Window Corner, Window Seat

Window seats have always charmed me.  Perhaps I’m a bit of a romantic, but I’ve always thought a window seat would be the perfect place to read.  Not possessing one of my own, many years ago I invented a solution:  I began sitting on the floor beside my bedroom window.

With my back resting against an iron bed frame, my left shoulder shoved against a bit of wall where the bed and wall form a corner, and my left elbow on the windowsill, my “window seat” is not the most comfortable place to sit.  As I read, I shift into three or four different positions as various parts of me begin to ache or fall asleep.  Occasionally, I soften my seat with pillows or set my desk chair in the window corner, but I usually prefer the bare floor.

Butterfly on zinnia
Photograph by Arrietty

In spite of all the uncomfortableness, the spot is worth sitting in.  The window faces the east, and my spot is flooded with light throughout the day, making it one of the best-lit areas in my house.  I also enjoy the view.  When I glance out the window, I see flowers, grass, the vegetable garden, and trees.  The spot is peaceful and removed from household bustle, and I often sit with the bedroom light off, enjoying the copious sunlight.  Most often, I plop down by the window to read, but sometimes I bring a notebook and pencil instead, ready to record my observations of the world outside. Hummingbirds sip from flowers and then zip by in a blur of green iridescent feathers, squirrels play in the grass, and lizards hunt on the outside windowsill.  I have written several poems about the garden, animals, and rain outside while curled up in the window corner.

Admittedly, the view out the window can distract me from my reading, but that’s not always bad, and I tend to be easily distracted wherever I am.  Once when I gazed out the window, neglected book in hand, I spotted a snake gliding nonchalantly through the flower bed a few feet away.  I had seen this view so many times before that the blue racer looked alien in the familiar scene, and yet it seemed naïvely unaware of how it didn’t belong.

On another occasion, I was looking out at the flower garden and penning a poem about it when I saw a turtle trundling in the grass nearby.  I decided to include the turtle in my poem; it reminded me of how often the world contains surprises which I only catch when my head is up.

Carolina wrens
Top: Carolina wren photo from Wikipedia; Bottom: My sketch of a wren, based on a watercolor illustration in “Bird Songs” by Les Beletsky

Just this past Sunday afternoon, a flutter at the window caught my eye.  Looking up from my book, I saw a little Carolina wren had alighted on the outside brick windowsill, inches from my face.  It hopped back and forth across the sill, chirping cheerily.  I stayed very still and followed its little brown figure with my eyes, trying to note every detail before it flew away.  Then the wren hopped onto the window screen.  Its little claws clinging to the screen, it began progressing vertically up my window.  Finally, with a quick flutter of wings, it flew off to the vegetable garden and was gone.

Often when we set out to do something, we don’t delve into the “why’s” of what we do.  I doubt that when I designated my window corner as a new reading spot I was thinking about logical reasons why I was making my decision.  I made no pro and con chart.  Probably my brief explanation would have been “because it’s well-lit, and it’s kind of like a window seat.”  Only after years of enjoying the spot have I come to realize the many reasons why I like and continue to use the window corner.  My “window seat” is a special place where I can read books, write poems, or sit and observe the beauty of God’s creation that blooms, slithers, trundles, hops, and flutters in the world just outside my window.

It’s the Gauls!!

Time seems to be a great sieve, separating the valuable from the trash. This is often true whether one is thinking of music, literature, art, oratory, or architecture: that which lasts the test of time seems to be the great and the magnificent. While certainly not always true, this rule can help with music (think of the greats: Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky) and you will rarely be disappointed. In the realm of art, look for Hokusai, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and others, and likewise we are rarely left with anything but admiration. I have also found this to be true in the realm of comics (albeit the medium is much younger than the aforementioned). Following this train of thought, I recently began rereading the series “Asterix and Obelix” first published in 1959. Featuring a fearless duo of Gauls who resist Caesar and his Roman army, Volume 1 opens with the friendship of Asterix and his friend Obelix being established, the introduction of the village druid Getafix, the village bard Cacofonix, and many other characters (including Roman legionaries Crismus Bonus and Ginantonicus). Below is a brief introduction to the series I wrote a few years back. Enjoy!

The following is from our sister site: Flint and Bone’s Comic Reviews.

Asterix and Obelix

In the vein of older European comics, which was introduced with Tintin, I now present AsterixAsterix is an entertaining comic series written by R. Goscinny and A. Uderzo. Both men were born in France and published the Asterix stories in French publications. The comics follow (big surprise!) Asterix and his friend Obelix, two Gauls who live in a small village surrounded by Roman legions. They spend their days eating boar, hurling menhirs, smashing Romans, and having many adventures.

Even though the stories were originally published in French, the dialogue is still very clear and witty in translation. The stories make plentiful use of wordplays in the dialogue, and all the names carry some humorous reference to the character of their owners.  Asterix is largely character driven, and the interplay of personalities in the different situations is always humorous to read. The stories provide a good mix of wit, both historical and mythological settings, and an ancient Roman cast of characters to continually keep the adventures  interesting.

Not only are the dialogue and stories well done, but the comics are also splendidly made from a visual standpoint.  The panels are laid out in a grid pattern and are easy to follow. The artwork is very clear and well rendered, and Uderzo does an excellent job of exaggeration in his art, adding a humor outside of the dialogue.  These factors make the comic very easy to read.  Finally, regarding color, either the comics were originally printed at a very high quality, or the illustrations have been masterfully re-colored. Needless to say, these comic books do not look like they were printed nearly fifty years ago, but are sharp and vibrant.

If you want some humorous, light reading, give Asterix a look. With witty dialogue and stories –accompanied by a superb cartoon style –you can’t go wrong.

Happy Reading!

-flint-

Changing, Only

And so we got out of the car, my friend and I. We hugged, or embraced, whichever word you prefer. She said some stilted words of farewell, perhaps something about taking care of myself. I don’t really remember. Then I turned around and walked towards my apartment, she got in her car and drove away, and I made it to the sidewalk before I basically started bawling. I’m not one of those single teardrop, elven-esque criers, as I’ve had to resign myself to a long time ago.

This girl who just left, one of my best college friends, had said goodbye to me before, of course. But this time was different. This time, I didn’t know when we’d see each other again. Up till now, it’d been “Goodbye, see you at the end of summer,” “Goodbye, see you after the break, have a great Christmas,” “Goodbye, see you at church,” “See you the week after next,” “This was fun, we should do it again next week,” “Wanna watch a movie next week?” “Wanna grab something to eat?” “See you tonight at choir practice,” or even just, “See you next week sometime.” Until finally, here and now, there are no next weeks and tomorrow night I’ll be in a strange apartment, in a strange city that feels a thousand miles away.

It is a breaking, not of our friendship, but of the outward ties that bind us, of college and choir and even just close proximity—twelve minutes, in fact, if the red lights are favorable, and the one Old College always is. It seems so dramatic to say I don’t know when I’ll see them again, my friends, because I know I will see them. A three hour motorized trek is far, far better than what we might have endured a hundred years ago. In fact, as I write this, these friends are making plans to visit. But then we’ll part again, and again with that unknowing. The same, empty unknowing that scooped me up the moment I turned my back in that parking lot, the one next to the apartment I used to live in.

It hurts, this parting, and though not unforeseen, it hurts more than I thought it would. I guess all those jokes about wiping the dust of that town off my feet and cutting off everyone who lived there didn’t really help, so I’m sorry about that. If it helps my apology, I want you to know that I cried all the way from my old home to my new life, stopping only a few times along the way, because I refused to be a sobbing wreck at a gas station and a Whataburger.

My brother’s words echo in my ear: “Shoulda taken five years in college; shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to get out.” But it’s not that; I was ready to get out and, much like Jo March crying over her shorn hair, I’d do it again tomorrow if I could. I was ready to get gone, I was ready to leave school. Just not my life. It’s pit, as Mom would snarl.

I wonder a bit why I feel like I’m more broken up about leaving college than I was about leaving home four years before that. I wonder if part of it is that I built this college life. It wasn’t the one I was born into; that one is always a part of me. This one, this one that I’m leaving, is a toddler thing, comparably. This often selfish, other times selfless, sometimes awful, but altogether wonderful existence that I’ve crafted for the last four years is gone, forever, and it is never coming back. The people will, some of them, but not quite the same way. And this grieves me, as well it might.

I don’t think it’s wrong that it should. But nor do I think it’s wrong that I should write these feelings and then think less of them, or that I should take a line from one of my favorite books and “put [my] strength now and hereafter toward staying and not fleeing.”1

Perhaps, some day soon, those lyrics from that song I like will cease being lines of sadness, and start being a sign of hope.

It’s only change

It’s only everything I know

It’s only change, and I’m only changing 2

I’m only changing.

 

1 McKinley, Robin. Deerskin. New York: Ace Books, 1993. Print.

2 Ben Folds. “Still.” Over the Hedge-Music from the Motion Picture. 2006.

 

Before Math Class

This is a story from freshman year of college, back when college life was more normal.

Have you tried adding a few more sixes?” said Josh, looking across to the bench where a girl with flaming red hair sat with her laptop perched on her legs.

Let’s see,” she said in a bright, chirpy voice, looking through her thick-framed glasses at the screen and tapping quickly, “point one-six-six-six-six.” She shook her head forcefully. “It still isn’t working. l can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong!”

Which problem is that?” I said. We were in the same math class together, and I thought I could at least try to help while we waited in the hall for our classroom to empty from the previous class.

Here,” she said. “I’ll show you. Come over here and sit down, young fella.” She gestured to the bench. I sat down while she pointed at the screen. “See, I’ve done this part and I got all of them right,” she said. “So now I’m supposed to guess what the limit is.”

I looked at the problem. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but then I had a thought. “Try adding a bunch more sixes to the answer.”

She laughed and said, “Ohhhhhh, like this?” She mashed the six key several dozen times and then hit “submit.” Green. Correct answer.

Oh, that’s funny,” she said.

Yeah, I think it’s like a fraction, like one ninth or something…or maybe one-sixth.”

Oh yeah, it’s one-sixth,” said she, having just pulled out her calculator. “By the way, what’s your name?”

I’m Jack,” I said. “What’s yours?”

She said Danielle, but I heard “Jenya” and said it out loud. She giggled and corrected me.

I’ve never heard that one before.”

I just hear things,” I said, grinning sheepishly. “It sure is cold today,” I said, changing the subject. I noticed her enormous fur boots that dwarfed her long, slender legs and made her look like a character out of How To Train Your Dragon. Her blue backpack, shaped like a turtle shell and covered in white spikes, added to the impression.

Yeah,” said Danielle in response to my observation. “I was in Walmart yesterday and I saw the cutest little onesie, but it didn’t have a butt flap!” she said, laughing. “How dumb is that? I mean, I don’t want to have to take the onesie off just to go to the bathroom.”

Just then Josh, sitting on the bench beside us, looked up from his cell phone. “Wait, what?” he said, with a mystified look. “Why would it need a flap?”

To go to the bathroom,” said Danielle as if it were perfectly obvious (which it was I thought).

Josh still looked confused, “But don’t they have…like…buttons on the front that you can undo?”

Danielle persevered in explaining, “Yeah, but I have to sit down to go to the bathroom.”

Seeing Josh still looked confused, Danielle continued, “Cuz I’m a girl and I don’t have…anything to direct stuff with.” She was stating the obvious now, but Josh still didn’t seem to get it.

Wait, okay…” he said, attempting to process the information.

If Danielle was getting impatient, she certainly wasn’t showing it, “I can draw you a picture if you want,” she said.

Having reached this critical juncture in the conversation, I rose to my feet with a nervous chuckle, “I think I’m going to leave before things get any weirder.”

The End.