Friday, July 5, 2013

The Last Days

For closing in on sixteen months, I’ve been traveling. Not quite non-stop, but I haven’t been home longer than three weeks at a time, most of the time it has been two weeks. It started in April 2012 with a performance I did at DC Tribal CafĂ©. From there, work took over until mid-August. Since then, almost all of my travel has been for personal reasons, and most of them are dance-related, and I’m still not finished.

Over last summer I had taken on the responsibility of production managing the art show section of my boss’s tour. I took on more than I was expecting, but there was a bit of me that was excited about it. But in the cracks of my work, I was watching my father face his final battle with cancer.

I must admit that I was in denial about how hard it was until I saw him at the end of May. He looked frail. That is something I would never have associated with him. And to top it off, he was no longer having long conversations. His ability to speak and remember things was deteriorating.

Pop has always had something to say…….questions to ask……words of love about my mom (to be honest though, he still found the strength for those).

I went back home at the end of June for my brother’s wedding. I was completely unprepared for the change those few weeks had made. Pop hardly had any of his faculties working due to some of his medication but he was determined to attend the wedding. I was crying at the wedding equally for my brother’s happiness and also out of pure sadness over Pop. I don’t know how my mom made it through as well as she did.

After seeing the shape he was in, I knew I couldn’t waste time anywhere else. He wouldn’t want me leaving work, but I had a short break at the beginning of July, so I flew back. We took him off the medicine that made him so loopy, so when I returned he was able to talk a little and he was able to actually see you. Over that week, I was constantly hounding him to eat more. I would feed him when he let me. And we would talk.

Being in the middle of the storm I was in with work, it was hard for me to be excited about anything. And not having a community in NY, I didn’t know where I belonged. It upsets me that I wasn’t happier during those last conversations. I know he’s seen me excited, happy, and in love, but in those moments I was challenged and weak.

I departed again for more tour to San Francisco and Los Angeles. I was planning to stay in Los Angeles and visit friends for my week off, but I realized I couldn’t afford to miss another day with my parents. I rushed home and the waiting game began.

Mom and I would mostly go about our daily routine. She had a bit more practice at this point than I did. I found myself standing in their bedroom doorway watching my dad sleep. He no longer left the bed. And hospice said it was a matter of days.

How could that be Pop laying in there? The facial features were but a shadow of his former self and the smiles were gone too. Despite his fondness for pretending to be a grouch, he was happy guy. Being a smartass is definitely a trait I received from him.

I did my best to be strong. I helped change him although I didn’t think I would be able to handle it emotionally. I tried to feed him. And I talked to him. I did my best to tell him all of the things I should have been saying for years. While Pop was very good at expressing love for my mom, he was never very expressive with us kids. And that’s fine. He got better at it as the years went by. I tried to get better at it with him too. It’s crazy, I’ve never really had a problem sharing my feelings with my friends and lovers, but Pop was different. Maybe someday I’ll figure out why. Maybe it’s simply because he wasn’t very verbal towards me about it. I don’t know and don’t care about it at the moment.

I just know in those last few days, I tried to make up for all the times I didn’t tell him how much I admired him. How, despite his relatively hands off parenting, he was an incredible father. And of course that I loved him.

We held hands in these moments. There were times when I knew he was listening because I could see acknowledgement in his eyes. Other times, I just needed to keep saying it.

At 5:30am on July 27, I heard my mom call my name. Clearly my unconscious knew something was wrong, because normally I would never have woken up that quickly. I went to their room and the time had come. My mom and I sat next to him. She told me stories. She started telling me about the various songs on their special playlist. One song in particular he had added as background music to a slideshow he made for my mom one year. She played it for me.

As the song ended, his breathing slowed………….then stopped……….

His body was still there. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t feel any energy shift………….it wasn’t right that his body was there but it didn’t move.

This was my first experience watching death. It has altered me in countless ways. The biggest was the realization that he was alone. There was nothing…….nothing I could do to help him. Nothing.

I can only hope that he knew I was there as much as I could be, and that I think about him daily. His impact on me is far greater than he would ever be willing to admit, even if he was aware of it.

A few days after Pop died I headed back to work. I took a couple road trips with my mom. And I’ve done a very good job of not processing all of this for almost a year. I just immersed myself in as much dance and travel as possible, balancing work with all of it. But it’s all catching up to me. I get weepy at the slightest thing, and am seeing all the walls I’ve put up. They’re cracking and I shouldn’t have them up in the first place.

Tonight is one of the first nights in over a year that I’ve had completely to myself in my home. No roommates, no work, just me. I have been waiting for this night for a while. And I kept telling myself once I was able to have a night like this, I would process, or at least get started processing it all.

It’s such a strange thing when a parent dies. We are luckier than others. We’ve had an amazing family for many years.

I miss Pop. I will always miss him. And while there are never enough photos, and never enough video, he will be remembered.
I love you Pop.

Monday, October 29, 2012

P.retty D.amn L.ucky

It has been almost 3 months and 10 days exactly since my dad died. Not a day has passed that I don't think about him. And while it's been hard for me, I will probably never know what my mom has gone through. You see…..they had an incredible relationship. I know nothing is perfect, but to anyone who knows them, or has heard their story, there isn't a better word than perfect to describe their love. They were partners and best friends. My brother and I were the lucky ones to see this love first hand. 

Now, many of you know that I'm a romantic. I even make fun of myself sometimes because of the cheesy nature of the movies and tv shows I watch. But the truth is, while most people see those story lines and mock them for their impracticalities, I see them and know they are possible. This has been a bit of a double-edged sword in my love life, but it's not a bad one to have. 

I remember sitting with Pop last Christmas. It was one of the last times we had any long talks together. He kept going on and on about how lucky he was to have my mom in his life. And he hoped that he had not used up all the luck, because he wanted my brother and I to experience this amazing thing in our lives too. Some of my friends have said this wasn't a very kind or hopeful thing for him to say, but I know what he meant. How do you expect your family to win the jackpot, once you feel you've already won the prize of a lifetime? 

I've had many talks with people about how the world is shifting and relationships don't happen like they used to, and how people's lives and expectations are shifting. I do agree with many of these things. And as a result, each day passes and I come to terms more and more with my life as a woman who is not in a relationship…..a woman who might not find that relationship. 

Tonight I watched another romantic movie….actually, it was the second time I've watched it. And it got me thinking and wishing again…… I do want the fairy tale…… It's anyone's guess if it will ever happen or not. And if it doesn't, I'm going to be okay with it because I was at least able to experience it indirectly, and that makes me pretty damn lucky.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Character

   I grew up in a small town in central Illinois. I plan to write about it sometime. It baffles many people who know me that that could possibly be true. The truth is yes, it's a very small town, and yes, it's conservativeness stifled me. 
   But the real truth behind me is my family.......especially my parents.
   Over the years, I've wanted many people in my life to visit my hometown. Partly to be shocked by it's size, but mostly because I wanted them to meet my family.....the people who shaped me and gave me context for the world. From the minute I was born, I've been surrounded by such diversity. My family felt that music was incredibly important to my upbringing, and I still feel the benefits of that early training. I was surrounded by laughter, smart-ass jokes, intellect, and love. At an early age, I was shown the importance of a kind smile and a firm handshake. I spent many years hanging out with the adults, and don't remember ever feeling out of place. Some of my favorite moments are the dinners we had together.....some were spent hearing stories of my grandfather's childhood, and others were discussing local and national politics. I've had the pleasure of knowing a few of the most upstanding politicians to come out of Illinois. And while politics aren't the most exciting things to kids, I knew I was getting a to see a bit of history in the making. 
   All of those people, the conversation, the inspiration....dug itself into me. I took it for granted, as many kids do, only later realizing how unbelievably good I had it. But one thing I don't think I completely took for granted were my parents.
   They may tell you how they worked all the time.....or weren't active enough in my childhood. And yes, to a degree that is true. They forget all of important marks they made on me. Many of their younger years together were spent traveling the world. Pictures of these travels hang in places around our house. These travels inspired them to host foreign exchange students throughout my life. And that, in turn, inspired my own decision to be a foreign exchange student in Japan for my senior year of high school. And the love they have and always had for each other, while still a dream in my own personal life, proves it is possible.
   My parents trust in me as their child and as a human being instilled a confidence. A confidence and an independence so deep within me, that no matter what I have faced or will face, I return a stronger person. This strength is often one of the first things people notice about me. 
   I could keep listing things, but the message is they taught me that the world is a much bigger place and we are responsible for it and for treating its inhabitants with kindness and respect. This may sound trite, but it amazes me how many people aren't aware of the bigger picture, and how they can effect someone.
   So while many of you will probably never meet my family, you see them in everything I do. Without their strength, love, understanding, depth, and fun, I would not be SuperKate. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

a jumble of words has been sitting around the edges of my tongue the last several days. they're lost or don't have the courage to land in a journal entry such as this, but i decided to shake the plank and dare them to jump into these deep waters. it takes courage sometimes......they seem to be just words........but if you look deeper, they are various rhythms and harmonies created by letters. these sounds can be loud, cacophonous pots and pans....or rolling waves.....or the most beautiful melody you've ever heard. i've never been very good at the making noise part, but in the last year i've learned the value of that uninhibited release that calls for every cell in your body to enunciate. and i'm trying to get better at the melodies.
luckily i've been in a new frame of mind, a new relationship with my words. i've gotten tired of holding them back. afraid they wouldn't be able to swim or would drown under other people's dead weight. how else can you describe something that you sit and ruminate on for so long that it builds and builds on itself until it can't be processed by anyone else?
i have thought about my words, but decided they were better off given the chance to sink or swim on their own.

i stepped into new emotional territory these last few weeks. a place that makes me very uncomfortable. instead of guarding my heart, holding back my words, and expecting the worst, i decided to walk in with arms open, allowing myself to feel anything and everything, and to communicate it all.
we should try every day to say what we feel, and allow others that courtesy in return.
and through that mutual openness, we become better human beings. human beings who understand that actions have consequences. and the more you talk, the fewer the consequences. why is this scary? is it because of the heartbreak? the inevitable self-reflection? why don't people want to be better versions of themselves??

i have spent a fair amount of time in relationships with people who couldn't look in the mirror. maybe they thought my inner strength would boost their reflection as long as we looked at it together. but that's not the type of person i am. i'm not always going to literally be standing there. nor would i want someone to do that for me. i just need the knowledge that they are looking at themselves honestly. seeing all the insecurities, but still standing there and facing them. 

it's become evident that a recent ex of mine is still hiding. hiding in such a sad way that i'm not sure if he'll ever find his way back. 
there are some people who can see the path in the trees. but despite them seeing it and you giving them directions, they'll never find their way until they're ready to listen. because once you're out of the trees, you are unprotected from the open air. the air that carries sound and energy from miles around. and while that air can beat you down from the cacophony, it can calm you with it's steady rhythm, or infect you with such a sweet taste that you can't believe anything could be that good, drink it in and share it with others.

let your words dive off the tongue and perhaps your rhythm will inspire someone to find the path out, a path leading them to their own music. yes it's scary, but not knowing or not sharing is worse. maybe your words will fall into harmony with someone else's. and once that happens, keep talking, keep singing, no matter how out of tune it may sound.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

4am jan. 21, 2012

my first snow in new york is falling outside my window. despite my lack of sleep last night i stayed up in anticipation....hoping the weather sites wouldn't mislead me. i don't expect there to be much accumulation, and it will probably all melt tomorrow but i LOVE the first snow of the season. actually to be fair, i just love snow......snow trickling......or snow plummeting from the sky. it all makes me giddy. 

only a handful of people saw the joy on my face two years ago when it started snowing in lexington, ky, where i was living at the time. the sheer happiness of simple flurries landing on my face after living almost six years in a land with virtually no winter. everything felt so perfect at that moment. because, to me, the quiet...the makes everything seem new and possible.

the last 9 months of my life i've been living as a gypsy, never really landing anywhere longer than 6 weeks. and during that time i would find myself remembering where i was just 3 months before, or 6 months, or now even a year ago....where my life had taken me. i do believe there was snow a year ago. i was recovering from a tonsillectomy...sensing there was a stranger in my life. a stranger who was lucky enough to be loved by me. my gypsy-hood began a few months later once the fears had been confirmed. through it all i've been supported by the most amazing community of friends and family. and while the universe seems to be having a bit of fun with me over these months, i'm learning to laugh along with it, let go and soak in the moments.

i officially moved to brooklyn two weeks ago. my amazing brother pavel drove out with me and my cat. pavel, my new roommate adam and my friend ryan helped move the boxes and the beautiful put up a fight, but we won. the wall took a couple hits for the team, but it will get fixed eventually. even with my stuff here i still have trouble feeling that i'm in new york. but the more i venture out of the house, onto the subway, and mix with this melting pot, i feel the realness of the move and the city. i think it's going to be a good fit. 

who knows where my life will be in a year.....two years....five years.....i do know that while i miss my friends dearly, this moment is a huge improvement on last year. and it will keep getting better.....even if there's pain, and there will be, there will always be just as much love to balance it out and to build on.

as i ventured outside in my pajamas and boots to feel the snow land on my face, a man was dusting off his car a little farther down the block. he was blasting boys II men out of his car stereo. i couldn't help but laugh at the choice of artist (who i do love AND they were the first cd i ever owned). it also tickled me that the particular song choice was 'it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday'. and while the main point of the song doesn't necessarily apply to my life, i will take these lyrics:

I don't know where this road
Is going to lead
All I know is where we've been
And what we've been through.

a new chapter has officially started, not just for me, but for everyone who has a connection to my life and this beginning. you've all been with me up to this point and i am eternally grateful. thank you for being a part of my story....past, present, and future....i can sense it will be memorable and amazing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1:41am     sunday     january 1    2012

2011 has officially passed according to our calendaring system. to say this has been a year of transition for me would be a bit of an understatement. and while i've had many low points, i'm thankful to my parents for raising me with an awareness of the bigger picture, and thankful to my friends for being there whenever i needed them. 

i wish that a simple turning of the clock, to a new day and a new year would automatically mean an easier start. an official cleaning of the baggage. it's never that simple though. even another move, a new beginning, an exciting chapter won't instantaneously wipe away the tears and anger. i wish i could say i've learned all my lessons from the past 12 months. but that wouldn't be true. one of these lessons would have been put up more walls and trust less. and yet even in this last week i haven't been able to do that. it may result in more pain, but i'm not sure how to turn that part of myself off. because that's also the part that believes the universe is an amazing place and things will work out. 

i rang in this new year as i have many of them, by myself. well, my cat joined me this year too. it was rather uneventful. we sat together and watched a movie. i always long for some fantastic celebration. something to believe is just a hint of the upcoming year's fantasticalness. that's never the way it seems to work out. i guess that's because this one night a year can't be a guarantee of a new beginning for everyone out there. just like blowing out the candles on your cake won't grant you that wish. while there's never a guarantee for anything, there's a strength, a base, that the love and prosperity comes from and it doesn't appear from a bang or the dropping of a clock. and it certainly never grows from a whimper. i'm going to liken it to a tortoise. that slow and steady trooper who keeps going and shows up. 

so like the tortoise, i have set my goals. they may not be accomplished in the upcoming year, but i plan to get closer to them.

i want to be happy through and through. i want to be at peace with the things i can't change, but passionate and stubborn enough to change the things i can. and i want to be appreciated and respected in every way i deserve. 

i'm going to work every day, even if it's a tiny bit, to win this race because none of this is going to be easy, and maybe it should't be. and while i personally can't change anyone else, i hope people have the strength to show up for this too.

i'll be there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

a bit missing

i haven't truly felt like my true self for a long time. not even sure when that part of me disappeared. but i'm looking forward to meeting her again and see how she's changed since we were last together.

my previous post was upbeat, and although there was much optimism there, i still don't think i was truly in that moment. i've been struggling a lot with living in the moment recently. my head is full of sadness and anxieties, yet i've been surrounded by so many incredible people and friends for over a month now.

i think about my family constantly, and admire my parents in ways they will never know. i dream that someday i may find even half of what they have found with each other. it's absolutely incredible. and on top of that, they have been huge inspirations and close friends of mine my entire life. i don't know how i got so lucky.

traveling around and feeling the love of friends and family has been much needed, but a reminder that i'm not the complete person they have known for so many years. and it's frustrating knowing how many new people have crossed my path recently, but haven't caught a glimpse of everything that makes me shine........a glimpse of the real superkate......

so i sit back.....check my a book......disappear into music.....make another attempt at a full night's sleep.....and patiently wait for the dust to settle so that i may see a familiar face in the mirror again.....feel that energy inside that makes me, and isn't easily tossed to the side by others. i miss her. but i can feel she's going to blow me away as much as she will everyone else.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Possibilities

I've been moving in several different directions, both mentally and physically, over the last few months. I'm getting to know myself again in a way that only happens when everything gets tossed in the air. At the moment, I don't have a solid plan past mid-September. And while I'm very excited about that, I'm battling the urge to nest. I've always felt very confident in the ebb and flow of life as long as I had, what I considered, home to go to at the end of the day.
I'm currently living in someone else's apartment, and due to the amount of stuff already here, I won't be adding much of my life to it. And please don't think I'm complaining, because I'm not. I'm learning to live with very few belongings. This practice of minimalism has recharged my desire to do away with everything in my storage unit.

New York City has never really called to me. I've had a couple opportunities to move here, but ended up choosing other cities or passions. I wonder if I was supposed to experience those things first, because eventually life would lead me to NYC for a longer haul. I have many expectations of this city. Living in Los Angeles, spoiled me in ways that NYC hasn't been able to compete with yet. Granted....I've only been here a week and a half, sans my boss, so I haven't really dug into the scene. I'll be back here in a week and plan to explore.....visit some parks, museums, make several more attempts at finding a good club.

I'm also making more progress in saying 'Yes'. And while I've had a pretty good attitude towards that practice most of my life, I want more. My friend Tiffanie wrote a wonderful blog that comes very close to where I'm at in my life right now.

To go along with 'Yes', I'm pushing myself in more creative directions. I catch myself saying "These are such simple things, Kate, why haven't you done this before?" And honestly, the best answer I have is that I was just lazy. I'm taking the time to journal, doodle, sketch items I see just to practice the art of drawing, and learning new instruments. I started with the ukulele a few months ago, and just recently started on the guitar. I've struggled with the guitar in the past because the transition from violin was a new skill for my hands. But thanks to a friend, who is a great teacher, I've learned an easier way to hold the guitar, and how to read guitar tabs. He also taught me "Blackbird". I practice it everyday. I struggle with the picking on the strings, but you can definitely tell what song I'm playing. Not sure what song to tackle next. I have a real sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt for a while, and it's exciting. I had thought for the longest time that my fingers just weren't meant to play a guitar for some strange reason, but that excuse doesn't hold up when you see a string of Chinese kids, all of whom are likely 5 years old, playing full-size guitars. The first few days I was learning to play on a smaller guitar, but today I practiced on a full-size. New learning curve, but I'm ready for it.

There is so much possibility ahead. I must remember to stay in the moment. I can't help but get excited about what may happen, but some of those are dreams......dreams that will come true, some that won't...but in the end, more dreams and opportunities will appear and the cycle will repeat.

I will say YES more often. I will embrace vulnerability.

It's going to be amazing.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Back to blogging??

It's been over a year since my last entry. Several things have changed since then. I'm not sure what to get into at the moment, but I've been feeling a strong urge to write in the last few weeks.
I've never been one to write about my life, I'm more of a talker. I started writing my own version of morning pages and feel a difference on the days when I wake up too late to unload my thoughts on the paper. Although most of my thoughts revolve around my own daily frustrations and how I'd like to change my life, it's a small weight off my shoulders when I can drop some of them into a notebook.
I don't plan on this blog being an emotional dumping ground (although it helped me to do that in the past). I would just like to start documenting moments in my life. This journey through life has taken some interesting turns, and sometimes the lessons have been hard. But I feel very fortunate to be able to learn from my mistakes and have really enjoyed the ridiculousness of it all.