Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just a simmer, so far, but I'm not there yet. (edited w/ photo)

As mentioned yesterday, I'm visiting "home" starting tomorrow.

I'm thrilled, really, to have a break: after a few insane months at work, after some too-chilly-for-me weather, after too much feeling like I've been running around, not as present as I aspire to be.

There are ways San Diego, and PB in particular, will always be home. There, at the foot of the rickety Diamond Street stairs, I learned to walk on that sand. There, below Chalcedony Street's curving concrete ramp, I learned to swim in that often-rough water. There, just south of where Reed meets the hostel, I learned not just algebra and Spanish and history, but who I am, fundamentally. And how many times, and with how many boys — and the occasional man, sigh — did I fall in love at the end of PB Drive?

More momentous family occasions than I'd care to remember took place in those couple of square miles: births, deaths, marriages, divorces, more than a few screaming matches, and even a psychotic break (luckily, not mine). Sometimes it seems as though those are what keep me away, now.

But no. New York has an amazing "pull" factor, sucking me in and engaging me in ways that I never thought I'd care about. I think I wrote last year about being surprised by whom I'm identifying with. I'm not a city girl, which is so bizarre to me. I'm not a country girl, either (I don't even know who/what that'd be). But during election cycles, I'm more concerned with "upstate issues," including farming, transportation and education, than I ever thought I'd be. I'm pretty much a bleeding heart liberal. Even in Utah — god, especially when I lived in Utah — that's when the ball got rolling...

Which is a problem when I visit San Diego. My little brother, who at 28 is only 15 months my junior, fancies himself quite the dapper, moneyed, young Alex P. Keaton, just with fewer reasoned positions. My brother, M, just wants to argue and spew invectives about how much he hates liberals, how they (we) destroy everything, and ohyeah, down with the gays and brown people, too. If you so much as attempt to step in with a slight question of his position, he goes off, spouting big words he learned in private university (that he didn't lift a finger to pay for) economics classes and may have read on a conservative's blog. He might even throw some Catholic catechism in there too, for good measure. I have yet to hear an original thought from this kid, seriously. No, seriously.

I'm a firm believer that the life I have lived has shaped my politics. I mean, that's just common sense, to me. There's an inevitable difference between what I have lived, and what he has lived — we're different people. But to me, what he has lived doesn't support what he endorses. Everything about him is aspirational, with no life experience (or wealth) to back it up. And he is so caught up in this current of hatred and superiority that he can't (or won't) see the value of breadth of experiences. This fundamental disconnect in values blows my mind, and I don't know how to deal with it.

When I walk in to my parents' house and see that M has taken over much of it with car paraphernalia and electronics and other accoutrements of a swanky lifestyle, my blood boils. When I learn that my dad has to postpone retirement longer than he'd planned, in order to pay off M's tuition bills, my blood boils. When I catch the occasional Facebook glimpse of an M status update, that reads, "fukkin bitches and thier issues ... oh well beautiful day to enjoy a [insert expensive brand name] cigar and bourbon," my blood boils. (He unfriended me. which had me laughing for days, but my BF is still "friends" with him and sometimes I can't resist checking in... )

(Obviously my parents have some culpability in this, but it's less than it'd seem and like anything family-related, it's complicated. Rawr.)

I went back for Thanksgiving last year and other than making inappropriate plate art at the adults-only-kids'-table with olives, pickles and mini-carrots time spent with family was a downright disaster. M is the power-starved tyrant king of this little world. People do what he wants because it's easier than saying, "No, you're a tool. Go make your own luck." It seems that only people outside the county lines (my sister and other brother and I) recognize this going on. So it is with some trepidation that I head back.

I'd stay at a friend's place, but I really want to spend time with my dad, and he'll be home grading papers. I *will* have a rental car...

Anyway. This post has absolutely nothing to do with yoga at all, but I needed to get my absolute fury with M out of my system (for now). Does anyone have any advice for dealing with the situation, demonstrating the ease and grace that shines in all of your writings? Please?

xoxo :)

Wisdom from Dorothy's comment, written out and Post-It-ed to my boarding pass:


  1. Oh, baby. I think I feel about my in-laws the way you feel about your brother. It sucks a super lot. My advice is this: don't engage. Your brother sounds like a powertool, but don't let him ruin your time with your dad. It's hard to ignore the childishness sometimes, but in the long run it seems to work the best. He likes pushing your buttons. The stuff you feel on your parents' behalf is harder. The only thing you can really do there is breathe and remind yourself that they are capable people who are handling the situation in the way they think is best.

  2. Wow. That last line, something I've never honestly considered, will be my mantra.


  3. Wow. Dorothy's comment rocked my world, too. I was going to respond with something like, "we're all bound by our conditioning and limited experiences" but I like that line instead.

    By the way, I too have a younger brother. Younger by exactly 15 months(Me, August. Him, October)! We'll have to talk...

  4. Oh, we're gonna talk. :) i can't wait! I keep meaning to reply to your email, but it's frustrating to try to type anything of length on my phone... so for short, everything you proposed sounds great. :D

  5. oh you had a taste of 'home' too? i just got back. we should've connected and shared laughable horror stories to get by!

    i too, don't uh, share the views of my hometown peeps, family included. though i obviously care for my parents and siblings, i've had to draw boundaries - something that was ingrained in me while studying to be a counsellor. boundaries as in i prefer not to know much about certain people. the less i know, the better, lol. my silence and disinterest pisses of people for whatever reason, so i revel in it.

    dunno if that helps, lol.