Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another find from freshman year, for Jamie

I’ve never committed suicide (attempted and committed are two totally different conversations). I’m not an eccentric brother like Faulkner’s Quentin from The Sound and the Fury. But I do take my responsibilities seriously. I mean, as an older brother, I’ve got to look after and set an example to my siblings. If my sister gets an A- average, I’d dang better pull A’s. If my brother joins Scouts, I should be an Eagle. That’s not always an easy task to take on. Especially with Jamie. She was the Homecoming Queen. Head Cheerleader. Lead part in the school musical. Madrigals Most Valuable Singer. Student Council member. Drama Troupe President. Little sister.

The little sister is a tag-along, a tattletale, a brat. It is a nagging four-ply piece of toilet paper stuck on a clean pair of Levi’s. It’s a mindless Tickle-Me-Elmo. Somehow, the cute little eyes and soft hair always seem to win everyone over. Jamie was a little sister like that. She had those cute little eyes and soft hair. She had spunk, dreams, and an iron fist. I’m a softy—a pushover. She could destroy me. Her fury knew no bounds, and occasionally, even singing “Say Say Oh Playmate” together could turn into Rocky II. I was the one who always came away with a bloody nose. Literally.

Going to school with Jamie always meant competition. Even from elementary school days. She jumped further than I did at the Acequia Elementary Field Day. She took more superiors than I did at the Rupert Music Festival. She placed higher in the Spelling Bee— a third grade third place prize compared to my pathetic fourth grade honorable mention. Growing up we moved around a lot, and she always made more friends than I did. As much as I resented my defeats, I tried to fulfill my duties of elder brother with the utmost care and compassion. I pushed elevator buttons for her and showed her how to order food at McDonalds. I watched over the little sister. I made sure she was following rules, doing her chores, and not getting more breaks than I was from my parents. I was Big Brother—born one year earlier than 1984.

An older brother’s busiest time has to be the teenage years. Middle School brings a new set of challenges to caring over a little sister. As the older and mature one, I would have to pave the way for Jamie. I was opening lockers and going to block schedules while she was still experiencing recess. Through my experience and wisdom, I could teach and direct her, control her development. All she had to do was follow my lead, obey my commands, and she would be fine. Or so I thought.
One day I came home from a gruesome three-hour school presentation. The middle school called it “Development Awareness;” we called it “Puberty Day.” Reeling from the experience, I resolved to buy some deodorant and do a little better job of keeping my clothes clean. I started a load of laundry and, of course, Jamie forgot to take her clothes out of the dryer. Grabbing her clothes, I started throwing them in a basket, when, to my breath-wrenching horror, I noticed something I’d never seen before. Maybe I’d seen it somewhere, but never fully recognized it. Until now. Strung shamefully along my arm was little sister’s bra. I shook it off like it was an Arizona scorpion, embarrassed as a pig during Passover. I quickly looked back up again, turned my eyes away from the peccant scene, gulped, and finished my laundry. I realized that maybe Jamie didn’t need my training and *ahem* support with physical maturity.

Middle school melted into high school like disintegrating shaving cream on a hot May parking lot. My role of older brother didn’t change much. I was a counselor, an exemplar. I told the little sister to not take Mr. Edwards for algebra (he should have never come out of retirement. Twice. ). I advised her about the pitfalls of absences and chastised Jamie on her tardiness. To add some humor in our relationship, I made fun of her friends and mocked her occasional poor grades. In the many battles over our shared Chevrolet Corsica, I taught her the value of financial management and respecting her elders. I’m not saying our relationship was perfect. Sometime little sister didn’t always agree on my rules or advice. Despite the bitter glances and the many “I HATE YOU!!”’s, I never lost my focus. I forgave the hours of being ignored and the piercing fingernails. I quickly forgot the many shoes hurled at me, and the little changes done to the Corsica “just for spite.” Surely, her ambition and constant competition with me was just a “stage.” She would grow out of it eventually. Once she reached my level of maturity. Although I generally was calm and forgiving, I was taken aback when her friends became my friends, and my friends became her friends. Couldn’t we have anything that we didn’t have to compete over? I thought it couldn’t get any worse until—well, until Marshall came around.
I guess Marshall was always around; he was one of my best friends. We had a television show together, Co-Starred, Co-Directed, Co-Produced. We were almost always together. And then, something happened. Marshall stopped coming over to my house to see me. He was coming over to my house to see her. And I don’t think they only saw each other. Little sister was dating my best friend. I was losing big time.

My senior year of high school ended, and I found myself working for a summer while preparing for a mission. I left in the fall, but not before I was dragged back to high school to watch the Homecoming Pageant. Jamie was in it. I didn’t think she had a chance of winning. The little sister?? Homecoming queen?? The combination seemed to be like peanut butter and tuna fish. On Rye.

Fifteen hours later (at least it seemed that long) I watched in disbelief as little sister was paraded around the auditorium, wearing a crown and smiling like a French ambassador. The crowd was applauding, my parents were applauding, yet, I was motionless.

For a split second, the green-eyed monster of jealousy attacked me. I looked around at all the fanfare— the roses, the silky dresses, the giggly girls attending to Her Majesty—and wondered how I could one-up that. Jamie was standing on the stage, all the lights were on her and…and then, suddenly, something happened. Nineteen years of arguments, name-calling, and pointless competition simply melted away. . Jamie and I were never in any competition! The center of attention, that pretty blonde girl wearing a long, pink dress, was connected to me in a magical yet very real way. I looked back up at Jamie and I slowly started clapping. She’s not just a little sister. She’s my little sister! And my little sister is Homecoming Queen! She’s beautiful! She’s amazing!! That’s my little sister!!!

It’s been a few years now, and I think I’m doing a better job now of fulfilling my duty as the oldest in the family. I do what any older brother should—take orders and stay out of the way. The little sister’s will take care of the rest.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cowboy Poetry

I wrote this poem freshman year; it's newly discovered as I am organizing an Honor's portfolio.

Blockhead Chet
Ol’ Chet and I raced on down the ravine
We needed to head back home and get clean
It was six oh four and I knew at a glance
We weren’t gonna make it in time for the dance

We jumped in the truck and we flushed up some dirt
Ol’ Blockhead Chet put his hands on my shirt
I scraped off the mud and said with a glare,
“What the foolhardy thing…you’dda better take care!”

The bunkhouse light was a shinin’ all gold
The chickens were skittish and the smell was of mold
I threw off my boots and I jumped in the shower
I said to Ol’ Chet, “We got half an hour”

He said, “I aint’ got time to git everythin’ done”
I said, “Well, then, Chet, You’dda better run!”
I finished my warshin and put on some cologne
A man’s gotta smell good when he’s with a lady alone.

Ol’ Chet grubbed up some dinner and put on a hat
Then took a few minutes to play with the cat
I said, “Come on Chet, we’sa gotta go”
“I ain’t got time to shower??” I said, “no!”

We picked up the girls at a quarter to seven
Kandi walked out and boy was she heaven!
We hopped in the truck and--- *sniff* I couldn’t be sure…
But Blockhead Chet smelled dang like manure!

I tried to open a window and let in some air
But Kandi protested—she had just done her hair.
I swear that the stench of disease so impure,
Couldn’t compare to Chet’s stink of manure

So now here I am with a girl like a rose,
Usin’ one hand to drive and one to plug up my nose.
Who’da thought that tonight I would have to endure
Ol’ Blockheade Chet and his smell of manure!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sand in the Hourglass

Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.

Hold fast the time! Guard it, watch over it, every hour, every minute! Unregarded it slips away, like a lizard, smooth, slippery, faithless, a pixy wife. Hold every moment sacred. Give each clarity and meaning, each the weight of thine awareness, each its true and due fulfillment.

-Thomas Mann

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Chevy of Cell Phones

I love my phone.

I originally bought a fancy flat phone with sophisticated music features and a glossy surfaced that practically screamed "glossy surface". I took it back after a few hours and traded it for my current model. I wanted this phone for one reason: it was cheap (free with a 2-year, don't-even-think-about-switching-carriers-because-now-we-have-you-more-committed-than-you'll-ever-be-in-a-relationship-with-a-girl-you-no-good-for-nothing-loser contract).

I've had it for almost a year and half now, and I have to say. I love it. I love the scrapes of sacrifice it proudly wears on its gunmetal-gray exterior. I love the background of my brother Jake wakeboarding that greets me every time I flip open its fast-acting cover. I love the way it feels in my pocket--not thin and tiny--I always know it's there, ready and waiting for a call, or (what usually happens), an alarm to go off to tell me "it's 7:00 AM and, once again, you've gone through a whole day without anybody calling you." I love the fact that the antenna lasted so long--about a year-- and now my phone is still struggling on without that semi-important appendage. I love how I miss calls at random, how I will have hours of failed calls or texts that won't send and messages that i never receive. "It's all in the network" Verizon says, but I think my network is a part-time technician working from Huckfin, Oklahoma. The problems keeps life interesting at least. And give me a good excuse for when I *ahem* screen calls. Not that I screen calls very often, but sometimes...y'know.

And so, I tip my hat off to you, LG VX8000. The Chevrolet of Cell Phones.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Gaff the Muscles

The summer signals the advent of beach season. Wakeboarding. California. Hiking. Sunburns. And white, freckled Dave.
What is the perfect body? Who has one? Ryan always wishes he was taller, I wish I was skinnier, Jake wishes...well, Jake's pretty set with his blonde hair, blue eyes, "the girls all love me" physique.

Genetics play a huge part in how we look, obviously--Sometimes you've just gotta play with the hand that you're dealt in life. But there's always room for improvement. Not that i want to be obsessed with looking like the gym rat, Arnold Schwarzie, "gonna go crazy til I get in my egg white shakes and 55 reps for today" tough guy. I don't need the perfect bod. Obsessing over that is often c'est la maladie du temps--the sickness of the times. I can improve, though.

Not for nothing--in other words, for something--do people call me Big D or the "large one" of our apartment. I need to expend more energy (and by energy, I mean time) on being healthier.

This is a question of priorities.

My problem is two fold (ok, it's probably six-fold, but let's not get in to every depressing detail). One, I enjoy eating good food (even though I do pretty good with self-control since the last few years--- I'm nowhere near Mom or Jamie). And by good food, I mean food that tastes good. Food that isn't bulgur, zucchini muffins, or soy milk shakes.

My second problem is personality. I love playing sports, going to the gym etc. I feel good when I do it. I enjoy it. I could do it all the time.
But, at the same time, I could spend the whole day reading books and learning, writing, and working on projects in the library. And, if I have deadlines, projects, or assignments due, my responsibility gene kicks in and forces me to stay until I'm done. Which means, I don't make time to go and do the other part of life--the basketball, working out, hiking, swimming--that I also enjoy. My life lacks balance in that regard. This is especially so since I started working on my thesis. And i don't think it will get any easier once I start work at E & Y. So. I need to SCHEDULE time for the physical activities, i need to make it a priority, and make it more of a daily necessity, like brushing my teeth and logging onto

And, so...I will.