| Family Farce: Purim 5783 |

Know This? — A Writer’s Sister         

    Did you know that Mishpacha does not offer subscriptions to each of their writers’ siblings?


Being the sister of a Family First writer has its perks. For example, there are times that we’re privy to the backstory behind the Inbox hock. “Oh, yes,” the sister will say, “we got at least ten million letters about [CENSORED], but the Rav said we couldn’t print them.” And I’ll never forget the frantic email I received: Family First is running low on existential crises! Has something been bugging you? Now’s the time to bring it up!” I got my parenting techniques answered out of that one. A whole article devoted to handling my Shimmy’s temper tantrums. For free. The article was based around the Shimmy-and-me dynamic, so I got to be the first-level editor and asked all my questions in the guise of making this a better article. Yup. A definite perk.

And let’s not forget the infinite bragging rights this affords me. I’ll be sitting in the park, hearing about this friend’s four-course supper and that friend’s Pesach cleaning updates. “Oh, yeah?” I can counter proudly. “Well, my sister wrote this week’s Lifetakes. Lifetakes! In Family First! You know, like, Mishpacha? The magazine?” Everyone’s always blown away. Often, they’re so blown away that they need to hurry home to collect themselves. I get it. Proximity to fame, especially at first, can be overwhelming.

But there are downsides, too. Did you know that Mishpacha does not offer subscriptions to each of their writers’ siblings? I mean, how else are we supposed to keep track of every word our sisters and brothers publish in frum media? They expect me to pay for it? I love you, Sis, but have you heard of inflation? Turns out I don’t love you that much.

There’s also the pomposity we sisters have to put up with. Like, I don’t share nursing home stories with the whole world, and certainly not budgetary ones — that’s definitely protected by my NDA — but I don’t either keep my sister hostage on the phone until my house is clean, “bouncing” ideas off her to hear the everyman’s take on whether there is potential to another therapy column and whether random readers are sick of discussing weight. And then the way she says, “Oh, I can’t really give you all the details. Whatever, you’ll see it in the mag in a couple of weeks.” Just who do you think you are, dear sister?

And sometimes, frankly, I just get sick of having my brain picked. Yeah, at first it was cool to get to weigh in and suggest article topics. The thought, “Am I really going to get to see this in print?!” was so exciting. The first time. Maybe even the second and third time. But by now? Uh, it’s called a salary, and if you want me added to your staff then you gotta add me to your payroll.

Honestly, it’s just annoying. Writers see the world through special lenses — called “How can I turn this into a publishable essay” lenses. I get it, it’s how their minds work, and if you sent them for MRIs, I’m sure you’d be able to pick up on distinct neurological differences from that of the typical mind. Whatever. My mind doesn’t work that way, and I want to be able to forget a school pickup or shopping trip without wondering how to condense it to an 800-word musings, complete with witty narration and meaningful takeaway. But it’s like as soon as my sister got this job, she hijacked my brain, and now I’m like, “Did she really just say that? I better call my sister” or “Whoa, that’s weird, do schools really think that’s normal? They should do an article about that.”

I mean, look, my sister tells me that for Purim, the magazine is being taken over by writers’ families, and I was like, “Whatever, that’s nice, gotta iron the boys’ Shabbos shirts.”

And then next thing I know, here I am, at the keyboard.

Please know this: Writers’ sisters' lives matter.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 833)

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