How can I explain?

How can I explain?

I’ve been busy. We got hit by that awful tornado on May 20 in Moore, OK. This is my daughter’s classroom. Her desk is under that truck. She was in that school when it got hit and she was pulled from the debris.

I don’t feel good. I went into Addisonian crisis during the tornado. I’ve been on extra steroids for months. I blew out my thyroid. I’m still in school full time, but I don’t work right now. I’m starting nurse practitioner school in the Fall if my health doesn’t get any worse.

I’ll be making some art for a show in May. I might post to this blog, or I might delete the whole thing. When I start seeing patients as a ARNP, I probably won’t want anybody snooping into my private thoughts. That wasn’t something I thought about when I started blogging in 2007. My name is all over interviews and artwork. I didn’t hold anything back. Sometimes I wish I could take it all back. Can you think of anything worse than having your most raw emotions show up when someone Googles your name? I didn’t know that I would grow up to have a license and patients.

I’m Alive!

I’ve been tired and busy.  I’m working on my RN degree while working full-time as an LPN in a skilled nursing unit.  Actually, I’m exhausted.  I haven’t had the energy to make anything lately.  It’s a triumph that I turned on the sewing machine and made this scrub top.  Now I feel like making stuff all the time again.  I’ve got a million ideas squirming around in my head.  Sometimes abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

I used New Look 6876 to make this top.  I altered the bodice to be surplice.  I plan on using this pattern again for scrubs.  The only problem is that this top is huge.  If you have any geeky fabric ideas, please send me a link.

I know it’s popular to trash nurses for wearing cartoon scrubs, but if you’ve never spent 40 hours a week keeping 15 people alive, please don’t judge.

If you’ve never seen what kind of boogers come out of a trach, trust me that I need something fun to brighten my day.

If you’ve never cleaned a wound so foul that you could smell it in your hair after a shower, then please give me a break about my clothing.

If you’ve never spilled colostomy juice on your shoes, you get the idea…

Nurses put up with a lot of shit–sometimes literally–so please don’t pick on our scrubs.

Stuff I still haven’t learned, despite 37 years of trying.

I had a birthday and I graduated nursing school.  I was valedictorian.  It was really hard, but I did it.  I wish I could feel good about it somehow, but I just can’t.  Part of the problem was the fact that some of my classmates didn’t finish.  I would have given my blood to save them, but I couldn’t.  I feel so responsible for everyone all of the time, that I take other people’s failure harder than my own.  I guess I have survivor’s guilt. 

The other part of the problem is just me being me.

I quit running.  I’ll come back eventually.  I managed to gain 10 lbs since Christmas and it’s really pissing me off.  Don’t worry, friends, I’ll be back soon.  I just don’t feel good right now.  I can’t stand the heat and Oklahoma is full of it. 

This lack of joy at my own brutally hard accomplishment has me thinking about my flaws.  I’m not the kind of person to concentrate on what is good about me.  I try too hard.  I care too much about the wrong people.  I can’t mind my own business.  I let things get to me that other people easily ignore.  (I constantly compare myself to others until I find a way to feel inferior.)

Here is a handy little list of all the things I didn’t learn in school this year.  These are the things I might never learn.

How to ask for help or comfort.

How to keep a desk clean.

What to thow away/what to keep.

When to relax.

How to see the bright side.

How to escape guilt.

When to quit.

How to keep friends.

How to quit eating my feelings.

How to eat without slobbing down the front of my shirt.

How to feel good about something I did.

How to see myself as worthy, smart, funny, or talented.

How to look in the mirror without disgust.

How to be a better, calmer, happier mother.

How to take medication as directed without waiting to get deathly ill to comply.

How to be a good stepmother.

How to handle disappointment.

How to take a compliment.

When to stop texting someone who is obviously avoiding me.

How to stay motivated to make art when I feel empty, lost, or overwhelmed.

How to take a joke when it hurts.

How to follow my own advice.

I’m a great nurse.  I almost deleted that to say that I’m a good nurse, but I’m trying hard here.  I’m a great nurse and a flawed person.  I’ve got a year before I go back to school for my RN career ladder.  I should probably concentrate on learning to accept myself and get my poop in a group while I’ve got so much time on my hands.

Want to play along?  What do you need to work on?  Feel free to use any of my learning objectives.


Old Abe

Untitled, originally uploaded by Drucilla Pettibone.

Here is a piece from the lovely and amazing Drucilla Pettibone for the Gay for Eagles show. I love her. I love that her artwork has her hand all over it. I can tell by looking at a thumbnail that something was made by Dru. She mixes vintage fabrics with rich embroidery and makes frickin’ awesome stuff. Check out the texture. My goodness…

More show info here:

Owl-Eyed Athena

I finished my portrait of Penny Nickels.

It took a long time.  I had a mostly finished portrait for a while, but I just wasn’t happy with it.  I couldn’t get the phrase Owl-Eyed Athena out of my head when I was working on it.  Since so much of Penny’s work is about mythology, I thought of her as a warrior/genius with big, creepy, owly eyes. 

I’m confused about this portrait.  I hate it because I’m shaking with self doubt all day every day lately.  I feel like a fraud artistically.  I also love this.  Honestly I think this is the most beautiful portrait I’ve ever made. 

Whatever.  It is what it is.  Now I need to make peace with my life and art and move on.

A lot going on

Many good things are happening these days.  The lovely and talented Dru curated a show based on my Gay for Eagles piece.  Check it out!  A couple of my pieces didn’t make it to the studio, but I have some weapons and a self-portrait hanging. 

I’m extremely depressed that I spent my day taking a miserable Mental Health Nursing exam instead of attending the show at Hotel Hadley Studios.  If I had known how bad the test would be, I’d have tried harder to go to NC.  School is such a beast right now that I can’t even schedule a doctor’s appointment.  I can’t miss 5 fucking minutes and non-nursing students have a hard time understanding that.  The end is in sight, but it feels farther away than ever right now.  I graduate June 10, then I get to sit for the NCLEX-PN.  Then I get to do another year of this to become an RN.  I’ve decided that taking some time off to just work as an LPN is the best decision for my mental and physical health right now. 

Every LPN to RN career ladder nurse I’ve met says that the RN (care plan writing school) portion of the ladder is much easier than the LPN portion.  I didn’t respect LPNs the way I should have.  I thought they were just glorified CNAs.  I had no idea how hard the schooling was.  I had no idea how hard they work.  With the exception of hanging blood, pushing certain IV cardiac medications, and writing care plans, LPNs do full nursing duties.  They just don’t get paid much to do it.  They also don’t get the respect they deserve.  God bless nurses no matter what letters follow their names!

In other news, Leanne Prain wrote a book about unexpected embroidery to be published this Fall.  I am so honored to be interviewed in this book.  The Amazon page is up.  Add this baby to your wishlist!  Here is the publisher’s description:

Hoopla, by the co-author of 2009’s bestselling Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, showcases those who take the craft of embroidery where it’s never gone before, in an astonishing, full-color display of embroidered art. Hoopla rebels against the quaint and familiar embroidery motifs of flowers and swashes, and focuses instead on innovative stitch artists who specialize in unusual, guerrilla-style patterns such as subway maps, feminist Girl Guide badges, and metal band letterforms; it demonstrates that modern embroidery artists are as sharp as the needles with which they work.

Hoopla includes twenty-nine innovative embroidery patterns and profiles of contemporary embroidery artists, including Jenny Hart, author of Sublime Stitching; Rosa Martyn of the UK-based Craftivism Collective; Ray Materson, an ex-con who learned to stitch in prison; Sherry Lynn Wood of the Tattooed Baby Doll Project, which collaborated with female tattoo artists across the United States; Penny Nickles and Johnny Murder, the self-proclaimed Bonnie and Clyde of embroidery; and Alexandra Walters, a military wife who replicates military portraits and weapons in her stitching.

Full-color throughout and bursting with history, technique, and sass, Hoopla will teach readers how to stitch a mythical jackalope; needlepoint nipple doilies, a ransom note pillow, and mean and dainty knuckle-tattoo church gloves; and create their own innovative embroidery projects. If you like anarchistic DIY craft and the idea of deviating from the rules, Hoopla will inspire you to wield a needle with flair!

I’m a little over 1/4 of the way through my 1000 miles of running.  I’ve been struggling with keeping my blood pressure high enough with my Addison’s Disease and the stress of nursing school, so I don’t run as often as I want to.  I had an adrenal crisis in March and had to take massive doses of steroids for weeks and they make me feel like crap.  I’m seeing a new endocrinologist who is going to try to keep me healthy and energetic, so I have a lot of hope that I’ll be back on track soon.

Enough about me!  What have you been up to lately?

Outrunning Fear

Catch me if you can!, originally uploaded by maltoodle.

*This isn’t my embroidery. Click through to see who owns it.

I don’t have a lof of self esteem, especially when it comes to body image. That should be no surprise to anyone. I wear a size 14. My butt bounces when I run. No matter how much weight I lose, I still feel like a loser.

It’s hard for me to run outside. On the treadmill, nobody can see me and I’m free to jiggle all over the place. Out in public I get paranoid. People stare, especially men. I feel completely self-consious. I am the only fat runner in the neighborhood. The running track next to our house is full of skinny women in tiny shorts.

Anyway, I was out for a quick 3 mile run yesterday (an “easy 3″ even though it isn’t exactly easy for me yet.) I saw a morbidly obese woman on a Rascal Scooter out walking her little dog. As I got closer, I waved hello and yelled, “Cute dog!” She smiled and started clapping and cheering for me as I ran past her. It almost made me cry.

It was a weird feeling. I started running so I wouldn’t end up like her–sick and disabled. Now I run because I love it–even though I’m slow and fat. I was bracing myself to be judged harshly for my appearance, but somebody out there treated me like a hero. It was a moving experience.

What could we all do if we didn’t fear criticism? What could we all do if we had a little encouragement? I’m going to run 1000 miles this year. I left my fear three miles back.


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