Aside

Umph

There has to be a long scientifical name for it somewhere. But named or not, I most definitely have a phobia of waking people up. I avoid such instances at all costs, but when I haven’t a choice I usually end up rummaging around, dropping things, and coughing like a goat with pneumonia before I’ll outright try to wake anyone out of dreamy bliss.

There is but one welcome exception to this phobia: out of all the people I’ve ever had to try to wake up, by far my little grandmother is the most delightful. She’s always so completely awake and lively by the first that a second”Good morning Grandma!” is never necessary. No frightful groans, assassination attempts, or confused mumblings whatsoever. I can’t help but find this mildly ironic. We moved my lovely little Grandma in with us a year and a half ago because she could no longer live on her own due to a worsening case of Alzheimer’s disease. She never quite knows where she is or who the people around her are.  She speaks in generalities and lets her imagination run pretty wild, but for a woman who has lost so much of what you and I thrive on, she has a beautiful knack for living in the moment. From that first minute that she wakes up in the morning she’s usually ready to live life with all the “umph” she can muster.

One particular morning as I opened the blinds in my Grandma’s room to let the early light in, she had hardly opened her eyes before she announced decidedly, “I’m changing my point of view.” Now I don’t know about you, but for me to even have a point of view until about two hours after I’ve groggily rolled out of bed is a major accomplishment. Not only does Grandma start every morning with what she calls “umph,” she’s also got enough pizzaz to chuck a new point of view on top of it. What a gem.

 

 

I call him Jem and he calls me Hoss. Jem ‘n Hoss. Names reminiscent of the two ornery loafers* under the dollar store awning. Leaning and lazy in our straw hats without a care in the world.

We grew up together you see, Jem and I, and as a result our agile imaginations seem to jump to similar heights. Yes, we grew up being impassioned by the same ideas from the same books, and changing as a result of the same friends and escapades. We grew up together, scouring the wet floor of the Adriatic for Sea cucumbers so we could squirt them at each other, and searching for bullet shells among the bombed out buildings of little Sarajevo. Later we grew up chucking walnuts at each other from our fortresses in massive Valparaisian trees and more sophisticatedly, comprising the strings section of our attempt at a band in high school.

We dabbled together. I joined him and his manly friends in their pursuits of archery, fort building, filmmaking, the odd potato cannon, and of course a myriad of yo-yo tricks. In turn, it was not uncommon for him to be only fella attending when my friends and I went to the new restaraunt for dinner, watched a movie, or strolled through the park.

When we’re not loafing and borrowing the odd chaw off one another, we fancy ourselves to be Holmes and Watson. Jem is Holmes of course, what with being generally more brilliant and significantly taller. As Watson, I often find myself at his heels always ready to follow orders, take notes, and risk my neck. And what kind of Watson would I be if I didn’t write about him?  Because he’s just that swell of a fellow.

Ah but I’ve forgotten to mention, Jem is my older brother.

He’s a writer and a legend. He graduated last Spring with a degree in English and journalism and now he’s indoctrinating the minds of America’s youth as an english teacher at a private school. He writes for magazines as well, and someday he’ll publish an epic book and be too famous to bum the streets with the likes of me. Life changes: he’s ascertained a lovely wife and a dog and I tend to traipse off to college in the city for most of the year, nevertheless, I think we’ll continue to grow up together for a very long time: Jem ‘n Hoss… or was it Holmes and Watson?

You can get to know Jem a bit here if you please: http://themindthatknowsitself.wordpress.com/

*The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, p. 139


On occasion (especially those when gifts are appreciated) I bring out the dabbling sculptor and put her to work.

Welsh dragon for a Welshman

My boss’ favorite cat

Le Bouledog Francias

I have a little friend who loves pink pigs

story

As I reluctantly boarded the plane and looked for a safe spot in which to stow my precious fiddle, I realized how familiar the inside of these immense in-betweens had become to me. It makes sense I suppose, it was the seventh plane I’d been on since leaving from Chicago in January. I’ve changed in so many ways. Four months ago, airplanes seemed fairly new and mildly intimidating, but this semester they’ve become a welcome means, always leading either to places packed with potential, or back to the cosy little island that had quickly become home. As I found my seat and took a last look at the hills quilted with every shade of green, I had to fight down a growing aversion to this particular plane for insisting on taking me away from the four best months of my life thus far. Goodbyes are just one more thing to add to a rapidly lengthening list of New.

Somehow, in the three days that I’ve been home, I haven’t been able to file “Spring of ’12” into it’s place aside the other semesters of my four years in college. Ah, but that’s probably because it’s not a file but a chapter, and it can’t be filed away because of course, we have to keep reading. And as hard as it is to turn the page, I’ll do it. Because the story continues. Because the following pages can’t help but be changed by what happened in the previous chapter. Because you never know when formerly familiar characters, places, and ideas will unexpectedly reappear throughout an intricately twisted plot.