Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Focus? What Focus?

I'm very excited about this evening. I haven't seen my aunt and uncle (my only ones!) in just about a year. I really like getting together with them, they're great people. Every time we do get together though, I realize how much my brother and I and our two cousins missed out on growing up. We grew up on opposite sides of the country. I don't really know my cousins very well, but when I do get to spend time with them, I really enjoy it and there are so many family resemblances and quarks it is scary! The first time I'd met Ben after about 8 years apart, I just kept marveling at how much like my brother he was, and they're just shy of 4 years apart in age. Blood truly can be thicker than water. I also really wish I was able to spend more time with Rae, but she and Kami live all the way on the left coast. At least Jon gets a chance once a year or so to catch up at Thanksgiving.... if everyone goes to the same place. (What really bums me out is the fact that Ben, Jenny and Daniel live just over 3 hours away and we never make time to get together...)
Oh well.
But, I love what little family I have and will treasure the moments I get to spend with them.

This really wasn't the intent of my post. That's the "what's happening now" segment. I really wanted to write about something that's been tossing around back and forth in my brain for a couple of days. It'll probably embarrass the hell out of my brother. Oh well, that's what big sisters are for, right? To make him feel better go check out his blog, there's a nice link over there. He's got some pics of his new place up,

I've been thinking a lot about success and financial stability and things like that lately. It's been somewhat hard not to, with what you see on the news and what I don't see in my bank account.
For all intents and purposes, I'd call my brother very successful. He's got a great job, he's house hunting to buy a place in CA with a woman who I think is wonderful, and he's happy and able to do the things he wants to do.
All because of careful planning, a huge drive and knowledge of "what he wants".
Me, on the other hand, while I would consider myself moderately successful, I'm no where near Jon's level. I mean, I've got a wonderful husband and the most wonderful son I could ever have hoped for, but... providing for them and for myself is a day-to-day struggle, both financially and mentally.
My brother and I are both smart, just wired differently. He's driven and focused and responsible and thinks things through. Me, I'm more of a drifter, live in the moment, have a hard time focusing past the end of the week, let alone "long term".
Here's a story that I think will focus this, and explain why he's smart enough to have money to buy a house and I'm wondering where the next day care payment will come from.
In our school district they used to have this program called "Challenge". It was for "gifted" students. You had to bet tested in order to get in. Well, my brother and I were both tested when we moved into the district and we both got into the program with the same score (or almost the same), but with strengths in different areas. (Mom never told me the details, and it doesn't really matter too much...) I was thrilled to be in the program, all the "cool" kids were.
Now, mind you we were 2 grades apart in school, so this activity didn't take place at the same time for us, but the same grades.
I think in about 8th grade or there abouts, one of the final grades of the program (it didn't extend into high school, that's what AP and Honors classes were for...), one of the activities the class did was a stock exchange challenge. Everyone was put into teams or pairs, I can't remember which, and "given" $10,000.00 or something like that to invest in the stock market, at least on paper with the challenge to see who could make the most money. We were given minimal instruction and we had to get annual reports from businesses and research them and we could ask all the question s we wanted. Needless to say, it was a good thing Julie and I weren't given real money. We stunk at this. I had no idea what we were doing. I tended to buy and sell with my heart, not really my head. I couldn't understand the numbers, or how to read them, or even what questions to ask, it was all too frustrating and confusing to me. And, no, I don't think it's because I'm a girl and was never taught about money. My brother had the same lessons from our parents as I did. It's not that I'm not good at math, I am. I normally love numbers and patterns and puzzles. I just didn't get this one. Julie and I were in the bottom of the class on this exercise.
Then, 2 years later my brother does the same exercise. With the same instruction I got and the same information, he and his partner or group won the whole thing. They made the most money. They earned a trip to NYC to go see the real stock exchange and the World Trade Center. (This will tell you how old we are... they couldn't go to the WTC because it was closed to visitors after the first attempted bombing... yeah... we're that old....) He was driven and far seeing enough to be able to navigate his way successfully.
Needless to say, my brother is also a much better chess player than I am.

So, in a way, you could see this whole mess I'm in way back in Jr. High. Even then I lived in the moment, focused on the softer, warmer and fuzzier side of life. That's not to say my brother doesn't care deeply about his friends or have any empathy or anything like that. No, he cares deeply for those who make it into his heart. (You're a very lucky woman Becca... and I won't hesitate to admit I was jealous that my brother could love another woman so much... for a long time I felt like I was his number 1 girl other than Mom. I may be wrong... but..... And he's very lucky to know you, you rock!)

Now, the real question is, how do I get out of this? The simple answer would be: marry someone who has the drive and the vision to see past the end of the week. Well, that didn't happen. Gak lives in the moment about as well as I do. And we get along fabulously for it, other than the fact that it creates tension like we're dealing with now.
I have no answer. If I had an answer, I don't think I'd be as stressed and worried and broke as I am. Quite frankly, some days I don't feel like the boy with his finger in the wall, but the one who came along about an hour and a half too late and things are out of control and there's no obvious way to stop the water. Yeah, that's me. I've got the best intentions in the world, I just have no idea how to get there... and probably don't have the attention span anyhow.

Do I have a point to all this? Maybe. Maybe my point was just to point out how similar and different siblings can be at the same time. Maybe it was to try and explain why my life seems to be always about to spiral out of control and Jon's seems so nice and ordered. Maybe it was to make me feel better about the chaos that surrounds me (and that normally I enjoy). I just don't know.
Or, it could be that I was awake at 5am and had some time to write. With me, it's a real possibility.

Anyhow, I'd better think about getting myself together so I can get out the door so I can pick up my boy at 4:30 and spend the evening with my family. That's my real goal today, enjoying the evening with family.

Peace to all and may your insight be helpful and your family wonderful.

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