May 10, 2014

Introducing... My Family!

Introducing My Family...

If you've been reading along, you might have wondered why I never mention Sister1.  You might have even imagined some dark family tragedy and an estranged sibling.  Or maybe you don't have an overactive imagination.  In any case, you'd be wrong, because Sister1 is me.  There are three of us and I am the oldest.  And the shortest.

Cookie versions of Jenn's family | Business, Life & Design

Ever notice how people associate height with age?  I get asked all the time if I'm the youngest.  "Nope.  They just outgrew me."  Sister3, on the other hand, has only ever been carded once or twice in her young life.  Admittedly, she drinks less alcohol than most her age, but she when she turned 21, she went out several times, for the express purpose of using her ID, and remained disappointed.  I suppose when you're almost 6 feet tall, people mentally assign you a certain level of maturity.

Our height is one of the things I enjoy about my family.  I'm by far the shortest at 5'9", though that's really not too bad for a woman (if I was a guy, I'd be 1" shorter than average).  As kids, my sisters and I were usually taller than our peers and bigger.  Chubby, sure, but big hands and feet, solid wrists, just big bones in general.  And we ate more than most people and weren't embarrassed by it.  We actually called ourselves "Foodmans" at one point, instead of humans, like we were some sort of giant, high-consuming superhuman race.

Now that we've grown up, there's a lot more to be proud of.  My sisters are amazing people, incredibly hard workers, and they're starting to finally show the end result of years of determination and persistance.  Sister2 is in med school, runs avidly, and is involved with several volunteer groups.  She does 3 times as much as yours truly in a week, and with less complaining.  Sister3 just got hired at Apple this summer, and was working such an excessive amount of hours that we were starting to worry about her, until she broke her leg on a ski trip.  Now she's back to a more manageable 60 hours (honestly I'm probably estimating low; if Apple was going for workaholic employees, they picked well), and we actually get to talk to her on the weekends again.

I've actually use them as bragging rights, when I didn't have any of my own.  For example, a few years ago I was at a friend's college graduation party.  Her mother was proud, and rightfully so, but after a few pointed remarks about my own lack of success, I had had enough.  She was foolish enough to politely inquire into what my family was doing, and I let loose with 4.0 GPA stories, neuroscience majors, working with lasers (sounds cooler than it is, according to Sister2), acceptance to MIT, the whole nine yards.  I was vicariously smug through their success.  It was over the top, I'll admit, but I hate when people look down on me!

My mom wouldn't have retaliated like that.  She's a much better person than I am.  It's hard to explain, but my mom manages to be very cynical and practical, while also being immensely considerate and kind, with a strong sense of moral right and wrong.  Hearing the disappointed tone in my mother's voice is the only incentive I need to change my views on a topic.

My dad would most definitely have retaliated, and he would have thrown in some bad words and lost the fake politeness.  My dad is not necessarily a "good" person, but he's super fun, great at telling stories, and cares a great deal about us, though macho-ness prevents him from saying it aloud.

Jenn's family photoshopped onto Star Wars characters | Business, Life & Design
Learn how to use Photoshop?  Make a Star Wars picture.  Priorities, people!
While each individual is very special to me, the most important aspect is the whole.  When my family is together as a group, we can all be as naturally ourselves as it is possible to be.  That's also when we make the best memories.  For example:
  • Playing cards together, getting silly, and laughing so hard we cry.  Every.  Single.  Time.
  • At the end of the school year, my sisters and I would take all of our old school notes, crumple them up, and have the hugest paper ball fight throughout the entire house.  Then, in order to not disappoint our recycling advocate mother, we collected them all and ironed them flat again.
  • Winter nights in the hot tub and then rolling in the new snow.
  • Having contests as kids, beauty pageants, art, singing, whatever, and then asking our mother who was her favorite.  Who was the prettiest.  And my mother being wise enough to never answer that question.  "I love all my children equally."
  • Cheating at games so that no one had to lose.  War, in particular, took forever because when someone got out, we'd always restock their hand.
  • Hearing the quote, "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people" and realizing the best discussions I ever have are with my family.
  • Growing up, learning together, and realizing my sisters are adults now and we all still like each other.  Even better, we all like the people that we're becoming
  • All these things:
Jenn's family in Braveheart attire preparing for a mud run | Business, Life & Design
We recited the big freedom speech whenever someone (me, mostly; I was the weak link) got tired
Jenn's sisters standing on the Amsterdam sign | Business, Life & Design
From our recent Europe trip
Jenn and her sister proudly display the motorbike accident scene | Business, Life & Design
Also from Europe.  That cactus is the victim of a first time scooter driver and a patch of gravel
I could write a book about all the things I like about my family (that would be silly, who would read it), but I guess what I want most to convey is who I'm really talking about when I mention Sister2 or Sister3.  It's not just this impersonal "Sister2."  It's a person who likes helping people so much that she volunteers with the homeless and refugees, while going to school to be a doctor to help them even more.  It's also a person who has the raw discipline required to be a runner, to study hard for years, and the maintain a lifestyle in keeping with her moral code (in this case, vegetarianism).

Sister3, on the other hand, is brilliant, has tons of personality, but isn't great with people.  Since moving out to California alone for her job and despite working a ridiculous number of hours, she's determined to get the most out of her new life, and so she forces herself to be social, accept invitations that come her way (seriously this is a girl who would not order a pizza until online ordering became a thing), and make a point of doing San Francisco-y things.

Thinking about the people in my life makes me feel humbled.  And grateful.  And now I need to go set up a Skype date with them.

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