The past six months have been up and down in the transcribing world for me. Work has fluctuated from being super busy to being very quiet. Things are picking up again, and jobs are rolling in, for which I am thankful. Before the summer, I transcribed an academic study on policing in the pandemic. I found this fascinating, and it was nice to work in the policing arena once again. I also transcribed interviews for a large academic study that concerned the Black Lives Matter movement and black professionals experience of working in the City. I felt so honoured to be able to contribute to that study. It was enlightening. Yesterday I transcribed a coaching transcript which is something I always find interesting. No matter what issue they're trying to delve into, I do find I can apply some of the reflections to my own life in one way or another. Win-win- an interesting piece of work and some free therapy! I've also been transcribing weekly comedy podcasts for over a year now. I'm pretty sure the laughs I've had from that work have saved me from some darker times.
Being away from my computer for more time than I was used to, allowed me to reflect on my own life. But not in a ruminative or unproductive way, although that happened too of course! I was able to make headway on some difficult personal subject matter for me. Baggage as they say. There is a topic of conversation that comes up time and time again when I meet new people and they hear my accent. My accent is still Canadian, although I've lived here for 20 years now. And that's the old 'Do you go back to Canada often?' This question, in my mind, I've dubbed 'the conversation killer'. I either go for the evasive 'Now and again' but this response usually gets probed. Or I tell the truth and say that I no longer have any family left in Canada so I don't go back very often. That is often is where the conversation ends, flat and uncomfortable. I then ramble on about something else to change the subject. Death is a heavy topic, and people generally avoid talking about it.
But death is my specialist subject. When I tell people I don't have any family left, they presume that I must have some family members who are alive and well. But this is not the case, I come from a small family. My father had two brothers. His younger brother died when he was in his early 30s, he did not have children. My father died in his 40s, with me as the only child. And my father's older brother died in his late 50s, he was gay and did not have children. My mother had two sisters. Her younger sister died at the age of 2. And her older sister died in her early 60s, she had married very late in life and did not have children. So I never had cousins. My mother was my last living family and she died 11 years ago when I was 39. It's a pretty hard pill to swallow to not have any family members left that knew you as a child. There is a real sense of profound loneliness in that. A feeling that is very difficult to articulate. When you have no one to share family memories with, they start to drop off and fade. I wanted to cling to these memories with such intensity, I didn't want to lose them. It's like a part of you is gone, vanished forever, you will never be whole again. And you aren't, you simply are not the person you once were.
When my father died, I was 14-years-old, and my mother decided to move away from Ottawa to Toronto. So I also left all my childhood friends during a very difficult time in my life. Those strong bonds had been broken during those formative teenage years. This was both a blessing and a curse. I suddenly found myself in the big bad exciting city, without a single friend. I was starting my very tricky high school years. And I had not allowed myself to grieve the death of my father, which would come back to haunt me time and time again. But these years I had in Toronto were also some of the best and most memorable years of my life. It was like starting life from scratch. My entire life that I once knew had been turned upside-down. But this builds resilience. It builds character. And it teaches you some invaluable social skills that have served me well ever since. During those years, I became extremely close to two friends. They remain my two best friends. They are what I now refer to as my chosen family. One of these friends does a lot of travelling and has lived in various places in the world. During the pandemic, she has ended up back in Canada living with her elderly mother. And the other, I am so fortunate, has lived in Ireland since before I moved to the UK. I have seen neither of them for several years now for obvious reasons, but that will soon change.
What has also changed is my feelings about not having any family left. It is still dreadfully sad of course, but I've finally been able to process it. I've been able to forgive myself for finding that struggle so hard to move on from. I understand it's not a normal thing to face before the age of 40. Because of the pandemic, nobody is asking other people about whether they travel home or not. It is understood that this is a very painful subject for so many people who were kept apart from loved ones during restrictions. And finally, I'm getting old! People no longer expect me to necessarily have parents who are still alive. It's not unusual for someone in their early 50s to have suffered these losses. Sometimes the question is even pre-empted for me. Before the pandemic, I had never seen a single grey hair on my head, lately, I've seen more than a few. Before the pandemic, I didn't wear glasses. Today I am picking up two pairs of prescription glasses. One pair for distance (I can no longer see the television clearly). And a pair for close up. What? This is new. I find myself having great difficulty reading small font on my computer screen. I have to enlarge my documents to properly proofread them! But I say this with gusto, bring on the older years and all they entail, please, I'll take it! Going by my family history, you can understand why! Every day is a gift.
If you need your academic interviews, podcasts or coaching interviews transcribed, please drop me a line!