Alexander

Is it possible to genuinely love and miss someone that you’ve never met?

This is a question I’ve had to toss around for many years as I continue to process the death of my brother four years before I was born. It’s the question that challenges my definition of love and how I think about life. But I’ve landed on an answer, though I still get a bit confused about the “how” of it.

My answer is yes. Most certainly, definitely, and absolutely.

There’s just no other way about it. I love my brother, even though I don’t know him and I don’t know what kind of person he would have grown up to be. I don’t know if I would have gotten along with him, I don’t know if he would be a good person, I don’t know what he would like or dislike, but none of that matters. I love the child whom my mother and father love, and I miss the relationship I could have had with my brother, no matter what that could have looked like.

I’ve come to the conclusion that love isn’t dictated by what makes sense, or even by time or space. And I think that’s changed how I love people. I want to love people fiercely because I don’t know how long I’ll have the honour to keep them. I want to show my affection to those I love so they always know that I love them. I want to love people even when it’s difficult because people are worth it and gosh darn it love doesn’t always have to be reasonable.

I’m so thankful for the love of my family and the precious people around me who support me and allow me to support them in times of trouble. It’s difficult to express just how much they mean to me. The words just don’t exist.

Remember to tell someone that you love them today, no matter the circumstance and no matter the distance.

 

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The Karklins Kids

 

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Considering Coping

Do you know that thing where somebody asks you how you’re doing and you say, “I’m doing”?

I wonder if we want to say “I’m coping” instead.

The concept of “coping” tends to have a negative connotation in our world today, as if coping was indicative of an inability to have a real handle on life. But I don’t think that it’s a bad thing to not have everything under control. I certainly have a lot in my life right now that’s out of my grasp. And so I cope.

I cope a bit better these days. I used to run and hide from everything in a manner that hurt myself and others around me. I would shut people out and retreat to the same lies that I always told myself. I took my negative feelings out on the people close to me. Sometimes I still do. But now when I try to cope with life, I tend to treat everybody a little better than I used to.

I also breathe a lot more now, and I try to establish a sense of being grounded rather than letting my brain get ahead of itself. I also tend to clean when I’m stressed, which may be a sort of avoidance but at least something productive gets done! A bubble bath every once in a while can also be nice. Sometimes, I do a Google search of “ways to cope with stress” or something similar, to try out something new and maybe add it to the repertoire.

But I have to admit that I’m still a bit of a mess when it comes to coping. I often rely on distracting myself from unpleasant things to try and keep getting what I need to do on a daily basis done. I avoid being alone because being alone can honestly be terrifying and paralyzing.

And avoiding the paralysis is a high priority for me. When I get to that state it’s very difficult to get out of. I remember in high school when things would get to the point that I honestly couldn’t leave my bed. Moving was just too much energy. And I admit that hygiene would take a back seat when things got rough in my first year of college. I apologize to everybody who had to sit next to me in class when I hadn’t showered for longer than I’d like to admit (dry shampoo and I became very good friends that year). I don’t really know how to feel about those memories. They’re a big part of me; they’re familiar, and yet when I look back it seems so odd. It feels like I spent more time just hanging on rather than living fully. It’s only in the past two years that life has had more shades of colour than “coping.”

I’m not sure what I’m aiming for by writing this all down. I know that one blog post won’t “fix” how I’m feeling. I never expect this time of year to necessarily be very different than how it’s always been. Perhaps it’s even useful to have these times where we’re experiencing life at its bare bones.

Maybe I’ll start by trying to be more honest in the next while to say “I’m coping” rather than “I’m doing.”

 

4544 Pages

The other day I saw that a friend of mine had calculated how many pages she’s going to read this semester, and I decided on a bit of a whim (and procrastination) that I was curious enough to calculate my own total.

I’m only taking three classes, but it turns out that I’ll have read 4544 pages minimum by the end of the semester, not counting any research that I’ll need to do for papers. It works out to approximately 300 pages a week. It’s a bit overwhelming at times to think about. It feels like I’ve already been reading so much, and yet I know that I have plenty more to go.

But then I take a step back and remember what it is that I’m reading, and I count myself lucky.

The majority of my reading comes from my Topics in Children’s and Young Adult’s Literature course. I read Tolkien’s The Hobbit this past week, and it was an absolute pleasure. I had the opportunity to read a story that takes me back to being in high school, first dipping my toes into the world of Middle Earth after watching the Lord of the Rings movies all in a row with a few of my friends (Extended edition of course!). And then I went back a little bit further as I read Lewis’ The Silver Chair. My attitude changed once I realized how much fun I’ve been having blazing through this reality and beyond.

It’s such an honour to engage in these fantastical and beautiful worlds.

 

What do Winnie the Pooh and Ernest Hemingway have in common?

They’re both frequently misquoted.

For some reason, I started getting more and more into the concept of misquotations this summer, which resulted in many late nights on the computer, googling and researching just where these popular sayings came from and why they’re falsely attributed to these influential figures.

The quote that really set me off on this not-quite-obsession was the quote attributed to Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” It’s a beautiful statement and sure does sound like something our tubby little cubby would say to his dear friend Piglet. I connect with the sentiment quite a bit, as I feel the absence of people I love halfway across the country or even an hour away.

But A.A. Milne never wrote that. For that matter, Winnie the Pooh has never said that in any iteration of the character. It is actually a quote from a movie The Other Side of the Mountain, based on E.G. Valens’ book A Long Way Up. The often misquoted line appears in the last few minutes of the movie where Kenmont says, “I remember the words that Dick Buek said to me the last time I saw him: How lucky I am to have known somebody and something that saying goodbye to is so damned awful.”

A fun website that I found while reading about this is Pooh Misquoted, a website dedicated to debunking popular Winnie the Pooh quotes and attempting to find the real sources. Quote Investigator is another good website for this kind of purpose, and I have spent an embarrassing amount of time perusing the site when I find myself unable to sleep.

The next quote actually fell into my lap while I was looking for inspiration for creating my blog and continuing this little writing project. I wanted to read some wise words about the writing process that would hopefully keep me going in the inevitable times when I just don’t want to write.

The quote is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, and it states, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” I enjoy horrific and strange metaphors, so this quote was very suitable for my purposes.

But after my experience with A. A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh, I wasn’t about to tout about this quote without proper research first. So, I hopped onto Quote Investigator and to no surprise found out that there is much much more than meets the eye when it concerns this statement.

To summarise, there is some debate concerning the quote’s origins, but it seems that Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith, a newspaper columnist, seems to have said something similar to this sentiment in 1949. He was asked whether writing a daily column was a chore, and he replied that it wasn’t, saying, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

And another sportswriter, Paul Gallico, wrote in 1946 that “It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader.”

There are more quotes from more writers that establish the relationship between the blood of the writer and their words, and I appreciate them quite a bit. I think there’s something special about the sentiment. It connects the life and essence of a writer to their writing and portrays a sort of violence that doesn’t destroy, but creates something worth sharing.

But that matter aside, Ernest Hemingway definitely did not say anything of the sort (that we know of). It is possible that in Hemingway and Gellhorn, a movie concerning the relationship between Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, that Hemingway states the offending quote. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but I certainly will and I’ll update this post when I comb through the movie to make sure.

In all of this, I’ve learned a little bit more about the importance of citation and confirming the accuracy of what I read and write. I hope that it will serve me well for the upcoming academic year as I once again immerse myself in MLA format.

And if this doesn’t serve as some directly applicable lesson in citations, it will hopefully help to inspire me to keep bleeding.

An Introduction to Experimentation

For me, the Summer of 2017 was one of writing.

Being in a quiet village (yes, it’s technically a village) in the middle of the Saskatchewan plains will do that to a person. With not many people around, and living on my own for the first time, paper and books became my company during lonely nights. I also got a Netflix account.

I wrote mostly songs and poems, which is no surprise considering what I was consuming. My reading list consisted mostly of a large anthology of one of my favorite poets and working at a coffee shop allowed me to listen to various music for nearly eight hours every day that I worked. Writing as much as I did was absolutely wonderful. I hadn’t written so much since I was in high school, when I was filled with both genuine depression and general angst, sometimes not being able to tell the difference between them. Being able to recapture my passion for writing and express myself in a way I had lost touch with was a valuable experience.

But summer is quickly coming to a close. My final year of school is about to begin. And although I’m in the English program and will most certainly write thousands upon thousands of words in the next eight months, there is something about what I’ve started this summer that I want to, and need to, continue.

The idea for a blog came to me at 2:00 AM when I really should have been sleeping because I was moving the next day. It was also inspired by the personal blog that I’ve been reading belonging to a very dear friend. I felt like was getting to know a new facet of somebody that I’m already close to by reading what she’s been writing, and maybe I could show (and discover) some new facets of my own. Most of my really good ideas happen at 2:00 AM anyway, so I figured I would give it a try.

So this is it. This is the experiment. To give myself a goal that is both reasonable and challenging, I have decided to publish 2-3 entries a month for the next year, starting September 1st. I am allowing myself to write whatever I’d like, inspired by whatever I’d like, in whatever format I’d like. This isn’t a journal, but it will inevitably be filled with many personal thoughts and reflections as the year goes on.

I hope you will join me in this strange little journey I’m vastly underestimating and underprepared for.

Many thanks and much love,

Grace