Friday, January 28, 2011

I can't believe I am writing this (my phobia).

As with other things I'm craving lately (I bought a bag of oreos today), I woke up craving Wilco's album, Summerteeth, and the song "Theologians" which I'm currently listening to.
It's a weird thing to listen to some of these songs because, like so many people can probably relate, songs become play lists of years or seasons, and for me, I will indulge myself with recalling the particulars of the year these songs take me back to.
The year was 2006, during the spring, when I was a freshman at the University of Nebraska in Kearney. The year was long and arduous, the start of what would be known as "the dark years." I was lonely and struggling and I blamed it on the school, the midwestern city, but obviously I was just transfering blame on something arbitrary and ambiguous. [note people:cities cannot be personified. A city does not destroy or heal. But I've only realized that recently.] In the spring of 2006 I was beginning to see the end of my hellish year. I could listen to upbeat music (melodically not lyrically) like Theologians and drive in my little Jetta off campus maybe to Walmart, maybe to Goodwill, sometimes even to my Grandma and Grandpa Butherus' farm for the weekend (why didn't I do that more?) but the sun was sunnier and the days were longer and I was beginning to feel better?
But I was also skinnier, and alot more secluded, and way more cynical than I had ever been before. And I was comfortable with this. It felt really safe to be isolated. The life I had created there had become a sanctuary, a limited one with out any intrusions. Going back home for spring break was a necessary intrusion but one that may have carved out some pathway in my brain that Summerteeth triggers even now. I had been losing weight since the beginning of that school year; a thing that started unconciously became a concious effort and Mom wanted me to get checked out, to see if anything was wrong. Everyone knew what was going on, I think, but a blood test was ordered just to see "what was going on." Maybe somewhere in me felt like it was a punishment. People who know me, know that I hate needles, I hate doctor's visits, but to the point of phobia, panic attacks, and fainting spells. And I got the test, and I felt fine, and I was telling mom on the drive home how good I was feeling after the test. But when we passed Lemay and Prospect my vision narrowed and I was out. I woke up in some neighborhood, with Summerteeth in the background and Mom saying that she was getting me a milkshake.

To this day I've been conditioned, irrationally, i don't know, maybe even superstitiously to have some uncomfortable aversion to Summerteeth. It goes beyond bringing up bad memories; rather, somewhere I think it will make it happen again. [Now, when I see it written, I think, "how silly"]. But honestly, I still hate driving on Prospect or Lemay.

So why the craving for it now? I've craved it before, but denied it. I think, really, that somewhere I know I have to face these strange little triggers for what they are....nothing at all. It is a song or an album, a good song, that is nice to listen to. Not something that made me pass out--I was less than 11o pounds, I don't know, but that's probably something to do with the frequency with which I passed out during that year. But the feeling that I need to face them is also for a purpose; my life is changing, and I'm going to have to grow up and do uncomfortable things, things that turn my stomach, not for myself but for another.

I have a doctor's appointment on Monday, and I'm getting my blood drawn. And now it's time to reverse what are the neurological pathways that tell me, "oh! blood needles, doctors office, we're turning on Lemay, summerteeth, you can't do anything, pass out," and rather replace with an affirmation and a working through these experiences to not fall into the pathway that causes me to protect myself with panic and escape, but to emerge with a peace that none of my strange associations are true things. They are only inventions that have helped protect me in the past but now serve no purpose but only to limit me. It's like living EMDR. I am going to face it, maybe even with Summerteeth in the background.


What's really amazing to me right now is how our bodies seem to know what they need, and how (i want to insert an explicative to make my point more loud or extreme or something) blessed and lucky and absolutely thankful I am to be at a point where I can hear myself again. Where my mind is so much more clear. Seth is to thank for this, as is the church we go to now (where the Kingdom of God is so obviously working), as is my counselor at CSU who worked with me, as are friends who kept praying and urging me to get better, for someone telling me, "Let's be nice to ourselves" as we went and bought yummy trail mix every day. :)
I have been saved, and I am living.

What a beautiful, I'm trying to stick with the greek yohgurt, but what I want is another oreo.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Self Portrait

I've been meaning to share my final photography project. This is one of the most energy consuming projects that I've done in terms of art. I wasn't necessarily exhausted from working on it, however, I felt I learned what it is to be able to appreciate the process of photography--especially for a project that was primarily focused on a body of related work. I was able to let the metaphors come out through the medium--I think i started to grasp what it meant to let the art do the talking ?(when I so much want to justify myself and in doing so, protect myself from critique). I was stuck often on this project, and during the final week when I had what seemed like dozens of final prints but didn't know which ones were "good enough," decided to include the ones that were most arresting (regardless of technicality).The ones I simply liked the most. Though it sounds like it was arbitrary and random, I had a direction throughout the project. I had a purpose, maybe I'll share it at the end of the presentation. But here it is. We were required to have one self portrait and a series of supporting photos. In real life they are itty bitty prints on large matte boards but because of the digital nature of this presentation the size of the matte board has been compromised but, I like what is going on with the shadows.

self portrait. Initial exposure-during the first snow of the season (before thanksgiving), 2nd exposure-used for one of the first projects of the semester

detail of the final work

For this final assignment I felt the need to put some explanation to the story of my work, since I feel it (along with all the work I do) is part of a larger narrative of my life. For this work, I tried to explore and seemed to discover the challenge of processing the loss of youth, the grief that comes with maturation. Now, I don’t feel like this work is meant to say, simply, that I feel I’m getting older and sadder. No. I feel like the process of aging is going through experience and through the experience came, in my case, bouts of anxiety disorders, depression and hopelessness, but through exploring these things and healing from them I am growing. I am aging. This is the cycle of maturation. The child discovering, empty chairs of a classroom (centers, hopefully, of good learning), open doors, and as we age, as seen in the photograph of the man (my husband) surrounded by shadows, assuming the new roles that come with maturation. Through aging and the loss of youth we assume new roles; for me it is as wife, sister, daughter, and aunt, and in the future, God-willing, of mother. With these new roles, we as humans feel the loss of the prior youth, and the limits of our humanity. This is sometimes enough to perpetuate hopelessness, but through my own experience I am learning to embrace these losses and look for what remains. What remain are the things that are visible in the supporting photographs; they are the things that have blessed my life: a community, a Good husband, children to care for, and a home to build.
Though I feel broken and shattered through the process of “growing up” I am learning that this is where I begin.

“There is nothing
to do but learn and wait, return to work
on what remains. Seed will sprout in the scar.
Though death is in the healing, it will heal.”

(from the poem“The Slip” by Wendell Berry)