My sister Joan

Bape shoes.

This is the picture my sister Joan sent to me at 4:47 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. It was sent with no ponzy little description or meme headings. Just a picture of some janky brown shoes sitting there like Eleven kicked them off on the patio to take a ride on the homemade slip n’ slide.

“What r we lookin at here?” I asked, spinning through our last phone call, trying to remember if we’d talked about brown shoes with the soles falling off. 

“Lol, Google the brand name shoes” she returned. My sister Joan is a communication artist. She subconsciously knows how to give you just enough and just the right kind of information that you feel like the answer is right on the tip of your tongue, only to find out later in the conversation that you had a better chance at correctly spelling the word hemerhoid than guessing what she’s talking about. 

“Looks like B ⭐️ pe” I said, certain at any minute the fog would clear and she would say “these are the shoes I wore when we saw the gar fish at Deleon Springs, do you remember?” And I’d say “Oooooohhhh!! Of course! Thank you for sending me this.”

“Lol,” she said. “Bape.”

Just two words. No more, no less. Was she being held at gunpoint against her will, being fed laughing gas? What if this was some sort of a cruel test and she could only be released if I could figure out what she was talking about in ten words or less? I counted her words so far. Eight! Three more words and my sister would be dead. 

I often think about these kinds of cruel games. I once decided that it would be kind of interesting if at every large event the leaders took one of each of our shoes and piled them up in a giant pile in the parking lot and we had to find our other shoe before we could go home. We’d get really good at working together and organizing. I think we’d probably come up with some sort of a reliable pattern, like putting all the shoes we find in alphabetical order based on color so that people would know where to look more quickly. I think this would be a really great way to get people to work together. 

I really wanted to figure out what she was talking about without her telling me, because of the gunpoint ten words or less potential. I decided to take a walk and clear my head to really think through this Bape problem. I’d gone about a mile when I decided that if she really was being held captive, she’d probably have tried to include a secret “help me” indicator that only I would recognize. Like she’d maybe say “Les Miserables the musical is terrible,” or “I hate Asian markets,” and I’d know she was held at gunpoint being fed laughing  gas. Since it was mostly clear that she was probably fine, I decided to give in and let her win this competition of will. 

Me: Did we talk about these brown shoes? Remind me?

Joan: We didn’t. I actually just found these in my attic… someone left the poor babes in there to die!!

This is why I love my sister. She is so down to earth, and sweet, and somehow even more random than I am. That and I tell her all the same stories over and over, mostly about my obsessions—I’m growing my hair out, I love joggers, I can do a pull up, etc., etc.—and she listens to them each time like it’s the first time I’m telling her.  The only other person I know with that level of patience with my storytelling is Shannon Powell. I’ll talk about Shannon another time…I’ve got a great story involving a used tampon and a corpse for that. 

Joan and I are only eighteen months apart, so sometimes it feels a little like we’re fraternal twins. We are so very different that I used to wonder if we’d have even been friends if we weren’t siblings. I asked her that once in high school, and I could tell it hurt her feelings. If we hadn’t been friends, it would’ve been my loss because she is so smart and randomly funny. Sometimes we get to laughing so hard that we nearly pee our pants. Well, I nearly do. She’s had three natural childbirths so she pretty much goes for it. I remember one time in church we were singing this hymn that goes like this:

Dance! Dance! Wherever you may be!

I am the Lord of the Dance said he.

And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,

And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he

I danced on a Friday

When the sky turned black

It’s hard to dance

With the devil on your back.

I hit that last line going about a hundred miles an hour in my best church singing voice and I really did not expect those lyrics. A vision of a guy with great hair  dressed (inexplicably) in Medieval leggings and tunic dancing a frenzied jig with a hairy red devil in spandex clinging to his back and biting him on the neck popped into my head and I started laughing. It was the quiet jiggle kind of laugh, the one where you desperately wish it would stop, but now everything you see is quickly replaced by a spandex wearing devil biting into  the Lord of the Dance and nothing can be done about it. Pretty soon I felt my sister, sitting next to me, quiet jiggle laughing too, and then I was really off. By this time the song was done and everyone was sitting back down for the sermon and we were laughing so hard we were crying but trying to be chill about it so nobody would notice. We did not go to a large church. Picture your living room filled with about forty people sitting in a circle so there’s nowhere to hide. Poor Reverend Ayers had to minister on, hopefully secure enough in his Godly duty to know it wasn’t about him. 

Now that we’re older we talk about more substantial stuff, like elderberries and hyaluronic acid and queefs and roombas and, if I’m honest, a lot about poops. My partner says she can always tell when I’m talking to Joan because I’m giggling. Also, my sister is a five star nurse. That means whenever I get bloodwork done I share my results with her and we go over them like it’s a school project and we have to get an A or I will die. Here’s a snippet of our last bloodwork conversation:

Me: My tsh number is 11.8 and I thought it would be lower since I’m taking 75 mg of levothyroxine. I still eat gluten here and there and I think that affects it too, but I thought it would be lower.

Also Me: Do you think I should take t3? I just read that you’re not supposed to take iron supplements at the same time as levothyroxine. Oops.

Joan: Yes you’re supposed to take levothyroxine on an empty stomach. We give it at 6am separate from the other meds Did they check t3 and t4???

Me: I don’t think so. It’s not on the report.

Joan: They will likely want to.. that will help determine why the tsh is low. I mean high.

(Thirty minutes no response) 

Joan: Hello Lol

Me: Ok, I’m supposed to chat w her on the phone soon. I’ll ask about that. 

Joan: I’m gonna read up on it.. i learned it well in nursing school but forgot it all…It is very interesting. Wonder what your estrogen levels are. High estrogen levels cause elevated tsh levels It’s also what causes the thing you had removed…

Fibroid. Did it show your alt and ast?? Ask what she thinks is causing the elevated levels.. I’m not exactly sure what I’m talking about.

Can you talk?? I got me a new car.

I’ve just now decided in honor of this blog, I’m going to send her a random picture of something from my camera roll and see what she says. 

Ok, I found a screenshot I shared my sixth graders tracing the different iterations of Garfield over the years. It’s just right, it seems like it is something she should know about but can’t quite put her finger on it, like Eleven’s shoes. I wonder what she’ll say? I would be confused and wonder why she sent me this random photo. I would say “Awww! Cute! I used to LOVE Garfield. Remember when I got a stuffed Garfield for my birthday? It was a 1988 Garfield, based off this chart. What got you thinking about this?

Fast forward a few hours and she replied:

She kept it simple! She clearly doesn’t have the same need to uncover my deep and unspoken meaning or even wonder if I might be held hostage.

Update: I told my sister why I sent the Garfield picture and asked her if she’d read this post to see if there’s anything in it that she didn’t like before I posted it. Here’s her reply:

“So I sent you the pic because I know you are rather nostalgic like me, and like finding things that were once of value that have deteriorated with time and having been literally forgotten and turned to dust.. 

I remember how you loved Garfield and trying to find you a perfect Garfield.. I remember the one you had with that cute pale pink plastic nose. And was he wearing a baseball jersey?? I remember wishing he could come alive.. lol. I will gladly read your post!”

Sweet and funny and perhaps not quite as random as I thought. Ps he WAS wearing a baseball jersey and I didn’t remember that until the second I read it. ❤️

Joan and me at Venice Beach