Settling In and Squirming About It

The experts say it takes as long as you were gone studying to go through the stages of reverse culture shock upon returning to your home country. That is about right. So my absence has been an adjustment period for me and I think it took a little extra time to adjust to a new city upon return. Chad and I moved into a new apartment in a new city or rather in my old hometown where I grew up and lived for most of my life. In the meantime, throughout all of this adjustment I managed to continue my classes at PSU. The first term after my return from Italy I took all classes online and then the current term on campus. Life events seem to be changing so fast. This term I find myself a senior and facing the end of my sojourn through an Art History B.A. and it seems it just began! My plan is to continue my education in art history, classical studies, conservation/preservation or some such Masters degree. I am looking at programs in Europe, probably Eastern Europe if all goes according to plan. I would love to study Balkan art history in depth and formulate my thesis on that area of art. I am moved by the history of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. So many ancient layers of art history moved through there over the periods and so much to discover and preserve.

I am itching to travel again and while I feel weary of travel in general and am burrowing in to my new place to feel rooted somewhere, I can already feel the urge to go out and seek again. I don’t know if this ever goes away. This need to find new places out there in the world and inside myself. New sights, smells, tastes and feeling the edge so close that balance becomes mindful. It really is an addiction. I am going to the Bahamas in a few weeks to spend some time on my own, reading, writing, soaking up the sun and while there of course visiting the art museums and cultural museums to get a taste of Bahamian roots. Photos will come! I have a brand new Pentax just waiting to be explored and this trip will be it’s maiden voyage.

I am enjoying the smallness of my life right now because I know from experience that it can change and become huge in a split second. I cherish time spent with my granddaughter and her wonder over how the light turns on and off. Her joy in discovery reminds me of how miraculous the tiny things really are. We flip a switch and have energy, water, TV, music, transportation…illumination. Image

Roma, Pompeii and Finals

The last half of the term has flown by and now with a little over a week until we go home it seems that time is flying by. We went to Rome with my art history class. We visited the Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel, St Peters Basilica and the Roman Forum-ColiseumImageImageImage. It was a fabulous trip and We learned so much about all of the art, history and civilizationsImage that were there before us. Then my friend Denise, Chad and I went on down to Naples and stayed in a cute little hostel that was so much fun! We went and spent the day at Pompeii walking the ruins and soaking up the atmosphere. Pompeii has forever changed me. I am completing my final art project on Pompeii with photos and poems by me to match. Here is a sample of the photos and the rest will need to wait until I reach home unfortunately! The garden is much too cold to sit and upload photos in right now.

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Venezia Biennale Day One

Day one of the Biannale was overwhelming. We went to the Arsenale and saw the exhibition curated by Massimiliano Gioni. The exhibition was organized as a progression of natural to artificial forms. The exhibition began in the beginning of man as a concept in the primordial ooze of life and step by step made it’s way up the evolutionary ladder to the over evolved being that he is today. The exhibits showcased crucial milestones of man’s evolution…such as the wheel, rituals of adolescence, base instincts and the role ego plays throughout.

My emotions were stirred at a base level and I felt as if they progressed in waves as I moved from room to room. Some rooms moved me to tears…the room with the plastic people all wrapped in grey agony. The sea of screens showing videos of stories flashing and flashing before my eyes. It was an instant of gratuitous envelopment of our media saturated society…thousands of lives that happen just like that and we all watch vehemently. I can say that this exhibition was life altering. Enjoy the photos.

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Our class listening to our art professor Shelley Jordon

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Laura and Dany sketching

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My Favorite Pirate Mug full of Italian Roast

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Awww…the warm taste of familiarity. The sleepy rising to meet your day that is filled with the structured routines that we build our foundations of security on. The walk to the coffee pot, the much anticipated first sip of coffee, the brushing of the teeth, the daily breakfast all done a million times before in the same way, with the same emotion.

Have you ever noticed when you go on vacation and your familiar routines are disrupted that you feel a combination of freedom and anxiety? We love the feeling of new and the break from routine but when in the throes of it we only want routine back. We strive to make the new a familiar routine and we are never quite relaxed and satisfied until we do.

Two days before I fly out to Italy and the one thing that is bringing me both pleasure and angst is the routine cup of Italian roast Tully’s that I am savoring and facing the thought I will no longer have. It doesn’t matter that it will be replaced with an exquisitely perfected cup of frothy milk and espresso served up in a land of Tuscan hilly sunshine, under a Sienese statue…all I can think is that I will not have my favorite pirate mug full of faux Italian roast every morning.

Let the insecurity reign until my Siena becomes routine!

Release

I was married to a drug addict for six years and after years of abuse to my spirit, I left him to deal with his own demons. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. In the all knowing hindsight, I , of course wish I would have done it earlier. But it is what it is. My son was the diamond that came out of that coal. For ten years after  I left him, I held my breath, I waited, I closed up, I retreated, I moved far away, I shut down. Every knock on the door was greeted with terror and fear. My two kids and I could not move far enough away to feel safe. Then he killed himself. I cannot begin to describe the mixture of emotions that swept through me. My son was ten and his father was dead. It was a long two years for us, sleeping on the floor next to his bed, looking at him and seeing only his father looking back, his anger thrown directly at me. We danced the dance of two locked together in grief. At times neither of us wanted to be that close to the other, yet there we were. I only cried when he couldn’t see me, little did I know that when I finally did cry with him, the true healing began.

That was in 2004. Two days ago I burned his letters, cards, our wedding book in the wood stove at my grams. The letters were sent from him when he was deployed on the USS Truxton in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm. I was ready to let the last little bit of him go. My son, Chad was wandering around the house and knew what I was doing, at one point asked me, “is that it? No saying anything or doing anything?”  I replied, “yes. It has all been done. That’s it.” We both got out our cameras and took photos of the flames. Cause that is what we do, when the words won’t come.

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8 Days until we Leave for Italy

I am doing the waiting game. I never seem to win this game however. I am ready to go and have been since we left Portland. At least here at my grams house I can be helpful and spend time with family. But I am really ready to get on that plane. So ready that I have even imagined it step by step, like what I will wear for comfortable sleeping, where I will put my laptop and dvd’s for easy viewing, will I wear the stylish shoes or my comfortable slip ons. Yeah, my brain drives me crazy sometimes.

Things about Gram’s and the reservation life that I enjoy: It is sometimes so still and quiet, at night you can see a blanket of stars against the black sky, everyone knows each other, the post office is a hang out, people shake your hand, it is so beautiful with trees everywhere and if I want the ocean is 15 minutes away, photo opportunities are everywhere, the negative ions feel great, dogs walk down the middle of the street and have the right of way and hanging with the family is never dull and will be missed.

There is one restaurant/cafe here called The Little Chief and it is your typical small town cafe, where the men gather every morning for coffee and talk about the state of the world or who grew the biggest tomato. The long suffering waitresses put up with their sideways advances and brush them off, the owner is also the cook and they make the best homemade hash browns ever, fried in real butter. On Thursdays you can eat there for free and it closes down daily at 2pm. They have a jar out at the register for donations for my trip to Italy.

Last week was The annual Run to the Rogue event.  It is a 234 mile relay run/walk in memory of the Siletz Tribal ancestors who were forcibly removed from their homeland in Rogue River country in the mid 1800s and marched north to Siletz and the confinements of the Coast Reservation. Mom and I gathered with a group of about 50 other people up on Government Hill where the annual pow wow is held and after a man sang a Whale song accompanied by a hand drum, we all followed the color guard down the hill and across town to where the road comes into town from out there, off tribal land. We all stood and watched in reverence as 3 kids dressed in shorts and hoodies started off walking for the first leg of the relay.  Everyone disbursed and went to The Little Chief of course. It was a holiday feel around town, the clinic shut down, the school brought the students down and it was observed, that this was a day to remember. I didn’t take photos as I don’t at most tribal gatherings, they have a different view on photographing sacred happenings.  But here is a full moon shot taken from Siletz.

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Reflections

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What is reflected back to us is rarely seen for what it really is but rather a reflection of our own visions.

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I see in you what is also in me. I see the vision of my spirit in the waves, the colors, the wings of a butterfly.

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The sky becomes the sea and the lines blur between above and below, in between somewhere I float without boundaries, just color and light, mist and rays.

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We are all one reflection of life. Live love and move through the spirit of one.

Dead Leaves

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The void is too little with us; punctual and later,

giving and saving, we store up our powers for

all we see in darkness that defies us.

We have taken our hearts back- a joyful gift!

This sky that covers her heart to the sun-

the winds that are still, do not run

and are scattered now like waking seeds.

For this, for all, we are in sync; It moves us so!

Great Goddess, I’d rather be

every one of these dead, unknown to me.

Charolette Stoehr