is good, although I’m still behind. And I’m not sure how much I’m gonna get done today. Gotta go move some trash.

I worked on this at gaming last night, mostly on the top…but I’m a little concerned about the vast difference in sizes. Hmmm.

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I’m pretty sure they should be the same size. Yikes.

Here’s the back of the stitchdown. I got above the midpoint…

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So that was about 2 1/2 hours. Bodes well for a quick finish, but first I need to load a bunch of crap in my car and try to dump it in my parents’ dumpster (I have permission…just trying to beat the neighbor). And pick up my Earth Stories quilt, which is home after a long trip around the United States without any protests, despite the fuss when I originally suggested a quilt that was about birth control and Planned Parenthood. Which is good…I have a show to enter where that would work.

OK, no matter what, I need to just get my act together. It helps that I’ve had a cup of tea while writing this. My brain responds to caffeine well. Luckily.

*Rocky Votolato, White Daisy Passing


It’s More Likely to Happen if I Talk about It

August 2, 2017

This happens every year. I get close to the beginning of the new school year and I decide to just make art nonstop. Like screw the housecleaning and the to-do list. Probably I should be more mature and get the car smogged and the bedroom out of chaos mode (I have two drawers and the hope chest still…just cannot deal. Cannot.). But no. I need this quilt done. I’m irritated that I’ve finished no quilts in months. This one isn’t even that big…although it does have a ton of pieces.

The last week before going back…it just sucks. You realize how many hours you’re going to lose…not just the hours at school, but it’s back to daily grading and planning, to kid problems that never leave your working brain, to adult drama (seriously), to stupid professional development that aims to teach you what you already know (some day they might differentiate…but it hasn’t happened yet), to endless meetings. UGH. I need to change my mindset. Somehow. Maybe if this summer had been more of a recharge and less like hard work. Reminder for next summer, eh? Then again, LAST summer at about this point, I was getting kicked out of an AQS show for an invisible penis. So. There’s that.

Anyway, I had another dental appointment in the morning, but then came back and refused to do anything but art. That’s not true. I moved a few things into the garage. But the humidity is killing me at the moment. Ugh. So I started ironing. Which isn’t hot at all. Stop laughing.

I did the rest of the hills…hard to see it all in this picture. We got oil things and a dam and a cracked highway and a volcano. Like you do. Some power plants.

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I added some oil drums to the top right…

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Then ironed all the bottom stuff to that…

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It’s super long, so that’s harder than it looks to keep it all attached. Right now it’s all rolled up under where I’m ironing. Somewhat dangerous, as I might accidentally iron it all to itself. That would suck.

I did some of this after dinner. I think I was doing blue in the top, above the tree. Just filling in spaces with whatever makes sense.

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Then back to ironing. I did about 5 hours total yesterday…up to almost 14 hours of ironing at this point, but I’m much closer to done now. These flowers were a bit of a challenge.

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Then the body behind it, attaching it all to the bottom bits and building one arm. The hand went in front of and behind the flowers.

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I did some of the torso (the yellow sun thing) and then turned the teflon sideways to do the other arm separately. I numbered it before the torso, but the torso has to be finished before, because it’s behind the arm. Complicated much?

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Awwww. Tiny bird.

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Then I ironed the other arm where it belongs, although it’s not ironed down where the buildings need to go. I just wanted you to see everything I ironed yesterday. It was a lot of little pieces. I gave up when the buildings were next.

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It was after midnight, I was tired, and I didn’t want to deal with all the tiny windows. Although, now it’s morning and I still don’t want to deal with them. Huh.

So then I was trying to figure out how to photograph this thing. Finished, it’s 61″ long…I’m not finished yet.

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This is a slightly better view. You can see I need to finish the torso, the land above it, and her head.

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So I’m in the 1000s. About 320 pieces to go. That’s it. Then iron it to the background and start ironing it down. See now I can see an endpoint, a light at the end of the tunnel. So it’s really hard to NOT work on it right this second. I have about an hour and a half before I have to leave again. But I need to get the dogs. And really I should clean something (ugh I so don’t want to). I could be done with ironing today if I worked hard and if my schedule allowed. Hard to say if that will happen. Stitch down by tomorrow? Quilting by Friday? I don’t know if I can pull that off. Probably not. But I can talk about it. It’s more likely to happen if I talk about it.


Back from That Soul Vacation*

August 1, 2017

It’s frustrating to keep making plans to get a certain amount of art done, and then you end up barely getting anything done, whether it’s because of limited time or because things take longer than you thought they would (my fault for so many tiny pieces) or even both! Which is what I’m dealing with today…along with a cracked filling that needs replacing because I grind my teeth. The same with exercise and cleaning and organizing and getting everything done. Life is time-consuming.

Anyway, I’m back to the dentist today to deal with the filling, unfortunately…but it’s gotta be done. I don’t know what to tell her about grinding my teeth…I was busted for that the first time my freshman year of college. I need to socket the exercise back in regularly. I am definitely a work in progress. Sigh.

I did some of this while I was finishing something else up…more stitching in the bottom left, the lighter color, pistil stitches and fly stitches.

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And I have almost all of these sewn down…just eyeballs and those big yellow flower things. I need this done by Friday. Maybe Thursday. And I was watching the last bit of an episode I can’t watch on the computer…

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So ironing started late. Same time as when I’m teaching, ironically. What else did I get done yesterday? Some major cleaning in the bedroom again (still not anywhere near done), boychild needed shoes, some other stuff. Then I ironed the rocky crotchland.

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So yeah, this sits right above the legs…and then the land sits above it. Normal people might just do one piece of brown behind all the rocks and water. I am not normal. But I like how it looks, so that’s my problem. I didn’t get much more in height yesterday…

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I did start on the land, but you can see there are a ton of tiny pieces here…

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The sheep will look more sheeplike with outlining. Hopefully. So this afternoon, when I’m recovering from the dental crap, hopefully I’ll be ironing. Before that, I’ll be dumping 10 bags of clothing and other crap at the thrift store. It’s progress. I know when I’m done with this, it will be a good thing. It’s just sucking up so much time. This is nothing new, right? I’m so at peace when I’m ironing though. Makes me want to do more. Less likely to grind my teeth, right?

Anyway. Teeth call. Louder than the other things.

*Train, Drops of Jupiter


I Can’t Be Your Superwoman

July 17, 2017

I am not in San Diego right now. I’m at Lake Arrowhead. The girlchild is only here for 2 weeks total, so when she wanted to do a quick trip to the mountains, which is a tradition for her dad and the two kids and grandpa, I tagged along for part of it. Hence the crazy posting (or not) the last few days.

I had to finish all my Nida Powers jobs before I left, which included an amazing opening (thanks to all those who came by) and an artist talk. You can see my portion of the talk here:

The show is open until October 8, so check it out. I know I will go over there again, just to see it without all the people.

This is I Can’t Be Your Superwoman, which I finished in January and was made specifically for this show. She’s bigger than I am.

She was based on that 80s mentality of the SuperMom: the job, the family, cooks up the bacon in the pan, wears the suit to work, etc. I’ve spent a lot of years railing against and yet trying to be (or maybe having to be) that SuperMom, and the reality is that we can’t just crack open the button-down shirt and burst out all superpowery like that. I also drew this post-election, so there’s a bit of woman angst in there about trying to shove us back in the kitchen, take our rights away, all that crap.

The short version of the official statement for this quilt is:

Being a woman now…I swear, I thought it was supposed to be getting better, but no, we are still trying to break out of the story, out of the kitchen, to be everything we should be without having to be the superwoman of the 80s. We want to write our own stories, not have them written for us.

I’ll post more of the quilts in here over the next few weeks, but this one is currently one of my favorites.

These drawings are out of order, but I did do two of them the night of my opening. After dinner, I headed over to watch that band I’m always stalking, and I started this drawing. It’s not done.

Before the show, I was a little stressed out and nervous, so I drew this near the museum. While having a quick drink in a space with a lot of people I didn’t know. It was good. Focus for the introverted brain.

So when we were trying to come up with a name, at some point the peeps at Visions suggested The Kathy Nida Story or something like that. I wasn’t real comfortable with a title that had my name in it, but I was thinking about those superpowers again and decided I could deal with Nida Powers. Of course, Nida Powers include the ability to spill a glass of water in someone’s lap from across the table, so they’re not all powers for GOOD. After I turned 50 in March, though, this whole concept of the powers that I DO have and can use to get myself off the couch and to the light table or to draw in bars or whatever weird-ass thing I do…I kind of feel that Nida cape on my shoulders.

I should hold onto that feeling for a while, because my dad says turning 70 makes it harder. But for now, I’ve got some stuff in my life to work on (the garage as metaphor for everything else?) and I’m perfectly capable of either handling it or asking for help in handling it or just damn well saying no, I’m not going to handle that. Whatever it takes.

Back to reality here…I did some combo cross stitches and lazy daisies in green on the right, and then lazy daisies in two colors on the buttonhole stitches down in the bottom right. So that was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The cabin has included a game of Clue while I cut out Wonder Under…

I suck at Clue by the way. Can’t keep track of all the permutations in my head.

I finished the Long Skinny cutting out in about 7 1/2 hours. I did spend some time cleaning the studio out on Saturday and Sunday, so all the fabric from the last few quilts is put away. I also started cleaning the desk area just for fun. But as soon as I get home, I can sort the Wonder Under and start ironing this one down to fabric. That’ll probably take about 15 hours, so hopefully I’ll be able to get that done by Friday and start trimming pieces. My goal is to be done with the whole quilt by the time I have to go back to school, but I’m not sure I can pull that off.

Last night: I’m sharing a bed with the girlchild AND a large Pomeranian. Luckily the Golden Retriever preferred the floor.

No. I did not get much sleep. Oh well.

Then today we were taken out on a speedboat by a good family friend and got to try paddle boards…easier for some than others…

I did manage to stand up and paddle for about 5 minutes before I fell in. Yup. Balance. Always an issue.

After lunch, we spent time at the other dock, trying to keep Calli from diving in.

Simba is not a fan of water. Calli is a water dog.

I’m pretty sure I’m fried a significant shade of red right now, despite multiple applications of sunscreen. Girlchild looks much better…

But it’s been mostly quiet and semi-relaxing up here. I’m not staying long. Art is screaming at me to get done, as is the house reorganization, so I can’t be particularly relaxed here. But I’m trying. Twenty-five days until I have to go back to school. I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s not. This summer is flying by crazy fast and I’m not getting enough done. As always. Nothing new there.


Nobody Knows Me at All*

June 20, 2017

OK, I finally woke up without my eyelids twitching…that’s a good sign. Still coughing some. Still feel like warmed-over crap. Still tired as hell. That will work its way out, although not any time soon, I think. The heat is not helping. I don’t do well with heat.

Yesterday, everything took way longer than it should have. I set up the copyediting job…although I have yet to start. Today! Today I start! I don’t know why my brain refuses to get there…the heat and tiredness I suspect. But I need to start in case I end up on a jury next week.

So this is not my studio or my computer. I drove up to Miramar to another artist’s studio because she had the program I needed to edit the catalog for the next show.

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Lots of fussy little changes…and there were too many unanswered questions. I had to leave it. I’ll go back tomorrow to finish up. Pain in the butt…but it needs to get done.

Then I came home and pinbasted the first of these…which went OK. It was a pain getting pins in the interfacing. I thought about spray basting it, but would need to get that shit online and I can’t wait for that.

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I started the quilting, just in the ditch. Manhandling these is a pain as well…although it worked out OK in the end. I just got hot and tired and quit. I’m not doing a lot of quilting on these…just enough to hold them together. Remind me to do an easy fusible binding. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to sew the two halves together…this stuff doesn’t squish or roll easily. I have an idea of how to do it. We’ll see. Hurts my hands to do this though…can’t grab on and the pastel is coming off still. Maybe I should spray again now before I start quilting again.

I sat around for a while before I worked on this…some lazy daisies and cross stitches on the right in a greenish yellow. I feel like I should put another thing in, like the tree or the hand or the eyeball. Not sure why I feel like that. I think I need a focus.

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Not for the piece’s sake, but for mine.

So I went and got these copied, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. I need a finished size of no more than 24″. The sketchbook is 14×17″…so 200% is too big. I didn’t get far in the cut and paste before I realized it was too big.

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That was a fuuuuck moment. So that’s on my redo list for today…along with all the things I didn’t do yesterday. Plus remembering to eat lunch. Because that was an issue yesterday. Honestly it’s an issue today because I’m going to get my eyes checked (good thing the twitching is gone) for new glasses. And I’m supposed to leave in 23 minutes and I haven’t eaten anything. Nothing sounds good. Nothing sounds even edible. The heat really fucks with my ability to do anything.

I sound cranky. I feel cranky. It’s summer. I wanna be making art, my own stuff, whatever I want. And I can’t. YET. Growth mindset (that’s a teacher joke). I’ll get there.

Kitten enjoys all the things in my studio that she can lie on.

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I only got one thing done on my to-do list yesterday. Fucked up day. OK. Today I will do better. Besides the glasses, I have three things I can absolutely do, and maybe a fourth. Plus the next community quilt laid out and pinbasted. I feel like I need more room to quilt…but that’s not really an option in here. It’s just crowded. Ugh.

(OK, here’s an example of how crazy I was feeling yesterday. I was on my way home from the studio and the copy place, spent ages in traffic yesterday, and I was following this woman who had obviously been to Costco and bought toilet paper, which is one of the things on my list. I hate Costco. I really do. But we’re running out. And that’s easy. So I’m sitting there behind her at a stop light and wondering if her doors are locked, can I just get out of the car and run up there and steal the toilet paper and drive off with it. Luckily it was too hot for me to get out of the car for any reason.)

It’s OK. I will get through all this stupid angst and onto the stuff I love. I will get enough sleep. I will get rid of this cough. I will check stuff off the to-do list. The heat will ease. Hopefully.

*The Weepies, Nobody Knows Me at All