Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Repost: 25 Things About Me

Posted Originally on February 6, 2009 -- Reposting only because I recently mentioned it.

1. It makes me anxious to “friend request” people on FB. I’m 37 years old and still afraid I won’t be invited to the party.

2. There was only one thing I ever wanted to do with my life and that was be a writer. I wrote stories before I could actually write. It is written on every page of my “school days” book from about grade 4 on. Instead I conformed and got a real job. At 34 years old I finally wrote a novel and it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. Ultimately it changed my life forever. But I still have a real job.

3. My marriage ended because I changed. Not because he did.

4. I am a huge romantic. I don’t fall in love easily but when I do I give myself wholly and completely. I’ve had my heart broken a half dozen times and I’m still willing to come back for more.

5. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 34 years old. It was because I was up until 1 AM writing a book and tea didn’t cut it for getting me through a workday the next day. I am now fully and forever addicted.

6. I never wanted to be a nurse growing up. I’m still not sure how that happened. I went through 4 years of nursing school and still wasn’t sure I wanted to be a nurse. I won the gold medal for highest GPA in my class. I worked in a hospital for no more than 3 months and knew I wouldn’t do that forever. I went back and did my masters to try and find contentment and ended up more disillusioned than ever. I still love health and wellness but my disillusionment with my profession is why I teach the least nursey subjects in the curriculum.

7. Women make me nervous. I guess I was backstabbed too many times in my adolescence. I am much more comfortable around men. Unfortunately the paradox is that I also believe that the essence of “When Harry Met Sally” is true.

8. In high school I never ran more than 100 or 200m at track meets. I was the kid who could show up to track practice two weeks before the meet and make finals in my sprint events. This attitude frustrated my coach. Today I still think like a sprinter (go out hard!). This is problematic when trying to race long events.

9. I am anal about words. I will edit this document for hours before I post it. I love: Type. Formatting. Commas. Periods. Spacing. Italics. I really do appreciate the details of APA. Conversely, I don’t care if my counters get wiped daily or if my floor gets swept.

10. I could never talk about #2. I didn’t think people would understand. Then I found a mentor who taught me how to talk about writing.

11. I am addicted to email. I check my email 100 times a day (or it is just always open). I usually always reply immediately. It will usually be longer than necessary and say more than I need to say. I will almost always have the last word.

12. I usually make the first move.

13. I look forward to when my children are teenagers. I may regret wishing that when the time arrives.

14. I am still proud of who my ex husband is even though I don’t want to be married to him.

15. Bending rules still gives me an adrenaline rush.

16. I have a recurring nightmare that I am trapped underwater and can’t get up to breath. Related: I frequently dream that I am swimming and my arms are so heavy I can’t move.

17. I enjoyed being in therapy.

18. As a kid I was annoyed by Sunday dinner conversations between my mother, my grandmother and my aunt about the latest Family Circus quick-fix diet. I vowed out loud that I would never get fat. They laughed and said, “we’ll see.” So far so good but I’m battling some pretty heavy duty genetics in that department. I want a tummy tuck. Can we start a fund?

19. My whole life I’ve wanted to find sport that I was better than average at. I think cycling could be it.

20. When I was in university, I thought every one of my classmates had the same work ethic as me. It wasn’t until I started teaching that I figured out the truth.

21. I eventually forgive anything. I have to be crossed dozens of times to finally walk away. I have no interest in revenge.

22. I remember the first and last names of every guy I have ever kissed and beyond. I regret none. Some of them I still think about.

23. I think being a parent is far harder than any day job.

24. Someday you might turn up in one of my novels. Maybe you already have.

25. I’m not very good at keeping secrets, including my own. But I won’t reveal anything that would hurt another person or cause harm.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Social Networking Part II: Define “Friend”

So I have way more friends than I ever thought I had. When I hit the 50 friend mark on Facebook I was a little astounded. Do I actually know 50 people well enough to call them friends? I don’t think so. Presently, the count sits at 200. I did not throw a party or even announce it in my status when I hit this number. It is significant only for one reason which I will get to later.

Facebook has redefined friendship as we know it. I Googled it to find out for sure. (Who needs a memory anymore when we have Google to do it for us?). Being an academic, I sat for a long time thinking up the best search terms possible and came up with “Facebook and friendship.” What I found were headings like these: Is Facebook misreading friendship? Is Facebook making friendship too easy? MySpace vs. Facebook: Is friendship real? Or my personal favorite: How Facebook can ruin your friendships. Nobody see’s facebook’s definition of friendship as a particularly positive thing.

Rules for “the list”

I think most people on facebook have some kind of rule-set about who gets included on “the list.” Some people are more restrictive than others. Ironically enough, the most restrictive people seem to also have low participation. So really, what does it matter? Rarely are people completely non restrictive. I have one “friend” whose present friend count is 2,536. My newsfeed tells me he adds about 8 friends a day. He falls into that category of friends my last post referred to as “shameless self promoters.” He’s a writer. He has about 12 books out. I’ve met him in person once and it was a significant and interesting enough interaction (and likely, one day, worthy of a blog post of its own) to warrant a facebook friendship. But where does he find all these people to be friends? He can’t possibly know 2500+ people that well and intimately. I keep him on my friends list still because he entertains me (and he entertained me in person the day I met him and he made me blush  -- which is hard to do -- so he earned my respect). He writes his statuses in verse. He refuses to use capital letters. And he posts these interesting photo diaries. I watched his little romance with his present girlfriend unfold because of this. He takes pictures of everything including the refridgerator isle of the grocery store. He’s quite active on facebook and he’s quite personal as well. I have a good sense of who he is as a person because of what he does on here. And so do 2,535 other people.

I only have a small number of friends on “the list” that fall into the category of people I’ve only met once or twice. My general rule is that I have to know you in person, past or present, for you to make the list. And there is only one person on my version of “the list” that is the exception to that rule and that was for photo sharing purposes with my running group. I am sure that one day I will meet her in person. It just hasn’t happened yet. My other rule is: No Students. That is simply a boundary I will not cross.

Still afraid I won’t be invited to the party

It was the number one item on my list of 25 things about me. “It scares me to friend request people on facebook. I’m 38 years old and I’m still afraid I won’t be invited to the party.” Here is the explanation.

I find on facebook that people fall into one of two categories. You are either a friend accepter or you are a friend requester. Because I am on facebook quite regularly I fall into the latter category, probably because people on facebook cross my path via natural forces. But you better believe that unless I have a really comfortable relationship with you in person and in the present tense, if I have chosen to add you as a friend, I’ve been contemplating pressing that “Add as a friend” button for weeks, and sometimes months, before I go through with it. And it is rare that I add someone the first time I see them. Sometimes I sit on a large list of people in the back of my mind (I don’t make physical lists, not even for the grocery store) and then do a mass friend request session and add 15 to 30 people at once. Why do I do this? It makes it less obvious if you choose to turn me down. As I said, I’m 38 years old and I’m still afraid I won’t be invited to the party.

Facebook likes to taunt you into considering adding people in their little suggestions box. “You have 10 mutual friends with so-and-so.” Most of the time the people that show up in those boxes are people I have never met and do not know at all. But sometimes they are people I know casually. I cross paths on a regular basis with a good chunk of the athletic community in this city. It is a small enough community that there is one degree of separation with virtually everyone. There are a couple people in particular I am thinking of that I have added from a facebook prompt and none of them ended up adding me. But strangely enough, none of them rejected me either.

This is a particular friending behavior that I really do not understand, letting friend requests sit un-answered, like you can’t make a decision if someone qualifies to be on your facebook friend list or not? Most of the time when friend requests go unanswered, I’ve already forgotten I sent it and then I see it, weeks or months later when scanning my “connections” and I see that “friend request pending” notation beside a particular individual and I think, “hmmm.” The majority of requests that sit in limbo like that are to people who make only a rare appearance on facebook, but there have been a few that have been to people that I cross paths with often enough that I find it odd. And some of these people, while they won’t answer my request, have absolutely no problem at all commenting right below me on a status of one our 10 mutual friends.

I guess you simply don’t like the cut of my jib. I’ll just have to live with that. But I am taking it personally. Just so you know. I added you because I wanted to get to know you better. And the odd thing is that when I see some of these people in person now it just feels slightly more awkward. Because one thing you can never never do and is a huge social taboo is ask someone in person why they won’t be your friend on facebook. Never to be done. At least not by me.

But it has made me think. You can have rules such as: “I will only have people I am truly friends with on my facebook friend list,” but because of the facebook revolution, is the reverse also true? You cannot really be considered a friend in person until you are also friends on facebook?

But, like I said, everyone has their own rules about what the purpose of facebook is for them and that is to be respected. I may place a lot of weight on facebook friending (and unfriending) behavior but I do believe it is more average to simply not give a shit.

I added someone who worked with me early on in my facebook adventures and he very politely emailed me and told me that he wouldn’t add me. He liked to keep his work life and his private life as separate entities. I found it odd. I’ve drank with him, ran with him, biked with him, flirted with him, I’m on his email list when he sends out messages about his travel adventures. But he won’t be my friend on facebook.

OK. I did appreciate the explanation. But I’m still taking it personally.

Personal trauma generally results in an automatic friend list clean-up

I’m sure there are psychological theories behind this kind of behavior. I don’t know what they are but here are 3 stories.

There are probably 40 or so friends that I have on facebook that I would classify as highly active. Their information permeates my newsfeed. When they disappear for a while I notice. And I worry about them. One such friend was someone I knew in high school and from a job I used to have back then. I would drive him home sometimes and cry on his shoulder about one guy or another. (OK, there was only ONE guy I used to cry about in high school). This friend recently split with his wife. He had been a pretty regular participator on facebook and I could see something coming but I didn’t know what and then one day his relationship status changed and it all came clear. And then he disappeared. So one day I went to check on him and see what was up and I found he was gone. No longer on my friend list. So I searched him and there he was still on facebook but at some point he had removed me. And not just me. We used to have about 18 mutual friends and we were down to about two.

The same thing happened with a former coworker. She and I used to message back and forth regularly discussing some of the goings on in our workplace. She wasn’t the most popular person at our workplace and she had some pretty controversial behaviours but I felt I got along with her well. She had some conflict within a group she was working with and then I heard she resigned. She also was a pretty regular participator on facebook and she disappeared. I went to look for her and she was gone. She had removed virtually everyone associated with our place of employment. No reminders. She never worked here.

I’m a pretty open person. As a writer I have to be. Write what you know is the first lesson in writing school (if such a place exists). Given this rule, inevitably if you are my friend, (or, even more likely, if you are someone who is or was in a relationship with me) at some point I will write something about you. If you have a significant interaction with me and it makes me say WTF, make no mistake I will eventually write about you. Numerous people from my past and present made an appearance in whole or in part in my novels I wrote. Maybe it was a whole scene and maybe it was a just a line of dialogue or maybe it was a description of a particular hand gesture. Those who know I put them in my novel have already forgiven me for my inaccuracies in the name of art. Some of them have had to forgive me for not making them look so good. Building a character is a complicated process. It is like growing a fetus inside you and seeing what is created.

But in this blog I talk about my real life and the people in it. Usually I talk about other people as a preface to saying something about myself (I refer you back to A Reason and a Season). But it is entertainment, make no bones about it. And it is my version of reality and there are two sides to every story. And I will never tell a story about anyone that is so specific that the person would be recognizable universally. You may recognize yourself (or maybe you won’t) but that is likely to be it. Everyone else will just have to wonder.

I told a story in Part I about two halves of a former couple and in which one half of that former couple behaved passive aggressively and used me to try and make his ex girlfriend jealous. There is no doubt about it that I did not appreciate being used like this which is why the story stuck with me in such detail. I’ve also told that story verbally on more than a half dozen occasions as an example of the “many weird things that have happened to me on facebook.”

I also told the story and posted it publicly knowing full well that these two individuals were still on my facebook friend’s list and they could possibly see it. But neither of them have been very active on facebook, so I took a chance that it would float by unnoticed. But not long after I posted that link I was on my own profile page and I noticed that I was back to 200 friends on the nose (and I had just added someone not seconds before and should have been at about 202). If my friend count had been 186 or some other odd number I might not have even noticed. On a lark I decided to search for the male half of that couple on my friends list. He was gone. And we no longer have any mutual friends so they are gone too.

Coincidence? I think not!

She’s still there though. But then again, I didn’t make her look bad.

It made me laugh. Last night anyhow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Social Networking Part I: The Rules of Engagement

To be perfectly honest, when I first signed up for facebook, I didn’t get it. Three years ago I didn’t know what Facebook was. I had received a couple of email friend requests, one from my cousin and one from a close friend, and figured it was junk mail. Then one day, in July 2007, I was sitting on the beach with my friend Christine and she explained to me what it was. I was newly separated (it had been mere days), and she told me about some people who she had reconnected with on there so I thought I would give it a shot.

The version of facebook I signed up for quickly filled my page with boxes and applications, most of which required you to select 10 friends to send things too: Eggs that cracked open in 3 days, cute puppies and kitties, make your own Halloween jack-o-lantern, specialized pokes for your friends as opposed to a regular poke (and what the hell is a POKE anyway?), the fun wall and other walls in addition to your regular wall. You couldn’t comment on people’s statuses back then. If you had something smart-ass to say as comment then you had to send them a message or write it on their wall. And newsfeeds weren’t live. You got a small sample of your friends’ statuses and you could select who on your friend’s list you saw more or less of.

I figured out what was good and what was a plain old pain in the ass essentially by trial and error. And now I just don’t add any applications. No games. No pillow fights. No Farmville. No Mafia Wars. No I won't let you add  me to your family or your birthday calendar (What for? You know I am in your family and facebook tells you when it is my birthday two days before the event). No gifts. No nothing. Most of it is just an invite to bring viruses into your computer system. If you want to send me something, send me words. Words get me excited. I practically respond to ALL words that come my way. I'll even respond without being invited to respond.

Olympic Spirit: The sending of status messages on Facebook peaked Sunday at 2:29 pm PST and 2:54 pm PST during two significant goals in the Olympic hockey finals: when the U.S. tied and Canada won. More than 3.5 million status updates were sent during the time frame of those key plays, twice the pace of the rest of the day.

Facebook is my news source. It is how I found out Michael Jackson died, and Brittnay Murphy and John Hughes, and the earthquake in Haiti. It is how I got the play by play for the gold medal hockey game between Canada and the US. (I am ashamed to say that I DIDN’T watch the game. Post a 4 hour epic workout, I slept through most of it). I knew the US scored, not because someone wrote “the USA just scored” as their status, but because one of my friend’s statuses popped up and all it said was: FUCK!

Facebook has gone through about a half dozen facelifts since I’ve been on there which has been a pain in the ass in itself and everyone moans and whines (in their statuses) and says they hate the change and then, because the facebook conglomerate never listens, they adapt and shut up. Such is the way of the world. All I can say is that facebook is way more useful now than it was in 2007.

Verbal weaponry

But weird things happen on Facebook. And facebook can be very very dangerous. I have learned so much about human nature watching events unfold between the lines of people’s status and the comments underneath. My first big lesson on Facebook happened within a couple of weeks of signing on. I had friended [note the new piece of vocabulary I have added to my repertoire] a couple I knew from an activity I used to belong to but hadn’t been involved with for about a year or so. The last time I had seen them was the previous spring when they were out running at the university. After the male half of this couple agreed to be my friend, I wrote on his wall to say hello and asked him if he and his girlfriend were still going there to run. He responded back to me in a private message that, after five plus years, he and his girlfriend were no more. He then told me how devastated he was about it, that he still loved her, and then he asked me to tell him how to get started in writing.

I responded back briefly about the break-up. To be perfectly honest, I had never thought they made a good match (they’ve both since moved on – I found out on Facebook). I told him I was sorry to hear the news and that things always work out the way they are supposed to blah blah blah. I then wrote him a few long paragraphs on getting started in writing. He answered me, not in the private message he started, but back on my wall again: “Thanks for the advice Kim, on all counts.”

Uh oh.

I hadn’t been on facebook very long but I am very astute in making observations about how “things” (and “things” can be broadly defined – usually that means policies and procedures) can work to my advantage – or as in this case, disadvantage. One of the observations I had made very early on was that what you wrote on a mutual friend’s wall would end up in the news feed of all your mutual friends. The male half of the former couple I am referring to, hyper intelligent being that he is, had obviously made the same observation. He wrote what he wrote to ensure that it would be seen by his former girlfriend and to make it look like we had some special communication. And I mean, SPECIAL COMMUNICATION.

I sat on this for a day and couldn’t get it off my mind. I decided to message his former girlfriend and I shared this observation with her. I was glad I did. She had seen the message and hadn’t been surprised. Without getting into the details there had been a history of this kind of behaviour (and MUCH worse) over the past few months. Ultimately, I cut and paste what I had written to him word for word and sent it to her, not because I didn’t want her to be threatened by me but because I wanted her to see how he had twisted my words. He, of course, had been sure to tell her his version of my so-called advice which had me all hopeful and encouraging that they would get back together.

In the ever changing world of facebook, there was a period of time when you could turn off your wall comments from ending up in your mutual friend’s newsfeeds and, once I found it, I did exactly that after that episode, but in this version of facebook you cannot do that. So I am forever conscious of that when I write on someone’s wall. In fact, unless I am saying something completely benign like “good to see you, and welcome to facebook,” I rarely write on walls.

I meant that to be nice

This might be a nice bridge into a “be careful of your privacy” speech but that is not my intent here. We are adults (most of us) and we should be able to monitor our own privacy, but doing that on facebook requires awareness.

OK, I lied, it appears I’m about to go there a little bit.

I remember once sending a message to a friend or two who had themselves in those “dating” applications (Are You Interested?) where you could view other application users profile pictures and click on someone if you “liked” him. I was in that application myself for a while until I realized (just by looking at the photos and occasionally a profile that was wide open), that half those people were already married or were posting fake photos or were looking to get into this country. Well every time you clicked that you “liked” someone, it showed up in your friend’s newsfeeds. I had turned off the ability for this application to do that on my profile, but a few of my friends hadn’t. Do you really want your entire friends list, half of whom are people you haven’t seen in 20 years, to know that you are scanning profile pics for a hot face or two? No thanks.

Although I have to admit, my first escapade in dating post separation happened through said application. A guy I had known for a while came up to me in person and said, “I saw your picture. What are you doing on there? I didn’t know you were single.” To which I said, “What are you doing in there? I didn’t know you were single.” And well the rest was history even though not forever. And it happened face to face and in person in a world where I have a much greater degree of charm than I do in some two dimensional photo.

I can’t say I’ve always been careful. I’ve publicly written things I’ve regretted and deleted them seconds or minutes later. I’ve written things that have been misinterpreted which is always a danger when communicating in writing. You can’t trust that you will be heard in someone else’s head the way you were heard in your own head as you typed. I have one simple rule about that: unless you have proof otherwise, or bad history with the person, always assume that if there are two interpretations of something that has been written, the other person intended for you to read the nice version. I am getting better and learning to inflect fake intonation in what I write. But there is still no such thing as a sarcasm font.

Did I really want you to know that about me?

Everyone uses facebook and other social networking equivalents to their own purposes but I would estimate that somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter of my friends on "the list," maybe more, make an appearance of once a week or less often. Another quarter are on here every day but they only lurk. I only become aware of their lurking when they come up to me in person and make a comment about something they could have only seen on Facebook and I am always a little taken aback by this. And on occasion, it makes me think, Did I really want you to know that about me?

It particularly pisses off my mother, who is not on Facebook (thank God), when one of her friends sees something I’ve posted on Facebook and they tell her about it and it was something that she didn’t know.

Sometimes I take Facebook for granted. If you want to know what is going on with me, you better be on facebook. Otherwise I am not likely to voluntarily call you up and tell you. I don’t like phones. This is why facebook works well for me.

I have friends who use facebook for shameless self promotion. A few writers. Some bloggers. Several home party consultants. A few wannabe rock stars and other business types. This is OK. I wonder how they feel if no one responds or comments or if no one shows up? Sometimes I think you have to be a bit thick skinned for certain aspects of facebook. But more on that in Part II.

But my favourite Facebook friends are those that say something about themselves. Not those that are so revealing as to give me third party embarrassment on their behalf but those that are simply vague, or clever, and who show me a little bit of what is inside them. I will fully admit to spending a lot of my personal thought time daydreaming about the clever status. I enjoy when people put in the effort to tell me in their own words about their quirky perspective on life, who make me laugh at life’s irony’s because that is what’s on their mind in that moment.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Or Not.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Reason and A Season

I was discouraged when I arrived at my staff Christmas party this year. I came dateless. I had originally asked for two tickets, circumstances changed and I only needed one and then by the time the event date arrived, I could have used a second ticket but could no longer get one. So when the seating was made for the tables, being the odd woman out, I was sat at an oddball table off in some remote corner with some people who work at my institution that I barely knew but maybe in passing.
I sat beside a woman who has worked with us for a couple of years now. I’ve always looked at her and thought she was vaguely familiar, I thought, maybe, from a past job in my profession. The conversation started like this: She told me she heard that I just moved and wanted me to know that she used to live on my old street.

Me: Oh, which house?

She: (tells me the number and describes the house colour)

Me: Well that was very close to where I lived. I lived at number __. Your old house is (name of people’s) house.

She: Yes. I sold my house to them about 7 years ago. But I know your house well…..

And that, for the moment, was all she said about that. Those small-talkish beginnings, evolved into a conversation that shaped my evening. The rest of the table essentially disappeared. I don’t think that I could tell you who else sat with us anymore because it was just she and I, forehead to forehead in the din of a four-course meal and a bottle of wine, sharing stories. She too had separated and divorced from her husband while she was in her 30’s. She too continued to live in the house that contained her marriage for a few years after he moved out and she too brought another relationship into that home.

She also dated a person after her marriage ended where the age difference was large enough to be socially frowned upon and whispered about. I too was and still am dating a person where such an age difference exists. The taboo nature of her relationship was much greater than anything I might experience because, in my situation, I am the younger one.

So in the middle of conversations that revolved around age and relationships and choices and the drama of divorce, (and in terms of drama I will give her the nudge of victory, but it was definitely a photo finish), she stops and puts her hand on my arm and says, “Well Kim, I believe you and I were meant to sit beside each other tonight.” And I couldn’t help but agree. I had already been thinking that exact thing from almost the first five minutes of being seated together. In an hour and a half worth of conversation, I told her things that I hadn’t even told people that I consider to be true friends. And I am sure she would say the same. She did, after all, eventually tell me why she knew my former house well.

It hasn’t happened often in my life that I've cross paths with a person that I know was put in my path to teach me something and help me grow. I'm not a very religious person, just today I referred to myself as an atheist, but I am a person who believes in fate and perhaps has a certain sense of spirituality associated with that.

Several years ago I took a walk with a person, who at that time was simply an acquaintance that I had things in common with. Our conversation on that walk progressed in such a way that I ultimately shared, on almost a whim, something I had not shared with anyone else in my life up to that time. And maybe it was the degree of acquaintanceship that made this person safe in that moment to share my secret because telling people I was close to what I had been living with for the several months before this day, was an emotionally frightening and risky venture indeed.

What I told my friend about was my writing my book, and that one revelation alone changed acquaintanceship into very close friendship which ultimately changed my life and maybe my friend’s life as well in ways that neither of us ever fully articulated. It lead to hours upon hours of conversation about life and relationship and fate and the future and fear and choices and parenting and heart's desires. And all these conversations took place over the next two years in planned two hour rest breaks, or in 30 second passings in the hallway, in hurried 15 minute coffee breaks, in lengthy emails, or on the telephone. We had code words and phrases and facial twitches that could only be understood by us.

Or sometimes we just talked about our jobs.

It opened other doors for me because suddenly I learnt how to talk about things I wouldn’t have dreamed about talking about with friends before. It allowed a formerly trapped emotional passion out of me, wailing and screaming. And like anything in the process of maturing and growing, that passion was a little uncontrolled and tremendously reckless. Soon after, I told other friends about my book and I got the same response as I did from my acquaintance-who-became-friend, but that first scary revelation resulted in an avalanche of revelations to multiple people and I learned to open up myself to the world in ways I never could before.

Sadly, I am no longer close to this second friend. We cross paths once and a while and we say hello and we make small talk but that is all. And there is nothing in the way we talk that reveals how much we really know about each other. And it isn’t something either one of us needs or wants to revisit. Lessons were learnt and it will always be a relationship that will hold importance for me because of how it changed me. But it was a friendship that turned out to be for a season.

As for my Christmas party friend, I have only seen her once since that evening and it was at a meeting and she was across the room and neither of us made a move to approach the other. Because while we both knew that we were meant to sit beside each other that night, I knew, even sitting at that table wine glass in one hand and fork in the other, that this was likely going to be the only time I had a conversation like this with her.

I haven’t fully figured out what I was meant to take away from that night. A feeling of being soothed perhaps? – Because I was. A little bit about forgiveness? -- Definitely. A calming of my worries about venturing into a new but exciting relationship with a man much older than I? -- For certain. About 15 years my senior, my Christmas party friend is miles ahead of me down the same path I have chosen to take in life, but she told me that I am, at present, further ahead of where she was when she was in the same phase as me. I needed to hear this as I ponder the uncertainty of my choices. And people who know me, know I don’t handle uncertainty well.

After dinner we got up to mingle with others but I felt lost. There seemed to be no other reason to stay at the party. The only thing I know for certain is that she, in that moment, was my only reason.

And then there are the friends I have for a lifetime. And you know who you are.

A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or
a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you
will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . It is
usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have
come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you
with guidance and support, to aid you physically,
emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a
godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason
you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an
inconvenient time, this person will say or do something
to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die.
Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realise is that our need has been met, our
desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you
sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON . . .
Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount
of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things
yomust build upon in order to have a solid emotional
foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the
person, and put what you have learned to use in all
other relationships and areas of your life. It is said
that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Last year (2009) was my 20th high school reunion. I enjoyed it, and I kinda played a role in planning it. OK, no, I was more like the ring leader in planning it. I say that with some degree of surprise because for a lot of years I always said, “Everyone I care to see from high school I already see on a regular basis.” Over the last 20 years, my closest friends have been my three girlfriends from high school. We all went different directions in life, and we all have different passions, but we always still managed to find time to get together because whatever drew us together more than 20 years ago has managed to keep us coming back.

The girls including me (bottom left) 1989

Same girls 2005

I’ve been thinking a lot about reunions lately – and high school. When I was in the process of planning the reunion, I kept repeatedly putting out a call for old pictures. Only one person came through and only with a handful of photos. In the meantime I have about 6 photo albums filled with pictures I took through high school and in the years immediately after. I kept saying that I was going to upload them, I just didn’t have the motivation or energy to do it. I had my computer stolen in February and by the time I got a new one in the summer, I still hadn’t downloaded the printer driver to my printer-scanner.

That is, until this weekend. In the process of moving, those old photo albums came under my feet again, literally, and it was time to do it. My scanner is slow but I spent a good chunk of Sunday and Monday night periodically scanning a select few of these old photos and uploading them to that time-sucking bastion of social networking, Facebook.

The response amazed me. And four or five of the 10 or so individuals I tagged in those photos carried on an everlasting discussion about our high school lives. One photo has greater than 40 comments under it. Some of those comments are completely unrelated to the photo itself. Some of them are highly juvenile and inappropriate (I will admit to being the ring leader of that too – well, I can really only take partial credit, it is not hard to drag me down that road). But it was interesting to watch these four or five personalities, some of whom I haven’t had much contact with in the last 20 years, revert back to their 17 and 18 year old selves.
Yogi and Scoobie at Canada's Wonderland

People’s memories are funny. A couple of us couldn’t remember the story of Yogi and Scoobie being toted around on our high school band trip to Toronto. But one person did and that hole got filled. There were memories of flirting with Newfie girls, comments about fashion from 1989, thank-you’s for the laughs and the memories. I might remember something one way (e.g. the story of how my 18th surprise birthday party came about) while someone else remembers an entirely different angle.

Last night I typed a status related to this venture that said: “Kim is enjoying taking everyone on a walk (or run) down memory lane.” As an addendum to that status, I added (in part):

It is funny how I am watching these pictures turn everyone in them back into a high school kid if even for a few minutes. It is so easy to go back to that time in my head. I guess I enjoyed it and had a positive experience. I know not everyone did (and I certainly had my moments too). In my memories all these people still look exactly as they do in those photos. . . . . . If it wasn’t for facebook, I never would have had any contact with some of you again. Maybe I would have seen you around the city and maybe I wouldn’t even have recognized you while I was lost in my own world doing my day to day life. And I am thankful for fb (as time sucking as it can be) because it has been a positive reuniting.

And what resulted from this status was another discussion about how we were friends for life because we went to the same high school, phone numbers were dropped, party plans are being made. I noted that I had been watching my news thread and had seen several people I had tagged in these photos, friending each other. I asked one of the guys, in that same thread, why he didn’t go to our grad. He was a year behind us so he would have had to have been asked by a girl from our class. And what came was a confession and an apology to the person that did ask him and he had turned down.

That apology cued me into another memory of when, on that same Toronto band trip I mentioned earlier, I had needed to apologize to him for comments made behind his back under duress and teenage lack of judgement, which he had overheard. That situation is what comes to my mind every time I see his name pop up on my news feed. I wrote him a private message and told him the story. He had no real clear recollection of the event, yet for me, it is on my list of most horrifying things I did and wish I could take back. But I don’t even know if how I remember that scene is actually how it really happened or if it is just how my memory wanted it to have happened, magnified to epic proportions over time.
Part of the gang -- Toronto band trip 1989

You hear those stories, of people who have been bullied during high school and they muster up the courage and go to their high school reunions, terrified it will be the same, but they find that everyone has grown up and matured. So they walk away with renewed energy, perhaps glad to let go of the burden they’ve been carrying of that fear that deep inside they are still that gangly, ugly perhaps, mouthy, shy, social awkward – insert whatever adjective comes to mind – teenager they once were. And maybe we all go through that a little.

There are a few people on my facebook friend’s list that I was not really close to in high school. There are a few there that I probably never really talked to in high school at ALL, for whatever reason, social status maybe, fear of them because they dared to stray from conformity and be their true selves. I don’t know. Facebook has allowed me to watch their lives unfold as adults. I probably would not even have added these people as friends if it hadn’t been for that 20 year milestone. Why wouldn’t I have added them? Simple. I figured they wouldn’t be interested in me because I never talked to them. (Everyone has their own rules for what facebook is to be used for – but that is a whole other blog for me to write). But these are beautiful adults – smart, successful, talented, deep-thinking adults -- wish I had been able to see that when I was a teenager while I was self-centredly thinking about myself and worrying about being invited to the next party. (Most of my high school photos, by the way, are party pictures).
Me at my 18th Birthday Party April 1989

One of my facebook friends, and now real life friends who was not in my social circle messaged me in the midst of these photos appearing, stating how jealous he was that I had a good experience in high school. The photos proved it, he said. I guess I did. I’ve kept these photos for 20 years and they are not in a box or random envelopes but in contained photo albums with protective pages. I have about 40 scribblers of journaling from that time period (and several years following -- and that, by the way, explains my good memory for events -- sometimes I look things up) full of teenage obsessiveness and ranting and heartbreak. There was lots of heartbreak – so it wasn’t all good. And I’ve written two novels about teens, some of which were loosely, with A LOT of license to alter events so they turned out as I pleased, based on what my life was like as a teen. One is about the summer right after graduation and the other is about that infamous band trip to Toronto, because stuff happened on that band trip that probably bonded us all for life, at least a little bit and in different ways.

And as the last week proves, we’ve all held on to different memories and let others go.

WPC Class of 1989 High School Reunion, July 2009