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3 kittens

Nicely gawking without openly rudely gawking

Posted on 2014.07.13 at 11:00
On Monday we drove to Kansas. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Jammies' family gathered and the cousins played, and we attended the funeral and reception. On Thursday we drove home again. It's about ten hours.

July 13, 2014 (3)

The first half of the funeral was a slideshow and some touching memories from family.The second half was a sermon called "Sin and Death Go Together", delivered by a psychotic pastor who relished describing hell with a smirk. He kept referring to the recently deceased as "a pile of ash, before Jesus." It was pretty over-the-top offensive. On the plus side, all of a sudden I wasn't messily weepy. I regained my composure and then some anger on top.

(The psychotic pastor told a story of a brash senior in high school who visits the guidance counselor (like the deceased), and is super excited about college. The guidance counselor asks him "And then what?" The kid speculates about post-college. The guidance counselor asks him "And then what?" about five more times, and the kid gets less sure and less sure, the further out he tries to predict his life. The pastor got smirkier and smirkier as the kid's answers got vaguer and more unsure. Somehow the moral of the story was that the kid should have been certain that his life would get him into Heaven? He was supposed to be super cocky and have all these right answers about how his life would unfold, instead of not knowing? What a nonsensical crock of shit.)

I feel like I ought to describe the aunt, her personality and character, as unappointed unofficial archivist here. That maybe someday the value in this entry would be reduced to her grandchild wanting to know more about her. But I didn't spend that much time with her, so everything I'd say - she was stern but loving in that schoolteacher way, she was a worrier - is second-hand. Those are things her sons and Mimi say about her, and anyone searching here for that would already know what the sons and Mimi say about her.

The town is so rural and isolated that the directions to the reception were "Don't turn onto any dirt roads. Stay on paved roads and you'll be right there."  We ate mashed potatoes covered with a sauce of chicken and noodles. I've never had such a dish before, but how convincingly midwestern.

July 13, 2014 (1)

(The funeral was not in Moore, Home of Toby Keith. I even like Toby Keith, of Moore, Oklahoma, or the less partisan parts of his musical repertoire, at least. Just recording things we passed.)

Jammies' youngest brother is a 25 year old petroleum engineer. He's not dumb, he took AP history classes, etc. He just got back from his second trip to Europe, with some of his frat-bros. There's no dignified, respectful way to say this: he just found out about the Holocaust. One of his friends wanted to go to the Holocaust museum in Berlin, and Jammies' brother basically found out that the whole thing happened. "I hated it! I mean, I'm glad I saw it but now I hate Germans. I can't believe it happened."

I tried to tease him and nicely gawk at his ignorance without openly rudely gawking in his face. Hopefully I walked that very fine line.


I've got this confusion: I am on summer vacation and then sabbatical, which means I am utterly free from time-related stress. It's marvelous and relaxing and I want to savor it.

I am also pregnant and uncomfortable and my digestive system is a petty, fickle bitch, and all I want is to be no-longer-pregnant ever again. To have this last baby, have him be healthy, and finally be done reproducing.

But the latter means the former is over. The former means savoring the pregnancy. I find these two frameworks difficult to simultaneously hold.


When Hawaii was two months old, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal cancer. That was the worst summer.  That fall, mom was undergoing chemo, Jammies and I got married, I adjusted to being a working mom, (I got swine flu - it was 2009 - which allowed me to briefly be at my pre-pregnancy weight for the wedding itself.  That part is funny.) It was a rough stretch.

In the middle of this, a publisher said that they wanted to publish the children's book that Mom and I had written. They asked if we had any others, which we did, and offered us a double-book contract.

We acquired an agent, which is quite easy to do when you've got a contract in hand.  The agent negotiated the contract while mom was on the phone post-op, pretending that the wheezing of the machines were not actually hospital noises.

The agent turned out to be an utter shithead, who really did not represent us afterwards and jerked us around. I did not like her at all.

In the middle of this, Random House closed the branch that was publishing our books. The first got published but went unpromoted. The second, which was all mocked up and ready to go, got canned. Although they did pay us a tidy sum to ditch us.

Our agent failed to shop around the second book, and Mom began to ship it off to various places, and five years elapsed. Mom (oh so happily for me, did I dodge a bullet or what) has stayed in remission.

Then on Friday, an e-publisher said they want to acquire the digital rights to the second book. Isn't that nice? The end. I mean, let's see what happens!


I am not tolerating the heat very well. About a month later than usual, temperatures have become summer-like, and I get faint and pukey-feeling and have to nap. It feels so stupid to be so fragile.

July 13, 2014 (2)

Sometimes Hokey Pokey looks like Richard Simmons, except cuter.

Ace is a solid brick of baby. In Kansas, I saw new sides of her: she walked up and snuggled with anyone. But she was very serious about it. Calm and serious and snuggly, whereas at home she is sillier and more active.  


Kelly Jennings
Kelly Jennings at 2014-07-13 19:53 (UTC) (Link)


Hokey is MUCH MUCH cuter than Richard Simmons. Please.

Also, you would not even believe how often I discover my students have never heard of the Holocaust.

I think I told you once that one of my students (home-schooled, Pentecostal, but very smart) was astonished to discover that Jews still existed. He thought they had only lived in Old Testament times. I discovered this when I was teaching a Jewish Lit class, and brought Dr. Skull in for show & tell.
heebie_geebie at 2014-07-20 15:56 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Cuteness

So a student who has never heard of the Holocaust, what would they recognize about WWII? I doubt Jammies' brother was completely ignorant - there was a guy named Hitler, he hated Jews, etc. Just hadn't really grasped what it takes to produce giant piles of dead people.

The real, live, existing Jew people thing is amazing.
parodie at 2014-07-13 20:54 (UTC) (Link)
On behalf of all clergy everywhere, I am sorry you got subjected to such a sorry excuse for a funeral sermon. There are many reasons but I suspect it's just fear of one's own mortality subsumed into a need to be right.

I have never really understood hating Germans for the Holocaust. Does that make me a terrible, unfeeling person? A former supervisor once blogged (in a way directly connected to his professional persona) about a miraculous personal revelation that not all Germans were worthy of contempt, which I found...puzzling. Hating Germans would seem to require despising much of the world for tragically awful behaviour in many circumstances (First Nations in North America, European behaviour in Africa, etc.).

Congrats on maybe finally getting that 2nd book published! Exciting.
heebie_geebie at 2014-07-20 16:01 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I appreciate your apology, but I should also state that I consider this guy to be on the wack-a-doo fringe of clergy. One unexpected benefit of Heebie U is exposure to a ton of sane, liberal, admirable religious people.

I think the hating-Germans reaction is to compartmentalize the atrocity. It more-or-less says "This is the first atrocity that I've really taken to heart, and I'd like to believe it was an isolated incidence." I think the hating-Germans is a way of asserting that there, we fixed that one time that humans were unimaginably cruel to each other, and now we can get on with daily life.
parodie at 2014-07-25 07:35 (UTC) (Link)
Compartmentalization makes a lot of sense as an explanation. Yes, I suspect you're right. I also suspect there's a little bit of "and of course I and the people I know would never behave that way!" thrown in for good measure. Man's inhumanity to man, etc, of course so well highlighted this week.
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