When a year feels like yesterday

I have been trying to write this post for several weeks.

Next week, my family and friends will celebrate and grieve the one year anniversary of Hali’s death. 

 

I’ll be honest, this has been one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. Up until a few months ago, I don’t think I could state I was dealing with her death at all, never mind well. In August, after a string of weeks of insomnia and deep unhappiness, I decided to seek out the help of a grief counselor. Her help is probably the only reason I will actually be attending any memorial next weekend. She is also the reason why I am writing this blog. She challenged me to write a goodbye letter as my final step in letting Hali go. She never asked me to stop grieving, just to start healing.

I have been unwilling to do this for about a month. I think, instead, if I write of this past year, what she’s missed, and the realizations I have had about how much a big sister means to her little sister, it will help. I hope it also reminds me, and whoever reads this, that no matter what, your family (blood, half, step, adopted) is your family; there is no walking away, or cutting ties. 

 

My dear Hali Mae,

With the risk of earning mom’s ire, THIS SUCKS.

I miss you an incredible amount. I often think about calling you; too often I catch myself doing something ‘Hali’ and laughing/crying about it. It’s getting a little easier. A little. Kurt and I joked in the car about your need to add your arm to our seat belts when breaking a little too quickly. I think I will start calling it the Hali clothesline. 

I’m not really sure how to write about this year; The weekend of your death, I also said goodbye to Ry, Sarah and the kids for the last time before their big move to Nicaragua. I poured my grief into a distraction of love and business playing with the kids, loving on them before they left. I think that initial distraction tactic worked so well, I spent the next 8 or 9 months trying to forget you had died. It’s only been a couple of weeks since I’ve actively tried to catch myself talking about you in the present tense. 

I threw myself into the arms of school, teaching, and my friends. When I felt sad, I had a dinner party; If something reminded me of you, I went and planned my next lecture. I was terrible at letting you go slowly. I have been clinging to your life like you’d still be sitting on the couch at mom’s with an icecap in hand, waiting for me after my first day of school as a PhD student.

The first time I ate Taco Bell since you died, I cried silently the whole time. I’m pretty sure I freaked the entire restaurant out. (I definitely just heard your laugh there).

But I couldn’t ignore your death forever. I might weep as I write this, but I know in my heart that you are gone, yet still a part of everything I do.

I know I’m not the only one who cries at night when I think of you. I do know, however, that Rox and your mom have been the anchors your kids need in storm of grief everyone else is experiencing. Eliannah, your Ella Rose, is a joy of smiles and life, and I think a beautiful little girl. She is the light in the darkness you left us in. Little Z: I know Isaiah is missing you fiercest of us all. He lost his champion when God took you. If there is one reason over any other I am angry at God/the injustice of your death, its for Isaiah’s sake. But I know your folks are doing the absolute best they can by him.

I haven’t, though. You would be so disappointed in me, if you knew how I have behaved this year. Hali, I’ve hid from all the responsibility, love, grief, joy, and healing that our families are going through. Too scared to see Isaiah’s face, or watch Eliannah get bigger without your love, I have been the most selfish of sisters. What’s worse is I know you would still understand and love me for it. I know you would tell me it’s OK, even when it’s not.

I promise I will do my best to make this right.

I can talk about what happened to you now without crying. (mostly.) But I can’t do so without feeling very angry. I’m angry at the doctors and nurses that caused your death, I’m angry at whatever part of the universe allowed this happen; losing you cause the cracks in my faith to tear my world apart and remake it. There are days when I mourn this, the loss of familiar strength through trust in God. Mostly, though, I feel free. I think you’d be pretty sad to hear this too, because you found so much strength in the church and your faith, especially when you were pregnant for Eliannah. But this isn’t something I regret or wish to spare from your knowledge. I think I’m stronger without it.

Oh. I got a tattoo for you. Yoshi and baby mario…I can hear your fake Mario cry if I listen closely enough. That has become a talisman for talking about your death, your life, our relationship, and all you mean to me. So much, I’m even going to write a paper about it (and yes, I just heard you call me a dork.)

I wrote a long list of things you’ve taught me over the years that I never said thank you for; I have thought about sharing them in this letter, but I know you would already know them. You are the keeper of my childhood, the first person I would go to with my secrets, my example, my competition; you marched to the beat of your own drum and made sure I felt confident enough in myself to do the same. I went everywhere with you, not because I was your sidekick, but because you always made your world available to me. I was never too small, too young, too silly, too weak to go on adventures with you. There isn’t a space of the last 25 years that isn’t coloured in the paint of your love, friendship and sisterhood. This last year without you has been like traveling to hell and back. Yet, through my grief and sorrow, I have learned to hold on fiercely to our family, to never let an I love you go unsaid, to cherish the wonderful supportive friends who have distracted me and mourned with me, and beyond all else, to revel in the beautiful memories of our short lives together. I hope next week I can spend the day with our families remembering you, visit your grave for the first time, and learn to let go a little bit of the anger and sadness I feel, and simply feel love.

We will never grow old in farmhouses next door to each other like we said we would, but you will always be in my heart. I love you, so very very much. Miss you!

yours,

Kelsey

p.s. Un roquin va te manger pour diner. I hope they teach French in Heaven!

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To EMTs, Paramedics Nurses, ER Doctors and First Responders: Thank you

To the Emergency Response Teams, Paramedics, Nurses, ER Doctors and First Responders in my life, and to those of you who are complete strangers,

Lately I have had to be reminded, often, of what can happen to people when those in charge of our health, in emergency situations and non-emergency, do not do their jobs properly. Someone very dear to me lost her life because someone couldn’t be bothered to do their night rounds on a busy Friday night. Though courts prepare to assign the ultimate blame in her death, negligence with a morphine drip is the reason I lost my big sister and dearest friend.

 

So one might think I would be the last person to write a letter like this. However, today I learned a very important lesson. As I drove my niece Lily home to her mom’s up Walkey Road this afternoon, I arrived on the scene of a horrific accident about 2-3 minutes after the first ambulance had. I was stuck in 4 lanes reduced to 1, angled directly beside the scene of the crash as two more ambulances arrived and I was directed to put my car in reverse. From this position I watched as several EMTs/Paramedics worked frantically to save the life of a young man who was riding a motorcycle; he had been hit by a large transport carrying heavy machinery. I had to roll up my windows to shut out the shouting of the team, to keep Lily from hearing, as well as myself. After 10 minutes, police arrived to direct our lane away…as I left I was pretty certain that young man died on the pavement beside my car.

 

Two blocks from the accident I pulled the car over quickly into a gas station parking lot, jumped from my car, and proceeded to lose my lunch, gasping from tears I had held back.

 

My reaction may seem extreme, but as many of you know, I myself was the victim of a hit and run while driving a moped last summer, and my fear of even being on a regular bike in traffic is still quite palpable.

 

After I dropped Lily off I had a ways to go to arrive home in the rush hour traffic. It seemed like today in Ottawa, everyone was driving a little more quickly than they should; accidents abounded wherever my eyes looked. I fought back tears, trying to calm myself when my mind alighted on the idea of writing this blog. I thought to myself, how can I express what happened to day? How can I ease the ache in my chest?

 

And then it hit me. I’m the put back together, almost completely healthy person I am because of some amazing people who swiftly and carefully helped me at the scene of my accident and in the emergency room in Cornwall. I watched this afternoon as men and women attempted to keep the last etches of someone’s life in their body; they fought hard. As I write this, nurses and doctors, paramedics, cops and firefighters are fighting that same fight for someone else.

On a day where I could only think of the person I lost, I was reminded that throughout this city there are amazing people doing everything they can to make sure someone else gets their loved ones back. The blood on the pavement and twisted remains of a motorcycle force me to recognize I should be grateful someone steps up every day to face the possibility of having to take on death at work. And I am very grateful.

 

My heart goes out to the family of the young man who could only have survived today’s encounter with death by the miracle of the skill and fight of 4 EMTs;

 

Thank you for facing a reality that leaves me broken and in tears as I write this.

Sundays

In the morning, somedays

I catch a glimpse,

a picture

Over one shoulder

of a figure sometimes familiar

Ya, somedays, over one shoulder

I feel haunted.

 

Sometimes, afternoon sunlight

catches shadows

blurred,

Over one shoulder,

of a presence somedays strange,

Ya, sometimes, over one shoulder,

the lines blurr.

 

With a smile and a laugh,

a picture perfect, fearless

dance

It’s easy, it’s easy

Yeah, act away the play

Fake the blocking,

With a smile and a laugh,

be me

 

In the evenings, and Sundays

I search and yearn,

lost,

Over one shoulder,

she is gone.

Ya, on sundays, over one shoulder,

I’m different.

 

With a smile and a laugh,

a picture perfect, fearless

dance

It’s easy, it’s easy

Yeah, act away the play

Fake the blocking,

With a smile and a laugh,

be me

 

Ya, sometimes it breaks me

somedays I can’t take me

Sundays I wish I knew me

Wish I could catch a glimpse,

Over one shoulder

 

With a smile and a laugh,

a picture perfect, fearless

dance

It’s easy, it’s easy

Yeah, act away the play

Fake the blocking,

With a smile and a laugh,

be me

be me

KONY 2012 Vs Critical Thinking

Sigh. I have so much work to do right now, and writing a blog about what I am about to rant on is the last thing I should be doing. But I had to. Mostly because it has been months since I’ve blogged (see current life choices: teaching, PhD, bad ass extraordinaire), but also because this particular issue got me really riled up.

Over the last few days I’ve seen various “KONY 2012” status updates on Facebook. Having little to no time on my hands, I had no idea what this was about. I mean, I knew who Joseph Kony was, but I certainly didn’t make the link to a campaign showing up on facebook. Then this morning after seeing a few, ahem, more well informed friends post AGAINST this KONY thing, whatever it was…I decided I’d better find out.

So I watched the 30 minute documentary produced and marketed for distrubition via social media like Facebook by Invisible Children. It was emotionally charged and moving, a real ‘inspired to move’ kind of thing. However, I’ve made it my business to study the plight of child soldiers for the past few years, and actually taught a unit with my middle schoolers last year on the Ugandan conflict. I mentioned Invisible Children’s original documentary, when the young founders encountered the displacement of thousands of abused child soldiers and sex slaves, but also referred to several documentaries that gave a better, more accurate picture of the situation in Uganda.

Therefore, when I viewed the KONY film, I had some pretty intense reactions. I will simply copy paste my FB status and comments to give you an idea:

about an hour ago

    To my facebook friends pushing KONY 2012: There is no way to know the solution, without full knowledge of the problem itself. We must act on knowledge, not emotions.
 ****Friends Response***But everyone is talking about it right? Whereas before no one seemed to care. I think the first step is opening up the dialogue, which the film has succeeded in doing.
    • Kelsey CatherinePersonally I taught a group of grade 7-8 students last year about the Ugandan conflict and child soldier issues, but I managed to actually make an attempt at accuracy, and didn’t forget to mention the role the Ugandan government has played in this conflict. Invisible children is a corperation that is supported and allied with the Ugandan government that is advocating for further violence and troop movement in Northern Uganda; While I will not argue with the fact that this film has brought ‘notice’ to an issue, I fear that all it is doing is emotionally charging us with guilt…how many people who watch this and repost it on facebook actually go and inform themselves beyond the film?? Because, as cute as Jason’s kid Gavin is, he thinks this conflict involves Darth Vader…and he got more air time than any Ugandan, any academic (oh wait, no one who actually knows anything about the history of the Ugandan conflict was actually spoken to?), or even a representative of the Ugandan government.

    • Kelsey CatherineThis video reminds me of a revivalist sermon: Get everyone riled up and crying, and a day or two later they wonder, what was that about? Because what Invisible Children fails to do is INFORM their viewers about the origins of the Ugandan conflict, it fails to give any voice to the people affected by this tragedy, beyond our introduction to Jakob, who, after his clip from the original documentary Invisible children (which you have to pay for to watch, by the way), says very little…oh wait, there is a 5 sec clip of the Ugandan Country Rep for Invisible Children, but she says absolutely nothing, she just cries.

    • Kelsey CatherineBecause, the real problem lies in the nature of social media…too often we jump to pass along videos and dialogue without filtering, critically analyzing, and truly taking it in. Yes, that might sound very ‘academic’ of me, but is it any wonder we have teenagers and adults on places like FB that have no accountability for the word vomit and emotion spilling that occurs? USE A DAMN FILTER and THINK before you post. Watch KONY 2012, great, but then fucking read a few news articles or do a search for more info from actual NGOs before you buy a stupid action kit.

And that is why I urge you all that if you want to get involved with any kind of movement, or watch and repost this particular film that you go out and inform yourself about that topic too.

Check out sites like

http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/ which critiques the motivations of Invisible Children

And get informed about the Ugandan conflict, the role of the US there, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136673/mareike-schomerus-tim-allen-and-koen-vlassenroot/obama-takes-on-the-lra?page=show

and stop being so damn invested in the “emotional porn” that is distributed on Facebook like crack.

Hali Mae 1975-2011

According to Hali, the first time we met I was swearing like a sailor at the neighbours’ kids, whom she was babysitting at the time. She colours this with my supposed response to her scolding me for cussing with “but its my mommy’s favourite word”. She loved telling people that story…mostly because it suggested that my mom was teaching her 3-year-old to cuss people out.
I have a vague and washed out memory of the first time Hali and I really met. It could be a doctored memory that my mind has created, an illusion of a story often told to me by her, but in my heart it feels real. I am in my pjs, trailing my blankie behind me, hand on the railing of the stairwell as I peer into the livingroom of our farmhouse. I am 3. Light is pouring in to the room through the bay window, washing everything out. There is a teenage girl with her hair in a ponytail changing my younger brother Kurtis in the middle of the floor. “Who are YOU?” I ask, half disdain, half shaky fear. “I’m your new babysitter. Your mom and dad asked me to watch you,” replied the girl…which of course sounds exactly like the Hali I knew last week in my head, not Hali from 1989.

And that is it. That is my earliest memory of the woman who, besides my mother, had the greatest influence over my childhood and journey into adulthood. It probably did not happen that way, I cannot quite bring myself to believe a three-year olds memories could stick in my brain this long, but I cherish the whitewashed dream of a first meeting.

That is, however, only one  of thousands of memories and moments with Hali Mae.

Hali Mae has always been the sister of my heart. We do not share blood, but in my family, that has never meant much. Hali was my role model, for good or bad, was my hero for years, and then one of my closest friends. We share memories, family, a profession and similar dreams for that profession. There was not another person on this earth who understood my qualities, flaws and lived experiences as well as she.

She started babysitting my younger brother Kurtis and I when she was 14. She took me to Sunday school for the first time. Soon after this initial meeting, my family joined the same church as her family, and our moms became the best of friends. My mom took on the role of youth leader for the youth group, which Hali and her friends were members of, and this only served to further cement our connection. As the years passed our family grew, as did our purpose. My parents began to foster children, and Hali signed up as our first certified babysitter. Even then, when she didn’t live with us, it always felt like she did. Or that her home with her parents became an extension of our home, because I wandered into their kitchen often enough too. She helped nurture and raise every kid that walked through my parents’ doors. When our family moved to Ingleside, Hali came with us and lived with us for a time. When she had Isaiah, and our family home was empty while we moved clear across the country for a few years, Hali took care of the house and shared the space for a time with my brother Tim. My parents are also Isaiah’s godparents.

That is a brief description of a 22 year-long relationship. These past few days I have spent in my head, reviewing and reliving all the ridiculous, happy and sad moments I shared with her.

There are a number of memories involving foster kids. Though I cannot share them here, know that Hali was a champion of kids, a defender and a voice of reason. If our house was a zoo, Hali was the most capable of zoo keepers. She dealt with emergencies, runaways, break downs, tantrums, and her fair share of drama at our home, and yet kept coming back.

When I was 8, two sad things happened to my family. The first was the death of our Newfoundlander, Paddy. She was hit by a car in front of our house only a little while before Kurtis and I were due back from school on the bus. Hali drove to meet our bus at another stop to pick us up and took us to Burger King, so we would be spared the sight awaiting us at home. Later that spring, my grandfather died. My parents judged that I was still too young to attend the funeral in Toronto, so we were left with the person they trusted most: Hali. I was fiercely upset with my parents for not taking me with them, and spent most of the weekend in tears and tantrums. But Hali knew what would make me feel better: hours of Care Bears The Movie II, Land Before Time, and mac and cheese. We made cookies, played with the little kids, and my sorrow was calmed.

So many moments to hold on tightly to now, to get me through the fierce sorrow I have now: Car rides to the cottage, where teaching Hali to speak French resulted in her very first sentence in French being “Un roquin va te manger pour diner”. While eating sushi last month, Hali whipped out her favourite French sentence while consuming a roll, resulting in us laughing so hard we were crying.

Once at the cottage when I was 6 or 7, after a day spent swimming, Hali and I decided to catch minnows and sunfish. Fully dressed, after swiping my grandfathers’ metal colander, I began to try to ‘scoop’ up fish that Hali was luring in with a worm on a hook. The first scoop resulting in me falling head first into the lake, and the colander going down to the bottom. It took Hali forever to find it again. Of course she totally blamed the incident on me.

Somehow, I decided I hated a shake and bake commercial song, and Hali and one of our foster kids decided it would be hilarious to sing it to me, chasing my around the house. I screamed and cried and stormed. “I feeeeel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight!!!!”. I still have no idea why it upset me, or why she chased me singing it.

At age 11, I convinced Hali I was allowed to dye my hair with this 10 day leave in mousse. The best part about Hali was though she was the most responsible person, she was also a rebel at heart. It didn’t take much convincing for her to believe me that my mom had OK’d the hair colouring…needless to say, we were both in a lot of trouble.

We spent many happy days at Silver Lake Wesleyan camp, at family camp, kids camp, and teen camp. I know it is one of the happiest places on earth for me, and that Hali felt the same way. She spent the past several summers with Isaiah relaxing in the comfortable and welcoming place of our childhood.

I know the Rideau Centre Mall like the back of my hand, because when I was younger, a special treat from Hali meant a drive to Ottawa for Taco Bell in the mall, window shopping and going to the movie theatre.

I can look at a number of school pictures from throughout my childhood and point to the various hairstyles or clothing selections Hali made the night before.

There are hundreds of memories of birthday parties, the Newington fair and the demolition derby, talent shows, church functions, rollerblading or biking adventures. Too many to share. I was her sidekick, Hali the superhero. I was never too little to do something, in her eyes. Hali brought me to college with her, to classes and placement. Hali took me shopping, took me camping, made me walk at 1 in the morning from Brookdale to her apartment on the other side of Cornwall after we missed the last bus after watching Apollo 13. (an event I still grumble about)

Hali taught me to ride a bike.

Hali taught me to shave my legs.

Hali taught me how to break up with my middle school boyfriend.

Hali taught me to love children, change babies diapers, cook Kraft dinner, and to be myself.

Hali taught us our catch phrases of “don’t stick it out”, and is the reason why we were all cursed with my sister Amanda’s continual repetition of “Don’t knock it till you try it”.

When Hali liked the New Kids on the Block, I liked the New Kids on the Block. For Christmas when I was 5, I got a Joey Doll. Hali got a Jordan Doll.

Hali went through an overalls phase..and soon after, so did I.

Hali wore plaid shirts…so did I.

When I was 14, Hali was working at a hotel in Ottawa. My wardrobe at that time was supplemented from the lost and found in her department.

When my family lived out west and I was in my first year of university alone in Ottawa, Hali and Isaiah would come to take me for lunch, bring me snacks, and remind me I had family around.

I am very thankful that despite our hectic lives the past little while, Hali and I, and her little baby girl Eliannah, got to have a long lunch together at the end of September. We laughed, talked, and passed the baby back and forth as we ate too much sushi, and talked about the past and the future. Like Hali, I have become a teacher. At that lunch, I shared with her a dream I have to one day have an alternative education program in the Cornwall area which houses, cares for and educates teen moms. I knew Hali would understand this ambition, because being a house-mother in a home like that was a dream of hers too. We talked for the longest time about how I could make this happen with the education I am now receiving. I hope one day I will be able to open this home in Hali’s memory, knowing it would have filled her with joy.

I still haven’t quite realized in my heart that she is gone. I will not pretend to understand why God would choose to take her from us, so young and with so much left behind. I only know that I will make it my greatest effort to share with Isaiah and Eliannah the stories I hold close to my heart, the stories of what kind of girl and woman their mother was, and what she meant to me.

Hali was my exemplar, my hero and my sister. My oldest friend, I weep. Not for you, because your burdens have left you while you rest easy in our Father’s arms. I weep selfishly, for myself. I weep for your babies, for your parents, for Rob, for your sister and brothers, nieces and nephews. I weep for your extended family, for my family, your friends, your students, and every life you have touched. Because the loss of you is almost too much to bear, incomprehensible and unfair. I feel such deep sorrow, because you filled me with so much Joy.

Goodbye, sister, I will never forget you.

May Angels Lead You In

Indifference and Liars

This is about indifference.

Or, rather, the moment in our lives where once we were indifferent to the emotions and connections with certain people around us, and the exact moment where that indifference suddenly disappears into a connection. For better or for worse.

You walk around holding on to only as many emotions as you can. At least I do. I give much of myself to the people around me, and so there is only so much to go around. There is a point when I decide whether or not to invest emotion into someone. If I decide not to, I am indifferent. I would care if the person got hit by a bus, but I do not live and breathe by their actions, thoughts of them, or anything else about them.

This was how things stood, once, between us: they stand there, hat in their hand, asking for me to return their affections, or words of interest at least. But then, someone else held every piece of me in their hands. When your heart so readily belongs to someone else, it is hard to pay attention to something else, someone else, even when they are staring you in the face.

Years pass.

Stalemate, but friendship exists to a degree.

I change. I love someone new.

And then I reach a point where I get a bit of my emotional investment returned to me, damaged and dirtied by the asshole who did not care enough to take better care of my feelings, someone not as in love as I thought him to be. It’s on the edge of this turmoil where I have turned indifference into sudden affection. Rash, unwise, and poorly invested emotion.

But they changed. When they beg your attention but squander your affection. They feign interest, but actually, they are indifferent. They do not realize it, they lure me in with words and promises, not realizing how fragile I am. But indifference can hide quite well behind words and selfish actions, it seems.

And they lie. About everything.

I fear I fell into the assumption that because I was always honest about my indifference, the favour would be returned. I am always honest about how I feel, and too readily expect people to do the same.

But I have come to the understanding that this person cannot be honest with me when they are even lying to themselves. They lie. About everything. To me, to their family, even their other friends.

See, that’s the danger with standing on the edge of indifference and affection. You can jump the wrong way. I jumped without even looking. Into so many lies my head spins with them. I get mad, I forgive, and then I find a new one, a new lie. I desperately try to salvage something. At least the friendship.

But they sabotage. They get caught again; a sea of lies sweeps me off my feet.

Now we’re all left looking like liars. They lied to me. I lied to myself.

Indifference and Liars. The most successful way to kill a friendship/whatevership.

How I think we fall in love

My knowledge in the department of falling in love is touchy at best, so it’s very interesting that I might title a blog in such a way.

However, I am becoming an expert in life stories and narratives. I AM kinda doing a PhD around representation and peoples’ narratives, after all, even if they are virtual representations.

As a result of afore-mentioned expert info gathering, I have been bombarding my brain with texts and books on life stories, narratives, and identity. Our stories, our experiences, our way of individually interacting with the world are what shape us into the people we are. How we learn is totally dependent on who we are, and how we got to be this person in this moment experiencing the things that we are experiencing and reacting to said things.

Needless to say, I am fascinated by story. I spent a summer toying with my own learning and story in a particular genre, but I have made it an experiment of the last few years to continually engage with my story. I think this is a positive way to reflect on my creation and reinvention as both an educator and a human being. Why did I yell at that person? Why did I show that film in class? How do I interact with my friends? Am I actually that big of a flirt?….Most of these questions are things my brain analyses and engages with every day. If I don’t like what I see about my behaviour or actions, I change it. Sometimes right away (like cutting people out of my life that are bad for me.) or gradually (like trying not to swear as an anger release; instead, attempt to deal with the anger before it’s an outburst).

I am taking a fascinating class right now called Qualitative Research. Now, this should be dry, boring and overall a class most people would never call fascinating. However, I find it fascinating because of the exceptional instructor we have. She is engaging and awesome, and every few minutes spouts words of wisdom that have me grabbing my pen and notebook to record her every world. Our first class these words were mostly my immaturity finding amusement in statements like: “Oral should be a pleasure”. BUT this past week…oh boy, it was a doozy of a statement. A statement that has stuck with me for almost a week. I chewed on it for days, anticipating how exactly I would address it in a blog…because I knew I needed to share this with anyone who wished to tolerate my pander long enough to get to the best sentence I have ever heard in my life:

“We Fall In Love With The People Who Listen To Our Stories”

Simple. But profoundly moving. I don’t think my professor was suggesting that every person who listens to us gripe is our soul mate. Nope. I think she means that those people we end up in love with, the people whom we emotionally invest our hard-won dignity, time and feelings into are people who ultimately listen to our stories. Our narratives.

Not our anecdotes, not our bitching. But who we are, in essence. Our stories are the collection of our experiences and interactions with the world. They demonstrate within them our identity, what we value, and what we are capable of. We fall in love with the people who listen to those collection of words closely enough and with the passion and interest that then mirrors those experiences, those stories, in their eyes. We can see ourselves reflected back to us as individuals, as learners, as people who experienced things, and know that we are dialoguing with that person. They get us.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with the acknowledged validation of their identity another can give you by truly listening?

We fall in love with the people who listen to our stories. Beautiful. Complicated. but so true. That love may not be reciprocated, by any means. It doesn’t make it less than what it is though. I know the one love I have experienced so far in my life came from having someone truly listen to me. It wasn’t reciprocated, but even one-sided it has become one of the most meaningful human interactions I have ever had.

We all crave to be understood, no?

Limbo

lim·bo

// (lmb)

n. pl. lim·bos

1. often Limbo Roman Catholic Church The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ.
2. A region or condition of oblivion or neglect: Management kept her promotion in limbo for months.
3. A state or place of confinement.
4. An intermediate place or state.
Limbo has been the key term for describing my life for months now:
I have been accepted at the University of Ottawa to do doctorate work, but pending certain conditions = Limbo
I spent months not being paid for my research job because my contract was up in the air = Limbo
Ever hear of relationship limbo? My good friend Dave explained it to me, stating ‘you might as well already be in hell’…well, I’ve had that too this past year.
Current apartment hunt has left my potential roommate and I on pins and needles..we are now in housing Limbo
I have to wait a whole other week for a surgical consult to see what the heck is going on with my shoulder after my accident…functioning Kelsey limbo.
Jessica likes to remind me that people with angst who have no real life issues to complain about, ie. we aren’t dying, no one in our family is dying, we are well fed, have access to health care and social services, and live relatively good lives, are self absorbed idiots who border on the selfish. And I agree with her. So, I’m trying not to bitch about my life limbo. I’m trying not to think to myself ‘why the fuck can’t just ONE thing be going as planned? Go smoothly? Not be complicated? Why must I wait? Why do I have to walk around with this anxious pit of nervousness in my stomach?’ Trying. But kinda failing. But I don’t give two hoots. My blog, my angst, my rules. I am worried, and I’m annoyed that life keeps handing me another field full of mud to army crawl through.
Maybe it’s all the time spent nursing my arm. Maybe it’s spending too much time alone at home. But I’m  reaching a point where walking away from the degree and my life here seems more and more like something I want to do. I know I’m nervous as hell for September. When I get scared or nervous about a confrontation or something scary, I fight. Like mad. HOWEVER, when it comes to committment, to investing part of myself into a situation like staying in Ottawa for 4 years and facing the challenges of a new degree, or even the dance of early courtship, my instict is to run the fuck away. I can protect me, but I don’t trust others to, an advisor, a boyfriend, even my friends.
Maybe limbo is teaching me a lesson in self awareness. A ‘here are the things you do badly, and need to work on’ life lesson. For everything there is a season, right?

The key to becoming a runner

The key to running success according to Kelsey:

edit: 1) a) Have a lot of problems, worries, drama, sadness and expectations put upon you by others….THEN, use running as a metaphor for running the FUCK away from the world.

1) b) Run after dark; residential neighbourhoods are quiet and empty after 10pm. This results in less fear of being seen running like an idiot. Might also be the cure to falling down and injuring myself since I’m not glancing around at all the aholes walking their dogs judging me.

2) The right tunes: thanks to my phone, grooving to 88.5 Live while running keeps my steps light

3) Since no one is watching, throw in lots of zumba moves…and when I walk to catch my breath, dance around like I’ve had a few. (Note: be mindful of the odd ahole who decides they should walk their dog at 10:30 at night. They will judge you if they catch you ‘hitting the floor’ while catching your breath)

4) Throw myself down into the front lawn for a victory grass angel/sweet God my calves hurt cool down

5) A very cold shower

an old familiar face

I thought his face

would be etched in my mind

for all our lives.

I thought the plains from his chin

to his eyes

were memorized.

I thought his voice

would be like an old song

that tumbles through my mind.

I thought that laugh

deep and clear

would haunt my sleep.

His old familiar face

is not the boy I loved

His old familiar face

is not what I dream of

His old familiar face

has slowly been replaced

and I’m alone.

I thought his smile

would light up the world

even on my darkest days

I thought his words

would always rebuild

my broken soul

His old familiar face

is not the boy I loved

His old familiar face

is not what I dream of

His old familiar face

has slowly been replaced

and I’m alone.

His old familiar eyes

are all that’s left of us

His old familiar eyes

still show me who I am

But my old familiar face

is not the girl I used to see

My old familiar face

is not the girl he loved

My old familiar face

is gone

My old familiar face

got lost in you for hours

My old familiar face

waited out the hours and miles

My old familiar face

cried when you left

But my old familiar face

is gone

His old familiar face

is not the boy I loved

His old familiar face

is not what I dream of

His old familiar face

has slowly been replaced

and I’m alone.

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