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Conspiracy theories aside…

Lidia Wolanskyj wrote this article, Road Rage, on all the highway fatalities in Ukraine. Published in 2001 in The Eastern Economist, It’s a really interesting read—of particular interest to me, of course, because my father was killed in a car accident there. (The link seems not to be working: http://rascalndear.blogspot.com/2010/08/rc25-road-rage.html)

My father was killed in a car accident. That’s what I was told and what I was always taught. But.

Wolanskyj writes,

"Let me just read you the list of prominent people I know of, who have died in highway fatalities since we started publishing in February 1994:

July 8, 1994, George Yurchyshyn, 54, US citizen, director of the Boston-based Ukraine Fund in Kyiv and his two Ukrainian assistants, age 34, and 33: DOA
Nov. 13, 1997, Roman Lischynski, 57, Canadian director of the NATO IDC in Kyiv, and his driver: DOA
December, 1997, George Kuzmycz, US official dealing with nukes: DOA
Aug. 8, 1998, Oleksandr Veselovskiy, governor of Oschadny Bank: DOA
Mar. 25, 1999, Viacheslav Chornovil, 61, VR deputy, founder of RUKH and his driver, 35: DOA
Apr. 26, 1999, Borys Marusych, 49, general manager of UkrInMash: DOA
Apr. 30, 1999, Vasyl Vovk, Ternopil governor, and driver, seriously injured; other driver: DOA
Jan. 28, 2001, Oleksandr Yemets, 41, VR deputy, member of Reformy i Poriadok: DOA
Nov. 9, 2001, Gregory Hulka, 44, new US Consul General to Ukraine; his daughter Abigail, 10; driver Yuriy Kotyk: DOA”

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— 3 months ago with 7 notes
#ukraine  #death  #parents  #dad 
Home and Away

Last week, I moved all of my belongings into storage and took off for China, where I’m teaching for the summer. Because I was leaving, and because my boyfriend and I are “taking a break,” we decided to give up our apartment, even though it was really, really nice, and surprisingly affordable. I toyed with the idea of subletting it, but there’s no way I could afford the rent on my own when I return, and it would be depressing to be in our old place and surrounded by reminders that we couldn’t make it work even though we loved each other and, again, had a pretty great apartment. In New York City, that’s some sort of crime. 

When I was slipping the keys to my storage unit on my key chain, I realized that although my key chain weighs, like, a pound and a half, the keys to that lock are the only keys I need. They, of course, weigh almost nothing. A lot of people move their stuff into storage and marvel at how their life and belongings, which once seemed so sprawling, fit so easily into a 5 x 10 unit. I certainly did, and knowing that key would be my only connection to all of my stuff when I was halfway around the world was both liberating and frightening. 

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— 2 years ago with 9 notes
#home  #parents  #fires  #floods  #keys  #writing  #long reads 
My parents, hugging in the snow.

My parents, hugging in the snow.

— 2 years ago with 3 notes
#Mom  #Dad  #vintage photos  #parents 
What to Do

When I started this project, I thought my main struggle would be with the availability of information. There are only so many letters, photographs and memories, after all. But this hasn’t been a problem. The real problem is what I’m doing with the information I’m getting. If I want to understand my parents, I have to be open to understanding them, and it turns out I’m not. I’m stubborn and attached to my narrative and my original impressions of them. I decided a long time ago that my parents had a bad marriage and they were unhappy. When I come across information that tells me otherwise, I experience intense physical and cognitive dissonance. My brain hardens. My screen goes blank. Every cell of my body says “Nope.”

I’ll try out phrases like, “My parents were really in love, at least for a while”—which is something their early letters seem to suggest—but it just sounds ridiculous, like I’m making it up. What if I made my version up? What if both options are correct? If I’m not willing to really learn something or change my ideas, I might as well just cry into the pages of a composition notebook in the privacy of my own bedroom, because this has all been for naught.

I’ve got two theories about why it’s so difficult to accept new information about my parents. One is that there’s just some serious rewiring that needs to occur for me to change my mind. It’s a big shift. The other idea is that finding information that contradicts my assumptions is actually more painful than finding information that supports them. Because you know what? If my parents were happy, in love, having fun and accomplishing what they dreamed, it’s sad that they fell out of love and life’s complications got the best of them. It is sad. It is so really fucking sad that when I think about it I am filled with grief, and a little bit of terror. I think that’s why I resist the shift in perspective—that would give me something to mourn. I’m still not mourning their disappearance from my life, but sometimes what happened to me doesn’t seem nearly as bad as what happened to them (and between them). I HATE that this happened to them, and I hate that it can happen to anyone. At times, falling out of love, or waking up in the middle of a life that you didn’t want, feels like the saddest thing I can think of.

I could be wrong. Maybe there were problems from the start. Maybe my mom saw marriage to my father as a solid way out of her regular life, and that’s actually what he ended up being. Maybe he was always a short-tempered dick and was just good at hiding it until kids came along. But those sad stories almost seem comforting compared to the ones I may be discovering, which are ones I already knew, but had never applied to my own parents. Life can change you, and you can’t always change yourself.

— 2 years ago with 8 notes
#dad  #families  #grief  #long reads  #love  #mom  #parents 
A Letter from London

This is a great letter my mother wrote her best friend two months after my sister was born.

I can’t believe what a happy new mom my mother was. She’s self-aware enough to realize her joy might be a bit much for people, but I’m glad she was able to gush to her best friend. I’ve have a few friends with kids, and none of them were this effusive or energetic. They could barely answer emails for two months, let alone bang out a letter on a typewriter. I’ve always wondered if my mother was reluctant or unhappy to have kids; this letter puts that theory to rest. What gets me the most is her handwritten addition on page three, “I would gladly do it again.”

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— 2 years ago with 2 notes
#mom  #new moms  #old letters  #london  #best friends  #sister  #grief  #loss  #parents 
This was Christmas 1990.  My father was just about to start working in Ukraine.  He’d been trying to make it as a consultant for a few years and wasn’t having much success. We were in a tough place financially, but of course that’s relative. Before the Ukraine job came through he was looking at a position in Saudi Arabia, and though he really needed a job, my mother hated the idea of my dad living there. She threatened to divorce him, but I don’t think she was being serious.
Many, many years ago, my parents were detained at the airport in Saudi Arabia because security found a bunch of small bottles of booze in my father’s camera bag when they were trying to enter the country (for business, I think).  My father definitely knew better, so it must have been an accident—I don’t know where they were coming from, but he probably swiped the bottles from the minibar and forgot about them.  My parents were detained separately for hours, and my mother said guards repeatedly told her she’d never see her husband again.
This is definitely a weird picture (and obviously a poorly taken one).  I think it’s Christmas morning, so they’re probably tired.  My mother didn’t like to show her teeth in photos because they were in pretty bad shape.  I don’t know if she was aware that her husband was going to spend most of the next few years in Ukraine, which barely had phone service at the time. No one thought Communism would fall in my parent’s lifetime, and when it did, my mother understood why my father wanted to help build the country he left when he was six, and she supported him.  Of course she had no way of knowing that he would basically be leaving her for Ukraine, where he created a whole new life, almost certainly had affairs, and died four years later.
I was thirteen, and I was thrilled my father was leaving. It was a relief to have him gone, as I am sure it was a relief for him to get away from home. I was a totally self-obsessed, depressed and annoying teenager, and I was having a lot of social and academic problems at the time.  I’m sure this strained my parents marriage. But how awful that my mother not only had to deal with the complex emotions of her husband taking a job abroad, but she had to deal with me, on her own.  It wasn’t very fair.

This was Christmas 1990.  My father was just about to start working in Ukraine.  He’d been trying to make it as a consultant for a few years and wasn’t having much success. We were in a tough place financially, but of course that’s relative. Before the Ukraine job came through he was looking at a position in Saudi Arabia, and though he really needed a job, my mother hated the idea of my dad living there. She threatened to divorce him, but I don’t think she was being serious.

Many, many years ago, my parents were detained at the airport in Saudi Arabia because security found a bunch of small bottles of booze in my father’s camera bag when they were trying to enter the country (for business, I think).  My father definitely knew better, so it must have been an accident—I don’t know where they were coming from, but he probably swiped the bottles from the minibar and forgot about them.  My parents were detained separately for hours, and my mother said guards repeatedly told her she’d never see her husband again.

This is definitely a weird picture (and obviously a poorly taken one).  I think it’s Christmas morning, so they’re probably tired.  My mother didn’t like to show her teeth in photos because they were in pretty bad shape.  I don’t know if she was aware that her husband was going to spend most of the next few years in Ukraine, which barely had phone service at the time. No one thought Communism would fall in my parent’s lifetime, and when it did, my mother understood why my father wanted to help build the country he left when he was six, and she supported him.  Of course she had no way of knowing that he would basically be leaving her for Ukraine, where he created a whole new life, almost certainly had affairs, and died four years later.

I was thirteen, and I was thrilled my father was leaving. It was a relief to have him gone, as I am sure it was a relief for him to get away from home. I was a totally self-obsessed, depressed and annoying teenager, and I was having a lot of social and academic problems at the time.  I’m sure this strained my parents marriage. But how awful that my mother not only had to deal with the complex emotions of her husband taking a job abroad, but she had to deal with me, on her own.  It wasn’t very fair.

— 2 years ago with 1 note
#Mom  #Dad  #Christmas  #Parents