Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I am attempting

to write a letter of recommendation for SisterCh, in regards to an apartment she and her fiance are hoping to rent. It is tricky to do.

Particularly if I want to be honest. (It's a good thing I have my BS, because I have learned the art of putting a kernel of truth in the best possible light.)

All the advice says things like "tell how reliable she is, that she pays her bills on time." But I can't say that I have any experience of that personally - she doesn't pay rent here, and only just paid off the money she borrowed from me for SisterJ's wedding (yeah, that's nearly 2 years and various weekend vacations for her later). But, I do know that she paid her rent on time and in full when she lived in a condo before, so I can say that.

I am absolutely able to rave about her turning a temp position that was only supposed to last 6 months into a full-time position with full benefits and a raise 3 years later. I am immensely proud of her for that, and I know that she deserves a lot of kudos for it, so that definitely goes in. (2 paragraphs down, one to two more to go).

Next advice: "Discuss how neighborly she is" Um Yeah - Roadblock. See, SisterCh and I have a long and complicated history of her being particularly unneighborly, in my opinion.

I have a lot of needs that other people have to take into consideration, and SisterCh has not always understood, embraced, or really cared about that. She's been the hardest of my siblings to educate about my condition, hands down. Mostly, I think, because she was really young when I got sick, and I'm pretty sure she has a lot of resentment about how much of our parents' (mostly our mom's) attention I managed to siphon off by being, you know, nearly dead. I know part of her is still very much in the whole "suck it up"/"get over it already" camp, and her dismissive attitude has been incredibly hurtful to me for years.

Which isn't to say she hasn't improved. Because, in a lot of ways, she has: the smell thing is still a battle occasionally, but it's not a daily battle, it's not the constant me being trapped in my room until an hour after she leaves for work nonsense that it used to be. She may still roll her eyes when I say something is bothering me, but we don't scream and shout about it as much as we used to. We've both gotten a lot better at walking away before our feelings get too trampled (mostly).

Nowadays, she sends me e-mails when she finds unscented lip glosses, offers to share her work discount with me when I tell her I'm searching for a new computer, or posts a link to some FM article where they talk about vitamins (:sigh: on that last one, but at least she's trying). And she nearly decked a waitress last week when she patted me on the back, so that's a plus.

So, yeah, she's growing up. We both are, and it's helping us.

She's also taking responsibility for her fiance's kids, and I think that, in the process, she's getting to be more mature & understanding, and I hope that our relationship will continue to improve as we both get older, but she's still the same girl who told me I was a selfish bitch because I needed her to stop spraying her perfume in the house. She's still the same girl who rolls her eyes when I say she doesn't understand how lucky she is to not have to worry about whether or not a ride in the car will make her head spin for the next three days, or complains when I open the window to air out a (freezing but) smelly house. Or who stops speaking to her sister without even realizing that the thing they are 'fighting' about is not the end of the world.

Which is why you shouldn't ask your sister to write a letter of recommendation for you, I think. Because sisters' relationships are too complex. Because being her sister means I would kill for her, but sometimes I can't stand to be in the same room as her.

I could write about how much I love her, and how proud I am of her, and how brave I think she was the time she stood up to our dad and told him to fuck off (he really deserved it), but I don't think that that will get her the apartment, really. I could write about how she and SisterJ used to be thick as thieves (actual, literal thieves who stole all my good toys when they thought I wasn't looking), but now they just can't figure out how to speak the same language & that it hurts my heart, but that also doesn't really seem like what they are looking for.

So, instead, I'll write things like "In her previous living spaces, she took pride in maintaining a lovely home, always managing to keep her areas clean and tidy." Which, if you cold see her room right now, would seem like an outright LIE, but I know that when she lived in the condo, she was impeccable, so it technically isn't - I did say "previous" living spaces.

Back to work, trying to make 24 years of sisterhood & obsessive love (Do you think it would help if I mentioned how, when she was a little girl, she was really shy and I lugged her around on my hip for the better part of three years? Nah, I didn't think so either.) sound totally positive and not at all twisty and complex.

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child.   Barbara Alpert

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