Growing up

It's almost 2014 here in British Columbia and I just noticed that I've only written four blogposts in all of 2013. It doesn't matter much to anyone but myself and the incredibly small handful of people that read brodinary but happiness starts with myself and I want to do things because I want to do them, not because I want others to see that I've done them.

This year was the year of motivation for me. Every year since I've been able to understand and comprehend things, there has been a plethora of nice and comfortable things that have been happening to me annually and without fail. Coming from a family with the emphasis on family, we did most events as a family and sharing it with another as a family. I've always had the big brother or kid idea stamped so deep into this picturesque scene that I was so comfortable and unaware that I was really only one thing. We would go out and celebrate Canada Day or Easter and for the first bit of my life I was a kid, enjoying the things and not really participating in the behind the scenes stuff like placing the eggs or planning the events of the day. Then I grew up and started filling the role of a big brother.

There I would become a big part of the preparation. Since this is my blog, I'm going to act superior to you. Being a big brother is a pretty big deal, I was responsible for three lives that would go out on their own eventually and lead their own beautiful and happy lives and I was responsible for mine. I gave up three years of my life because for some reason I wanted to see how they would grow in their most vulnerable and most impressionable state. Of course that's  not the only reason I basically disappeared for three years. Laziness was also a big factor, also self hatred and some depression blah blah blah. Amidst the three years of debauchery and self exploration, I took care of my three siblings and I don't think I'll ever consider those years being wasted.

Feel free to judge me all you want, call me a loser or call me a lazy bum. Just know that it was my choice to be these things. Fuck you because I had the ability to do this and you're just jealous that you can't be lazy for three years watching your siblings grow into amazing living breathing people with hobbies and interests and complicated conflicts.

So I became a big brother and I helped with these things and participated in them equally. That was my first taste of really growing up.

I was a big brother for 9 years, but I really started being one four years ago, when my responsibilities suddenly disappeared and I was faced with a blank canvas and the question, "What do I do now?"

Then four years came and gone and I learned a lot about everything. I had too much time to think and too much time to dwell. I had fights with depression, fights with friends, fights with family, and fights with myself.
But even through all that I still remembered to be a big brother and maybe just maybe I came out of it a better person. Now that my time as just a big brother is ending and I have to start thinking of being an adult, I've found some lull time. I didn't realize that my life was moving on until late this year.

It was around late April of 2012 that I begun growing up. The final and youngest sibling was eager and able to enter school soon and while everyone was preparing him mentally and physically for the big day, I was secretly preparing myself mentally of his transition into independence. Soon he wouldn't need me to watch him the entire day and his own day will consist of adventuring into subjects like math and spelling without me. This was the absolute definition of bittersweet for me. When you take care of someone or someones for a long time you start to wonder if they're relying on you or if you're relying on them.

Then eventually they started becoming their own person. They go to school and meet new people. They begin sharing the things they've learned and they're so very beautiful about it. They beam and radiate a certain warmth that you only feel because they are shining so bright. Then it slows down.

They start having problems and begin to learn that they can solve it themselves or with other people, you're not needed as much anymore.

Then they realize they can share the things that make them happy to people their age, ones who might appreciate it more. I remember many times where they would show me a drawing and the only reason I was so happy about it was because they were so happy about it. Not because it was an amazing work of art or not because it was something that required a lot of commitment but only because they were so proud and happy about it.

I remember waking up at October, cold and miserable, my heater had somehow stopped during the middle of the night and the cold air seeped in slowly through the bottom of the door. I had woken up without opening my eyes but I already knew something was wrong because I was so ridiculously cold. Then I pulled the blankets up to my eyes and relished in all the comfort. It was too cold and too comfy to get out and try to restart the heater so I was just stuck in that little bubble of comfort I had created with my blanket. I laid there comfortable and quiet, letting the silence of suburbia soak in the glowy aftereffect of my dreams. I had lain there for a long time before the sounds of everyone waking up started.

Three months ago I needed to get up and sleep next to my brother just encase he rolled off the bed or if he started coughing. Then I needed to start making breakfast or find the change of diapers or DVD of Blues Clues before he woke up. Then we planned the day together and we would either stay in and watch TV or go out and play in the park.

But instead I just laid there, with nothing I needed to do.

Then I started realizing just how alone I truly was now that they didn't me anymore.

So my resolution, my final resolution for 2013.

Don't forget all the feelings and terrible searching you needed to do to get to where you are now. No matter how shit you start feeling or how bad you want it to all just end, just remember the nice times things you felt and the nice things you will feel. Move on because they are moving on. Everybody is moving on. That isn't too hard is it? Just don't forget those beautiful pockets of happiness and maybe you can feel it again someday. Just that chance of feeling it again is enough to keep you going, and don't argue with me because I know it is.


I wrote this a while back in a discussion about Asian families and how it was like growing up in North America. The act of "washing" mahjong tiles consists of haphazardly pushing in your own tiles with everyone elses and shuffling them all together. With the tiles being made of bone or hard plastic, this gave a very loud and recognizable clashing. It was a noise that, if heard anywhere, you would instantly assume that it was people enjoying a game of mahjong.

To me the washing of mahjong tiles somewhere in the house is, even now after so many years, like white noise. Beyond the drowsiness, it drifts me back to those Friday and Saturday nights when the parents got together and threw us kids like shrugged off coats into a pile, upstairs or down in the basement. It didn't matter. A kid, one usually four years older would act like a den mother or wedgie dispensing brother for the night: we still needed to be watched.

Scrabble or Pictionary or Monopoly already set up before we arrived. Hot Wheels or Lego dumped on the carpet.

At Paolo's house, Marvin's sister Lana, 4 years older, was the warden. She decided what activities would be available, the aforementioned board games, a cartoon tape in the VCR: Denver the Last Dinosaur or Chipmunks' World Adventure or some Disney flick.

Sometimes we were bifurcated. Boys in the living room snapping together their stupid hot wheels tracks through cities of LEGO. Though there was always a girl or two out of the bunch who wanted in, for the most part the girls would retreat into the unknown territory of Gina's room and emerge later subtly different. More sparkly?

But most times we were together. Under the hot cone lamp that hung over the dark wooden breakfast table we wanted to be the racecar or the terrier, or tried to guess somebody’s scribble of a mutant cactus, or stole someone else's letter, or slipped a hundred Monopoly bucks out of the bank while Gina was distracted by her idiot brother’s antics.

We were together doing our stupid little talent show contests, rolling into the room to "I aint fraid of no ghosts," looking like Chippendale dancers with particle accelerators strapped to our backs. Or we were going around the world in the hot air balloon of the living room carpet. I was always Alvin, the charismatic chipmunk. One was Simon, the nerd. One was Theodore, who liked to eat. All the girls wanted to be Brittany.

Paolo’s place wasn’t the only place we knew. The parents liked to rotate. Us kids had a feeling for each. Marvin’s was cool because it had a big screen projection TV and you could play big Nintendo. It had a basketball hoop out back and the patio was quartered into large concrete slabs perfect for 4-square. There were games of ping pong on the table out on the patio as the moths whirled around the flood lamps and got stuck in big bangs or flung themselves into mouths as we exclaimed: Slam you! Bammo! Pfffth! Another plus: Marvin's parents always had push up pops in their drop-in freezer and fun could be had pretending to push the kid who reached inside for one.

Jon’s place was like visiting the country, or what we understood the country to be, it was actually farmland Cloverdale. It was twenty minutes by car and sat on two acres, one of them wooded. It wasn’t really country, but at dusk the fireflies came out like it. Once one of the girls, Yna, caught thirty of them in a jar and cried when they were all dead in two hours.

At Ellen’s there were dogs kept in an outdoor pen and little bunny rabbits in the woods. At all the other houses the boys slept with the boys, the girls with the girls, but at Ellen’s we huddled in the dark, on the living room’s pink 70s carpet, surrounded not by tacky wood panels but by the piney woods of rural Newton long ago. We told each other ghost stories by the light of a 4DD lamp and leapt at each other for shrieks and made it so not one of us could sleep. We kept telling stories until dawn, until our parents dragged us, bleary eyed, to the car where sleep would finally find us.

The sleep ritual was always most stringent at Marvin’s. His mom always came downstairs, stern and efficient (she had a game to return to). She was mother to all of us at that moment. We were made to brush our teeth (we each maintained a toothbrush there) and wash our faces. At Marvin’s house there were only two cramped kid’s rooms so they put us kids in Marvin’s and Lana's beds, respectively. They had us boys lay horizontally across Marvin’s queen size and we would jostle each other or hog the sheets or throw them on a surprise victim to dutch oven. Man, how flatulent we were. SBD’s and Bitbrrrrrrs and Atomic Fireballs and Chinese Firecrackers. Lana would come in and threaten to tell on us, on our gas and our guffawing. Gina and Ellen and Yna would crowd around her, their faces gradually scrunching up in disgust around the point of their twitching noses.

We calmed ourselves, threw our hands over our mouths. We promised we would be good. Promise. And the girls went back to their room as we tried to eat our laughter.

This sleeping arrangement continued for many years. I don’t remember exactly at what point it was decided we were too old for it. Or who decided this. With my feet hanging off the side of Marvin’s bed, I was already beginning to feel suffocated by my life. Yet still I had no clue that this, all this glory, was doomed. Even lying there planning my eventual escape from childhood, it was not something that came to mind. That we would grow up to such an extent and grow apart, or that one of us would begin to smoke pot, or we would start sneaking off with one of the girls for sex. That some of us would have better things to do with their white friends and some would move far far away. Still thankfully inconceivable. And farthest from my scheming brain: that eventually we would keep in touch through the rare electronic missive, connected only by faded photograph and crumbling memory, and by the sound of those mahjong tiles being washed as we drifted to sleep.

Stroll through the beach

Through youthful touch we meet in blankets of sand.
Darkest brown, your gaze tightening, hearts constricting band.
Soft breeze, dark ocean, thoughts of petty tease,
Your form, ever so burning, eternally, my eager disease.

Pray tell, Annabella, for do tax my heart!
For I fear this love and crime are not far apart.
Sultry winks and adorable romances,
A beautiful result for one’s own precarious advances.

We were naught, a simple two,
Caught upon a careful charade for too few.
Be it fates hand that meld us to one;
For ‘til time come now, we hath not begun.

Our hands meet upon white sands of oceans tongue,
We are, stories told, but a song loved and unsung.
As final day’s gentle flames flow far into the distance,
Our warmth glow and we are one, from loves careful persistence.

Gentle whispers of desire and sinful ability,
We are but space and time, humanity’s true invisibility.
A display of our true and final affection,
The one most eager for us all, our lustful infection.