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Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

As usual, a lot has happened since we last met.  More than a lot, actually.  Life changing things.  December in and of itself was one of the most life-changing months of my life on so many levels–extremely negative and extremely positive.  To start, I lost someone.  And as I lost her, I gained someone.  That’s the simple version.

It was Christmas morning, and my mum popped in to my bedroom far too early with eyes full of tears again.  She was going to the hospital to see her and asked if I’d like to come along.  Of course, yes.  I would never pass down the opportunity, especially when things had been so bad.  I showered quickly, gathered my laptop and a good book, and we left to go to downtown Saint Louis on that beautiful, blue day.

I navigate our way to the waiting room, walking quickly in my high heeled boots to see everyone gathered.  Katie has her roll of toilet paper instead of Kleenexes.  Tammy has brought along Grandma’s peanut butter and chocolate cookies that she had made a few days before.  Cathy is texting.  Larry and Gary are chatting.  Avis is to the side.  Grandpa is there, and I give him a hug.  We sit there, chatting because there’s nothing else to do.  I send a couple texts along as Merry Christmas.

I’m sorry, I’m shaking.

The doctor runs in.  He’s so young; it’s probably why he’s here on Christmas morning.  He asks for Grandpa to come now, and Cathy and my mum run to follow.  Avis runs out.  Katie and I and the men are left in the waiting room.  I can’t remember it.  I don’t know who came back.  But my feet are walking too slowly behind Katie.  I’m entering the room.  I can see her feet, but Tammy says we may not want to move forward.  I can’t.  I can’t move.  I can’t cry.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t move.  Katie is falling into me, sobbing.  I hold her as tightly as possible, wrapping my arms around her and holding on to her for dear life as my knees start to tremble.  She’s crying into my sweater.  And it takes me minutes before I’m crying too.  I hold on to her like a life-vessel; make me cry.  Please.  I can’t handle this all.  What do you do?  What do any of us do?

I don’t remember how I got back to the waiting room.  But I sat there in the corner chair completely still, staring straight forward, tears still pooling in my eyes but otherwise overly calm.  They’re all still in there.  I can’t be.  I just can’t.  I can’t.  I pull away to my bag to find my mobile.

“I’m sorry Marshall.  It’s over.  It’s all over.”

“I understand.”

“I’m so sorry.”

I pull out the book that I had brought along ‘A Great and Terrible Beauty’, and I rip out the flyleaf containing my name and number should the book get lost.  With the school pencil still left in my bag, I start to write.  I write everything.  I tell her how it’s beautiful out.  That it’s her favourite day of the year.  I tell her that I can’t feel so I left them cry for me.  I stare out of that waiting room window and just write down everything that I possibly can and ignore all of the voices around me.

I try to ignore the doctor saying that she’s trying to breathe as a reflex even though she’s gone.  We say not to recessitate.  Her mind is gone, and she’s told us too many times not to let her be like that.  I’m suddenly pulling all of these neurological facts out of my silly stupid brain because I’m such a cognitive psych nerd.  We tell them to give up.

And she finally does at noon.

We leave.  We go back home, and I tell my mum that I’m driving and don’t give her any other option.

We leave without her.  How do we do that?  How can we just leave with one person missing?

Christmas is at our house.  All of the family is there, and we spend a good deal of time just telling stories about her.  Remembering.  Crying over the presents that she got us and wrapped two days before when Katie, Shelly, and I were over to help her.  We laugh, too.  Everything.

And finally, I’m in the corner of the living room, eating that cookie that she made for me and had wrapped along with a fifty dollar bill and Christmas orange, and I’m crying and smiling up at the ceiling because I have so much hope that things can be okay.

I lost one of the most meaningful people in my life that day.

I’m sorry.  I’m shaking too much.

This will be continued at another point.  I’ll tell you how I gained someone at the same time.

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Simple and Clean

There’s music playing in the background that I used to yell out back in middle school with my neighbour, music from an old video game that we used to play.  It feels like such a long time ago, standing in my backyard by the pool in our long skirts and singing together.  Looking back, I wonder if I should miss it.  She’s no longer a part of my life, and I don’t really mind.  She moved away, we were never much alike, and in that younger kid sense, we easily drifted apart.  But I’m still listening to this song, wondering how it could possible have been six years ago.  Part of me feels like that it was so terribly recent and that six years isn’t an incredibly long time, but the other half of me feels like that was an entirely different life ago.  Like a past life.  Sometimes, things are very hidden away in memories, and when you find yourself catching them, it throws you back into the wall.

I still haven’t figured out whether I can put up with that feeling and feel intact afterwards.  Strange how you encounter your old thoughts and behaviours by losing your breath.

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Maturity

Sometimes I doubt whether I’ve matured at all in the past two years.  It must have something to do with leaving teenage egocentricism and starting to develop at a much slower rate, even if all kinds of crazy things are going on all around me.  I keep looking back to when I was sixteen and seventeen and thinking that maybe I wasn’t all that stupid, which now strikes me as odd.  All throughout my life, I would look back at the things I wrote from a few years before and scoff at how incredibly dumb I was.  Now, though I’ll laugh at how I know better as an adult, I can’t bring myself to make fun of myself from a few years ago.  Once I hit that point where, cognitively, I was an adult, things just kind of… stagnated.

But, as a slap to the face, I received a very lengthy comment from a man whom I had written to a year and a half ago about his doctrine concerning suicide and religion.  To sum up his argument, it was that by teaching evolution/atheism, that it was the cause of teenage suicide.  Finding that ridiculous, I had written a letter to him detailing the causation-correlation dilemma and psychological facts presented with teen suicide.  But, when I had posted a copy to my blog, it was not in the most civil of tones and was quite condescending.  Looking back, I wish I’d done something different.

I never agreed with him.  I still don’t agree with him.  But even sixteen months later, I’m shaking my head at my behaviour.  It’s the nagging question: Why couldn’t you have presented the facts and left it at that?  I wonder why, and it makes me question my maturity.  And it makes me wonder if I have matured since then since I now see what I wrote in a different light.

It’s just something to think about.  Maturity, and what the word means when it really comes down to your actions, behaviours, what you say, et cetera.

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I’m on hold right now with OfficeMax, Simon & Garfunkel lilting by.  Today has been the day of Simon & Garfunkel, whether while driving to Iowa on a spur of the moment road trip after visiting the hardware store or while waiting to find out if I can get a new camera.  Or, you know, a camera at all.  Imagine it, there you are, opening the box to a brand new camera.  You remove the cords.  The battery charger, the manual, the…  Ripped piece of plastic?

Oh yeah, the ripped piece of plastic that was supposed to be holding the camera.

It would seem that, given my luck (or lack thereof), I purchased the display camera’s box, which means that my camera is sitting out for other people to touch and oogle over.  Ew.  So after a conversation with the manager of OfficeMax, who was actually quite understanding and kind about the situation, I have been guaranteed the actual camera and a new box since it was an accident on their part that the empty box was given to me to buy.

All fixed.  Problem solved.  But what have we learned?  Check the contents of the box before you buy, not after.  It’s just like how, when I got Chinese three weeks ago, I should have checked the vegetable fried rice before getting back to the dorm.  Why?  Because, even though the box was labelled with a V does not mean that it won’t be chicken fried rice.  Luckily, that one was taken care of in time for dinner.

But I laughed when I heard the Simon and Garfunkel playing in the background while on hold.  It’s what I had listened to on my mini-road trip to Iowa.  Kirksville is rather tiny, only around 17,000 people, but it’s the beacon light to all other northern Missouri towns–the “Northern Star”.  Once you pass Kville and head up north, you reach a whole lot of nothing aside from horse-drawn carriages and towns that boast their population of 437.

I passed at least eight Mennanites in their carriages, making me smile every time.  Small town.  Small town.  Small town.  Gas station and closed diner and Welcome sign.  Deer running up hills and into valleys and across highways.  A brilliant, pink and orange sunset blinding me over the hills that crept out from nowhere.  It was a place that looked more pleasant in its death than it would have in its full-bloom or spring or summer.  You could see so far in the crisp air, see the snow still sticking to the shaded grass and the ice patches on the ponds.  A simply beautiful drive.

And I listened to Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits, bobbing my head to Mrs. Robinson and humming to myself as I stopped for gas in an ugly little town inside of Iowa (I had missed the Welcome sign to Iowa, leaving me driving an extra twenty miles until I came upon the first town that was larger than an outpost).  It was the type of trip that made me really, really yearn for my camera, and I was kicking myself for not having opened it sooner.  Which is probably why I immediately opened it upon returning home to Kirksville and starting this whole circle of Simon and Garfunkel.

“Hello Darkness my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again.”
Sound of Silence,  Simon & Garfunkel

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Coffee’s pouring out my ears
it’s the only thing they have in here
and my heart stops beating…

And, so, I’m back home, sitting in bed and internetting, reading Harry Potter, and making extravagant trips around town–mostly to buy a pair of leather boots and get some sushi.  The norm for being back home.  I haven’t gotten to see any of my friends yet, and I can feel the tug of only having been by my family for three days straight; the lethargy and stress is setting in, and I should probably get out.  Which I will.  Don’t worry.  I’m seeing Harry Potter with friends this afternoon, and it should be wonderful.

I just want some rain and to be able to escape the house and to go frolic around on Main Street.  I also want to complete the two skirts I want to sew up over this break.  Two ankle-length full skirts that I can both wear during the winter and also for my job at the First State Capitol.  Come winter holidays, I’ll go back to work where I’ll be dressed up nearly every day.  I’ve realised over these past three months at school how much I’ve missed working there.  It was relaxing and yet always changing and interesting and educational and hilarious.  The people I was around are… great.  Funny.  And I find myself missing them.

It’s been getting cold lately (aside from today in Saint Charles where it’s already reached 23 degrees; sorry, that’s 74).  Kirksville cold is full of dry wind and pretty soon will also be full of ice and snow, but I’m looking forward to it.  I’m looking forward to when there are lights in the trees near the eternal flame (which, ironic to it’s name, is never lit) and that they can be so beautiful when they light up the night.  I’m looking forward to First Snow, a Missouri Hall tradition of celebrating the first real snow with hot chocolate and tea in the main lounge with all kinds of people.  It’s such a wonderful way to meet new people who have been around you all year without you ever knowing it.  Last year’s was wonderful; I just sat and drank up some tea for an hour in front of the two story windows, watching the snow come down, chatting with a group of people.  It’s kind of like the coffee-house/bar fiancé I’ve talked about before.

Though I haven’t mentioned it on here, have I?

The coffee-house/bar fiancé is the story of how I’m going to meet my future husband:  I’ve been dragged to a bar with my friends, and being the type who’s not into drinking and has become the designated driver, I’m mostly just sitting in the corner with a cup of tea, waiting for my friends to get sufficiently drunk before we head to the next bar.  And then, as I’m people watching, I notice a man across the room, in another corner, sipping at some coffee.  He’s dressed nicely, probably in his mid to late twenties, and looks like he might just be finishing up his master’s or doctoral degree is who knows what, and we lock eyes from across the room.  I go to sit down at his table and we start to chat, as he’s also been dragged to the bar by his friends.  Seven months later, we’re engaged.

By no means is this serious.  Please know that I am not desperately searching for this situation; though it is the humorous way that I tell people I want to meet someone.  And it’s mostly just the “we lock eyes from across the room” that makes me giggle every time.

I can’t take my life, or fake-future life, seriously at all.  There are always too many things to laugh about.

Another coffee it’s on the house
The poor-girl look is on the owner’s spouse
And my heart stopped beating.

Heartstopper, Emiliana Torrini

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I was perusing Facebook and reading through statuses about how my old high school is starting up again tomorrow morning, when I stumbled upon this survey from a student council friend.  Since I’m the type of person who likes to make comparisons about myself from time to time, it seemed like it would be fun to fill out (I mean, hey, I have eight diaries lined up on the shelf that I have filled and enjoy flipping through from time to time–it helps me know that I have grown).  So, here you go.

High School Survey

FRESHMAN YEAR:
What school did you go to? Saint Charles West
What were your school colors? Maroon and White
Who were your best friends? Noah, Jessica, Erica, Daniel
What elective classes did you take? concert choir, art 1
Who was your favorite teacher? Scott or my civics teacher
Did you pass all of your classes? Yes
How did you get to/from school? I walked
Did you drink/smoke? Nope
Did you go to homecomming? Yes.
Did you go to prom? No.
If so, who were your dates?
Did you play any sports? Ha, no.  I was the kid in all of the plays and student council.
Were you involved in any clubs? Student council!  My favourite.

SOPHMORE YEAR:
Did you go to sporting events? Football games and a basketball game or two.
Ever get detention? Nope.
Did you play sports? I’m physically handicapped.
Who did you date? No one.
Did you hang out with mostly guys or girls? Gals.  It was the year I became friends with Cassie, Molly, et cetera.
What was your least favorite class? Algebra 2
Did you hate anyone? I’m not the hating kind of person.
Did you have the same friends as freshman year? Yes, plus a few more.
Go to any dances? Homecoming and Coronation
If so, who was your date? Oh, you know me and dates.

JUNIOR YEAR:
Did you wish you could change schools?  No, I always loved West.
How did you spend your birthday that year? Q’DOBA!
Where were all the parties? Either at my house for pool parties or at Jen’s.
Ever get suspended? Ha, no.
How many boyfriends/girlfriends did you have? None.
Who were they? invisible people?
Do any drugs during school? Nope.
Did you play sports? STUDENT COUNCIL!
Did you go to homecoming or prom? homecoming.  I could have gone to prom, but we had anti-prom instead.
If so, who were your dates? “ALL BY MYSELFFFF”

SENIOR YEAR:
Did you change schools? No.
Was it the best year of high school? I think that I may have had more fun senior year, but the stress of stuco president made me think that I enjoyed junior year more.
Was it stressful? Very.  Stuco president was so much to handle.
Did you get in trouble a lot? No.  Anti-trouble.
Did you keep your same friends all through high school? For the most part, yes.  But I gained so many more.
Were you involved with any clubs/sports? STUCO!  It owned my life, and I enjoyed it.
Did you fail any classes? Nope, but I got my first and only B grade in Calculus.
Where did you take your senior pictures? “Hey Chris, since we’re in Germany, could you just take cool pictures of me to use as my senior pictures?”
What teacher really helped you the most? Dr T during stuco and Reisinger and VanHouten to really prepare me for uni.
Did you play any sports? Again, no.
Were you involved in any clubs? STUCO!
How did you get to/from school? I walked some days and drove during SAMS days.
Did you drink/smoke? Nope.  Not my style.
Did you go to homecoming? Yep.  It was so much fun.
Did you go to prom? Yes…
If so, who were your dates? Pff, I was too awkward to get a date.  How I ever got Prom Queen is beyond me.

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Oh dear goodness, I’m practically rolling around in my childhood right now, listening to Dixie Chicks on shuffle and scribbling song lyrics into my diary.  It’s moments like these that remind me that I still have some type of grasp on who I used to be and continue to be.  And even while most of these songs are such rubbish, so much makes up for it: Chris Thile mandolin solos, choruses shifting into minor chords, power building up in bridges.  Oh, the bluegrass of the late nineties and early 2000s was magnificent.  Think on it–Dixie Chicks, Nickel Creek, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Alison Krouse.  A lot of great bluegrass came out then.

In fact, a lot of great music came out in the nineties, but it’s taken me until nearly twenty years later to realise that this crap was… well, not crap.  My room mate for next year is really into nineties alternative, which I started getting into about five years ago, and I’m fairly certain that you’re going to be able to walk into our room and feel like you’re in your childhood.  Matchbox Twenty will be playing in the background while you reach for my Skittles candy machine and a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Only our laptops will give us away.

One day, I’ll look back at the nineties and 2000s as the “Good Ole Days”, and I will lament about the kick-ball and hiking in the woods and climbing the trees while singing Spice Girls and shoving Pokèmon cards into our Lisa Frank binders.  God, I still have those Lisa Frank binders full of Pokèmon cards in my closet, right next to a bin of Beanie Babies that I was so sure would be worth a ton of money and put me through college.  But you can buy those same Beanie Babies from a garage sale for fifty cents, so, so much for that monetary adventure.

But I’ll look back at all of this in wonder; that much is certain.

I was reading Fahrenheit 451 today while waiting for the mall to open and let me buy a Father’s Day present, and I was surprised by how everyone around me reminded me of the characters.  Sure, in limited ways, but so many people are the sheeple like the majority of characters, and I wondered if I would be like Guy or Clarisse or Mildred or Beatty.  When we read things like this or Animal Farm or Ishmael, we always want to pretend that we would be one of the enlightened ones.  One of the people who catch onto what society is up to and starts fighting the system and thinking for ourselves.  But, in all reality, would we really be that person?  Or would we be following the motions like anyone else, living day to day with no other question?  Would we wake up and go to school or church or work like every other day?  Would you be the one to sit in front of the telly and soak in everything that it had to offer?  I was that person for so long before waking up, but as I read, I still can’t help but realise that I would be one of those people.  I’d be a sheeple right next to everyone else.

We can’t all be a Clarisse.

Will books be banned one day like in Fahrenheit 451?  It makes me wonder if the good old days will be right now because of the knowledge that we presume to be free.  And it’s something to think about.

But for now, it’s best left to Dixie Chicks and scribbles of what I think into a diary that no one will ever read.  It’s better off in poems that tell stories of far away places where people learn lessons in the strangest ways that no one else will understand but in glimpses of another’s mind.  It’s better left to sentences that don’t know how to end.

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