Monday, July 14, 2008

Ode to Kelly Jae

(This post could also be title: Julie is a LOSER. Take your pick.)
Today is July 14th. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing all that interesting or noteworthy about July 14th. I'm sure there's something being celebrated somewhere in the world on this date, but in my little corner, it's just another day, EXCEPT for the fact that July 14th follows July 13th on the calendar and July 13th is a VERY big day.

I've never been accused of being sentimental. In fact, if anybody who knows me were going to lob an adjective in my direction it would more likely be something like "detached" or "thoughtless" or "unemotional". I've been told that I'm a little harsh. Sarcasm is as natural to me as sleeping is to a narcoleptic. Tender situations will often illicit some kind of wise crack from me rather than a tear. I'm sure that most of my friends and family wonder why I don't seem to care about certain things, and generally they give me a pass when I fail to respond to something with the sensitivity that others might.

I've given this a lot of thought over the years and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not really all that insensitive. Certain things affect me pretty deeply. The real issue is that I tend to shy away from things that are uncomfortable for me and showing a lot of emotion is one of those things. I don't necessarily think that's a problem because I try to keep myself in check so that I don't really hurt anybody's feelings. I'm hopeful that most of the people who matter the most to me realize that teasing is a way that I show affection. Growing up in my family you had to learn pretty early on that it's survival of the fittest - tease or be teased. Generally it was tease AND be teased. I have no problem with any of that. We have a good time and, for the most part it's all in good fun. I am able to cry, and I do cry, but when I have a choice I'll usually opt for an alternative.

My tendency away from sentimentality and emotion has resulted in a very unintended consequence. Telling people that I care about them, and doing things to show them that they matter to me doesn't come very naturally. A lot of things that I should be more aware of and go out of my way to acknowledge sometimes are relegated to the back of my mind. It's not something that I do intentionally. Rather, I think it's a result of my basic lack of sentimentality. It just kind of happens. If something sentimental occurs to me, I'm not opposed to expressing feeling. The problem is that things often just don't occur to me.

With all of that said, I have to get back to the purpose of this post. July 14th? Nothing special. July 13th? My only sister's birthday. Kelly joined us when I was 3 years old. Until she arrived, I was surrounded by brothers. Five of them to be exact. (Maybe that explains my propensity to be a little harsh.) Kelly and I really are not much alike. I think any "feeling" genes that my parents had to pass on went straight past me and landed squarely on my sister. Where I am thoughtless, she is careful to think about EVERYTHING. Where I am ridiculously insensitive, she is sensitive to the extreme (by my standard which clearly is a little skewed.) Where I am forgetful and not concerned enough about dates (I still have to question whether I have Noah's birthday etched correctly in my brain. Is it the 12th or the 15th???), I'm fairly certain that my sister not only knows the birth dates of every member of our entire extended family, I'm sure that she could easily rattle off the precise dates that each of her children were conceived, when they took their first steps, when they said their first words, and when they will graduate from high school, even though those dates are years in the future. She will tell you stories about when we were teenagers. A typical conversation went something like this:

Me: Kel, can I wear your shirt, pants, shoes, and earrings to school today?
Kelly: Sure.
Me: I might not give them back for a week or two.
Kelly: That's okay.
Me: I might actually destroy part or all of the outfit.
Kelly: That's fine. Whatever you want to do is fine. In fact, take the rest of my clothes too. Do you want me to wash what I'm wearing right now so that you can borrow it too?
Me: Sure. Thanks. (At least I said thanks.)

. . . five minutes later . . .

Kelly: Hey Ju? Ummmmmmm . . . can I maybe think about borrowing those socks that you just threw in the garbage? I'll put them back in five minutes, exactly as you left them. And I'll do your dishes for a week just to show you how much I appreciate your generosity.
Me: NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Not a chance. Leave my stuff alone!

My sister has always been wayyyyyyy nicer than I am. She's way more generous than practically anybody else I know. Besides me (and maybe their dad), nobody on this planet loves my kids more than my sister does. Not only did she babysit Adam for the first year of his life, full-time, without charging us a dime, she would pull her kids out of bed in the morning to come and pick Adam up so that I didn't have to drive the entire 45 minutes to her house. At the end of the day she would reverse the process to drop him off to me. When Phil went to Haiti to bring Noah home, my sister flew to Florida and stayed in a hotel for a couple of days waiting for the return trip so that she could help Phil on the flight and so that she would be the first person to welcome him into our family. Every time she sees my boys, she gives them a little prize and there's always a huge hug. She's the only one who can get away with telling them that they can do something that I just told them not to do. She gets away with it because she loves them and I think it's amazing that my boys know that their Auntie will always be on their side - even if their side isn't necessarily lined up with mine. Other than issues of safety, there is no rule that I may lay down that is more important than them knowing that she will stand with them no matter what. When Phil and I went to Europe, the boys stayed with Kelly most of the time and I'm pretty sure that they didn't blink a single tear back because they missed me and Phil. They are completely safe and secure with her and we all know it. I wish I could say the same about my relationship with her kids. I love them beyond understanding, and I would fight with them to the death if they needed me to. I know that, but I don't think anybody else does. I'm sure that they don't know that.

I could go on and on about all of the ways that my sister is so great, but I'm starting to wonder if this post is going to result in hate mail for me so I should probably stop. Here's the real confession: I didn't even bother to call Kelly yesterday to wish her happy birthday. Whut??!? In my defense (and I need one) I didn't realize that it was the 13th yesterday until this morning when I got on the computer and saw the 14th. That's the way I am. I feel horrible about it, although nobody will ever really know that because that's also the way I am. So, I think I'm going to go call my sister right now and she if she is still speaking to me after I totally dogged her yesterday. I have a hunch that she will tell me that it's okay - no big deal, because that's the way she is. While I'm at it, maybe I'll call my dad too, and risk giving him a heart attack when he hears my voice on the other end of a phone call that he didn't initiate.

Happy birthday, Freak! Sorry your sister is such a loser.


KJae said...

Holy FETCH!!!!!!! This was WAY better than a phone call yesterday. I'm on my way to SL but I had to say gosh, thanks sis!! I will admit you were on my list until I read this. And even though Phil is generally the more thoughtful one in your marriage he is STILL on my list.

I love you so much. And even though you won't say it back, I know you feel it. Yes you do! Uh-HUH!! YES SIR!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks Ju, this was the best gift you've ever given me.

KJae said...

Btw, Noah's bday is the 12th... the same day as Paige's (our niece). It's not too hard if you remember it like that. Oh wait... you don't remember the birthdays. Got it!!

KJae said...


Let's refocus here for a moment.

WHY that picture?? I'm not all that photogenic but you could have at least worked with me on this one. That's the LEAST you could do.

Okay, I'm over it.

velofreak said...

"(This post could also be title: Julie is a LOSER. Take your pick.)"

Ooooh! Do I see a poll coming? If so, I know which one I will pick.

Julie said...

Responses to the comments, in order:

1. Ur welcome! This sensitivity, grovelling thing seems to be working. Maybe I'll try it more often, but don't count on it. It took a lot out of me. I really do hope your birthday was great. I'm looking forward to our combined birthday dinner celebration on Saturday.

2. Thanks for linking Noah's birthday to Paige's. Now I'll wonder about both of them. Or, I'll try to link Noah with Ashley instead of Paige and be really screwed up. Since I'm pretty sure that Ashley's birthday is in June, it's not unthinkable that I will put Noah's birthday in June too. Noah and Ashley: June 15th, right? That's easy because it's just ten days before my birthday and my birthday is one that I seldom forget, although mom conviced me for a long time that my birthday was the 29th because that's when Jeff's is. Remember when she gave me your birthstone in my birthday ring? I apparently come by it honestly.

3. LOVE the picture. You look like a princess. :-)

4. Jerk.

KJae said...

No, Ash's bday is the 20th of June. Sorry to disappoint. I believe we're going at this the wrong way. How about arm tattoos or something? You remember how to read, right??

Julie said...

Clearly you missed my feeble attempt at humor. Do you not remember that I said I liked sarcasm? I was combining all of my mistakes into one big one - Noah on the 15th, Ashley (June) instead of Paige (April) . . . Get it?

KJae said...

I got the June part but I thought you were serious about the 15th. I'm slow on the uptake today, sorry.

Either way we're all agreed you have some issues. I have someone you could talk to about that.

; )