Monday, February 22, 2010

My Brother's Keeper

I am my brother’s keeper. I have been for my entire life. When we were kids my mother was too wrapped up in coping with my father’s illness to parent us so we were often left to make decisions for ourselves. We have a family history of mental illness; primarily bipolar disorder and depression. It is possible that my brother would have been afflicted with these problems regardless of our upbringing. But I doubt it would have been as severe or that he would have exhibited signs as early as he did. My brother saw a psychologist weekly from the time that he was three years old through high school. He started seeing the therapist less regularly once he was old enough to skip and cancel his appointments. He has been on a number of different drugs but none of them provided him with significant relief because he didn’t take them regularly and because he wasn’t going to the therapist for follow up sessions to work through his problems.

My brother has had a difficult life. He was molested as a child but because he had no adult support system in place we didn’t find out about it until 6 years ago. A month after my father died, one of my brother’s closest friends was killed in a car accident. A few years later my brother and a close friend of his were in a serious car accident. The fire department had to cut the car apart to get them out and airlift them to the hospital. My brother suffered a broken arm, a concussion and numerous cuts and bruises. His friend has been a paraplegic since that accident. My brother’s destructive behavior increased dramatically during this time. We went through several brushes with the law that led to jail time and suicide attempts but it seemed like he turned a corner about 5 years ago.

Since this time he has held down a job without any incidents. He isn’t getting into trouble or hanging out with people who could get him into trouble. He is dating someone who might turn out to be the one. He seems to have become a responsible adult. But every time I relax and think everything is fine, the old him shows up; the destructive brother who is irresponsible. He either calls me so I can fix whatever he’s screwed up or my mother calls me and tells me to call him to help him out. And I always fix it because if I don’t no one will.

Sometimes I feel selfish for not wanting to clean up my brother’s messes and guide him through life. I want to yell to mom: “Why don’t you help him you’re his mother”! But I don’t because I can’t. It will only make me upset and in the end I’ll still have to fix everything. I know that people have had a much more difficult life than I have and I recognize that my brother has made significant progress over the years and is 200% better than the person that he used to be. I get all that, I really do. But that doesn’t make it any easier when all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch movies with my husband but can’t because I have to take care of my brother. I hope that one day I won’t be needed to fill this role because he will completely grow out of it or start seeing a therapist to receive regular treatment. But until then I’ll be there for him as long as he needs me.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

2010 Oscar Pics

About a month ago, I wrote down my Oscar pics for this year so I could compare them to the Academy Award nominations once they were announced. I saw forty of the movies that were released in 2009 but I didn't see all of the favorites. Here are some of the movies that I missed that other people have loved: Crazy Heart, Inglorious Bastards, The Hurt Locker, The Messenger, Invictus, A Single Man, The Lovely Bones, A Serious Man, and An Education. Nine and The Last Station are movies that received great reviews but which don't really appeal to me. I'm sure I'll see all these movies in the next year though Netflix or HBO and maybe they'll bump some of my favorites off the list. But until then, here is my opinion of the best movies and performances of the year based on what I saw.

My Best Pictures:
1. District 9- If you haven't seen it go see it. Great sci-fi movie with a great story and plenty of action and drama to keep you glued to your seat the entire time. No huge Hollywood names just fantastic directing and acting. It won't win because no one famous is in it but at least it got a Best Picture Nominations. I can't understand why no Best Directing Nomination.

2. Star Trek- Yes it lived up to the hype. I've never seen an episode of Star Trek in my life and I loved it. No idea why the Academy chose to snub this one in all of the major categories. Should get Best Picture and Best Director nods at a minimum.

3. Avatar- Great special effects. Not so subtle message within a good story. Not sure why there is so much controversy over this one. Well deserved nominations for Best Picture and Best Directing.

4. Julie & Julia- Who knew Julia Child and some random blogger could be so interesting. Meryl Streep has the best actress performance for sure this year.

5. Away We Go- A total surprise. Two comedy actors show that they can do drama. Great story about love and all the tough decisions that come after college. An Oscar Snub not a surprise for such a small market film.

6. Precious- Heart wrenching. Hard to believe Gabourey Sidibe has never acted before. A well deserved best actress nomination for her and for Mo'Nique who is a shoe-in to win best supporting actress.

7. The Blind Side- Yeah the movie had an obvious Disney touch to it but it was still a really good movie. I don't think the writers glossed over how difficult the transition was for an underprivileged black kid to move in with a rich white family in the south. I think they choose to focus on all the positive things that happened to him after he made that transition and I'm okay with that. We don't need a three hour epic cry fest for every "overcoming adversity" story out there. Sandra Bullock deserves the Best Actress Nomination but she should not win.

8. Up- Way to go Disney. Not just for the kids. A really good movie with some great voice actors and fantastic story. Thanks Academy for not overlooking an animated movie as a Best Picture nominee.

So the Academy agreed with 5 of my pics. Not bad. I did see Up in the Air but it wasn't nearly as good as everyone said it was going to be. If you want to throw a nomination to George Clooney for Best Actor I'm okay with that but there is no way this was one of the best 10 movies of the year. The other 4 movies that were nominated are on my list of movies I haven't seen yet and I sure at least 2 of them are better than or as good as the 8 best movies on my list. It's hard to argue with the Best Actor and Supporting Actor nominations with such highly acclaimed performances even though I haven't seen most of the movies. I just hope the star power behind Up In the Air doesn't get it more awards than it deserves.

The Hangover is a movie that people think should have been nominated for an Oscar but the entire movie was ruined by the previews and trailers weeks before the movie was even released. I saw the movie within a week of its release and there was not one funny scene that I didn't know about ahead of time. If it weren't ruined for me then maybe it would have made the list but a comedy movie isn't all that funny when someone has told you all the punch lines ahead of time.

The Oscars are the only award show that I watch religiously every year. I hope there are a few surprises and not just all the big names winning. I can't wait to hear about all the documentary, independent and foreign films that I have never heard of but will add to my Netflix list shortly after the broadcast. Happy movie watching.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Terrorism Suspects Lost in Limbo

One thing that I don't understand is why the government thinks it's necessary to publicize decisions that they make regarding national security. Isn't that the opposite of what national security means? I don't think a soccer mom in Tulsa is qualified to make decisions regarding our safety more than the 5-star generals that advise the presidents. Why is it so hard for the government to say that? You as an American citizen have a write to vote for politicians to represent you and to vote on laws that directly affect your community. But all of these protests about issues that they government doesn't need your approval to do is just ridiculous.

People don't want terrorism suspects living in the jails in their communities. I don't think that any of us would choose to live near rapists, murderers, drug dealers, child molesters, etc. but if you live near a jail you already live near these people and worse. I don't understand what the difference is. If the security at the prison is so bad that you're worried about people escaping then that's what you should worry about. But the types of people that are in prison are never the type of people that you want in your neighborhood. But you shouldn't have any say in what kind of people are held in the jails in your community. The fact that the government is allowing citizens to dictate what type of prisoners are housed in the maximum security prisons that they have willingly moved next to is ridiculous. But these same people are complaining that there are no jobs in their communities because the multi-million dollar prisons that were built are sitting empty.

The same goes for the 9/11 trials. Why doesn't the government just hold the trials at an undisclosed location and at an undisclosed time? It seems like all of our major decisions are broadcast on the 10 o'clock news and summarized in Time Magazine. The fact that all of these issues are put up for a public opinion vote is not democracy, it is lunacy.