Sometimes, a blog post takes a long time to write. Most of the writing for this post, for instance, has been in my head for several months although only a few phrases had made their way into my “Reporter’s Notebook.” It was a writer’s block which did not respond to pulling weeds at the Hampton Victory Garden late Sunday afternoon. Digging up a few potatoes didn’t inspire me, either.
I tried a few other techniques to get the writing process moving; I called Aunt Rita to find out if she was coming to the Moxie Festival and jotted down a few notes from our conversation. That might be a future blog post. Then I balanced my checkbook, did some dishes, and tuned in the Red Sox game. Finally, I powered up my netbook. I started writing but then decided I should look through some old photographs. 45 more minutes of procrastination passed and I still hadn’t started writing.
Writing unhappy stories is difficult even when they have a happy ending. Who wants to relive mistakes and have regrets? Life isn’t always perfect, though. Sometimes I’m going to have to tell an unhappy tale; here goes.
I only have one sibling, my brother Jim. He is two years older than me and is therefore my “big brother.” When we were growing up, we had a typical sibling relationship.
There were lots of boys in our neighborhood so my brother had lots of friends. They would ride bicycles, play baseball, and build forts in the woods behind our house. Without me. I sometimes felt left out but books became my friends and I spent my free time at the library. Jim and I may have had a fight once in a while, but it would quickly dissipate when our mother would say “wait until your father gets home.” One time, I punched my brother in the stomach when he was on crutches with a broken leg.
That wasn’t very nice.
We grew up and went our ways. My brother got married and had a son of his own; I got married and divorced and invested large amounts of time in jobs and volunteer work. I moved to New Hampshire. Sometimes my brother and I would spend time together and sometimes we would have disagreements. We didn’t have good tools for resolving conflict; it was easier for me to avoid talking to my brother for months over a seemingly critical thought or idea. In retrospect, it was my hurt ego or my stubborn pride. We’d make half-hearted attempts at resolution and they would be effective for a time. Then something would cause a breach again. The periods of silence grew longer and the good times were fewer.
Ten years ago, my brother started blogging and writing. In 2005 he wrote and published his first book, “When Towns Had Teams.”
I was jealous.
I guess I hadn’t learned much in Mr. Treworgy’s World Literature class when we studied Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Even though I memorized Iago’s classic line “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feed on” and I can repeat it from memory to this day, I conveniently forgot it in regards to my brother.
Our last disagreement was at the 2010 Moxie Festival. I won’t bore you with the details, but we had a public disagreement during the parade. Ad hominem attacks were made. A police officer on bicycle patrol stopped while we threw barbs at each other on a side street. When we told him we were brother and sister, he said “shouldn’t you be over this kind of stuff by now?”
No, I’m not making this up.
I don’t know exactly what it was that “fixed” things. Maybe it was my nephew Mark encouraging me to write my own blog, maybe it was a shared affection for the old school fierce qualities of the Boston Celtics and KG; maybe it was the realization that life is short and sibling rivalry sucks the joy right out of life.
I missed my brother for a long time.
Conflict is unpleasant and I don’t like it, but I can’t run away from it either. As I often say on this blog, I’m not really sure what I’m doing, but my approach to conflict these days is one part “Always resolve everything now” and ten parts “It’s not all about me.”
If you’re planning a family feud in Lisbon Falls during the Moxie Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012, make sure to stop by Jim Baumer’s booth in front of the Moxie Store on Main Street first. Not only will he be signing copies of his latest book “Moxie: Maine in a Bottle” from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but I’ll be hanging around too. We can talk it out before you punch your brother in the stomach.
You don’t want a cop on a bicycle scolding you, do you?