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May I Brag about My Brother?

sibling rivalry turned pride

My brother won an award, and I feel like bragging about it. This is a big deal.

The award is a big deal, sure. It consists of recognition for teamwork – and a designated parking space – at the hospital where he works.

But the biggest deal about the deal is that I’m genuinely happy for my brother – and not jealous at all.

Anyone who grew up in a house peppered with sibling rivalry, heady competition, and racing to see who could do what first might know how absolutely glorious it feels to actually be happy – instead of jealous – when a sibling does something cool.

Sibling Rivalry

I’m not sure when our sibling rivalry began, but I’m guessing it was the day my younger brother was born. I don’t recall being pushed aside for my new baby brother, but I do recall thinking I was the queen of the world. That meant anything that had the potential to take attention away from me could be cause for alarm, whether the potential was actually realized or not.

While you might expect rivalry from a batch of sisters like the Kardashians, where they’re all competing for fame, fortune, and the biggest butt, it’s not something you would necessarily expect from me and my brother.

That’s because we:

  • Are four years apart
  • Have totally different interests, dreams, goals, styles. He kayaks. I paddle board. He paints saints. I paint skeletons, dogs and spiders.
  • Are pretty much on opposite sides of the personality scale (aside from our matching sarcasm and wit)
  • Are fans of different football teams
  • Took totally different paths in life, with totally different results. He went to college and medial school immediately after high school and eventually became a surgeon. I hopped on a Greyhound bus bound for New York City and eventually realized my dream of making a living through writing, art and creation.

Despite our massive differences, I still felt the need to compete. I wanted to be the first to call Mom on her birthday, send Dad a Father’s Day card, book my plane ticket for a family visit, or get dibs on the last corner piece of deep-dish Buddy’s pizza.

Competition seemed to always be part of our relationship, at least in my head. This competition sometimes reared up mightily enough for me to turn into underlying envy. I’d look at everything my brother had, which included many things I didn’t, and want to use some of that sarcasm on him.

When I heard about this latest award, however, my heart didn’t harden with jealousy. It opened with love.

What the Heck Happened?

I can pinpoint several factors that are likely to have contributed to this glorious change of heart. They include:

  • Keeping a daily gratitude list for the past year, which makes me grateful for what I have instead of what I think I lack
  • Realizing there is enough God, love, money, fun, and everything else in the world to go around for everyone to enjoy, reassuring me that I won’t get less if someone else gets more
  • Being part of a supportive community that actually cheers for people to succeed rather than secretly hoping they’ll fail
  • Stopping the dang comparisons. Someone will always be smarter, younger, richer or have fewer dental fillings – but only I can be me.

No doubt I’ll be keeping up the above practices. The daily gratitude list comes with illustrations, has spawned several art projects, and consistently obliterates negativity. The realization that there’s enough of everything for everyone helps me revel in abundance.

Supportive communities that actually cheer you on are like getting a big hug every time you’re in their presence. And stopping the comparisons helps ensure we’ll enjoy the unique person we were born to be.

Not only that, but I can merrily brag about my brother and his award, instead of groveling and wondering why I didn’t win one. I can be happy for who he is, what he does, and that he’s my award-winning brother. But that still doesn’t mean I’ll ever give up dibs on the last corner piece of Buddy’s pizza.

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SEASHELLS BY THE TURBULENT SHORE (rynski poetry)

dazed clam seashell

Stacy Blair was

groovy and keen and

the coolest kid

on the block.

 

If she was your friend,

your life had meaning. If not,

you may as well die.

 

One day she gave me

a drawing she had

carefully colored

herself.

 

I cherished the

thing, hung it on

my wall – the next day

she asked for it back.

 

She came to the door with

Shauna O’Conner to give

the prized drawing to

her.

 

I handed it back –

straight-faced with grace – then

cried on the couch

for a week.

 

And that’s why I

threw a tantrum – some 40 years

later – when mom told 6-year-old

Aiden he could take what he wished

from a big box of shells Mom had

previously

promised

to me.

 

-ryn.09.18.17

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ONE DUNKED DOG (rynski poetry)

there’s a dangling

apology out there one

i would not accept from a

man at the beach after

his dog attacked

my dog and dunked him

under water the man

grabbed off his dog and then

called him two swear words, the man said

 

he was sorry but I merely

frowned. now the man’s

apology

dangles –

 

twists

in the wind flaps

in the breeze hangs low

and unplucked like

rotten fruit – what happens

 

to dangling apologies?  do they

finally waft down to be

absorbed by

the earth – or do they

continue to float and float for

all eternity – like those times

you say “I love you” and

no one answers?

 

-ryn.09.05.17

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SIX HAIKU ON OUR ROAD TRIP

roadtrip car

There’s only so much

disco you can take, even

dear Donna Summer.

All other cars on

the road are there to test your

patience, block your way.

Distance looks shorter

on a map, time goes faster

when you hide the clock.

You’ll remember you

forgot paper towel when your

dog pukes in the back.

That journey stuff is

bullshit when you’re still four hours

from destination.

Whining and scratching

at doors is the dog version

of “Are we there yet?”

-ryn gargulinski.05.20.16

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FRACTURE

I once
walked
barefoot through the
streets of new york – with
nary a care in the world – I was
young I was
dumb I did not
give a damn – I was
painted with markers and
drunk from last night I
thought –
myself –
immortal – right
down
to the
soles
of
my
feet. A

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