Allow Grace for All

I’ve never been quite so obsessed with whether I colored in the circle carefully enough and dark enough.

Yup. She’s done. Just need to deliver her. And wait. And maybe the phone calls and crap shoved in my mailbox will stop soon. I’m wearing my I Voted sticker today on Zoom. We got this email about political shirts at school (or online)…and sometimes I wonder where they draw the line. With the school shootings, I remember my whole team wearing shirts with orange ribbons on them, which apparently is political. I certainly didn’t think of it as being political at the time. I still don’t think it’s OK to have guns as available as they are. I still have my shirt. I wonder if my Recycle shirts are political? Or Climate Change? I have all these science shirts I used to wear to school on Mondays. I don’t know where the line is. I know that there are some parents complaining about BLM shirts…but really, where is the line? What is political and what is just LIFE? Sigh. It’s not political to vote. It’s not political to care about an issue. Does my I Voted sticker send a political message? We’ll see. I’m still wearing it.

I finished the quilt yesterday. I have a hole in my finger to prove it. I was going to go find the sticky pad things I put on my fingers last night when I was finishing, but I was in a group Zoom in my office and someone was out there yelling at the debate, so I stayed here and poked a bigger hole in my finger. It’ll heal. I haven’t calculated hours yet. I haven’t ironed it. I need to take it to the photographer Monday, so I’ll iron and dehair and maybe put a label on it and then contact the new owner. Which is cool. And then I’ll start drawing the next one, hopefully this weekend. I say that, but we leave for camping after school…so we’ll see how that goes. I packed my clothes (mostly) last night…it’s supposed to get cold and possibly wet. Should be interesting. Also, I originally thought one hike? Apparently now it’s possibly three. We’ll see. I am going into it completely exhausted, but also, I’m not getting enough exercise…so I don’t feel like I’m in shape for anything.

The quilt…

Had about 338″ of binding and sleeve to sew down. I made it 3/4 of the way around the outside edge on Thursday night, and the rest of the way around plus the two sleeves last night (one meeting was book club, one was my stitching group).

Pretty damn efficient. I did some in front of the TV too. Then last night, I packed clothes and backpack and hiking stuff and made rice krispie treats (my post-hike blood sugar assist) and voted. And then went to bed. I still have prep to do for class today and Monday…but I’m mostly OK, as long as I don’t think too much about having to grade stuff next week and the fact that I’m doing some Textile Slam on Tuesday and a studio interview on the following Saturday and I’m not ready for either of them? It’s fine. I’m going to get it done. If that cat gets out of my way.

I try to plan/grade standing up to make up for all the sitting. Sometimes the internet does not comply, though, so I end up back in that chair. I gained a sweater and slippers this week…it’s cooled down a bit, certainly in the morning. I’m actually wearing pants instead of shorts today. Finally. In the last week of October. Don’t get excited; they’re not long pants. Just pants. I didn’t need a fan yesterday, first day in a long time. I still had my hair up by 4th period, though…it just starts to drive me nuts at some point.

I have to figure out a way to put a grid on the kids’ selfies for the next art project. The art teacher is trying to help…but I think she has Photoshop and I don’t. Paint.net might do it. I need to find the time to try that too. It’s all very overwhelming. I’m hoping two days away from it will help, although I know next week will be hard because of my taking two days. Sigh. There’s no winning in any of this. There’s no way to make it better for teachers and students until this damn pandemic is more under control.

What cats do when people go outside…they wanna check out what you’re doing…

Mostly when I’m teaching, they leave. I think it’s loud and they don’t like it.

OK, I need to wake up and get my brain going (you’d think writing this would do that, but I am that tired right now), teach all day, and then go camping. Wish me luck. Relaxation? Or at least escape? Good (better?) moods? No talk of work? Not a rule, but a goal. Venting is necessary at times. Patience as well, mine as well as others. Allow grace for all.

Finish Something…

The good thing about a little bit of art every day is that at some point, you will finish something. Perhaps a lot of little somethings, but something nonetheless. And it never guarantees you’ll like it, but that’s the way art is anyway. Don’t get excited…I’m not done yet (quite) and I do like it. And I wonder what’s next. I know the subject but not the specifics. Hoping that this weekend helps my brain come up with something. It will…it’s just a matter of whether it’s something I want to make into a finished product. A lot of what I do on paper never makes it into the time-consuming process of making an art quilt. I feel bad about that, but then again, I do what I can. This will be the 6th finish of the year, but one of them is pretty small. I think I can make one more this year. I’d like to think I could make two, but this job isn’t letting me do much of anything at the moment. So one. I know I can do one.

I finished the quilting on Monday night…

I just had one section of the background to do, and it was pretty easy.

The thread behaved; the machine did too. It’s nice when it’s like that. It’s not always like that.

11 hours of quilting. Not bad.

Last night, after working all day just like always, and grading until 9 PM or so, I laid out the quilt in the entryway and was watched (hindered?) by the two kittens…Nova really did just watch.

Luna…in true Luna fashion…tried to fuck with it. I trimmed her down (the quilt, not the cat), got her edges straight…

Ironed and cut the binding and the sleeves, and sewed them on…

That was 2 hours last night. I’m glad I did it. I was tired. I had more schoolwork to do (I always have more schoolwork to do). I was incredibly frustrated by school yesterday, and apologized to one kid and parent and then stopped looking at email for a while (smart) until I had literally input grades maybe one minute prior and a kid is already asking for a redo. At least he asked. Someone else, in seconds, had already resubmitted. My lord, children. Give me a moment to talk to you about how to improve your score? Nah. Just give me another half-assed attempt. Please. The first one wasn’t disheartening enough…I was yelling at some point last night that I didn’t understand how they thought sediment could melt into igneous rock. You ask in class, they all know where igneous rock comes from…well, no, because then you have the kids who sit there and do nothing on the app we use for science, and then they leave early, because I said, “If you’re done, you can leave,” and they interpreted the ‘done’ in a different way than I did. Which ‘done’ I am, by the way. And therein is part of the problem. If I am mentally done with dealing with the shit, it means I have to work really hard to have grace and patience for those who are trying, but they’re 12, and that means they’re not very good at it.

I think I will just answer all emails once a day, in the morning. Except then I forget to go back and do that and then there are hundreds of them, all piled up, like dead bodies rotting on the floor. It’s just overwhelming.

Today, I will work on sewing my binding on. I thought I would be able to get the quilt to the photographer Friday, but that’s crazy talk. We’re going camping, and getting up there with enough daylight to set up is what we need. I can deliver it next week. It will be fine. I will also work on getting as much of next week planned as I can, because I won’t have this weekend to do that. Yikes, really, but it’ll be fine. It has to be.

Yesterday was my dad’s 80th birthday. We Zoomed from all over…mostly the West Coast, but the two East Coast women joined in as well. I was going to go over and drop off treats and his gift, but I got an email from my gym about a COVID positive test in one of my classes from last week, so yesterday I went and got tested and last night I didn’t go over there to potentially infect them. The odds of my getting it in class are hopefully low. We’re far apart, I wear a mask, sanitize, shower when I get home. But you never know. Better to be safe. I remember thinking back when Dad was in his 60s and his heart was being cranky that we’d be lucky to get him through 70, so I’m pretty impressed he’s still chugging on, fixing my sprinklers, helping me build a fence. Every year is appreciated.

OK, I’m tired (yes, I stayed up too late to finish) and I have a shitload of work to do today (what’s new?) and I’ll be sewing binding during book club tonight…one thing I can do while waiting for a negative test result. I will miss my exercise class tonight…my body really needs it, but maybe I will find one online that works.

I did see my ceramic piece fired…

She (and I) will be in 29 Palms in two 1/2 weeks for installation in the labyrinth. Should be interesting.

This from my reading…

That’s from Stephen King, believe it or not. The man is a masterful writer. Although this is the narrator speaking, so is King…and that’s how I feel about art and teaching (most of the time). This year has been a real stretch for that, but I’m hoping a pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We’ll see. I’d hate for them to become as commonplace as school shootings.

OK, off to work…in the other room…not so far.

Rabbits Everywhere

Today begins the fourth week of this new version of school, the third new version this year. Hopefully the last, although I get two new students today. They told me it would always be a one-for-one switch, but this is two for one. I’ve been told one of them never shows up. But he’s on my roster now, so I have to record things for him and mark him absent and all that, so it’s not like there’s no work when you go from 174 to 175 kids. Kind of pitiful too, when that’s the case. Where is this kid? What’s he doing? How is his family doing? I don’t know. More importantly (or tragically), I don’t have TIME to know. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. In the physical classroom, back in the day when school was ‘normal’, the school people, including me, would have time to track down that one kid who never shows up. Here and now? I know there’s someone who is supposed to be paying attention to that, but they’re also paying attention to daily spray downs and kids who won’t wear masks and kids who won’t social distance and teachers who might have COVID and students who have symptoms. The daily stuff overwhelms.

My whole team was texting their hours put in to school this weekend, and it was bad across the board. It’s not like we usually could walk away from it on the weekend completely…sometimes, if you planned really well during the week for the following week and there were no big assignments needing to be graded, well you could leave your computer at work and walk away from it. Now? Fuck no. In fact, this upcoming weekend, where I am venturing into no-internet land, I’m having to get at least Monday planned for next week. Getting this week planned and set up took 8 hours on Saturday and another 7 on Sunday. Some of that was art prep…I needed to put together packages for them to pick up for the next project…which included cutting out 70+ viewfinders…

Sorting through paper and pencils and getting a big order of blending stumps, stuffing everything in envelopes, and delivering it to school so kids can pick it up. No small feat. No small amount of time either…probably 3 of those 15 hours was just dealing with that.

I had two videos I needed to record for school, but the neighbors were either sawing, drilling, or screaming. I’m pretty sure one of the videos has kids yelling in the background and the other one has his blower/vacuum thing going.

The sky was beautiful while they threw their 3000th pandemic party.

I get some questions about teaching art…isn’t it fun? You like art. Isn’t it pretty easy? Well no, it’s not fun and it’s not easy. It’s managing 70 kids who range from I Hate Art to I LOVE Art with abilities that go along with that, on a computer, hardly being able to see their work or give them daily guidance, and coming up with ideas that support/bounce off of your co-teacher, who is just as buried and overwhelmed as you are. And I can’t just draw, because they copy what you do, and that’s not what this is about.

Friday’s lesson on how to shade things in many different media, because if I say you need a pencil, fourteen kids ask if pen is OK. So I did colored pencil, crayon, ink pen, ballpoint pen, and regular pencil. I thought later that I could have done pointillism, but I didn’t go there. I got some very good results, some OK results, some eh results, some “how is that 15 minutes of work” results, and some who don’t know how to turn anything in and I don’t know why. I spent about 3 more hours last night trying to figure out how to run this week, in between two projects but they don’t have the materials yet for the next project. So that was fun. It’s a whole ‘nother Google search regime. And time-consuming as hell. Did I mention that it’s two different levels of art? I’m not teaching them the exact same thing. So my brain is all over the place, can’t remember assignment numbers for each class. I need to type up a list (in my spare fucking time, y’all) so I can refer to it. And the last 2 hours last night was giving feedback on book cover prototypes, which is brain sucking stuff. What are the criteria? Are they hitting them? Did they just copy this off the internet? Certainly possible. What can I say to them that will help? And not hurt? I made it through 17 in 2 hours. I have 38 kids in that class. Luckily, so far, only 25 have turned them in. I have 8 to do today before class starts. And then I try to do them DURING class, which is a challenge.

So no, teaching art isn’t fun. I don’t like it. Certainly not this version of it. It at least doubles my planning time and grading time, maybe triples it. There are some things I can double up on, but not many. And sarcasm. I have to remember that the one class is all 6th graders and some of them don’t understand sarcasm yet. Neither do their parents. Sigh.

So school. Is hard. Is time-consuming, more than it ever has been. I think we will all be completely burnt out by the time the end of the trimester comes. And there are still two more after that.

I managed to get the outline quilting done on Friday night…

I don’t know where I find the energy sometimes. To get up off the couch, walk away from the TV and the brainless I don’t need to do any more. Saturday, I went and bought binding…and then started quilting the background.

I was tired. It wasn’t fast. There isn’t much of it, but it’s not a small quilt. I had to use a different thread and it was coming off the spool weird. The thread kept catching and breaking.

Fucking annoying. Time-consuming. I fixed it last night though…

Or it fixed itself because I used enough of it that it stopped catching. Hard to know. It did stop breaking though. I made it about 3/4 of the way around. At 11:35 pm, I stopped. I need to sleep. Another hour of quilting, maybe, and I’ll be done. Trim it, bind it. I can see it being done. That’s good.

Still fighting for time to exercise…Saturday night’s walk…

It cooled off. Rabbits everywhere.

Next weekend will be longer hikes.

And further away. Away from my computer and my work setup. The thing that’s always there, in my space, telling me I haven’t done enough.

Kitten likes it when we hike. She especially likes the smell of hiking boots.

She’s a little strange.

These two are sweethearts. When they’re not scratching shit and attacking my pens.

In general, good cats.

OK. I still have 8 prototypes that need feedback. I graded almost nothing this weekend in that 15 hours…which didn’t even count the three hours or more I did after school on Friday. I still need to make one more video thing, grade a million things, grade all the late work that panicked children have turned in, teach all day, and answer 6 thousand emails. Otherwise, teachers are fine y’all. Don’t worry about us. Keep having your non-socially-distanced parties and being a maskhole. Hey! Go vote! Everyone in my household has done that but me. I will. I promise. Not this week, probably, but maybe. I could. I will. It will be a relief to color that circle in.

A Typhoon, a Tsunami, and a Sharknado…

Earlier this week, I almost felt like I had a handle on things. I was still working shitty hours and stressed about it, but I felt like I had control of it (oh stop your hysterical laughter), or at least as much control as we ever have as teachers of the muddled middles, and then Thursday hit. And whatever I needed to do for next week (and technically the following week, because I made the crazy-ass decision to try to do something non-school-related for MORE THAN A FEW HOURS and we are camping with no internet for two nights, two whole fucking nights, that’s it) suddenly exploded into a typhoon, a tsunami, and a sharknado all in one. It didn’t help that all the 6th graders thought I was kidding about handing in prototypes for art so I could give them feedback, so I did the 11 I had turned in, and then yesterday, during class, I answered shit in the chat, crap kids asked me out loud (brave souls), and typed feedback for those who were close enough to making two prototypes that they could hand something in, although I explained what a monogram was, and then told them not to do it, and then they did it anyway, because listening to instructions is HARRRRRRD Ms. Nida.

FUCK ME. I got the news that one of the burrs in my saddle from before the switch is coming back to me on distance learning (because he was so successful last time?) into my biggest, most challenging class. Oh joy. It’s fine. IT’S FUCKING FINE.

It’s really not. I’m having a really hard time. I’ve been teaching…this is my 17th or 18th? year. 18th year. This is hell. It’s not sustainable. I’m losing my mind. It’s OK…I’ll find it again once I get a handle on the shit that is the next few weeks, and hopefully camping where there is no internet will help. Or I will grind my teeth the whole time, worried about what I’m not getting done. I’ll try not to do that. But being on the verge of tears from feeling overwhelmed? It’s getting old.

I took a break (worked from 6:45 AM to 6 PM yesterday, right through lunch…wait, no, I took a 15-minute break) on a Zoom with friends, and I quilted while they/we talked politics (I’ve got some feelings about that right now, y’all). That was two hours. No, less than two hours, because I worked past the start time and then looked at the clock and went SHIT. Then I ate dinner and tried to find the energy to do anything else. Nope. Didn’t happen. Went to bed an hour earlier than I have been and managed to sleep, although I dreamed about going to the doctor’s for a routine something or other that turned bad, and then the alarm went off, so at least I don’t know what I have and don’t have to worry about that as well. I’m up now and ready to work until after school, when I’ll have a short break to check in with friends (goal? no crying) and then back to work. Not sure I’ll be able to keep Saturday free from work. I suspect not. Oh well. This fucking sucks. I already said that.

I’ve been quilting an hour or more a night. This cytokine storm looks like it’s smiling…

Rude.

Both heads are quilted…oh wait, there are three heads…they’re all quilted…somehow I went around and quilted everything on the edges and I still need to do the center torso. Not how I usually roll, but it made sense at the time.

Probably another hour or so of outline quilting left (I already did everything you can see there…that was last night), and then quilt the background.

The back side is looking pretty damn good for once. I usually like a really busy backing so you can’t see my mistakes, but this is fine. I think. I’m not obsessed with the back sides…they’re not the point.

So finish quilting, go buy binding tomorrow, get binding on early next week, sew it up, deliver it to photographer next week? Hopefully? Ship it off to the wonderful person who is buying it. That was easy. OMG, it hasn’t been easy, and WTF am I doing next? I don’t know, but I need to decide soon because I don’t want any down time between quilts. I don’t want to let this job roll into any more of my personal life than it already has. I need the artmaking to (it doesn’t even fucking balance it right now so don’t even say it) keep me from jumping off the deck and breaking my ankles so I can move even less than I already do? Getting in the car and driving east (well, I can’t drive west), wait, no north, but fires, dammit, I can’t even DRIVE anywhere to get away from all this shit. Sigh.

Here’s the website I’m making. Finding that picture for the background made me laugh hysterically (no, really, tears from eyes because shit’s so stupid right now).

I hope you get it. If not, sigh. Whatever. My kids won’t get it. Well, two of them will. ANYWAY. Fuck today (at least it’s Friday, so I’ll be working tomorrow, but I won’t have students slowing my roll). Fuck this weekend. Fuck this job. Fuck COVID. Fuck a government that handled this So Fucking Badly. Fuck all of you who won’t social distance and wear masks.

Deep breath. I might feel better if I yelled all that off my deck, but probably my neighbors wouldn’t appreciate it. Wait, the neighbors with the screaming children and the multiple parties? Not sure I care. Happy Friday all. Gotta go get ready for school with all the stuff I forgot to do last night that needs to be done before school actually starts. Uh huh.

Find Some Zen…

Grrr Wednesday. Grrrr. I’m growling at you like Simba growls under his breath at something that is now gone but is still irritating him. I guess I’m growling at Tuesday then, aren’t I. Huh. Well Tuesday was complicated in my brain. Some sense of the vast expanse of time I will be doing this online teaching thing, stuck in my house, fighting technology, not able to see students, not able to do anything hands on, everything a million times more complicated than it used to be. Barely talking to anyone but the 174 kids who I see every day or every few days or three days a week for a really long time (90 minutes is a long time when you’re trying to get a kid on the correct screen…you just want to reach through and push him/her where they need to be), and I don’t even really SEE them, just the top three inches of their heads. Massive sigh. Don’t count months. Just try not to think about how long this is.

My school admin is getting a taco truck for the at-school teachers on Friday. Sure, I could send the boychild (who says I should stop calling him that, because everything thinks he’s like 12…he’s a man. He’s been a man for a while. Manchild sounds weird. He doesn’t want me to use his name. Honestly he’d be overjoyed if I never ever mentioned him again. So boychild it is.) to pick up a plate shoved through the fence by my coworkers, but it’s not the tacos…it’s the hanging out and socializing and getting some appreciation from admin for your hard work (I’m pretty sure my admin is just tired of me bitching about things that should have been done/fixed/handled…I know I’m tired of it. But when parents complain…sigh.). Whatever. Get up. Do the thing. Teach the stuffs. Grade the crap. Read the thousand emails. Delete most of them. Go to bed. Repeat.

It’s not really my roll.

So I’m still off, sad, overwhelmed, not feeling it today. We’ll see how it plays out. I usually do better when I’m dealing with actual children in front of me, even when they are tiny black rectangles with their names on them. Or not.

I did start quilting the other night. Not a lot. I’m so tired at the end of the day.

Mondays are long because we see all the kids…more transitions. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I have a long prep period, and I desperately try to concentrate and get everything done, but then I end up doing hours of work before and after school as well.

So I’m getting a little over an hour of quilting done each night at the moment.

It’s not much. But it’s something. It’s slow sometimes. It’s better than nothing. It’s meditative. I just sit and move the quilt and it’s good except it’s more sitting so then I get antsy and have to get up and walk around. Ugh.

Teaching art…how to line. This photo is so blurry…it should be how to photograph.

Nova likes to lie on the sketchbook. Desperately ordering materials for my art students, hoping they will come pick them up if I pack them all up. That’ll be Sunday. With all the school shit I do on the weekends, it feels like I shouldn’t leave and do anything else, but I have two weekends planned. I know I need them, but I’m also stressing like crazy about making sure everything is done before I go because there won’t be internet at one of them at all. It’s easier to last-minute wing science class in person than it is online.

Kitten is staring at a gecko. Can you see it?

It’s fascinating.

I have this walk I do and they are developing this huge tract of land that used to be a chicken farm. It’s been a permitting fight for years, but they finally put this lovely thing up.

I guess if you live near there and don’t want the construction noise and dust, this is a plus, but there’s no parking all the way along it, so getting to the local park is a long walk at the moment. Sad to look at as well. Cookie cutter houses going in, I’m sure. Oh well. They start at $900K too, so very affordable. Yup. Getting right in there.

I am just a ball of cheer this morning. This makes me happy…here’s the girlchild (also an adult)…

In Maine. Beautiful.

OK. I’m just going to do today and know that hopefully the science stuff is cool (I think it is, but I’m the teacher) and sit through a union meeting after school and hopefully (yes, definitely) quilt tonight. Some more. And find some zen with this existence. Somehow.

Remember That One…

Hmmm. Yesterday was effective, but it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I finished a lot of things and got a lot done (it’s never enough), but I didn’t stop the schoolwork early enough. If I don’t stop early enough (which is a different time every day), then I don’t have the mental energy to go do whatever it is that I need/want to do for art. For whatever reason, when I got done with enough of the school tasks that I could have switched over, there was nothing left, so I kept doing school stuff. Until midnight. I guess the plus is that I finished more than I had planned, so maybe tonight I can quit earlier and quilt instead? Who knows. Those of us in education know that the work just expands to fill the time. I started looking at the next two weeks of curriculum, which are awkward and the timing doesn’t look like it works, but I will be gone camping in the middle, so I’ll have to get the next week planned before I leave, which I haven’t been able to do so far. So that should be interesting. Plus getting project supplies to 70 kids who are NOT on campus. Also interesting. It would be OK if life were a little less interesting in that aspect for a while…the How Do We Get School Shit Done aspect. I would like life to be more interesting in the Relaxation and Artmaking aspects. Making requests here.

I did manage to buy thread, although it was a crapshoot on color…

I think the greener one is way too green. I usually use Sulky, not Gutermann, but it’ll do, I think. JoAnns (hell store) was chock FULL of people. Halloween? There were men in there, lots of them. This is not usually a thing. So that’s the one art thing I got done yesterday, except for some online stuff that needed to happen. Tonight! Tonight I quilt. Seriously. I need to quilt. I have a bit of a deadline here.

First though, first work. All day Zoom with all my classes. I changed a bunch of stuff last night, so it’ll be traumatic for some kids. It’s OK…they’ll adapt. I need to find some art pencils in the house, though. I’m so used to ink that pencil feels weird. The art teacher I’m working with prefers it, and I understand why. I’m such a crotchety artist…I guess the real key is that I don’t really want to be teaching art…I just want to make it. There’s a long haul though, a long stretch of doing this. I keep looking to December, because that’s when they’re letting parents decide again, putting out another survey (in the middle of flu season), but really, I’m teaching these two classes of art until next school year, at least. Nothing changes in December except maybe the kids I have.

Switching gears…we hear coyotes all the time. We find evidence they’re around. We occasionally see one at night on the property. This was at 5 PM, broad daylight…

Between our house and the neighbors. Screaming children at the house below me (this is above me). I went out to spray it with water (harass it so it will stay away). We saw a larger one on the slope at 7 AM a few weeks ago, so they’re definitely close by. It’s baby season, so I don’t want them deciding my property is a safe baby space. We do go out with the little dog all the time.

OK, Monday, let’s do this. I need to write a rubric for today’s assignment (yes, today’s…I tried to do it last night and flailed). I need to figure out WTF I’m teaching all day. I need to do my laundry. These are all things I can do. And tonight, I need to quilt. Remember that one.

Go Forth and Conquer

Hoo boy. Nasty nightmare in the middle of the night, NOT school related, shockingly. Also a cat who thinks that banging on the window and blinds is a way to communicate her dislike of the presence of some animal I never saw out there is acceptable 2 AM behavior. Trying to calm the breathing and heartbeat after that. At some point in time, I’m exhausted, so I sleep.

I keep looking at this one page on the science curriculum, hoping they update the thing I need that will find me an extra four hours a week or so. Or not. It helps me plan, and without it and without my partner, who is planning as well, but for a very different type of instruction, I have to try everything about 14 times, moving things, moving them again, moving them yet again. Is THIS logical? Or is THIS logical? None of it is fucking logical; that is the problem. The curriculum itself doesn’t always flow logically for me, so I tweak it and then tweak it again. Sigh. Next week, I find myself with too many quizzes and tests and not enough content. I will have to pillage from the following week to make it less about Take This Test and This One and This Other One that I will never have time to grade. Because that’s the other issue. What do I actually have time to SCORE? In between Zooming for hours a day and prepping for more hours a day, I never have time for phone calls or emails or catching up on late work that kids have turned in or grading new work that they’ve turned in. It’s all about planning for the next week, and never catching up with this one. It is definitely worse and harder than it was before everything switched. And I feel like the higher ups are more interested in pleasing parents and giving them what they need (they are our clients, I know) than realizing that they are burning out huge swathes of their staff. There has to be some give and take, and I’m not seeing that. I guess the crash and burn will happen at some point, or they’ll never see or hear the distance-learning staff, and the in-person staff (who has to be just as buried as we are) isn’t saying anything because they don’t have time to in between 10 classes of teaching the same shit over and over.

Speaking of teaching and voting, because my ballot is here and will get done this weekend…this guy is in my district and man oh man does he drive me crazy with his arrogant bullshit.

I almost took a Sharpie with me to the grocery store last week so I could have the man stop the car while I defaced one of these signs with “Not All”. I didn’t. But I thought about it. It’s good to see that someone found a legal way to do it. He’s certainly pissed off a goodly chunk of us. You vote how you want. And I hope he sees this and isn’t just defensive and dismissive. I think he will be, but I hope he’s not. I’m ever hopeful about politicians.

Well, most of them. This was the best part of the debate, besides Kamala Harris asserting her right to speak and seeing Pence’s face when that happened. Respect. To the fly. And Kamala.

On the art front, I’ve managed an hour or so of stitch down…

One night out of the two…not bad. Hopefully there will be more tonight and tomorrow, although there is a ton of planning I haven’t done and we have gaming and a hike in there as well. Plus apparently I need to grade shit. It won’t take long to do this part. I checked this morning and I have enough batting, and surely there’s enough fabric in this room for a backing.

Part of the reason I didn’t get any done last night is that I needed a moment. A long moment. It was about a 3-1/2-hour moment. I got out of the house and walked (oh hallelujah, some cooler weather)…

The neighbors are all doing Halloween, and maybe they always do and I just don’t notice because I would be walking elsewhere or at the gym.

My students have already asked if Halloween is safe, the candy part, because that’s the only part they care about. Personally, if the little screaming midgets in my neighborhood come around, I can throw candy at them from my deck. It’ll make up for all the screaming they do in general. Plus I won’t have to go near their not-socially-distanced havens for disease.

Yup, I’ve got that old lady thing DOWN. The second part of my break was Zooming with my stitching friends. I had zero brain power, so I just stitched things down.

No embroidery, no embellishment, just sticking it to the background with thread. After the pandemic, I will hopefully be able to embellish. Right now, I just don’t have the energy.

Speaking of energy, I’m trying to muster enough to get out of here and go to the other computer and figure out what I’m teaching today. I teach two science classes Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Thursday and Friday, I repeat what I did Tuesday and Wednesday, which means writing it all down, because my brain has already forgotten what it did two days ago. And I have to finish writing a rubric for Gestalt and Zeitgeist, which I’ve never taught, but I guess is in my head. Somewhere. Some would say not Gestalt, because there is never a Less is More aspect to my work. I definitely come from the Richard Scarry world of art…fill that rectangle with all the shit you’ve got and see what it looks like.

This bunny or one like it might have been what pissed off Kitten last night. She seriously whacks at the blinds until whatever it is leaves.

I’m surprised I’ve never found a bunny skull on my property. Those coyotes are slackers.

She looks all sweet here.

Because she’s gonna sleep all day while I work. So she doesn’t care if she kept me up for an hour or so last night, banging on the window.

Good things: It’s Friday, so there’s a break from Zooming for two days. We’re hiking tomorrow. The weather is cooler (don’t even look at next weeks’ temperatures; they will make you cry). I can finally vote and turn my ballot in and know that my state will protect my vote. I’m not sick. I have a job. I can do my job, even though it feels like I’m carrying a ton of bricks and people keep piling more on top. I might get to sleep in tomorrow morning. So there we are. Go forth and conquer Friday.

Rushed

Woke up with a plan to get all this shit done. HA! Because the world is what it is, internet down, nothing responding, Fuuuck. Because I’m an ONLINE teacher and to be an ONLINE teacher, you have to be (wait for it) ONLINE. Fuck me. It’s OK. I’m obviously back online, but it was 30 minutes texting a Cox Cable person to get it back. Yes, there IS an outage (no fucking shit ma’am). What is your name? I Already Gave It To You, with my phone number, my 4-digit pin, and my firstborn. Not really. He’s still around. Somewhere. So while she was trying to PING my modem back into responsiveness, my brain was panickedly (that is a word, dammit) trying to think about what I would have to take to school with me to teach today, which included two computers, all their cords, an extra monitor, my doc cam and all its cords and connectors, plus a pile of papers and a clipboard, and FOUR ROCKS. My world. Right there. Plus food, enough PPE to scare off a Trump, and probably a Taser to keep people away from me. Because school is the LAST place I wanna be right now. But it’s close and it has internet. They could run an extension cord for me and I could just hang outside, far away from anywhere anybody ever goes. There’s that little amphitheater outside the library, right? Sigh.

So panic over. For now. Sunscreen. I would need sunscreen.

ANYWAY. Fuck me. I had a plan for this morning too. So I have been working too much. Yesterday I quit at like 11 hours…better than the previous day. NOT FUCKING SUSTAINABLE, Universe. It’s a job. I get paid. It’ll be OK if some kids don’t have grades.

Sigh. Like I said, I quit work “early” yesterday. I think it was around 9:45 that I started looking at background fabrics for the new quilt, because I thought what I had picked was too dark. It was. I picked a new one.

Much better, although I suspect I have no thread for quilting that color. Easily managed. I pieced the background and ironed the whole thing down…

And hopefully tonight I will give myself the time to start the stitch down. I lost this morning’s planning time, though, so I will need to be uber-efficient during my prep today (which is quite long, but in the middle of the day and without a team member to focus my not-ADD brain, which is still kinda ADD, I do not function well). I flit like a psychotic butterfly, honestly. Bits and pieces get done, but it’s easier for me to focus on tasks in the morning and evening.

Next stage of the quilt, though. This is good.

You know, I miss this this year.

Although my 8th graders do kinda piss on everything.

Monday night, I chose to exercise over art. I didn’t have the energy for art anyway. But notice the dog and the two cats (and the 5 pieces of wood…I used them for the lab demo last week) all accompanying me on my stationary bike ride.

Easy for them.

Also yesterday morning’s sunrise was nice.

This morning, we had fog. And internet issues. OK, off to work I go. In the other room. Where hopefully the internet is stable and strong.

It’s About Time…

The title of this podcast episode, For the Teachers Who Are Not OK Right Now, made me tear up. Angela Watson doesn’t have any great solutions, because there aren’t any, but after working for 5+ hours this afternoon and evening to get science ready to teach and art mostly ready (well at least for tomorrow…I’ll get to the Thursday/Friday classes when I can, and no, I haven’t graded much of anything, so fuck off), the thought of doing this every Sunday for a year makes me want to pull my hair out. Notionally, eventually I’ll have access to the curriculum slides for the unit I’m actually on (our fault for jumping ahead a unit because their order made no sense). I could also (and may next week) blow off making my slides, but it helps me not have to read the tiny tiny script they put in the 500-page book (that’s one unit, y’all…one). Plus I’m a visual person and the slides help me make sense of what I’m teaching. It’s fine. Really. I was having a shitty work weekend until I heard another teacher’s story and thought, well, I’m not that bad off, really. Which is a sad tale.

I quit working around 9 PM last night, after 5 1/2 hours of just lesson planning mostly science. I’ll have to finish a video for the demo I’m doing tomorrow, plus all the art assignments for later in the week, during my prep today and tomorrow, plus plan NEXT week, because I haven’t even looked at that. At least I have curriculum for science, mostly. Art is a whole ‘nother basket of crazy. Times two, because I’m teaching two levels. I’m glad I have contact with the art teacher, because she’s saving my ass. I feel bad, though. I don’t feel like I’m helping her enough. I’ve been teaching long enough that I know how that feels and looks, and I don’t want to be that person.

At 9 PM last night, I came in and finally FINALLY after two weeks of other stuff that needed to be done and nowhere near enough time or energy to do anything, I got the rest of this sweetheart ironed together…

She just needed the fire on her head and the ground beneath her…

Now I just need to iron her to the background, stitch down, then sandwich and quilt and bind. All of which I am free to do now. (Note to self: don’t take on any other shit right now.)

I also entered an art show, so that’s a thing.

On Saturday, I finally (on the last day) finished the SJSA Remembrance block for Nicholas Bils.

It’s a sad story.

Nicholas was putting golf balls with his dog at a closed public golf course and his dog was off leash, both no-no’s in COVID times. The park rangers chased him and caught him, putting him in their vehicle. He had no weapon, but as a schizophrenic, had issues with running from police before. They did handcuff him, but not very well, because he managed to get out of the vehicle as they approached the downtown jail.

He ran. An off-duty police officer leaving the jail, who hadn’t been involved at all, drew his weapon and shot him in the back. Nicholas died from his injuries.

I watched videos of his mom and brother talking about Nicholas. His dog, whose name was Rio or River (hence the river in the background), is hopefully OK and with the family…the hearts are for his family’s love, which was incredibly apparent in the videos. His mom kept saying, “Why is my son dead?” Damn good question, San Diego Police. Damn good question. I live here in San Diego County, but hadn’t heard about this case at all until I was assigned Nicholas as part of the SJSA Remembrance Project. We know the cops aren’t trained to deal with mental-health issues. They also clearly need training on how to handle situations without a gun. Although I feel for the young man who has been charged with second-degree murder in Nicholas’ death, I hope that he and others come out of this situation with a reticence to shoot first, ask questions later.

Saturday also included a socially distanced art meeting to jury in new members…

It was warm. But nice to see other humans. Maybe we can do this…meet with other humans safely about art and other stuff? It would be nice.

Nova guarding my school notebook. She’s apparently there now too…

Sweet kitty…I need to write in that notebook in 15 minutes.

This is the day we see all the kids with shorter classes. I think I’m planned and ready. I never feel ready. It’s supposed to be hot again today, but then get 20 degrees cooler by Thursday. I’ll take that. Tonight, I’m hoping to get some much-needed exercise in, although I’m cooking tonight, which might make it difficult if it stays hot late…and then iron the quilt onto a background. It’s about time I got this thing done.

I Need You to Back Off…

Currently appreciating the quiet morning and a gentle cool breeze that will be replaced by slightly scorching heat later. Only slightly scorching, because I think we’ll be under 100 degrees today. Maybe. I would like to still be asleep for another 20 minutes, but a cat woke me up and then my brain took over, panicking about the to-do list, as it is wont to do (and I wish it wouldn’t). I can’t catch up with anything. This is often the case, but it’s worse this year. I will get a handle on it. Brain, please remember that was the FIRST week of the new schedule and you will eventually figure out some balance and maybe manage the one unknown curriculum and the other two nonexistent curricula. Or not. I have two of the three days planned for science next week, and the other one is roughed in. I just need enough headspace to see the big picture and figure out timing, make the posts, finish the slides, make an agenda, sacrifice a baby lamb (wait, all lambs are babies) to the Goddess of Get It Done, and then it will all be fine. Art? Art is OK? Maybe? None of the posts are made, the agendas barely exist, and there are a few notes, but it will be OK? I just don’t know. I’ve never really been an art teacher…making it is not the same as teaching it. I would be fine in person, but online is just fucking hard. It’s hard with science; it’s even harder with art. If I DO anything, they copy me. I don’t want that.

And then the grading. There’s too many things. I’m picking and choosing, but it’s an avalanche of stuff that hit yesterday, and then my printer cartridge died and I thought I had ordered another one, but I never hit the submit order button, fuck me, so yesterday, I’m trying to find one and they’re sold out everywhere, the Staples guy who can’t keep his mask over his nose, big geeky guy, he’s just trying to help, telling me to try CVS, and I’m like, I’m not driving all over looking for this thing. A knockoff arrives today, the real deal on Tuesday. Fuck me, Hewlett Packard, you need to keep us in supply. When did printer ink become the new toilet paper? Or flour?

I keep telling myself it will be OK, it will get better. I can only keep telling myself that, because otherwise I will lose my already-stretched-thin mind.

You see, art is what always gave me balance. And at the end of a 12-hour-teacher day, I don’t have the energy for art right now. Or barely. So when I say it’s not sustainable, SURE, I can lesson plan and teach (and who the fuck has the time to contact parents right now?) for 12-14 hours a day…I’ve been doing it for 7 weeks now, but I am not OK because I can’t fit the art in. I need that. Maybe you need time with your family or a good book (I read for 10 minutes during lunch on a good day) or a massage (oh wait, I do need one of those). I need time making art. When I’m teaching art? I’m managing a bunch of kids on chat, trying to answer their questions, crazily trying to grade some thing that the state of California needs to prove my students are engaged in the curriculum, and trying to plan the next day, plus check their work as they’re doing it. I’d love to sit there and draw with them, but I can’t.

It’s fine. It makes me want to cry just typing that, because it’s not, but I’m an adult with a lot of persistence and talents and I will survive this fucking year. Speaking of this fucking year, my SIL sent me a dumpster fire sticker.

I love it. I need to decide where it should go. I love stickers, but I never know what to do with them. If I stick them on something and then it isn’t out where I can see it forever, then I can’t see the sticker any more. I guess I could start papering the bathroom. It needs it.

I love this kid already.

I am this kid. Except I’m the teacher, so I don’t get to do that. I also want to go in the breakout room where all the videos and mics are off. Also I don’t get to do that. Because I’m the teacher. Introverts in education! Don’t unite! Unless it’s in your own personal blanket fort.

Thursday night, late, I finished ironing pieces down for the SJSA Remembrance block.

It’s supposed to be done today (shh…don’t tell them I’m running late). It might be. I mean, I have until midnight, right? And it doesn’t need to be quilted. I thought about cutting pieces out Thursday night, but that thought exhausted me and I just sat there on the couch and stared at the pieces and the cat and social media.

Last night, I was better. I put on Enola Holmes, the movie (great movie, by the way), and got them all cut out…

Although it was still hot and the fan was still on and the dog was over there.

Done. Iron them together, stitch them down, and put a stitching outline in. And done. I can do that. I think. Today is not a quiet, do-nothing day, though…

Kitten’s response to my to-do list.

I went to school yesterday, rummaged around the front office (everyone was gone) and found the kid supply bags for delivery and mailing to some who don’t have them, visited my prep room, which was sad, put the old unit box away, stole the new stuff out of the box…

This time, I only brought home bags of rocks, some evidence cards, a pie tin, a couple of coffee filters, an evidence gradient, and the list my co-teacher made me of all her kids, a pithy note for each, which I’ve only barely looked at, because I haven’t had time. Instead of reading my book with breakfast today, I will read the list. Or maybe I will wait until Monday. I know co-teachers are walking away from school and computers on Friday night, and I try to do that, but when you’re home, it’s hard, and when I know I have too much to do and I don’t want to feel buried or unprepared on Monday, I can’t do it. I will try to keep Saturday clear and then kill myself with work on Sunday. Not healthy.

When my school office manager emailed earlier Friday that there was leftover pizza and they would deliver it to our rooms, I offered that I was only 2 1/2 miles away…it took her a while to figure out where I was. No pizza was delivered. I miss being at school. I miss people. I miss moving around during the day. I miss my classroom.

This was me last night, lying on the floor, trying to get my back and hips to stop hurting. Simba and I played with the ball for a bit while I stretched.

Then Calli stole the ball and that was it.

Here’s my quilt You Pollute Me at the International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, NE, through November 29. She is part of the For the Love of Gaia exhibit there. A Facebook friend sent me a photo of her on this great yellow wall.

I appreciate that. It’s a reminder of why the art is important. Of why I have to find the time for it. I have to simplify something else to get that time. School, you are a total mindfuck right now and I need you to back off.

Today I have exercise (yay) plus a socially distanced art meeting out in Ramona to jury new members…masks and cold water and bring your own snacks and chair and we’ll be outside. It’ll be good. I hope. I can’t do schoolwork there, so that’s a thing. Oh yeah, and it’s October and we are that much closer to the election and cooler weather and a camping trip and another trip to 29 Palms, and maybe all that will help my brain be where it needs to be. Ugh. This year. I have a job. I am lucky. It’s fine.