Friday, 21 August 2015

InstaMom & The Soft Pitch.

So, I got an Instagram account on the advice of an established artist. Facebook is for chatting with friends, he said. Instagram will help you connect as an artist with the public.  I'm not feeling the magic so far, but I have faith.
It's a simple premise, really. With a photo and some short text, snap a instant-quick slice of your life and send it out for the perusal of the masses. Only my life doesn't happen in instants. It sometimes shuffles along in tardys, draggys, and the odd momentous moments. Other times it sneaks past in wha-was-thats? and whoo-back-ups! And when it's successful, I only see the sticky residue in late night omigods! (They're fun. No sleep for you, Tristis. You now know what you missed last week)

Well, I'm on Instagram. And since part of my days are often spent with my mother, I'm fairly tempted to post her and her quirkiness. Mom's of two minds with this: she completely delights in being photographed, and she absolutely detests being photographed. Yes, those two things utterly contradict each other. That's my mom.

So, what does my instagram feed get out of this? Mostly confusion and very few actual photographs. I take far more photos with my camera, than my phone, and when I do—thanks to my hammy model— they're rarely the stuff of zippy, square, insta-art. They belong in series and stories and rambling discussions about mothers and children and time.

And thus enters the ice-cream-imp series of photos:

Mom's wicked look comes from my having just told her that she is a terrible person. She and I were discussing the fact that, after I had hauled a softball out of my camera bag—

—What on earth was a softball doing in your camera bag?

There's no good answer for that. Let's move along—

—she offered it to several nearby children. No, of course they could not have the softball. I had to say no to the disappointed cherubs, duck their mother's glare at my having contradicted the "sweet little old lady's" generosity, then get my revenge with the camera.

"Why are you taking my picture?"

"It's a record."

"Of what?"

"The crimes you commit."

"Oh, you don't want that ball, do you?"

"It's not mine. I forgot it was in there. And it's important. It commemorates a championship game."

"You don't play baseball."

"It's still not up for grabs."

"You could take a picture of my ice-cream."

"I will. Hold the ball steady."

"You'll get my fingers."

"I want your fingers."

"Not my face."

"Not your whole face."

A while back, when mom was sick and thought she was dying, I was worried, too. I wanted to send a picture to my brother in Alberta. Mom said no. I asked if I could send a shot of just her hands. She agreed to this.

She didn't die. She did, however, embark on a game of being a horrible, horrible patient—mostly because she was so very angry at not dying. Other people in the family who got this flu dropped dead (we missed the funeral, because she was sick). She had to suffer through a recovery and now has to wait before getting to heaven.

And all that.

That's okay, mom. You get to stick around and amuse yourself at my expense. And I get to amuse myself with random photos of you and sometimes your hands.

I've got a real fascination with her hands. They're shaped far different than when I was young and she  was shaping my memories. They took turns around each other, bent themselves and heaved up in odd places. But they remain nimble and useful tools for her in ways I wouldn't assume possible, given the pain they must cause. She still goes at all the same wacky projects she used to and only sometimes hisses when she hurts them.

There is something very special in how my mother has aged. It's not the arthritis, or the white hair or aging skin, it's in the defiance of those things. She's refusing to be old in two directions at once. The first, I've already mentioned: she's hellbent to die and go to heaven. Being old sucks. She wants her cloud, her little reward, and to take a tally of who didn't make it because they were just evil little buggers.

The second direction is in her immeasurable youth. This mother of mine is a child. For a while (after my father died) I thought she was a teenager, given her sudden interest in the opposite sex. But of late, I've got her figured at around six, that age where play is intricate, but still carefree. Nothing has to make sense to the rest of us, but everything does in its own weird and magical way.

Oh, yeah, and she's a brat.

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