The Scamp in Macedonia

It is with a heavy heart that I write about the passing of my granddad Verle. He wasn’t really my granddad, but just the same, he is someone who deserves to be acknowledged.

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Verle was a spunky one. All of his WWII stories had a happy ending. He met a general….then slept with the general’s daughter. He was in Egypt meeting a prince….the princess slept with him. My mom always wanted him to come to her classroom to talk to her students, but knew she couldn’t because none of his stories were safe for work. He refused to go to the events at the senior centre because he said all the people there were too old. When my dad was having a hard time with the death of my step-brother, Verle told him to bring the ashes to his house so Eric would have a good view of the lake and could be at peace. He had a taste for Scottish vodka, and he was always humming and whistling. He was a great father, brother, granddad, and great granddad, veteran and friend. The world is going to be a little duller without him in it.

For the last five years or so, my dad has been the only person looking after him. My dad went to all the doc appointments, made sure that the cabin was always clean and in good working order, and all but killed himself as a caretaker. He was with my granddad when he died, and told him that it is was okay to go, and to stay out of trouble. I’m really sad that I was not there to see him one more time, but I am really hoping now that this means my dad can work on healing and taking care of himself for a bit.

It makes me wish I could go back to California.

It also makes me think about Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. Verle would have liked it there. It was one of the places we were shortchanged on seeing, but I have a feeling I will be going back there to try and get some writing done before I hand in my thesis.

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Macedonia is a beautiful place. I realized how dumb I was when the trip started and I thought Macedonia was a part of Greece. It is a city in Greece, but it there is also a country (and a very contentious legal battle for the use of the name). I could have stayed by the lake for a week. Unfortunately we got half an evening there.

We then went to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. This is one of the most unique places I have ever been. It’s like Disneyland for adults (or at least, that is what Busabout says). There are more statures in the city than people.  Every time you turn around you see another statue.

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I feel really bad, but to be honest, I cannot really say a whole lot about Macedonia because I do not think I really got to spend enough time there. I would like to go back and really spend some time there, and I would tell people to go there, but this one was a bit of a blur in the trip for me.

The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 43

Today is a good day to focus on gratitude. I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed the last week or so. I’m trying to balance work and school with a social life, trying not to miss my family, and trying to sort out my world view. While I have the world view just about sorted, the rest of it is still up in the air.

That is not the reason that I choose to focus on gratitude right now. Today there was a stabbing at UC Merced. I do not know much of what happened other than several students were attacked, and the campus police shot and killed the man responsible. I My heart hurts for the people there, and I am incredibly saddened that a place that I felt so safe at has been violated in such a way. I owe a lot to UCM. They offered me a killer financial aid package that allowed me to gradate just about debt free, and being at a new school afforded me opportunities that not many people get to enjoy. It was at UCM that I discovered my love for writing, and discussing literature. I went Australia and got my first real taste of wanderlust while I was there.

I fell in love the for the first time at UCM.

It just so happens that Week 43 is about a mentor or teacher that I am grateful for. That is an easy one. There are two people that I am grateful for, and both happen to come from UCM. The first one is a plucky writer and poet by the name of Jared Stanley. Besides being a really cool guy, he was also one of the people that really encouraged my creative writing. He got me to write ridiculous poems that were complete shit, gave me books to read, and led me to one of my favorite poets, Gertrude Stein.  That nonsensical poetry has gotten me through a lot of rough moments, and has led me to a lot of wonderful people.

The other person that I am grateful for is a literature professor by the name of Jan Goggans. Jan is by far one of the coolest people I have ever met. She specializes in American literature, and was taught the first literature class I ever took. She encouraged discussion, challenged me to think about what I was reading, and helped me become a much better reader and writer. The last time I saw her she told me that she loved every minute of watching me grow as an academic, a writer, and a lover of literature. She wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation for grad school, and encouraged me to pursue a PhD.

Now, I living in the only place I have ever felt at home, and am surrounded by good literature, amazing people, and the chance to see the world. I’m still two weeks behind on the gratitude challenge, but I am having a hard time focusing, so I will come back to my gratitude when I’ve had a proper night’s sleep, and a chance to recharge.