For those of you who don’t know, I have a sister named Lisa who is six years younger than me. Now if you don’t know her don’t get too nuts stalking her because she doesn’t have a lot of computer time. But I feel like writing about her today.
I have always been very lucky with female friendships. Men are my drug of choice, and I have a history of all kinds of territory and trust issues and crappy romances, but for some reason my female friendships have remained unscathed by my nonsense with the opposite sex. I have always been able to choose strong, trustworthy, giving women to surround myself with, and I think it’s probably because of my sister. Don’t tell her I told you that though.
I hated her guts when we were kids. Seriously, if I could have figured out a way to hide the body she wouldn’t be here now. She was so incredibly cute and outgoing as a little girl, just around the time I started feeling truly uncomfortable in the world, and the way people reacted to her with joy while merely tolerating me made me loathe being at family gatherings and public places with her. She charmed everyone she met. Our father nicknamed her Lovey and her light laid bare and magnified my own sadness.
To make matters worse we had to share a bedroom and a bed at a time when our age gap felt very wide. She was still almost a baby and I was a pre-teen desperate to protect my model horse collection, which I knew she coveted. She left her shit all over my side of the room. She still wet the bed, and I was the one who would wake up lying in it. I would cry with rage and wake my mother up, and she would sleepily put a towel down and tell me it wasn’t that bad. I would crawl back into the bed, teetering uncomfortably as far on the edge as I could manage and seething with the injustice of the situation.
The last time it happened I simply bent my knees into my chest, put my feet on her back, and kicked her as hard as I could out of the bed. She landed on the floor with a thud and woke up crying. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life.
My sister and I have often joked that Welcome to the Dollhouse is a pretty good representation of what our relationship was like. I was in the house all angsty and unattractive and cutting the heads off dolls while she pirouetted blissfully on the lawn. It’s an exaggeration, but it comes close.
However, things changed when we reached adulthood. Lisa was living in LA for a short period and CSFH went out there to play, and it was then that I realized she wasn’t a little girl anymore. And we actually had fun hanging out. And when her roommate turned out to be a speed freak and almost got them caught up in a white slavery ring (at least that’s how I remember it? Correct me if I’m wrong, Lovey), it was decided that she would come and live with me in New York.
She came during what was an incredibly rough period for me. the band was happening but my personal life was a mess. I was in the process of splitting up with my on again/off again husband but only moving to the apartment directly below him. I’ve already written in detail about how much fun that particular insanity was.
Lisa helped me carry my shit downstairs and we set up house in the tiny one bedroom apartment. We were completely on top of each other but the domesticity kept me grounded. I cooked and cleaned and yelled at her for being such a slob and she sat on my bed watching tv with me for hours while I smoked and brooded. We both got Pomeranians and ate brunches at sidewalk cafés with the dogs in tow. One night I walked in and there was a Doberman puppy snuffling around in my bed. And I didn’t really mind.
Lisa walked into a pretty decent set of circumstances though. Cycle Sluts were getting large amounts of attention and she had a backstage pass and free entrance to anywhere she wanted to go. I had worked for years to get the standing that she got overnight through being related to me, and I think she enjoyed it mightily.
One of her favorite moments was walking onto the stage balcony at the Limelight on a night we were headlining. The crowd went crazy thinking it was me, and she smiled and waved and tossed her hair. It was a nonstop party and there was a regular train of hot long-haired guys and partying female friends traveling in and out of our tiny place, dogs underfoot, music blasting. And she never seemed to mind that the situation had reversed itself, now she was the one in the background while I pirouetted on the lawn.
My mother is very involved in spiritual healing and because of that we have regular access to quality psychic readers and channelers. One of the people reading my sister told her that she has been with me through many lives and in fact came to New York to help me heal. And in fact it did seem that way because after 7 years she decided it was time to go home again. This was prompted by a broken heart:
Lisa, picking up the phone, sounding muffled: “Mfff…hello…”
Me: What are you doing?
Lisa: Oh…nothing…just laying face down on the bed.
You get the picture. But it also just felt like her time here was done. So she jammed up a beater car she bought through a friend with all her shit, a guinea pig, Jane the Doberman, and my rotten little Pom named Bean. Bean liked it so much at my mother’s house in the country that I didn’t have the heart to keep her in the city. So I waved goodbye as the car drove away with my dog yapping wildly out the back window. And of course right after that she got horribly sick and cost Lisa large sums of money and constant medical attention to keep her alive.
Once she left I realized how much I had depended on her for all my day-to-day activities. My social life changed, I no longer had someone I could automatically drag to parties or order Burritoville with or watch tv with while making snide comments.
Lisa and I have the same rotten sense of humor, people will look at us in genuine horror at some of the things we snicker to each other. Whenever a gorgeous girl walks past us we usually turn to each other and say in unison, “Whore.” It’s really about making fun of our own insecurities but sometimes people don’t get it.
And she was one of only two people up until recently who understood that I was far more fragile than appearances belied. Even though it looked like I was the one with all the power and control, I was always veering on the edge and she protected me in ways that I didn’t fully understand until much later. When 9/11 hit and my sister couldn’t get through on the phone she got completely hysterical and I was touched that she was so worried about me.
Recently I went through something very heavy and private, and before I had a chance to talk to her about it in depth she started dreaming about what was happening with me. It was unbelievable. One time she even managed to get into my body/brain somehow, and the next morning described to me what it looked like where I was the night before and exactly what I was feeling and seeing. That’s when we both realized that we are more deeply connected than the surface relationship of being born to the same parents. It’s comforting to know that I have that and it’s interesting to me that I spent so much time feeling so alone when in actuality I wasn’t. I suspect that this is true for many of us.
We lead very different lives now. She lives in Michigan with her son and husband and goes to bed at 10 pm to make it to playgroups early in the morning. That is a lifestyle that would make me suicidal. And she’s not interested in participating in my mode of arrested development either. Last time Drew and I visited, a combination of alcohol and fireworks (and one stick of dynamite, interestingly enough) developed and brought the cops to her place. She was not amused and not surprised. She often expresses the fear that one day I will be Baby Jane, covered in pancake makeup and wearing old hot shorts trying to run her over with a car.
Lisa and I only say nice things to each other when buildings are collapsing; our primary form of communication is abuse. And nothing’s really going on right now to merit a whole blog so I’m setting myself up for all kinds of annoying gloating. But today I’ve gotten a couple of emails from people asking about her, and I had a hangover and it made me wish she’d been here to eat spaghetti and watch Clueless for the 9 millionth time.