Tuesday, December 7, 2010

the Impossible Community

December 7 - Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (#Reverb10)

First Flush

I discovered The Impossible Project this year, along with a group of wonderful photographers interested in film photography. Although I don't remember where and when I "met" these people - it must have happened through the use of Twitter and Flickr! I have been so glad to have like-minded people to inspire me to continue taking photos.

Years ago, I had purchased an SX-70 land camera that I thought was broken due to odd results with my first pack of Time Zero film. I mean, look at this photo:

Laughing Buddha
Laughing Buddha - film weirdness, not camera weirdness
Now I realize the film pack was bad, not the camera. I honestly can't believe I thought the camera was broken for years - but I'm glad I kept it! Oddly, the film pack was not expired - it was a fresh pack (you know, back when they still made Time Zero film).

I am thankful to know so many inspiring photographers and artists.

Making Messes (what i do best, of course)

December 6 - Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (#Reverb10)

You would think that I might have made something recently. Aside from food, I am set up for creating all sorts of trouble. I have canvas, paint, pencils, crayons, glue, paper, rubber stamps, collage supplies, fabric, yarn.... you name it!

Oh, sure, I start plenty of things. Back in the spring, I started knitting a scarf that I was sure would be finished before the weather turned cold. Nope. I'm not even sure right now where I've hidden it. I started putting a rock and shell "collection" into containers to display. I don't have anywhere to display things, so this effort is futile. I have a sewing machine now, too - to do what, I'm not entirely sure. Make curtains? That would, honestly, be really useful!

So, what have I made lately? A mess. Yep, that's about it. I've made a huge, huge mess. My son helps often with mess-making. In fact, he likes to inform me of what he's doing. "Mommy, making mess!" Yeah, great, dude. Now can we clean up the mess? "No, I making mess!"

Usually my messes include papers, instant photos, coupons, rolls of tape, and other items that seem to have no place. I don't think I'll include a photo of the messes currently being cleaned up... who wants to see that?

I would like to make something besides a mess. I have thoughts of making curtains, finishing my knit scarf, as well as a new hat, and perhaps some fingerless mittens. There's also those little notebooks with coptic binding that I wanted to try making...

Monday, December 6, 2010

On Letting Go

December 5 - Let go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (#Reverb10)

Back in August, as part of Bindu Wiles' 21.5.800 project, I wrote about my life as an ambivalent mother. I'm sure you don't remember this, as I never posted it. Why not? Because it's an intensely personal subject, and one that is not often discussed in public.

Mothers are supposed to be supportive, loving, kind, giving, and completely in love with the idea of being a mother. Because, you know, we chose to be mothers. Ok, some of us did. I did.

I'll tell you a little about ambivalent motherhood - it's tough, and it involves a lot of fake smiles and pretending. I can't explain why it happened, but I failed to have overjoyed feelings about being a mother. It's confusing, because the feeling has nothing to do with your child - oh, sure, I loved (still love) my son - but love staying home? Love changing diapers? Breastfeeding? Honestly, not much. I was not the pregnant woman who ran out and bought clothes and toys for my unborn child as soon as I discovered I was pregnant. I did not read up on all the hot new baby-rearing items. I did not decorate a nursery. I felt oddly distant. I never dreamt about having children, nor did I dream of this child. I had trouble even imagining what my life might be like.

It's very possible that my ambivalence stemmed from not having many friends with children, and then being completely isolated after my son was born.  Nonetheless, I was startled one day by an old friend who said,

"I know it's hard, but it's all worth it, right?" 

I stopped. I did not have an answer. Worth what? Obviously I had no choice. My son needed me. It just IS. I never assessed whether I enjoyed it, because it doesn't matter.

But, here's the thing: it DOES matter. I was not enjoying myself. I did not like myself.

As my son grew older and became more interactive, we started to have a lot more fun. There was this shadow hovering, my former self. My former (current?) ambivalence. So I chose to write about it.

Writing about the first 18 months of his life and about my pregnancy helped me let go of my ambivalence. I let go of my past, let go of the difficulties that led up to where I am now.

I'm not going to tell you that I'm one of those perfectly happy stay-at-home moms with a clean house, dinner on the table, and kids with perfectly organized routines. Because I'm not. And I never will be.

Love my New Ride (March 17)
March 2009 - Cute, silly, and loved. Really. Ambivalence toward motherhood is NOT ambivalence toward a child.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

adoration of flowers

December 4 - Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? #Reverb10

Pink Peony
Peonies in our old back yard.

I tried to take the time to smell the flowers. Or at least photograph a few. My son adores flowers - and by adores, I mean he enjoys touching them, uprooting them, and generally wreaking havoc. 

When coming across a flower, the Boy always stops, shoves his nose directly into the center of the flower, and sniffs. "Smells good!" he exclaims, whether it smells or not.

Friday, December 3, 2010

the coldest day of winter

December 3 - Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors.) (Reverb 10 - Day 3)

A moment. A single moment in time. Did time stand still long enough to remember any moment this year?

One cold, January afternoon, as my son napped, my husband insisted I go for a walk. It had been months since I had been alone. The moment I stepped onto the frozen sidewalk, the cloud in my mind lifted. The biting cold wind whipped through my hair, freezing my cheeks, burning my lungs. My boots crunched happily over the packed snow as I walked over the path through the park. Everything was white, stark, frozen - even my breath.

Were there others out that day? I think so. In my mind, though, I was alone, on a mission, giddy to be myself. Myself. Not mommy, wife, daughter, just myself.

All I remember was the cold, cold air, the crunch of the ice and snow, the painfulness of each frozen breath, and the shockingly red stain of a bird carcass on the white snow, bones picked nearly clean.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stopping the Cycle

December 2 - Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta) (Reverb 10 - Day 2)

This is a difficult topic, as I do not think of myself as a writer. Nor do I write everyday. Unless you count twitter, which really should not be counted as "writing." I do very little during the day. I do the same things almost every day, the same way every single time. I need to stop doing this SAME thing. It's very late now as I write this. Every single night, I stay up way too late, trying to catch a moment to think for myself. Clearly. Without screaming in the background (or foreground, as the case may be).

Unfortunately, the cycle of what tomorrow will be begins with sleep, or lack thereof. When I don't sleep well or long, I wake up angry and irritable. And rushed. Can I change it for tomorrow? As I go to sleep, late once again, I realize that no, in fact, tomorrow has already begun and I am still in the cycle.

I must stop the cycle of madness. I must attempt to get out of the rut I have made for myself, and do MORE everyday. Have more fun, more excitement, more to write and talk about. The question, of course, is how to begin? Get to bed earlier, wake up earlier - just a bit, everyday. Baby steps.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2010 in a word - Muddle

One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Reverb 10, Day 1)

I only heard about Reverb 10 just two days ago, so I am a little behind on my prompts.

Why "muddle?" The word seems to encompass all that I've felt throughout the year. Muddle has a feel to it. Don't you just feel the plodding, the uncertainty, the confusion just reading the word, saying it to yourself? I do.

2010 began with a whimper, a whine, and a seriously muddled mind. Anger. Lack of sleep. Frustration. I was struggling not to take my feelings out on my husband and son. My son, who was not sleeping more than twenty minutes at a time in his crib, was an adorable, but frustrating creature continually mocking my need for peace, quiet, and alone time.

Somehow, some way, sanity prevailed. We all began getting more sleep.

Although I was less angry, I continued to be frustrated. When do I get to THINK?

The year has been punctuated by brief bursts of energy as I try to jam little bits of something into the nooks and crannies of my days. Everything I did was rushed. Taking photographs, I'd cut corners, forget to wait for the "right" moment, fail to set things up exactly as I desired, and ultimately, end up rushing dinner, yelling at my child, forgetting the groceries, knocking my camera off the desk. You name it. I put off doing important things like the doctor, the vet, making dinner, changing the oil in the car, cleaning the house. I would make grocery lists only to lose them seconds before walking out the door. I would cut coupons only to have them sit unused for months in my bag. I would run out the door without wipes, diapers, water. And often, I would run out the door LATE.

My mind is in a muddle. I am used to remembering all of the little details, but these facts now allude me. It doesn't have to be that way. Next December, I want to know that I've been present in my life. Present for my husband, my son, my cats, and anyone else I meet along the way. I want clarity.