pittsburgh

a first step. by Maranie Staab

I’ve buried my old blog, an inconsistent array of fragmented posts and images, to start fresh with a bit more intentionality. For years I have wished to have the discipline and confidence to write and share of my myself; in hindsight I see my hesitancy as a lot of things, not least of which as fear. A fear of not meeting my own expectations, a fear of vulnerability (both in content and in my ability to communicate well and with resonance) and a shade of fear that holds many of us back—one purely of uncertainty. As humans we naturally gravitate towards comfort, but the adage that “comfort breeds complacency” is a truth that we must first become of aware of and then make the conscious decision and subsequent, concerted effort to face.

The intention with this blog is a personal challenge as well as my effort to share some of my experiences on my continued journey as a photographer, journalist and young (when does young end?) woman intent on living a full, connected and substantive life. I appreciate and value when others make themselves vulnerable and so I will do similarly here, writing honestly and openly of my experiences professionally and personally, inclusive of successes, failures and questions that remain unanswered. I’ve long held that we can all learn much from one another if pretense and barriers of ego and fear are cast aside … and so, this is my small contribution towards a world of community, connectedness and mutual understanding.

My first post, beyond this wordy intro, allows a peak into my life beyond the images on this site. For I believe we are much more than what one may glimpse in a moment but rather that today we are some sum of our total experiences, good, bad and everything in between.

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Ten years ago today…I still remember the call but the subsequent weeks are fragments of moments, a result of devastation and confusion.

On October 19, 2009 viral encephalitis attacked my mother’s brain. The virus induced a coma that lasted 17 days and resulted in extensive damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of her brain. The trauma erased the previous decade from her mind and left her short-term memory severely compromised. Today, at age 57, Diana remembers most things for only hours, sometimes minutes, after they occur.
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For the same reason I photograph most things, I picked up my camera in an attempt to understand. To understand why and how … it’s been a futile effort as I come closer to accepting this as a question with no real answer, a waste of energy and a precarious edge of inquiry. I’ve learned time and time again that often there is no “why.” There is only how we choose to react and cope and in some way move on. I’ve managed to do that but how does one without memory retention begin to “move on”?

You see, my mother, once an independent mother of four now has a caretaker and “remembers” most things by taking fastidious notes in a journal we’ve deemed “the book.” Though my mother does her best to remain positive, she lives a life acutely aware of a once more complete existence.

We are made of our memories. They inform who we are in the present and who we will become in the future. They give each moment substance, an accumulation of which gives our lives worth and meaning. A decade has passed since my mom got sick and yet it is still surreal and “the new normal” to spend a weekend, knowing neither the words nor the moments shared will be remembered. For my mother’s part, I admire her strength but wish for little more than medical science, or a miracle, to allow her to remember the last years of her life.