My brother asked me once
why I talked so much
and had so many
interests?

Why
not?

He told me that he thought I was talking so much because I was so unhappy with my life and I did so many things to distract myself from my unhappiness.

Now that is an interesting take on my life without really asking me and listening to the answers.

He PROJECTS!

Without asking my brother of 45 years, I know some of his interests, his thoughts about many different subjects, his fun quotient and his need for absolute privacy. I never mention him here for the most part. I might give a part of him away and then it would be lost forever.

Why doesn’t he know the same kind of things about me? Am I really that inconsequential to him?

Things you don’t know about your sister:
Like my children, I am off the charts ADHD.
I suffer from a clinical major depression disorder
I have had a social anxiety disorder since I was really little.
That is why I talk like this.
Once I learned that I was not invisible, and I turned up the volume a little, people were able to hear what I had to say and hardly anyone runs away in terror.
I’m funny. I’m a good writer. I’m an odd poet just getting her feet wet. I’m up to my knees in word play.

I read voraciously.
I prefer dictionaries, though
vampires stories and anthologies are a close
second. I read books written by my friends. I don’t read science fiction or horror anymore.
I read everything in our house by the time I was about 8 or 9 years old. I can read anything, whether I enjoy it or not.
I have a “try it you may like it” philosophy, that includes
contracts. I loved writing contracts while I was in business. It was like translating day to day English into businessese. My business lawyer would laugh at my contracts and say they were still legal documents.

My divorce document reading, drove my lawyers nutty. I would argue the scemantics of a phrase and question it if I thought it was not impartial enough. Let me correct that, the magistrate, guardian ad litem and my ex’s second attorney hated me too. Woops! I wrote the children’s shared custody agreement based upon a boilerplate agreement I found somewhere. They couldn’t figure out who had drafted it. The guardian ad litem couldn’t bill for that so he had to draft another one.

I took French from 2nd grade through my senior year of college.
There’s a lot of french words, numbers and songs floating around my head. I loved finally being able to go to France in my senior year. They didn’t believe in homework.

I had three hour lunches so that I could absorb French culture and get to know the french speaking students from all over the world. I had friends from French colonies and a couple Japanese and Korean friends. We worked hard to communicate together. Our accents were very different. I developed a Moroccan accent. I DON’T KNOW WHY.

I was able to talk a taxi driver into driving me all over Paris until I found a place to stay. I was in the wrong arrondissement and I didn’t have the door code, which made for a complicated journey.

I did wind up staying with my date from his senior prom. His eyes fell out of his head when he saw me in his apartment. I hadn’t seen him in years. I was also wearing a towel, since I had just gotten out of the shower. He was a perfect gentleman.

He lived with a cluster of Europeans. His roommate was Irish and she took me in out of the cold and gave me the door code. I had stopped the cab to call the US to talk to my friend’s mom and she gave me his telephone number. Funny how memories crop up.

I’d rather read than talk.
I’d rather write than talk.
I learned that talking made people
treat me as less of a freak.

I was an AP student who burned out in
10th grade AP physics and AP Math.

Happily, I never found out about my IQ
until I had chosen to avoid going to college for
medicine, writing or history.

Art and music were my first choices.
I thought going to college was about being
happy while I learned. I had no idea artists
were considered to be less intelligent than other majors, except for the robotics and computer programmers I went to college with. I dated some of them and they were very unique in how they processed information.

(Stereotype alert!!! Warning, warning) Engineers were also interesting, but didn’t seem to have the social skills that I preferred to associate with. The science guys (biology and chemistry) were more friendly. The computer science guys were thinking, writing and living code, so they didn’t usually speak. They would grunt or stare at me like I was a girl in the male dominated computer science computer lab with abject terror in their eyes. Programmers never used printers so it was the perfect place to print out a big art project without upsetting anyone.

The music majors were too busy to date outside their majors. The drama/musical theater students were too hung up on their plays and studying people for parts, so you never really knew who you were hanging out with, a person or a character. Art majors were moody, freaks prone to brutal honesty about our work, so I fit in well there. We were the students who never slept, worked in studio, went to a party, then went back to work.

My brother never spoke to me while I was in college, he never knew what I had blossomed into and was too miserable to notice that I was no longer his little invisible sister. My assault in France was like it never happened and my divorce was somehow my fault, because my ex told him it was. Growing up without my closest sibling was hard, but he was having a hard time too.

He was also high IQ, but struggled with acknowledging his depression and anxieties while going to an impossibly difficult school for history, then english, then history. He could have gone to school for music, drama or anything he wanted to. He got a full scholarship for three years of college without the work study jobs that I had to have with my student loans and smaller scholarship.

This is the brother I never competed with. He was always smarter, got straight A’s and was athletic. He won awards for track, basketball and cross country. He was a national merit scholarship winner. He also went to a private school. He was the one of four non white students in a very elite school.

My mom asked me if I wanted to attend the female version of the school and I said something like, “Are you kidding, I like boys and want to go to school with them.” She wanted what was best for me, but public school in an expensive suburb was good enough for me. My classmates all went to every Ivy league school known to man when we graduated. I just wanted to get out of my home town and make art.

My brother told me once that men don’t talk about suicide if they get depressed. I replied that he must not have wanted to get better. I know, I’m a girl, I think, I feel, I say it aloud. Men think and feel as well and need to find the help they need rather than lashing out or sinking inside and denying a problem. I’m pretty simple that way. IF you need help go get it. No one will serve it to you on a platter. If you can’t get help, then search for it until you get what you need. Don’t give up, because life is not easy.

My brother has been in school since 1987 on and off. He has three degrees and is now working on his PHD. That’s a lot of time on a campus with student and faculty types. At what point does life become non-academic? He ran a small business up until a couple of weeks ago, he said he wanted to focus on his studies. Very strange. The business was the first time I saw him trying to let go of the academic apron strings.

He has multiple sclerosis and has changed a lot in the past five years. Perhaps he has had a relapse or he is just fine handling all that stress without talking about it. He was so angry with me for not wanting to be married. I am the youngest and the only one with a marriage under my belt and children. He has remained distant from my children, but must have been close with my ex. I’ll never know until he’s ready to talk. At some point, I will run out of things to say to him and I wonder, how do you get to know someone through osmosis?

Perhaps his thesis will shed some light on him, I just don’t know. This is not the average post. Just a little bit of the non tragic life.

When I’m not being cross examined by my brother, I enjoy the sounds of nature in my trees interrupted by the winds off the lake, which I suspect are going to be cold as hell this winter. I also love picking up fall leaves for my students to incorporate into art work. No, not the wax paper placemat of my art class nightmares and never the turkey hand crayon drawing, but collage.

My artwork with children is magical. They see things with such bright positive eyes and I go with their flow. I am just a guide in their journey on the way to new materials and the freedom to make mistakes without terror of being embarrassed because their project doesn’t look like the example. I hardly ever make examples for these kids. I give them materials and talk them through activities and help them as needed.

We made superheroes one year. Yes, we sewed dolls. They loved it. I admit it, I make craft projects with students, but I also do sophisticated things like 3d collage in a 2d format. Imagine a staircase curving up into a hallway that opens up to the violet sky with yellow clouds. Below a frozen lake with pine trees is in the foreground. Foreground, middle ground, background. I don’t always explain it, but I can show it in funny ways.

I ask the kids to stand up in three rows. Shorter kids in the front, middle height kids in the middle and tall kids in the back, then I take a photo, then show them the photo.

I make plaster casts with kids using twigs, flowers, sticks, rocks, fingers, toys, jewelry, toothpicks, string anything, porcelain doll heads. Then we water color them with washes of colors. Sand casting is amazing in hot weather. Drawing a melting snowman was the highlight of one class, solid, liquid, gas. Art is a science experiment and each day I never really know what direction we will go in.

I studied yoga teacher training for some years before I had to give it up to go through my divorce hell. I want to start again, not the training, just the practice, so I can heal my body and develop core strength perhaps even some muscle mass.

Yoga is not about being limber, it is about tone and strength for me. I’ve been such a string bean with rubber band muscles, so I loved being in control of my individual parts. I was never a dancer, always a model of some sort. My yoga is slow and deliberate, awareness is the key. I will again do yoga in my garden as I weed, when I get healthy, with Girlie.

She was born doing yoga. I would lift her and she would fly as little bodies with unbelievable strength can do while they are two feet long. She instinctively does downward facing dog and sleeps in child’s pose. She would excel in a martial art as well, but for now yoga and dancing are what she enjoys.

I love music. We all used to sing, but I was always in a singing group or a choir. I sing to my Girlie and she stops and stares open mouthed, then she tries to mimic me. In the mornings I hear her hum singsonging in bed before she calls me to get her out of her crib. I played Hank Williams for her. Next week I’m going to look for my Johnny Cash cd’s. Then I will dip her into the classical world of Grieg, Mozart, Shostakovich and Beethoven. I suppose Bach. Then heavy metal, rock, 80’s music, then musicals starting from the 1940’s, then SchoolHouseRock…

I have such plans for her, but we will go with her flow.

Image: from kids art class, stained glass windows made with construction paper and tissue paper.

7 thoughts on “A relative question turned into a long essay

  1. Well I feel I know you a little BETTER now! What a life. Burnout in high school from AP classes… Seen that in Bran. He did the same thing. The other fascinating thing I picked up on was you like country music! TOTALLY AWESOME, DUDETTE! That was a really great post, friend. Though I’m sorry to hear about the disconnect between you and your brother. I have one just like that. He lives out your way in the Dayton area…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post! You sound like the best art teacher ever! I wish I could be a kid again just to take art from you! Girlie is so fortunate to have you as a mom. A parent that can go with the flow and be with what ever is, well…that is a good parent. Your stories about her show your delight in her. She is blessed to have a mom that delights in her. Sorry about your brother. Hopefully he will come around and see you for the amazing person you are. I am happy to have read this post and know you a little better. Thank you for sharing you.
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for ready that diatribe. I should really just start a blog for random art projects. I wanted to be a traveling art teacher for homeschool families, but I’m so tired this year. I love teaching, but online schooling and Girlie make for a tired mom. I wish I had been able to complete my time with the boys before their world imploded, but all I can do now is be with them when I see them. Girlie is a joy, funny wicked humor and all around happy kid.
      Thank you for calling me a good parent. I’ve been called so many things recently and good parent wasn’t one of them 🙂
      My brother will come out of his edu-bubble one day and realize he has missed out on actual life, especially, his nephews’. I never get to see him unless, he chooses to come and visit, but only on his terms. Kinda like having a teacher/lawyer coming to visit who is judging you while saying they are there to help you. This I am accustomed to. It has been this way for at least 20 years now. Sad.

      Every now and then a real post is better than my ramble babble poems.
      Thanks again for reading this Mary!

      Like

Any thoughts on the above post are appreciated! Otherwise, I think I must be living under a rock.

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