Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time to Put a Little Sweetness Back into Life

You know what? I am so tired of all the negative thinking that everyone has been indulging in this Fall. Aren't you? Let's DO something about it! Tomorrow night, I am going to tip the cosmic scales towards sweet joy. I am going to give EVERYONE who comes to my door chocolate and I'll compliment each visitor's outfit as well. I urge all of you to join me! Bring love and joy to the world, give chocolate and kindness to all!


(Not in a Prop 8 defying kind of way. Gee. One-track-mind-political-junkies!)

Even when I run into her and don't know it's her, I love her. So for those of you who missed the big unveiling, I present the following secret:


And no, I didn't know:
  1. that Cordy was fictional.
  2. that Sue was writing it.
  3. that people could get SO flipped out about a blog.

I was just sad that it was over. But it's not! She's going to back up and finish the story the way she intended. Wahoo!

Some advice for those who feel betrayed and angry—try a bubble bath and some chocolate. You'll feel better.

Then again...

I'm not generally an alarmist. You'd have a hard time convincing me that genetically-modified crops are going to kill us, that the second coming is next week, that we'll all be starving soon. So even though I've been endlessly frustrated by this election, I've been sure that everyone on both sides has been fighting for what they believe is right.

But just when I conclude that no one is going to die over this election, I get an email. Not a total stranger email. I know this mom; she's a homeschool co-op acquaintance of mine. Literally this happened last night. She's in charge of organizing the Pro-Prop 8 work in her stake (which is mainly composed of tiny, little towns). She had asked her sons (18 yrs and 14 yrs) to help put up "Yes on 8" signs yesterday. Some crazy person took offense at their actions and tried scare the bejeebers out of them. It's disturbing, just plain disturbing.

On [the boys'] way home last night they still had a couple of dozen [yes on 8 signs] in the back of the truck. They decided to post them along the frontage road on the way to our house. After a couple of signs a car pulled up behind them right on their bumper with their brights on. My son pulled back on the road and the car continued to follow them. He didn’t want to lead them home so he drove through M V….3 times! Each time the car followed on their bumper. He went into Winchester and the car turned and left them. They waited a few minutes and then started for home via the frontage road between M.V. and A.. Near the A. gas station they pulled over and Joseph took two signs to post. He walked about 20-30 feet back behind the truck. Further down the road headlights came on the car gunned its engine and started fast toward them. The car swerved onto the shoulder and headed straight for my son who ran as fast as he could and jumped into the truck. The car slammed on its brakes inches from our truck. D called us and we called 911. The boys couldn’t get the license plate because it always had its brights on them and was right on their bumper but did see it was a teal colored Ford Explorer. Whoever was in the Ford Explorer could see that my son was on the phone and “peeled out”. The Highway Patrol responded quickly and took the report. We are to talk with them this morning. I am hoping they are taking this a seriously as we are. I know the Lord was protecting the boys. If J would have tripped the Explorer would have run over him. The boys are no where near as affected by this as I am. They have been totally involved in the cause of protecting marriage. They have endured months of their mother’s daily involvement in ProtectMarriage, nightly dinner conversations, attended many rallys and town hall meetings, waved signs, made deliveries for me, stuffed envelopes, written letters, posted signs, debated the issue in classes and Daniel has done all the walking with his dad, and wears a ProtectMarriage t-shirt everyday to Sierra! This has just hardened their resolve to fight for the cause of freedom, family and faith! Their mother just continues to pray!

D expressed this thought from Abraham Lincoln: (one I have used before) (our boys have read the original writings of the founders and great statesmen in our history, memorized the Declaration of Independence and know what the Constitution says and what it doesn’t and what our government it truly “supposed” to do. D does not use this quote lightly but literally.)

“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty, as we understand it.”

5 more days…..

I HATE THIS ELECTION! I'd say "just shoot me and put me out of my misery," but now I'm a little worried that someone might take me at my word. Freaks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

OK, I've worked out my objections... the new Moroni hoisting the "yes on 8" banner, found some words to express my shock at the comparison. Rest assured that I love you all, yes-folks and no-folks, even though I am, of myself, a gutless flip-flopper.

I think there are significant differences between the ancient Book of Mormon situation and our modern one. Moroni was dealing with power-hungry conspirators who wished to install Amalickiah as king. When it looked like they were going to lose, the cowardly traitors took off to join the vicious enemy, intending to come back and destroy the Nephites. Moroni made the standard of liberty, then he stopped as many of the dissenters as he could, encouraging them to renounce their conspiring ways, and killed those who refused.

Those who did renounce their intentions to overthrow the government were spared to...[fast-forward a couple chapters]...come back as the nasty king-men who were willing to allow the Lamanites to kill their fellow Nephites so long as they got a piece of power. Moroni again compels the no-good dissenters to support the cause of freedom or die, again uses the title of liberty as a statement of his society's values. Freedom being the central point of those values.

Even though Moroni and the freemen did not delight in bloodshed, "they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of those who were once their brethren, yea and had dissented from their church, and had gone to destroy them by joining the Lamanites" Alma 48:23

Life and death. Not definitions. I believe these events happened. Not as symbolic fiction but as absolute fact. But I just don't think the comparison to proposition eight is wise or accurate.

Are we really going to kill the "no on prop 8" folks? No.

Will my children and I be massacred if the "no on 8" people defeat the proposition? Extremely unlikely.

Marriage as an institution is in danger. Fornication, adultery, serial divorce, same sex families are all symptoms of a problem that will not, should not, be solved by legislating chastity. Turning people's hearts toward God would do the trick. I just feel strongly that the other societal attacks on marriage are much more destructive than the very small percentage of people who are breaking the law of chastity in a same-sex relationship.

That said, I will vote yes on eight because to me marriage is one man and one woman in a lifelong committed relationship. That has been the definition for centuries with very few exceptions. I'm willing to vote yes to keep it that way.

So anyway don't hate me because I was flabbergasted yesterday by the comparison to the title of liberty and the support it or die implications therein. I love you all. (Except you meanies. I just tolerate you. I'm working on it though. One of these days I'm going to love you all, even the meanies.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Um. Uh. Wow. Really? Huh. Gee. Golly. Oh my. That makes this post one thousand seventeen words.

See, that's why I saved one.

OK, Nat-Nat. This one's for you. No more tears. I officially award you, my dear friend, the Kreativ Blogger {Award}. Let me know if you want me to link to your charming blog.

Smiles, everyone! Smiles! Or similes, if you'd rather. They're both good.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In Which Jami Horrifies Two Lovely Young Teachers

I'm in serious overload mode with Girl Scout stuff right now. So I do not have time to craft a pleasant fiction in which I do not behave like a boor to those poor teachers. Background for those of you who missed the first post on this subject. Here we go! Details. Rough draft style.

I think I've frightened my mother off forever by bringing up the specter of Mr. Marshall which frees me up to discuss my crazy educational protectionism without fear of giving my sweet mother an aneurysm as she suppresses the urge to tell me off in front of the entire world.

ANYWAY...I met with V's two teachers last Monday after school. They had a nice neat rubric, with the smiley face, :), the flat line face :|, and the frownie face :(. They were certain that if they explained that the frownie face meant something other than "I'm mad/I don't like you/You have displeased me" that I'd say "OH! Thanks for explaining that. Whew! Glad we got that cleared up." Um, sorry, I'm crazier than that. A smile is a universal symbol for friendly acceptance while the frownie face is the universal symbol for "unable to complete assignment as given?" I think not.

So they kept saying, "Well, that's what we do."

And I kept saying, "Well, you can do it, but not to my kid. You aren't allowed to make her cry. I don't care if it is wimpy and silly that she cries over a frownie face. She's six, my friends."

Finally, I bent a bit. "OK, you can put a frownie face on her homework, but you can't let her see it. You can mail it home to me or stick it in an envelope and I'll get it," which was an unacceptable solution for them. They want the child to understand that they didn't complete the assignment correctly. Okey-dokey. More negotiations ensued until finally we settled on "1" = :( . Whew, glad we got that cleared up.

[OK Crash Test Dummy this next sentence is for you.] Nevermore shall my darling receive massive sorrowing visages marring her pulchritudinous, puerile endeavors toward scholarship.*

Then I told them I hated their reading program. That went over really well. I asked if there were any alternatives. Nope? OK...moving on then.

V's attention-seeking behavior? Ah yes. We locked her in a closet for six years, never paying any attention to her, and now she's a bit clingy. I sympathized with them. She does really seem to be a black hole for love. I told them that if they pay attention to her when she is making mistakes and acting up that she was likely to continue.

Did they want to keep trying what they have been doing or consider other options? My suggestions? They could have her move to a different classroom when she is seeking attention inappropriately, they could carry her in a baby backpack all day, whispering sweet words of encouragement and affection, or they could try something of their chosing that didn't involve frownie faces.

So then we discussed district standards for first grade which are the state second grade standards moved down a grade. That was fun. We discussed the wisdom of high pressure learning in the lower grades which led directly into the V's only attending their school because I need her out of the house during the day. Poor ladies, trying so hard to be nice to the crazy woman who pops this HORROR on them!

I offered reassurance. We totally follow their little homework routine for the hour and a half it takes to get done, roughly the same amount of time we'd spend on an entire day of homeschool. We parted on reasonable terms, but I would have paid hard, cold cash to be a fly on the wall for the conversation that followed our meeting.

In summary [that's also for CTD] they did not harm me, I didn't really stand on the desk and do a Tarzan yell, and security was not required to drag me off.

The end. For now. Until I get my knickers in a twist again.

*Translation: No more huge frownies on my V's beautiful, immature efforts at worksheets.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three Items of Interest

I'll color-code it because I'm fun like that.

First: Seth and Teresa broke up. Time to move in for the kill Sister Cordy. (Didn't I ever mention that I love a good hopeless romance from time to time? Consider it mentioned.)

Second: [Cue the applause] I got my first blogging award. CTD from The Crash Test Dummy Diaries who said, "I think I would pick Jami at Superfluous Micsellany because I don't know what those words mean and I never understand what she's saying, Plus there's something bold and brave and sweet about Jami." I sound a bit like a barbecue sauce, but I am never one to pass up a compliment. Thank you, my dear.

Now for the hard part, choosing six people who won't roll their eyes too much at getting an award, who haven't already received it, and who are truly kreativ.

  • OK, Blogger #1: Elastic Waistband Lady at The Smiling Infidel. She is one of my all-time favorites for looking at the world in brand-new and somewhat freakish ways. Here's one of my favorite posts from EWL.
  • I love Tracy M and Mo Mommy, but they are both a tad busy right now, so I'll just say, they're mighty fine, talented, fun ladies. We can save the pyramid scheme-type flattery for another day.
  • Blogger #2: Sue. I know she'll roll her eyes and not have time to do anything about it, but she breathes kreatively. By turns her blog is silly, heart-wrenching, fun, and profound. I never miss a post. Those of you who have been around for a while will remember this poem, posted in her honor.
  • Blogger #3: Ray whose spiritual musings at his blog Things of My Soul and comments throughout the bloggernacle have earned him a favored spot on my must-read list. I know he's not a mommy blogger, but he is married to one. Ray, please feel free to pass this on to BCC and T&S, etc. That would be kinda funny.
  • Blogger #4 Jo over at Tangled Me. Because I really like her. And because she used to be a midwife. And because she takes beautiful pictures. And because she calls her husband "Bald Man."
  • Blogger #5 Heidi Ashworth at Dunhaven Place will single-handedly bring clean, fun Regency Romances back into fashion. And that, my friends, is a very, very good thing.
  • Blogger #6: You. That's right. You. The person who is reading this list hoping that I will type your name. Consider it typed. There are so many blogs I read and love. I can't stand leaving anyone out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I don't call it miscellany for nothing.

My page loads tripled yesterday. Suddenly, I had 40 people coming to my kill the vermin post. While it is the BEST article I have ever seen on the subject (if I do say so myself), the sudden jump surprised me. I normally get about 10 hits a week on that page. Is there a sudden world-wide lice infestation? I'll never know because they aren't commenters. They come; they print; they leave.

Other popular searches that bring people here? "T@rture b@ys." "S@cks Baref@@t." "Fr@ud TJ@d and/or Th@mas Jeffers@n Educ@tion." "Home h@ircut" Hm... that first one flips me out. Go away, creepy weird@s. The second bemuses me. And third makes me feel guilty, because I was only kidding. The fourth makes me smile: I like that memory.

In other news, I'm working on a post about the teacher meeting that doesn't read "and then she said...and then I went THEN she said and then I stood on the desk and gave the Tarzan yell and security dragged me away." I'll get back to you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

2:45 today.

Mrs. P, the reading teacher with the over-enthusiastic grading pen, is meeting with me in an hour. She's bringing reinforcements. V's regular teacher, Mrs. R.

They're both 25 years old. Does it make me a bad person for thinking that as non-parent, youthful, novice teachers, they should really stop behaving like pompous know-it-alls. job. Old, eleven-year veteran parent teacher here. I get to be the pompous know-it-all!

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Technology Bridges the Gap Between the Haves and the Have-Nots

Here is the question for our times: Crazy cat lady or bluetooth user? At WalMart, a woman walks by me yelling personal insults at her grocery cart. Shortly thereafter, another woman begins laughing hysterically at the apple display. A third woman throws her hands in the air and grunts in derision. They all look the same and yet...two of these ladies have their sanity and a hands-free device for their mobile phones. The third has neither.

Again, the question: This?Or this?
You decide.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's a Bug-Eat-Bug World Out There, Princess. . .

ya best toughen up.


Caution, gentle readers. I may swear.

OK, here's the deal—when you get all the answers right we like you and smile at you, friendship and affection galore. BUT—now get this straight—if you mix up your #%$& "cot" with your @^$$%* "hop" you get this:

Bad first grader, BAD! No smiles for you! No affection or approval. YOU LOSE. But that's OK. I'll like you again—if you do it right next time.

She couldn't have put 7/9 or -2 or no redo?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Applause Please!

I would just like to mention that last night when more than a pound of carrot and broccoli peelings went down the garbage disposal and clogged the U-like pipe thingy, I pulled the whole darned thing apart, snaked that baby, and fixed it. The man and J-Teen gave the snake a few solid tugs and pushes too. But I was the one playing with it when it cleared out. Ta-da!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Long, but Therapeutic

It's no secret that Sister Beck upset me (and a few thousand other people) last year when she urged us all to be better mothers. In the grand tradition of Jami-obsessions, I've read her talk at least a dozen times, I've read every Sister Beck post on every blog I could Google, and I've read all the news coverage. Honestly if something is bothering me that much there is an issue there that needs to be explored.

I am going to scramble her talk a bit for conversational purposes. Sister Beck shall be lilac and I shall be black. First we have the parts with which I have no problem whatsoever. Then I shall move to the concepts that have caused me concern.

Mothers Who Know Are Leaders. Yes.

Mothers Who Know Are Teachers. Yes. Yes. And yes.

Mothers Who Know Bear Children. Yes, I've structured my entire adult life around this principle.

Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are "becoming less valued," in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children. Prophets, seers, and revelators who were sustained at this conference have declared that "God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force." President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children and that "in the eternal perspective, children—not possessions, not position, not prestige—are our greatest jewels."
Mothers Who Know Stand Strong and Immovable. I really like the phrase "women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of Him, women who are strong and immovable and who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times."

Mothers Who Know Do Less. "They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally.. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Yes, but one woman's superfluous, worldly activity is another woman's essential family activity.

Mothers Who Know Honor Sacred Ordinances and Covenants A true principle, (Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants. . . .They know that if they are not pointing their children to the temple, they are not pointing them toward desired eternal goals. These mothers have influence and power.") , backed by a poor example: third world mothers carefully groom their children. Um...OK.

Now to the biggy for the piggy, the most problematic passage for me: Mothers Who Know Are Nurturers
Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. . . . .Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Growth happens best in a "house of order," and women should pattern their homes after the Lord's house (see D&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work.
Recently a surprising thought came to me as I was discussing the Covey priority quadrants with E-Teen, illustrating the principle with some activities in my life.

I realized something that has been patently obvious to anyone who knows me: cleaning my house has always fallen into the sad, grey area of "not important." Sometimes it's "urgent and not important." (Can't eat dinner until the dishes are done. Everyone is out of clean clothes. Must find the birth certificate in those piles of papers today.) Sometimes it's "not urgent and not important." (Cobwebs. Grout. The thirty rubbermaid containers stacked in the corner, patiently awaiting sorting.) I have viewed housework as a waste of time, not worthy of my attention.

But here's the deal: sometimes life is downright unpleasant because of the chaos and mess. From time to time, we lose or forget something really important. Precious belongings have been stepped on, besmirched with raisins, or soaked in milk.

If not doing housework results in panic, sorrow, anger, and revenge within our family, then perhaps I need to re-prioritize. Many important, worthwhile things in life can be difficult and unpleasant. Childbirth comes to mind. Going to work every day to earn a living, learning, changing diapers come to mind. Now, dagnabit, keeping the house clean does too.

In short, I think that Sister Beck was trying to stage the intervention in my life that no one else dared to stage. If my mother, mother-in-law, husband, child or best friend attempted such a thing, the results would not have been pretty. Being angry with a loved one for more than a year can be problematic. Sister Beck took my fury with the grace and emotional distance that only a complete stranger could muster.

I don't know how this knowledge is going to play out in real life. Will caring more make the actual mess better? How shall I gain the cooperation of the family? Will I become psychotic in the effort to rein in the chaos? Don't know.

Probably oughta talk to God about it. He managed to organize the chaos of the cosmos into Earth. Certainly, my chaos won't be outside his power.

Friday, October 10, 2008

must sleep baby cough fever cry very sad must sleep melanie j refuses to post until she has seven comments on the old post i think i shall not post until i get a nap 7 hours is of course asking for the impossible but a nap seems reasonable have fun on the world wide web my friends I shall not be visiting until i feel like punctuating again

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Year Later, Looking Back at My Issues

During the October 2007 General Conference, Sister Beck's talk "Mothers Who Know" blindsided me. Sweet Sister Beck. I love her. I felt like a good friend had walked into my home and told me that everything I'd ever done was worthless. I flipped out. Flipped out.

That afternoon I went to a cub scout planning meeting and mentioned how upset I felt. My sweet beautiful friends looked at me as if I'd just spoken in Russian. They wanted to be there for me, but they couldn't. They didn't understand what I found so heartbreaking. They'd loved the talk. A lot.

So a year ago, the Monday after conference, I went searching online for women who understood. I found Kristine Haglund's very comforting post at By Common Consent. I found the Bloggernacle where smart and faithful LDS people discuss ideas that range from the petty to the profound.

Here is my first (extremely long) blog comment:

Thanks for a couple of laughs on the subject. I needed them. It sure beat the two cries I’d had on the subject. Although "Our Refined Heavenly Home" wins the most uninspiring depressing talk of the decade, this one came close.

This is a hard subject for me. Six kids, small house, homeschooling. We’re all here, all the time. And I’m trying. I really am. But if a clean house and neat children are required for exaltation, I’m out. Even trying my hardest, it’s a disaster around here.

IF I could fulfill the ideal she taught, my family and I would be happier. I like clean. I like organized. I like neat, reverent children. I like peace. I dream of these things. I despair of these things.

So Sunday, I’d stayed home, listening to conference, hoping to hear “the pleasing word of God, yea the word which healeth the wounded soul.”

Sabbath-breaker that I am, I needed to clean the “playroom.” So housework was exactly what I was doing when Sister Beck was talking. I stopped cleaning. I couldn't
decide if I wanted to send in my motherhood resignation, burn the house down, or ask to have my name removed from the records of the church. Love, civil duty and a testimony prevented me from following any of those knee-jerk reactions. Instead I just cried because one more fellow mom was judging her fellow moms one more time. I don’t know–maybe that’s the in the job description for GRS Presidents.

The points that stabbed most deeply:

(My memory of) Her definition of nurture. By “nurture” we mean housework, the physical upkeep of the family. (My dictionary says “Nurturing: 1. To nourish, feed. 2. To educate, train 3. To help grow or develop; cultivate.”)

And did she really say that it didn’t really matter how much education you have if you can’t keep your home properly? I must have misheard.

I’ve pondered “the wicked taketh the truth to be hard." Am I wicked? ‘Cause that seemed pretty hard.

Well, enough killing time. I need to go clean something, cook something and cancel some of my children’s outside activities.

I live to serve. Jami
Bitter? Me? OK, maybe a little. I'm better now. This year has been one of the most difficult of my life, spiritually and intellectually. Exciting. Invigorating. But hard. A good portion of my angst has come from my exploration of LDS issues, profound and petty, from participating in the Bloggernacle.

In spite of these growing pains, I celebrate this anniversary and my freedom to think and to write about those things which interest and concern me. I celebrate my pain because it has led to increased knowledge, to increased faith and to healing. Thank you, Kristine, for the post that started it all. As it turns out, I mostly like Sister Beck's talk too. That, however, is a subject for a different post.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Fundraiser Most Foul

Last Tuesday, as I was volunteering at the kids' school, they had an assembly for the QSP/Reader's Digest fall fundraiser, so instead of helping kids with their multiplication facts I ended up stuffing folders. I'm OK with that.

I'm not going to whine about taking academic time to train little salespeople. Or the fact that the QSP folks were whipping the kids into a frenzy of greedy enthusiasm that could be heard across the school. Or the fact that when my son got into the car that afternoon, he fully believed that selling 200 items was completely within his nine-year old abilities. Or the fact that each of the four kids who came to my house that afternoon also believed that they could sell 200 flippin' subscriptions/kitchen gadgets/cans of nuts. I'm not going to gripe about the fact that my son thinks that if I just loved him more and was willing to put out a little time and effort on his behalf the freaking iPod Touch would be his. I am not even going to gripe about the fact that the Girl Scouts are doing the exact same QSP/Reader's Digest fundraiser right now. Three girl scouts + two school kids = five simultaneous fundraisers to support. That's OK; I'm game.

No. The thing that has fixated my foul fascination is this: The girl scout council is selling a ten-ounce can of Reader's Digest/Ashdon Farms/Pleasantville Farms cashews for six dollars. The school? THIRTEEN dollars for that same can.

Go kids, go! Sell 200 cans of THIRTEEN dollars nuts! In an income challenged neighborhood. Nice. Very nice.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Month Late, but Still Gorgeous!


The garden is in mourning:
the rain falls cool among the flowers.
Summer shivers quietly
on its way toward its end.

Golden leaf after leaf
falls from the tall acacia.
Summer smiles, astonished, feeble,
in this dying dream of a garden.

For a long while, yet, in the roses
she will linger on, yearning for peace,
and slowly
close her weary eyes.

-Hermann Hesse
[Translated from German]


Der Garten trauert,
kühl sinkt in die Blumen der Regen.
Der Sommer schauert
still seinem Ende entgegen.

Golden tropft Blatt um Blatt nieder
vom hohen Akazienbaum.
Sommer lächelt erstaunt und matt
in den sterbenden Gartentraum.

Lange noch bei den Rosen
bleibt er stehn, sehnt sich nach Ruh,
langsam tut er
die müdgeword'nen Augen zu.

-Hermann Hess

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Oldest and Dearest Friend, My Yvil Sister

Your dog. My cat. Your Campfire Girls to my Girl Scouts. Theatre and choir for me; art and band for you. We tried so hard to draw boundaries, to hang onto our differences, but fooled no one. Two loaves made from the same dough, one braided, the other patted in a pan, we are as similar as we are different.

Long ago, we were in Algebra II/Trig together. If we were in the middle of a fight, we carried it into class. If we were getting along, we would laugh and do the family comedy routine. When Mr. O'Keeffe separated us, we just fought and joked louder across the room. Eventually, he let us sit together again. It was just quieter that way. Besides, he liked us. We spiced up the day.

I still need my Yvil sister fix. At least once a week. Preferably daily. Perhaps I'll throw the phone across the room in frustration or laugh until my cheeks ache: I can't predict us. I wouldn't if I could. No one makes me as angry as you do, no one touches my heart and makes me laugh as you do.

You screen my books and my movies, because you are a loving and helpful pagan. Ridiculously smart, my very own pedant, the only person in the world who corrects my grammar as I speak, you swear like a sailor, but you do it in complete, complex sentences.

My gifted, articulate, profane, pithy sister, you are irreplaceable. I love you.

Happy 40th Birthday. May your 41st year be your best yet.