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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Kathy Klammer
I've spent most of the morning sorting through papers and books - the blessing and curse of a theological education.

It won't surprise any of you that I simply can not part with my books. Harvard Coop has this great deal that they will take your "gently used" books and refund a portion of the money you spent on them. Indeed, all but one of the books I bought were in that category.

They have found a home with me and have become as friends. Mostly because, when I read a text, I have to engage with it. There's something about holding a book in your hands - especially when the author is engaging - and engaging in dialogue with the author by making comments on the sides and in between paragraphs that is irresistible.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Kindle, but I have not yet mastered the art of typing in notes. Well, I have, but I find the keyboard frustrating.

When I study something, I want to hold the book in my hands and write in the margins. That's just my preferred way of reading and studying.

Old habits die hard.

It's not the books that are difficult to sort through. It's the papers. The articles I downloaded and printed out on those nights when my eyes were glazing over the laptop screen and I wanted to engage more fully with the author.

I've narrowed it down to about six articles I want to keep. The rest are already in the trash, waiting to be taken to the dumpster.

I've also come across some cards and notes that were sent to me by friends when I first got here. I've held onto them because they make me feel less lonely in this time of living alone in my little third floor writer's garret.

I call "The Thomas' English Muffin" apartment because of all the odd little "nooks and crannies" in every single room. I think I'll always have sore spots on my head from bumping into one of them at least once a day. I won't miss that.

I've dumped most of the cards and held onto a few. I'll use them as bookmarks in some of those books I'm taking home.

One of them, a Mother's Day card from a dear friend, reads:
Sometimes I think
its the love
of the womenfolk
of this world
that keeps
the old planet spinning.

We're the ones
who nourish, nurture, and nudge
the people we care about
and never mind
what foolishness
is happening around us . . .

We're the ones who keep it real,
keep it together, and keep it going...
especially for each other.

Having a sisterfriend like you
means I know exactly
where to go for strong support
and savvy advice,
for all-out laughter
and caring
deep from the heart....

I count myself blessed to have you.
I don't know what I'd do
without your sweet self in my life.
I love you, Girl
I truly do.
Now, how can I toss that one out?


The Urban Dictionary defines this new word this way:
"Your bestesting friend. Better than any friend. Who's been your friend for so long you might as well be sisters. You hate her you love her. She's your sister".
I actually called a sisterfriend the other night to talk about how to decide which articles and papers I was going to keep and which I was going to toss. She's the one I call when I want to think analytically and systematically while still being sensitive to relationships and other matters of the heart.

The amazing thing about her is that, as smart and as savvy and well educated as she is, she's never insulted or annoyed when I call to ask her about something as mundane as which articles to toss. I could have been asking her something that was dramatically life-changing. She treats all my questions with the same respect and seriousness, with equal amounts of care and concern.

I'm so deeply grateful for her friendship.

There are other sisterfrieds I call to talk through other issues - each one experts in matters of finance, romance, car repair, the best wine to serve with a particular food, how to iron a blouse with a round collar, the intricacies and not-so-sacred mysteries of a computer, how to get a spot out of a rug or a stain from a favorite dress, or the best way to filet a fish.

And all of them, each and everyone, knows how to listen. Deeply. Through all my bullcrap and spin. Deep into the heart of the heart of what I'm trying to say but am terrified to put into words.

They are absolutely amazing, these sisterfriends of mine. Treasures, really. That's because sisterfriends are usually the friends who have stood some test of time with you.

They've seen you in your worst moments and still see the best in you.

They've seen you in moments where you shine and are also quick to remind you that you still put your shoes on, one foot at a time.

They WILL tell you if your butt looks big in those pants - without your necessarily asking.

They will silently slip you an Altoid or a mint when they can tell you've had garlic for lunch.

They tell you when it's time to get your hair cut or trimmed or say, "Oh, girl! You need a mani/pedi. Bad. I can't stand to look at your feet one second more. C'mon, let's go." And, you know the real deal is that THEY really want/need a mani/pedi but you go anyway.

You can talk about anything with them : sex, religion, death, taxes and politics (even though a few of them are Republican) - even the Anglican Covenant, again! - and passionately disagree, but that doesn't change your relationship.

You can call them, or they you, and say, "Hey, did you see that sunset?" Or, "Quick, look outside! The moon is absolutely incredible!" Or,  "You have GOT to get this book I just finished reading." You'll talk for three, maybe five minutes, and that's that.

Or, you can call them, or they you, and say absolutely nothing because it's good enough just to hear the sound of their voice.

You can not see them for months - years - and pick up the conversation again, almost where you left it, as if no time at all had passed.

They do that because they know that I will do that for them, too.

Maya Angelou reportedly once said, "I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at".

I don't know if men have the equivalent relationship, and, if they do, how that manifests itself. I couldn't find the term in the Urban Dictionary. I hope they do.

I do have some brotherfriends who almost - almost - qualify as sisterfriends. Most of them are gay but a one - maybe two - are straight.  It's not exactly the same, but it's a deeper relationship than I've had with my own brother.

I know my life is so much richer for all my sisterfriends. I could never sort through them and get rid of them like my books or papers.

I keep them all, young and old, rich and poor, black or white, short or tall.

Because, you know, you just never know when you're gonna need one.


Muthah+ said...

Ah, yes. It is so good to have you on my phone so all I have to do is punch a button. I could not live w/o my sistahfriends.

I think your writer's garrent was J's room in the 60's. I lived in Lawrence.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey there Muthah. I'm so blessed to have you as a Sisterfriend.

Really? This has been an apartment that long? It's down at the end of the cul de sac on St. John's Road where "only" faculty live I love it but it does have its quirks. And, nooks and crannies.

Daisy said...

I understand completely about the books Elizabeth! and the cards. All my bookmarks are cards that were sent by friends. Yesterday I came across a valentine card sent by a friend who is now dying. So treasure each one! Sisterfriends are the hardest to "lose". Please pray for one of mine, also named Barbara, who is dying from cancer. I pray her death will be gentle.

Daisy's Barbara

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I most certainly will, Daisy.

JCF said...

Heh. When I saw the title, I thought this entry was going to be about Oprah! ;-)

Elisabeth said...

I love you, Girl
I truly do.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - I think Oprah does use that term.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The feeling is quite mutual, Lis

MadPriest said...

You can download the free Kindle software from Amazon to your computer. This gives you the option of working on your eBooks using your computer keyboard. The interface is also much larger which also helps.