Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
Melancholy keys offering a melody, a sultry voice of ache, lyrics coaxing redemption fill the hollows of my soul. Its refrain circles back, returning again and again and again to where our words began.
I didn’t see it coming
Didn’t sense the approaching tempest
Whispering loss low beneath the wind
I didn’t see it coming
But you blew this house down
I became an echo resounding
the silence of your goodbye
I didn’t see it coming
The catalogue of regrets
Our imperfect history
displayed upon suddenly barren walls
I didn’t see it coming
Guilt your ghost
You left me haunted
Word Count: 100
The power of a storyteller is to ask why. Digging deeper into a moment, a subject, and drawing out the essence buried within. A fellow writer told me he instructed his daughters never to accept “because I said so” as an answer. He wanted them to demand more, demand to know why.
As a thespian I am familiar with fleshing out a character, all the nuances of behavior and psychology that influence them. Building my own back-stories for why they are who they are, why they do what they do. Inevitably bits of me infuse into each one making them believable.
But wordsmiths go even further. From the “why?” they imagine the “What if?” The answers to the questions begin to weave pictures in our minds that turn into scenes and full blown tales. Plot, sub-text, climax and dialogue spring forth and come to life as our very own Frankensteins.
As a girl I used to love to go to the mall. Not for the same reasons I suspect as my girlfriends (boys and shopping). I had loftier goals. But one day what had begun as an acting exercise turned into a life lesson. A girlfriend and I were sitting on the bench. We had abandoned our French exchange student personas; this time pretending to sign to one another. Desperately trying to hash out a few symbols, letters and phrases with our unadapt fingers. I kept the corner of my eye peeled on passersby watching their expressions, pity and interest, absorbing the nuances of emotion.
Suddenly a little girl stood before me, 4yrs old at most, hands rapidly inflecting. The look on her face, one of sheer joy, like light had just warmed her after months inside a cold cave alone. She wanted to talk. She felt understood, perhaps seen .There outside the food court she hoped to make a kindred connection.
But I was just playing a character. I wasn’t deaf. Looking upon that little face my heart broke in a single breath. Her mother generously rescued me and helped bridge the communication gap. I think we both walked away a little happier from the exchange. At least I hope so because that day was a game changer for me. I never again pretended to be something I’m not in public. I kept acting where it belonged, in class or on stage.
But I still loved to sit, observe, and study people. So instead I began pondering their stories-more than simply who, what, where, why, how, or what if even. I wanted to delve deeper than the five senses. Weave together everyday life, experiences, aspirations, uncertainties, hopes and needs.
The answers to why he’s angry? Why she looked away when he spoke? Why they’re sitting next to one another in silence? Is the couple sharing coffee on a first date? Or have they known each other for years. What’s in their future? Who’s the man on cell phone talking to? What does the little boy hope to be when he grows up? Why? What if he never makes it? Is there a plan B? What would happen if someone gave the homeless man outside $30,000? Would it change anything? Would it help? What if the money had been stolen? What would he do?
I sought to develop my voice and vocation. (Both derive from the Latin word vocare meaning “to call, or invoke”.) I wanted to uncover the mystery and watch it emerge with its own unique fingerprint, the why of an artist’s passions. I aspired to flesh out the hurts, the aches, the yearnings- the dirty, ragged, rough edges and sharp corners of the mind. The fault lines carved upon a face.
Thus began a long path of self-discovery, imaginings and story building. I began to draw the lines that connected the dots and gave me a glimpse inside people. Wrecking ball relationships turned demolition zones of a soul. Navigating the landmines of psyches for the beautiful nuggets buried inside flawed humanity. The truths of expression bringing forth intimate heart connections.
Character mining I call it.
I think it is the simplicity and the emotional expression in Caitlin’s work that speaks to me. Her work invokes Klimt (to me). This coupled with her artist’s statement says it all.
Caitlin Connolly: I make art founded on the human experience. Life, death, tragedy, joy, loneliness, spirituality, and progression are concepts central to how I view this experience. Growing up in a family with all boys, it was difficult for me to identify with women. My work often explores the feminine experience as I attempt to understand myself and all women more fully and view them the way I see them – powerful yet flawed.
– she became herself with tears –
– trying to understand holiness –
– I found something special and I’m not going to show you what it is-
It is an odd thing having a public venue like a blog. I constantly vacillate between my very private nature and this public face I’ve chosen to project. I tell myself I began this project two years ago to express myself, share my art. The few friends that know I write constantly encourage me to share more of myself, my life. They prefer my more personal pieces. How much to reveal is something I continually vacillate on. Then during weeks like this I find myself in an existential crisis of sorts.
My niece was critically injured. I haven’t seen her in nearly 10 years. I am the estranged one, the baaaah baaaah baaaad black sheep of my family. None of my family even knows I write a blog. Nor do the majority of the people who really know me. It’s my private, and oddly public, oasis. I realize the inherent contradiction.
But when I got the call from my Dad a protective lioness rose up from the depths. I heard my brother was upset by the way my niece was being portrayed in the media. A storm was brewing with sanctions on fraternity’s and the University circling the wagons to contain the mayhem. I went to the internet to read and watch the news coverage and then to the social media sites. I quickly became incensed.
Frat boys tweeting if you “can’t bang, don’t hang, stupid girl”. Another young woman wrote a blog piece, guised as comedy, where she joked about her dancing in the “slut box” and taking a drunken swan dive off a stage onto concrete. 100+ people had tweeted or shared her words. The rage I felt was intense. The sudden awareness of the lack of sensitivity human beings have for one another in this day and age, the inane hubris of youth. I wanted them to be publicly flogged, shamed. In that moment making me no better then them.
Instead I appealed to the young man to remove the tweet and to the website to remove the post. I realize there is a little thing called freedom of speech but there is also decency-at least I hoped there was. An ongoing police investigation is not something I suspected they want to step into. The young man has since modified his tweet and the website has also removed the post. On both accounts I am thankful.
But why write them to begin with? Because you can’t party on a weeknight? My utter sadness at the state of our race was palpable. This face of evil I was confronted with. That’s the danger of the internet. I have no doubt snide comments have been made for ages, we simply didn’t have the venue to see them. So perhaps it is a gift of sorts-bullies are revealed. But my own hope for humanity already dwindled took another hit.
Here’s the thing. I can’t say if my niece was drinking but she’s 19, at a college frat party, dancing and enjoying herself. If I had to guess based on my own youth it would be an easy conclusion to draw, as it would for most of us. Regardless this is not what led to her injuries. She was pushed.
So perhaps alcohol use was involved in the crime. In a split second the lives of two young women were irrevocably changed. That is how quickly life can turn on you. How quickly everything can change.
There is no humor in this situation. It is grave. She is lucky to be alive at all. And the road ahead for my niece will be long. But she has a tenacity of spirit that no one can rob her of- So look out world.
And if we want to talk about these moments perhaps we should learn to think critically and have a dialogue about life and the youth culture. I too went to a University where the indiscretions of student’s and athletes were white washed, covered up. Crimes went unreported. But a University is simply a microcosm of society at large. So perhaps we need to expand our view towards human nature.
Life is fragile. Time can disappear quickly. I have done risky and foolish things in my youth for which I am lucky didn’t have darker consequences. So I know first-hand that stupid split second decisions can have grave irrevocable consequences so be careful before you act rashly. (Or cook fried wantons at home in hot oil. Sorry Louis. I truly wish I could turn back time on that one).
Like most of us age affords wisdom and hindsight as they say is truly 20/20. And when we are young we think we’re invincible, indestructible. I know nothing a grown-up says is likely to sway the course. But if it could I would want you to dream big, live out loud but be careful and conscious because life is fragile. And it isn’t worth losing early.
To my niece, my brother, and family I send love.
Blast from This Blogs Past
The Weekend Reading List
- The Last Time ~The everlasting nature of last times.
- Understanding You and Me ~ This might just be the best tribute to love I’ve ever read.
- The secret Lives of girls
Hallelujah ~ Jeff Buckley
For Carsy The Eye of the Tiger by Survivor