Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Staying Connected The Twin Way

Okay, each year in the month of November is the online writing challenge  and I participate. Now Nano (as it’s called) is a well-organized event that even includes real time meetings in the real world called Write Ins, and this past Saturday I attended one such event.

As the meeting was winding down, and everyone was gathering their equipment, the leader of our local group said, “Now don’t forget to backup your work on a flash drive,” then went into a story, which happened to a guy in our group a couple a years ago where, near the end of the month, he lost his entire manuscript.

While the other ladies present all promised they had flash drives, but my first thought was, “Dang, I need to email K.De,” (my twin’s nickname) and the next second it struck me how out of place that would have sounded had I said it out loud.

But it wasn’t out of place. As loving sisters, we want to help each other, so we save copies of each other’s manuscripts on our computers as a backup.

It is also why a few days ago as it neared my bedtime and I hadn’t seen Konnie online all day, I called her, just to make sure everything was okay. And she’s done the same for me.

Back before we entered the modern internet world we kept in touch with periodic phone calls, which we never planned or expected, but I can’t tell you how many times I was busy when the phone rang and I told my husband something on the lines of, “Tell her I’m busy.”

The first time this happened, he stared at me. “Tell who you’re busy?”

“Just answer the phone!”

Of course, when he did answer, it was Konnie. I knew it was.

I can even remember a couple times when I asked my husband if he thought we could afford me calling Konnie when the phone rang and I said, “Never mind,” then answered her call.

My husband rolled his eyes heavenward and muttered, “Oh brother.”

And I drove him up the wall a few years ago when some work our landlord did at the back of our house knocked our phone line down. We were without phone or internet for four days and that whole time I fretted, “Konnie’s trying to get ahold of me!”

Of course, by this time we’d been married long enough that Tom didn’t try to tell I couldn’t possibly know what Konnie was doing clear in another state. He simply kept reminding me we’d done everything we could. The phone repair people would come on Monday. But, boy, that was one miserable weekend!

Now days I have cell phone, and I programmed her number with a special ring tone. If you hear music coming from my cell, it’s Konnie. But I do still have a landline. This is a fancy job that will vocally tell me who is calling, but even before that system kicks into action, I already know when it’s Konnie calling. Technology can’t trump genes! :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


What’s it like being a twin?
Yeah, people actually ask that.
I’m always tempted to ask them what it is like being a singleton. And before you say anything along the lines of normal, remember our frame of reference is different.
Let me illustrate being a twin. I’ll start with twin telepathy.
I can give lots of illustrations of us using our telepathy, here are just a few. The first one is the first time anyone suggested we could use our connection to cheat. It was a teacher.
No, he didn’t suggest we cheat.
Our high school biology teacher separated his students for tests, no one beside or in front of or behind anyone else, so no one could glance at anyone else’s paper.
He explained this, counted the students, and then said, “We don’t have enough seats.” He counted again, then picked up his briefcase and walked over in front of where Bonnie and I sat. “You could cheat even if I placed you in opposite corners. So, you can stay here, just turn your backs to each other and I’ll put my briefcase here.” Which he then placed on the table between us. Then of course we proved we wouldn’t cheat when she couldn’t get mitosis and meiosis.
Then a couple of years later in another class, our teacher had split everyone up in the manner our biology teacher had wanted to, including Bonnie and I ending up several rows apart. As students finished their test they handed it in and left the room. Finally our teacher stood in a row of chairs between where Bonnie and I were still working and ask the last three students if we were done yet.
The young man stood to hand his in.
I said, “Just double checking my answers.”
Bonnie said, “I can’t remember the answer for number five.” (Okay, I’m not sure which number it was now, but I know she was specific then.)
I glanced at my paper. “Oh, that’s easy.”
She said, “Oh, yeah.” And apparently furiously wrote the answer or so I’ve been told. (Remember the teacher stood between us.)
Our friend who hadn’t left yet pointed and said, “Cheat! Cheat!”
The teacher said, “Yeah, but I can’t do anything about that kind of cheating.”
And that is the only time we have ever cheated on a test. Well, at least that I know of.
Then there are all the times I’ve called Bonnie’s house and my brother-in-law answered. The conversation went something like this.
Bonnie in the background: “Tell K.De I’ll be right back.” (K.De is my nickname.)
Tom said, “What makes you think it's K.De.”
Me laughing. “Because it is. And I heard her.”
My point is twin telepathy is real. Bonnie has mentioned it in her posts. And it happened to me, earlier, before writing this post, I was sitting at our kitchen table with a guest and I heard a phone going off. Mind you there are five cell phones in my house with similar rings tones and four of them were in the far reaches of the house. But without error, I knew it was mine, because I knew it was Bonnie calling. No caller ID necessary.

And no. It wasn’t our shortest conversation ever.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Some Good Twin Stories

Now that I’ve talked about what I don’t like in the media when it comes to twins, let’s talk about what I do like.

I’ll start with a movie. Now normally, I don’t like remakes. For the most part, I can’t stand it when they change the story in anyway, but there are a few exceptions (all of those Disney remakes) where I prefer the newer version and one of those remakes has twins in it!

The wonderful remake in question is “Escape to Witch Mountain.”
In the original, Tony and Tia were siblings but not twins, in the remake — they’re twins, and that’s just the beginning of the changes done in the remake. But those changes work! It’s a fantastic story. As much as I like the original, I really love the remake. Nice job Disney. :)

Now for some good books about twins. :)

One story I’ve read that I liked was “Jacob Have I Loved” by Katherine Paterson. This is one story that doesn’t have any stupid changing places or evil twin/good twin junk and it does deal with something that can be an issue for twins.

I came across this book in high school and I really enjoyed it. Not that my twin ever stole love and attention from me, I’m not even the older twin, but there was that issue with wondering if I was the evil twin. Sometimes I did feel unloved and unwanted especially by my father, so this book spoke to me.

It resonated with me so well that even after all these years later I haven’t forgotten that book, which I’d checked out of the school library. So much so that I recently tried to see if, I could find it again. I wasn’t even sure that I remembered the title correctly, but I did!

Amazon has it in both paperback (used) and reader form. I finally own a copy! I can’t wait to read it again.

Katherine Paterson got it right, and I’d like to thank her for a job well done. :)

A second good book with twins in it is “The Harbor of His Arms” by Lynn Bulock. This  is a Love Inspired novel that I’ve read several times, not because of the well written twins in it but because it’s an engaging story, which is of a widow mother of twins who needs protection and gets it from an old friend of her husband’s and well, it is a romance, so they fall in love.

I guess I could copy the blurb from the back of the book to say more, but I’d prefer to talk about how well written her sons are. I would hazard a guess that Bulock knows such a set of twins because she got them so right! And cute. :)

I really love how the boys finish each other’s sentences, and even better, they had different personalities. It’s an excellent job inside a well-written and engaging romance. Nice job, Ms. Bulock. :)

Another good story with twins in it is “A One-of-a-kind Family” by Holly Jacobs. I was to the bottom of page 22 when these lines started:

“She showed Anna into the living room where there was a man who looked remarkably like Liam Franklin. More than remarkably like him — he looked exactly like Liam. They were twins.”

And I thought wow! The hero and his brother are identical twins, yet she gave them different personalities!

And yes, I knew that right away, because you see, Liam (the hero) hired Anna (the heroine) to help him with his brother Colm who was mentally a child. I have to admit it’s a sad reason they’re different, but still, Holly Jacobs did it! This Harlequin Super Romance is a very sweet story despite the sad backstory. Nice job, Ms. Jacobs. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Thousand Words Times Two

Today I’m continuing my posts about funny conversations, though this one isn’t necessarily about being a twin it did come about because, well, I am a twin.
To set the stage, our father was a shutterbug, even a semi-pro photographer, so as a kid we got our picture taken, a lot. I can remember when we were seven or eight visiting Grandma’s house and there were numerous other people there, lots of Dad’s cousins. The whole mill included several sets of twins and someone suggested getting a picture.
Dad got out his camera and arranged us. The oldest two sets (including the only boy set) sitting on Grandma’s couch and the youngest two, which included my sister and me, kneeling in front. I can remember posing for the picture, and I can remember glancing over at my sister just as he snapped it. Because we didn’t live with Dad, I don’t remember seeing the picture until several years later.
Five or six years after that, our older sister’s boyfriend mentioned a friend of his was going to a birthday party he’d heard about and we could go with him. From what I understood, we’d be crashing it, but we’d be welcome. Wanting something to do that night, I went with my older sister. (All three of us girls may have went, I don’t remember.)
The hosts, birthday girls, yes twins, held the party in their front yard, but at some point I asked permission to enter the house to use the bathroom. As I was going back outside, I glanced over a display of family pictures in the hallways as I walked past them, then stopped short.
In the middle of the display was a picture of four sets of twins, the two oldest sets in the back and the other two sets kneeling in front.
I was still staring in shock when one of the birthday girls came looking for me. I asked her who was in it.
She said, “I remember we’re all cousins, well except the youngest set, their dad is our cousin. I think he took the picture.” She pointed to the oldest set of girls and named them, then said, “I don’t think I’ve seen the boys since. I don’t remember them, or our cousin’s girls, but Mom might.”
I pointed to me in the picture. “That’s me. Dad took it at Grandma’s place.”
Needless to say it was rather funny getting invited to a stranger’s party only to find out they were your dad’s cousins, first cousins no less, and they had a picture to prove you’d met before.

As an addendum, with the advent of Facebook I’ve come in contact with several extended family members who I really only know because I can trace our family ties. One such young lady on Facebook I friended knowing she was part of the family but unsure where she fell in our extensive tree. Then one day she posted a family picture and the mother in it was ever so familiar. I asked her if she was the mother of one of the three daughters in the picture. The young lady said she was one of the daughters. Yeah, I know exactly who her mother is, more or less. One of said twins whose birthday party we crashed all those years ago.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pet Peeve #3

My third complaint is that it seems when the media does any story about twins they go with identical twins. There doesn’t seem to be as many stories on TV and in print about fraternal twins. I even once met a woman who was a fraternal twin who informed me that more than once growing up, someone had told her that her and her brother could not be twins because they weren’t identical.
She’s the only one that ever told me that, and I do know other fraternal twins, including relatives, so it isn’t a big problem, but it does exist. And when I first thought about writing on this topic, I was thinking I didn’t know of many stories with fraternal twins.
Until, of course I remembered Dick Francis. He has two such novels, both with the same main character, Kit Fielding. He has a fraternal twin sister and you can meet both of them in Break In published in 1985 and Bolt published in 1986. I’ve read these and I particularly like the relationship between Kit and his sister, wonderfully portrayed. Of course, I haven’t read a Dick Francis I didn’t like. (I also happen to like his son Felix Francis too.)
On top of this, Konnie informed me Tamora Pierce has a character named Alanna in a series of hers, and this Alanna has a twin brother. I also recently watched an interview with the actress playing the twin sister of the character accused of killing his wife in the movie Gone Girl.
From what they said on TV, Gone Girl is a book too, though I can’t say I’ve read either this book or anything by Tamora Pierce. Konnie tells me Pierce does seem to know twins, but, with apologies to my fantasy reading (and writing) twin, that’s not going to induce me to read the stuff. (Give me a break, I have read Chronicles of Narnia and her fantasy and I’ve seen a cartoon version of The Hobbit. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a lot.)
Except all of the aforementioned stories, excluding The Chronicles of Narnia, are of male/female fraternal twins, is anyone out there aware that fraternal twins can be of the same gender? Think about it folks, all the examples I’ve given are either of identical twins or of brother/sister sets, and I can’t think of any stories that have fraternal same gender sets. Can you?
I do know of one (ridiculous) movie, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twin brothers, which is a good start, except they ruined it by the script calling for everyone talking about how alike they are and how they supposedly can’t tell them apart. The trailers turned me off. If you can’t tell the difference between DeVito and Schwarzenegger, you’re blind as a bat! Ergo, the movie was ridiculous.
Why do the people of the media find it necessary to pretend two completely different actors are identical twins? This is worse than having one actor playing both twins. Frankly, I can see the need for having one actor play identical twins, their only other choice is to find actual identical twins to play the parts, which I’m sure isn’t always possible, but when there are two actors playing the parts, let the characters be fraternal! Don’t pretend they’re identical.

Don’t you agree any other way, is just insulting our intelligence?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Who Are You

Over my lifetime I’ve had some memorable conversations having to do with being a twin. Some I’ve mentioned before, when people recognized me because they knew my twin. But I can think of two really funny conversations because I’m a twin.
During most of my high school years I lived near a small college but moved away before I graduated. After high school, I returned to that college and, as expected ran into friends I hadn’t seen for at least a couple of years.
One day I was walking across the quad and spotted a young man. I knew immediately who he was, well more or less. You see he was a twin too.
One of the Nielson boys my sister had befriended in eighth grade and we both liked him. The other, well, let’s just say he and I were oil and water.
I stopped to talk. “Hi. Long time no see.”
“Yeah. How have you been doing? Where’s your sister?”
“Fine. She’s back home. How’s your bother?”
Our conversation continued giving some detail as to what our respective sibling was up to without ever saying their name.
I personally was getting frustrated. I knew I’d have to tell Bonnie I’d seen one of the Nielson boys and she’d ask me which one but at this point our exchange had given me no clue. At no time did he mention his brother’s name, and I had hoped he would. Though in hindsight, I never once mentioned my sister’s name either.
I finally realized I couldn’t stand there talking much longer and made some indications I should be leaving. He agreed with me. I’m not even sure which one of us suggested giving greetings to our respective siblings first but I know we both did. But that still posed a problem. I still didn’t know which twin he was.
I finally decided I needed to ask and apparently he’d come to the same conclusion because we said in unison. “Now who are you?”
We literally heard gasps all around us. It was so funny I couldn’t help laughing even though I’d been talking to the Nielson boy I couldn’t stand. We exchanged a laugh and quickly parted ways while agreeing to convey our messages to our respective siblings.
Then not long after that I was walking towards home and found the path blocked by three people in conversation. One young man had his back to me but I could see the faces of the couple he was talking to. I knew both of them, again from eighth grade.
I peeked around the man I didn’t know, saying, “Hi.” Letting my presence be known.
My two acquaintances brightened at my appearance, hugging me and gushed with enthusiastic greetings, which, like the Nielson boy, included asking about my sister.
After several minutes of polite inquiry into what my sister and I were up to they both deemed they must be courteous and introduce me to their friend so the young lady asked, you guessed it. “Who are you?”
The completely stunned expression on the poor man’s face was priceless and of course his first response was, “Don’t you know her?”
I believe it was my male acquaintance who explained it. “But there’s two names for that face.”

Sometimes, it can be funny being a twin.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pet Peeve #2

My second pet peeve about twins in the media is stories about twins switching places. The first one of this variety I can think of is, of course, Parent Trap, but that’s because I’ve seen that one. However, in browsing through bookstores or the library I’ve come across tons of stories about either one twin replacing the other or someone mistaking one twin for the other.
And I hate them not because there is no way I could ever fool Konnie’s family (even though I know I can’t) but because the one, and only, time we ever tried to switch places I was completely lost stepping into her classroom, even though she showed me around in advance.
I’ve read blurbs, and only blurbs because I refused to read the book, where the main character moves to wherever her twin had been living and takes over her life, including her twin’s significant other, without anyone figuring it out! We’re talking unplanned, she got dragged into pretending her sister wasn’t recently murdered in order to find the killer, and her sister’s love interest is one of the suspects.
Now come on people! Konnie and I once planned for weeks to switch places on April Fool’s day and I lasted at most five minutes before her teacher figured it out. I promise you, if a mere teacher can figure it out that fast, a love interest should be able to, especially if they were serious. Or at least I would hope such a person could, which brings me to the second scenario: someone mistaking one twin for the other.
Okay, folks, that does happen. It happens a lot, but I’ve seen blurbs (again not reading the book, because I hate the concept) where it’s some idiot sleeping with the wrong twin. Really?
When Konnie and I were in high school we took a class called Marriage and Family, and one day the teacher instructed the class to individually make a list of ten things we were looking for in a mate, and then rank them in order of importance. Near the end of class, the teacher started around the room asking each of us to share our top priority.
When she reached Konnie, Konnie turned to me and I faced the teacher and said that we couldn’t decide if religion or being able to tell us apart was the most important.
The teacher said, “Considering how religious you two are, I would think religion is paramount.”
My response?
“You’re not a twin.”
And that really said it all. Around that same time, our father had walked past the kitchen and entered the living room. When saw me watching TV, he demanded to know why I wasn’t in the kitchen doing the dishes, as, he insisted, it was my chore that week. Konnie came charging to my defense, drying her hands on a towel as she did, because she was doing the dishes, per her assignment.
That wasn’t the first time he made that mistake either. And don’t get me started on our youngest brother who insisted on calling us both by Konnie’s nickname. As for the oldest of our brothers, I honestly think he mixed us up just to irritate me, but I promise the mix-ups were annoying especially when our Stepmother could tell us apart easier than our mother could.
We had discussed the subject before and after that class. Thanks to the stepmother/mother situation, we knew telling us apart wasn’t a matter of being related, truly caring was all that mattered, ergo we wanted to find men who truly cared.
And I promise that is what we found.
I admit the first time my husband (okay, I’ll admit it, his name was Tom), ever saw Konnie, he said, “Hello, you must be Konnie, where’s Bonnie?”
And this was only days after our first date!
The first thing Konnie said that day, after he left, was, “Now he’s a keeper.”
Yeah, I kind of noticed that one already. J
When it came to Konnie getting married, well, I was in Norfolk, Virginia where Tom was stationed at the time, and Konnie was in Tacoma, Washington. We’re talking right around the time that Iraq invaded Kuwait and (okay let’s just get this over with) Jerry (yes our husbands’ names were Tom and Jerry) was also in the Navy, stationed at Bremerton.
Because of the situation he was told to get ready to ship out at a moment’s notice and they decided to hurry up and get married before that happened. I didn’t even have enough time to plan the trip, let alone find the money to pay for it. So the first time he saw me was sometime later, when their oldest daughter was an infant, and he arrived home from work to find me on their couch holding their daughter; he took one look at me and said, “Well hello there, nice to meet you, where’s my wife?”

So, I honestly think this is a case of where: “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” comes into play. Not even identical twins can do it, and I think the people in the media should stop trying to tell us they can!