a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Have you met my sister?

She is three years older than me, but if you met just our emotions incarnate walking down the street, I would seem ancient compared to her.  At one time, we were mistaken for twins, but we both laughed at that—even then, when we were so close, it seemed absurd.  Maybe it was just the pigtails.

She is fiercely independent, and though she might show her love through domestic gestures like cooking your dinners and doing your laundry, don’t try to hug her.  Her smile of approval will make you feel like you could conquer the world, but be careful because she will just as easily flash her dark eyes at you.  “The look” will stop you dead in your tracks.

Over the years she has worked to outgrow the chubbiness that I used to claim caused her to be mean and now has a slender figure.  She was graced with Mom’s olive skin instead of Dad’s Irish pastiness, which was reserved for me.

She is the smartest person I know, and I think I only began to truly know her once it was much too late.  Try not to miss your chance.  Her complex personality, changing needs, and physical distance (first to Iceland, now in Boston) have made it nearly impossible to maintain the sisterly relationship that once was. 

If you get an e-mail from her from time to time, be sure to let it sit in your inbox for at least a week or so.  She doesn’t like to feel smothered and you certainly don’t want to make that mistake.  She might stop speaking to you altogether.  You don’t want to be hurt like that.  Again.


  1. It seems like numerous times this week that I've said how people are so different. Even in the same family, they can be miles apart, in looks, temperament, desire, and so on. The fact that you know your sister so well may be a good thing, for we can't know what life holds in the future, & maybe doing your thoughtful analysis will aid your relationship someday. I don't know many who could describe someone they are close to so well.

  2. Your slice shows how well you know and love your sister. Hold onto that love. The relationship may not be what it once was but try to keep all the good memories you have. Keep hoping and keep trying to stay connected.

  3. I wanted to thank you for your comment about my slice today, about more stories of what people 'carry'. What a great idea. I might start to list some ideas!

  4. What a wonderful way to share your sister. Honest and loving in your details. What a great model for you as teacher of writing. Have you shared it with your students?

  5. Wow. Your post is fantastic. I love the description, humorous yet serious. My sons are different and I began reflecting through your post. I'm glad you know your sister so well. I like the line about her smile.

  6. It sounds like you not only know her well, you know how to keep your relationship with her working. Doesn't sound like an easy one.
    Love the perceptiveness that your writing reveals. You are obviously a thinker as well as a writer.

  7. Ditto everyone. My sister and I had a falling out some years ago that lasted nearly two years. Two painful years. It's taken us about 4 years to mend, and this spring she called and said she wanted to come and visit. We renewed a different relationship when she came--different than the old one.

    I have three sisters and each of them is as different as night and day. Some are prickly--sometimes--and some are loving, open and sweet. I swear one sister times the minutes we are on the phone and when we hit 10, she's off. The other sister is always doing too much at one time to really have a good talk.

    Why am I blabbing on like this? Because your post was that amazing cross-section of sweet and sorrow, bitter and effusive. It's a dance, and you did it. Brilliant writing. Just brilliant.

    Elizabeth E.