The letter L is coming, don’t worry, but today I must I interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a very important announcement.
Baby Claire is here!
My champion Fisky sister was admitted to the hospital at 7:30 am on Friday, June 27th and didn’t stop (or eat any real food!) until she had herself a baby at 9:09 pm. And, as expected, she’s perfection.
World (i.e. readers of Under the Tapestry), please welcome my newest niece, Claire Elizabeth.
This is what really kills me though– Claire with her big sister. And Emma is being a top notch big sister. Turns out, she’s way less selfish than I was when my baby sister came around!
Could they be any cuter?!
It’s times like these when this distance is extra hard. My sister is so much more than just my sister, she’s my best friend, my confidante, my favorite person on this Earth… and Lake Michigan is IN THE WAY of all that at the moment.
Maybe it’s for the best though. Emma and Claire have two sets of devoted grandparents who need to squeeze those cheeks and spoil them rotten before it’s my turn. So I’ll leave them to it… for now.
But get ready, girlies! Auntie Rachel is on her way!
And don’t worry, Fisky Sister, I’m fully prepared for cooking, laundry, dog walking, diaper changing, Lifetime movie watching… whatever it is that you need. I’m even bringing you dairy-free banana muffins! Surprise! Best sister ever!
(Don’t worry, she won’t be reading this right now. She just had a baby… a SECOND baby. No way does she have time for bloggity blogs.)
First thing Thursday morning, I’ll be trekking across the UP (yesssss…) with several books on CD and plans to stop at the lovely little rest stop in Naubinway for a photo op on the dunes of Lake Michigan. Then across the bridge and downstate a ways to Midland, land of these little darlings.
Only a couple more days!
I will likely have some relatively shoddy internet in the interim (making an overnight stop at a cabin in the northwoods with my husband and his family), but I’ve got stuff cooking for the letters L and M… so you can expect them shortly. I just wanted to take this moment to share the most shiny silver lining of all.
True, I have no babies. And I’m having a lot of trouble trying to have babies. As such, it can be hard to watch other people have baby after baby after baby and know that I can’t. It’s hard not to feel broken. But then my sister has one… and wow.
The truth is that someone else having a baby has absolutely no bearing on whether I can or can’t, will or won’t, should or shouldn’t. It’s unrelated. And it’s amazing. My sister has brought two incredible little humans into this world, and even I am surprised at how deeply and how quickly I’ve fallen in love with them.
I’m sure it’s good to be a mama, but I don’t know that good yet. What I do know is that it’s great to be an auntie and awesome to be a sister. And I’m happy to be those things any day, any time.
You know how people get about bacon? Like obsessive? Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel about kielbasa. When it’s on sale at Festival (love my grocery store!) I always stock up and have some in the freezer. It’s great have it on hand– especially in the winter. Nothing (nothing!!) makes soup more delicious!
The reason kielbasa is worthy of an entire letter-based post all on its own, though, is more than just the sausage. It’s about what it represents.
You see, once upon a time I didn’t think I liked kielbasa. I know that I don’t like potato sausage (yoopers, I tell ya), and I assumed they were pretty much the same thing. So I always avoided it. Until one Easter at the farm (my first one in Wisconsin) when there was simply no way to avoid it. It was Easter breakfast, we were at the farm before church, and I had to eat something. Toast and donuts were out on account of the gluten (let’s talk about that some more in the near future) and I’m super picky about fruit (as in, I’ll eat some grapes, sure, but only if they haven’t touched the melon, thankyouverymuch). I recognize that I’m way too old to have these kinds of food avoidance issues, but it’s a pretty big thing for me– like maybe I’m on the autism spectrum or something? Certain foods… I just can’t do it. Not-green onions. Green peppers. Melon of any kind. Strawberries, but only when whole or sliced, I think they are delicious blended or dehydrated. Super weird, I know.
Anyway, on that particular Easter morning, I ate the kielbasa. Just a small piece at first. And then another small piece, because dang, that was pretty tasty. And then some more. And more and more and more and now I’m in love with it.
I tried something I was scared of! At the farm! And I liked it!
Same goes for asparagus, rhubarb, kale, kholrabi, swiss chard, rutabaga, chia seeds, lemons, zucchini, cream cheese (yes, even cream cheese)…
Sometimes I still don’t like things even after I try them– oranges, for example. (Even thinking about them creeps me out! That awful, awful smell!) And white or yellow onions. (Red, green, or shallots I can do…) But I can definitely pat myself on the back for trying them.
Trying new things is super hard for me though. Just ask my friend Melissa– she supported me through the great zucchini trial of 2012. We were spending a week together at a beautiful beach house in Huntington Beach, California. It was a gorgeous and ridiculously happy week and the whole time, Melissa and I pretended to be sister-wives. It… was… awesome. (Our husbands declared that they were, in that case, brother-husbands, but that’s just ridiculous.) Melissa and I drove all over up and down the Pacific Coast Highway (yes, that PCH!!) grocery shopping and we picked up some absolutely darling tiny zucchinis at Trader Joe’s. Melissa sauteed it and I screwed up my courage until I could finally take a bite. And when I did, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, I actually liked it! So much so that it’s my go-to vegetable for stir fry these days and I’m always happy to take prolific garden zucchini off anyone’s hands!
My pickiness is embarrassing, honestly. Not only that, but I can’t have lactose. I just can’t do it– even lactaid is barely cutting it these days. Alas, that little magic pill always was to good to be true. Cheese and I? We’re just not meant to be. Which is a shame, because with the exception of cream cheese (until recently and only in frosting) I love pretty much all cheese. (Especially my very own Cheesehead husband!!)
I can have kielbasa though. And I can try other new things. More importantly: I will try new things. I can walk over to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning (also hosted at my local Festival grocery store– love it!) and pick out something new and interesting. I can see if my favorite farmer has a special veggie of the week for my to try– he introduced me to purple beans and rutabaga (except he pronounces it root-a-beggy, which I love) and hasn’t led me astray so far! True, I may be picky, but I’m no longer unwilling to at least try.
To think– it all started with kielbasa. That’s an affair to remember.
Speaking of no lactose, here’s an un-fun fact: Alieve Cold and Sinus, the best drug for congestion ever, uses lactose as a filler. DANG IT! Want to know how I found out? Well, after I spent this morning at work running to the bathroom over and over again, I checked the ingredients, and there it was… lactose. Not cool. The thing that kills me is that talc, as in chalk, is an ingredient, and yet they still felt the need to sprinkle some lactose in. WHY?! Would the chalk have been less tasty with just a little more chalk and no lactose? I highly doubt it! Anyway, now I know, and I won’t be taking Alieve Cold and Sinus, the wonder drug, anymore… regardless of how congested I am.
Want to know why I’m congested? Seth brought me a cold home from Miami last time he was there. So nice of him to be so considerate of me, but I’ve asked him to forget about any gifts in the future.
J is for the author and psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the book Full Catastrophe Living and a huge proponent of mindfulness (no, it doesn’t really start with a j, silent or otherwise).
Although I haven’t actually finished reading the book yet (it’s a monster!), I am becoming more and more interested in the idea of mindfulness. Or more than idea, really– the science of mindfulness. (It’s a science that literally has it’s own journal, peer-reviewed and PubMed-indexed. Dang.) It’s another one of those things that keeps coming up over and over and over again… and the universe only has to put something in my face so many times before I actually take notice.
Would I have admitted to mindfulness being a legitimate science even 6 months ago? Absolutely not. The excellent thing about being an actual scientist (despite my work place’s unwillingness to call me one– only scientists can be trusted with a per diem!) is that I’m totally cool with allowing the evidence to change my mind. With regard to mindfulness, my mind is just about completely changed.
And I’m not the only scientist who feels that way. As I was contemplating mindfulness as a topic for the letter J (because… J… right…), I came across this Humans of New York (HONY) post.
Mindfulness, inner voice, meditation, introspection– it’s all kind of the same thing. The new age mumbo jumbo that has always intrigued me, yet turned me away because… well, because I am a scientist, darn it! And I thought I was supposed to be against all that!
According to this guy though, lots of scientists are into mindfulness and the like. And I am certainly convinced of that after attending the HMO Research Network (HMORN) conference back at the beginning of May. I saw several oral and poster presentations presenting hard evidence* suggesting that mindfulness practices improve physiological measures of health in patients with diabetes, heart disease, and several psychological conditions. It’s certainly not a panacea, as nothing is, but to think about the power our minds have over our bodies is amazing. To see evidence of it? Even more so.
For example, people with diabetes could literally reduce their hemoglobin A1c by 1 – 2% over the course of an 8 week mindfulness practice. If you’re familiar with glycemic control in the context of diabetes, that will undoubtedly impress you. That’s a number that takes considerable time and effort to change, and it’s a really good measure of diabetes management.
Because I’m always quoting Mumford and Sons:
In these bodies you will live, in these bodies you will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.
— Awake My Soul, Mumford and Sons
Isn’t that it? Mindfulness? Investing in yourself… love here meaning time and energy; a moment for yourself.
I know, I sound like I drank the Kool-Aid and that’s that. Not the case, I assure you.
For months my therapist has been gently suggesting meditation and breathing and such… mindfulness practices. Every time, I nodded my head like a good girl, an agreeable girl, but in my head, I thought he might be Looney Toons… at least a little too “new age” for my liking.
He knew I’d come around though. And I did. Good call, Dr. C!
HMORN piqued my interest for seriously and I started reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book. Then, all at once, we had a grand rounds on mindfulness and I had a therapy appointment where once more Dr. C tried to convince me in his nonchalant way that mindfulness is where it’s at… the confluence of all these events was somewhat striking and it wasn’t until then that I realized I didn’t have to be good at mindfulness right away and that I could ease into it.
Doing something I’m not good at?! Ugh! That’s not how I prefer to operate, but at least it seemed slightly less daunting.
So I started doing 4-7-8 breathing… all the time. In the middle of the day, when I’m feeling stressed, first thing in the morning, and before I go to sleep. It’s so easy, even a skeptical nerd like me can do it. I just close my eyes, breath in for 4 counts, hold it for 7, then exhale for 8… times three in a row… several times a day. I don’t know why it works, but it does. When I open my eyes again, I feel like I’m coming back from somewhere else. Every time. Try it!
Here’s a video from the real deal (i.e. not me) Dr. Andrew Weil. My favorite part is in the beginning when he is describing the yogic way you’re supposed to breath and says, “no idea what that means in terms of Western physiology, but they’re the ones who invented it, so we should do what they say.”
I like that– just because you don’t know why it works, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
I don’t envision myself sitting on a pillow for hours at a time in a quest for nirvana, but I certainly don’t think it would hurt to take baby steps toward a more mindful style of living. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindful-based stress reduction seems to be a good start!
*I say hard evidence here to mean something that is measurable, but relatively un-bias-able. There are, of course, all sorts of validated self-report questionnaires that can be used to measure outcomes of mindfulness practices, but I always wonder about how “real” that is… likely because it’s not my field, not my comfort zone. But in the studies I’m discussing here, people were actually drawing blood and making laboratory-based measurements of different compounds. That’s what I mean by “hard” evidence.
Not in the prison way.
And since we’re talking about mindfulness, let’s briefly touch on the complete opposite for a moment– mindlessness. Or, as I like to call it, The Bachelorette. A couple of my Marshfield friends got me into it this season and I’m hooked, it’s like checking out completely for two hours and liking it. And it makes Mondays so much better! Plus: girls night, every Monday! Tonight we even had oatmeal cream pies (mmmm… Little Debbie). Anyway, Marcus and Brian… right?! RIGHT?! I wish I could say Josh on account of being at the letter J, but… I just can’t. Enough now.
Before I get on with the business of the day, I’d like to clarify what I said about academic condescension yesterday. Please be assured that it is 100% knowledge-based snobbery, not title-based. In fact, I have considerably less patience for those with lots of letters behind there name and very few thoughts between their ears and I very much admire those without the letters who have come by incredible and complex thoughts by way of experience (my dad, my friends Marie and Michele– really, really incredible thinkers, no need for letters). True, I have some letters behind my own name, but I am of the opinion that having a “terminal” degree doesn’t mean the end of learning, nor is it the only path to being learn-ed. <End Rant> Hash tag– yes, that’s personal.
I is an interesting letter in this little adventure you and I are on.
Originally I was going to wax poetic about icing. You see, frosting was the first binge food I ever got caught with. (Got caught with… not first binge. Big difference.) Kind of a big deal when it was discovered in my filing cabinet. (Because what second grader doesn’t ask for a file cabinet for Christmas??? And what third grader doesn’t keep a carton of chocolate frosting and a spoon inside?) Except, while working my way to the letter I, I was also reading two books– Innocence by Dean Koontz (to get technical about it, that was actual my Audible book that I listened to while running, walking, or mowing the lawn– talk about motivation! dang!) and My Own Country by Abraham Verghese (a gift from my dear friend Suma because she thought I’d like it… and did I ever!) and the parallels and really interesting points about innocence were too poignant to ignore.
Therefore, the letter I is for the idea of innocence. Super interesting– just hear me out!!!
The Dean Koontz book is kind of a given here. I’ve been a little bit disappointed with some of his most recent work (77 Shadow Street? It was the pits! Took me for-ev-er to slog through it and even at the end, I was unable to find any redeeming qualities), but this book captured me pretty much immediately. The basic premise is this: a guy who cannot be seen, a girl who cannot be touched, both social exiles, but things change when they find each other. There’s that supernatural Dean Koontz-y element that I love so much and the story was so so good. In the end (not really a spoiler, don’t worry) you find out that the reason for the main characters’ differences was literally their absolute and complete innocence– an innocence so magnificent that anyone who looked at them or touched them was doomed to instantaneous reflection on all the reason that they themselves were not innocent. And that’s not pretty for anyone.
The Abraham Verghese book? Totally different! Dr. Verghese is the MD who wrote Cutting for Stone, which is truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Cutting for Stone is fictional, it’s beautiful, it’s amazing… read it! My Own Country is an autobiographical account of Dr. Verghese’s “coming of age” as an infectious disease specialist during the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.
Where’s the parallel, right?’
I’m getting there.
Verghese is an amazing writer because he is so beautifully honest, even when the things he’s being honest about aren’t so beautiful. He does not write himself as a hero, he writes himself as a man– warts and all. (He never actually mentions warts, just flaws. I say warts because I used to have SO many warts on my left knee, you guys. It was awful. I was in derm every other week because this was before the time of the canned freezy do-it-at-home spray stuff. It was an awful time! Now I wrote about my warts and you will think of me as a beautifully and genuinely honest author, right?)
Anyway, in My Own Country Verghese talks a lot about how his patients were contracting HIV in the small town of eastern Tennessee in which he lived and worked. As you are likely aware, the AIDS epidemic really came to light in the United States amongst gay men. Yes, there were also many cases that resulted from intravenous drug use, blood transfusions, and in hemophiliacs receiving clotting factor concentrates, but it was risky sexual behaviors that were the hot topic. Especially because, at the time, homosexuality was rarely talked about and certainly not well-accepted by any means. As such, Vergheese found himself immersed in a sub-culture that he was completely unfamiliar with and he had so many questions. Not necessarily about the lifestyle, the culture, or anything, although those things were certainly of interest– more so about himself, his prejudices, his biases, his thoughts on innocence and guilt and what having HIV and AIDS really meant.
At one point, Verghese describes meeting a heterosexual couple who were both HIV infected. The husband had undergone heart surgery, during which he had received several units of blood… HIV-infected blood. He then transmitted the virus to his wife. A very sad story, of course, and Vergheese found himself emotionally invested from the get go… this poor, innocent couple.
Until he questioned his notion of what it actually meant to be innocent. If this couple was “innocent,” did that imply that the gay men he routinely saw were somehow not innocent?
I love so much that he questioned himself, his own beliefs, his own prejudices. How many of us can say that we generally do? That we can examine our own thoughts about guilt and innocence and to admit that maybe we weren’t being completely objective… completely fair.
It was interesting to read these two books simultaneously… the first describing how much we can despise the innocent for emphasizing our own shortcomings, the second pointing out our quick leap to a judgement and dislike of those we consider “guilty.” Such an interesting dichotomy.
Innocent, guilty… ultimately– “who am I to judge?” I think Pope Francis got it right. Who are any of us to judge?
I know that I am not innocent– far from it (remember the chocolate frosting??? also, I’ve been a big fat liar since day one, etc, etc, etc). As such, you shouldn’t find me casting any stones.
Shouldn’t being the operative word.
Because sometimes, I think I do. Ok, I know I do.
I appreciate Abraham Verghese bringing this to my attention, for making me really think about innocence and what my own prejudices might be. And Dean Koontz for underscoring the point when it was brought to mind.
Reading and thinking… do it! Even fiction can make a difference!
H was almost for Harry Potter. Almost. I mean, I love Harry Potter. LOVE IT.
But my favorite part of Harry Potter:
The hair! The brain! The condescension!
She’s perfection 🙂
I knew it from the moment she introduced herself and one-upped the boys with her oculus repairo spell.
Also, I love that my brother called her HER-ME-OH-KNEE until we saw the movie. It makes me smile so big. Until I remember that he got pissed off about something after like the fifth book and never finished them. Can you even imagine the insane level of dissatisfaction? Maybe someday he’ll finish the series up. (Please, Stubby?)
I’m sure it’s pretty obvious to you why I like Hermione so much– I totally relate to her. On so many levels.
First: the hair. We’ve talked about that before, mine gets pretty insane. Once, my friend Aimie‘s kids were in my office and we were talking about Harry Potter and I told them my hair was just like Hermione’s. Noah didn’t believe me, so I pulled it out of the ponytail it was in to demonstrate. Both of their jaws dropped– it was too cute! Yep, my hair is a big, frizzy mess. But if it’s good enough for Hermione, it’s good enough for me! (And it’s also why I do better in the north!)
Second: the brain! My brain is definitely my biggest, and strongest, asset. (But seriously, I have a very big head, I imagine that I must have quite a bit of brains in there to fill all the space.) I thrive on knowledge, on learning. I looooove to read. Anything and everything. In fact, I used to take the dictionary into the bathroom with me as a little kid (ask my parents, it’s 100% true) and I’d sit on the toilet and soak in all the new words. I also read my encyclopedia set from cover to cover and bookmarked all of the interesting pages (i.e. I bookmarked pretty much all of the pages). If only I weren’t a muggle… think of all the magic there would be to learn.* (I’m not kidding, you guys, my head is literally real big.)
And third: let’s be honest, it’s totally the academic condescension. I’m the worst. I try really hard to be cool about people not knowing things, and yet… I’m kind of not. I’m a snob. Sue me.
That whole “it’s not wingardium leviOsa it’s wingardium leviosA” thing is totally me. To a T. Or an H, even 🙂
And I know other people have noticed. As recently as grad school, my advisor said to me that she thought I might have a hard time teaching because I’d have to be patient with people who weren’t as smart as me.
Oooo. Burn on me!
But I can recognize that truth about myself. We all have our flaws… even me and Hermione.
*Seriously, though. I am half magical, on my mom’s side. Not 100% muggle. I’m not even kidding. My Grandma Rita’s parents, Alex and Rachel (my namesake) Liberacki were professional magicians.
No, I do not know how they do that. Little bit of whiffle dust, I suppose. I did learn lots of tricks though when I was younger– magic in the talent show was totally my thing. Except for the year when I sang Matchmaker, Matchmaker with two other girls and three mops. Or the year I read Shel Silverstein poems…
Oh man, I am such a Hermione!
… Read on if you’re a die hard HP fan like me …
I wore this sweet necklace to work today and I was suddenly aware of it’s heaviness against my chest in the middle of the day, which is when I realized:
This Petoskey stone is the horcrux in which I keep the Michigan girl part of my soul.
That way, even if I die, that bit of me never will.
Voldermort may have been on to something.
Congress, take note– that is how you act bipartisan!
I am watching Frozen right now. I can’t believe I waited so long to see this movie! No one told me it was all about sisters! I freaking love sisters! (See the letter F.)
My friend Christina is a real life Harvard professor. (That is a brag.) The most important thing I’ve ever learned from her is this: Harvard professors are real people, just like you and me, except they’re also brilliant.
Despite their brilliance and what I have to imagine amounts to pretty crazy demands on their time (business professional slacks don’t press themselves, you know!), they still make time to do normal people things like take pictures of their adorable children (they make really, really cute babies too, n = 1) and send awesome articles to nerds like ME on Facebook! Yesss!!!
Christina came across this article recently and thought it was likely to be more than a mere coincidence that it is the 30th anniversary of the movie Ghostbusters and I just made it to the letter G. Given her academic credentials, I’m going to go ahead and agree. Wholeheartedly. I do love the Ghostbusters! … as well as the paranormal in general.
When I first saw the article Christina sent, I was pretty shocked. I mean, I’m 30. And so is Ghostbusters. So it came out shortly after I was born and obviously I didn’t watch it right away. (Or maybe I did? But methinks I was unlikely to have comprehended even if that is the case.)
But then I thought about it and realized that Ghostbusters was a really big deal, even years after the movie. I was obsessed with the cartoon and basically wished for Slimer to be my pet. I drank ecto-coolers (despite hating the orange flavor) and played Ghostbusters with my friends. (Who, incidentally, were clearly sexist pigs and always made me play Jeanine, never a Ghostbuster, because I was the only girl. A-holes. I’m over it.)
And still: I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!
Truly, though. I find ghosts to be absolutely fascinating and I cannot tell you how much I wish for something like PubMed, but for the paranormal– a site for peer-reviewed research into the paranormal. PubDead? I read Spook by Mary Roach and it was kind of there, but I’ve got to admit, it was no where near as good as Stiff and I was so put off by it that I didn’t even bother with Bonk, Packing for Mars, or Gulp even though they sound fascinating. Maybe someday.
I’m not a ghost hunter myself, or anything, but I love ghost hunting shows and books and such. My favorite of all time is definitely Ghost Hunters. Why? Because more often than not, they don’t find any concrete proof of the paranormal. Makes it so much more believable to me when they actually do. Ghost Hunters International and Paranormal State? I’ll watch them… but there’s way too much of the “omg! something just touched me! definitely a haunting!” for me.
The article that Christina sent me focused on 9 timeless life lessons we learned from the Ghostbusters that are still applicable today. They’re 9 excellent points, to be sure, but I’m sure there’s many more.
So, I though to myself:
What Ghostbusters lesson is most applicable to my own life– today?
Well, if you’ll remember, the evil EPA (no offense, Rob… oh wait, you’re on a bike in the middle of nowhere— no offense to be had! huzzah!) came in and completely SHUT DOWN the ecto-containment unit (very dangerous!) and the G-men were essentially out of business for a second.
Likewise, I am in a very precarious position at work. Cuts need to be “deep” and I am quite uncertain about whether my job will even survive. Someone may come in first thing tomorrow morning and shut down my ecto-containment unit, for all I now, and then what?!
Then what is: there will always be a Marshmallow Man to battle, a pretty lady with demons in her refrigerator to save, a nerdy guy/nerdy girl love story that needs to be completed. I will persevere. Right?
You know how after the ghosts are all let out they zoom all over town and it’s super creepy and everyone is in a total panic? Imagine those ghosts were instead rumors and speculation– that’s my work place. Morale is very low, everyone is on edge just waiting for the ax to fall. Not a pleasant place to be!
What would Bill Murray do?
Be cool! Stay relevant forever. That’s what Bill Murray would do.
Let the storm rage on… the cold never bothered me anyway!
Because I can’t let my dear friend Dawn down, ever, let’s return to the letter E for just a quick moment.
Now on to the letter F!
April 9th, 1987 was the last “normal” day of my life. I was three and already an old lady in my mind.
The next day, I was sitting in the living room of a family I barely knew when a tall, glasses-wearing, balding man in work clothes came walking up to the door. I yelled out, “Daddy!” and was absolutely mortified when it wasn’t him. I was so embarrassed that the lady I was staying with thought it would be nice to give me some jello. Green jello.
Green?! Salt in the freaking wound! Of all the jello colors… green?! Ugh.
(Note: I have no opposition to the use of green jello as one of many layers in a delicious multi-layered jello salad, which incidentally counts as a side dish rather than as a dessert in the great state of Wisconsin. But green jello on its own? No thank you.)
Before that, I remember being in the hospital with my mom and dad and leaving without my mom. What the whaaaaaat?! As far as I was concerned, it was my mom’s job, passion, life to take care of me and now I was to be abandoned. Abandoned to the not-dad and lady with green jello.
On April 10th, 1987, Abby was born and I was no longer an only child. I had a sister.
I’m a jealous and self-centered person by nature. I realize that sounds super self-deprecating, but it’s the truth and certainly not unexpected of a three year old. (Not so hot at 30; I try to be better.) My sudden realization that I was no longer alone, no longer the sole focus of my parents’ combined adoring attention was basically devastating.
In the months that followed, I came down with a severe case of what the doctor called “Abby-itis”… constant nagging, yet invisible, ailments that required frequent trips to the doctor. Ahhh… attention. Very astute diagnosis, Dr. Stone.
Sometime around high school or so I stopped calling my sister Abalucus (and singing the accompanying song that ended with “Abalucas, you smell like rotten po-taaaa-to peels!!!”) and switched to calling her Shabsky. I don’t know why. It just came to me.
Then she got a middle name– I started calling her Shabsky Balu. Short for Shabsky Baluga. Last name? Fisk. Why? No idea.
(Imagine my shock when I went to google an image of a “baluga” whale only to find out that it’s actually spelled “beluga”… too late to change the nickname birth certificate now!)
Most of the time I call Abby Shabs, short for Shabsky. When I use it after “I love you,” it’s Shabsky Balu (on account of it rhymes and rhyming is awesome). When I’m feeling a little more formal, it’s Shabsky Baluga Fisk. When I talk about her as my sister, I call her my fisky sister. And now you know.
Turns out, Fisk isn’t a terribly uncommon word. Johnson and Johnson’s CEO’s first name is Fisk. Fisk Johnson. And there’s a historically black college called Fisk University in Nashville. I doubt very much that I had ever heard of either of those things back when I started calling my sister that, but it’s good to know that I may actually be able to purchase a Fisk sweatshirt someday when I finally make it to Nashville. (Shhh… don’t tell Shabs!)
My fisky little sister is freaking amazing.
You don’t even know.
(Unless you do know, and then I have no doubt you agree.)
She’s gorgeous, like so gorgeous you want to hate her, but then she opens her mouth and you think “oh, poor thing, such a ditz” and you love her… except then she suddenly puts on some steel-toed boots and a hard hat and tours you around her million story chemical plant, knowing all the ins and outs and pipes and valves (she’s a chemical engineer) and you realize that, actually, she’s freaking brilliant, and you want to hate her all over again. Except you can’t, because she’s ridiculously and crazy and genuinely nice. She’s just so… fisky! It’s the only way to explain it!
After I skipped third grade, Abby and I were far enough apart in school to guarantee that we were never in the same building. I never really knew how exceptionally sad that was going to be though until I went away to college and moving away from my sister was like leaving a little piece of my heart behind.
Imagine the surprise this warranted for the three-year-old self trapped in my 17-year-old body!
I’ve always loved her, but it took distance for me to really appreciate her. She told me when I moved away, “Don’t get drunk. Don’t get pregnant. I love you.” and then made me a bunch of killer soundtracks for life to take with me. I came home that year to watch her run in a cross country meet and to do her hair for her Homecoming dance (I colored the ends of her exceptionally bright blonde hair red with a washable marker– it was genius, she looked so great). We got closer that year, after I moved to the very opposite end of the state, than we had ever been before.
Since then, I’ve felt like my fisky little sister and I are basically intertwined. I love every single second of time I get to spend with her and I miss her always when I can’t. But, to be perfectly honest with you, I got really nervous about our relationship in December 2011 as her first due date rapidly approached.
I knew I already loved my niece more than anything, but I was jealous all over again. I like thinking of my Shabs as Rachel’s sister… I didn’t think I would like very much when Abby stopped being Rachel’s sister and started being Emma’s mom.
Good news, though! They’re one in the same! And as much as I think babies are cool and whatevs, no one is as cool as this crazy little Emma girl that my sister (and her husband, the illustrious Stu man) managed to produce– she’s amazing! A little mini-Abby! And I adore her!
Abby’s got another due date rapidly approaching at the end of June… she’s going to have another little girl, I’m going to have another niece, and Emma, that lucky ducky, is going to have a sister. I know how it’s going to feel for her at first; her world is going to be turned completely upside down. Little does she know, it’ll be the best thing that ever happens to her… because there is nothing better in this world than having a sister. Especially if she’s a real fisky one 🙂
Abby and I have always said that if we ever have a girl, we can’t stop having babies until we have another girl because every girl should have a sister. I know my mom and Aunt Susan would agree. So would my Grandma Rita and Great Aunt Judy. So far, my Shabsky Balu is batting a thousand– good work, Fisky!
What about you? Do you have a sister? Is she fisky? I hope so!
PS: My brother, aka my Stubby little Stubnitz, is pretty dang ah-ah-ah-mazing too. And he’s lucky enough to have TWO awesome sisters. If you ever wondered how wonderful life would be with a sister, he’d be the one to ask. Eh, Tombo?
Also, he’s going to write a book. He’s really good at writing dialogue. Like reeeeal good. Sometimes he sends me snippets of said book via text message in the middle of the night and I always, always, always want to read more. I’ve given him permission to use a couple of my more spectacular blog sentences (mostly because it flatters me when he says he likes them) and I fully plan to be acknowledged right at the beginning. Look for it someday!