Where did January go?

The big thing for me in January was my graduation from university.

Sometimes I feel like aliens have abducted me, because I keep losing time. It feels like New Year’s Day was just yesterday, and yet it’s now February 1st.

The big thing for me in January was my graduation from university. The Fellowship of the Baccalaureate is completed! Sean Bean has died, and I am on my way to Mordor my [first] Master’s. (Working title for that part of the saga: The Two Theses.)

Graduation day was a whirlwind and it basically murdered my energy levels. I’m pretty sure I borrowed against 2 weeks’ worth of spoons to complete that day. It was worth it; I’m just sleeping a hell of a lot right now.

Early Thursday morning Mr. Katje and I got up and went to catch the 7:45 ferry to Nanaimo. (Mr. Katje got the day off work so he could come to my graduation, and he didn’t guffaw once during the long speeches — I’m so proud of him!) We had breakfast on the ferry, and once we landed in Nanaimo we had to run around doing errands for a few hours: pick up regalia, drop off tickets in various places, drop off a book for a reader. Before we knew it, it was time for me to get ready with my fellow graduates.

I went to the Coast Bastion and met the other grads in the ballroom assigned to us. Several of my friends were graduating on Thursday, too, so I got to high five and hug them and take silly selfies together.

My fellow First Nations Studies grads and I had a brief prayer of thanks to the Creator before we started the procession, which was great — really helped me calm my panic and nerves.

I realized, before we left, that I hadn’t given Mr. Katje my camera — I ran upstairs to see if he was still in the lobby, but he wasn’t, so I held onto the thing and hoped I’d get a chance to get it to him before I got on stage. Luck held out — he and my mom were sitting right next to where we walked onstage. I bent down and gave him the camera without missing a beat.

Then came the sitting on stage through all the numerous speeches that were given. Honestly, this part could have been cut way down. There was one speech that was entertaining; during the rest I had to fight not to fall asleep. Then I had to fight hunger and trying to eat the hats off my fellow graduates. I hadn’t had any food since 8 that morning, and it was 3:30 at this point. My stomach was tying itself in knots.

Finally, after all the speeches, they asked us to read our oath — the acceptance of our degrees. We did, clumsily and definitely not as one, and then we got to move our tassels from the right hand side to the left. Officially graduated!

And then we got to walk the stage to our names being called out. The part we’ve all been waiting for, through the interminable speechifying.

Even though my name change isn’t complete, the school still let me graduate with my real name on the parchment and read out by the Dean. I didn’t think he’d have trouble with one of my middle names — Ayla — so I just told him how to pronounce the ones that usually give people trouble (my first name, especially). Ah well, 4 out of 5 done correct is really good! (And they’re all spelled correctly on the degree, so I’m happy.)

I walked across the stage without my cane, which my back has still not forgiven me for, but it was worth it. It was important to my state of mind that I walk across unassisted. As I walked, I held my hands up in a gesture of thanks used in First Nations Studies classes – hy’chu’qa si:em, to everyone in the audience, to everyone who supported me.

In the middle of the stage I shook hands with Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada and our school chancellor, and Ralph Nilson, our school president. I then posed for a picture with them before continuing on across the stage, where our registrar Fred Jacklin shook my hand and gave me my degree.

After that I sat down again, and eventually we finished and proceeded out of the theatre again, to the lobby where our friends and family waited to congratulate us. I hugged folks, took pictures, accepted wonderful gifts from friends, and then ripped off my regalia, screaming about it being a demon frock of polyestered death.

Seriously, worst part of graduation: the regalia. It is hot as balls sitting in that thing under stage lights for 2 hours. Also, so-called “XL” size? HA.

Anyway. After all that, we returned the regalia and headed off for dinner, which was fun but had to be quick because Mr. Katje and I had to catch the 8:15 ferry home if we wanted to get our car back from the parking lot before they closed.

We were so exhausted we fell asleep in our chairs on the ferry. When we got home we staggered into bed and fell asleep within minutes.

I woke up early the next day but ended up sleeping some more that afternoon, getting back to my apartment around 12:30am. I went to sleep at 3am, again, and got up at quarter to 9. It’s now 4pm and I’m thinking about napping.

So you can see — very tiring day, very few spoons.

Other exciting things that happened in January!

Which means I need to get back to packing and cleaning.

Or napping. Napping sounds good, too.


Studying Stones

Today’s prompt for the FMS Photo a Day was “Sweet.”
Sept 10: sweet
My lunch was sweet. Today has a hint of bitter to it.

Three years ago in August, my Oma died, just shy of her 93rd birthday. Today she would have been 96.

And for some reason today it’s hitting me hard. The first year was hard, of course; we’d just lost her after 4 years of prolonged illness and suffering, during which she’d gone to the brink and come back so many times we didn’t know how to grieve any more. After she died it didn’t hit me until Thanksgiving: we visited Opa and I just kept expecting her to wander down the hallway, talking about how wonderful the food her daughter had cooked smelled.

She didn’t, and that’s when I sort of really realized she was dead.

Grieving came in fits and spurts. Mostly I was fine, but then a day would come where I would be non-functional and weepy all day because I just missed my mom’s mom so much.

Eventually the time between those days stretched, and I came to a point in my life where I wasn’t grieving anymore. I missed her, but I was no longer incredibly sad. I knew she was fine, wherever she was, and I was fine too.

Until today.

I think it’s because Ogre and I have set the date for our wedding — two years and a month, roughly, from today — and now that I’m starting to gather the disparate threads of wedding ideas into actual planning…it’s hitting me that Oma won’t be there to see me marry Ogre. It’s hitting me that she never met Ogre — I met him right after she died — so I don’t even know what she would have thought of him. (Opa and my Uncle were happy to see I’d finally met a good man.)

And there’s more to it — I’m actually graduating in January. Finally, with my Bachelor’s, after 10 years of work at it. I’ll be walking across the stage in a silly hat and really warm polyester robe and I’ll be getting the piece of paper that makes those ten years of torture worth it.

Those were the two things I always wanted her to see. My graduation and my wedding. Even when I wasn’t planning on getting married, I had this vague thought that if I met someone I wanted to do the whole wedding and marriage thing with, I would want her there.

So today I’ve thought of ways I can honor her spirit at those events. There are already ideas out there for honoring your Beloved Dead at wedding ceremonies. For graduation, it’s customary to go out to a meal afterwards, in celebration (I think). Even if this meal ends up being a sit-down at Wendy’s because we can’t afford anything else, I’m going to set a place for Oma.

In the meantime, music gets me through the oh so bittersweet day.

'course numb is an old hat
old as my oldest memories
see that one's my mother
and that one's my father
and that one in the hat, that's me
it's a skill i'd hoped to abandon 
when i got out on the open road 
but any more pent up emotion 
and i think i'm gonna explode

Studying Stones, Ani DiFranco, Knuckle Down