Posts Tagged ‘brother’

Scatter Brain

3 July 2009

Dear J-

There are couple of lists scattered around the house — one a shopping list, the other showing the free parking lots for the San Diego County Fair we attended last weekend — both carefully prepared, written, ready to go, and yet they’ve both gone unused, victim to my increasingly faulty short-term memory. Distractions abound as we get ready to head out of the house; between putting together a bag of milk and snacks, getting the dogs ready, and gearing up (I could use a purse, I suppose), I’m surprised we don’t leave more things at home in the rush out the door.

On more than one occasion, theVet has jokingly accused me of being dead inside; we were discussing what happens after death — as I’ve never given it much thought (or worry, for that matter) I couldn’t say that it’s caused me many sleepless nights. Part of it is that it’s not something you can get a whole lot of precise eyewitness reports back from; the other part is that I’ve got a bit of fatalism in me — I can’t control everything, and I suspect that it’s going to happen from something I’ve forgotten, at any rate. It’s not carte blanche to do whatever I want, mind you — the cosmic slate is not wiped clean by death, let alone having to live in the present.

My brother, having found a new job, is moving to Taiwan in a week. The economy keeps moving in mysterious ways; I, faced with the prospect of possibly not seeing him and his family (it feels remote — we just saw them two weeks ago, and therefore the recent past trumps the unreasonable future, right?) for longer than I can imagine, am now wondering how long a flight figgy can take, how light we can travel. The truth is that with an entire ocean between us, chances are that until we’re all able to live out of a suitcase or two, heading overseas is going to stay difficult — but I’ll find a way to make it work.

It’s not dead inside; inside is a roiling tumult of thought, after all. I may leave the mental lists — those external devices — without batting an eye on the outside, but these things sink down deep where it’s hard to ignore despite what my face says.



Double Flight

21 March 2009

Dear J-

When we were little my brother and I used to put together LEGO planes — pretty simple affairs, really, a 2×12 beam serving as the body, the one propeller we had to spare on the front of the lucky party’s plane, tail stabilizer consisting of a 2×4 plate on the back with a 2×2 plate jammed in sideways, and, depending on the historical re-enactment we were going for that day, anywhere from one to three wings (2×8 plates forming the left and right wings, 1×1 blocks as needed to support).  Our triplanes were especially fragile and, in the absence of glue and structural design calculations, ended up making some kind of spectacular mess underfoot (LEGO pieces are surprisingly sharp).


I always thought it remarkable (at the time, aggravating to no end) that he always had an answer for the things I thought were upgrades.  I’d pull out a 2×14 beam for the fuselage, but that made me a bigger target.  I’d strap on jet engines, but then my wings would burn off.  I’d add a fourth wing, but then I became top-heavy and unstable, crashing even faster.  Somewhere between first and fourth grade, I reasoned, they taught you all these aeronautical design criteria, and the wisdom to deploy it as needed.

I still have every confidence in him, my quick-witted brother.  It’s impossible for me to see him without some measure of awe, for all he’s done, for all he’ll do.  It’s not just understanding that low-level monks need a steady stream of giant ants to be open-hand slapped (he may have put me up to picking that character class, but he didn’t have to keep that monk alive), or standing up to university computer lab administrators (demonstrating the easy touch used to move the avatar in Ultima IV); it’s the synthesis of experience and knowledge that’ll keep him successful in all he puts his mind to.


Brothers FTW

3 January 2009

Dear J-

Down here in San Diego there’s a palpable electricity in the air as the Chargers host the Colts in the opening round of the NFL playoffs.  Sure, there’s a hint of opportunism, as after November most of us had pretty much left the team for dead, just as they’d deflated our hopes this season with one close loss after another.  Plus the conventional wisdom was that some team with a Manning at the helm would roll their way forward through the playoffs, but that’s the beauty of a playoff system — win or go home, no excuses, no second-guessing, just demonstrating which team is better on the field.


So it goes; the Chargers are well-regarded in this city — to the point where we’d regret seeing them go, but not, perhaps as much as Nick Canepa might suggest, to the point where all sense of civic identity would be lost, despair would reign, and everyone would commit ritual suicide if they left.  At this point they’re like the brother that always threatens to move out when they don’t get their way, and that no one takes seriously any more.

Tonight I’m thinking about family, as a result, watching the Bolts and Colts swapping the lead like a hot potato.  Whereas your fan can swap allegiances as needed, as my parents are fond of saying, I’ve only got one brother in the world, often after some petty squabble had divided us (window down or up, who gets the last whatever, or any of the innumerable opportunities for sharing that may go awry).  It’s one of those truths that make you groan at the time with the blatant obviousness of it, but as I get older, I appreciate it more.  We fumble through the world knowing little else but that we’ve always got a place to turn to in all cases, on all occasions.  Life is messy, but knowing you’ve got that support, no judgement, no reservations, no boundaries, no distance, no reasons — there’s nothing I’d trade for that.


P.S.  Chargers 23, Colts 17 (OT).

November Novel

2 November 2008

Dear J-

Well, that was pretty painless:  the secret to getting Plucker books onto the Palm is apparently not, as you might think, downloading and converting it yourself, but letting Project Gutenberg itself do it.  The die is cast; Junior and I will break from defectiveyeti’s denizens this year and attempt to read Bleak House.  Me, I approach it with a little trepidation, as I’ve only attempted to read one of Dickens’ novels before — A Tale of Two Cities — and I know how your heart melted over Sydney Carton, J-, I just don’t quite feel the same way.


To be truthful, I think that my brother’s experience didn’t help; of all the assigned reading in high school, that was the one novel he never really finished, and when it came my time to try it, three years later, I couldn’t outrun that spectre of intimidation — if he couldn’t finish it, what chance have I?  Reading about Mr. Dickens now — how he was considered a bit low and vulgar, almost the Stephen King of his time — massively popular yet somehow eluding critical (“serious”) literary acclaim.

Other distractions will be competing for attention too; the fifty-hour weeks at work, playing with new gadgets (ever so slowly, I’m beginning to be able to fill the frame with a wide view; also, assuming I have the technical wherewithal, I’d like to set up the thrift-store wireless router and DSL gateway I picked up a month ago), and, thanks again to my brother’s influence, that shiny little white Nintendo box that cries out for another game of tennis or bowling, despite our tiny, antiquated television set (though as a thrift-store connoisseur, I’ll tell you that they don’t make ’em like they did in 1988).


Time’s Mirror

10 July 2008

Dear J-

Today’s my brother’s birthday; we have a cousin precisely three days older who used to live in the exotic land of Saudi Arabia (his dad, our uncle, worked for ARAMCO, and to compensate for the hassles of living out there, was well-compensated with crazy benefits, such as paying for boarding school, etc.).  I used to think that there was some kind of weird coincidence to having birthdays so close together, but considering there’s six billion people and only three hundred and sixty-five days to divide them up into, there’s bound to be a little overlap there.

He’s always been one of my heroes, by the way.  There was one year that he went through a modern algebra course — a senior college-level course, mind you — while still in high school, and managed to not miss any points that year.  Perfect homework, perfect quizzes, perfect exams.  Plus his fast-twitch skills were well beyond mine; we would play cooperative multiplayer games (TMNT II on the NES!) and it turned out that he did much better solo than when I tagged along — there were times that I lost track of which turtle I was controlling and thought I was doing very well.

Now that we’ve both unleashed a new generation on the world, I think I begin to understand him better now; I can see where we used to both revel in the seemingly limitless freedom following moving away from Cheney, and I can see where we apply the lessons we learned there in our lives today.  Fifteen years ago is now just under half our lives; fifteen years ago our lives were different — not better, different — and fifteen years ago we were kids ourselves believing everything.

Time reveals everything; for us I believe that time’s given us the perspective and opportunity to try on different personalities to see what aspects fit, and which didn’t stick.  Time’s crucible refines us, but fails to define us.  Despite wearing glasses for twenty-five years the face in the mirror gets clearer every day.


Crushes (man, how unexciting am I)

5 November 2006

This is my favorite post in the series, and actually had names embedded in the HTML comments. J-, you’re on here too, and I don’t think you ever really left, to be honest.


I moved to a different elementary school fairly early on and achieved some of my most visible academic achievements there (“Student is a joy to have in class,” comment code #12, I think). I remember thinking that my second grade teacher was dazzlingly beautiful and pitied the kids in the other second grade for having such a drab teacher. A few years later I had a series of crushes, and I didn’t really know what was going on until about the third or fourth one — before, I just found that I couldn’t look that person in the face before having to turn away, dazzled by glory and beauty and wisdom and the great headiness of keeping an open secret. I decided that the world and I could get along, the way things were going. I wouldn’t feel that way again until my third year of college.