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The Blogs of TSP

THE SISTER PROJECT is a blog network: a blog of interrelated sister blogs. We are starting with a small family; soon there will be more sisters, perhaps including some of you. Here’s our family tree so far, with one caveat: Though there are a lot of Smiths in the cast, none of them is related, at roachduosidebarleast not genetically. SHE SAID, SHE SAID She Said, She Said is both sides of the sister story. A digital dual memoir by TSP’s oldest sisters, Marion Roach Smith (left), 53, with occasional outbursts by Margaret Roach, 55, it celebrates alternate realities, tenderly and yet bluntly illustrating the universal truth that no two siblings experience anything the same way.  How to explain that truth? Nature? Nurture? It’s a little of both and also neither. And here, under one virtual “cover,” is what that looks like.  Marion, a writing teacher, radio columnist and author, and Margaret, former editorial director of Martha Stewart Living turned blogger, don’t look, act or talk alike. Want to listen in, and watch what happens?

HEY, LITTLE SISTER In Hey Little Sister, as in life, Paige Smith Orloff, multitasks: She is a writer and a cook, a wife and a mother…an only child faced with the charge of helping her daughter to be a good sister to Paige’s son.  “I’m not always sure I know how to do that, or even what it means,” she says. “If I don’t know what a sister’s supposed to do or be, how in the world can I help her learn?”  Paige, 42, may not have biological sisters, but she has picked up some soul sisters along the way, throughout a life that’s taken her from New York, to Hollywood, and now (to the amusement of all who know her) to a farm in the Hudson Valley of New York State (just up the road from Margaret Roach, not far from Marion Roach Smith, and near where Anastasia Smith grew up). “My sisters-by-choice are her companions in the kitchen and in cahoots,” she says. “Whether over cocktails, coffee or broadband connection, they keep me honest, providing patient company as I try to understand my life as a person, a parent, and in my own way, a sister.” Meet Paige.

CLAIMING SISTERHOOD Anastasia Smith, 24, a recent college graduate now pursuing her MFA in creative writing, is the face of Claiming Sisterhood, exploring the two definitions of that tricky verb claim: “to take it as the rightful owner,” and also “to assert it in the face of possible contradiction.” A younger sister to a brother, Anastasia is setting out to find and claim sisterhood on her own terms, “equipped,” she says, “with enough brains and know-how from a liberal-arts institution to connect the dots on the most random of topics, and with no pressing domestic plans on the horizon (i.e., homeownership, husbands, Huggies).” For Anastasia, sisterhood is always linked to feminism—“perhaps simply because sisterhood and feminism are both gendered terms—though also because I think that a search for sisterhood, at its base, is a negotiation of women’s connection to a collective female identity.” She’s not claiming “to have a treasure map (yet) for the intangible meaning in sisterhood (or feminism),” but through this blog she is “exploring the facets of sisterhood, from identity politics to pop-culture.”  Explore with her.

ASTROLOGY: THE THIRD HOUSE, by Sheilaa Hite: an exploration of the astrology of relationship, especially that of us as women and as siblings. Sheilaa kicked off 2009 with a look at the year numerologically, astrologically–and by telling her own sister story. Read her first installments here.

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary C. March 11, 2010 at 12:50 am

Hey all. It’s wonderful and beautiful that women can call upon each other and share this bond of sisterhood. I have a family sister who at times seems a million miles away because we are so different, yet she makes me laugh until I cry. I have one other sister friend who I can get real with. What a blessing. It helps to know that there are others out there in this tough world that are willing to share ideas and encouragement. Being from So.California it is rare that I find honesty and sincerity.

2 margaret March 11, 2010 at 1:37 am

Welcome, Mary C. Sounds like you are blessed with the range of sisters, lucky you. :) Don’t be a stranger; see you soon again.

3 Gretchen Flickinger March 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I love this site, it’s a grand idea! I found Way to Garden last summer while looking for a refrigerator pickle recipe.
I started a blog about my garden to help my sister plan her garden after moving from San Diego to the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington state. Of particular interest to her was the idea of seeing what she might be able to use and the fact that many of the plants in my own garden came from our grandmother, which I have called legacy gardening. So TSP is a welcome surprise. I will pass along to one of my sisters who also blogs–mostly about sewing, knitting, quirks of life, and life at the beach. Our two blogs keep our third sister informed about what’s happening. We all are very close and talk weekly.

4 margaret March 25, 2010 at 7:24 am

Welcome, Gretchen. What a nice sisterly story, thanks. We will head over and have a visit with you and the family. :) See you soon!

5 nina pattison March 26, 2010 at 11:16 pm

MY SISTER (2)

This is about my sister
– but it starts with ME!
Because, after all, if it were not for me she wouldn’t be my sister, would she?

I am the oldest.
~ by 15 months.
I was the first child of an adored only son (there were 3 girls first and it was important that they have a boy to perpetuate the name!)
He was the youngest and he was the prince!
And I was his first child.
~also adored, as children of adored parents often are, by all who knew him Everybody said I was cute. Somewhat pudgy, but in those days that was a good thing,
My father was well known and well loved in the city and all those who doted upon him also doted on me and I liked it that way!
And THEN……
When I was fifteen months old my sister was born!
Well, she didn’t take up much room as she was only a baby and there I was, at a really cute stage of growing up, entertaining all those old people with my little sayings, my little antics and my cute little clothes.
UNTIL she got to be about that age of being cute….much cuter than I was, it seems, and I did not like it!. I was in the ‘terrible twos’ stage and she was sweet and good and perfect.
And that set the stage.
My brother was born eleven months later and was no trouble at all as he was usually left in his crib.
Granny Royce once told mother that she’d better get that child out of the crib or he’d grow up stupid!
About two years later another baby was born…this one yelling and stamping and demanding attention. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me throw him out the window!
Up until then, I was getting all the attention that my sister wasn’t.

My sister was popular, pretty, thin and smart. She did her homework and had a lot of friends.
She used to get dates for me!
I hated that. Hated that I couldn’t get my own dates.
She has thin feet, too, the kind that fit neatly into Mary Janes and sensible brown oxfords without squeezing. Mine were always uncomfortable in the Mary Janes. And my sensible brown oxfords had square toes.
And nobody wanted play with me.
She hated and was very frightened of snakes. Our brothers chased her with little garter snakes making her shriek and run and making them laugh.
I threatened to put a snake in my top bureau drawer to keep her out. I don’t know what I thought she wanted. I didn’ t much like snakes, either, but I got attention by being the brave one and pretending. (I have always been a fraud!)
My sister has a lot of friends with whom she skis, drinks, travels, plays golf and tennis goes to plays and movies..
She was for many years the Editor in Chief of a newspaper…that’s how smart she is!
Just recently she suggested that she and I (!) take a trip together(!) this winter for a few days to get warm in the southern sun. (even if we don’t do it, it made me so happy!)
My sister is still pretty, popular, loved by her children and, even, by our brother. She had a successful marriage She’s not so thin anymore but she could be if she wanted to be. And, really, the reason she’s not is because of her popularity with her neighbors and friends with whom she has cocktails (and peanuts) most nights.
Her color used to be pink. She had the pink room and I had the blue room.
Oooh, did I make something out of that!
She was the girly one.(pink) I was called Nina-boy.(blue)
I tried to be pink – but naaah!
I just sent her a blue knitted hat for Christmas. (in January)
And she loves it. I’m sure it looks just sweet on her and makes her blue eyes even bluer and her pink cheeks even pinker!
I don’t know if she’s been through all this ‘mishegas’ about me but after it all we’ve come out winners. Both of us.
We love each other.
I’ve gotten over hating it that she was so perfect; that she had so many boyfriends and so many clothes that she could spare some for me.
One year I had my 18th birthday in New York City. I was living there by myself. Thinking I’d find lots of friends and a great job and be popular and pretty like she was. I went by myself to “Hickson’s” a very upscale drugstore, and bought a very upscale chocolate sundae and talked to the guy behind the counter.
When I got back to my room there was a package for me. My sister had sent me a black suede pocketbook and a pair of black suede gloves and a beautiful turquoise scarf with sparkles on it. My darling, thoughtful, loving sister.
As I recall, that was the only present I got that year!
( I think I got a telephone call from Mother!)
OH! And another thing comes to mind when I think about my sister…..She took me shopping for a ‘trousseau’ when I was getting married. Mother was mad at me for being pregnant too soon. But my sister took me shopping.
We went to a wonderful shop in Albany and at her urging I bought a designer (Claire McArdle) dress and a pair of shoes and stockings. I thought Mother would be very angry at me for having spent so much money but my sister told me not to worry about it. She took such care of me at that special time when I was needing loving care.
As I write this I am well aware of how very much I love my sister and how narrow my life would be without her.
I’m sorry for being so hateful and jealous of her. She can’t help being perfect. Thankfully, she is alive and in my life –, my caretaker, my rolemodel, my perfect little sister.

How I love her!

I WONDER WHAT SHE WOULD SAY????

Friday, March 26, 2010

6 Alisa Moore July 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

Absolutely loving your blog(s)….have subscribed to yours along with several of the others you’ve posted here. Thanks so much for this wonderful forum for sharing among sisters (related, friends, lovers…sisters of all kinds)…Brilliant! Peace, Alisa Moore

7 margaret July 31, 2010 at 9:59 am

Welcome, Alisa — and thanks for your encouragement. We are glad to have you.

8 kathleen August 17, 2010 at 1:47 am

Hi..just discovered your blog(s) via Margaret’s comment on Christine Kane’s blog. I started my blog (soul sisters) about 18 months ago as a way of sharing inspiration, photos and ideas with my sister who lives in Cape Town(I moved to Auckland 10 years ago). I’ve met so many wonderful people through blogging and I love the idea of a network of sisterly bloggers!
The first post on my blog included a sisterly quote from Louisa May Alcott:
‘Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood.’

I’ll be popping back regularly for updates :-)

9 margaret August 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Welcome, Kathleen, and thank you for your sister story — and the quote. Nice. I hope you will join us again soon (and bring that sister along, won’t you?). :)

10 Sarah E August 21, 2010 at 11:47 am

A sister is the one person who can hold your hand and help you start your life over. Thank you Jan for holding my hand. luv ya. My fav quote is “without my sister i might have been my brother”. Don’t know where I heard it but I was little. It just always stuck!

11 margaret August 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Welcome, Sarah — and boy, that’s right. And I love your quote. Thanks.

12 Lynn September 1, 2010 at 8:42 am

It took me a while to actually click on this site. “After all”, I said, talking myself out of it, “I don’t have any sisters….or children. Do I really want to beat myself up by reading all the happy (or even unhappy) stories about women and their sisters and/or daughters?” I’m glad I finally had the courage to open this site, as I’ve found in all your words that “sister” doesn’t necessarily mean a biological connection. It’s a deeper, heart-felt feeling of bonding. That’s what I’ve been searching for in my life. It would be wonderful, too, to connect with other women who have no familial females in their life and share our lives!

13 margaret September 2, 2010 at 7:12 am

Hello to Lynn — and yes, we have a liberal interpretation, so you are more than welcome! Glad you agree. :)

14 Allison November 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I have two Sisters, My Mother kept her and gave me up. Because she could care for me. But later in life my Mother had another baby who is my Youngest Sister. I understand my mother, and the reason why she had to do what she did. However, were all three all together different but the same. My Oldest Sister and I have an Emotionally connection and we will always. I love her she’s my big sister I call her when I need to or if I feel like it, she’s always there. On the other hand my Youngest Sister! blah! blah! blah! it totally different in my opinion she wasn’t even suppose to be here. Well that’s what I just recently discovered, what could i be mad at. She’s just the baby. The two of them really can’t stand me I guess because my Mother always felt guility about giving me away, and sometimes they thought I used it to my advantage.

15 Shani November 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

My sister is the oldest one and I the youngest one. There is a middle child but she’s lost in the woods and we are waiting for her to wake up and smell the real world!
Now my oldest sister is really one of a kind, and kind she is to every one who she sees whether at the local pharmacy or the doctor’s office to her job, Heidi is known as the tornado that brings energy and joy to so many. I’m thankful to have a sister as her in my life.

16 Reluctant Mom December 8, 2010 at 4:53 am

I stumbled across this website and I am so in love with it right now!

I do not have a sister, and not much in the way of family, but I have some friends who have stood in the place when family has been left wanting.

I have also realised that through blogging and being active on forums a real “sisterhood” develops, and it has shown me support and given me strength, especially in the last month when there have been a few too many hard knocks.

I am really excited about exploring this site/blog further – yippee for you!

17 etta January 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Are you still looking for the Portuguese fisherman sweater pattern?? If so, I have it and can send it to you.

18 Sam March 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I was suppose to have a older sister but she died when she was born. I’m hoping to get a tattoo of her birthday and name, I was wondering if anyone has any quotes that would work for the tattoo… I really would like to honor her and somehow keep her alive. This site is really great and kind of sad for me but I really liked it:)

19 Frances March 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Enjoyed reading of your sisterhood. I have six sisters and yes, there are not two of us alike and all from the same mom and dad. Oh, we do have a brother that is the oldest among us. None of us can imagine what life would be like without a sister! Thanks for your blog space!

20 margaret March 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Welcome, Sam. Try our quotes page at this link. Hope that helps offer some leads. Our sympathies to you.

21 marionroach April 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

Hi, Shani, and welcome to TSP. I love the fact that you celebrate a sister who is a tornado. Nice. Please come back soon and tell us more.

22 nancy April 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

Just came across this site – what a great idea. I have two birth sisters (one died at 13 days old) and a number of non-birth sisters. What would we do without them????? My birth sister became a widow shortly after I lost my long time companion and we now live together. We have a ball! Never reaklized how lonely I was until she moved in.

23 Kim Pita April 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I recently lost my sister and have been writing about it on my blog. Thought you might want to connect to it at peaceofpita.com. The painful loss that I have endured and chose to write about is real…and I love being able to share it with others. What a joy it was for me to stumble upon your blog tonight. Kinda think it was meant to be…I am spending the next few days working on my sister’s eulogy….I will be back to visit for sure…

24 Jan Marquart June 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I tried for 32 years to have a close relationship with my sister. I remember the day she was born; she was a miracle. As we grew up, she kept telling me I was mean to her, which of course, broke my heart. She could never tell me what I did. I begged, pleaded, kept myself co-dependent upon her until I got so sick I couldn’t take anymore. So I wrote The Basket Weaver to teach myself forgiveness, letting go and moving on. It worked. I have nothing to do with her now. Maybe now that I disconnected from her she won’t be able to get power in keeping me begging for peace. Now I have peace in my own heart and I can see the whole relationship from a higher perspective. Interested in how I healed through The Basket Weaver? http://www.createspace.com/3553668

25 Myrna Magliulo July 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I recently picked up a copy of Marion’s new book, which led me to this site. I have never participated in a blog before, but after reading some of the posts here, I couldn’t resist any longer. I am the youngest girl of five, with three brothers after me. My father desperately wanted a boy, so by the time I was born, he was thoroughly disinterested in my arrival. I only know this because, when I was a teenager my mother told me that my father didn’t want to hold me. I am still puzzled by the fact that my Mom thought it necessary to tell me this. My sisters and I prided ourselves on being close, especially during the years we were all in a religious cult called “The Way.” When the cult came crashing down, so did our so-called closeness. By the way is there a limit to the amount of writing on a blog?
Anyway, I’m glad I picked up the book, found the blog and hope to write often. Peace

26 Denise Hanlon August 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Just took a class with Marion on memoir writing here at Chautauqua and discovered this website. Well, the phrase “She Said, She Said” really challenged me and Marion’s explanation of how each of us has our own history of an event. In my case it would be “She Said, She Said, She Said, She Said, She Said, She Said, She Said, She Said.” That’s right, I have seven sisters. Seven Irish Catholic sisters and not a red head among us!

27 DianeEsser October 23, 2011 at 12:02 am

Stitching Sisterhood

It was as simple as that. Barbie looked like a Malibu Barbie Doll. On valentine’s Day there were heart shaped boxes in abundance. Bouncy, and blonde out of a bottle, she was the personification of laughter and fun. She was sincere and compassionate, and through the years of unwavering friendship, there was the birth of sisterhood.

Losing my Mom at 16, and having my siblings and myself distributed among relatives, could have been a very difficult time, but I had Barbie. She had cleared half her closet and drawers so I could move in with her family. And, at 16 I made a difficult decision to keep the friendship and forgo the housing.
You see, Barbie’s Mom was always comparing us. “Why don’t you get Diane’s grades, why don’t you dress like Diane, etc.”

At 16 I valued that friendship, and didn’t want it undermined. Ergo, I opted to live with an Aunt who rode brooms at night. That was also the beginning of the stitch work of our sisterhood.

Barbie and I both dated boys who were childhood friends, and whose parents were in the small town’s hierarchy, so our lives were dictated by social protocol. Fun parties, with the exception of one visit by the police to my Aunt’s house.

Barbie and I never drank at the parties. At one particular party, a Doctor’s son had not been invited. The smitten friend tipped police there was beer at the party, and we were told to head to the beach before police lights descended on the little cottage…that indeed “did” have beer.

I do not know whose bright idea it was to tell us it was okay and go back to the cottage because “Mr. Officer” was still there and he was taking names. I knew I was in deep dodo in the land of witch. I dutifully gave my name, and yes, the letter came to my Aunt’s house.

Imagine now the sound of a volcano rumbling. The sound it makes before the eruption…and then the eruption. The eruption part is my Aunt. “Wait until your Uncle Comes Home!!!!!”

Hope sprang eternal with my Uncle. I explained to him. “Uncle. I knew that letter was coming and I could have done one of two things. I could have gotten the mail and discarded the letter, which merely was informational that I was “in the presence” of alcohol. Or, I could have given the address of my father.”
My father was someone I could not have lived with after my mother’s death because he was an alcoholic.

Uncle, without flinching, said “you’re right”. And that was the end of that.

Now, imagine corking a volcano in the middle of eruption. Ha!

Barbie and I both, to this day, are not drinkers.

Barbie and I collaborated on the school paper in an Aunt Blabby and Uncle Gabby column…making up every single letter because no one wrote in with their problems. Our advice was outrageous to the fictitious letters. We were good at making each other laugh.

Barbie would sit in the girls bathroom sink in the morning and sing. I kid you not. Her favorite was the Smother’s Brother’s “I fell Into a Vat of Chocolate” (unless you were a teen’s in the 60’s this is a moot point).

One morning our songbird had no notes. She complained her stomach bothered her. I compelled her over and over to call her Mom and go home but she said “Betty” would not be happy about that, and stayed and took the bus home. I called Barbie shortly after I got home, as always. Her brother informed me that Barbie had been taken to the hospital with a ruptured appendics.

Dutifully, I went to see my poor sick friend, who was in a local hospital run by the nuns. Pretty strict in rules there. Barbie was feeling better, and since there was a wheelchair in the room we thought it might be nice to take a bit of a ride….on some other floors….one having a nice little ramp. Sans skateboard, the wheelchair gained a certain velocity we found….until we ran into a nun. Really.

Barbie and I left our teen years behind and both married within a year of each other and, neither of us married our childhood sweethearts of five years. We did watch them go off to Viet Nam. Both of us married others, and both of us had our first daughter within months of each other.

Barbie moved to Florida, and I stayed North, but every year we managed to go to NYC for a weekend birthday toot where, without caring who witnessed our display of singing Sinatra’s New York New York, and Ba Ba Ba…Ba Babra Ann by the Beatles…we would sing arm in arm down Times Square. These are memories forever imbedded somewhere in the universe’s time continuum.

Barbie stood by me at 16 at my mother’s funeral, and I stood by her when her Mom passed when Barbie was 50. Each link in our chain grew, and it was sisterhood strong, link after link. Now we are sharing our children having children. Sweet sweet sisterhood. We always end our phone calls with love and hugs, and I embrace her presence every day in my life, Not everyone gets a forever playmate, and sister, rolled into one.

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