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There’s The Thanks!

The church gave my mom a plaque and gift cards in appreciation of her 42 years of playing the organ at Midway and she got a standing ovation! After the service they threw a reception with a fine turnout in the church basement with cake and pink fizzy punch and finger foods – as all good United Methodists do. So to be fair after throwing down on them a week ago, they did good by my momma today.

Congratulations, Mom! You deserve it!

Where’s The Thanks?

My mother has been a church organist for most of her life. She started playing at the old Bethany Methodist Church in Grove Park in west Atlanta when she was 16. For more than 40 years, she’s been the organist at the church where I was raised, Midway United Methodist in Douglasville. She’s been a faithful member of that church. For years, we were there every time they opened the doors. She’s taught Sunday School and Bible School, sang in the choir, played on the softball team, served on and headed committees, spearheaded the fundraising to buy a sparking new Allen organ for the sanctuary, and more other things than I could mention.

She was so serious about her practice and preparation for each Sunday’s service that she bought herself the very same organ the church has so she could practice at home. And practice she did, over and over, picking the preludes, offertories and postludes that went along with the season and the liturgy.

She worried over the past few years after some health issues, that her skills were slipping, so she started practicing even more. Then last spring she fell and broke her hip. One of the first things she did when she got mobile again was find an organ teacher in Carrollton who strengthened her skills, taught her some things she didn’t know, raised her confidence and excited her again about playing.

She was so thrilled at the age of 78 to learn things that made playing easier for her! But as she continued to play each Sunday, she would confide to me that she didn’t feel like she was playing well. Between the knee replacement and hip replacement she was having a terrible time getting her feet to keep up on the pedals. She was practicing for hours and hours each week but felt like it didn’t help.

So after more than 60 years of playing church organ, she decided to retire at the end of the year. She wrote a letter to the pastor letting him know she’d be stepping down at the end of 2014.

Wouldn’t you think after serving in worship at the same church every Sunday for over 40 years, that someone would acknowledge her on her final Sunday – thank her for all the hours and hours she had put in practicing and playing?

No one said a word….

Then the pastor asked my mom if she’d be at church this Sunday, and she said yes. So I was certain that they must be cooking up some kind of farewell for her for today.

No. Not a reception. Not a word from the pulpit. Not a line in the bulletin. Nothing. Nada. There hasn’t even been an announcement made to the congregation. Despite that, no one even asked my mom why she wasn’t playing this morning.

She wasn’t really upset by this. I think she was resigned to it – not even surprised.

But I’M upset by it! How can they not even utter a “thank you” or “we’ll miss you?”

People think church musicians just show up on Sundays and sight-read something out of the hymnal and then go to Golden Corral. You stupid, ungrateful, ignorant people. It’s so, so much work. And as you see from this story, mostly thankless.

So next time you’re at church, thank your musicians, maybe slip them a Starbucks gift card or give them a hug.

And for Christ’s sake, STOP TALKING THROUGH THE PRELUDE! It isn’t Muzak. It’s part of the worship service just like the prayers and the sermon and the scripture readings. (And it wouldn’t hurt you to listen to the Postlude every once in a while too.)

Finally, I’m going to say what my mom is too nice to say. (And in her defense, what she DIDN’T teach me to say. She’ll probably be ashamed.)

But SCREW YOU Midway, you unappreciative, self-centered buttwads. You will never see anyone else like my mom. And you will probably never again be exposed to quality worship music – music that isn’t written by Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith and their ilk. Also, good luck finding anyone who’s going to play that organ for free. Check out AGO prices sometime and see how much organists are really “worth.”

My mom might not be hurt at how you’ve treated her, but I am broken-hearted, disappointed and angry that my home church that raised me to love Jesus and other people has treated her this way.

May the ghosts of the James Sisters, Hazel Johnston and David Dennis haunt your halls. *Insert Sophia Patrillo evil eye here*

Love you, Momma. Even if no one else knows and appreciates your work; we do! We always got your back.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

2014 In Pictures – My Favorites

Last one!

2014 In Pictures – Cats!

Because, CATS!

Christmas 2014

Shut Up, Brain!

I’ve been sleeping on the broken-down couch in front of the TV every night for the last year. One day about 18 months ago, the person I was seeing got up, took a shower and went home; and all of a sudden, sleeping in the bed alone was just too much.

I was also in the middle of my deep depressed place, and on the couch in front of the TV was my safe place. All my friends kept me company there and soothed me after it got dark: Peggy Hill, Blossom, Niles Crane, Dorthy Zabornak, Sam Malone. They kept me in a level, fuzzed zone where my brain didn’t have to think about anything but jokes. As long as I was still awake and watching TV, then it wasn’t the next day yet and I didn’t have to get up and face the real world again.

But the couch hurts and I’m feeling stronger, so I thought I’d give the bed another try. It was so dark and quiet. It felt so amazing to stretch out across the mattress instead of squnching up with a hip falling between the couch cushions and a crick in my neck.

I lay there for a minute feeling so comfortable and relaxed. One cat was spooning me and the other was chewing my hair. This could work!

And then I thought about Boo, and about Boy 1 and Boy 2, and eHarmony guy, and what I want my life to look like, and whether I should quit trying to have romantic relationships, and whether I should try to quit giving a shit about anything at all. And I thought about Lost Boy, and I thought about suicide, and I thought about driving across country, and I thought about my family, and I thought about living alone in a cabin in the woods. I thought about “a walk in the woods” being right outside the back door. And I thought about living out of a van. And I wondered how I’d get rid of the condo. And I thought about writing. And I thought about New Year’s Eve. And I thought about being alone. And I thought about being old alone. And I worried about money. And I worried about what it would be like to quit my job. And I worried about what the consequences would be if I really did the things I wanted to. And I worried about men and I worried about me and I wondered why I’m so bad at being a woman and why I’m so bad at being grown and I worried about my cats and I worried about my mom…

And I then I got up, laid down on the couch and turned on the TV. Shhh. Shhh. Quiet now. Yep. Yep. Yep. Mmmhummm.

Links of the Week – December 26, 2014

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* Boston Red Sox BamVino Bottle Holder

* Douglasville’s Elana Meyers Taylor Wins In Calgary

* Growing Up Gender-Nonconforming Amid Scolding, Awkward Silences

* NORAD’s Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport

* 23 Of The Cutest Things That Have Ever Happened On Tumblr

* Bobsled History: Elana Meyers Taylor To Compete In Four-Man Event – (First women to compete in this event – EVER!)

* A List Of Pope Francis’ 15 “Ailments Of The Curia” – (Go on with your bad self, Pope!)

* Religion’s Smart People Problem: The Shaky Intellectual Foundations Of Absolute Faith – (I wrestle mightily with this…)

* Why So Many Rich Americans Think They’re Middle-Class

* Patrick Stewart And Jonathan Frakes Can’t Hold It Together

* Star Trek Book Of Opposites – (Why didn’t I get this for Christmas???)

* Stay Single And Proud This Holiday Season – (THIS! 😀 )

* What’s Gender Got To Do With It: Is Recovery Different For Women? – (I’ve been debating this with some evangelists recently. This gets it right.)

* C Is For This Awesome Cookie Monster Christmas – (You gotta see this!)

* Katie Hnida’s Historic Football Story Not A Fairy Tale

* Seasonal Depression Kicks In Just In Time To Numb Woman Before Holiday With Family – (Perfect! 😀 )

* Avoiding Family Conflict During The Holiday Season – (The Onion nails it!)

* How To Navigate The Holidays Alone – (Aaaaaand The Onion writes my life…)

* Space Cat Shower Curtain

* Lumpy Space Princess Shower Curtain

* Jesus Died For Your Sims T-Shirt – (Amazing!)

* Magic Middles Chocolate-Filled Cookie Recipe

* Pierzynski At Least A Colorful Braves Addition – (Oh, great…)

* Gingerbread Enterprise – (For Mason…)

* Dr. Who Paper Snowflake Patterns – (Allons y!)

* The Department Of Unexpected Interspecies Friendship – ❤ ❤ ❤

* Obama Breaks Cardinal Presidential Rule By Donning Tiara

* Social Justice Kittens

* Baddest Mother Ever: Fartbuster’s Worst Fear – (Blog Post of the Week)

The Sad Crept In

I managed to hold it off until the day before Christmas Eve, but the sad sat down hard on my chest this morning. Driving  in to the office about 7:45, alone in my car, Paul Anka was on the radio singing “Rudolph,” all the Christmas lights were shining through the gloomy fog in Centennial Park, and the SkyView ferris wheel was lit up and spinning.

And suddenly it felt like everything joyful and festive and hopeful and good in me was sucked out and only an incredible emptiness was left. I was suddenly acutely aware of my aloneness.

What is it about Christmas that does this? I’m no more alone than I am any other time of year. And I’m not “alone.” The office is full of people today. I’ll be with my family tomorrow. (And for me, gratefully, unlike some, I love being with my family.) But when I could’ve left the office this morning after my 9:00 meeting was over, I didn’t want to. The idea seems cold and empty and dark and – alone.

I tried to alleviate the “alone” this year. I invited someone to come to Christmas Eve at my mom’s with me (and to various other Christmas events as well) – but… well… yeah… you know. And maybe that makes me feel more alone too, when you try to not be alone and those attempts are rejected.

I know there’s got to be more to this feeling that descends on me this time every year. And I’m so glad that it’s only happened a few days before Christmas this time. (For the last couple of years, it hit at Thanksgiving and didn’t let up until Christmas was over.) But even a couple of days of feeling like this sucks!

I read a great article yesterday that feels very true to what I’m feeling. (And I can’t remember where it was so I can link to it, dammit!) But basically it said that feeling anxious about being alone is evolutionary. As cavemen (and women), if you were alone, you weren’t safe.

That’s very much what my aloneness feels like; the emotion feels like vulnerability and insecurity and danger.

I always feel guilty when I feel like this around the holidays. I have so much and I am so blessed. I’m not a big evangelist or testifier, but I truly believe if God hadn’t interceded in my life, I could very well be homeless, whoring, or dead right now from my alcoholism. I have found an amazing church that fits my incredibly liberal beliefs socially and theologically – five blocks from my house. More importantly, that church has become a home and a family for me. I have an amazing family of birth and amazing friends. I have stumbled accidentally into a comfortable career that allows me to provide for myself. I could go on and on.

There are people who ARE homeless. Children who are hungry. I have a friend who’s sitting death watch over his mother right now. There are people who’ve been disowned by their families. There are people wrestling mightily with addictions. There are people in prison. There are people in sexual slavery. There are people in abusive relationships. I could go on and on.

I don’t feel like I deserve to feel sad, but still I do.

I guess one of the hardest things is that (at least most years) I don’t want to just wish away the holiday. When I’m sad or upset about some event at other times of the year, I just tell myself that it’ll be over soon. But I really like Christmas, particularly Christmas Eve at my mom’s where my immediate family eats ham sandwiches in front of the TV, then opens stockings, then move to the living room where we listen to Christmas music on the stereo while we exchange gifts one by one. So I guess I feel very conflicted about loving it and wanting it to be over (or maybe just wanting to not feel sad) at the same time.

I think if I could ferret out exactly why I feel like this, I could make it better. Meanwhile, I have a man pinging me on eHarmony. He sounds interesting. We have a lot in common. He has pretty eyes. But when I get ready to respond to his questions, I’m terrified and can’t bring myself to do it. So maybe I DO want to be alone.

Can you simultaneously want to be alone and want to not alone at the same time. I can’t decide which one is scarier.

I’m living in a limbo of fear and anxiety. Ho ho ho.