KAIT MAURO

(Leaving) My Body & What's Happening Around It

Art, LifeKait MauroComment
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My anxiety has been shape-shifting on me lately. I finally know what the “disassociating” I’d been asked if I experienced so many times before feels like. Disassociating is a new symptom for me. Sometimes I feel like I am not in my body, it’s a classic dissociative thing to say it’s like you’re seeing yourself from outside of yourself, maybe above yourself - I haven’t experienced that one (yet, at least). Mine come in the varieties of: feeling like I am not real (I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either, but I tell you: it’s a real & distressing feeling), feeling like I (and sometimes also the people around me) are dead & in whatever comes next once one is dead, feeling like I am a ghost (but actually) haunting my own little rented house or, today, looking at myself in the mirror & feeling like the real me was in the mirror, if that makes sense, not trapped in it necessarily, just that I was in the mirror - I was my reflection - instead of in my body like people usually are.

I plan to lower my coffee-intake in an attempt to lessen my anxiety - but I have been drinking a lot of coffee for a long time & I am not excited about the process of titrating my intake down. Maybe it will be fine, even good, though. I am perpetually anxious. There are rare moments, glimpses of calm, that come every now & again when I do not feel acutely anxious - but most of the time it’s either the constant low or medium volume anxiety or a panic attack. Those are my two forms of late.

I am not keeping up with The Daily Map course I signed up for about how to live/structure a life as a creative. It’s a six week course but luckily I have an entire year to complete it. I am at the end of my workshop with Ariel Gore & I have gotten a lot written during it but the submission I posted on Sunday was really rough & unfinished (it literally had just bullet points at parts of things I intended to get around to including/writing about). I feel like the work (The “Integrating” project) needs a lot more work. I’ve signed up to take two more workshops with Ariel this spring, so hopefully I’ll have the motivation & helpful critiques to make the writing stronger & more cohesive.

A secret little dream I’ve been harboring: throw myself fully into this writing project, keep working on it, make it as strong as possible then submit it to some small presses to, hopefully, get a little book published. I actually contacted one of my favorite authors, Chelsea Martin, on Instagram - I told her I was working on a rather weird little manuscript & am a big fan of her work & how did she get her first book published? She told me small presses love weird little manuscripts & that was my best bet.

On a completely different note: I, like many other women in my ‘‘demographic” have gotten into the Marie Kondo thing - though admittedly I’m a bit late to the trend. I’ve watched a few episodes of the television version on Netflix & have gotten the audiobook but haven’t listened to it yet.

I did a small, soft start to the process of this “magical art of tidying up” today. I got rid of all but one of my orchids. I kept the one in my studio on my desk that’s relatively new & still in full bloom. I had a large collection of old, stemless orchids - just leaves & roots - that were not re-blooming. They were not re-blooming for a combination of two reasons: 1. they were older 2. I had so many of them that watering them all in the sink, soaking the roots from silver to green, had become a massive chore & definitely was not sparking any joy in me anymore. You can see all of the now empty pots in the photograph below. I easily cut down my houseplant collection by at least one-third by getting rid of these plants. I used to be the queen of getting orchids to rebloom. But in my melancholia, I’ve lost a lot of motivation to do things - anything at all really - & I need to simplify the chores so I can not constantly be behind on things & beating myself up about it. I am a massive asshole to myself, given any excuse. So if something is adding no value to my life & is a chore that is pretty time-consuming to do & sparks no joy - out to the bin with it, no?

I cut the flowers in the vase below from the backyard. I think they are some strange Southern type of dandelion because they had the leaves of the dandelions I know & grew up with but aside from the leaves they are entirely different thing - though still with yellow flowers that turn into little puffs of seeds to be blown away.

I’ve gotten the e-book of Melissa Fabello’s “Appetite” It’s about the experience of women with eating disorders (specifically anorexia nervosa & OSFED) & how these disorders intersect with their experiences of touch & sexuality. I do not know if I have/am getting in the zone of developing an eating disorder. I do now that with some recent changes - freckles [which I normally love] making my eyes look bruised because of the particular way they’ve constellated, a flair up of adult acne [somebody lied to me at some point - I thought acne was mostly for teenagers], becoming acutely aware & self-conscious of how thin my hair is & being unhappy with my body’s shape & how much gravity is is exerting on the earth - have really affected my self-esteem & added to my depression.

I have an endocrinologist appointment tomorrow & I am worried about getting on the scale - dreading it actually. I’m worried my A1C will have gone up because, due to already mentioned depression, I haven’t been as vigilant about managing my blood sugars & I also haven’t been as timely about changing my infusion sets for my insulin pump - so there are some angry looking pink bumps on my thighs from a few that were left in too long. I really hope the doctor is kind tomorrow, she usually is.

I’m worried about Lena because when she went for her vet appointment on Saturday I was told she is developing arthritis, needs many of her teeth removed, has a strange (though regular) heartbeat & her weight has gone up 25% in 3 or 6 months (I can’t remember which it is). They think she might have low thyroid so we took her back today to get some bloodwork done. It was traumatizing for everyone. I hate taking her to the vet because she doesn’t know why I am letting them stick her with needles or why any of it is happening. It makes me feel so guilty. She’ll have to wait to get her teeth done until we move back to Birmingham because the vet we go to there is a lot more price-conscious than the one we see here in Montgomery. Dogs of Lena’s size are supposed to live 15-20 years. She’s only 7.5 years old. I’m scared, with these health conditions she’s developing, that she won’t be with me for as long as I had hoped. She’s my buddy, she can usually be found where I am, I don’t know how I’d/I’ll survive losing her.

Channeling Marie Laveau with Jasmin

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In a dream I am promised an end to loneliness by someone from the past - there’s an urgency to it, posters scrawled out in language that would be fitting of a Florence Welch song.

I wake from that dream to find myself in another dream that is crowded, buzzing, with people. Paris is on fire.

I wake to reality this time, no more dreaming, to find myself in an empty house.

Getting Back Into Ballet

Life, Art, BalletKait MauroComment

Edward & I started doing ballet workouts together about a week & a half ago. We do them in the evenings after he gets home from work-school. It’s way more fun to do them with someone else than when I used to do them alone. I’m impressed with how much progress I’ve made in just a week & a half with flexibility & stregth. I can do a push-up for the first time in my life! I stretch while I’m at home talking to people on the phone now, when I’d normally just be sitting, which seems like a little life hack haha did I just invent something?

Anyway, I took these photos this afternoon because I want to document my body as it becomes stronger & more flexible. Not going to lie - I kind of wanted to Photoshop my stomach to be flatter in a few of these photographs. But I didn’t. I am done with that bullshit. So anyway, here’s the first of the Thursday Stretch photos.

Goal: be able to do a split sometime in the next few months. I forgot to try a front/back one today & just did a side one. I’ll have to start working on a front/back one & document it with the other stretches next Thursday. Does anyone know which one is easier to do/get to doing?

If you know any good stretches, send them my way!

How To Be

Art, LifeKait MauroComment
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I’ve just placed black stones

on each window sill

& over the front & back

doors for protection.

Anxiety is an intruder,

anxiety takes the shape

of an intruder. I’m burning

sage to ward off

the negative spirits I’ve never

encountered but that just might

be here. I’m brewing

rose buds & lavender oil

on the stove, little cauldron,

to try & feel those old rose

colored glasses, to allow

them to be put back into place.

I’m cleaning the house

like my life depends

on its tidiness. Mary Oliver

asks, “Do you sense your place

here in the family of things?” &

I answer, “I’m trying.”


Witchcraft is the ancient balm

to help me feel like life is

still a bit enchanted, a bit

more than just what I see through

my tunneled vision, the illusion

that I somehow can influence

the forces & not just be

buffeted by these winds. I’m living

in Zelda Fitzgerald’s hometown

but I don’t feel glamorous.

I feel clumsy, cleaving.

I own no fur - one string

of black pearls. I have taken up

ballet, exercise to loosen

the grip of the intruder, maybe

that’s her influence. Maybe I

have many spirits watching

over me, not just the grandmother

my psychic friend told me of. Maybe

there is more to my one little life

than I know - maybe it’ll all add

up to something, maybe I am

still learning how to be.

Chasing Light

Life, ArtKait MauroComment

I’ve been sick & Edward has been on break (so spending much more time together, which is wonderful) so I haven’t been taking as many photos or getting as much creative work done as I promised myself I would. Yesterday though, I picked up my camera & decided to chase some of the light around our house. I have been working on my Integrating project some - I have rough, rough drafts for Summer & Winter 2018 - and I am going to be taking a writing workshop with Ariel Gore January-March so I will hopefully get the writing really flowing & tuned up during that.

Quick Trip to Cloudland Canyon

Life, ArtKait MauroComment

Edward, Sam, Lena, Raspberry & I took a quick trip to Cloudland Canyon State Park a few days ago. We drove through Birmingham, where we will be moving back to next summer for a little less than a year’s time, then onto Georgia.

I was reminded how good fresh air & nature are for my mental health. The suite where we spent the night had gorgeous torquoise walls & a giant faux fiddle leaf fig plant. Both Edward & I came down with colds once we got home & as of today (more than a week later) we are still not entirely over them.

Faux Butterfly Display / Behind the Scenes

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I have been wanting a butterfly display for our wall for a while but couldn’t bring myself to buy one because I feared the butterflies in it would have been murdered (that’s some pretty bad juju to have in your home, no?)… so I decided to make one with paper butterflies. As an artist, having a good photo printer is such a blessing & it came in handy for this little nesting project.

Here were the steps of the making:

  1. Carefully select my butterfly images

  2. Print them on glossy photo paper

  3. Trim off as much of the excess paper as possible

  4. Fold the wings of the paper butterflies a bit to make them look more lifelike

  5. Pin them to the wall of the shadowbox

  6. Close up shadowbox

  7. Talk Edward into hanging it on the wall for me

Materials: printer, glossy photo paper, pins, shadowbox, scissors

Voila!

Why I Bother

Kait MauroComment

doing my daily housework tasks & am undertaking some redecorating even though I am, rather arguably, quite depressed and miserable lately.

Before

Before

After

After

Here are a few of the reasons that come to my mind:

  • It’s something I have control over. Something is dirty, I clean it & I can visually see that I’ve made a difference - that my actions, which so often feel in vain, have paid off, at least until it gets dirty again.

  • It’s something I can do for Edward & I. He’s busy at the hospital - I can keep the house going for us.

  • It’s a little bit of ritual. It’s something I do everyday. That helps me stay at least somewhat grounded.

  • When I have no control over what city/state/part of the country we are living in (and I definitely wouldn’t pick this one), my immediate environment - my home - is something I can control. When I’m in stuck living in cities I don’t want to be in, having the inside of my home be comfortable, clean & aesthetically appealing to me is important & helps in some small way.

Homo Sapien

Art, Healing, LifeKait MauroComment

I am an animal on display

in an old fashioned zoo -

trapped & violent,

violent,

violent,

violent,

going slowly insane.

I entertain the guests.

I try to please them.

This does not come naturally to me.

I don a sweater, purple pants. I reach

for this & that. I rattle

the bars but the bars don't budge,

they tell me the bars won't budge,

so I decide to play dead.

Curiosity Says

Healing, ArtKait MauroComment
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Pettiness says, “I’m jealous.”

Jealousy says “I’ve been made to feel other, unwanted, unwelcomed.”

Otherness says, “They wouldn’t have done this for you. They didn’t want you. They only tolerate you.”

Self-loathing says, “You really must be tolerated. You’re difficult to like.”

Broken trust says, “He broke the agreement.”

Love says, “He’s conflicted. Don’t make him choose.”

Fear says, “It’ll be just the same as it was.”

Fear says, “You’ll always be other.”

Wisdom says, “Maybe you can live with that - maybe it’s just a few you need to love.”

Fear says, “We’re coming up on next summer.”

Fear says, “There isn’t enough money left.”

Fear says, “We won’t be able to find a house as good as this one - you’ll lose your studio.”

The little girl says, “He’ll neglect you, abandon you, choose everything over you.”

Grief says, “You will always be lonely - there is no other path for you”

Curiosity says, “We’ll just see how things turn out.”

First Collage I've Made In Ages!

ArtKait MauroComment
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Background image is one I took at Castlewood, one of my favorite places to go when I lived in Saint Louis, & is one of the original prints that hung in my first solo exhibition, “Eleven Images,” at La Mancha Coffeehouse in 2012. The cut outs applied over it are from a photograph I took when my aunt & uncle took me to Thanksgiving dinner with them when I was in college. I’m pleased with how it turned out. Can anyone think of a good title for it?

Film Vibes

LifeKait MauroComment

A lot of nesting has been going on at our house over this little Thanksgiving break. I’ve been working on giving the living room a much fresher look & I became absolutely obsessed with giving our bed a makeover (#almostthirty lol). I spent more hours than I want to admit looking for the perfect comforter in various stores & on online shops.

I bought some (more) polka dot plants & two Christmas cacti at the grocery store early one morning & repotted them into some pots of plants that had reached their expiration date (isn’t it sad when plants don’t age well, even with careful care?).

Tomorrow the comforter I ordered is scheduled to get here in the post & I am ready with ALL the bohemian throw pillows. I really hope all of the different textured/colored textiles I’ve gotten from so many different places come together in the way I am hoping & it doesn't all look too chaotic or cluttered.

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Splitting

HealingKait Mauro1 Comment
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When I was a child, I learned to think of my parents as good or bad. I learned that sometimes they were a source of nurture, comfort & love & other times I needed to separate myself from them for my own safety & well-being. I learned to split people in this way. I developed these borderline ways of thinking as a way to adapt to my little environment. I did not get to choose my environment. I had a strange childhood due to a number of factors including my parents’ marital issues, my mother’s cancer & my own physical health problems - all at a very young age. I remember once sleeping in the basement while my parents screamed at each other upstairs. I remember asking my older sister if they were going to get divorced. I thought she would know since our mother & her father were already divorced. I was afraid of them getting divorced. But at the age of 27, I realized how & why I had developed this type of black & white thinking - why almost everyone was generally all good or all bad in my mind & how a single person could move between these categories. When I felt safe, they were good. When I felt endangered, they were bad. I recognized that this way of thinking no longer served me, that it actually got in the way of my humanity & the way in which I wanted to live.

I made a promise to myself to try to be conscious of it - to remember that people are one person, not several, & complex - like me, some good & some bad all mixed in together. This fact scared me. I made a promise to myself to try to change this way of thinking. The promise felt heavy in my chest, made it difficult to breath. It was scary to set out to change something that felt so engrained into my own wiring, in my ability to survive & cope in the world. It was a coping skill, that much I had to admit to myself, but one from long ago that no longer helped me as I was no longer a child in the dysfunctional environment in which I’d grown up. I was now trying to have a functional marriage & life of my own. Still, it was a relief to finally see its roots & how they had come to be so embedded in me. It was scary to think that maybe everyone but me already knew these things - it made me feel self-conscious & slow. It was scary to let go of something that used to keep my emotions safe & that had been with me for as long as I could remember. But the realization also felt like growth.

This Weekend

Art, LifeKait MauroComment

This weekend was a bit rough emotionally. On Friday night we were driving home from dinner on Atlanta Highway & we saw a dog that had been hit by a car limping frantically on the side of the road. We pulled over & drove to an emergency vet but the dog passed away in the backseat of Edward’s car en route to the veterinarian. I don’t know if I’ve seen an animal die before, my memory is too lost to remember various childhood pets deaths & if I witnessed the moment the soul left the body or not. I felt strangely numb afterwards. I experienced some thoughts about how I probably deserved to die more than that poor dog, whose name tag said he was called Tuscan, did. I didn’t cry much - which made me feel uncomfortable about myself, wondering if I was heartless. I held Lena very close to my body under a blanket for a long time when we got home that evening.

A lot of the weekend was spent discussing some problems with Edward. Not a lot of progress was made, but it could have gone much worse than it did. Still, it feels shitty to spend so much time discussing an issue & reach no sense of resolution about it. We’ll get there though.

I finished a scarf I’d been knitting for Edward & he wore it when we went to the Montgomery Zoo on Sunday morning. I love the zoo, it’s so much fun. We had a great time. All couples have problem areas & we are still crazy about each other & going strong, just trying to figure out some of the acrobatics of being married still, even though our 2 year anniversary is coming up in December. I don’t think a person ever finishes learning & growing in a marriage though, learning new things about themselves & their partner & love & how to share a life with another person - new acrobatics.

Now it’s Tuesday morning and I am a zombie from getting too much sleep. Monday was a good day & I am optimistic that today will be too. I got a lot of creative work done with photographs (selects, edits, backing up & sharing) & my new camera bag arrived in the post! I shared a photo of my camera gear with my new bag on Instagram. I got a lot of life stuff done too - finalized my gear’s insurance policy, paid bills, made appointments. Adult-ing still feels strange to me somedays, but yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I’m still doing this 365 project - I’m on day 140-something (need to check that) and I am proud that I’m still going even if I occasionally miss a day or need to play catch-up - c’est la vie.

Grid Project

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I created a grid of memories on our bedroom wall. It was a more involved project than I thought it would be. I sat for hours by the photo printer in my studio making sure the photographs came out as they appeared on my laptop’s screen. I spent the better part of a day arranging them and hanging them, trying to make the best use of the little space I’d created. It’s a reminder of, if not our roots, the adventures we’ve had together & all the adventures we have still to come.

Air Plants Project

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I made a display of air plants on my studio wall. It took over 40 air plants to create the finished (for now) piece. It was something I’d been imagining doing for a while. And a cool thing about it is that I’ll have to regularly take the plants out to bathe them - so it will continually be changing as the plants are put back in differently & grow.

Having a fellow photographer as a friend is a goldmine.

Art, LifeKait MauroComment

My wonderful friend, Jessica Colyer, took these photos of Edward & I on my birthday a few weeks back. I’d been wanting to do a little couples shoot with Edward but the idea of doing it myself with my tripod & remote felt intimidating. We did this little shoot in a vacant plot of land I’d noticed when we’d driven by it a week or so earlier because of it’s beautiful yellow flowers. I didn’t exactly remember where it was, so it turned into a bit of an adventure trying to find it again, but we did & the light was pure magic that afternoon.