If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Story Telling

Last night I spoke to 2ndSister about 3rdSister. 3rdSister is going through a BAAAAD time and when I say BAAAD time I mean the type of situation that takes you years and years to extract yourself from, even longer to recover from, and leaves permanent damage. We've all been seeing this coming for a long time and 3rdSister is finally ready to see it herself. But that's not really what I want to post about.

My talk with 2ndSister, as she conveyed the latest information and progress--if you can call it that--lasted 2 1/2 hours. Now that's not really all that unusual for us and these conversations used to occur on a fairly regular basis. However since I've moved away (1stSister, 2ndSister, and 3rdSister all live about an hour from each other in a place we like to call "UpNorth") my contact with all three sisters has dropped considerably.

After our lengthy discussion, in a move that can only be described as denial, I spent a lot of time thinking about how 2ndSister (and all of us really) talks. 2ndSister tells stories. Really she tells stories within stories within stories. A conversation with her with her can involve as many characters and subplots as a Tolstoy novel. She is also the Queen of foreshadowing. My own conversational storytelling gets mired down in details. I have a researcher's need for pinpoint accuracy, which can kill a good story.

My research for the past two years has focused on listening to women's lives and I've come to realize that some of us talk in stories and others do not. But no one, and I mean no one, rivals 2ndSister. I had the opportunity of transcribing an interview she did and was able to see, on the page, what I've experienced my whole life. My sister talks in novels. So last night I talked a novel with my sister. Unfortunately it was a tragedy.


~profgrrrrl~ said...

How interesting! (I must admit, I'd love to find out more about your research -- for both personal *and* professional reasons)

I hope things work out for your sister. Those situations can be so difficult to watch.

I have a tragic sister as well (Sissy1) and get my info from another (Sissy2). Both seem to talk mostly in soundbites. I'll have to think more about that. But I'm a storyteller. Sissy3 may be as well, but she's kind of quiet.

Brigindo said...

Thanks for the well wishes.

I haven't figured this whole anonymity in the blogworld out just yet. My research is one of my most favorite things to talk and write about but doing so seems to reveal too much. Yet it is hard for me to imagine conversing in an academic blog without bringing it up. It feels like hanging out in a dog park and not mentioning your puppy or spending time in a playground without talking about your child. I'm sure it will come together for me at some point.

Amanda said...

That's an interesting thing to think about. I (think) that I tend to talk mostly in stories. I really like it though when my particular story proves my points. The students I TA say that I speak in allegories.

I'm going to have to think about this some.

life_of_a_fool said...

This is sort of an old post to comment on, but a) I love this as a way of thinking about conversational styles, and b) it also makes me interested to hear more about your research. Mine has also involved hearing women's stories, or hearing women talk about their lives. I'm not sure if it really overlaps much or not. . .