Monday, August 13, 2012

Long Journey

Wayfaring Stranger

If I had to pick a theme for 2012 up to now it would be revisiting my youth. No, I did not go back to disco dancing in bars. But I have reconnected to a past forgot in a step by step and sometimes painful process.

A funny thing happened December 24, 2001. I had a ski accident. Not one caused by skiing too fast or otherwise pushing the envelope of my abilities as a downhill skier. Another skier slammed into me while I was teaching a lesson. At least that is what the accident report says. I don't remember it. Except for one or two out of body flashes four hours of my life was instantly gone. A half hour before and 3 1/2 hours afterwards is not unusual in a closed brain trauma.

Eleven years ago we didn't know as much about CBT's as we do now. The Iraq War has taught us a lot about them and their different manifestations. But then I was treated and streeted because it was Christmas Eve and I was walking and talking. Now we know about walk/talk/die CBT's and Shaken Jelly brain. And in the coming days, weeks and years I would come to know what the neurologist meant after looking at my MRI when he said, "The good news is you are not dead."

The bad news is I had a long way to go. When I first started recovery they said all progress would be made in 2 1/2 years. My level of disability was judged on where I was at that time. And I went on full disability shortly afterwards. Because it was a work related accident I got the best of medical care through worker's compensation. I am very thankful for that program. And Social Security Disability which allowed me to "retire" as of the date of the accident. I did not feel either programs were entitlements as I had over my working years paid into both a lot of money. Both allowed me to focus on what another survivor of CBT told me was my number 1 job - recovery. And practicing what I did not want to loose. Lots of blogs in that topic.

It took me quite a while to realize that one of my big loses was what I call my middle years. I worked hard at remembering the near things I needed to carry on. And I had amazingly detailed, and I thought long forgotten, memories of babyhood - life before 8. But between there and the more recent past were huge voids. Like high school. When I was contacted about my 49th high school reunion (I have never been to even one) I decided it might be good to get involved in the reunion Facebook group and see what I could recover of my youth. I am thankful for the sisters of Mu Heta Sigma for being patient with me. I even dug up the old yearbooks and have been cramming for the September 8th dinner.

And through that process snatches of my lost years have come back. It is far from a timeline but bits and pieces like a spilled jigsaw puzzle with a collapsed box. And everyone once in a while you find two pieces of the puzzle that fit together or get a glimpse of what the final picture might look like. And it seems at times as if the universe is assisting in the process. This week there was a casting call for extras in the Lone Ranger, a Johnny Depp movie to be filmed in part in Angel Fire. I used to do that!!! So maybe doing it again will help me remember more.

The casting agency wanted sizes and a recent photograph. These days I am mostly behind the camera, but in my youth I was in front of it a lot. I was a dancer, actress, photography model, and speaker. It says so on my Art Vita. So I set up a time with another photographer friend interested in trying to become an extra and we used her old miner's cabin to take some photos. We are both artists with web pages so win or lose on the casting call the photos will be useful. I came home with the jump drive of photos she took and set down to review them and post processes.

The photo that opens this blog was like opening a door and letting a tidal wave into my mind. A tidal wave of memories. Somewhere in my murky past I stood in just such a way, only against a large tree I think, and posed for a series of stills that ultimately got me 11 days of work in the movie Convoy. I was thinner and younger and in shorts instead of jeans. I was on camera in crowd scenes but my short speaking part was cut. And at this moment I remember more about that 11 days than I do about three years of high school. But it has given me hope. All is not lost. It is just the the CBT scrambled the connections.


  1. My goodness! I had no idea you went through all that. Fascinating what the brain retains and what it lets go. That is a stunning picture by the way. I thought it must be from the past! You are/were a glamour puss. Do you know Shers Callagher? She reminds me of you in some ways. Artist, multi-talented, gorgeous.

  2. Thank you for sharing this private part of yourself. I have worked with brain injured clients occasionally, I understand a little of your limitations. You have accomplished a lot with your art and photography. I hope snippets continue to return for you, they just need tweaked the right way to unlock them.

  3. I've said elsewhere how I think this this photograph is stunning and I lurve, lurve the bracelet. I's sure the casting call will be fun so good luck on that front.

    Pieces of past will come back - the brain no matter what, is a computer and sometimes it needs cranking up a little to see what's stored in the memory.

  4. oh my- my hat's off to you and your determination- I now understand more about brain injuries- I congratulate you in your continuing recovery. I cannot imagine not remembering the past- so my heart sends you lots of healing wihes.
    And your photo is stunningly beautiful.


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