Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Big brother Matthew's Update on Baby Lexus

 note: this was written last night when I was on guard duty to keep Alexis from chasing the pot of gold from the imaginary rainbows Dilaudid was causing her to see off the walls and the ceiling.when my mom's shift came, I went to sleep before publishing. what you're reading was a middle-of-the-night work, so please read it through that filter.
Despite anything my mom may say to the contrary, I'm not so delusional as to believe that any physical resemblance between myself and the late JFK Jr. exists anywhere other than in the mind of my mom.

My little sister is offering proof that not only is she beautiful and intelligent, but she can also bake. Some guy will be very lucky someday,

   I'm writing this to the various anonymouses who read Alexis' blog, but also to some of her more regular readers and online friends, who include Knotty, Catherine, Aunt Jillian, Becca, primary literary agent Jaci, Jaci, Judge Alex, Marianne, Jono, OzDoc, Donna, Lil Gamble, Laperla, Eponine, Michael, Matt from back in the day, notamormon, catnip, fluhis, literary agent Uncle Scott,Amelia, and anyone else i may have inadverntently missed. I apologize if i mised you. It's a risk anytime one begins to specify name. Alexis appreciates all of her readers, anonymous and otherwise.

    Alexis would bristle at my having referred to myself as her big brother because she emerged from the womb maybe thirty seconds before I did. But since I have roughly twice the mass she does, I claim the title of big brother if not older brother. I also claim the privilege of using this space not only to alert readers t my ister's status following surgery and  tell of my sister in general, but to demonstrate that I sometimes get the shaft in her descriptions of me. Her friend Becca once commented something to the effect of, "The way you describe your brother, it's surprising that he can dress himself." I'd like to show that I'm not quite so doltish as Alexis would sometimes lead you to believe.

     Today Alexis underwent a surgical procedure that I actually understood because Alexis drilled anatomy into my head very thoroughly so that she wouldn't have to be embarrassed by her brother having the lowest score in our cohort on an exam. 

     Basically, a couple of screws were put into place because her fourth and fifth metatarsals, the bones extending up from the toes, were unlikely to stay in place to heal properly. This may mean that she sets off airport and courtroom scanners. The screws are small enough that their effect in that regard remains to be seen. Come to think of it, they pale in comparison to what she already has in her leg, so she's already having to go through the pat-down routine.

     She was correct when she blogged that it was never her clumsiness that caused an injury and it was always another person crashing into her space, stepping on her, or whatever. I've actually never seen her do anything clumsy in her life. I don't remember when she learned to walk, though I'm told it was well after I took my first steps, but I'm also told that her first steps were graceful and not those usual Frankenstein-like moves of most newly walking babies including myself.

     Alexis has alluded a few times to the infamous "rooftop gymnastics" bet that got her banned from any form of gymnastics or tumbling until she was eighteen and too old to be restricted from any activity by our parents. At face value, my part in that incident has me  coming across as a terrible brother and a terrible human being in encouraging my sister to risk her life over a stupid and highly dangerous wager. I'll own up to my culpability in the scheme. It was a horrible on my part to have encouraged my sister in any way to have taken part in such a foolhardy maneuver. Yet, and I know this sounds hard to swallow even though I swear it is the gospel truth, I never doubted her ability to pull the stunt off, the cartwheel and something else I don't even know the name of on the high beam of our roof, and I knew as soon as I made the bet that I would be paying up. She says it was five dollars. I say it was ten. There are several things about our childhood in which our memories differ.

     I've pretty much covered everything about her surgery that I know up to this point except to say that the drugs she is being given have made her delusional beyond belief. A video went viral a couple years ago in which a girl who had undergone dental surgery was babbling about unicorns and the land of blueberries. Alexis is now in that girl's league in terms of lucidity. She slept most of the afternoon, so she's now in a wakeful spell, and she's describing the rainbows all over the walls and ceiling of the downstairs bedroom in which she's sleeping. She has tried several times to get up to look for the pot of gold she knows is somewhere in the room. We're taking turns watching her and keeping her in bed. It's my watch now. 

     Her sort of boyfriend in this part of the state somehow convinced my parents that it would be OK for him to spend the night to help take care of her. I'm still not quite sure how he pulled that off. I can't imagine a girlfriend of mine being allowed to spend the night here for any reason when my parents were here. It happens on occasion, I'll admit, but not when my parents are in the condo. It has turned out to be a good thing regardless, as the sort of boyfriend is able to  talk to her and keep her in the bed to some degree so she won't get up to look for the pot of gold she's so sure is hidden in some corner of the room. My mom doesn't want to take any blame for Alexis's drugged-out psychosis, but it's  those Irish genes coming through. If Alexis drank more than the half bottle of guinness she consumes twice a week, I suspect we'd see a lot more of this sort of thing. Maybe it's just as well that she does not drink very much.

Since I've covered her surgery and even if I have  probably written more than I should have, I will take the opportunity to tell you a few things about Alexis that you may not know.

Alexis can do almost anything, and can do it very well. She doesn't play every musical instrument, but that's just because of time constraints. I'm convinced she could master any instrument she attempted. Her piano playing approaches the skill of my mother's even though my mom has a doctorate in piano performance and is a university music professor. Alexis plays violin better than my mom does even though my mom has been playing violin for most of her life. Alexis played low brass instruments to help out the high school band, and still can play any brass instrument, including the very difficult French horn, passably well. She plays a little guitar though her fingers aren't well-suited to it, but she's a hell of a bass player. She doesn't play bass often, but she's filled in for the bass player in my group, Feverish Pitch and the Useless Dominican Infield. We have a gig next week at a bar in Berkeley almost directly across the street from the Cal stadium. Come and bring your friends. Unfortunately, Alexis will not be subbing for our bass player that night, as she's twice the bassist that he is and we actually almost sound good when she's playing with us. Alexis will tell you she can't sing, but that's not entirely true. She just doesn't have my mom's voice, which everyone assumed she'd inherit. She has her own sweet soprano sound and is good enough to solo even if her voice isn't huge.

     Alexis is quite an athlete. She was approaching the elite level of gymnastics when her career was abruptly ended by our parents after the rooftop maneuver. She was a state champion hurdler, and placed at the state level in diving. Despite my much longer legs, I have to work hard to outrun her. I have a temporary reprieve with her broken foot, but she'll come back as fast as ever.
She doesn't have much of a throwing arm, but she can catch, footballs or baseballs, with the best of them. I'm convinced that if she were taller and bulkier, she could have been a Division I receiver. She certainly has the hands for it.

     She's intelligent beyond belief. I read in kindergarten, as in those "Bob" books and a bit of Dr. Seuss. Alexis was already tackling the both the King James and Catholic translations of of the Holy Bible by kindergarten, which we started at barely  4 1/2. 

     Our kindergarten teacher made Alexis do the same work as everyone else, but she finished it in a fraction of time it took the rest of us to do it, then spent the rest of her time authoring a comic book series called Protestant Pup and Catholic Cat. My parents have the entire series saved in a safe deposit box. I don't remember much other than it was poorly drawn, as even then she had no artistic skills whatsoever, but the dog had horns and the cat had a halo. We attended Catholic school that year. Protestant Pup and Catholic Cat traveled all over the nation and the world to the great cathedrals, waging wars of good versus evil. Every volume I recall ended with Protestant Pup lifting his leg to desecrate an altar or something else holy in the cathedral or shrine or whatever until Catholic Cat, who was something like a feline Church Lady from Saturday Night Live, would stop him, evict him in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, from whatever premises he was about to desecrate, then do her own little victory dance. (My personal favorite was when Protestant pup drank every drop of holy water he could find in St. Peter's Basilica, then lay on his back with his male organ extended upward and attempted to extend his stream of pee all the way to the ceiling to desecrate Michealangelo's artwork until Catholic Cat came to the rescue. 

     Alexis would quietly read her finished product each day to our table in the kindergarten classroom. The teacher didn't want her reading her work to the entire class because the teacher found Alexis' writings a bit irreverent for general Catholic school curriculum. I do now that she took each day's copy to the teacher's lounge, where the teachers had a field day with them.  

     Alexis writes with ease, but math and science are really her niche. Things that I have to go over repeatedly are things she reads once, understands, and commits to memory. She speaks of going into radiology, pathology, oncology, and pediatrics. I have know idea what branch of medicine into which she'll end up, but she'll have her pick, and she'll brilliantly succeed at whatever domain of medicine she chooses.  

     The one thing she can't do is draw. No one in our family can. She's no better or worse than the rest of us. We all suck equally and can't even draw stick figures well enough to play Pictionary without screwing up the game for everyone else.

     Twins, while they share a bond in having been womb mates and having spent so much time together in their lives, also share a very natural competitive streak. They compete in the womb for space and nutrients. Then they come out of the womb and cry to compete for who gets mom's attention first when the two babies cry simultaneously. Then they fight over toys. Parents obtain two of many things, and other toys are owned specifically by one twin or the other, but some things are community property, and the competitive edge comes out as twins are forced to learn to share at an earlier age than are most siblings. Alexis and I have been no exception in this regard, although I feel that we have overcome it. We each have things that we do better than the other although she has me beaten in so many areas that it's not a fair competition. 

     My mom is a major Kennedy aficionado. She was fascinated by America's version of royalty as a child, and over the years has collected virtually every book that has been written about or by them. She can provide trivia on the subject of the Kennedys better than can most stalkers of the famous family. While this seems like a digression, my mom compares the two of us as twin versions of John and Caroline Kennedy, although, with no disrespect intended toward to Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and at the risk of sounding as though "Dueling Banjos" should be playing in the background, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg could never have held a candle to Alexis in the area of physical beauty. Even though, because she is my sister, I can't view Alexis the way other guys see her, I hear their comments, and even I as her brother can see that she's blossoming into a beautiful young woman.

     What my mother meant by her comment comparing the two of us to the Kennedy siblings is that John was one with charisma but who had to take the New York bar exam three times in order to pass, where Caroline was the brilliant sibling who was a bit more comfortable in the background. (In the past Alexis might have been more at ease in the foreground but events that happened in our high school years made her reluctant to seek attention.)  For example, Alexis authored our high school valedictory speech but was not at all comfortable delivering it. I, while not at all confident in my ability to write anything that would hold a large audience's attention for five full minutes, relished the idea of delivering her brilliantly written work. It was hysterically funny without being overly unkind, yet it made its points. It took shots at the school system and at the administration (which is almost expected of a valedictory speech at our alma mater) and was, I've been told,  as good as if not better than not any valedictory speech ever been presented at our high school graduation. I received great praise from classmates, parents, and faculty members for the speech. While (I'm not overly modest) my delivery was probably better than average, the genius was in the writing, all of which came from Alexis. 

     You may have noticed that I used the word brilliant many times. Alexis would have come up with synonyms when writing about someone else. (She would never have described herself as such.) I'm neither so talented as a writer nor so motivated to use a thesaurus. Still, words such as  brilliant and genius, in addition to persistent, relentless, precise to a fault, and even cutthroat at times, fit any description of my little sister. She will stop at nothing to achieve a desired goal, though she's not so uber-competitive as to step directly upon others to get to where she needs to go.

     Too often, we say what we really feel about others when it's too late for them to hear the words and to know how we feel. It seemed an appropriate time to tell my little sister just how inimitable (I actually used a thesaurus for that one) she truly is. Once she's come down from her Dilaudid high, she will read this and probably will  be embarrassed and upset with me for having written it, but I hope someday she will appreciate what I have written just as I so incredibly appreciate everything that she is to me and take pride in the honor of calling her my twin.

I'll conclude with a video of one of her favorite songs.


  1. Wow! Everyone deserves a big brother like you! Hope your talented sister is better soon.

  2. What an unbelievably sweet, kind and heartfelt writing. Your parents have much to be proud of. I too have an awesome big brother and 30 seconds, or as in my case six years, there is no stronger a bond. Wish Alexis a speedy recovery and many pots of gold. She is very lucky to have you.

  3. You sound like a wonderful big brother, Matthew. Thanks for updating us! And thanks for introducing me to another song (exMormons and Alexis are great for music sharing).

  4. Matthew, thanks for your update. We really care about ,and are very proud of Alexis, albeit in relative anonymity. You are included in our cyber -circle of pride and affection. Welcome, and all our best wishes for your future.

  5. Most people have to die before others write and/or speak of them
    so eloquently. You both write so well, and one of many things that has impressed me is how well your family looks after each other
    (not to mention the shared sense of humor). You are all so fortunate to have each other (with attendant weaknesses and strengths!)
    Thanks for the update and a few late-night laughs. Best wishes for all through the next challenging months.

  6. So much for sibling rivalry. Your little sister is very special, indeed, and when she gets done chasing drug-induced rainbows she can get back to chasing the real ones. No doubt she will catch them. You remind me of my little brother and how I feel about him. We are forty years farther on down the road and have had that much more time to appreciate each other. I hope you and your sister will have all that and more.