• Kali Van Dusen

How To Build A Control Freak

Updated: Oct 22

There is a left side of the brain and a right side. The right side is thought to be creative, artistic, with a free-spirit, a Type B girl. Everyone probably wants to hang out with her. She probably thrifts all her Levi’s and “wants to take a VW bus up the California coast.” The left side is more of a logical thinker, organized, and brainy, a good ‘ol Type A. This dude is a tight-ass. Let me emphasize, this motherfucker likes to plan, likes to set goals, likes to win. He absolutely does not want to drive an old stick shift up the edge of the country when a Prius can get you to the moon on one tank of gas.


My entire life everyone around me has always wanted to be a right-brain. I mean… I get it, ok? “I’m a Type B! I’m just so easy going.” She sounds great, truly. I want to bring her to a bonfire on the beach and eat her homemade granola. She is so universally loved that I spent twenty-one and half years trying to convince myself I was this “chill girl” with the ability to go with the flow and take life as it comes. I even went vegan eight years ago to really add that final touch.

Then came the absolute blur that was the Fall of 2019. School was wrapping up for the holiday break and time was moving slowly and all at once. There is always that sweetness in the air during the end of Winter semester. It feels like cinnamon and the color orange and the warmth of your mom making pumpkin bread and looking at Christmas lights without your glasses on. Blurry and out of focus and far more magical. Slow motion almost. I was sitting in the common room of my dorm room. String lights gaffed to the wall (film school amirite), a small TV playing something all of us agreed on but nobody was really watching. The lights of the offices next door are still on. Perfect for spying on the tenants. Little trademarks for each of us strewn around the room. Bird’s pink backpack, Raegan’s art supplies, Patrick’s Keith Haring blanket he leaves at our home, making him an honorary guest, my pile of jackets on the stool where I leave it after coming home from work. I’m always the last one home. A trait I used to dread: what are they talking about without me? Are they talking about me? What have I missed? Am I missed? Coming home last slowly became my favorite part of the day. “Kali’s home!” My beautiful friends yell every night when I unlock the door. It’s cozy and warm and makes my knees weak out of gratitude to have such a place to end my nights in.


My brain is a constant stream of thought. Like right now I’m wondering if I put the word thought down because I liked it better or because I was a little bit worried I was going to spell consciousness wrong (I did). My ex-boyfriend once told me I start many sentences and finish them all but not at the time when you think I’m going to. He’s absolutely right.


photo by me

Back to the lull of winter break. Bird is making a gingerbread house. I started to help but she is a perfectionist when it comes to little things visible to the rest of us. I am the complete opposite. I am the person who says “it’s fine!” and leaves the clothes unfolded, the picture halfway colored in, the bed unmade. I still have to decide if this is quick to quit or picking my battles. For the sake of my self-esteem, it’s picking my battles like a seasoned warrior. Raegan is slumped halfway in her seat across the room. She’s on her phone but isn’t ignoring us. She has a way of being able to do that. Hears everything but doesn’t even have to be paying attention. Patrick sits on the floor pillow against the big floor to ceiling window. We call it the Cat Corner because it gets perfect sunshine on the rare moments Boston has yellow daylight. It’s mostly grey or white. Sometimes almost black, but maybe that’s through the filtration of my mind those days. Patrick is the smartest person I know. He inspires me, teaches me, challenges me, and calls me out when I say things I know I shouldn’t. He loves to watch Smash and Glee with me and talk about boys so big and mighty we could crawl inside them. For him, this is for attraction. I haven’t decided if I agree or I want a place so safe, so warm, so sturdy and consistent. But I don’t think you can find that in a person, and shouldn’t. I don’t think it’s a good idea to count on others to be your sturdy post in the blur of the world. Not because they will let you down, but because people are people and people fall over and they are allowed to just as I am. This room is always warm and always laughing and smells like roasted potatoes, and pasta, and peppermint tea with honey. It sounds like wine being poured and take out boxes being opened. It sounds like “Happy Birthday!” and “Wanna go to the Max?” and “You’re gonna kill it.” This room has seen tears of all kinds, screams, pep talks, long shifts, and late night stumbles after kissing a boy too late into the night - always home to a light on. A voice that says “tell me everything.” A voice I trust and want to fall into, weightless and raw and open. And so I do.

My mom is in Boston this Winter. It’s cold, but not as cold as it could be and has been. No snow. Only heavy grey skies that taunt. I begged her to come. I wanted to show her where I spend most of my time. All the time that sticks with me, all the people who make me. So she did, for the first time in three years. She met my people, saw my sidewalks and band buildings and landmarks and horizons. She even saw a project I worked on where I met even more people that feel like solidified magic. But, it was different. Last time, she left me at the top of the Bolyston Place alley with a hug and a goodbye. I was 19 but really I was 12, or maybe even 11. Lost and scared and very, very confused and not at all sturdy. My head and everything that makes up me felt like it floated along with her, all the way back across the country to Los Angeles while my shell went upstairs to Room 703 with girls I didn’t know and a bed that didn’t feel like mine. My head felt lost and without my body up until this visit and I didn’t even realize it. This time, nothing had to come with my mom to complete me because I was standing sturdy all on my own and it felt right. For the first time ever. This visit I guided her through my T stops, my skinny roads, big buildings, warm cups of coffee in the Atlantic air.


In the warm room of 1110, everything feels as it should. Everyone in one place, the gratitude every present but the desire to be home with our families acknowledged and understood. The work I had done all semester flooded back as we each stumbled over each other with our stories. Every long day that blurred into the night without notice, every aching joint, sore muscles, exhausted brain capacity and feeling so big and alive on set and so small and depleted each night in my bed, taken down in the best way by the strength of a schedule well followed, a day without fault, a job well done and completed. This is when I figured out that I was Type B (sentence finished way, way after I should have). In this dorm room that I routinely come home to. To the same message, after a lot of the same days that I wouldn’t have any other way. We talk of work scheduled by the hour, set days scheduled by the minute, and life planned by the month. It fuels me, calms me, and makes me. I don’t want to eat the granola by the fire because I thought it would make sharing the space with me more tolerable. Sitting on my couch that so many others have sat on with my day, my week, my semester lived entirely by me for me was enough to put all of my parts back together again.



film by Savannah Berkeland


And that’s that on being a left brained bitch in a creative field!




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