INTERCALATING THE DRIFT #2
Opening February 20, 2016 6â€“10PM
On view February 20 - March 11, 2016
A part of the exhibition series Intercalating the Drift. Solo exhibitions by Mirak Jamal, George Rippon and Michele Di Menna accumulate into a group exhibition that is both collaboration and divergent singular works.
Any day now you â€“ and your TBI  â€“ are going to find yourselves in a room full of smiling faces, loud music, and animated conversation â€“ a holiday party. You need to make a plan before jumping into the fray. After all, a holiday party is for socializing, meeting new people, finding out about them, and telling them about you. But after TBI, any conversation can be a land mine, and is made worse when you need to decide what to say in the moment â€“ an emotional, disorienting, and overwhelming moment.
What do you say to a distant uncle who loudly exclaims, â€śItâ€™s great to see you back to your old selfâ€ť? Or a stranger who asks you (the question I dread most): â€śWhat do you do?â€ť
You can tell it like it is: â€śActually, I donâ€™t feel like my old self,â€ť or â€śI was in an accident and canâ€™t work.â€ť Or you can keep it short and impersonal, as if nothing happened: â€śThank you,â€ť or â€śIâ€™m between jobs right now.â€ť But it may be embarrassing to give an honest answer, and painful pretending youâ€™re fine. Iâ€™ve found that the best answers are the ones I come up with before I even get to the party. By planning ahead I can calmly decide what to say, how to say it, and how much to disclose.
So make a plan.
First, ask the 5 Wâ€™s:
WHO: family, friend, colleague, or stranger? Do I know them well? Is it any of their business or do they even care?
WHAT: as much or little as I am comfortable with in the situation.
WHEN: Do I blurt it out when we first say â€śhi,â€ť when weâ€™re making a date to meet again, or not at all?
WHERE: a holiday party, at the office, or a friendâ€™s house? Is it formal, chaotic, intimate?
WHY: It has to benefit me. I may want to tell them about TBI, but not at my own expense, as an excuse, or out of embarrassment.
I do have a few rules.
Tell the truth. Being vague is fine, but donâ€™t make up a story â€“ itâ€™s too easy to forget!
â€śLESS IS BEST.â€ť If someone wants to know more, theyâ€™ll ask.
Turn things around by asking a question â€“ â€śWhat about you?â€ť
When in doubtâ€¦ DONâ€™T.
Once Iâ€™ve thought things through I get to work and make a plan. I come up with short, simple answers that Iâ€™m comfortable with.
Now all I have to do it practice those answers â€“ over and over and over again, until they are stuck in my head. Then, I practice some more, and each day keep practicing until the day of the party.
So, here goes:
Uncle: â€śItâ€™s great to see you back to your old self.â€ť
Laurie: â€śThanks. Itâ€™s been hard work, but I feel so much better.â€ť
Stranger: â€śWhat do you do?â€ť
Laurie: â€śI volunteer for a non-profit advocacy organization.â€ť
Stranger: â€śWhat kind of work is it?â€ť
Laurie: â€śWe advocate for people with brain injury. What do you do?â€ť
Of course, â€śThe best-laid plansâ€¦ can go awryâ€ť  and thatâ€™s okay too.
- Laurie Rippon
 Traumatic Brain Injury
 Robert Burns