Today is Monday. Today is my first full day with two broken wrists after a bad fall on Sunday. Today is 10 days before my Kickstarter closes.
This is my first attempt at dictation. I'm tired and I can't really use either hand for the next 6 to 8 weeks. I am stunned, disoriented and confused!
I am doing this crowdfund for the book Field Guide to Ambiguity. The irony is not lost on me here. This is a tender time.
This is the first time I've been in my studio since Friday - about four days. I wasn't sure I could open the door by myself. I can't put my hair back by myself, I can't hold a glass by myself. I think I'm going to be wearing this one floral wraparound dress with a high loose bun which is what my partner Guy can manage with some instruction, on my head, for the foreseeable future. I look like a frontierswoman.
I have no idea what to say about the Kickstarter campaign except that this is an amazing book and it is for these moments when things are going one way and suddenly they're going a different way and there's nothing you can do about it and it's hard to get your bearings.
This is what I'm going through now.
Here's how I would use this book when it is in physical form:
1. I would use the journaling prompts in the first section of the book. I would ask myself
What's going on for you right now honey?
What are your questions?
Those are a couple of the prompts from the book.
My questions right now are:
When can I next take a shower?
How will the surgery on Friday go?
Will I recover the use and range of motion of my dominant hand fully?
What's going to happen with my plans for the summer?
Can friends can come and help me?
What kind of help do I need? Who can I ask? What will I ask? how do I ask?
2. Next I'd star or circle one of these as my primary question. In this case it would be a general question about total lack of control in outcomes.
I suppose the main question is : Will I fully recover the range of motion in my left hand?
I've never broken a bone before and my left hand is my closest ally in life for so many reasons. Right now it almost feels like it died. Hand surgery is on Friday.
3. I'd then go to the three directories in the field guide, and I’d look for that primary question in the directories. And I'd find
Health and illness
Solitude and socializing
Upheaval and change
in the Life Themes directory.
in the qualities list.
4. I’d then go to the indicated page numbers, to reflect and to see if it helps me get my bearings.
Here's what it says under Embodied
Being in a body comes with a litany of sensations. Embodied, we are constantly in flux, interacting with the world of objects, people and places. We say it's 'my body' but this body is about as yours as a forest, a coral reef, or a flock of birds. On paper we can agree that it's mine, but aren't we more just along for the ride, an arc of life touching down in this envelope of skin? Our bodies run themselves, breathe themselves, regulate their own temperature, scratch an itch, and take us to the bathroom on our legs when it’s time. If we had to beat our own hearts, we'd likely be dead right now. This category includes situations relating directly to our bodies or embodiment as an experience.
Situations that are embodied might include Falling (26), Climbing (28), Unfolding(30), Hearing (32-34), Opening the Refrigerator (36), Tasting (38), Going through (40), Depositing (42).
Under the main list of ambiguous situations, which is a list of gerund verbs, is included Falling as well as Going through.
Ironically, while writing this book, my favorite was the Falling ambiguous situation. It's variations include falling with fragile goods and also falling in love.
Here's with that page looks like. And here's what it says:
And here's another page called Going through and here's what that page looks like and here's what it says there
The experience of turning to these pages is simply a tenderness, a gentle balm, and a slight reframe suggested through questions. I don't feel like writing right now because I can't use my hands, but just reading what's there is a reminder that was happening is not unique to me, that's very human and understandable, and is helping me widen the view a little bit, situate myself some, and not feel so alone.
There's an abstract artwork to puzzle over and there are many through-ways in the book via directories placed within these pages so you can also just flip to to find what you relate to or find interesting.
That's what this book is: it's a gentle celebration of humanness and the free fall that is our lives.
My first book came out of a very ambiguous time in my life, and prayer was a huge part of how I found my way through. This is a gentle hand hold, this book, it's very sweet in its tone. When there's a raw moment going on it's a way to get some perspective on it, without needing to be any different than you are, without anything needing to change.
There's a section at the beginning of the book where discomfort and ambiguity are explored: When I'm uncomfortable it's usually a sign that something really uncertain is happening and I want certainty. I want normalcy.
And we don't always get that.
When I was writing an earlier draft I had five early readers. Their feedback made me realize that I want this book to be something that my elderly friends who are falling a lot and whose lives are not looking the same as they did even a few months ago can relate to, I want it to be something that people being displaced from their homes maybe in California or in the Ukraine, or in Syria may encounter and find some kindness in.
I can't say that right now I'm feeling as fun sense of adventure around the fact that I don't have use of my hands for the summer, but I think in a few days I might find this book helpful.
It's pretty ironic that falling is what created my ambiguous situation and that Falling has been my favorite situation in the book.
I think there is a clear admittance on my part that I can't do all that much to be helpful to anybody as another human being, but this is just a way to draw attention to this human predicament we are in, and to talk about it both directly and also obliquely, with some color in form, humor and kindness in the shape of a field guide.
If you are wondering how you can help me right now, you can back and share this campaign. This is also the week my email stopped working properly, so please use yours to share the project.
THIS IS HOME
May 27 - June 26
Gallery B in Castine, ME
A four woman exhibition opening Feb 3 2023 at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Curated by Thea Eck.
Janice Charach Gallery
West Bloomfield MI
Jan 15-Mar 1 2023
Works of pure abstraction by 18 artists including five new puffies!
Make your own hand sewn book from the papers left by a loved one.
If you feel overwhelmed, confused or just plain excited by what's afoot in your life, and would like some excellent clarifying space and tools, try a session with Hannah! She's been a coach for 15 years. First 30 minutes is just to see what it's like...
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.