Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: Satire: Growing up a photographer's daughter

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Satire: Growing up a photographer's daughter

     I have grown up in front of the camera lens, as a result of a mother who not only enjoys taking pictures, but also makes a living off of it.  As a result, I have what my doctor sensitively calls: Automatic Flash Response Reflex.  Basically, AFRR has made it impossible to live a daily life.  The doctor says there are others like me, I'm not alone.  Yet, when I come to support meetings, it is only he and I.  I'm stepping up though.  I realize that I am a face of AFRR-- er-- THE face of AFRR.  I am a afflicted but I am not a victim.  I am a photographer's daughter, and here is my story:

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     Every day I wake up.  Yes, this is quite typical.  What follows though, is 14 hours of pain and misery that have followed me ever since I looked up with my blue eyes and heard, "She is such a beautiful baby girl!  Oh my goodness: she's moving- quick: get the camera!"  
     At the age of four, I began to notice the first signs of AFRR.  I remember sitting in preschool when I first noticed.  We had just watched a movie about puppies becoming best friends despite their difference in playground preferences-- a typical educational film.  My teacher flicked on the lights, and I, in bewilderment, began to flash a smile.  At that, I couldn't stop.  Classmates looked in awe as I gave my different smiles: sweet, shy, goofy, mature, ect.  Then, my body began twitching along with my face and arranged itself in cute poses.  I could hear the mocking voice of my mother calling, "Ooooh!  Don't move!  Just one more!"  Even in my darkest hour, her camera was mocking me.  After a few minutes, just as mysteriously as the "seizures" had started, I stopped.  That was it, just some freaky event that bought me frightened respect among my fellow peers and throughout the preschool.  Or so I thought.  
     After a trip to the beach that summer, my symptoms began to worsen.  My mother happily denied my pain and found an excuse to photograph me even more.  "I was always so perfectly poised for a picture," she would brag with delight.  At that, I would give the meanest most ugly scowl my mind could concoct.  She would just stick a flashlight in my face and giggle, "you are SO photogenic!  I'm gonna have to buy a new sim card!"  
     As time went on, the pain grew deeper and I began to retreat into my room to pass my days in darkness. Because of the nature of my condition, many others new about it and I was sick of "random" strobe light parties at school or when I was angry.  On top of that, things grew worse.  By the time I was ten and we'd had more vacations and Kodak moments, a light flicker was enough to set off the camera spasms for up to five minutes.  That's my parents finally agreed to take me to a doctor.  He analyzed me, laughed at me, tested me, and took some pictures (he said they were necessary, but I was suspicious.)  He concluded that I was hopeless: my smile seizures would eventually gain control of my life and turn me into a living Chucky doll.  "Don't worry," he assured, "you might be put out of your misery and simply freeze one day, mid smile.  It's hard to gauge." 
     Worry I did.  No longer could I scowl at my brother, or lunge at my mother.  Heck, I couldn't even record my pain on video camera because every time I turned one on, the blinking light would set off my AFRR and the family would come running for some cheap entertainment.  Out of humiliation, I stopped attending birthday parties.  Too dangerous.  I missed my own baptism because the glare of light off the water was bound to start a seizure while I was in the water, drowning in my own giggling smile.  So I sat at home while they baptized my American Girl doll-- dressed for the occasion in her scuba mask and fins.  
     I burrowed myself in my room and acquired a taste for peanut butter and canned Artichoke Hearts-- two foods that don't expire for years.  So, with my peanut butter covered Artichokes, I would read those hidden object the dark.  Sometimes, for a pick-me-up, I would listen to home videos of myself.  There was never any sound though, so I would just hear birds and wind-- other than at the start when I would here my own painful sobbing.  Those were the things that got me through.
     And now?  I am typing this to the outside world with my eyes closed and my heart heavy.  My AFRR has indeed become debilitating.  It is only a matter of time now before I either freeze with a smile or invest in an underground dugout in which to grow old and die alone.  Wanting to be part of the process, my family took a vote last night over which option I should take.  They told me it was 4-1.  Mom, they reasoned, wants to get a picture of me at graduation, whether I'm really "there" or not.  "I just want to capture you life," she explained to me the last time I saw her.  That was two months ago, and she is on visiting probation because she brought out the camera.  
     So I bid you all warning: stay away from the lens.  The limelight seems nice and your parent may seem like they have good intentions.  But according to my doctor, there are plenty of other people who suffer with AFRR.  I don't want you to become the next.  Tackle your photographing family member to the ground.  Grab their camera, claw off the shutter button, bury the camera, and cover it with cement sealing that includes an engraved carving of a skull.  That skull represents your lively-hood if that camera is ever resurrected   I urge you: do it soon.  Save your life so you don't experience a story like mine and have your life "captured" forever.

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