Mother Blue

I photo. I take day trips. I lightsaber battle. I analyze the stuffing out of myself.

Category: Transitions

40 on 20, a Short Epilogue to the Epilogue

I don’t usually write two blog entries this close together (see Friday’s prologue, 40 on 20), but yesterday turned out to be an epilogue to the epilogue.

• • •

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Her tree on the hillside.

We took so many wrong turns yesterday. My mother’s grave is located in one of the three cemeteries of three different sister churches in my hometown. I get lost every time I try to visit. I called my brother in semi despair. I even texted him photos of my location. “That does not look familiar at all, Kimmy.”

He kindly offered to meet me. I gently declined his offer. I was determined to find her grave on my own. I don’t go to the cemetery all that often. I have always felt that the presence of someone who was buried just simply no longer existed — in the ground quickly then out into the universe. But this being the 20th year, I felt compelled to commemorate.

After about 45 minutes of searching, I was both laughing and grimacing at the frustration of not finding my mother’s grave. I walked to the spot where I was sure she was buried. “Do they move graves here? Maybe they moved her grave.” Jack was trying to lighten the situation. We were stressed. I was a little argumentative and tense.

I got back in the car and said to Dave, “I think she is screwing with me. I know that she was buried near these damn trees!” There were far more explicatives in my rant than the few I am documenting here.

We asked for directions. We got quick answers from mourners who really just wanted to mourn. Dave suggested one more turn. And there it was. The right cemetery on a road perpendicular to the road we were just on. My brother said to “look to the edges of the road and you will find her.” After a little walk, I came upon it. I sat down in front of her name and my family left me alone with my thoughts. I started to take photos of all the things around me. I wouldn’t look directly at her grave at first. I went to switch lenses and something made me stop busying myself with tasks. I started to cry. I didn’t expect to. I think the idea of a person frozen in time got to me.

Jack wandered over next to me and sat down. He was curious about the tombstones around me. We talked about the various engravings and made a few lighthearted jokes. He was fascinated by a telephone etching on the stone behind my mother’s. I left Jack and sat behind her stone and began to talk to Dave for a few moments. Jack laid down and rested his head on his grandmother’s tombstone. He was looking at nature and the tree in front of her, much resembling the way he watches “Spongebob” or some other random TV program.

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Sitting. Thinking. Watching.

I harbor no illusion that he somehow felt some sort of deep bond with her in that moment. He never knew her, except through my stories and his questions. I think it was Jack just being Jack, a nine year old boy. I did say, “well, here is your grandma.” Without missing a beat, he yelled into the tombstone, “Hey, Grandma!!!!!!” It was more for a laugh than anything else. It made me smile. We don’t get to hear him say the word grandma all that often.

I decided to lie down next to him, mimicking his pose. My Madonna moment, I thought. Dave snapped a picture. Jack and I chatted and laughed about the bird poop that might be in our hairs from lying on the less than pristine granite. I didn’t realize Dave was still taking photos when he captured our embrace.

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Our Madonna moment.

Candid embrace.

Candid embrace.

We went to Jim’s Drive-In. One of my favorite treats from when we were growing up. Burgers and dogs and homemade sauce. It didn’t taste exactly the same as I had remembered. We later drank some wine that had been saved from 1994. Table wine really doesn’t keep well. It tasted like Easter egg dye and salad dressing. So many things had changed. It was time to move forward.

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Jim’s Drive-In

 

 

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A Reminder

It has been a while. A long few months. A lot of blank blog pages and experiences left to memory.

Here I conduct Elton John (“Funeral for a Friend” to be precise) as a Jubilant Narcissistic Captain Fantastic in celebration of everyone’s crappy or happy Wednesday.

Here’s to motivation, finishing unfinished projects, and writing more things.

xo

Close to 13 or 681

What I woke to

What I woke to

I really dislike January 1st. My family loves it. They always feel this sense of rebirth and renewal. They spend December 31st filling their bellies with fantastic finger foods of all shapes and kinds. They watch Rockin’ Eve on the TV with fun, sarcasm, and anticipation. We all play board games. There is laughter and champagne and fruit punch. But I often feel unfinished no matter how much I try to reflect and compartmentalize the year. Restless soul syndrome, I guess. I know I am not good with goodbyes, or change, or endings, or beginnings. The party horns, the pots and pans, the Auld Langs Synes, and midnight hour marks this symbolic sense of renewal and I feel intense pressure.

The commercial played and the words “Never Stop Searching” scrolled across the screen.

After our low-key festivities faded into midnight, I sat there listening to the breathing patterns of my family gently slow into snores as they lulled themselves to sleep, their bodies wrapped in comforters as they camped out in the living room.

• • •

I “deactivated” my Facebook account a few weeks ago. It was just for a few hours. Just to see what it would be like. It was easy enough. You get the option to come back later so I knew it wasn’t this grand, bold gesture. Just self-imposed exile that was not dependent upon anything but free will.

Three clicks, a prompt asking me “ARE YOU SURE?”, photoed faces of random old friends seemed to manipulatively stare at me, begging me to stay, taunting me with computer generated words of: “So and so will miss you!” A secret code confirmed my decision.

Fade to login page.

Over the last year, I had noticed a few people mentioned they were leaving Facebook for a period of time to regroup. The reasons were varied. Some needed a break, some wanted to catch up on their reading, some just for the hell of it. I often wondered if that act of sequestering themselves from technology freed them in the way that they had hoped; if it gave them some closure or solace. How did they correspond? Did they make more phone calls? Did they move their conversations to another technology? Did they visit more people? I felt both exhilarated and anxious to let it go, even though I quickly realized that I relied on this “thing” for almost every conversation I participated in, work or otherwise.

Permanently/temporary logout. I did not mention it to anyone. I wasn’t totally sure why I did it at the time. I had been reading a lot of people’s status updates. Shootings and Fiscal Cliffs and Holidays were all becoming one long FB dialogue. The world was becoming less and less certain in high def and at a rapid pace. Status updates (including my own) ran the gamut of declarative drama, glee, humor, and matter of fact melancholy. But it wasn’t overtly sad, like the sad in which resided in the fact that sometimes life was sad and that tomorrow was a new day but for now there was sad. Maybe it was sad due to loss or some other hardship. It was silent strength amidst soundless stati. Silent searchings for words/responses. Maybe I simply felt lost in the circuitry. Maybe I needed more silence. Or maybe I was silently screaming. But I did not know exactly for what or for why.

The first hour passed by with very little fanfare. When you turn off your “world’s” light switch in only your house you expect… something. But really, nothing happens. I worked. I drew. Life keeps moving. It is like staying home sick from school one day. You’re an empty desk. You rest up. You get to play catch up once you return. Over the next hour or so, I received a few emails from people telling me my FB account had somehow gotten “messed up” and that they needed to contact me about this, that, or the other thing. I kind of felt relieved that life had afforded me those messages and I instantly felt ashamed in admitting that to myself. Had this working from home isolated me too much from the “real” world that I now needed the comfort of knowing people were a just click away? This IM communication that I often loathe, the painful misinterpretations of tone in text that turn into arguments, the instant accessibility, all these things that I so hated were now like a bad boyfriend I could no longer rid myself of. This thing that was both a vice grip and liaison to everything.

Maybe all of this nonsense is just winter personified.

• • •

I do realize my personal worldview is one of very close digital proximity. I get bogged down by and attached to the things in front of my face and I let the real, real world outside become distant and cold. I set up a protective barrier to everything and sequester. I blame my awkwardness. Yet I am sometimes so fearful of silence and I forget that the silence could be so much more silent. The people within my Facebook are my connective tissue to humanity. But I realize that even with this connectivity, more actual, physical human connection to humanity is needed.

So I conducted a second experiment. I wanted to see how connected I was to reality; the living reality outside my family.

At 10:30 PM on December 31, 2012, I opened my Facebook friends list, grabbed a notebook, and began to handwrite every single name. As I scribbled down each name I thought about how I knew each person. Like my little “log off” experiment, I did not really know at the beginning why I chose to do it. Maybe I wanted to reminisce. I took solace in knowing that I had interacted in some small way or had some sort of connection with most everyone on the list and that this list wasn’t just a collection of names. There were people there I missed terribly, people I had said goodbye to, people I had not seen in years, people who I lingered on, people I very recently laughed with, people I loved, people I wished I knew better… The song suggests that auld acquaintance be forgot. But I wanted to remember. I wanted to log off and connect.

The groundwork for art, photo, and other is being laid as we speak. The how and why I connect.

I stopped for a few moments at midnight. Kate was the name where I left off. My hand hurt by 1 am. I was finished by 2:33 am. Out of practice penmanship. 12 pages, single spaced. 681 names. People I know.

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12 pages

Storage Unit

An invitation to the ridiculous and the sublime.

An invitation to the ridiculous and the sublime.

I had not ventured out with the purpose of taking random photos for a very long time, but I knew I was very much in need of a moment of solitude.

I left my boy at the party of 8 year olds to play sports and eat cake and make merry. This was his first non-parent party (as in, parents could drop off their kids and return to gather them at the end of the allotted time.) I had never really left him at a party before, only on play dates, but I knew he was with his school friends. I knew there were enough grown ups. And I knew that he was safe inside the kid’s recreational complex. I sat in my chair just outside the fence of the training area as I watched him run off to play without hesitation. I recognized that we could both could use an afternoon of freedom; a time for him to play and for me to think. I walked over to the basketball courts, kissed him on the forehead, and handed him my cell phone number which he pocketed hurriedly. I exited the space feeling a slight twinge of his growing up, but I left with little hesitation.

Just outside the building was an old industrial complex. It was Sunday afternoon which meant most of the area was dead, closed, and quiet. I drove down roads with names like: Progress Court and Determination Street and other plays on motivating words. Around the time I found the corner of Progress and Progress, I saw a man sorting out his possessions behind large green garage doors and tiny numbers. When my tires crackled on pavement of the parking lot entering the storage facility, he looked up accusingly. I felt I interrupted his methodical ritual of compartmentalizing things, so I drove down to a different row of doors. I parked and began to storage, compartmentalize, and document myself on my tiny cell phone camera.

The space reminded me of the town where I grew up. I thought of some of my favorite photo partners as I walked and my heels clicked through the rain. I wanted to photograph my friends in stylish coats against the green doored backdrops. I wanted them to hold my hands as they roller skated  all over the lot in their striped knee socks and old fashioned skates. I wanted them to carry brightly colored umbrellas as they weaved in and around the buildings. My thoughts of them inspired me to the next few moments. I stared at my boots and jumped into the body of 1940s screen siren Chloe Parker who was at that very moment of space and time completely trapped in her own angsty web of intrigue. I was starring in my own version of bad French cinema which would later be named “Fritz Bolkestein: a Life without French Fries.” It was my few moments of play before I drove back down Progress Blvd. to interrupt his.

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The corner of everything (Le coin de tout)

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Chloe perdant son esprit.

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The buildings reminded her of Fritz. Le Sigh.

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La porte à côté d’homme continuée changer ses chemises.

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Je suis Chloe.

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Oh, L’amour.

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Mémoire.

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Où est-ce?

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A photo to remember what she was about to leave behind.

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Vingt-cinq

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Silhouette

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She wished it were wine.

Barrière

Barrière

Fritz Bolkestein : une vie sans pommes frites

Fritz Bolkestein : une vie sans pommes frites

Novembering

I wanted to capture something. Instead I captured everything.

I have had a few blog entries sitting in my almost finished queue for months, but I have not been able to move forward with a single one of them for quite some time now. I have been blaming my lack of completion on work, life, and overall busyness, but the reality is that I just can’t figure out how to complete any of them. They just stop. Dead. Like doodles in a notebook that are beautifully drawn and expressive, but in the end go nowhere. I can’t even progress through them anymore. There they sit; just snippets of text; a non sequitur or two; ideas; fleeting imagery and floating words…

I suppose it is symbolic.

Maybe the enormous amount of transition, discovery, and change that has taken place over this last year has finally taken its toll. (I can barely remember January at this point.) Even now, I have yet to form a cohesive final thought…

The worst part is that I feel this immense amount of bloggers guilt. Like a mother who has abandoned her child. All of this makes for a dangerous mix of apathy and anxiety.

• • •

UNFINISHED JULY

A few months ago, I was kissed on the forehead by my work weary husband as the sun slowly peaked through the drapes. The front door slammed and I was left to my own devices. I laid there semi-motionless on the bed, staring out the window, pondering my ponderings, thinking my thinks, and relishing in the time before everyone else in the house (i.e. Jack) begins to wake. I was tempted to stumble out of bed and check the days happenings on whatever hand-held device was nearby. Instead, I laid there and continued to think.

I began to labor through the imaginary “handwritten” list of all the things I needed to do for the day, but that quickly evolved into tedium and annoyances. So I closed my eyes and tried to focus on something else.

LOVE…

…the word just hung there in the Technicolor darkness behind my eyelids.

The ridiculous monotoned drawl of Mr. Tom Hanks’ “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is,” dialogue from Forrest Gump annoyingly played (and replayed) in my head as I lay there. This word. A word I keep coming back to every time life breeds the most important, eloquent, and frustrating questions.

Do I know, Mr. Gump?

The L – O – V – E word…

It sits there like a lump in my subconscious. And at its fundamental core it is a enigma that I am not sure I truly understand.

I mean, I really don’t understand it. Like really, really, really, infinity.

My dirty little secret.

I have never been great at deciphering love, or telling when it is real, or how to handle it when it is given to me. This 4-letter word and all its nuances plagues me. The search within myself this past year or so has brought me towards so many questions about my way of thinking, and my true thoughts on this word have very much been avoided until now.

• • •

My father was full of nuances. I think love was a disconcerting thing for him. He coasted through life on what he thought worked and tried to aggressively control the uncontrollable aspects that didn’t. He was a tough person to live with. He could be very unkind and conversely he could try way too hard. He was emotional, bipolar, angry, sad, and unhinged. He tried to make memories but mostly got lost in the minutia. It always seemed to me that for him existence was torture and his brain was in a constant state of torment. We never really talked about these things. I wish we could have.

I think I broke vase or maybe I lied or maybe it was something else. I can’t remember now. He looked at me and his angered response to my actions were, “I don’t know if I can love you when you act like this.” At the time I believed him.

He moved away when my parents divorced in the early 90s. I only saw him a few times after that. He had since remarried. I found out later that his wife’s son had special needs and that he and my dad had had a very close relationship. They enjoyed their movie nights and he was a good caregiver and companion. I used to think dad was just one of those folk who were ill-equipped at being a father, and in a lot of ways he was. It wasn’t his hard-wired, undying destiny to parent. But upon examining this now within the clarity of my age instead of in the midst of my burning emotion, I think I believe he was just meant to be someone else’s father, as sad as that is to write. I sense that he finally found the simplicity and purpose he felt eluded him throughout much of his life. His purpose in this newfound something.

• • •

I am an anxious person both by birth and by experience. That anxiety causes me to analyze the stuffing out of every situation and in love there is no exception. I can’t live easily in any kind of love. I am never content and am often caught trying too hard. My anxiety causes me to make a lot of mistakes. Dave gently reminds me to try to be happy within the simple life moments I am given. He and Jack can do this without effort and it maddens me. My own lack of zen causes a certain amount of tumultuousness within myself, therefore I end up retreating inside. I become fearful of getting close to anything or anyone. I clam up. I shut down. Even with the amount of love from friends and family that my life so generously contains, I still associate that word with uncertainty. This “thing” that can be red-hot and conditional; or passive aggressive and dishonest. This “I don’t know if I can love you when…” Where simple mistakes mean the end of love and the givers of “love” could be easily distracted and tempted by the next new shiny thing and move on. It makes my subconsciously protective reservedness rear its ugly, unsure head.

I got lost in this swirl of ideas, of self loathing, and a general ‘ahhhhhh shut this brain off, please, please, please!’ when I heard the pitter patter of little feet… a slight depression of mattress… then familiar arms around my neck.

I settled into that squeeze and forgot everything else.

• • •

I thought back to Dave’s Great Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. It was one of the nicest events I had ever had the privilege of attending. The weather was great. The water was warm. The many, many kids were happy. And the love of the happy couple was felt. He karaoke-serenaded his bride to the oldies that were playing, while the cousins created impromptu doo wop style backing vocals, complete with choreography. She chuckled at the silliness of her husband and her eyes were filled with love. It was an all day into the night affair.

Jack fell asleep poolside as the evening dwindled. I sat there content and thought of very little. “Sittin’ on Dock of the Bay” began to play. I started to quietly sing along. I caught Dave’s uncle’s eye and my silent solo became a duet. When it ended we went back to our moments. Mine of poolside blissfulness and his to his group of reminiscent chatter.

• • •

My analytical self tends to discourage my emotional one.

But maybe that is all there is. Those simple moments of something where you forget something else and revel in a moment. A badly sung yet beautiful serenade. Poolside chatters. A kiss on a forehead. Those little arms that will always fit perfectly around my neck and smell like my little boy. The same smell that only a very exclusive club gets to know. No one talks. No one has to. It just is. My questions still plague me. My work in progress still haunts me. My letting go of things still chokes me. I know with a very real sense of self that I am simply not very good at any of this, but I am desperately trying to pay more attention to the moments.