Sisters

My two little sisters are a blessing and a curse. I have memories of their births, though some of the details get a little confused. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night and getting carried out to our old chevy pick up truck but I don’t know if my other sister was there. We never went for rides in the middle of the night, only for Christmas Eve Mass, so an outing such as this was not forgotten. The other memory I have is driving to the hospital with my dad and our cat Dax, again I don’t know if my other sister was there. This memory I think is the most important because it shows how unimportant the birth of a sister was to my child mind. We had arrived at the hospital and my mom was lying in bed. She might have been holding my new-born baby sister, or perhaps it was my dad. Then my mom had opened up a drawer, took out a box of smarties and gave me the box of treats. I was so happy about those smarties, nothing else mattered, and that is all I can remember. As a mother I can reflect on my mom’s choices during that night in the hospital so long ago, and I now understand  that I was most certainly being bribed.

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They were so cute back in the ’80s.

Our birth order certainly shaped our personalities; we were your typical trio. As the first born I always had to set an example for my little sisters, and consequently am a little tightly wound up. The middle child, Lynette, had to negotiate within the complicated power relations of our family, and is always wheeling and dealing. The youngest, Bernette, watched her older sisters make mistakes, and now has the “I’ll show them all” attitude. (I still don’t know why my parents went with the “ette”s. I could have been a really good Annette)

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Lynette preparing for our youngest sister’s wedding.

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Bernette giving me the “WTF Amanda?” look.

My sons love hearing me tell stories about my sisters and I growing up, especially the ones where there is fighting involved. I try telling them about how we played with my-little-ponies or pretended to be mermaids in the ditches near the railway tracks, but they prefer to hear about the sister fights. They like to know that we were bad kids too. Like, what kind of young girl in a fit of anger would decide to throw an empty porcelain sheep-shaped Avon perfume bottle at her sister’s head? And what kind of girls would tie up their youngest sister to a chair and then shut off the lights and leave her in the basement? Yeah, my sons love hearing about that one.

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Me and my sisters.

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I see a resemblance between my boys and my sisters when they were kids.

Being the eldest I still feel responsible for my sisters. Sometimes I wonder if my eldest son feels this for his younger brother or not? He is growing up in a very different kind of family than the one that my sisters and I had to deal with. I am providing my boys with a safe and loving environment where they don’t need to protect each other in the home. Growing up I had to watch out for my sisters all the time – the drinking brought out the worst in the adults. My mom did her best to protect us but she wasn’t always there.

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Thanksgive’r tableau.

As adults, we still act like those little girls when we get together. We love to laugh at each other. We break off into pairs, and whisper about the other sister behind her back. We talk about ex boyfriends and poke at old wounds that only we know are there. No one can hurt us like we can. My middle sister recently found out that her partner of 10 years was cheating on her. Her grief is heartbreaking but soon enough she will be back out there wheeling and dealing. Her pain is short term and nothing like the scars that us sisters have inflicted on each other. Those scars are there for us to pick at and to remind us that we are always sisters. This year my youngest sister married her partner with whom she’s been with forever, and now they are finally talking about starting a family, just for me, so I can be an aunty. Hahaha. Perhaps they will start another generation of sisters.

 

Over these years we’ve pushed and pulled each other but we know that we are sisters. We are family and we will always stand by each others sides, no matter what.

-xox your big sis, Amanda Laliberte

 

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Epic Summer Road Trips: #AuntiesDoPortlandia2015

This summer, I travelled to the Yukon, Saskatchewan and Toronto throughout June and July and wrote a bit about it here on Tea & Bannock. Now that I’m home for a bit in Ottawa, I’ve been thinking about past Road Trips and how they are an essential part of my summer experience.

Exactly one year ago, I was on possibly one of the best road trips of life. It’s one of those once in a lifetime trips that I still wonder if it actually happened. Good thing there’s pictures to prove that it did!

Background: My cousin Leah and I were roommates when I lived in Saskatoon, and Portlandia became a big part of our lives. Like, it was always on. Constantly. We became obsessed and started memorizing every episode. We closely identified with the Feminist Bookstore characters, Toni and Candace. So much, that we started dressing up as Portlandia characters for Halloween. Don’t judge.

One night after indulging in some wine health juice, we dared each other to apply to be extras on the show. Nothing much came of it. Fast forward to a year later, I was living in Ottawa, and Leah got an email – she had been accepted as an extra on Portlandia!

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Leah’s actual email

We freaked out, I kept checking my email but never got one. We decided to contact them and see if I could go too. Once they gave us the go ahead, I booked a flight to Calgary where we met up to drive the rest of the way to Portland, a dream come true! We even got some local media coverage! We also ran a gofundme campaign which helped us get to Portland, thanks everyone!

So, we hit the road …

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Driving Dolores, photo credit: Leah Arcand

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When we got stopped at the border for having a banana in the car. Declare all fruit, kids!  Photo credit: Leah Arcand

We got to see some Portland landmarks and places they have filmed in the show,

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Keep Portland Weird! photo credit: Leah Arcand

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Weirdos

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Voodoo Doughnuts!

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This place!

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Where they shoot Women and Women First!

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The famous chalkboard

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Still from the show

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Inside the bookstore

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Exterior shot, photo credit: Leah Arcand

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City Hall, where many scenes were shot, photo credit: Leah Arcand

We waited patiently for our call time on Saturday Aug. 9, 2015. Everyone was so nice to us, we were known as the cousins from Canada who drove 13 hrs (+ 5 hr flight for me) to be on our favourite show!

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Here we are on set with Adam Rosko, the guy who made it all happen, the coordinator that cast us as extras! Thanks Adam! photo credit: Leah Arcand

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Taking selfies while waiting for our big moment! photo credit: Leah Arcand

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Cast and Crew! If you look closely you can see producer Lorne Michaels! photo credit: Leah Arcand

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We got to meet Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen! The highlight of the trip! photo credit: Leah Arcand

I wanted to write about this trip on Tea & Bannock to mark the 1 year anniversary, but also because I wanted to share a lighthearted story about dreams coming true, as cheesy as that sounds. Celebrating silly moments and celebrating friendships is sometimes all we have. I look back on this trip and it gives me life! So often media portrays negative stories about Indigenous people, the fact that this story was picked up by media makes us giggle, but we also see the importance of it. It is my hope that this story lifts others up too! Be yourself! Do what you love and accept who you are, even if it’s being Portlandia fan girls, no shame in that game!

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Writing thank you postcards in VooDoo Doughnuts! photo credit: Leah Arcand

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#deeplysilly #auntiesdoportlandia photo credit: Leah Arcand

 

-jt arcand