Republic of One

The personal blog of Colin Brandt, Ukrainian Organic Mic Mechanic

Oh, Sister(s).

It has been an amazingly busy (and great) summer. As the cold, iron grip of another busy season at my work continues to tighten ’round my throat, I wanted to stop and write about one of the best moments of the summer for me.

My cousin Missy got married on September 10th to her girlfriend Amelia. Unfortunately for Amelia, I can’t call her Amelia, because I got introduced to her as Ed and ever since then she’s been Ed (or Edmazelington, for short – why that is apt, I’ll get into later). Why Ed? Well, there’s any number of reasons.

Missy and Ed let me stay at their place for a couple of days before their rehearsal, and having gone through the whole wedding thing not that long ago, I gotta say – they handled the whole thing like champs. It was just awesome to see them both so relaxed and happy through a really emotional, crazy and busy time. I know that weddings are supposed to be these times of joy and great feelings, and they are, don’t get me wrong – but they also happen to be a terrifying crucible that uses the white-hot flame of emotions to forge people (and families) together. People get burned by that heat, there is pain involved. Goddamn it was strange to watch it happening to someone else, not only because it makes you feel less alone, but somehow getting married turned me into the world’s biggest wuss when it comes to weddings. Case in point – my Grandfather sings one verse of one song a capella at the wedding and I dissolve into a puddle of tears that takes me half an hour to recover from. OH FUCK I AM CRYING AGAIN LISTENING TO THAT FUCKING SONG ON YOUTUBE.

Missy is three years older than me and we grew up together until her family moved away to Minnesota, just before I started elementary school. We were raised in that classic Ukrainian way, where everyone in the family just sort of communally raises each other’s kids. It’s convenient, because it means you can share the burden, giving you plenty of opportunities for smoke breaks and a chance to refill your wine glass. I’ve always considered her to be less a cousin and more a sister, and growing up a sensitive and pretty friendless only child it was really her and my cousin Kyle that were my siblings, my best friends, and the only people who really made me feel like it was okay to be whatever the hell it was I was. Our family has gone through some crap over the years, but I’ll say this – my cousins have always stuck with each other. Even when some of us (read: me) acted like jerks, there’s always a hand out and an understanding word when it really matters. Also, Missy has terrified some ex-girlfriends. For someone who weighs about as much as my left leg, she comes off like Ray Lewis coming at a dude when she wants to.

However, Missy still acted like my sister, and like all decent, upstanding older sisters she tried to drown me in the pool and tied me up and left me in the basement with the Casio keyboard demo going for 2 hours playing a MIDI version of “Little Red Corvette” . When I was 5 she told me there was no Santa Claus.

Missy learned the first rule - deny, deny, deny - early. Photo credit to my Auntie Karen and pajama credit to my Mom.


There are a lot of stories about this kind of thing for Missy and I, and for years I’ve teased her about how she used to push me around.There’s no question – Missy was older than me, she was cooler than me, and she sure as shit was smarter than I was, so I had better get the hell in line. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with Missy, even now, would totally get what I’m saying. She has this incredible energy and charisma that just seems to bend reality around her. She is hard not to love.

One of the tasks I had before the wedding was to dig through all of our family’s old scrapbooks, looking for photos to use in their slide show. Missy and I were both the first kids in our family, and mother of God our parents loved to take photos of us. So many of those photos are of us together, and we were unbelievably adorable.

Photo by Karen

Please note how I fail at praying. I do, however, look like I'm about to crane-kick the fuck out of someone (please note that someone was most likely my cousin Kyle)


What is crazy is that in every photo of us when I’m not looking at the camera, I’m looking at Missy. I can actually remember my Mom shouting Colin, look at the camera at me, when I was busy just staring at Missy, looking for the next thing she was going to do that I was going to copy. That pure adoration was born of a real love for a girl that I always looked up to, who always seemed so cool and forthright and sure of herself even when she probably didn’t feel that way. Missy’s the reason I thought it was totally normal for an 8-year-old boy to take jazz dance, why I played and sang Me and Bobby McGee in front of the entire school in elementary despite a near-complete lack of talent, why I joined choir and football at the same time. I saw Missy doing this stuff, thought that seemed like a great idea, and did it. Some of that stuff was hard, son. I got teased pretty bad, but it was never enough to make me quit; I always thought to myself “Missy did this crap, and she is way cooler than everyone I know, so she’s gotta be on to something.” The best thing is that she was; if I hadn’t learned how to dance, I probably would never have met my wife. And there were a lot of cute girls in choir.

For the past few years I’ve had the chance to see that same amazing girl finding and falling in love with someone who is just so easy to adore – so clever and thoughtful, so giving of her energy and time and willing to commit herself fully to what she loves. And Ed performs in drag as Ferris Bueller.

Watch this video. There will be a quiz later re: my cousin’s cameo. Failure will result in immediate violence.

I just want to thank Ed so much for finding Missy, for loving my amazing cousin so openly and beautifully and for being someone new to adore, and to thank Missy for bringing a new sister into my life. I love them both so much.

Photo Credit to Tim Bonham.

Photo Credit to Tim Bonham.

4 responses to “Oh, Sister(s).

  1. Becca Clarkson September 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Colin! I want to hug you asap.

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