Feeling Fresh Like a Ziploc*

A friend of mine just read a book and posted a review on Goodreads that sounded good, so I went to add it to my list, even considered requesting it from the library (despite the two books that are currently queued up there). I already added it in December of 2017. Hmmm. Still sounds good. There are too many books. I can’t possibly read them all. I love to read and it’s so hard to find time. I make time, it’s true, but it’s hard. Yesterday I went to the gym and got over an hour and a half into the current book. I think I like it. Well, I mostly like it…let’s put it that way. And it’s a series of 7 books, I think. So I’ll never finish. Sigh. There are pros and cons to being in book club. Pro is all the books I wouldn’t even know existed. The con is that I will never finish reading them all. I go down these rabbit holes where I read one and then there’s another 3000 pages of that series, plus she wrote 72 other books. I’m going to die not having read everything, and that just sucks.

I also end up reading a lot of sci fi and fantasy, because that’s what my book club reads…which I think is probably OK. Plus the kids keep shoving books at me, or saying they really like a book, and then when they’re done, I either put it on my list or flat out steal it from their stash. I think there’s one that sat on the kitchen table for at least 6 months, because I read the first two in the trilogy and I NEED to read the third, just to find out how it ends, but it wasn’t as awesome or needy as some of what I’ve been reading, so I can’t get to it. I have to read too much school stuff. (I moved that book to the bedroom pile, because I needed the table clear for Christmas.) This weekend is gonna be a shitload of grading. Fun. We were going to hike (and we might still do that on Sunday), but there’s a pile of rain coming.

Anyway. I like the gym. I like the exercise and the reading. I don’t like how late I get home and eat dinner, because I was at work until 5:30 or so again. And then I’m tired. Plus I set this plan to finish all these projects and I’m getting nothing done basically. So I ate dinner last night at 9 PM or so and then spent about 30 minutes while the show ended working on the project for Thursdays…

Yup. Old-school. I started this ages ago, and I have more than half of the quilt appliqued and pieced together. It’s Simply Delicious by Piece ‘O Cake Designs…and it turns out I have this block and two more to finish. I didn’t do the block of the month, so I have all these blue fabrics in a box until I finish. Silly not to do that. I even have all the squares cut out for the bottom half of the pieced part. So last night, I sewed down about 4 pieces and then placed another 6 for next Thursday. I had lost one piece, maybe two? The pieces were in this silverware tray and it got moved around (and dumped over the back of the desk at one point) a lot, so it’s not surprising that a few pieces are missing.

Then I dealt with a pile of papers that Calli (the dog) pulled out and tried to eat. So really, she’s persuading me to go through old papers. Kid drawings…girlchild’s version of a tree…

Seems like she spent some time on the flowers and then wanted the freedom of scribbling. I get that.

And boychild drew these people holding people…

Very intriguing…

The faces…

Anyway. So those are photographed and now recycled. Because dog bite marks and pieces missing.

Finally to the stitch down.

I finally think I feel like I’ve made progress. The head of Figure 3 is done…I need to do her arms and the arm of Figure 4, then the head of Figures 2 and 1. Then I’m done. Sounds so simple when I say that. It’s at least 2-3 hours of work. But doable this weekend, I think. I hope. I want to get her sandwiched early next week. This is like the never-ending quilt right now. I know it’s big, but it feels like it’s taking forever to get done.

OK, so here’s a science teacher note for you: Don’t wear all black the day you are mixing Oobleck. That was yesterday. Today we make a horrendous mess. Yup. I might need to drink heavily by the end of the day.

*Max Frost, Good Morning

If You Only Knew*

I’m apparently reading a book no one else wants to read. Usually, I get a book digitally from the library, and it always checks out all my holds at once…they’re never spread out over time, like when I requested them, but I’ll get four all at once and then I have 21 days to read four books and I kinda do a library panic, because I can’t just HOLD ON to that book. When the time is up, they’re just gonna stop my loan and that’s it…if I’m on page 161 of 400, it doesn’t even matter, because the Time Is UP. (Yes, I have a lot of fines at the library for overdue books, the real kind, not the digital kind…why do you ask?) So I have this book and it’s warned me that it’s due in three days and I’ve been reading it, but when I started, there were only like seven days left on the loan, and it’s not a particularly short book, and I do go to work and cook dinner and walk dogs and occasionally try to have a life, so I can’t just READ READ READ even though there are times when that’s all I’d LIKE to do. So there was no way I was gonna finish in three days. Just no way. So I have a choice…I can buy it, which I only do very occasionally, because money and data and why own it when I’ll only read it once (I have a very good memory…generally I don’t like rereading books because I remember too much and it’s like someone gave away the story to you already, spoiler alert, except my brain is that someone). Or I can re-request it. Usually every book I’m reading has at least 3 and sometimes 300 holds on it, so I won’t get it back right away, which is really annoying, so then I’ll stay up to 2 AM reading it instead of not finishing.

I can’t stay up late enough to finish this one…it would be an all-nighter and odds are I’d fall asleep in the middle of it due to tiredness caused by not sleeping caused by stupid hormones and age and IDK what else (I had this vivid and terrifying dream…moment…of a coyote while I had the puppy out and the leash was stretched out and nothing actually happened because I woke up instantly and painfully with my heart trying to beat out of my chest, it was so realistic). So I re-requested it. And the library sent me this message, chill out my dear mamanao (that’s Malagasy for Yo’ Mama) cuz no one wants this book but you, so as soon as it seems like it’s gonna come back to us here at the library-yo, we’re gonna check it right back out to your sweet self. Don’t you even worry your old wrinkly head about that sweetie because it’s yours…for as long as you want it…(because no one else wants to read this).

Huh. OK. I’m not really offended. It’s the fourth book in a series of nine and I’m not even sure number nine is out yet, but apparently most people make it through the first three books and then quit. Losers. I’m going for the gold. (It’s the series that the TV show The Expanse is based on, and I happen to really like it.)

In other book news, I read the wrong book for book club this month, so I’m not going. It’s OK. I read June’s book. Whoops. I think I forgot to request May’s book? Or I requested it but it never came, because everyone else had requested it too? I just don’t know. There’s no book posted for July yet, so I can’t pre-read…but that’s OK, because July is vacation. Except this year, it’s a fake vacation because of jury duty looming over my head all month. Aargh. I can still go to book club though.

OK, so I drove to San Ysidro yesterday after school and it was pretty easy traffic-wise, hallelujah, because it’s a long way, just to pick up my quilt, but I think a lot of people went to that site for a bunch of other meetings and stuff, so that’s cool. It’s a nice space, even if it’s far away. Then I came home and walked the little dog, because he’s been way too hyper lately, and the big dog still needs to rest her foot. And then cooked dinner. Late. So it’s kind of amazing I got anything else done at all honestly. And I wish I had gotten just a LITTLE bit more done. I get to the end of the evening and think that a lot. Damn yourself for taking that 20-minute break in the middle of the evening there. Damn you for needing to take pee breaks or heat up your tea. If you’d just worked harder, you’d be done and on to the next task. Yeah. Workaholic much?

This is why there are only like 20 pieces left to cut and I had a hard time stopping, but it was after midnight and I kept thinking I could finish, but then it was approaching midnight thirty and ladies and gentlemen, I really need to be able to function like an awake person at school, so this is just not acceptable. But Art Brain is whining because SERIOUSLY LOOK HOW FEW PIECES ARE LEFT.

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Ugh. I did not finish. I will finish tonight and then I will sort them and then hopefully I will have enough energy to start ironing tonight…or maybe I will trace the other one for a while. They both require standing, though, which is sometimes hard after a long day at work. But progress! Shut up, Art Brain. You’ll be fine. Teacher Brain needs sleep to function. She pays the bills…well, most of them.

Puppy is an asshole by the way. I know y’all think he’s cute and all, but he poops in the most random places on walks, and at least 17 times, which is just annoying, and he won’t sit and wait patiently while I pick it up. He tries to race around on his leash and pull on the hand that’s picking up his crap even when I tell him to sit and then he freaks out if you tie the bag to his leash and then he wouldn’t go to bed last night until I told him he was being an asshole.

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Little dogs. Assholes. Yeah, he’s adorable, but…

*Shinedown, If You Only Knew

Settle Down, It’ll All Be Clear*

I am currently being harassed by a puppy. He doesn’t understand mom’s morning routine. He doesn’t know I’m running a lab today, I have a parent meeting before school, I still have duty before and after school, and there’s a union meeting after school. Ugh. Long day. Oh yeah, and a pre-observation meeting. I typed up my lesson plan, but realized yesterday that I have a hard time getting my head around the constructs administrators like to use to observe whether we’re teaching correctly. I do it automatically…it’s harder to pull out the pieces and say, oh yeah, here I do this and here I do that. I just do it. But this should be the last observation for another 5 years unless I piss off another principal. That’s the reality of it sometimes…who did you poke too many times. Frustrating job. And people wonder why we need unions. But that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

Oh yeah, and it’s V-day. Happy Valentine’s Day to y’all. If you like that stuff. Too much chocolate for the likes of me.

Puppy went outside with his big sister. Can’t send him out alone. Too many coyotes.

Yesterday was also a long day, but I currently have a very heavy piece of James E. Watts’ art residing in the boychild’s bedroom, waiting for the exhibit that will open mid-March. I’m glad he trusted me to drive off with one of his kokeshi. More about that later…when I actually have details.

I have to admit that I finished my book before I ironed last night…mostly because it was due to the library today, and because it’s electronic, they just take it. I can’t hold onto it and just pay the fine. I had about 60 pages left. It was good. The next one in the series is on hold, but I’m about number 5 on the list. I’m reading the James S. A. Corey series that was used for the Expanse TV show; just finished book 2. I actually think the books are way better. But now I don’t know what I’m reading next…whatever I can find in the pile, I guess.

Then I ironed. So it was a late start. I have a little over 7 hours into the ironing so far and it’s going to be a while…the flesh parts are next and they are time-consuming.

This is all I have of this yellow fabric. I started with a half yard many many years ago. Seriously, I started buying quilting cottons 27 years ago. This one is useful, although you are looking at the back of it.

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I do have my favorites. Not much left of this one.

Here are the two metallics Julie bought for me on sale, from some store going out of business. I was considering metallics for the screws and posts in the spine of the lefthand figure. A different kind of bling…

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The question was whether they’d hold Wonder Under and if the heat of the iron would destroy them.

Well…I did use a pressing cloth, just in case. The bright silver one is fussier than the darker leathery one (which is a great texture), but I think they iron fine. Stitching them might be a pain, but what’s new? I’ve used satin and sequin stuff before, and it was the same issue with them…permanent holes.

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I’ll probably test out the stitching tonight, just to make sure I want to use them. Well, I want to use them…but how much of a pain will they be? Gotta test that shit out.

Here’s the pile of fabrics so far…yes, there’s the sun on top. It was actually in the 700s, but I finished all of the 300s that weren’t flesh colored, and I wasn’t ready to pick flesh tones (it was almost midnight), so I did the sun early.

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Honestly, I’m about halfway, and the rest of it is all the two bodies in the quilt…so mostly flesh. I’m hoping to pick those tonight, and then maybe Thursday get all the innards done. Like bones (so many bones) and metal bits and hearts and trees…because yes, one of the figures has a tree. Why not? Exactly.

It’s actually a metaphor for the metal that’s helping her spine stay straight…the trunk of a tree? Yeah? OK. Just nod your head. I’m not good at the explaining part of my quilts.

Here’s the pile of pieces ready for cutting…

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And the group photo…

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It looks so chaotic at the moment. It will all come together and make sense. I used some of my favorite fabrics in the sky…space is a cool place for purples and blues. For a while, a lot of my quilts had layers of earth at the bottom (I don’t know why I say “for a while”…like I’m going to stop doing that. I still like it)…now I’m branching out into space. Anyway…I’m enjoying this part of the quilt. It makes the long days doing work stuff worthwhile. I also spent some time last night trying to map out some exhibit entries…there’s a bunch of stuff in the next few weeks that needed decisions…I think I made them, although now I’m wavering in the morning light. I’ll let it sit for the day and then decide for real.

*Phillip Phillips, Home

Things Will Happen Today

My feet are cold. It’s going to be in the 80s again today, but my feet get cold and I have to wear shorts and big fluffy socks all at the same time. This weirdo winter weather in Southern California…40s at night and 80s during the day. I know, I could be back East and freezing all my parts and not just my feet. I got that. Some rain would be nice here.

I didn’t get a whole lot of useful stuff done yesterday, except for some minor purging on the kitchen counters, which is a good thing (boychild is useful for that stuff). We threw out a bunch of old pens that were dead and bagged up the rest of the pens and pencils for school. Found the address I’d been looking for and had finally emailed someone to get. Of course. Organized the boxes of sundry kitchen items that pile up because I forget I’ve already bought them. Put all my Christmas gifts away. Today I will put away Christmas stuff, I think. Maybe. In between a raptor thing (cool!) and watching that band play (another episode of Draws in Bars! By the beach! But it will be cold, because it will be dark. So I will wear socks.). I wrote a commission contract and asked my dad to look at it, because I am not a lawyer and he is.

Artwise, I didn’t do much either. I did get my slowly flattening tire fixed, but not the tire sensor. It’s annoying that they are so expensive. Obviously the tire place has not seen the last two Visa bills. They are heart-stoppening. Not a word, I know.

Walked the dogs…a good solid three miles in the full heat of the afternoon. It felt hot but good.

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The dogs were tired.

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I needed to get out and walk off some of the irritation building up. I’m kind of irritated by all these studies going on in the wildlife preserve, but if I hike far enough out, they’re gone.

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So I do that.

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Tired dogs…I said that. But they were.

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We had gaming at night. My character didn’t do much. Moved from one side of the temple to another. Dodged a flaming thing. Or a horror. Not sure which.

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Block 20 is almost done…just need to finish the sheep.

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Exciting stuff. Came home and cut out pieces. When boychild wants to go to bed, he brings me the puppy, who is fast asleep. Snuggles him up against me, where he continues to sleep.

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I cut out a bunch, but there’s a shitload of tiny little pieces in there…overlapping tree parts. This crazy thing I drew. So I’m not done. But there’s not much left to do…

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Next week starts to be full of school stuff. No, I still haven’t finished grading that thing. Ugh. I piled it up on the couch and I look at it and feel guilty. Too many little details of shit to get done in the next week. I guess it’s good I took some brainless days in there.

I finished another book, A Closed and Common Orbit, the second in a series by Becky Chambers. The first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, was good, but I thought this one was even better…all about AI trying to exist in our world when they aren’t allowed to do certain things. Very cool story. You don’t have to read the first one to get the second one…they are the same world. It would help with understanding, but it’s not crucial to the story. There’s a third book coming out in April.

Calli is better at brainless than I am. I was trying to get her off the couch to come to bed.

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It took some persuading. OK. Gotta get ready to go falconing. Or something. I’m gonna need sunscreen…in December. I got sunburned yesterday. Duh. I never remember in the winter. Anyway, things will happen today. Not much will get done, I predict, but things will happen. Typical Saturday.

Best-Laid Plans

Are often completely sidetracked by exhaustion. I have a lot of sick students at the moment, so when my body is reacting and is exhausted, sometimes I just listen and go to bed…with a really good book…which I then want to finish (I didn’t. But I wanted to…). I’m reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness…

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Which is apparently for young adults (see, I’m still young!). It’s a different type of dystopian book, where the characters can hear the noise in your head and sometimes everyone’s noise spills all over the place…like here.

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It’s the first book in a series, and so far I’m hooked.

I originally went to bed with some warm tea and the book because I had been grading stuff and fighting Google Classroom on the iPad (I’m afraid they’re going to come back and say my iPad is too old…which is an issue, I’m sure, but it still fucking works and I’d really like to still use it to grade stuff). I did a lab at school yesterday, which was cool but exhausting…where else do I get to make kids smell a succulent…and what I really love is when I say “Smell this”…they do. No hesitation. LOVE THAT. Then on to a union meeting, not as long as usual, but still tiring at the end of the day. I debated blowing off book club, but I had read the book and I don’t talk to normal(ish) people enough. OK, these are all geek girls. Everybody at the table had see ALL of the Star Wars movies. I guess normal(ish) compared to me.

So I went. And it was nice to check in and see everyone and talk feminist smack and literary criticism. So I’m glad I went.

But then I came home and I’m still trying to grade one assignment a day until I catch up, but this is warmups and the damn Google Classroom app was crashing like a bitch on the iPad, so then I was on the computer wasting time in the forum, trying to find a solution, and updating the OS like that would help (it didn’t) and restarting the iPad and reinstalling the fucking app. I swear. Sometimes technology just kicks my butt. And I finally finish all that crap and Period 8’s stuff and it’s 10:45 and I’m exhausted. Fucking A. I can’t pick fabrics. I’m too tired to stand.

So I went to bed an hour early and got no art made (ugh) because I socialized instead of hermitted. I’m sure there’s some moral story there…artists can’t be social because then they’ll be too tired to get art made. And there’s some argument for that sometimes, but then my sanity depends on some socialization with people older than 13 years. Who think soap might be alive because it makes bubbles.

As far as the reward for kids turning in work, I’m not doing that. I have a few days in the next week where kids are working independently (for some definition of independent) and I’m sitting down with every failing kid. I’m going to set up a mini office for them. Or go table to table, I haven’t decided. I’m going to go over every missing and incomplete assignment with them. I may have to call home on some of them. In my spare time. That’s what I can handle and then I’m putting it back in their court. If they choose to blow me off at that point, OK then.

And tonight I’m making art. It’s already in the schedule.

Ahhh…Peace…

How to clear the mind: read, write, draw, walk, canoe, drink some tea and some wine (not together, yuck), have some good food, watch some apes on TV, and don’t think about school at all. Just push it out and let it fester in the corner for two whole days. It will still be there tomorrow. Nothing will have changed between now and then.

I can’t tell you how much I needed a break, and because I’m not home, I don’t feel required to pick this up, put that away, run that errand, finish that task…I can’t do any of those things until I get home tomorrow, and then I won’t have enough time to finish all that anyway, so I’ll do what I have time for, and push the rest aside until I have more time. My life is such that the crazy expands to fill all my available time if I let it, and I was determined not to allow it for the last two days. I’ve been pretty successful. Well done, child.

I’m probably sunburnt. Oh well. I used sunscreen. We canoed today, not super far, because we’re both out of shape, but it was a good distance to remember how to steer (though some would argue I never remembered that). And the sun was out today, unlike yesterday, when temperatures were dropping to 44 degrees during the day, so it was a much better day to be on the water. 

We walked around a small part of the lake yesterday. I wanted to go on a real hike in the wilderness, but we couldn’t find the damn ranger station and I left my Adventure pass in my car, which is still at the shop, being torn apart. And then it kept getting colder and colder and later and later, so I settled for a few miles on lakeshore paths and roads. Oh well…we got exercise, and that was the important part. My foot was OK, although twingey, so I’ll probably have to test it with a real hike sometime in the near future.

We brought a pile of movies to watch, but the parental DVD player seems dysfunctional, so we picked something off real live TV…not ideal, but it works. I’ve worked on my quilt, cutting pieces out. I’ve drawn.  

  I’ve finished one book (Feed by Mira Grant, definitely worth reading…a much better zombie tale than most of them) and started another. I’ve read some blogs and had the news read to me (wtf Josh Duggar?). I’ve cooked. I’ve eaten. I’ve slept. I figured out that mom was in charge of purchasing the showerhead in her shower, but not the guest showers. Um…Dad? Did you really have a guy who installs bathrooms for a living take a miserable shower with that showerhead? You did, didn’t you. It’s interesting how much difference a good showerhead makes to my mood. I should remember that for future reference. Ten Things That Will Make You Happy: 1. A Damn Good Showerhead. 2…well, I’m still working on the other nine things. I’ll get back to you.

It’s all good. It’s amusing to me how many of my teacher friends got the hell out of San Diego this weekend. It’s cool to see all their posts and photos from all over.

And now I’m looking forward to Mexican food for dinner, reading more of my book, and who knows what else. I think I’ll actually make it through the rest of the school year…at least it’s looking more positive than it was Friday at 3:30 PM.

Recovery

I apparently needed some recovery the last two nights. I got home from the drawing thing relatively early (well, for normal people, it would have been bedtime), and I couldn’t focus on ironing or grading (the two things that currently rule my world), so I made a cup of tea and took it to bed with a book. That is one of those things I love to do, by the way, and I rarely do it: read in bed with a cup of tea. I try to fit it in to my weekends, at least once on the two days, but honestly, sometimes it’s just not possible (like this weekend, for example). I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed with work and life and even art, working my butt off in every realm, so it made sense to just take a break from all of it and read about somebody else’s world.

I was hoping I would be less useless last night, but ha! Oh yeah. So I went to an opening after school and counseling, not a short drive, blood sugar not great (I did not plan well…I plan better for hikes than I do for social events). The SAQA regional exhibit Shades of Passion opened officially last night at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through October 29 and is open Tuesday through Friday from 9-5 and Saturdays from 11-3, although I suspect most people see the work when they are there for a performance or event. I think my piece might confuse a few people…

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Eyeball Tree has no nudity, so it was really my only option for entry. There’s a size and content restriction, so I often struggle with finding work in my collection for this show. I do try to have a few smaller, nude-free pieces around for stuff like this. There’s another one I know is coming up next summer for Ventura’s public buildings, so I will need to think about making a few more next year (after I finish the crazy that I’m working on now). That is probably the closest I get to changing my work for upcoming shows…I go through my drawings and find the ones with no nudity and make one or two of those if I like them. Or I don’t. It’s interesting, though, that the two pieces that did get into Visions and Quilt National were both minus nudity.

It was early when I got to the opening, so there weren’t a lot of people…mostly women, some wandering around and asking if this art quilt thang was a new thang. Um. No. But thanks for coming. My pictures are crap and I didn’t even try to write artists’ names down (I blame exhaustion)…

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But there is some very nice work in the show…

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As always, I’m never really sure how the theme pertains to what’s hung.

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But it probably doesn’t matter to those observing.

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I didn’t even get pictures of all the quilts…too many people in the way.

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But it gives you an idea of what’s there, in case you want to stop in and take much better photos than I did.

I have two more openings tonight, one the second soft opening of the FIG show at Art Produce and one is QuiltVisions, which I’m looking forward to, mostly to see what got in, but maybe to see people as well. Depends on how social I’m feeling. Hopefully more social than last night, after more than 8 hours of sleep.

Because what I did when I got home? I waffled. I sat down on the couch and arranged the stuff to be graded. I ARRANGED it. I did not start grading. I made a cup of tea because I was tired. Then I started reading my book. And I kept meaning to stop reading and do some grading or ironing, and then I got distracted by weird bills from Cornell that said the boychild had gone to the doctor, when he says he didn’t. Money’s tight. I’m not paying for someone else’s STD testing. (that’s not really what it was, but you can mess with the boychild pretty easily if you want about that stuff) And then the girlchild came home from Homecoming (came home from…that’s funny) and we finally got the lizard off the ceiling after three days (it’s a really high ceiling…it took a box, a bench, a stepladder, and a duster). And then I was going to try (after second cup of tea) to iron. And then I was just too damn tired. So I went to bed. And about 14 things woke me up in the night, so I am still tired now, but I obviously needed all that sleep.

I will iron today. I will grade today. I will get caught up on something. My goal of being ironed down to the background fabric by next Friday? Um. I don’t know. I’m hoping I can pull it off, but it honestly means I will probably have to get at least 4 hours done this weekend, which I can probably do, unless my brain wanders off and reads a whole book in one evening like it did last night. Stupid brain.

And all the rejection stuff in my head, because rejection is not just living in my art at the moment, I’m just pushing it off into the corner and working. Because if I get enough work done, whether it’s grading papers or ironing tiny pieces of fabric together, I think the rest of it will matter less.