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May. 23rd, 2016

she lived how she wanted to

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Haruka Weiser was a second-semester, first-year dance student at the University of Texas at Austin. It was early this past April and she'd called her roomie from her dance rehearsal to say she was finished for the evening, leaving the theatre building at 9:30PM for her five-minute walk to her dorm.

She had only a few more minutes to live...

The Austin Police Department identified her murderer-rapist and arrested him quickly, a few days later. Her burned backpack and laptop and journal were found where he had been tracked by surveillance cameras.

Haruka had been a "tiny powerful little spitfire", according to a magnet HS friend in Oregon, who hadn't started dancing until she'd been 13, very late for a dancer... but she was a natural talent who'd excelled so quickly that by 16 she was dancing professionally with Portland Ballet. She'd won a full ride at UT, a scholarship with the College of Fine Arts.

The image that stays with me powerfully is of Ki, who also was "tiny" and "powerful", who also won tuition grants for her art, and also --- early in April of her Freshman year --- would suddenly never make any more art for us; her hands and limbs also lifeless, we would not be able to watch any more of her writing and photographic art as it was growing and blossoming.

Ms. Weiser is no student I ever actually met, but she serves as a symbol for me, a symbol of all the dancers I ever designed ballet lighting for... she also will never create any more beautiful performances to share with us. And it resonates more deeply because I have attended rehearsals in the same space as Haruka, walked the same pathways on campus as she did, late last century... this was well before I had even met Ki --- first, as a cyberFriend, and later on our visit, again walking the same pathways, this time with her right next to me. At UT, the Performing Arts complex is very near the central Tower center of campus and only about a mile up the road from my home theatre THE VORTEX, which was founded by three theatre grad students who had classes in these same buildings.

Another of Haruka's friends, Jade, commented that "She lived life how she wanted to, and that's how we all should be."

And strive for... each of all our days.

:Blessings Be from Brad / Silverplate88 co-Mod

May. 11th, 2016

Rain

I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short

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She had "a fierce belief in leading a life of purpose..."

I was poking around in a spiritual bookstore and this book jumped up into my face: The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan.

Marina did not write the book, she couldn't, she was dead at 22.
When it came out she would have been 24.

Multiple parallels with Kiota's journeys, it's why we invited Marina to stop by.

Kiota, born in 1989, The Evergreen State College Class of 2011.
Marina, born in 1989, Yale University Class of 2012.

Marina writes (in a poem):
"...Do you wanna leave soon?
No.
I want enough time to be in love with everything...
I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short."

Ki writes (in her original LJ, last post:)
" I think I'm leaving soon... can't stop crying..."

Marina is five days graduated from Yale, riding with her new boyfriend in an SUV. It's afternoon, broad daylight, in coastal Massachusetts. Boyfriend = neither speeding nor drugging, falls asleep. SUV runs up onto guardrail. Their airbags suddenly explode. SUV flips over at least twice. He's wearing his seatbelt, he's fine. She is not wearing hers, she bangs around tumbling inside the car screaming, her head crushes into the roof at road level, her neck snaps, she's gone.

Marina's tragedy, totally unplanned.
Kiota's, not only NOT unplanned, but rehearsed many times through many previous years.
Kiota, in coastal Washington State, other side of America. No vehicle involved.

Ki was seventeen days away from her 19th bday, she's gone.
No graduation, the closest we have to an essay is "Requiem for the Silent", her adaptation of Akhmatova. Which is more confessional than Marina, just as brilliant.

In that next week after the car crash, Marina's graduation essay goes viral, it's read more than a million-and-a-half times in 98 countries. It's also titled "The Opposite of Loneliness".

In the next weeks after 13 April 2008, hundreds of Friends in LJ are posting words of loss and mourning for Ki. Many of them, her clients also on TeenHelp, are sending words of tribute and mourning, from all over the world, to her home in Israel, to her parents. Snailmail and email.

Marina, a serious writer.
Kiota, a serious writer. And budding photojournalist.

As far as we know, Ki's instructors have kept their feelings to themselves. Marina's compiled and edited a book from her essays and non-fiction pieces, published them as The Opposite of Loneliness in 2004 (trade paper, 2015.) Anne Fadiman had been Marina's principal writing instructor and she had many comments relating directly to Ki too. This one specially resonates:

"Marina wouldn't want to be remembered because she's dead.
She would want to be remembered because she's good."

Marina, her essay, June 2012:
"We are so young, we are so young... we have so much time... what we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over... we can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility ---

because, in the end, it's all we have."

Marina saw the end of her life coming at her in seconds. Extreme close-up focus.
Ki saw the end of her life coming at her for years and years. Split focus, more like a montage.

When each one of them were Freshwomen, in the middle of their first year, they went out into their storms.
For Marina, a snowstorm on the East coast of America. For Ki, a rainstorm in the West. (Many of them, actually...)

Marina gets a text from her friends telling her to meet them in a bar. Marina has trekked as far as he could in the opposite direction and worms herself into a big empty lecture-halled building on campus:

"...and I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. And alone, at night, in the middle of a storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe."

Kiota's rainstorms are physical, and emotional too. In the middle of her Freshman year, walking on the Evergreen Campus trails also alone, also at night, also in the middle of winter, armed with her hunting knife, Ki was not hunting to find any friends: "I honestly believe they would not give a damn if I died tomorrow." Ki did this often --- she felt a special solace and safety, walking at night at the edge of life among the dead and rotting trees, among their new growths, along the dimly-lighted trails leading down to the ocean. Friends, yes, living evergreens dying and rebirthing all around her...

Had Ki felt "unbelievably safe" too? Doubtful ::: more likely it was feeling alone, at night, in the middle of a storm, with her campus courses and their stressors and her hostile roomies far far away. (The forests are really 'giant' and really dense.) Safety came from her blade.

"we MUST not lose this sense of possibility,
because in the end, it's all we have."

"I don't want to die. I'm scared of dying... but I can't see any other option." "I'll just have to wake up again and hurt more."

At 22, Marina's sense of possibility vanished, along with everything else: she had just been hired at the American magazine "The New Yorker" to start work with their full-time writing staff later in that summer of 2012...

At 18, Kiota's world of possibilities was expanding as fast as ripples from a stone dropped in her rainpuddle ::: college credit (with scholarship money) for a photojournalism project that summer of 2008, with a student team recruited nationally, to, as she wrote us, "document human rights abuses and the poverty in Cambodia"; a national college campus touring exhibition featuring one of her portraits; an exhibition in New York of some of her work at Aperture Foundation and Gallery. Making final arrangements once Aperture's managers and editors flew back from London where they were doing a weekend show.

Flying back on Monday, 14 April...

"I hate to be optimistic but it's like all of my greatest dreams are coming true all at once!", Ki wrote in January 2008.

This is all a very full plate for anyone, especially a college student midway through her first year in a foreign country on the other side of the world. Especially this college student...

At least a couple of us think that all of this amounted to a rising tidal wave, she was moving / being swept / into the birth of a new identity, totally separate from suicide, where that would have no place. And this was an overwhelmingly scary thing... because that was where she believed she had lived for years: failure, worthlessness, darkness, botched attempts at one final solution, "I went looking for men to hurt me." ...

There were glimmers of light, though: "I'm nowhere near as self-hating as I used to be. I don't know..."

So, from one perspective:
as we remember right now, in this May of 2016, at the beginning of her ninth year away from our mortal world:

Like Marina,
Kiota does not want to be remembered just because she's dead. (Though we vividly remember that April.)

Kiota wants to be remembered because she's good.
Which we also do.

<=> <=> <=> <=> <=>

What we hope for is that, at some point in future time, there will be compiled a fitting hardcopy memorial book of creative writing and photographs, one created by her family and her instructors, who will share and comment, which will introduce her to a lot more people... as many, and more, than all those she comforted and saved on TeenHelp... in many countries.

For right now, we are comforted because we have one another, and our lighted Memorial right here.

Blessings Be from Brad / co-Mod ::: speaking also with Otter, co-Mod

May. 10th, 2016

not just because she is dead, but...

entry to come tomorrow, on 11 May; crossposting first from Silver:

http://silverplate88.livejournal.com/134938.html

May. 1st, 2016

feet stirring grass damp with dew

He's usually here instead of over there, but atm this morning it's a bit different:

http://silverplate88.livejournal.com/134877.html

Apr. 30th, 2016

our second mezuzah

our first mezuzah was the one mounted inside her doorframe. we touched it together with our hands clasped over its surface on our last day together, that Friday 11th April. which, that year, was seven days out from the holiday. traditionally the meaning of the mezuzah is that the squadrons of the Angel of Death would pass over the houses of anyone who had this mounted there, as this information was restricted to those of the Jewish tribes: and the result was that any home not displaying this would have its firstborn immediately killed: dad, mom, boy, girl, animal, whoever fit that description . the intent was to kill all those Egyptians and tell the oppressor of the Jews to grant them their freedom. the apprehension was that if P didn't do this, the slaughter would go on.

Scripture tells us that there was scarcely any Egyptian house without at least one dead.

it worked, Pharaoh kicked them out of the Kingdom immediately.

you touch this often in your travels as you pass through your door for protection from your enemies. I touched it to ensure safety on my flight home. Ki touched it for protection on her flight too, as we now know, it was her flight through death and into a new life. she was not going to watch the angel squadrons pass over, she was going to join them, flying the other way to go Home.

we've always thought it quite ironic that the first mezuzahs were not wood or metal at all. they were bloodstains themselves. G-d ordered that every family take a lamb and slaughter it, eat it, save its blood, and brush bloodstains on the right, left, and top of their doorframes (or door openings) so that the Angel would see them and Pass Over that house. so it was that deliverance out of slavery started with the murder of an innocent animal.

well, that was then, this is now.

thus the tradition of Passover, which this year ended at sundown this day, 30 April 2016.

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this is our second one. it's turned sideways to show detail, there are two mounting holes in each end to tack it vertically beside your door. this one is quite heavy, machined and etched from one piece of tubular bronze, beautiful in detail, Brad brought it back from Jerusalem, in Sept 2008, where we found it in a tourist bazaar tent, photoed it against Israeli blue. you're supposed to put a verse from the Torah inside, but we did a variation. Brad held a memorial ceremony in Emek Re'faim, "Valley of the Ghosts", in honor of me and all of you --- everyone in my LJ family, Friendslocked or not. It was near where Becky and I had sneaked through the fence to do our "Abandoned Railroad" series some years earlier. he filled it with sand and straw from the spot where we buried the stones, and that very sand and straw are still inside it today. the burgundy tape is non-traditional, he just put it on there when the cap got loose and had to be secured.

there was more personal tragedy here too --- Lois had just been hit by a car, was recovering at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem when Brad got there. she was nearly killed... and would never really fully recover from her severely damaged pelvis, which they had to reconstruct.

PassOver celebrations are now over --- that 2008 one; this 2016 one (over at sundown); the first one multiple centuries ago.

but the intense theatre of the story remains. as does the strength of the faith that carried all those hundreds of thousands of refugees across impassable swamps and mountains lying across their journeys.

machaya hamatim
this night and all nights.

April 30 1989 2016 and always / two

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This is a reconstruction of the second post in this series, LJ ate the original, their software makes it really hard to post pics in succession, they take me back each time as though I were not adding a pic but posting a whole new entry {"do you want to restore from saved draft?"} Unless there's some command to post a group of pics, all at once, a command that I'm missing...

Anyhow.

The first two are from the ALYA series, Ki got invited into a ballet studio to shoot, they were having class or rehearsing. She made up her dancer's name "I have no clue what her real name is." The third is a process shot extending an image taken by an IAF veteran who went back to photo women in basic training; the fourth has a long history, the faerie acrylic is a small 4x6 framed painting and it hung on her bedroom wall for a long time until she gave it to Linny as a love gift; L sent it to me from Europe in May 2008.

Ki thought her ALYAs were some kind of failure, or at least she chose not to keep them on display at dArt, so she asked me to "save what you want" from her account, before replacing them. I think they're superb, especially the first one where she was experimenting with a low-light filter and special cam settings on her Olympus... I put backlight behind a print of it and it super-glowed.

Photography = Greek word meaning "writing with light", always.
rainbow lollies

April 30 1989 2016 and always / three

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April 30 1989 2016 and always / one

Mazel Tov and Machaya Hamatim.

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In celebration, from the top: Synagogue at night, prob in her hometown; an early bday party for Ki after the family moved to Israel; Ki camping out (in) with Ruud; and two very important people in her world: Ruud (22) and Linny in an earlier AvidGamers pic, age 20.

Blessings Be.

Apr. 29th, 2016

Sunday April 30 1989 / four

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dance like nobody's watching
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Sunday April 30 1989 / three

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