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YouTube Star Tim Chantarangsu (fka Timothy DeLaGhetto) Draws the Line

YouTube Star Tim Chantarangsu (fka Timothy DeLaGhetto) Draws the Line

11.19.20
Photo: Aaaron Rapoport/Corbis Historical via Getty Images
11.19.20

In this episode of Adult ISH, co-hosts Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner tackle the real #adulting challenge of drawing boundaries. First, YouTube star Tim Chantarangsu (fka Timothy DeLaGhetto) speaks to the hosts about letting the public in on private matters, the roles he won’t take, and pooping with the door open! Later, Merk tells a story that explores the unique challenges that come with being the baby sibling of the family, especially when you have an older bro and don’t totally vibe with the way he shows his care for you. Be sure to follow all our socials at @yrAdultISH!


Episode Transcript

Merk: Alright Nyge, story time. 

Nyge: Alright, fasho. 

Merk: There’s me, this girl… 

Nyge: Wait, set the scene a little more. What year is it? Walk us through it.

Merk: Okay … 2014. Freshman year in college, in a dorm room with two extra long twin beds, because those are a thing. I meet my roommate and she’s the first person I’m living with who’s not a family member. We had one of those talks where it’s like, “I know we just met, but I feel like I’ve known you forever.” And so, then I say, “Okay, you know, in this room, what’s mine is yours.” And then one day I wake up with her wearing my socks in my bed. That’s fine. Socks are cool. 

Nyge: Facts. You said it.

Merk: I said it. But when I woke up with my eye shadow brush and my hair brush out of place, I went, “Oh no, that’s not gonna work.” 

Nyge: Wait, so that’s where the line was crossed? Like, the hair brush? The socks were cool?

Merk: She had a lot of head grease that smelled. And I know I got my own head stank right now, because I haven’t showered in quite a while. But my boundary was crossed. 

Nyge: I get that. She had that stank grease in her hair?

Merk: THE STANK GREASE. All caps.

Nyge: And your brush had the stank grease as well?

Merk: It did.

Nyge: Did you get a new brush or nah?

Merk: Um, no, I didn’t. I didn’t even clean it after that.

Nyge: Ew, who’s really the nasty one? But, no, that kind of reminds me of one time. I went on a vacation with my friends and we’re all in this hotel. I go into the bathroom real quick to brush my teeth, wash my face, brush my hair, all of that. I didn’t have any stank grease in my brush, so that was fine. But then I walk out of the bathroom and I see one of my friends, who will remain nameless, just standing there in my underwear. Yeah, it wasn’t cool.

Merk: Was it clean underwear or used underwear?

Nyge: No, it was my clean underwear, though. Like, apparently he had ran out of his underwear, out of clean underwear, and he decided to just grab a pair from the bro. 

Merk: I think that’s an honor. He loves you that much. You share.

Nyge: No! 

Merk: No?

Nyge: We can share shirts, we can share pants, we can share all of it. We could even share a brush. I let my homies share a brush all the time, greasy hair or not. But we can’t share underwear, man. Undergarments got to be for ourselves.

Merk: Really, those are your boundaries.

Nyge: Those are definitely my boundaries. But with that said, welcome everyone to Adult ISH by YR Media. A show where we like to keep our clothes and head grease to ourselves. I’m Nyge Turner.

Merk: And I’m Merk Nguyen and today we’re getting into, you guessed it, Boundaries ISH. I know, for me, I think each year for the past few years I’ve had to have conversations with people in my life — at work, home or intimate social settings — about boundaries. You, at home, might’ve had to do the same too. Openly discussing and respecting them for yourself and those around you is key to adulting. But sometimes, the reality is boundaries get violated and you gotta cut people outta your life. It sucks, but is very necessary to grow as a person.

Nyge: Right. And what’s crazy is with COVID-19 going on right now, boundaries can literally be a life of death matter.

Merk: Yeah, hugs and handshakes are no joke. And social distancing is real!

Nyge: Yeah. E-40’s got a new song called “Give Me 6.” So, respect my boundaries. Six feet.

Merk: He’s like, “Woah, six feet!” 

Nyge: He’s like, “Woah, gimme six!” 

Merk: I like that. So later in this episode, I’m gonna be exploring my boundaries a little deeper in the family setting, particularly if you’re someone who has an older brother, like me. You’ll know what’s up. Whether you have one or not, it will get you thinking about boxes people put you in. In my case, I get put in the “baby box.”

Nyge: Not going to lie, I kind of get put in the baby box, too. But I like it a little bit too. I can’t fake. But right now we’re gonna sit with formally known as Timothy DeLaGhetto, Tim Chantarangsu, who will help us distinguish personal and professional boundaries and answer the question: “When you’re married, is taking a number too with your lifelong boo in the room still something you’re still willing to do?” Getting to that after this short music break.

[Music Break]

Nyge: So our featured guest for this episode, we’ve got someone who is a co-host on the No Chaser Podcast, former cast member on MTV’s Wild N’ Out and long-time YouTuber who many of us have been watching since middle school and getting our confidence from. We tried to hit him up on previous seasons to get him on the show, but he was busy getting married! We understand. So, formerly known as Timothy DeLaGhetto, and finally here, it’s Tim Chantarangsu!!!

Tim: Hey! Good job!

Merk: You got it right. You know how many times he went through that?

Tim: Yeah, you got it right. I appreciate the effort, thank you. (laughs)

Merk: We appreciate you currently drinking Capri Sun on this Zoom call.

Tim: I’m turnt!

Nyge: (laughs) Have you been having to deal with, like, people trying to kick it in real life? You know, with the rona times going on and everything like that? 

Tim: Yeah, I turned down everybody. I already kind of turned down people before the rona, you know what I’m saying? Here’s the thing, right? People really think I’m really out there, like, party animal status. But now that I’m married and, to be honest, even before I was married, it was kind of, like, I turned down a lot of invites, man. Or I’m very like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll see wassup. We’ll see what’s good.” And your boy is just, like, cuddled up on the couch and ordered some Postmates and I’m good, you know what I’m saying? So now, add the rona to the combination, I’m definitely like, “Nah, I’m good. I’m good.” I feel like I got my top tier homies and then the bench player homies. Like, second tier homies, trying to hit me up. 

Merk: JV.

Tim: When the JV squad hits me up I’m like, “I’m good!”

Nyge: You sound like my friend Dorian. My friend Dorian would always be like, “Yo, that could work. That could work.” Any time I hear that boy say “That could work,” I know he is fasho not pulling up. 

Tim: Yeah. Like, nine times out of ten, if I hit you with a “I’ll see what’s up,” I’m not going.

Nyge: (laughs) Okay, so it was just earlier this year when you told us all on your channel that you were switching things up with your name, and loudly and proudly representing for your Thai people. In your mind, are Tim Chantarangsu and Timothy DeLaGhetto different people? 

Tim: I mean, you know what, Timothy DeLaGhetto was always me, right? But it was definitely, like, me turned up. You know, my content … Another reason why I feel like the name switch made sense was because my content is way different now, too. You know what I’m saying? I’m not, like, screaming in skits anymore. Even though, I mean, I look back and I’m like, “Man, that was funny,” right? And I’m proud of my past work, but I feel like, you know, I’ve been on YouTube since 2006. People evolve. You grow up a little bit. And for me, you know, even if you look at my content, it’s mainly the podcast. It’s more conversational. I’m not really necessarily even trying to be funny anymore, you know? So just embracing my real name is kind of more me, like, not only growing up a little bit, but also … The rona had me just thinking about life and thinking about just my legacy. And I was like, “I don’t want to be remembered necessarily as Timothy DeLaGhetto.” Like, if I was to go out, I want people to really know who I am and where I came from. And my Thainess is a big part of who I am.

Merk: So when are you going to change your booking email? Because right now it’s… 

Tim: (laughs) I’m not going to change the booking! We just gonna keep it as it is.

Merk: So you know this episode is about pushing the boundaries and so your fans know a lot about you, maybe even more than you know about you! As you said, you’ve been on YouTube since 2006, and we know stuff like where you grew up, a lot about your sex life, but also about how amazing your wife is ‘cause you dropped a diss track on her, which we gotta cue up for a hot second. Let’s get that.

(clip plays)

Merk: And my future husband, Samuel, better be playing that for me. (laughs) But because of that, has there ever been a time where one of your fans took how much they know you too far? 

Tim: You know what? Not not in real life. There was one time a dude threw me off because I was eating a burger and he came up behind and he was like, “Aren’t you supposed to be on a diet?” And I was like, “How’d you know that?” 

Merk: (laughs) Don’t call me out like that!

Tim: Right.

Nyge: Yo, that works though.

Tim: He was like, “You said in your video!” I was like, “Oh, damn. I totally forgot. I didn’t even realize.” I was like, “Why does this man know about my dietary restrictions?”

Nyge: Aye, you got people at least holding you accountable and everything like that.

Merk: That’s true.

Nyge: That’d be fire.

Tim: Yeah.

Nyge: I would fasho finish my burger though.

Merk: Has it gone the other way though? Where, like, you have overshared something and then in hindsight you’re like, “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t.” Because, I know for me, I tend to be an oversharer, because my mom and I, we’re super close or super tight. Me and my whole family actually. And I know you are with your parents. Like, you’ll talk about sex stuff and my mom and I are like that, but people are like, “Oh, I didn’t need to know that.” Like, when I was younger and I was a tween, I’d sleep on my parents’ floor in their room sometimes. And sometimes they’d just be like, you know… (wet noises)  

Tim: Oh gosh!

Merk: Doing their thing!

Tim: Right, right.

Nyge: The noise though!

Merk: Do you ever get yourself into those kinds of things? 

Tim: I think once things started to get more serious with Chia, she was like, “Just don’t talk about what we do.” When it comes to what she and I do in the bedroom, you know, I’ll leave that alone, especially since her family, you know, they watch my videos now, and even her dad listens to my podcast on occasion. So if I’m telling any sex stories, it’s like, ” Yo, back in the day, when I single…”

Merk: “When I was a youngin!”

Tim: “This happened,” you know.

Nyge: I was gonna say. I noticed that on the pod, too. You’ll be like, “Yo, back in the day.”

Tim: I always make sure, too.

Nyge: “I had a run where… ” In what ways has breaking your personal and professional boundaries actually helped you out in your career or even your personal life? 

Tim: I don’t really have a whole lot of boundaries, to be honest. My only real boundaries are like … So when I’m auditioning for parts in movies or TV shows, I told my agent I was like, “I’m down for anything except I’m not trying to be like a stereotypical Asian nerd.” That’s the main thing, because my whole goal is to represent for Asian dudes. So I’m not trying to do no stereotypical shit. Like, I feel like the most borderline stereotypical thing I did was I played like a Chinese food delivery guy, but I didn’t have an accent. I always tell people “No accents,” because, first of all, my Asian accents are actually trash. I can’t even do Asian accents. Oh! Okay, if we going to talk about the times that I might have bent those rules a little bit, right? When I was on Wild N Out — it’s a really funny moment too, so I don’t regret it — but D.C. Young Fly was going to do a Chris Tucker impression. And I was like, “Yo, what if I come out and do a Jackie Chan impression? We do like a little Rush Hour moment.” And normally, I never do Asian voices, ever. But I was like, “We gotta do this shit.” It was super funny, you know what I’m saying? And for that, I feel like if I’m doing an Asian celebrity, it’s not like I’m being the, “This is like a stereotype Asian dude accent.” I’m doing Jackie Chan. Oh! Let me tell you when I refused to do something. So this dude who’s a pretty known producer, but I was cool with. He was like, “Yo, I got a part for you in this movie. It’s gonna be all over. It’ll be dope.” I’m like, “Okay, dope! Sounds good.” And he was like, “Yeah. So this character is kind of nerdy,” and I was like “Umm. ” At first, I was already acting like “Ahh.” He was like “Yeah. He’s the camera dude in the movie and you know, he kinda gets … It’s really funny. He gets beat up.” And I was like “Umm, I don’t know.” So I’m already mad iffy, but I’m like, “Okay, let me read the script. Maybe there’s like a dope character arc or something that I get behind.” 

Merk: There’s a saving grace there.

Tim: Yeah, something. And then there’s literally a part in the script … When the actual movie came out, this part wasn’t even in the movie. But there’s a part in the script where it says this character that he wanted before, he gets into a fight and he, like, gets his pants pulled down. The script said “His tiny penis is flapping in the wind.” And I was like, “Bruh!”

Merk: Oh, my God.

Tim: I was like, “I can’t do this shit. I’m gonna send my people back, you know? I’m out here tryna make Asian dudes look good and I can’t do the f*cking little Asian dude joke. Little Asian dick joke, you know? 

Merk: Uh uh!

Tim: He was like, “What, you don’t want to do this?” I’m like, “Nah!” He was like, “Well, what part would you want to be in?” And I was like, “Umm.” He was like, “You want to play the lead?” I was like “Yeah, bro!” (laughs)

Nyge: (laughs) On a similar note, we know in the past that you’ve addressed comments on your YouTube videos, bringing up your wife, Chia, every time that you have a friend on who’s a model, or an adult film star with the booty next to your face in the thumbnail or whatever. But you and Chia both have repeatedly said that you’re cool with it. What kind of conversations did y’all have to have to get to that point in your relationship? 

Tim: Yeah, I mean, so when I got with Chia in the beginning, I mean, she didn’t even know that I made YouTube videos or whatever. And then she just never wanted to be surprised by anything. Like, she understands the business, she understands the acting. So as long as it wasn’t nothing where she put on the video and was like, “Oh, you kissing this girl? You didn’t tell me you was going to be kissing this girl.” But as long as she knew everything going on beforehand, she was like, “Okay, cool.” I mean, there was one time where … This is early on in our relationship. I’m not even sure if we were officially together yet. Like, we were just kind of dating. And she was in the room when I had to shoot this skit where I had to kiss this girl like 20 different times. You know, she’s just chillin’. And the thing about her is she knows she’s dope. So it’s like she knows that she’s dope and she knows that I think she’s dope. So she’s not insecure about it. Like, I remember one time I definitely tweeted something where she was like, “Aye, delete that.” And I was like, “Okay. Yes ma’am. Right away.” Because, you know, I say some some funny, reckless shit sometimes on Twitter just because I’m fucking around, you know?

Nyge: Right. So, I very recently got engaged and… 

Tim: Congrats!

Nyge: Thank you, man. Thank you. Thank you. And growing up my whole life, I’ve always had a pretty even mix of friends of all sexes. And my uncle pulled me aside at our engagement party and he was like, “Aye. All those friends over there? They gotta go.” And he was pointing to, like, all these women who I look at as like my big sisters and stuff like that. So, as a married man yourself, is that the case? Do all those friendships have to go or how does that work?

Tim: I mean, I’d be lying if I said I still hang out with my own girls like I used to. And that’s not to say that there’s any issues or anybody where Chia’s, like, jealous or anything like that. But, you know, it just kind of happens when you get married, bro. Like, you’re with your wife the majority of the time. And I think the important thing is, like, making sure she knows what’s up. You know, make sure this isn’t a random ass home girl popping up out of nowhere. Make sure she heard the name before. And make sure they like each other, because once they start liking each other’s pictures on Instagram, then it’s fine.

Nyge: Then it’s all good. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately because me and one of my friends, this girl, one of my best friends, I’m about to get my now fiance’s ring cleaned before I was about to propose. And, you know, money was a little short at the moment, but I was like, “I get paid tomorrow or whatever. Can you Cash App me some money so I can get it cleaned? Imma hit you back tomorrow.” She’s like, “Okay, cool.” So she did it. Then she was like, “I don’t know. Can I still do that, like, once you get married or is that a your wife type thing or whatever?” And I was like, “I don’t really know. But I hope that if I’m still in a pinch, like, you’ll still help me out or whatever.” 

Tim: Oh, like send you money?

Nyge: Yeah, like, send money. Or even, like, I was thinking about it too with even just hopping on FaceTime all the time. Like, you know, I’ll be in bed, I’ll hop off on FaceTime like, “Yo, wassup bruh.” Like, I’ll talk to my homies, but I’ll be like, “Shoot. I wonder if it’s going to be… ” 

Tim: I mean, y’all just got to figure that out, bro. You know, I’m not a big FaceTimer. So definitely I feel like … Let’s say wifey saw me Cash Apping a girl a bunch of shit. It would be weird. Definitely be like, “Who the f*ck is this,” you know? So that’s something to talk about, too. But like I said, I really only kick it with, like, three different people, so I’m not sending nobody money either. But congrats. When are you get married? 

Nyge: Next … I can’t say that live on the pod, but… 

(audio cuts out)

Tim: Congrats, man!

Nyge: But, yeah. Soon, soon, soon.

Tim: Aye, marriage is lit. 

Nyge: I’m excited for it.

Tim: Like, you get engaged, a lot of dudes will be like, “Man, don’t do it. Don’t do it. Your life is over.” But, not going lie, bro, I love it. It’s pretty great. 

Nyge: It’s been, dope so far. Like, you know, we’ve been running through Ashley Furniture and Living Spaces and doing all the wedding planning. I mean, it definitely comes with some breakdowns and stuff like that, especially with rona. But it’s been just like a beautiful time all together, not to get too sappy. It’s dope. I 100% recommend it. 

Merk: So one final question now that you’re booed up for life: what’s one boundary you’ve had to bend now that wifey’s in the picture?

Tim: Okay. Now I always poop with the door unlocked. I would always lock the door whenever I pooped. 

Merk: What?

Tim: Yeah, I always locked the door when I pooped, and she’s like, “Don’t lock the door. What if there’s an emergency and I need to get to you for some reason?” So now I unlock the door when I poop. She poops with the door open. For me, this is my personal time. 

Merk: That’s your boundaries.

Tim: Yes. That is my one boundary. I’m pretty open with everything else, but when I’m shitting, leave me alone. Like, I need to just have my time and my space. And that’s the one thing. She used to be like, “Yo.” She used to be like, “What if I need to, like, brush my teeth while you’re pooping?” I’m like, “No! Get out!” 

Merk: Alright, well, whether you poop with the door open or closed, we all have our boundaries and we respect them all. And Tim, we want to thank you so much for being here with us.

Tim: Thanks for having me.

Nyge: Thank you so much. It is a pleasure to get you finally on the Pod. Be sure to follow him on IG and check him out on YouTube @timchantarangsu. And of course, buy some of his merch at goodiebrand.com! Tim, thank you for showing up.

Tim: Hey thanks for having me guys. I appreciate the love and support and good luck with everything. 

[Episode Break]

Nyge: All righty. We are back and Merk’s about to get into a personal story. Will you let us know what it’s about, Merk? 

Merk: Okay, in three words, it’s about adult sibling relationships. But, more specifically, me and my big brother’s dynamic. How we’ve had to talk about our boundaries with each other and how doing that isn’t really easy. 

Nyge: Okay, well, take it away.

[Episode Break]

Merk: It’s the summer before my sophomore year of college. It’s nighttime. The air is a crispy, cool that you can only get in the Pacific Northwest. And I’m with my brother Andy. He’s three years older than I am. We’re sitting around a bonfire in our parents’ driveway when he dramatically turns to me and says:

“I’m about to say something that’s gonna change your life.”

“Oh. Uh, okay?”

“You need to live your life for yourself.”

“Uh, okay?”

“What I mean is … don’t live it for mom, dad, our big sister, or even me. Live it for you. Yourself. You know what I mean.”

(music plays)

I actually don’t. But because Andy, who is usually more reserved about this kind of stuff and is telling me it’ll, “Change my life,” I take it to heart. After all, he is the person who taught me how to drive, play catch and braid my hair. You ever hear the saying “Give a person a fish, you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, you feed them for a lifetime?” Well, as the youngest in the family, I’ve been given the fish for a loooong time. I don’t know how to cook and I don’t know how to set up my own WiFi. But Andy does all that stuff — not only for himself, but for our family too. And I’ve always admired him for it. That’s not to say he’s never dependent on anyone because he’ll ask me to proofread his work documents, school papers or Instagram captions. But yeah, this is a clear sign that in order to live the life I want, I gotta do things for myself. Andy’s message sinks in deeper each day. By 21 years old, I learn how to make my own ramen, negotiate my curfew time and ultimately move to New York City after graduation, a place I only dreamed of living in before our fireside chat. 

(music plays)

I’m 22 now and used to living on my own. I’ve adjusted to long distance with my partner, Samuel, and I’m able to hold it down financially. I’m settling down for bed when I get a FaceTime call from Andy.

“Heyyyy, me and dad are having dinner in the garage.” 

“Ooh nice. Hi Ba!”

“Hey baby!”

That’s when Andy blindsides me with — “So have you thought about your future?”

“Uhh, yeah? All the time. That’s why I’m away. Working toward the future I want.”

“Okay, yeah, but I’m talking about your relationships.” 

I sense he’s bringing this up because he’s looking out for me. But I also hear something in his voice that makes me wanna roll my eyes.

“Like, you and Sam. You’ve been gone a few years.”

Yup, there it is. “I know.”

“Don’t you ever think that he’ll want to leave you for someone else because you’re gone all the time? You being away is really hard on him, you know.”

Hearing that makes me want to shut down. Maybe he’s right. I could just move back and make it easier for everyone. It’s not like I haven’t considered it. I’m about to tell him I’ll think about it when something in me suggests I take a deep breath.

(deep breath)

“It’s hard for both of us, Andy. You think Samuel and I haven’t talked about this before? ‘Cause we definitely have. I just don’t let that kind of fear dictate our relationship. And I don’t know how you bringing this up is any of your business.”

“Well I’m just saying … that’s not the kind of relationship I would wanna be in.”

Now my face is hot. I love the life I’m creating for myself and the sacrifices that come with it. So I say, “Okay, then don’t speak for him. And stop trying to make me feel bad about my choices.” I feel a little bad for snapping back at him. Should I feel bad? I don’t know. At the very least, I know I feel bad about feeling bad. That’s just the kind of person I am… and also when my dad jumps in.

“Hey con, it’s your sister’s life. You know I always say true love can wait anyway.”

The call ends shortly after that. 

Whoa. I just stood up for myself. To Andy! In front of Ba, which never happens! (laughs) I did that!”

It takes me some time before I tell Andy how his words in our last call make me feel. While I come from a tight knit family where the dinner table is never quiet, I still struggle to bring up my wants and needs. So when I finally do tell Andy, I hear the guilt in his voice. He genuinely apologizes and ‘cause of that … we’re good.

Then I make the move to LA with the hopes that living in Hollywood is gonna help me find more voice acting gigs. However, COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order makes the in-person connections I wanna make a whole lot harder. So I drive to 99 Ranch Market to get some emergency comfort food, which, for me, is rice. But when I get to the aisle, it’s completely wiped clean. Something I’ve never seen at an Asian supermarket in all my 24 years. ~ slightly cooler, more alarming ~ I try to keep cool, but my heart starts to race. At the same time, I get a notification on my phone. And another one. And another. It’s a huge thread of texts from Andy.

(overlapping gradually)

“You stocked up? Now is the time.”
“People are on edge and possibly getting desperate.”
“I know this sounds extreme…” 
“The world we live in hasn’t had to tackle a pandemic.”
“These lockdowns will cause a recession.”
“Better to be prepared than not.”

It gets hard to breathe. I don’t respond. Instead, I leave the store, get inside my car, and lock the door before the panic attack takes over me. When it does, I start uncontrollably sobbing and between my cries I’m gasping for air. I feel completely helpless, but eventually, I let it pass. As soon as I get home, I get a call from Andy. Part of me doesn’t want to answer.

“Hey lil’ sis…”

Another part of me wants his company. Plus, he only calls me Lil Sis when he knows something’s up.

“…what’s goin’ on?”

I tell him everything. Unlike in the past where I try to damage control my own feelings and other people’s, I speak freely. I let him know how his texts make me feel — incapable, concerned and juvenile. He listens intently and says:

“I know you probably don’t want to think about the worst case scenario, but we have no idea what this virus is capable of. So, let’s walk you through some possibilities. First, how would you feel if I drove from Seattle to pick you up? Or even took Samuel with me? I… ”

I silently cry. I thought I was doing so well on my own. But Andy’s texts and the call remind me that maybe I’m not as prepared as I thought. At least, not like he is. I wanna tell him “I don’t need your protection. I’m not a baby anymore! I also don’t want to put you at risk for coming to get me. I’m safe where I’m at. Home, which is here. I know you care but I just need space.” Instead, I shut down again and just silently take in what he says. It’s not until weeks later when I process my feelings through an essay about my freak out rice moment and talks with Andy. It gets published and I send him a link asking for his thoughts. I’m thinking he’ll be proud that I’m living my life for myself and speaking my truth. But instead, he’s really upset that I resorted to a public callout rather than talking to him one on one. And so begins our two months of silence. The longest I’ve ever gone without talking to my brother. 

I finally call my parents and sister, Kristy, to get a sense of how Andy’s doing, and if he’s been asking about me. One night, Kristy says:

“Yeah, he wanted to know if we think you miss us. And he was pretty quiet after that.” 

A few hours later, Andy sends me a text saying this:

“Sorry I haven’t been talking to you. The truth is I’ve been angry at you. I brought you up at dinner tonight. The more I talked about how angry I was, the more I realized what I really am is missing you. Didn’t even realize it. Even though you’re an adult, I still see you at this age in my eyes… ” 

He sends a picture of us as kids — him 7, me 4. He’s got his hands on his hips wearing a helmet watching over me as I’m holding up a long stick in my hands.

“I know you’re seeking your own identity and hope you find what you’re looking for. Take as much time as you need … just don’t forget I miss having you around.”

For three weeks after that text, Andy and I still don’t talk too much. I almost call him to get his thoughts on how to properly hold a Chef’s knife when prepping vegetables, but I don’t. We’re not intentionally trying to avoid each other, just allowing for the space we need. Although it’s more space than I’d prefer. Then, in June, I get a surprise text.

“Hey, can you check your email? I’ve got an essay for you to proofread.”

He writes about the importance of correcting the social injustices of our country by voting and genuinely caring. It’s inspired by our parents’ struggles with the Vietnam War and George Floyd’s death. It’s extremely thoughtful. And knowing that he’s a relatively private person and actually wants to get this message out on his Facebook wall, makes it even more meaningful. We call each other up and begin editing the draft. He sounds tired when he speaks but calm and open to criticism. I point out the same grammatical mistakes he’s been making since high school. And we both crack up. Other than that, there’s not much to change. Before we end the call, I ask, “Hey, would you be cool with me telling a story about what we went through?”

“Hmm… Yeah. I trust you won’t cross me again. ‘Cause you know what’ll happen if you do.”

And there goes Andy being Andy. Maybe I needed to say some of that stuff about Andy out loud where I couldn’t take it back to truly stand my own ground. As for this story, he knows it’s happening and respects that I’ll tell it in a way that’s true to me. 

(music plays)

Nyge: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Merk. That was an amazing story.

Merk: Thank you. I’m glad you think so.

Nyge: But I want to get to the juice. Were there any bumps in the road along the way?

Merk: Oh, yeah. I mean, even when he heard the semi-final draft of this story, he’s like, “Why’d you make my voice sound like that?” I’m like, “Sound like what?”

Nyge: See, this is the stuff. This is the stuff!

Merk: This is the stuff you want, right? He’s like, “You made my voice sound super deep. Like, I don’t talk like that. You’re mocking me.” I’m like, “Dude, I’m am not trying to mock you. I am just … I want to be a voice actress. Like, this is a voice in my head and it just happens to be you as a character. But I know you don’t totally talk like that.” And I think him just being like, “Okay, well, I don’t want to impede on your artistic creativity. Like, I do respect the work you do.” And he’s a big fan of the show, so I appreciate that. But it’s weird, because it’s, like, in some ways, I’m still trying to seek approval, or proving a point that, “Hey, I’m not just the little sister who’s in the baby box. I’m this adult woman.” And I think he knows that. But sometimes I perceive it in a way that I’m like, “Does he really know that?” I don’t know. 

Nyge: I can identify with that. The thing that jumps out to me immediately about the story is Andy’s voice almost feels like the voice behind your conscience or something. Like, your internal voice telling you, “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t do that,” or, “Hey, maybe you should do this.” But it seems like because of that, he can get to you so quickly. It’s because you already heard everything that he’s saying to you already internally before he voiced it out loud. So do you think that’s why he gets to you so quick? 

Merk: Well, yeah, because it’s, like, I have methodically thought about some of these things that he’s bringing up. So for him to bring it up to me again, I’m like, “Dude, I’ve already thought of this.” It’s like when someone older tells you, “Hey, don’t you know?” And you’re like, “Yes, I do know.” I have thought about these things. And I think that’s just what’s difficult about adult sibling relationships. You know, because you knew each other in those younger years, you will kind of always see each other in that way. Like, I’ll always kind of see myself in that baby box, even if I am 45. And that’s okay to an extent. I think as long as you can still be respectful to each other and treat each other the way you want to be treated. 

Nyge: Right. I’m so glad you brought that up, because this is something that I run into all the time, and that’s communicating with my adult sibling. 

Merk: You’ve got a brother, too. 

Nyge: Yeah. He always thinks everything that I’m saying is super sarcastic. And it’s, like, we aren’t able to talk because we just blow up so quick. So, how do you talk to your adult sibling in a way that doesn’t result into an immediate fight? 

Merk: Well, you just got to be explicit. You know, if he thinks you’re being sarcastic, be like, “Hey, I’m not being sarcastic in what I’m about to say.” And then say whatever it is you have, because for Andy and I, I think if he had led with, “Hey, I’m letting you know this because I love you and I care for you,” if I had heard that, I might have taken things way differently in the story. So even though the intention you have behind something is one way, if you don’t explicitly say it, there’s no way the other person can know, even if you’ve known them for your whole life. 

Nyge: Right. I’ll try it out and I’ll see how it goes. We’ll check back in later. 

Merk: Yes, report back. 

Merk: And until then, y’all, we have come to the end of our show. So today’s top takeaways are one, take the time and space you need to figure out how to let others know what your boundaries are and clearly state those intentions. And if that doesn’t work, slide into the DMs. We’ll figure it out. And two, close the door when you doodoo, if that’s true to you you.

Nyge: Yeah, and that’s definitely true to me me. 

Merk: Not me. 

Nyge: So, without further de de … Nah, I’m playing. (laughs) Thanks for rocking with us on Adult ISH, produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation.

Merk: Thanks to the people who help us push our limits in every episode: our producer Georgia Wright, Senior Producer Davey Kim, our EP Rebecca Martin and Lissa Soep for editing my story, and of course, our sound engineer Galnadgee Joe-Johnson.

Nyge: We really wanna hear from y’all about boundaries in your life that you’re navigating, because your experiences might be different from ours but just as important. So slide into the DMs and we promise to respond and chop it up with every single one of you on all the socials @YRadultISH. And if that’s out of your comfort zone, we respect that! Just be sure to rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcast and leave a little anonymous review here and there. That one is non-negotiable. We do not understand if that’s out of your comfort zone.

Merk: We got a special guest here for this next little part. Someone who I love dearly and pushes my buttons in the same way I push his … My big brother Andy!

Nyge: Andy! 

Andy: Hey, Angela, a.k.a. Merk. Adult ISH is a proud member of Radiotopia by PRX … I messed that up … Adult ISH is proud to be a member of Radiotopia by PRX, an independent listener-supported collective of some of the most box-breaking shows in all of podcasting. Find them at radiotopia.fm.

Merk: Hey, great job. Can I ask you something though?

Andy: Sure, whatcha got?

Merk: How many tears did you ugly cry hearing the story about us?

Andy: Ugly cry? I would say there was one quick second of ugly cry before I had to hide my tears from my girlfriend who was sitting next to me.

Merk: Aww! Well, I love you! And thank you listening always.

Andy: Love you too, Angela. Keep up the good work.

Merk: Yup, not gonna call me Merk though. Alright. (small laugh from Andy)

Nyge: Yes it’s all love here, everybody! Talk to you two weeks from now. We’re going to be taking some time off and we hope you do, too. On that note, we’re out of here. 

Merk: Bye!

Coronavirus Update to YR Media Community
Coronavirus Update to YR Media Community