Brother Tough

Posted: March 13, 2011 in Real Men


The saying is — why spend holidays with family when you can spend it with friends.  The truth is they are the people I have had in my life the longest and fortunately (or unfortunately) remember me the most.  We have known and grown about so many things we’ve forgotten many to overwrite for new experiences.

My mom tells us for me and my brother Steven (18 mos younger) — Japanese was our first language.  However, we told her, “We’re American, we live in America, we’re going to speak American.”  So that’s why we don’t speak Japanese (dammit.)   (Of course this don’t fly with the other brother who’s 7 yrs younger, but he’ll be a different blog.)

The training-wheels got taken off my bike when Steve was ready to ride sans accoutrement.  I think I will always need therapy for this childhood trauma lol.

My mom says we were really close when we were little, if he got in trouble (as boys are wont to do) I would beg for him to not be punished and promised he’d be good.  I can’t imagine ever having done this but she says it happened ;-).

While walking along the street my mother told him to pull up his pants, so he grabbed the bottom hem of his shorts and yanked them to his hips.  When we fell-out laughing he paraded around like an old-man in a diaper.

I used to stick pearls up my nose. This would baffle my parents because it was probably something more like what Stevie-weavie might do.  But he probably would’ve used rocks.  Because rocks are easier to grip with tweezers.  I liked to do things the hard way.

We used to eat white-bread smeared with margarine and sprinkled with sugar & cinnamon on the top as a snack.

One time I caught him stealthily taking a tube of airplane-glue out of the freezer, (that he’d apparently made a bubble form), and lighting it with a lighter.  I was furious.  I was definitely in the “I’m telling(!)” phase.  We used to roll around on the floor in fist-fights punching each other yelling at the top of our lungs until someone split us up.  We were about the same size so it was a pretty good match.  We never went for the face though. I’d call that honor among warring siblings.

I think I failed a class in grade-school because my mom had to make flash-cards with multiplication tables on them.  This was old-school stuff not that new-fangled math,… where we had the actual x between numbers and not a graph to nostradamus the product.  Weave learned the cards at the same time and used to compete with me. He was quicker with the right answer even while being 2 grades behind me.

My mom used to cut the boys’ hair until I took over.  I mean that Asian-bowl-cut can only go so far when you’re in Jr. High-school ya’know?!  I just knew I could do it “better” (which was prettymuch ANYTHING) and they let me experiment while teaching myself which was really big (and brave) of them.  They had two totally different types of hair and the same style wouldn’t work on the other,… so trial & error was the word with that trust, but they had everything that money coulda bought — flat-tops, weight-lines, cut-ins, feathers.  I was the bomb fashionista sister.

We were raised being used to my uncles in Indiana hunting and a deer hanging upside-down from a tree in the back-yard was “normal”.  Steve used to go out hunting with some sort of gun.  But it was on a red moped we’d won in a raffle.  Once I asked “what are you going to do if you catch a deer?”  I guess hunters don’t like being asked that.

We could both fix a car pretty good.

He used to tell me he’d visit the animal-shelter sometimes.  And how a cat had walked against the fence cage so close, so many times that it’d worn the whiskers off the side of its face.  He was so sad while telling me, I asked him why he goes there… I don’t remember what he said,… my theory is, I think it was to offer the animals some sort of solace.

Weave is a science teacher.  Once when we went to visit him in Orlando we visited his classroom and saw the tests he was grading.  Boy were those kids dumb (meaning even WE knew those answers.)  But we didn’t feel it was a reflection on his teaching ability.  He was the type of (asshole-ish) teacher who did (head-smackingly inventive) life-lessons like telling them to read the instructions first.  And in them he’d write “if you’ve read these, skip the quiz, write your name at the bottom then turn in your paper for a 100.”  More than half the class got a big FAIL on that one.  Brilliant.

My brother is one of the damn-smartest people I know.  He’s a trivia wiz athlete and knows more useful and useless information than anyone on the planet.

My broski is also an incredible runner.  When I was training for a half-marathon he was the guru I turned to, to ask stupid-beginner questions (while I was soaking in epsom-salts), like what’s better to take ibuprophen or aspirin because I was sore as hale.  Yea he didn’t need those.  He taught me to always test your “equipment” well before an event and never race in anything new.  30 minutes with anything is verrry different than 2.5 hours with it in your ears, on your feet, or rubbing your skin.  He exposed me to my 1st trail-race up in Chattanooga a few years ago.  At first I was going to just sit and wait but decided to do the 6.5 while he did the 10.2.  I mean, I knew I could WALK 6 miles if I had to, right?  Man was that a moron mistake, hardest shit EVER.  But awesome.  There were hills on that sucker that I didn’t even want to be carried up.  And I almost took longer to do half the distance he did, which was (I don’t care to admit) a much more arduous trek than my lame-in-comparison portion.  But it was the just being-in-nature that was a really killer treat while I was dying on my feet lol.  I don’t remember if I told him I got lost.  But at least there was this other girl there, so we bitched-away our fear.

Yesterday we did the Zulu Trail-race in Cumming, GA.

I was doing the 4 while he did the 10.  We’d done some trail-running on the Eglin reservation in February on his birthday weekend so I knew I could move the distance, but that was Florida.  The idea of hills there is actual HILLS not mountains.  Still, I fell in-love with it and have decided that I’m not going to do road-races anymore.  I want to get good in the woods.  (Gotta be a t-shirt somewhere.)  I seem to (probably metaphorically symbolic for something) be better with obstacles, feeling a sense of accomplishment and gumption going up or down hard places.  The open flat asphalt just bores the crap out of my brain and it’s too-busy screeching to do things like staaahhhpppp.

So I got done in one-hour:36 seconds.  Fairly horrible in my opinion since my goal was 40 mins.  Walking during a run will do that.  Whereas for him, at the 1st check-point he was 3rd overall, averaging around 7 ½ min-miles (WTF-ever, I’d like to get that once in my lifetime NOT in a dream lol.)  Anyways even though I’m shitty at math (see flash-cards paragraph), even I know that’s TWICE as fast as me haha.  It’s just crap-luck that the fastest guys got to a river-crossing and there wasn’t a volunteer to tell the correct direction and it wasn’t marked, so they went the wrong way.  Only about 1.4 miles but Jesus.  Suckification.  And in true-to-form agony-of-defeat, when the slower guys got to the same place, they got pointed the right way so moved into pole-position.  Being a pioneer has tough breaks.

I was waiting at the finish-line and wondered why much slower-appearing runners were showing up.  Clearly they were moving at more like my-pace.  I was wearing my bright-orange hat so he could see me and kept thinking I screwed up to change clothes because he must’ve already passed by.  But then he came motoring up and said a bunch of guys fucking got off-track and lost some major fucking time.  He has a snazzy GPS-watch so he’s going to calc his true distance and time.  We drank some celebratory Guinness (going to start a tradition I think, we did this at the Rock Creek River Gorge run too) which is the liquid-analgesic electrolyte-replacement drink of the universe.   This is the best part because I get to hear all the stories like running in a river for a mile.  Gheeze I ran (stepped) across a river a few times and that water was butt-ass COLD but I didn’t even get sand in my shoes.  I also didn’t get bramble-scratches across my chest & legs from running through a quarter-mile thatch.  But he has an optimistic way of viewing things, he said that while running down a mountain his toes were so numb and held in place by the cement at the tips that they didn’t slide around in the pocket.  Which he thinks helped.  Yea I laughed at that one too.

Rehashing the race really teaches me about tactic and strategy.  One wouldn’t think there’s too much of that going on when you’re just trying to run “fast” — but doing an after-action to review where and how to conserve energy and know what’s “normal” (expected?) during performance is enlightening.  As a neophyte I’m not at that point yet with my current goal being to just not friggin’ walk.  But I’ll get there.  Learning about fuel and prep and recovery in this new environment changes everything with confidence on the trail.  I asked him if he was scared when lost and he said an unusual (poignant) thing, — no, because he’d been lost before and he knew he could deal with the mental-aspect of it if he kept his thoughts in-check and let his body handle the rest of it.  And I think that’s applicable life-advice.

So while we weren’t running the same route we were running “together” and share this experience in the book of our family history.  I consider that another lovely notch to go right alongside the holiday fights.  Because our tree has twists and turns and also many unexplored paths yet to be discovered — and I am really liking this family-turning-into-friends thing.

Have you thought about what your brother(s) mean to you recently and how maybe they could be a person in your life that is wiser and cooler than you never thought?  Try it — when you forget about the rocks & logs, it might make the difference to shift your trail to something surprisingly heart-opening.

  1. Anita Patrice Miller says:

    I have always love how you much you entertained or enlightened me with your thoughts!

    Pat Rice

  2. christian says:

    Funny post. You’re an entertaining writer. Congrats to you and your brother.

    In our sport of ultrarunning, we call his situation “bonus miles” – getting more than you paid for.

    Tell him to come back and run SweetH20 50K with us in April:

    Rock on bad@$$.


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