Monday, March 19, 2012

Oh Brother

Sometimes, my oldest brother has a way of making me feel as small as a flea. I love him desperately; he was even more excited about my first acceptance to school than I was. I can remember the look of thrilled shock on his face when I told him. Everyone should have someone to be so genuinely, unselfishly happy for them. I’m fortunate.

That said, he’s a freakin’ type A, control freak, micromanager with so-not-his-business. Argh. I called him today to chat. We take turns calling and so usually talk several times a week. I mentioned meeting an aunt for coffee and visiting our maternal grandmother in the afternoon.

Gram took great pleasure in reliving some of my “stubborn little pip” anecdotes. She and my aunt laughed at memories of me, a naked 4 year old interrupted from a fight with her brother, claiming that “Just because little girls are staying with their grandma, doesn’t mean that the grandma OWNS them.” Apparently, I was aware of my civil rights even at age four. I blame my mother.

I gave him quick updates on several of our cousins then mentioned finding sprigs of pussy willows on a walk. I have bouquets of willow shoots, winterberry and dried hydrangeas, pretty, easy to maintain and much much cheaper than fresh flowers. He’d always admired my displays when visiting.

Anyhoo, I also mentioned that when I went to the market I noticed that sashimi grade tuna was on sale for 7.99/lb and splurged on a filet ($5.28). I was excited to indulge myself on this weekend off.

His temper exploded and he ranted. How I can’t expect to pay for school, our shared mortgage etc, if I can’t budget my income… blah blah blah.

Now. I. Am. A. Freakin’. Penny. Pincher. I can satisfyingly squeeze a week’s worth of meals on a $30 budget with some creative use of spices and inexpensive staples (quinoa, eggplant, cauliflower etc.). I am also a master of the free/cheap entertainment: volunteering with the zoomobile for a free season pass to the zoo, free city wifi and no cable TV, forgoing downhill skiing for cross-country in open parks. I haven’t seen a movie in the theatre in years. Other than a few pairs of (clearance-no grey’s anatomy for me) scrubs and my interviewing suit, the only clothing I’ve purchased in the last 2 years has been socks and underwear.
I don’t mind. I’ve always been pretty low maintenance, but hell if, at 31, I’m going to be explaining every little purchase to anyone. I told him so. It escalated. Dammit. He’s just like our father; careful, loving and thoughtful but rigid, old-fashioned and by-the-book.

I remember being a teenager and chafing against my father’s restrictions. It was the primary motivation for my moving thousands of miles at eighteen to work for national parks. Every time that I jumped out of a plane, hitchhiked to the rodeo, climbed a difficult mountain or pushed myself past things that scared me, I thought “so there!” to my father.

Right now, I’m garnishing my tuna in a lemon wasabi remoulade (less than $1.50 to make- even with locally raised free range and hormone free eggs) sipping a glass of prosecco ($2.25) and thinking “so there!” at my brother.

Addendum: My brother, bless his soul, sent me an apologetic message a few minutes ago. He and my (favorite) sister-in-law have been under unrelated stresses and he didn’t mean to take it out on me. * sigh * How can I maintain my rebellious angst (damn you! Camus and Morrissey) when my family is so bleeping awesome?

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