I got my first tattoo when I was 18. It was made with a guitar string and India ink. My friend thought it would be fun, so we drank a bottle and got tattoos together. When she asked me if I knew what I wanted to get, I answered immediately, "a butterfly."

volume 1: emergence

08 Apr 2020

Butterflies have always been strong symbols for me.

Evolved creatures emerging from sheltered spaces.

ผีเสื้อ

فراشة

sommerfugl

तितली

蝴蝶

mariposa

After three years, my little butterfly tattoo was faded and blurred. It kind of looked like a moth. So I used my college tuition reimbursement funds to cover it with a more colorful, larger butterfly tattoo. 

A caterpillar can eat up to three hundred times its own weight in a day, devastating many plants in the process, continuing to eat until it’s so bloated that it hangs itself up and goes to sleep, its skin hardening into a chrysalis.

 

Then, within the chrysalis, within the body of the dormant caterpillar, a new and very different kind of creature, the butterfly, starts to form.

 

This confused biologists for a long time.

 

How could a different genome plan exist within the caterpillar to form a different creature?

 

They knew that metamorphosis occurs in a number of insect species, but it was not known until quite recently that nature did a lot of mixing and matching of very different genome/protein configurations in early evolutionary times.

 

Cells with the butterfly genome/proteins were held as aggregates, or ‘discs’ of stem cells that biologists call ‘imaginal cells’, tucked inside pockets of the caterpillar’s skin all its life, remaining undeveloped until the crisis of overeating, fatigue and breakdown allows them to develop.

~Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris

Who grieves for the caterpillars?

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

I get up at about 9 every day, which is very late for me; because of my job I’m often up and on set usually at 4 or 5 in the morning. I eat dinner leftovers for breakfast every day. This morning, I ate a cold pizza – that I hadn’t even refrigerated, I’d just left it out.

11 a.m. I go and stare inside the fridge. Then I work for another hour. Then I go stare inside the fridge for another 10 minutes. It’s like the only exercise I do at the moment.

I have Chinese food for lunch. My diet has done a 180. It’s a lot of frozen food and microwaved food. And that’s fine, because I grew up on that food so I’m very comfortable with it. But also, all day is lunch now. Have you ever snacked more in your life? I’m just stress eating. It’s so scary, what’s happening to the world.

I’m wearing my boyfriend’s clothes most of the time, and tracksuits. Everything I own is covered in food. My hands are really clean, but the rest of me is filthy. I’ll get dressed up for a Zoom conference if I have to. But often I’m only dressed up from the waist up.

 

Each version of these tattoos has served as a consistent reminder of my need for emergence and rebirth. Since childhood, I have experienced the ebb and flow of depression and agoraphobia.

            Feeling trapped.

                   Feeling stuck.

                              Pushing people away.

                    Feeling alone.

          Feeling like no one could understand.

 

Just as caterpillars become overwhelmed with overeating,

                                                                                      fatigue, and

                                                                                          breakdown,

settling into their cocoons,

I too, build my chrysalis.

My purposeful acceptance of what is possible in the moment.

I am not hiding.

I am creating.

I am not lonely.

I need space to evolve

and inevitably it will be messy.

Let me contain myself.

Let me be.

Let me grieve.

I can barely remember who I am

and what "normal" even means anymore.

The only thing I know is that I can't keep doing what I was doing.

I have to remake myself.

approaching

Liminal space

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People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things.

But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.                         ~Assata Shakur

Jiddu Krishnamurti: So, when we talk about change, we mean not the mere bloody revolution, physical revolution, but rather the revolution in the makeup of the mind of human beings. The way he thinks, the way he behaves, the way he conducts himself, the way he operates, he functions, the whole of that. We see objectively the appalling mess the world is in. Right?

The misery, the confusion, the deep sorrow of man.

I can't tell you what I feel when I go round the world. The pettiness, the shallowness, the emptiness of all this, of the so-called western civilisation, if I may use that word; into which the eastern civilisation is being dragged. And we are just scratching on the surface all the time. And we think the mere change on the surface - change in the structure is going to do something enormous to human beings. On the contrary it has done nothing. It polishes a little bit here and there but deeply fundamentally it does not change man. So, when we are discussing change we must be, I think, fairly clear that we mean the change in the psyche, in the very being of human beings. That is, in the very structure and nature of his thought.

It is that Third Space,

though unrepresentable in itself,

which constitutes the discursive conditions of enunciation that ensure that the meaning and symbols of culture have

no primordial unity or fixity; that even the same signs can be appropriated, translated, rehistoricized, and read anew.

~Dr. Homi Bhabha

Almost twenty-five years have passed since I got the second tattoo. Last year, I really felt like it was time to cover it with another bigger, bolder butterfly.

2019 was a year of significant loss and trauma for me. It feels like I've been in social isolation for almost half a year now, after burying my dog in Central America and returning to California.

Gentrified, fire-stricken, falling-apart-at-the-seams California.

After a few months of being back

and not finding a job

or housing

or a car

or getting my kid in school,

my overeating, fatigue, and breakdown grew.

Everyone else was still performing their "normal" roles

and I was still waiting in the wings.

 

I wasn't on stage when the audience ran home.

I wasn't on stage when everything fell apart.

I was back here.

Waiting for my cue,

I guess.

And now most of the troupe are backstage,

you in your pod

me in mine.

Does the show go on?

Or

Do we call it a wrap and build a new production?

I think a lot of us would like to call it a wrap.

I could really go for a wrap party right now...

Because I have some notes, as I'm sure many of you do,

Let's all gather around...

The Schools are Closed!

rents aren't going to be paid!

We are running out of everything!

let's go around and see what everyone has to say

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Kendrick Lamar - Caterpillar Poem (Mortal Man)

Video posted by Gregory Pellman

Butterflies have always been strong symbols for me.

Evolved creatures emerging from sheltered spaces.

Letting go of almost everything in order to create something different, beautiful, and new.

I mean, how else could a caterpillar fly?

~Christine Warda

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