Tuesday, June 01, 2010

More Frustrations With Brother

In late April or early May, my brother called me a few hours before I was planning to call our parents. I hadn't spoken with him since January, when he flaked out on seeing Avatar in 3-D. His unreliability has been frustrating all my life, but it may be part of his disability, as he has never had a real sense of time. Its as though he exists in his own world sometimes.

Pictured above is my brother (in the red shirt) and I (in the green sweater), taken in 1989 or 1990 at our parents home in Stone Mountain, Georgia. We've evolved so far apart from each other in the 20+ years since our high school days. One of things I hated growing up was that my parents had held my brother back in school, so that meant we were in the same grade, leading everyone to think we were twins. My brother loved being thought of as my twin, and he often copied my interests (such as wanting to join the Navy or living in Portland OR). I hated the idea of having a twin, and this is probably what pushed me towards being such a strong "individualist." Thankfully, the Navy did not want my brother (they really wanted me, though!). Not that I had a real fear that my brother would've followed me into the Navy and to the same duty stations.

From the time we graduated high school twenty years ago until 1999, after I had raved to my parents about wanting to live in Portland OR someday, my brother was obsessed with living in Denver. He told people at church all the time and anyone else that he was planning to move to Denver. I'm not sure why he never made that dream a reality, but in the summer of 2002, he decided to move to Portland with less than $500 in his pocket and expecting to stay with church folks. It wasn't long before he became homeless. Through the good graces of state government agencies, he was able to secure a job and temporary housing until he saved up enough to move into an apartment.

His first apartment was a ratty and tiny studio, where the bathtub had feet and the kitchen was so cramped that there is no way someone who is overweight would be able to squeeze between the tiny stove and counter space. I had visited my brother for a week in 2004, having taken Amtrak up from San Francisco, where I had spent election day. My best friend Nathan and one of his brothers happened to come down the weekend I was in town to visit their other brother and me. We helped my brother move into his new apartment, which was a big step up, even though it was still pretty old design (and had a bathtub with feet). I moved to Portland in 2006 and stayed with my brother for a month before finding a job and moving into my own apartment.

In 2008, my brother moved into a new apartment. This one was a one bedroom with a view of Mount Saint Helens from his living room window. It also overlooked PGE Park, where the minor league Beavers baseball team plays. I tried to talk him out of moving because rent was $200 more a month than what he paid in his previous apartment. He kept talking about how hard it was paying for things, how he struggled financially. In fact, as I helped him move out, I learned that he had failed to pay the last couple months rent on the apartment he was vacating. I was not pleased helping him move because I told him for months that if he was planning to move, he needed to get rid of a lot of his junk. He's a hoarder of junk. For example, when I helped him move, I noticed that he had a box full of old cell phones. Another box full of remote controls for television. Another box full of joysticks and game controllers. And another box full of backpacks, some of them with kids names written on them! It disturbed me. My brother works as a custodian for an elementary school and he tends to keep things from the lost and found at the end of the school year, regardless if he needs it or not. Why would any reasonable person have more than one backpack? You can only use one at a time. There's no reason to hang on to old cellphones, remote controls, or joysticks!

It did not take long for him to completely trash his new apartment. I always hated going over to his apartment because it had the most unpleasant odor imagineable. He claimed that he could never smell it, but his nose was always stuffed up. He's constantly sniffling. Even more remarkable, he kept talking about wanting to invite some lady he has a crush on at his church or at work over to his apartment. I kept telling him that it would be a bad idea, because they would likely be horrified and uncomfortable. Even more audacious, he even wanted to invite one lady he had a crush on to be his roommate! There's no way.

Since around Thanksgiving timeframe, my brother has been obsessed with redesigning his apartment using Ikea products. This involved drilling a lot of holes into the wall to attach a floor to ceiling shelving unit. I told him, "You do realize that you do not actually own this property, right?" I said that he would have to return his apartment to the condition it was in when he moved in. Even more remarkable, he had a friend build a gigantic loft bed in the bedroom, which had to be put together in the room. There is no way it would be able to be torn down quickly. In the last few months, his apartment came to resemble a junkyard. It was quite disturbing to see how anyone could live that way. It was also insight into just how illogical my brother's mind truly is. It frustrates me (as well as our parents) that he simply does not listen to our reasonable advice. Instead, he listens too easily to the phony friends who hang around him like vultures. Who knows how much money has flowed out of his pockets and into his "friends" pockets?

Well, when he called me just a few hours before I had planned to call our parents, he mentioned that he no longer lives in his apartment. He had gotten a warning from the apartment's management office to clean up his apartment or face eviction. With my brother, its hard to get the straight story from him, but in talking with a family friend that he calls occasionally, I learned that my brother supposedly lost his bank card and all the money in his account was wiped out. Our family friend thinks one of my brother's "friends" stole the card and used it to clean out his account. This makes sense, because my brother is so casual about talking about money. In conversations with his friends, he's always talking about how much money he gets in his paycheck, what he plans to buy, and how much he has in his account.

When I first moved to Portland, he kept pestering me to know how much money I had. I knew that he was probably being pressured to ask by one of his "friends." My brother also told me things that did not make sense, but reveals to me just how gullible he is. For example, when I first moved to Portland in 2006, he claimed that Powell's City of Books was closing. I found this to be unlikely, because Powell's is considered a Portland institution and biggest tourist attraction! If it closed, there would be protests, fundraisers to save the store, and front-page news headlines. However, I believe that this is the kind of lie that my brother's "friends" tell him in order to test his gullibility. Because he believes people too easily, they see him as a sap to take advantage of (my brother has fallen for every get rich quick scheme since we graduated from high school). I learned this in the Navy. When I was new in the Navy, on my first ship, guys would tell me things that did not make sense to me (such as there being a fancy restaurant on the ship, or that we picked up mail at sea from buoys in the water). They kept trying to convince me what they were saying was true, but I argued back how illogical it sounded. I guess it worked, because they left me alone and moved on to the next fresh meat.

In the years since, I've forgotten that there are people like this. I guess because among my social circle of friends, we're all pretty well-traveled and intelligent, and no one feels a need to con someone else. In the "lower class" that my brother is part of, this predator aspect is probably how they find gullible saps to take advantage of. No matter how much mom or I warn my brother of such people, he continues to believe them over us! He continues to be victimized again and again by his so-called "friends."

Even more infuriating, in the phone call, my brother said that he hadn't been in the apartment for awhile. I have no idea when he was evicted. He was staying with a friend of his further away from downtown Portland. Its possible that he had been evicted at the end of February and I didn't know about it. To make matters worse, he hadn't told our parents and wanted me to keep my mouth shut. I told him that I was planning to call our parents in a few hours and if I talked to our mom, the question will surely come up. She has been getting more and more worried lately about my brother's erratic behaviour.

I honoured my brother's wishes to not say a word, and let him tell them. However, when I talked to my mom, she definitely asked if I had spoken to my brother recently, and even asked if he still had his apartment. I simply said, "Well, he called me a few hours ago and that is something he needs to talk to you about." I left it at that. After our conversation ended, a few hours later, my mom called me back and asked how long I knew about my brother losing his apartment. Great...my brother's fear of telling our parents the truth turns me into a "villain"! She and I had quite a talk about my brother. We share in the frustration that my brother just can't seem to take care of himself at all.

That's not all. I learned from talking with a family friend this past weekend that my brother was nearly fired from his job as well. He wasn't sure of the details, as it could have been a combination of my brother not showing up for work as well as sexually harassing a female co-worker. Yikes! According to the family friend, there's a lady at work that my brother has a crush on and he mistook her friendliness for interest (a mistake he always makes!) and tried to pursue it, but she felt uncomfortable and complained to the management. Seeing as how obsessed he was about my friend Christine, I can understand why he would freak a girl out. I told him plenty of times that just because a pretty girl is nice to him DOES NOT MEAN that she is romantically interested in him. However, his mental disability perhaps cannot process such information, as he's used to pretty girls being mean to him that when one shows any amount of kindness, he mistakenly believes its a sign of romantic love.

The tragedy of my brother is that he is not interested in women who have a disability. He goes after ladies who have their choice of suitors without realizing that there is little chance that they'd choose him. Its not cruel to say this, but reality. The only woman my brother could hope to attract would be a woman with a "Florence Nightingale syndrome" (and possibly blind). Most women, even the most independent-minded ones, still want to feel provided for or protected. My brother is unable to take care of himself, so how on earth can he take care of another person? Its pretty depressing thinking about my brother's lot in life. It brings to mind the question on how much of a responsibility does his family bear for his future? He continually ignores our advice in favour of the swindles that his "friends" concoct for him. He chooses the same scenario over and over: being victimized by his "friends". How can you help someone who doesn't want to help himself?

Honestly, I haven't talked to him much since Christmas. I was so angry about his obsession with Christine and digging around in her past when its not his concern. If I hope to have any relationship future, I'll have to keep him at arm's length. In 2006, when I dated a few ladies and decided not to pursue one of them, my brother wanted her phone number! He's constantly wanting my "discards" without realizing how awkward that is. The reality is that I know that these ladies would not be interested in my brother. If I were to make an educated spiritual guess about his past life, I would say that he probably was not a nice guy in a previous life. He probably took advantage of people and women, thus why the need to experience a lifetime in which he plays the victim to such people and never have a romantic relationship with women. If there is a just universe, then reincarnation is the instrument of that justice. Otherwise, if one lifetime is all we get, then how did my brother get so unlucky in his one lifetime while I am blessed and lucky? It seems so unfair, thus why I believe reincarnation is the reality of our universal experience. First we create the experience, then we experience our creation. For this reason, we need to be mindful of how we treat others because some day, we might be on the receiving end.

As for me, I received notice from Yahoo Personals that it will no longer exist after mid-July. Instead, Match.com will absorb it, which is just as well. Yahoo Personals has gotten skanky lately with "conservative Christian" ladies asking me if I want to see their "dirty pictures in sexy underwear." So, this past weekend, I was checking out the ads and saw a few ladies who I'm really interested in. I'd hate to spend the money to get no responses, though. One lady in particular has the perfect looks for me: someone that I find beautiful whom most guys might not. Yeah, I like the unique look. I have an ability to see a person's inner beauty, which has a magical effect on the physical looks. It may be time to invest some money in this dating service just to meet this lady that has captivated me. I am determined to have a magical summer: a new job and a lady love.

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