On Living in a Small Apartment with my Brother

When you’re a single woman at twenty-eight years old, the fact that you live in a small apartment with your younger brother adds to the general imposing curiosity of those around you. “Oh, I thought you were going to tell me you had a boyfriend,” one of my closest friends tells me after I expressed to her that I had a life update, which happened to be a raise and promotion. “How’s your love life?” even my boss at work questions me every now and again, craving for me to indulge her so she wouldn’t have to feel sorry for me, as if being single at this age were an unfortunate crisis, something she would try to help me “fix” by giving me relationship advice.

I’ve already strayed off topic, though. Late at night I lie in my bed, awakened by the sound of a high-pitched voice coming from the living room, which happened to be one door and a hallway away from my bedroom. The soothing rain sounds have turned themselves off by now on the Amazon Echo which is set to play for exactly one hour while I doze to sleep. I reach to my bedside table, hand grasping for a phone in the darkness. I pick it up, the back light illuminating the space around me, screaming into my brain that it is 1:12am and I have been woken by my brother’s girlfriend’s obnoxious voice. I listened closer, realizing they were playing some sort of video game, and she was just having a blast. The more her entertainment and joy rose, the more my bitterness and frustration leaped, a space shuttle erupting in flames and smoke as it ascended higher into the sky. How dare she wake me in the middle of the night from my precious rest.

One more screechy laugh set me off. I was being personally, deeply, directly disrespected, and I had to do something about it. I flopped out of my bed, still interwoven between the intricacies of my sheets. I stumbled to my door without the wonderful idea of turning on a light, feet crashing into various articles of furniture and shoes left on the floor. I was drunk with anger and disoriented with sleep.

 

I left my brother, Ryan, at home with my parents when I moved off to college after I graduated high school. He was fifteen. I didn’t realize at the time that maintaining closeness in relationships requires work and effort. I was used to the naturalness of being around Ryan every day, and our friendship was something glorious we shared but hadn’t really acknowledged because it was just there. I didn’t realize what it was until I didn’t have it anymore. And I was supposed to be the mature one, the leading example.

Ryan is what Inner Child therapists would label the “Lost Child” dynamic of the family system. His head was filled with Marvel superheroes, Star Wars quotes, and videogame characters. He was downstairs, lost in his own world, while the rest of us were upstairs, me usually attempting to solve the petty arguments my parents were getting in. I was the “Family Hero”- the one who got good grades at school, planning my future collegiate aspirations, making the family look good to outsiders. I couldn’t tell you when or how our roles switched temporarily, or how they switched back, but here I was, ten years later, fumbling for my doorknob, seeking vengeance for an interrupted sleep cycle.

I stormed across the ten-foot hallway, prepared for retribution and sturdy boundary-setting. “Would you please keep it down?” the bitter statement formed as a question burst out of my barely-awake lips. Two sets of eyes gazed back at me, one horrified and the other confused, a lost puppy stopped dead in the blinding headlights of a rampant vehicle. I was taken aback by the meek reaction and compliant nods of approval, but this didn’t stop me from dramatically stomping back to my dim bedroom for extra theatrics. I don’t know what I expected, but it was like I craved a rebuttal, an argument to allow me to release my critical anger, or at least to put me back in my place.

My heart raced into a puddle of tears as I lied back down, trying to cover myself up into a cocoon of blankets despite the heat beaming throughout my body, wanting to shed the parts of me that harbored the guilt of abandoning my brother during his most malleable years, and the parts of me that blamed him for not trying to stay connected with me either. But here we were, living together, trying together, learning together. Outsiders may not understand the intrinsic rationalities of why some people do the things they do, just like I didn’t realize my own purpose of living with my brother until I wrote this essay.

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Sleep with the Angels

I slumber at the wakening,

tasting the luscious licks of the unwrapped

lollipops, sparks of sun settle

through frost-wintered windows,

white toes chilled against red circulation.

Morning cat meows plead of attention,

circling the unchanged litterbox- recognizing

her own beloved stench. Upstairs

the flowers sing like honeydew- “Me

and Bobby McGee” as we drove

to the scorched heat of Pheonix.

Sitting under moonlit tents, sanctuaries

of bodies held together by blazing fires,

conversation blends as easily as baryonic

matter in the cosmos, sparking brilliant neurons.

The night cold wore us like a blanket

of damped packed sand, the piercing

coals of envy and beauty embered

asymmetrically into the stars like soft

epiphanies. I swallowed the wood-burnt

smoke and ingested the amber flames.

Duerme con los angeles, mi amor,

feathered pillows spoke softly in accord

until the honeydew flowers chanted

the confined lullaby.

 

j.f.

When I am Weary

I heard imaginary ailments-
whirling dervishes dancing
with one hand pointed at the sky
and the other at the ground.
Such dismal feelings however
do not often persist in the clear
light of morning, when
you are young.
Many are the thoughts that come
in lonely musing;
leaving no trace of existence.
I walk home to tranquility-
the trees are still bare, the buds
still hard, cocooned.
Appear- an impressionist scene
of a rainy night.
It accretes in layers under
my skin and knits my pores tight.
A hideous sense of pursuit
sometimes comes chillingly
when I am weary.

Carving Stories from Trees- Our Home

The Highline Canal is a long trail sided next to a creek throughout Denver’s southside suburbs, 71 miles to be exact. It connects different cities together through the paved and unpaved walking trail, lining itself with cottonwood trees and bushes as tall as we were. Although the purpose of the highline canal was to provide irrigation through the man-made waterway, it was dry most of the time. For us, it didn’t provide irrigation; it provided recreation.

My brother and I walked through the winding roads of our quaint neighborhood, a brand-new development built on the borders of the sacred greenery of the Highline Canal. Scratch that- the yellowry of the Highline Canal. We walked up the dirt hill to reach the yellow sticks and the leafless trees that grew along the trail until we found a denseness that suited us.

Rewind one year. Mom and dad would drive my brother and I to the spot where our new house was being built. We got out of the car, onto the future street on which we would live, and looked at the giant, square hole in the ground. Dirt. Everywhere.

They told us, “This is where our house will be. It will be painted blue, and have a red door.” I tried to imagine what my new house would look like. I thought it was strange that our house would have a red door, this color yelled anger at me, which is how I felt about moving from the home I’d known my whole short life. My life, as I knew it, was being displaced. Into a neighborhood I didn’t know. Into a school I didn’t know. With the people that were forcing my displacement.

Fast forward. To the denseness. To the foliage. To the nature, which belonged to my brother and I, alone. Once we found the perfect spot, a little opening within the branches, within the sticks and the grass, we built our home. Our home was here, not in the blue house with the red door. Here, we could imagine our own spaces and create our own niches. Here, we made the rules and decided who we wanted to be. It might have been different day to day. I was usually a mother, cooking dinner for the family in the patch of small twigs near the center of our home. I had on my pretend oven and pretend oven mitts. Other days I was a teacher, ordering my brother to sit at his desk, a little spot in the corner amongst the grass. I put on my pretend glasses and taught out of my little blue notebook, telling my brother to take notes.

When we got bored of our home, we would go on an exploration journey on the trail to find another one. Sometimes we’d get distracted by the creatures we’d see. Once we came upon a turtle, which my brother named Speedy. He was our comrade for a day or two, until we lost him and found a new comrade to replace him, like our pretend pet that would follow us around. We found walking sticks one day and became original Settlers of the land. The Highline Canal was ours, and ours alone. Anyone we saw walking or running on the trail simply didn’t exist to us, for it was our world, and we made it fit what we needed it to be. Our home.

My Reading List So Far This Year (2017)

Reading is, by far, one of my favorite things to do. That feeling you get when you finish a book is like no other. I love it when I pick up on allusions in books, or references to other books or writers that I’ve read. I definitely haven’t read as many books as I was hoping this year, but since I got a new library card for the library by my work, it has helped a lot. When I check out a book, it’s more of a requirement to finish it 🙂 Here are the books (that I can remember) and a little synopsis that I’ve read this year.

  1. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwoodall the ugly
    I ordered this book through Book of the Month Club because it was rated Book of the Year in their system, and I can see why. I’d definitely call this one of my all time favorite books. It moved me emotionally throughout the whole book, and showed me a different perspective on tough matters such as appropriate age differences of dating. Wavy is the daughter of a meth dealer and an addict, and this book portrays her life growing up from a young child to an adult. It becomes a powerful love story that will definitely stick in your mind weeks after finishing it.
  2. Your Voice in my Head by Emma Forrest-
    your voiceThis memoir was very captivating for me as I could relate to many of the behavioral and addiction/men issues Emma wrote about. Emma writes about being an English journalist living in America, her experiences through mania and depression, and her experiences through different relationships in her life. Beautifully written with a witty voice, I would definitely recommend this memoir to all of my girlfriends.
  3. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins-
    I was SO excited to read this book because I absolutely LOVED The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I could barely wait for this book to come out and almost pre into the waterordered it. I ended up forgetting about it and checking it out at the library when I randomly went in there one day during my lunch break. And let me tell you now, this book definitely wasn’t as good as TGOTT. I feel like Hawkins was so excited about how well her first novel did, so she rushed to get another one out. I could be wrong, though. It just seemed all over the place- the characters weren’t developed well, there was less of a mystery, and seemed pretty unoriginal. Oh well, it was still a fast read.
  4. Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan-
    I was introduced to Graphic Novels in my Young Adult Literature course at CSU and snow whitehave been obsessed ever since. There are many retellings of classic stories through graphic novels (sort of like comic books) which become compelling, short, and visually stimulating reads to potentially help kids enjoy reading. I read the Farenheit 451 retelling, which was quite awesome. This Snow White retelling was pretty good, but I guess I expected more dialogue. The drawings are very beautiful! And it literally took me 5 minutes to get through.
  5. All our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai-
    all or wrong todaysThis is a crazy, fast paced, compelling book about time travel, futuristic societies, love, and relationships. I liked that the chapters were only about 2 pages long, so it felt like a fast-paced roller coaster. The narrator is hilarious and the writer is beautifully descriptive- here’s an awesome quote I took away: “Maturity colonizes your adolescent mind, like an ultraviolet photograph of a vast cosmic nebula that turns out, on closer examination, to be a pointillist self portrait.”

There were also a few other books that I started to read, and didn’t quite finish- Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene, and Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. I probably won’t go back and read the Ann Patchett, but I will probably go back to the others when I find time. The Art of Seduction is extremely lengthy and can be quite repetitive, but it is very interesting. And Behind Her Eyes is a thriller, and I just didn’t finish it because of the many different things that started at my life during that time.

I’m excited to get more books and keep on reading! Please let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these, what your thoughts are, or if you have any book recommendations! Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Blogging

This, my “blog”, has become a little bit of a burden. I feel like there might be a better word to explain it, but “burden” fits it for now. I’ve had it since 2013, and have used it for many different purposes. But now I feel like it’s just sitting here, wasting away, because I don’t know how to use it, what to write about, who my audience is, and all of these questions keep burdening me to the point where I just don’t write for it anymore.

I have a private blog that I write in almost every day- just super random thoughts, notes, reminders, etc. I also journal still. But writing for a public-ish audience still frightens me.

I definitely miss the days of writing papers for school. Researching topics, Writing about the potential meanings of books… Learning about the world and exploring it deeper by expressing myself on paper.

Now that I’m not in school and I have a job and busy schedule, it’s hard to find the time to just sit down and write, let alone think of a compelling topic to write about. I think writing solely about myself must be a bore. But then again, the purpose is for me getting my voice out there, and finding my vibe along the way. I can’t give up. I can’t lose hope. I’m just going to keep writing.