Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

A Day in the Life

You are a freelance translator. You work from home. Due to the nature of your work coming in from different time zones, your typical day begins at midnight till three or five in the morning, with a second shift at noon to six in the evening. Supposing you had many things to do all at once, you may occasionally find yourself pulling a few hours spare both ways. You spend the hours between six to about eleven in the evening catching up on chores and preparing the food you may be eating over the next day. Any hours you have left, at any point in the day, you try to sleep.

You have a nineteen-year-old brother. At age nine, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder and a variety of allergies. Careful diet restrictions early in his life have ensured he has grown up relatively free-er of his allergies, but the ADD and behavioral problems are not helped by lapses into poor nutrition. Like all Asperger's sufferers, he has a fixation, in this case, automobiles. It is predominantly the only topic he will really talk about, or will revolve his conversations around. He is currently a normal University student. He spends his time doing homework, chatting with his friends over the Internet till very late, attending classes, and crashing on deadlines. He has poor facial expression recognition, he has a poor understanding of metaphor and does not generally recognize different tones in speech for their emotional value. He passes off easily as a normal, clumsy late teenager.

You have been given the task of looking after your large family home, the accompanying garden, and the boy who lives in it. With regards to the boy, you have been given standing orders to provide one meal a day, usually dinner; ensure that laundry is done; dole out pocket money as needed and see to any emergencies.

You start your day by waking up from a short nap at about 1AM. You walk out into the kitchen, and find every light in the house on -- your brother is scared of the dark. All the curtains are open, as are the sliding doors. You shut off the unecessary lights and shut the curtains. You bypass your brother's work area, where plates have been stacked five pieces high, because he does not bring them to the sink sometimes, and though you will sometimes remind him they're there and worry about cockroaches, you do not feel it is your responsibility to take dishes off his desk. You do, however, straighten out the couch he mangled while watching television the night before. You wash the wreckage of items he did leave on the kitchen counter, because you need the counter.

You sit down and begin your shift by working from midnight to 6AM. At the end of your shift, you remember that your brother wanted to be woken up early that day for a class. You were not informed what time he intended to head out that day, but you understand that most University classes begin at 8:30AM, so you let him sleep in till 6AM. At 6AM, you wake him up. He is angry that you have woken him up very late indeed. He preferred to be woken up at four in the morning. He complains all the way to the bathroom, where you can hear him grumble over the loud fan he runs to keep cool, though it's about 24C that morning.

Since neither of you has had breakfast, you reheat some rice porridge you'd made the night before. The boy comes out of his room, still grumbling, at 6:30AM, and takes another half an hour to pack up his bags. You indicate that breakfast has been heated up, should he want it. He doesn't want it, as he wants to go in an hour before class, scolds you for waking him up late, and needs to catch the bus. He leaves the house.

After your breakfast, you leave the pot on the stove so he'll have something to eat when he comes home. You sleep until noon. When you wake up, you start work again, and keep at it until around 6PM. Your brother arrives home at around this time. You ask if he can bring in the mail on his way inside. You go to the kitchen to make yourself some tea -- your first tea of the day. You are relatively exhausted, and would like to think about dinner. He comes back with the mail, and yells at you from the front door that letters from the car dealer have arrived. He believes they might be servicing notices for one of the household's cars. He believes this is important, because the car in question is not Japanese, and is apparently very fragile, because it will shatter into a thousand pieces if you do not service it the moment you get a notice. You acknowledge that letters have arrived, and you'll open them after you've had your tea. He wants you to open them right this instant, because if they are servicing notices, it's important that you know when you need to service the cars. You reassure him that the car won't explode if you have your tea first. After all, even dealers have to expect that people will sometimes have holidays and business trips that may last weeks. He insists that the car is like a Citroen or a Renault that requires servicing now or it will die in flames. You remind him that you'd like to finish your tea first, and you'll read the mail later. You have a headache, and it would be nice not to discuss this right now. He goes into a long exposition about how your family car is not going to survive waiting on servicing, and certainly not some holiday of weeks as you've mentioned, earlier. You open the mail, and find advertising brochures from your dealer rather than servicing notes. He takes the advertising brochures.

As he leaves the room, he does not stop about how important it is to service cars on time. The car that your family owns is prone to severe failures if it is not serviced within a week of its service notice. He is a keen participant in online forums about your family's car's make and model, and has friends who own the same car who have had great difficulties when they missed their servicing times for any reason. This goes on for about five minutes, as you mull over your tea and would like to think about dinner.

You tell him to, "Shut the fuck up."

Your brother explodes into a fit. He does not like people swearing at him. He is very sensitive to people swearing at him. You knew that when you swore at him, but you are a sucker for punishment. He starts shouting at you about how you have no right to do what you want merely because you are the older sibling. He yells at you some more about how every time you swear at him (three times in the last month), he feels like killing himself. He knows you hate your family and you hate him and you want him dead. He says you have no right to do anything you want just because you are an older person because he is still your blood brother.

You quietly inform him if he's hungry, there's porridge on the stove. You have some chores to handle in the garden. You will start dinner when you get back.

He goes to the cutlery drawer and, in his tantrum, pulls out the drawer so hard, it flies clean of its sockets and crashes onto the floor. He screams at you about, "What you've made [him] do." You turn around from your way to the back door and state, clearly, he was the one who pulled out the drawer too hard, and it was his choice to do so. You go around to the other side of the kitchen counter to check the damage. Your brother is continuously yelling at you about how this is your fault, and it all began with you swearing at him, which he does not like and it makes him feel suicidal. You ignore him and count, aloud, the number of porcelain soup spoons he's managed to break (three pieces). He is infuriated you are ignoring him. He states that he will kill himself with one of the knives that also fell out of the drawer onto the floor (which you note has pockmarks in the tiles where the drawer slammed upon them). You walk away, informing him that he should at least clean up the mess he made, because you would like to start dinner when you get back. He will not stop about how he really will kill himself. He picks up a cleaver and holds it over his wrist. You are on your way to the garden. You state: "Nice."

As you start to unlatch the back door, he screams at you because he misheard what you just said as, "[You'll] like it when he's dead." You turn around. He runs the cleaver over the back of his wrist (he's always had the cleaver with his vein-side down this entire time) and makes what appears to be a skin wound. You walk back to the dining area in front of the kitchen, sit down to your half-finished tea, and over his screaming at you about how he is still your blood sibling and you have no right to swear at him just because you're older and that you hate him and your family hates him and you all want him dead, furthermore, every time you swear at him you don't know he how he feels extremely depressed like he wants to kill himself, you start a lecture that roughly begins with, "I've been suicidally depressed for the last ten years. I've now tried to kill myself twice. I don't suppose you noticed that, did you?"

And over his screaming at you for apparently ignoring that you swore at him to begin with and that this makes him feel depressed to the point he wishes to kill himself, and you and your parents clearly hate him and don't want him to live and only want him to fail in life, after all, "Do you want [him] to die?", you start talking under his voice, about how death is the end. It is nothingness. It is not a thing people will cry over you for. They may mourn you, briefly, at your funeral. They may remember you every so often over the years. But they won't feel bad just because you've killed yourself. They won't regret that you've died. The world won't stop in its tracks at your death. You just die. Rather than try to threaten people with your death, your time is better spent figuring out what you want to do with yourself, since, no one cares. Also, if he wishes to threaten you by dying, you are the wrong person to wield the threat at.

Many minutes of screaming at you later and your lack of a response to it, he takes the cleaver off his wrist and slams it into the kitchen counter. You tell him that your parents have left you with an obligation to the wellbeing of the house. He has now damaged property twice. You tell him to, "Get out." He walks out of the house, and throws the keys to the front door into the hallway behind him. As you walk over to lock the door, you note he has walked down the street.

You are tired. You cannot look at the drawer and the cutlery on the floor right now. You go outside to water the plants, the chore you had originally been headed for. When you come back inside, you have a shower. You realize that House, the only television show you switch on the television for anymore, is going to be on, so you walk over the shedded cutlery, heat up some porridge for yourself, and sit in front of the TV with your dinner. When the show is finished, you walk over the fallen cutlery again and wash you bowl and spoon. It is now 10PM. Your brother has been out of the house for two and a half hours, and it is now after dark.

You are obligated to call your parents, who are currently five hours by plane away, to tell them what has happened. Your father lost a colleague to a heart attack just the day before, and has had to take on the extra workload while his office goes into mourning. He is due to fly to the Middle East the next day. Your mother is stressed from looking after your father and just looking at your father. You call up their apartment, in a different time zone. Your father is out, due to a prayer service he has to attend to on behalf of his colleague. You talk to your mother, who starts shouting at you over a video conference about how your brother is mentally fragile and you, as the older sibling, should be aware of that. You should know that he is sensitive and doesn't know how to cope with common emotional things properly. You are wasting her hard work as a mother in trying to care for him. If he was annoying you, you should have walked into your room and shut the door. Swearing at him is unforgiveable.

She threatens you with your father's stress, and how you are an evil child for bringing this upon him when he is struggling with work. She also wishes for you to top up Feng Shui cures around house, as your brother has not yet arrived home, and he might have been bashed in the skull by a drunk by now. You reassure her that he walked to wherever he went to. He once walked fourty five minutes to the University, because he missed a bus, got impatient about waiting for the next one, and didn't realize that once he crossed two streets away, every bus along that route went to the University. He clearly knows his directions. You are asked if you knew if he brought either his phone or his wallet. You are made to check his room, his study area and the whole house for these things. You find his wallet. You don't find his phone. You are made to call his phone, but he is not picking it up. You are given orders regarding the Feng Shui cures, reminded your father will be extremely sick in the heart when he comes home, and you are told to leave the video conferencing software on while you handle things.

You set about refilling the Feng Shui cures. Your father calls for a video conference. You are yelled at over the phone about not picking up either your own cell phone or your mother's local cell phone, both left in your care, because you put them on the dining table, anticipating a call, but didn't hear either of them when you went into a bedroom to fix the Feng Shui cure there. Your father is furious you never pick up your cell phones anyway, and must've left it on vibrator mode as you would've, being an irresponsible child. He tells you that if you are not picking up your phone, you might as well throw it away. He then yells at you at length about not caring for your brother at all, not bothering to run after him when he walked out of the house, or even bothering to look for him when he was still out after dark.

You repeat what you've said about him knowing his bearings. The area you live in is highly populated. There are cars, street lights and at least two major highways in every direction. Furthermore, if he went out for a walk to clear his head, stopping him would not have helped. You do note that if your brother does not show up by tomorrow morning, you would call the police.

Your father calls a local friend, who happens to be a policeman, at half past eleven in the evening, waking him up in his sleep. Your father wishes for your brother to be thrown in jail overnight to, "teach him a lesson". All this is happening over the video conference. The kindly policeman friend has his daughter call you on your cell phone, to reassure you because you might be distraught, and to ask for details about your brother. You reassure them that you are in fact alright, and provide the necessary details, what few that you know. Your friend asks for your brother's cell phone number, which she tries to call, but he does not respond. She SMSes him. The family of your friend all take turns to reassure you, because you might be distraught, and you reassure them that he is really being a teenager and having a small fit, it's really not as bad as it sounds. You thank them and apologize to them repeatedly for their trouble, because it is late, and it is a horrible thing you have burdened them with.

The friend stays on the phone with you, which saves you from having to speak to your parents, who are still on video phone. At about ten minutes to midnight, she hangs up. You return to your parents, who see fit to yell at you over your irresponsibility and clear lack of care of their reputation, their name, and your father's poor health, as he is already under very much stress. They wish to retire to bed. Your father has an early flight tomorrow.

Five minutes later, the friend calls your cell phone. She is on another phone with your brother, who is about two houses away from your home. He is walking back. You open the front door when he rings the doorbell barely a minute later. You thank this friend again for her trouble, and apologize profusely to her family for waking them up. Your brother returns home and goes to his computer. He does not say a word. You call up your parents to tell them he is home. Your father gets the video call, and asks for your brother. He yells at your brother for about a minute, and has to go to bed.

Your brother does not say a word to you for the rest of night. You put away the phones. He sleeps at about 1AM. At about that time, you finally look at the things on the kitchen floor, and begin clearing them up. You wash the undamaged cutlery. Throw away the broken pieces. Wash out the drawer, and replace it. You finish at around three. You settle the house. Go back to your computer. Receive and finish a short translation, that takes about two hours. Finally, you sleep.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 4th, 2007 10:25 am (UTC)
And suddenly my brother seems an angel.... The sibling annoyed me far more in the sans version btw, in this version he is clearly a teenage aspergic moron where treating him as anything different is wasting your time. If you could just get over the family/guilt/code thing and persecute him as a human lab-rat it'd be much better. But...yes... I know that's easier to type that to do ;)

*hugs to make up for your nightmare*
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)
oh wow ... taking care of my little sister for a year was horrendous, but a dream compared to this.

*huggles huggles huggles Afi*
Dec. 6th, 2007 04:49 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) *huggles back*
Dec. 6th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) He has gotten more liveable lately, at least, no tantrums, and I'm doing my level best to avoid arguing with him just because he has an attitude. It helps. But it's a slow process, and more or less, a kind of waiting game.
Dec. 4th, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
You are an absolute angel.
Dec. 6th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
Thank you. *bows*
Dec. 4th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:49 am (UTC)
*hugs* *looks at icon* I sense the presence of ginger cookies!
Dec. 5th, 2007 02:08 pm (UTC)
Yes! Cookies!
Aug. 26th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
This is both terrible and fascinating. I'm sorry that you've had to live through that, as that kind of life is not fair. By being made to take care of your brother alone, you were forced to live the way he does and that is the life of the mentally damaged.

Not a path to Happiness.

However, what I find fascinating is that, from this vantage point, I understand what Asperger's Syndrome is more clearly.

I had always been described as "an inability to process emotional cues" which always made it seem like a social dysfunction.

From this vantage point, it's obvious that people with Asperger's are not so much emotionally devoid, as they have no ability to empathize. That is a completely different problem. They obviously have emotions, but there is a lack of any consideration about others happening.

Empathy is the bedrock of human social interaction. Empathy lets us know who we can trust and who we should avoid. It is also the center of all expression, because without empathy you cannot communicate (or have no reason to communicate) the beauty of a sunrise, or the sublimity of happiness.

Even the biggest bastard without Asperger's might care about an animal, or something else that reminds them of themselves. I somehow doubt that your brother has that capacity.

It's also obvious that he was trowing a fit because he wanted something. Truly upset? Maybe, but far more likely he simply was using a technique that had worked well on your parents before. When you failed to respond in the expected way, he kept repeating the same pattern. Finally he gave up, having enough sense of mind to realize that it wasn't working.

I'm pretty sure that this kind of behavior classifies as "evil." Though there maybe less malicious intent and simply more selfish intent to "evil" than I previously thought.

But that's just the view from over here.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )