Things I've thought since hearing Matt Hardie has awoken from his month long coma:
2. I bet he has a boss beard going on.
3. I wish we had all gone there and pretended to be zombies and that he had slept through the Zombie apocalypse, I think he would have enjoyed that.
4. Someone get this man an absentee ballot
5. and some mouthwash
6. If I'm ever in the shit, I want Matt with me.
I just wanted to say THANK YOU to Matt-- thank you for waking up-- we've been waiting-- and his whole great family. I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to find out more about Matt's state and healing process, but I also know it will be awhile and take so much patience, and I'm so glad to know he has the family and friends to help him through it. It has been amazing to be in touch with Kate throughout all this and witness how strong (and funny) she is; and Susi -- thank you so much for keeping us all informed.
I am so hopeful! And thank you to everyone who keeps checking the blog (and donating-- $650 so far). Matt will be happy to know he caused such a stir once he is ready! Seriously-- I think knowing how much he was missed will help in the recovery. So feel free to post a story or a congrats up here!
Archie was one of our more challenging kids at camp. Matt loved them all indiscriminately. I'm not sure what Archie is doing to Matt's face in the picture but Matt certainly doesn't seem to care.
: from his 21st birthday party. We took him out to some where and we all had a great time. He was so centered and settled then. Matt loved to dance. I discovered this about him when we lived together. We'd go out for dinner; then to a bar for a few drinks; and he'd always want to go dance somewhere and to ANYTHING - house, hiphop, soul, whatever. He was awesomely fun to go out with when he was comfortable in his skin. These pictures are from that time.
: this kid loved Matt even though Matt was the head cook that year and not a counselor. They'd hang out whenever Matt had a break. Matt and I used to swim most days after dinner and before 'evening program'. Since he was head cook and I was waterfront director (head lifeguard), our day ended at about 6pm. We'd head down to the dock, grab a 'guard tube' (flotation device) and swim around the lake for exercise and to relax. I had this silly girlie irrational fear of snapping turtles and water snakes though I had only seen one of each during my years at camp. Matt used to pinch at my legs while we were swimming so that I'd think it was a 'creature'. He thought it was hilarious. I almost drown him a few times trying to kick his ass for scaring me. I did manage to pull his trunks off him and swim away with them once. Now THAT was funny. He was a great swimmer despite not having much formal training. He was naturally gifted at swimming and used to beat me regularly when the kids would challenge us to a 'race' (4 laps of front crawl) etc. I had been a competitive swimmer but Matt was just a really good. He was considering taking the lifeguarding course but then became unit leader instead.
Aw, this one is hard to see but I took it on the last day just after the last set of kids left. Matt's eyes are red and raw from crying as he said goodbye to the kids and to the summer. He was heartbroken.
The infamous Eminem impersonation that every kid at camp begged him to do. He lipsync'd "Slim Shady" that night and was perfect at it.
: By the quality of this photo, you can tell that Matt took it. It's centered, focused, and resonated with clear color saturation. He loved this photo. I think I have a big wrinkly forehead. He didn't seem to notice. He blew this one up and kept it on his dresser. sweet.
This is one of the few photos I can find of us together. I was the 'fortune teller' at the carnival night that night. In this picture I'm reading him his fortune on our ghetto crystal ball (soccer ball in tinfoil) at the end of the night - I definitely took my big fortune teller headpiece off. Matt used to come over to the fortune telling booth and say "Hey guys I heard this was a kissing booth" and then pucker up, make big kissy noises at me, walk away laughing because all the horny 13yo boys would want me to kiss them.
From Alli Fetter:
I have started to write this a million times, but it seems like whatever I write falls short of how great you are, Matt, and how much I miss you. I agree that you are witty, smart, and of course, you grew up to be so super cute! : ) But when I think of you, I just think of what a great heart you have. I have been in Bloomington lately, and I see you absolutely everywhere.
Everytime I see our old house, the memory of the last time I gave you a hug is so present. And little moments from camp keep bubbling up in my head, too. You are always a great person, but you were a total hero there, you know. Some of our kids brought with them some really, really challenging behaviors, and you never resented them. You saw the best in them. You never condescended to them. You showed them respect. You modeled a man who cares sincerely for others without compromising his masculinity and wit. You made 80 children exceedingly happy by lip synching a 10-second PG-version of an Eminem song, not because you were all that excited about doing it - and in fact I am pretty sure you weren't - but because your boys begged you to. And they loved it. You kept our kids safe, helped teach them to swim and steer a canoe, chose excerpts from great literature to read to the boys at night, made sure they had fun, and if they got mad, or sad, or really mad, you comforted them with strength and without ego. And the biscuits and gravy breakfast really was good, even if you and I discovered that day that it's really a regional delicacy.
I really, really miss you, Matt. We want our future kids to know you someday. I want to hear you laugh again. And I need to return some old t-shirts to you, I think. I want you to wake up, to tell me about the book you're reading or your latest grassroots project, to make me feel woefully complacent, to make fun of me, to let me make fun of you, and to share your new dreams. Please come back, sweetie. You're mad strong, yo.
From Dawn Hunter: The day of the accident, I went to Matt and Alex's apartment to be with friends. As I was leaving the next morning, I noticed something on Matt's desk. It was a tiny bit of paper with a single quote written and placed very curiously in the center of the desk. It said, "Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it" -Brecht. I miss my friend.
From Dawn Hunter: About 3 weeks ago I was at Alex and Matt's apartment watching the film, The Edukators. All three of us were on the floor attempting to put a jigsaw puzzle together while simultaneously watching the film, which was difficult because it had subtitles. Matt kept griping at me for running my hand through the loose pieces in the box. He was irritated that I was molesting the pieces instead of putting them together. I told him that it relaxed me and to leave me alone. About this time a song, Halleluja by Lucky Jim, started to play during a dramatic moment in the movie. Matt proceeded to quietly sing, beginning to end, every lyric to the song as he sorted the pieces of the puzzle. At some point I looked up at him while he sang. The intensity of what he was feeling was written on his face, and at this moment I understood just how deeply Matt is affected by music. I am posting this memory with this song, a moment that is just as precious and irreplaceable as the person with whom it was shared.
From Zac Crowell: Matt is one of my best friends in the world - we met in 7th grade, he was a groomsman in my wedding, and he was there for me in so many of the most important moments in my life. I will post the few photos we have soon - I can only hope for the best! We love you, Matt . . .
My wife and I were thinking about some of our favorite moments with Matt. The best involved him babysitting our son Sam - we came home to find Sam had locked himself in a room, and was laughing hysterically while Matt was trying to talk him out through the space under the door. This is in Matt's honor:
From R.O. Lykins (Olive): When Matt and I were in New Orleans (circa 1998) we spent a night sleeping in his car in an apartment complex parking lot. In the middle of the night he shook me awake and asked for a pen and paper to write down a dream he had. 12 years later I found that piece of paper in amongst my writing ephemera. In the dream he w...as saving a group of children from a maniacal easter bunny, leading them to some kind of surreal field where they would all be safe. That picture of him posted with the baby reminded me of the dream, of this protective, nurturing side of him that those of us lucky enough to really know Matt got to see glimpses of beneath the minutia of modern living that drives us all to endless distraction. Now I am keeping him in my thoughts and memories, and now we are the children who must usher our energy to him from wherever we are and let him know that he is loved. Stay strong my friend.
From Jennifer Brewer:
“So, I saw you on TV,” I casually said to Matt.
“What?!?” he looked at me like I was crazy.
“Yeah, when you were managing Sur la Table?”
“Ha Ha Ha! Oh yeah, that.”
Matt was on an Arizona morning show called Sonoran Living, in the Spring of 2008. We had spoken a few days prior to when he was going to be on, so he told me to watch. He did a live demonstration with these nifty kitchen utensils for the upscale cooking supply store that he worked for in Scottsdale. If only I could find that footage now… it was certainly Matt at his finest. Just as you can imagine, he candidly turned on the charm for the entire audience. I will never forget how proud I was to see him on my big screen.
Matt and I used to spend a lot of time driving around in my car with a guy named Jim Wininger. I'm not really sure what we accomplished with this driving but it was fun. At one point I was in a bit of a Led Zeppelin phase and we were listening to the song "Black Dog." We got to this verse:
"Didn't take too long 'fore I found out,
What people mean by down and out.
Spent my money, took my car
Started telling her friends she gon' be a star.
I don't know, but I been told..."
And I'm sure many of you are singing the next line to yourselves. On this particular day in the car, Matt asked "What the hell is he saying there after "I been told"? Jim agreed that he didn't know either.
I said, "You know, it's funny. What he's saying is "but people that woman ain't got not soul" but I used to think it was "big-legged woman ain't got no soul."
Well, for anyone who knows Matt, you can imagine the laughter that ensued. He enjoyed my mistaken lyrics, to say the least. Jim did as well and they both decided then and there that they would always sing that song with my incorrect lyrics. Needless to say, my Zeppelin phase ended pretty quickly under the weight of their joking harassment.
But the real joke, it turns out, is that the lyrics are in fact..."big-legged ain't got no soul."
So, Matt...reality was closer than we knew. And yeah...it's a hell of a lot funnier that way.
I've been thinking of this poem all day, Matt:
Matt's Aunt Susi suggested I post something about how I know Matt.
I met Matt when I was in middle school-- his family was living close to where my family lives.
Matt and I became steadily closer until he was my best friend in many ways. We used to get together late at coffee shops and diners and talk about writers and musicians and life and nervousness and sadness and excitement. He taught me how to love Nina Simone, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. He was always reading something that was tucked away, sort of hidden, in his bag (I remember once on the bus finding Celine). I've spent my life studying and teaching my favorite books and am I owe a career to Matt, who probably introduced me to many of them.
At midnight in a Steak n' Shake we had an insane debate about atheism versus agnosticism that involved an elaborate shared metaphor about the IU football stadium, and that helped me define my own beliefs. He was my prom date and I do remember thinking-- woah, when did you get so handsome? I remember him going to visit his father in Columbia MO and hearing about those trips when he returned. His room was a disaster. I loved the gap between his teeth.
Jack was born and we went to the hospital (after stopping off to bring Kate a hamburger). I heard him tell Jack, when holding him for the first time, that Miles Davis was the best musician ever. These were his first words to Jack (for awhile I thought it was John Coltrane but it was Miles Davis, I'm pretty sure)! We used to say to each other that if we weren't married by the ripe old age of 30 (!) we'd marry each other. When he and Caelum and Kyle lived on the West Side I would go over with Kate Hess Pace and clean their apartment for them. Once one of the boys broke a glass and instead of sweeping it up and tossing it, they swept it into a little pile and put a sign on top of it that said "BROKEN GLASS".
When college came, Matt moved and we lost touch. We'd reconnect in infrequent phone calls and little moments, and for a half-hearted while I harassed the poor guy, trying to have more frequent talks. Eventually, I figured Matt that might want to move on from friends in Indiana. I wasn't sure. There hasn't been a time when I haven't been very conscious of missing him.
My mother has put a box of letters and pictures in the mail for me to see, from high school, from Matt. It's going to be a tough and yet happy thing to go through all this stuff when it arrives to my apartment in Brooklyn.
Matt Hardie is by light years one of my favorite human beings on this planet -- this planet that so often inspires in me misanthropy and a desire to hole up away with a good book. More important than his intelligence and sense of humor is the way he keeps on moving in a world that disappoints him, and keeps trying to keep it and himself on the right path.
Thanks for listening.
So my name is Jennifer i work at the Spokane Apple store with Matt so i definately have not known his very long at all but sence i have known him I have really noticed his unique sence of humor. I would say that atleast once a day Matt would come up to me with a seriouse look on his face and ask me some question that i would always take very seriously and when i would respond he would just interupt me and tell me to shut up jenn over and over until we both started laughing..so i eventually caught on its sort of turned into a joke now, so that makes me smile when i think about him and i really look forward to him coming back to tell me to shut up some more!.
I've been thinking about Matt quite a bit since I heard about the accident. Thought I'd share my favorite Matt story. He, and our Mutual friend John, were out walking around in Bloomington one night when a police car with two officers pulled up and stopped them. The officer told Matt "We got a report that two white guys in dark clothes just robbed a liquor store". Matt replied, "You're two white guys in dark clothes. I'm making a citizens arrest". Get better soon, Matt, the world needs a few more moments like that.
I have limited knowledge of neuroscience but can help to translate, a bit, what the neurologist is saying about neural pathways - which is one in the same thing (kind of).
If the neurons in a particular neural pathway die, they can regrow again along that neural pathway if there is a place for them to grow (i.e. the pathway is not obstructed by swollen tissue or other 'debris') OR if there is no room, they may opt to start regrowth in other areas trying to find the same 'route'. Again, that's if they are dead/severed etc. This process takes a very long time. Neural regrowth can take years.
If the current neural pathway is damaged but the neurons are living, they are still trying to send the same signals to the cerebrum (screaming "wake up, damnit") but the messages isn't getting through. The body's natural repair process will attempt to heal the existing pathway. However, after a time, the neurons will regrow (much like in the first instance of cell/neuron death) different pathways in order to continue to try to send the same message. This outgrowth or new growth can also take time but, in my opinion, is favourable over complete severing of neurons and a new neural pathways being developed. That's just my not-very-educated-on-the-topic opinion. That they are a snarled mess is a bit of a concern. I'm going to research that now.
"When Matt and I were making plans to meet up last June, before he moved to Spokane, I offered to pick him up. He then asked me, "Do you have enough room for my rascal scooter? I've gained weight, I'm over 400 lbs now and can't get around without it." I laughed and told him that I would be driving my family's mini va...n that day and that I 'm sure we would be able to find a way to fit his scooter into my soccer mom ride... When I pulled up to his place the next day he was out walking his dog, and of course, looked just as good as he ever did." (Jennifer Brewer, FB page)
There is a lot about Matt that I could write - a paradox, a juxtaposition, in a poem, a story, a song. He is so many things yet indescribable all at once. "About Matt" puzzles me; a riddle. Like him. Matthew Robert Hardie is beat poetry in motion; a nicotine-caffeine-fueled marathon; a screaming car ride to solitude; a rainy day adventure to the beach. He whistles Leonard Cohen but performs Eminem. He is both drop-out and PhD; the finest vintage of wine in an chipped coffee mug; a beautiful poem on a crinkled piece paper. He is a favourite treasure lost between the cushions of the sofa; something to think fondly of and rediscover over again with a phone call, a note, a memory. He is an anti-capitalism but also a skilled salesman. He is young yet aged; loyal yet distant. He is the love of a lifetime and a complete pain in the ass. He is fragile strength; constant but temporary. Through all, he survives and returns more beautiful than before. A phoenix - the metaphor (though I think he lived there once too).
The one thing I know for sure about Matt: he is much loved. Loved dearly and historically through time. So much so that time seems to have collapsed on itself. It is 2010 and 2001; 2010 and 1999; 2010 and 2005. He is loved by his family. Dear dear kate. And his many friends. Much loved.