Louder and More Demanding, But Not More Important

Yikes. I think I added three meetings to my schedule just last night…and the weekends are full already I think. And grades! Deep breaths again. It’s funny (not funny) how in just 24 hours I can go from feeling like I might have things under control to kind of a crazy feeling of impending doom. I have too much to do. Next week is no different. The meetings, the list of things that need to be done, the pile of grading (it’s a real pile at school…a notional one here at home, with so much on the computer)…and two different things going on this weekend. I can see why I let exercise slip for a while last year. I’m back on that horse…but it’s time. Time is always the issue.

So I have a plan for the day. Get as much done at school as I can. Come home and walk the dogs. They wanted me to yesterday, but I wanted to go to the gym…so I did. They got their yard time at the other house, so they were fine. They just are so funny…following me around, looking for dog-walk-prep hints. Is she changing her clothes? Is she carrying socks? Which shoes does she have? It must be a walk. And then it’s just the gym and they are sad. They really should be able to tell from the socks and shoes.

Then after I walk them today (because it’s something I need just as much as they do), I can grade an assignment…and then I’m going to sort the Wonder Under, because I did finish cutting yesterday. It took an extra two hours…

So that’s a little over 6 hours total. Not bad. Sorting will take about an hour, and then I’ll check existing fabrics in my stash for a background…most of this quilt is covered with pieces, so there’s no need to worry about a fancy background. It will mostly be hidden. If I need fabric, I can get it tomorrow. I have a friend thing to do tomorrow, plus I need to pick up that lost quilt (that I found). And grade some more…and hopefully start picking out fabrics. That’s a lot to do in a day. Plus we might need to do grocery shopping Saturday, because we have a thing on Sunday. Yikes. I’m realizing how much I need to get done tonight…if I lose Sunday. Stress.

But first, a meeting this morning, a lab all day (oh dear), plus as much grading as I can get done during the day. I didn’t grade last night…I took a night off. I always feel bad when I do that, because it makes me feel more behind. But I”m going to be behind no matter what. I need to find a way to be at peace with my crazy overwhelming life. If I stop going to the gym and hiking and making art, I’ll have time for my job. But my job isn’t more important than those things. It’s louder and more demanding, but it’s not more important.

I’ll Be At Least Two People Today*

It’s dark out. The birds are chirping. The cats are awake because they’re freakin’ nocturnal. The dogs? Not so much…looking for a soft place to land, preferably with their head on someone’s leg. Or foot. Or whatever. Yes, another morning meeting. This week is kicking my butt. Although…I’m kicking its butt too…it’s the third night I’ve finished grading a new assignment (yes, they’re relatively small). I have the one huge one at school, which I’m slogging through, and then about 3 more that need doing. I’m catching up! It’s an illusion. I never catch up. Like there’s no homework to grade this week, but that’s because I will have to grade all the bits and pieces of their projects after next Friday. So I need to be done with the big project by then. Ugh. I remember this now. I had blocked it out for a reason. It’s a great idea, an awesome project, but a pain in the ass to grade. Yup. Totally.

Plus I need a solution for two kids who are really low, English is hard, one reads but only if I stand over him (in a class of 33 with about 12 other needy kids, that doesn’t count the kids who COULD do it but are wasting time and refusing to work so they need constant attention). So that’s not happening. And this project CAN be a group project, if the kids choose, but no one wants to work with these two boys, because they are annoying. Sigh. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have a plan for the lab days, but not the design/video days. I’m already frustrated with the two of them and trying very hard not to be, because it’s not totally their fault. They don’t understand learned helplessness yet. Well, I guess they DO, because it gets them results. Sometimes this job is so exhausting because of stuff like that. I left school trying to solve that problem, I took a break from it for a little while last night, but I woke up this morning with it still in my head, unsolved. It never stops. The solution is more help in the class. We don’t get that in public schools.

I had a meeting last night and got nothing done in it…strange…I can usually get something done. I won movie tickets though! I’m going to make someone come to the theater with me.

Then I came home and graded for a while, and then back to the task at hand…

Cutting out pieces. The quilt that needs the binding is still sitting over there, undone. I’m on a mission with this other quilt. It has a deadline. The other one can wait if it needs to. I had furry assistance on all sides.

In fact, I felt bad getting up to warm up my tea. Dislodging the dog. Except you need to stand up occasionally. I cut stuff out for about an hour and a half…I’m getting closer to done.

Those scissors are really nice. Birthday gift. They’re serrated, but not noticeably. We’ll see how they do on the fabric/Wonder Under combo. I have that little bit of that yard and one more yard to do…so probably another hour and a half maximum. Tonight is the gym, though, so who knows how much energy I will have after that. Probably I’m not grading anything tonight and that’s OK. Although there’s a kid who’s blaming me for her grade because she turned something in late and I didn’t immediately jump off the couch from my artmaking activities and grade it for her. When I asked why she didn’t turn stuff in on time, she told me that she “had a life.” Ah. Well I do too. Not as much as a 12-year-old apparently. But she can wait until the weekend.

So I’m hoping to finish tonight anyway. It’s probably OK if I don’t grade every night.

It’s not OK if I don’t make art every night. Sanity is important. Happiness is important. Feeling artistically content is a very good thing. So is exercise and reading books and eating healthy and trying to be a calm teacher even when your brain is tired and not controlling things very well. A good thing to remember this week, because the kids are tired too. And I’m the adult in the room.

*Gnarls Barkley, Who Cares?

I Smelt the Last Ten Seconds of Life*

Think about all the ways you try to control stress. How many of them increase it? What actually helps? I know I hike, read, draw, make art, and go to the gym…to start. I try to stop working on my day job in enough time each night so that I can let art brain wander around for a bit, but I’ve been carrying a small drawing around in my head for a few days now with no time to get her out. Or I just forget because the to-do list is clamoring for my attention. That to-do list never shuts up though. I did get one thing off the list last night that has been on there for a good two weeks. I hadn’t done it just because I needed one piece of information and kept forgetting to find it out, and finally said fuck it. It’s not important. I think of myself as fairly efficient, although yes, phones and social media have negatively affected that…but I try to see the positives in that too. There’s a connection to the larger world (and the art world) that I didn’t have before…even though it’s totally distracting and sometimes a total time suck.

Part of the stress factor, though, is our reaction to it. And I suck at that. I mean, I’m great at it if there’s a sabre-tooth tiger running at me on a constant basis…I can react really quickly and efficiently, but since that’s not what’s happening, it’s not a particularly useful skill. And the stress levels are already too high. My job doesn’t help with that, but I could be more chill about it. Always. But if I stress about being more chill, it’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? Laugh more. Goof off more. Draw more. Make more art. There’s 4 1/2 weeks until Spring Break. It will be OK.

So I finished grading two assignments yesterday. Five more to go. One is huge. I’m getting there. I’m always getting there. This week is exhausting. Already.

After grading, I get to cut things out though…

Uber crazy closeup. I have about 2 1/2 yards left…so maybe halfway through? So another 2 1/2 hours is what I’m guessing. I have time tonight…and tomorrow night I should be done? Maybe? We’ll see. I’d like to iron to fabric this weekend. That would be nice. So I should think about background fabric…see if I have enough. I’m still trying to use things up that I’ve already bought.

I finished watching The Passage. I can’t decide if they’ve set it up for a second season or not. I read the books…and really liked them. I guess we’ll wait and see.

The top box is almost full. I might need to pull a bigger box to finish. Probably yes. Tonight I’ll do that. Along with other stress-relieving stuff.

*The Smiths, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

And Oh My Days We’re Rolling*

Somehow I have to persuade my body that midnight is an hour earlier. I find it difficult to go to bed earlier than my body wants me to…although by the end of the week, I’m sure exhaustion from not enough sleep will help. Right now, today, this very early morning that isn’t early but is…ugh. Ouch. Erg. Holding it together but feeling the pain, and it’s only Tuesday. My longest day. Maybe. Tomorrow might be longer.

My students handed in a shit-ton of work yesterday. Good for them, painful for me. I’m getting through stuff. Slowly. As always. It feels more than a little bit overwhelming at the moment. I graded two more classes of tests last night and an entire assignment during a staff meeting (yes, I was mostly listening). Today the kids are starting a project…on some days, I will be buried under the labs, but today is pretty low-key. One more class of tests to grade and then I can work on the massive pile of Unit 5. Ugh.

I took a break there to send out a work email I needed to do. I forget about stuff if I don’t calendar it or do it right when I remember. Happens often.

So after work yesterday, the one plus of the time change is the increased PM daylight for walking dogs…

I don’t have to race home. It’s so beautiful out there right now.

Although some of that beauty is poison oak growing like crazy. Should keep that in mind.

I use an app to track the distance, but the clouds must have been messing with it yesterday (it was raining the whole time we walked)…because that mess at the bottom is not what we did…

We did a little out and back, reconnaissance, trying to figure out what the orange flowers were (poppies…but all folded up)…but not that crazy stuff. So the mileage was off too. We heard a group of coyotes singing to us…maybe the same young ones as a few weeks ago…but didn’t see any.

After dinner, I graded, and then did a few more small drawings. This one is a bit weird for an embroidery design.

But this one might work…

Who knows. I don’t.

On to the next stage on the most current quilt (no, I haven’t finished the binding on the other one yet…why?).

I should be able to get all the Wonder Under cut out this week. Easily. Then on to ironing to fabric. Simba wanted belly rubs…

I combed him a bit too after the mud run we did this afternoon. After everyone else goes to bed or shuts their door, I get the dogs…

Well. And one of the cats…eventually he reached up and started kneading Calli’s leg, at which point, I shoved him off. I never know how Calli will react.

It was cold…so pushing your face into a dog leg makes sense I guess.

I got about 1 1/2 yards cut out…

Not bad. Using new scissors. They have a name on them, but all I can think of right now (so very wrongly) is Tim Horton. That’s wrong. They were a birthday present. We’ll see how my hand feels.

Crap. It’s late. Gotta go to work. Art tonight for sure. And grading. Sigh.

*alt-J, Left Hand Free

She Isn’t Sure Where She’s Gone*

Someone I know called the Daylight Savings change in Spring “Satan’s Favorite Time Change.” I agree. Morning dark. Sleep little. Body confused. Why again? So I can haz the daylight later. OK. But that was coming anyway. Is this the real time? Or was the real time over the last 3 months? Wait. I’m asking the Google. Ah. No. This is the fake time. No wonder my brain is rebelling. I hate fake things. Fake time, fake boobs, fake news, fake people. Yeah. So. We’re all in pain together this morning.

I’m going to need to write fast this morning…yet another early meeting on a Monday. Never a good plan.

Saturday’s hike was nice…not super long, but a little chilly and long enough…

My favorite oaks…expansive views…

Flowers popping up everywhere…

I just wanted to get outside and burn some calories and experience some nature. Luckily my partner’s a good sport (I suspect on his birthday, we will be eating burgers and listening to music instead of sweating up a hill).

I don’t mind that either.

So many wildflowers…and new growth…

I love how the new growth is such a different color…

New oak leaves are gorgeous. Even the dead yucca flowers are nice.

We were stalked by crows on most of the hike…

Yelling at us. We yelled back. We stacked some rocks…

Silly humans. Official selfie of my 2019 birthday hike…

Then we came back, went to a block meeting about fixing our road (deep breaths over the dollar amounts), and went out to a nice dinner. I even traced some Wonder Under: so art, food, hiking, all in one day. Really, totally, the way to do it.

I finished tracing all of it last night…about 9 hours worth.

It’s not so much. Really. I don’t have a ton of days to finish this. Oh! I found the lost quilt. It was on consignment. I should keep better track of that shit. They had two of mine. Whoops. But I feel much better about finding it! Sheesh. Anyway, the next step is cutting this out…

I even got new scissors for my birthday. We’ll see how they go. And here’s my selfie for #marchmeetthemaker…me with my art…

Holding It All In…is the title. But maybe also my occasional mantra. Not necessarily a good thing. Art tonight! But first school and a meeting and walking the dogs and whatever else is in store for me today.

*Talking Heads, And She Was

Running Out of Hours

So it’s my 52nd birthday. It’s not young. It’s not old. I mean, some days I feel really old, like after bending down to put 140 pieces of sunprint paper on the ground for my students. OK, I didn’t do 8th period that day, so it was only 120 bends to the ground. Or so. I felt old that night. Ouch. Or just painful. Try explaining that to the doctor. You did what? But my grandma died at 107 and my great aunt at 97.5, so I’m feeling OK about the 50s. I know some don’t. Ah well. I remember being 35 and newly separated and that was really hard…way harder than 50. So maybe it’s what’s going on at the time as well as the numbers. It’s all in our heads anyway, isn’t it?

So I rarely get to have my birthday on a weekend, not a work day, so this is nice. I can actually plan a day with no school demands. Because I am ignoring the assignments that need grading. I’m eating a tasty and healthy breakfast of apples and oatmeal, I have a hike planned, where my co-hiker is accepting that my definition of “mostly flat” is that it evens out. There’s up and downs in a similar quantity. And then I do have a thing I have to go to here on the block, a meeting about our road issues, but then there’s an art opening and dinner somewhere. I might even draw. Who knows? It’s a Day without Requirements.

Yesterday after school (and all that crazy), I went to my monthly stitching meeting, and the clouds were oh so beautiful…

I love clouds. Well, OK, not the doom and gloom ones that I’m seeing this morning. But maybe they will wander off.

I worked on the African Buffalo. Again. More. He’s not done. This is so slow.

Granted I have not been working on it anywhere else, so there’s that.

I came home and did a little grading and it was late so I decided to art. Here’s my trusty companions. Asleep.

As always. More tracing. I’m in the upper 500s now…getting closer to done.

Fancy sun in this one. I think there’s about 4 yards of Wonder Under floating around that I’m trying to fill up with little pieces.

It’s a good feeling. The hair is done. All I have left is the face…which apparently has 225 pieces in it. I should be able to finish that today, I think. Well. I need to go to REI too. I suspect I’m going to run out of hours in the day.

This is Bob the crane fly. At least we hope he’s a crane fly and not a huge mosquito. I’m not good at telling the difference.

That’s also my partially dead mint, and my very dead basil and thyme. To my credit, they were mostly dead when I planted them from the fridge, so it’s not surprising that they are more dead now. I do plan to replace them. Maybe today! Need more hours in the day.

My birthday morning cat encroachment. He kept getting closer and closer to my face.

He would do this any day, not just my birthday. Because I am soft. I even got to talk to the girlchild…

Best birthday card yet…

Thanks Julie…and thank you, uterus, for giving up on that shit.

OK, I’m showered and fed, need more caffeine, need a nice walk in nature. That’s next.

The Stars Look Very Different Today*

It’s International Women’s Day. Tell a woman how awesome she is. Better yet, tell some people how awesome they are. It doesn’t really matter if they were born a woman or identify as a woman. Don’t tell them how pretty they are. Don’t ask them to smile. Don’t tell them to calm down. Don’t make it about you today. That goes for all you other women and female-identifiers too. We are our strongest supporters. Be one today. A supporter.

Me? I’m going to school and giving a test. This is apparently a surprise to some, like the kid who was emailing me yesterday afternoon, and then again an hour later to tell me I hadn’t answered yet (I didn’t see either email until I was at an art opening). He’s a nice kid in general though, so I took a breath and answered him. Three hours later. (like just look at your planner, kid. You wrote it down.)

I spent time at the doctor yesterday, still trying to figure out my Intercostal Alien. Seriously. That’s the new name of this random intermittent pain that I’ve had for 5+ months now. At least we have a plan to move forward at this point. We still don’t know what it is, and I’m annoying the gastro doctor (no, she’s been very nice), but whatever. Moving on. Trying to be healthy, exercise lots, and not freak out too much. As usual.

WordPress has apparently changed the damn app again, so I’m typing along, trying to figure out how to add pictures.

Oh there they are. Sigh. So I went to the opening last night of #rrrr Reduced, Restricted, Reserved but Resilient, where my piece Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman is hanging.

I get my own movable wall. I’m excited about that. I’ll post more about the show tomorrow, because I have a parent meeting this morning and I barely made it to work yesterday on time, so I have to do better today. Plus I have duty and I’m giving that test, so it would be nice to be ready for that. Which I’m not.

You’ll be glad to know that my last period of the day got enough sunshine to do their sunprints yesterday. They were glad. I was glad. It was a little crazy.

Closeup of my piece. There’s always interesting work in this show, based around El Dia de La Mujer. I had a guy introduce himself and say he liked my work, and I was so tired, I didn’t really have a conversation. Whoops. Sorry if that was you. I hadn’t eaten dinner and I’d been ON for like way too many hours by then. Try me again. I’ll be more forthcoming. (Maybe. Wait. I should admit that I’m not socially ept.)

I came home, ate, and then even though I brought work home, I didn’t do it. It was almost 11 when I started tracing again.

I see progress though. I’m up in her hair…so just her hair and face are left to do, I think. And the sun. There’s a lot of details in there, but I’m more than halfway done. I am incredibly behind on grades again though. Sigh. I refuse to grade tomorrow. Seriously.

Details. I traced the cat. Last thing I did, just after midnight. OK. So off to school, successful day, meeting with friends tonight (always look forward to that), some stitching, some tracing, some SLEEP. Yeah baby. Sleep.

*Peter Schilling, Major Tom