What's on your mind?

LOSING A WHOLE YEAR: What’s on your mind? is a collection of photos and a poem taking the form of Facebook posts from Kristal McDermont “subtweeting” her alcoholic father and her co-dependent mother. Each post can be taken separately or strung along as a prose and takes on stylistic language that is frequently found in these kinds of posts… vague implications and unconventional grammar...similar to elements found in traditional poetry. As I was making this webpage and writing this poem, I was thinking about my alternate life if I had never gone to college, done any emotional upheaval or made an effort to educate myself politically… Essentially, if I had never had the toolkit I do now, that is Kristal. The writing is based on a combination of my own experiences and other people I’ve known. The “You” and “She” she is referring to are Kristal’s father and mother, respectively. Her dad was an alcoholic for Kristal’s entire life until he passed away from drinking hand-sanitizer a few years ago. Her mom is her best friend in the world now but she now struggles with confronting their relationship and her mom’s codependency as she reflects on her dad’s addiction. Kristal is mourning her “witnesses”, the physical landmarks and containers where her memories are stored, as she watches them be demolished and turned into newer versions, something completely different, or piles of trash. In hopes of finding somewhere that gives her a sense of familiarity, she’s only met with disorientation and doubts if any of her life with her dad had happened at all. She resents the healing and forgiving process. She feels as though she cannot still hate her dad because he has passed and everyone has forgiven him. Violent and harsh emotions that once were acceptable to scream into someone’s face now find no justifiable subject and she is confused. The “hell” she references is a utopia in which she was not only free to exhibit and exercise evilness, anger, and manipulation freely but also maintained the structure of the only way she knows how to navigate relationships, and the world in general, now. She feels inadequate to interact with the world outside of that hell-scape, in an honest way. Her honesty is violent and explosive. This utopia is also a thing she considers precious, as it is the only thing her and her dad have built together. She wishes she could go back to it desperately but it is lost forever in her father and the places that held that energy in at least one point in time... the witnesses and Kristal herself have "left" in one way or another. Kristal visits Walmart, the church where she attended family AA meetings and now attends AA herself, Bowen’s grocery where she awaited a ride from school from her dad, the Bank of America where she found out her dad was drinking and driving with her by innocently taking a sip from his water bottle while he was inside, a Christmas light display that her family saw each year, the demolished McDonald’s parking lot where she spent Christmas one year with her mom, and other sites around Calvert County-- all photos taken by her best friend, Emily Thompson, an aspiring photographer at the local community college. This is about reconciliation of the out and in, the then and now, self-preservation and self-betterment, and the seen and the invisible. I’m seeing this project as a starting point of a deeper dive into addict-families in Calvert County and the difficulty that comes with navigating out of the physical location as well as the mindset that one may feel is permanently imposed on them in these circumstances. I see this opening an interrogation of this specific brand of whiteness, which I’ve observed and participated in for a long time, that is bred out of undereducation, isolation, and tradition.