End Notes

When I was 9 or 10, we had a neighbor who lived one lot behind and to the left. Will VanZandt was my age and he was the son of Townes Van Zandt, quite a successful folk singer. I never knew he was the son of a famous singer/song-writer. Will’s mom yelled a lot. We could often hear her yelling at the dogs for barking, or at Will’s sister for wandering too far from the house, or at Will for whatever it was that he was constantly doing wrong. Sometimes he came over to play. Not much and not for long, but sometimes. One day our doorbell rang, which was strange because everyone usually just knocked on the screen door and yelled “Hello!” I got to the door in time to see my mother opening it and to see Will standing on the porch with his mom holding his arm very tightly and at a weird angle, like any minute she was going to jerk him off his feet and throw him in the air like an acrobat in a circus. I crept up and stood behind my mom, peeking around her to catch glimpses of Will. He wouldn’t look at anyone. He was just staring at the slim wooden boards under his shoes and sniffing a lot. It was the first time I saw his mom up close. And the last time I saw her. I would hear her for years and my parents would hear her parties and sometimes call the cops because my dad had to get up early to go to work.
“Tell them what you did, Will.” Will looked up at his mom. He didn’t say anything, but he was begging with his eyes. I could tell he felt embarrassed by the way he kept twisting his t-shirt in his free hand. She jerked on his arm again and repeated herself, this time slower and louder. His eyes just started to fill and he sniffed harder and faster.
“Tell them now!” Will still wouldn’t tell and this infuriated his mother so much that she whipped him right in front of us. He tried very hard not to cry. I hid behind mom’s back so I didn’t have to watch. Finally, Mrs. Van Zandt’s anger abated a tad and she turned away from her son to my mom.
“I’m terribly sorry. Will is the one who threw the farmer’s watermelons at the back of your house. He will be over to clean it up this afternoon and it will never happen again. I am so sorry.”
“Oh, it’s no problem. Really, it’s no big deal. I’m sure it will wash right off with a hose.” I loved my mom in that moment and I hated Will’s mom. I knew he was wrong for throwing fruit at the back of our house, but I could also see the fun in it- watching the big watermelons splatter their red guts all over the wood and pool like blood into the white chinked sections between the logs.
“Say you’re sorry, Will.”
“Sorry.” He apologized in the smallest voice, still staring at his feet. She let go of his arm and he took off across our yard, leaving his mother standing on our porch.
“We already apologized to the farmer. What a day! I’m really sorry this happened.”
“Oh, it’s fine. Thanks.” My mom was trying to be cheerful as she spoke. I watched Will’s mom back out of the driveway and thought how strange it was that she drove to our house when she could have just walked. But maybe she didn’t want to climb the fence that separated their back yard from our neighbor’s backyard.

As I finished my dissertation, I felt like Will’s mom. I feel that I am holding my family’s arm, yanking it, and saying, “Tell Holly what you did.” However, Will knew that throwing stolen fruit at someone’s house was wrong. My parents always believed they were doing right by their youngest daughter. And so did I.
Maybe writing about my sister and I is hard because we’re just now really getting to know each other. Or maybe I’m just now getting to know her. I think Holly has always known me, but I have only known the version of her that I created, that I fashioned out of what my parents and I expected her to be and what she appeared to be. It’s really strange. I feel like through writing 15,700+ words, through reliving some of our fights, some of our games, that I have rewritten our past. I have revised so many events so that now they don’t make anyone the bad guy. I was always the good child. That only left one role for Holly to fill. And when she didn’t respond to my parents in the same way I did, it was unexpected and therefore “bad.” I think Holly mostly just surprised my parents. They were never ready for her. And so when they finally figured out that she wasn’t what they thought she was, they always thought the worst. But all this is generalizing. There were times when things were fair and there were times when things were unfair and that is how it goes.
I am writing this because I have finished the creative part of my dissertation and I’m really not sure how I feel about it, besides feeling a little like Will Van Zandt’s mother. I am facing a lot of goodbyes in the next few weeks. Kenny leaves a week from today for Seoul. Tariq leaves a week after that for Saudi Arabia. Some of my goodbyes are temporary; some of my goodbyes are permanent. And don’t anyone dare say “You’ve got Facebook,” because although Facebook is nice, it is no substitute for a late night chat about Truth or an all out roommate bashing. It is not good for hugs or coffee with sugar. So I am trying to temper all my goodbyes with the hellos in the near future. One of the hellos I am most excited about is seeing Holly again.
She’s engaged and she’s living in a house and she has two puppies. She’s got a real job and a good relationship with our parents and she seems happy. I’m looking forward to going shopping with her and getting my eyebrows waxed and doing all the things that as sisters we missed out on the first 20 years of her life. I’m glad I wrote about us. I’m glad I acknowledged Holly’s right to be unhappy. Because for the longest time, I think that’s all she wanted. We had a really good life. And some parts of it sucked. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say. So it goes.


I Refuse to be Warm and Fuzzy

Contrary to recent opinions expressed by a friend, I do not "love" everyone, nor do I think everything is "amazing." In response to this misapprehension, I have prepared for your cataloguing delight, a series of lists.

List One: Things/People I Hate:

1. Seagulls, a.k.a. Crap Bags. (Not to be confused with Phoebe Bouffet's fiance Mike, also known as Crap Bag for a moment.)
2. Paris Hilton
3. Oprah Moments. Have your own moment. You don't need Oprah's.
4. Those who consistently don't wash up or clean up after themselves, especially when they've used my dishes/stuff to make the mess.
5. The phrase "That was before your time."

List Two: Things/People I Double Hate:

1. Income Tax. I fully support the FairTax. Research and jump on board, my friend.
2. When I'm sewing something and the string gets in an irreversible, impossible to untangle knot FOR NO REASON, even if it's on the backside and doesn't matter. This usually elicits strong language, not for PG audiences.
3. Shaving my legs. Hence, the lovely leg hair I have been cultivating for over a month now.
4. Paris Hilton on the Simple Life.
5. People who watch the Simple Life.

List Three: Things/People I Loathe Entirely:

1. When I specifically ask for No Lettuce on my taco/burger/whatever, and receive my meal complete with lettuce. Enraging.
2. Cruelty to animals. Except for the Seagulls. You can kill them, but do it fast and as painlessly as possible.
3. The Anatomy of Criticism by Northrop Frye.
4. People who bring their children to movies and do not beat them until they are quiet, but instead, allow them to ask questions like, "Mommy, what's Alaska?" during the entire film.
5. Paris Hilton.

See? I have antipathy towards many things. I do not "love" everyone. However, since this has been brought to my attention, I will henceforth be much more sparing and careful with my adjectives. I will try to understand that not everyone is able to interpret my many degrees of enthusiasm.
Not Yours,



List of things to do:

Over the past week, laundry has been the one thing I have been incapable of accomplishing. Today, after my shower, I donned my last pair of panties. I MUST do laundry tomorrow morning in order to have clean underwear. I have needed to do laundry since last Monday. Not the one two days ago; the one before that.

There's something about laundry that makes me feel productive. I can do nothing all day- lounge around in my pajamas, never shower, brush my teeth only once, make 0 progress on my dissertation, eat 5 All-American double chocolate chip cookies from Sainsburys for 92p, and rarely leave the couch or my bed. But if I did laundry on this day, it is considered one of the more productive in my life. And I don't care to search the deep recesses of my soul to figure out why. I like to leave it simple and clean- like a fresh load of linen, neatly folded and put away. I hate laundry. I loathe it entirely. But, once it is done, I always think, "Now, Danielle, that wasn't so bad, was it? And it feels refreshing to have on clean underwear and to not have to Febreeze the arm pits of your t-shirts so you can wear them more than one day in a row. Stop dreading your laundry, it's rewarding in the end."

However, I still dread it. But I'll do it anyway, and feel incredibly accomplished and an important part of society, the part that does their laundry at the last possible moment when they would have to turn their underwear inside out like their Mamaw used to make them do when the spent the night without a change of clothes. Yes, we are a valuable part of the citizenry. A pillar. A pillar that smells like lavender dryer sheets once a month.
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