Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We Are Family (Sister Sledge)

The weekend of my brother's wedding I was waiting for my plane to take me to Vermont. It was a special weekend too. My only brother was getting married to his college sweetheart. Both at the time were starting on their journey into promising careers in medicine. This was a low point in my life. My bank account was in the negative. As for the career, ha! Not to mention my mother and I had a huge fight that week and were speaking to each other in snaps and jabs, familial tongue if you will sometimes. I had to turn down three jobs to go to this wedding and the weather was going to be cold. Not to mention there was drama with how people were going to get to this remote destination in the midst of no where. Gosh this weekend was going to be filed under "This Fucking Sucks."

Then I picked up a book in the airport. It was called Showing Up For Life. Written by Bill Gates, Sr., it had a wonderful, touching forward by his mogul son in the front. Mr. Gates had a chapter about putting family first. Reading that as I waited for the plane changed my attitude about the weekend. As I explained to my potential employers my brother was getting married to my surprise everyone not only understood but moved the jobs. The wedding, despite the fact that the weather in The Northeast Kingdom Region of Vermont could use some work, was a beautiful event. My sister in law looked spectacular. As for my brother, he was the eager groom when he saw her in white. My baby cousin was the flower girl. Each of the bridesmaids became friendly. Kristen, the maid of honor, worked to make the wedding a wonderful experience for her college bestie. The reception was a blast as we danced until our shoes wore out, literally.

My Mema Ralph got drunk off of high balls and my uncles and cousins crowd surfed her during the reception. Of course she was then returned to her decorated wheel chair adorned with streamers for the big day. As for the tossing of the garter and bouquet, both my baby cousins caught them. They are brother and sister so they shared a rather awkward dance. We all laughed. It was adorable. I ended up dancing with both my sister in law's brothers. My baby cousin PJ, typically shy, ripped off his shirt, dove in the middle of the dance floor with his wife beater, and played air guitar. My dad danced with my sister in law's mom, and my mom danced with my sister in law's dad. Robby, my cousin and my brother's best man, gave a touching toast ending with a trumpet solo, a way this musical prodigy and Carnegie Mellon BFA was thoughtful but also unique. The reception, with music picked by my sister in law's oldest brother, ended with "We Are Family." And that we were. Family!

This was my family. I had fun and afterwards, as we gathered at the house my parents rented for the occasion, we talked about how my aunts and uncles met. That weekend I actually learned a lot about my family as a whole. My one Aunt Lola explained she liked my shy Uncle Apollo the first time they met because he had a "nice butt." Hey, she was honest. As for my other Aunt Marie, she met my Uncle Rob when they were in high school and the rest was history. Then there was my Uncle Steve, who kept losing my Aunt Dionne's number until one day he found it and the rest is history. Of course we cannot forget Aunt Violet, who dated my Uncle Steele in high school and was off an on until they got married when she was entering dental school. The list goes on. Of course there was my Aunt January, who was going to marry my Uncle Columbus, and my Mema Ralph invited Barnie, my Uncle Mark's brother who served in the Vietnam War and liked hookers and drugs and had a history of urinating in public. Needless to say there was a fight. But then it was smoothed over and the show went on.

My Mema Ralph and I also had a deep convo about love, and how I didnt just have to ask God for a man but the right one. Well my experience in asking God for a guy has always produced men missing teeth in various spots so perhaps I better take her advice. She mentioned that while my dad loved my mom, she wanted him too and wasnt letting him get away. Maybe my grandmother supposedly has dementia but at that moment she was lucid as ever. I think she just screws with people from time to time because she just can. Now that is awesome. Oh and her room had mirrors on the ceiling. My Mema Ralph said, "Just like in my books." She means her trash novels that she reads with salacious sex scenes.

That weekend my dad, my Aunt Marie, my Uncle Rob, and I climbed Jay Peak. Despite the rainstorm and mud slides we got to the top and there was a rainbow. Since that time, I have delved into extreme sports. Oh and my mom and I patched things up that weekend too. All and all, not only was I glad I showed up but more than anything I was glad to have my family. Maybe they were nut balls. Maybe they pressed every button known to man. Maybe they tested every last nerve I had. Maybe some even fit the criteria on the DSM IV for mental illnesses. But they were my nuts and only they could press my buttons Goddamn it.

This past weekend I did my book signing at Brown University. Back in March, I had been added to the collection. My baby sister Skipper told me to bring six books when I saw her in February, because she was interested in getting my book into the collection at her college. I had gone up to film a project she was doing. Anyway, it ended up being a nice weekend between the project and watching the Superbowl with her friends. Skipper told me she would try to work some magic. I figured it could go either way. I was in the midst of recording an audiobook, my schedule was picking up, and I was as sick as a dog. My ears were so stuffed up I could barely hear because of the fluid build up. A few weeks later, Skipper texted me telling me that she had managed to make me a part of the collection. I was thrilled.

Basically, my sister had given me very little information on how it happened and had been filling out the paperwork herself even before submitting my book.

When I asked to do a signing on the weekend Skipper got her MD and Wendell finally got his MD/PhD, they asked if they could join me. For the record, my book is next to theirs in the Brown Bookstore. It wasnt even a question of yes or no. It was "Why not?" The three of us hardly ever get to do anything together anymore. Wendell is married and lives in Massachussettes. Skipper is busy in Rhode Island. I am in New York City. The event was not just successful but fun. I got to see many of Skipper's college friends come up for reunion weekend and campus dance, as well as saw that she was well liked in her medical school class as well. Wendell's lab friends stopped by the table. I had only heard names and stories but had never seen the faces. My dad and Uncle Rob, who originally planned to drink at the Irish Pub during the signing, also stopped by. This was a family affair, and a family event. I wore a cake costume to the event. Brown University Bookstore is now following me on twitter. I was put on their feed as well as their website. It was a good day.

After the signing the medical school had a dinner where Skipper and Wendell did a skit. Here is the clip. They actually aren't too bad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udjF0KcX0Vc

The next day they graduated, brother and sister MD. They both got hooded and then Wendell got a double hood. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YmhM1f4mBo

Bottom line, I could not be more proud of Skipper and Wendell right now. Skipper will be moving to Nashville to be a resident in emergency medicine at Vanderbilt. Wendell will be working with adolescents and will be a resident at University of Connecticut in Hartford. Both have bright futures ahead.

I am glad to say I shared the weekend with my Aunt Marie and Uncle Rob, Skipper's Godparents. More than anything, my mom was brimming with pride that she has three children who not only have books that are part of the collection at an Ivy League University, but who also did a signing. And they did that signing together.

One thing my parents always imparted on us growing up was in this world, when they are gone, we only have our siblings. That is why the three of us have always worked well together. Whether my sister Skipper assisted me in my ventriloquist shows as a kid, or my brother Wendell beat up anyone who bothered us. Sure Skipper might be over clinical and a tad anal at times, but she is my clinical anal retentive baby sister. Say a bad word about her and die. My brother Wendell might be a clueless goofball who puts his foot in his mouth, but he is my clueless goofball who puts his foot in his mouth. Sure my dad might be brutally honest, but he is still my dad. Say a bad word about him and die. And don't you dare even talk about my mama, oh don't you even say it.....Don't tempt me. I will do the time with pleasure.

Any of my cellmates at any prison will understand a felony charge over that. Cause we are family!!!! Yeah that is right
Three little pigs, all part of the same book collection. Note, my sister is the smartest. Skipper makes her house out of bricks. 

Me at my book signing at the Brown Bookstore. The real life Skipper is behind me in the peach suit, and the real life Wendell is in the suit coat at the table. They were signing a book on Cellular Respiration or whatever it is called.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Paperback available on Amazon and 877-Buy-Book
E-Book available on Kindle and Nook
Audiobook available on itunes and Audible this Spring
Portion of proceeds go to Greenpeace

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