Saturday, March 29, 2014


I don't know exactly when my sleep problem started, but I'm not too excited about it. I'm kind of too tired to be excited about anything.

It's not that I can't fall asleep, it 's that I often don't See, many trials have proved that I can snuggle up and nod off easily if Sam is awake. If Sam is awake, and I know he's there next to me awake, sleeping is simple. I don't even think about it.

This means I should be sleeping right now, you say? That would be nice. The thing is that Sam falls asleep like it's his job. He falls asleep with no trouble, anywhere, anytime. Well, maybe not anytime--Anytime he has a reason to be slightly tired. He's asleep right now. Last night he told me that every night at the same time I could snuggle up against him and he would watch a show until I fell asleep. I told him he's the one who needs sleep, I don't do anything, and he has a job. He doesn't like it when I say things like that. He explained how terrible it made him feel when I didn't sleep.

When Sam is awake, I feel safe; I peacefully drift off next to him. I didn't realize that I needed this. I didn't realize how vulnerable I feel at night. You see, I hadn't admitted to myself that since I stopped teaching, the idea of tomorrow, haunts me tonight. I didn't know until the one time that I fell asleep while he watched a show and stroked my hair. I woke up the next morning... rested. Did that really happen? It happens so infrequently, it feels bitter-sweet writing about it now.

Honestly, I've always imagined that if someone broke into the house in the middle of the night, I'd be the one to confront the intruder with a frying pan to the face, or scissors to the eyeball. That's gross. It's just that I'm not scared of things like that. Not that Sam would be more scared, he's just super out of it if his sleep is interrupted. On the other hand, I apparently can sleep through ridiculously disruptive and loud What I mean is I don't feel safe when I'm alone; or at least not at ease when I'm alone in my thoughts. I'm scared of not sleeping. I'm scared of how I will fail tomorrow, because I so tired. These hours, when I am desperately exhausted emotionally, I feel myself spiraling into darkness too easily, yet not the dark kind that means my eyes are closed and so I can't see. When I'm alone, I think too much. I can't unwind myself from around everything that was and is and will be. I can't find peace. I can't believe this is where I am. I can't believe I'm sitting here or laying there awake when I want to be asleep because I am tired from teaching all day, or doing something that has meaning with my daylight hours.

I would never write if I slept.  I write when I can't sleep.  I wish I could read when I can't sleep.  My eyes burn, though, and my arms fall asleep holding the book.  At times, I make friends with other people who don't sleep. It's nice to have someone to talk to when I feel most alone.  Because I never feel more alone, more lonely, than I do at 3:00 am, and the house is quiet, and I tiptoe to look at each bed--each of my loves--all sleeping so sweetly, so beautifully, so peacefully.  I could watch them all night.  At least they fell asleep knowing I was here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bimbo Bobbins.

Joanna is a delightfully ridiculous dichotomy.  (I'm going to approach the whole personal blog thing from third person, from now on, fyi.  It just feels right.  No, no that's not going to happen.  Honestly, I just couldn't write, "I am,"  and use the adjective delightful in my opening sentence if I was clearly talking about myself. Who calls herself delightful?  Not this girl).  From the title, I bet you think I'm going to write about scandalous tarty escapades, but get ready for this craziness:  I'm going to write about sewing.  And that's just ridiculous.  Because, although my mother and older sister are accomplished seamstresses, I am the most terrible sewing machine user, and craft of sewing abuser.  I'm terrible, I tell you.  My mother-in-law bought me a sewing machine one Christmas about 10 years ago, with lots of quilting accessories.  I was horrified. My face reveals almost everything I am thinking.  As I looked down at the box, I was torn.  I knew I should look up and thank her, but I thought it was better for me to study the box in deep interest.  And it is interesting stuff.  There are so many little parts, and so many features and types of stitches, and directions and... and so much stuff you have to remember.  That takes patience.  I've got none of that unless I'm dealing with human beings.  As I looked at the box, and the quilting book, my face did light up in a big smile.  I was imagining myself making a big crazy quilt, and in my head that movie starring me was super hilarious.
It's not that I didn't want to learn to sew, or want to sew, it was just that I had tried and I hated it.  It made me feel great anxiety.  I decided to never do it again.  I now had my very own sewing machine.  Hmmm...

These past ten years did lead to me sewing about 20 pillows, which Sam had no idea what to do with or dare to ask if I had any plan for where they all would actually go.  Well, there was no plan, I can tell you that.  I just felt inspired to have a Better Homes and Gardens worthy house, and that meant I needed to make pretty stuff, or upholster a chair or something.  I realized that I could sew a fairly straight line, and I could sew it inside out, then turn it right side out and even if my stitches weren't the straightest, they looked like pillows.  I could make pillows!  I made pillows.  Sam told me to stop making pillows.  See, whenever I used the sewing machine I needed Sam right there and ready to fix it every time I broke something one of its parts or I jacked it up.  He told me to watch how he did these things so I could fix it myself the next time.  I didn't watch him.  He re-threaded it for me, replaced the bobbin which was always jammed or empty and needed attention.  I broke several needles.  I was on fire.   

I put the sewing machine away.  

So, I knew I couldn't sew even when I was no so very depressed and not the president of Joanna is a Loser and she Sucks Club.  But I get these bursts of my old determination and fire, and I do things like volunteer to make 10 "pioneer girl" aprons for the 10 little girls in Stella and Michael's first grade class.  Oh, make that 12.  Stella told me 10 girls, but it was 12.  12 aprons.  I got home that day, after working in their classroom and I thought, "I'll just get the old sewing machine out and do this thing.  My head was like, "You know how to hem, and pleat, and attach waistbands and...  Then I figured out that I couldn't make aprons like I could make pillows.  I could not just sew at table vibrating speeds, barely paying attention, and then just turn it inside out and hide the mess inside...   Nope...  Everything was going to show...  I realized... as I got to my third apron.  These don't look so good, I thought.  I taught Stella how to sew a straight line, just as my mother had taught me when I was a little girl:  Take it easy, guide it like this, don't take your eyes off it, not too fast.  She sat there and hemmed one full apron by herself.  I actually had to cook dinner and I was not standing over her shoulder.  She didn't break or jack up anything.  And her stitches were super straight.  I'm an amazing teacher.

That evening I sat back down and kept my eye on what I was doing, and learned that if I folded the hem over twice and stitched it down, it would look a lot nicer.  Sam fixed the bobbin only two more times, I think.  

You think you know where the slot is...
The next day was actually the day I needed to bring the aprons into school.  I figured I had all morning to get them done, but I underestimated how much time it takes to be careful and make it look nice all sides out.  And, darn it, Sam wasn't here to fix the stupid machine for me.   I had to really look at the directions and figure out how to do it myself.  I'm not sure why the pictorial directions didn't make sense 10 years ago, especially that stupid, dumb bobbin.  The picture didn't make sense.  Was that the slot or the finger?  (Nope. Don't).  Where do I put the stupid thread?  I wanted to cry.  I might have cried a little bit after I took apart the bobbin tray for the 12th time, realizing it wasn't right, wasn't right.  Then it all made sense to me.  It appeared to me like those optical illusions where you should see the witch and the young girl, not just the witch.  (FTR: I always saw witch and girl, faces and goblet, because I have that kind of brain when I'm just looking at a picture for fun).  Slot!  Finger!  I understand!  I fixed it myself.  And it worked.  And then I knew I was going to be on Project Runway next year, for sure.  What's strange is when I understood that diagram of the bobbin, I also understood the rest of the manual.  I read all the English pages and knew I was... on fire.  

Anyway, I finished 6 aprons in less than 3 hours.  That's making pretty good time, if you saw my process.  I added some fancy colored ties and details to the ones I had sewed on a vibrating table.  Non-spoiled 7 year old kids really appreciate anything that someone is giving them to really have, and to keep forever, and bring home, and everything.  The girls did love them.  I just gave them all scissors and had them cut off all the loose threads as we learned about dying yarn with food and stuff, like Laura Ingalls in the "Big Woods."  We made biscuits the next Friday, all the girls in their aprons, and I took the aprons home to wash them that weekend.  Yeah, they kind of fell apart.  I still kind of thought they were an amazing feat.  My mother looked them over pointed out all the stuff I should have done.  And so, my sewing adventure had just begun.  I needed to redo a lot of the work.  I had to rip off shredded ties, and fix hems, and fold down the waistbands to cover the "inside outs."  I re-made some beautiful aprons.  That weekend I actually started saving free, downloadable sewing patterns to my Pinterest site, and looking at Indian Kantha quilts thinking, I'm going to make one of those on Monday.  Because I absolutely can make one of those.  That looks easy.  And I'll make a dress for Stella too.  It will be awesome.

And this weekend I was finishing the lovely ties, (that were long enough to make a great big bow when worn), for the last few repaired aprons.  I got kind of tired of sewing and I kind of stopped paying attention.  I went as fast a the machine would let me sew, and broke a needle.  I fixed it myself, but things were really going downhill.  (Let's face it, I'm writing about sewing.  It was a shitastic landslide). Today I decided to make a basket insert (don't ask) with a fold over contrasting band.  I saw a picture of one.  I knew I could do it.  It was a shit show.  Mostly because I realized I didn't like to measure or follow directions or even look up directions to consider following.  I also didn't cut things straight.  I thought it was because I'm left handed and I've never been able to cut straight, but then I remembered my sister had bought me some nifty left-handed scissors, and I wasn't cutting straight because I didn't give a shit about cutting straight.  I was sick of doing everything straight aND NICE AND...  Sewing was not awesome.  I did not like my sewing machine.  I put that thing away.  And I decided it's not coming out until I actually give a shit.  
I made this.  No, no I didn't.

Now, I just wrote a whole lot of boring antidotes about sewing, but there is a deeper message in all of this, buried under piles of fabric scraps.  I KNEW I could do it, and I did it, (sort of did it...), but I KNEW I could.  And I thought I was going to be awesome.  I haven't felt that way about myself for a while, you know?  I was on fire.  

The dichotomy of "who" my depression is and who I am is becoming more apparent... to me...  I mean, I know, deep down, that depression is not who I am.  I'm not crazy.  So, the voice in my head telling me how much I suck, and this feeling inside of me that knows I'm awesome, is just a little confused right now.  Because I really suck at sewing with a sewing machine.  But I'm totally going to start hand sewing a kantha blanket tomorrow.  (And I'll proofread this thing tomorrow.  I need to sleep sometimes).