Tag Archives: Mississippi

Being Quiet

The days I remind myself to shut up

seem to expand.

A brave new world of vast global communication

and still I hear this message inside and out to be quiet,

Stop talking

You’re blathering

Nobody cares what you’re interested in.

The voices come mostly from inside, I suspect.

Echoes of my father’s “I don’t want to hear any more about it.”

Echoes of my mother’s “You don’t have to tell me about every single thing.”

But then how and where does this lonely country only child share?

Not in school. “Stop talking.”

Not with friends. “Nobody’s interested in that stuff.”

Not a church. “You ask too many questions.”

 

Ultimately it come to this: a pen, a notebook,

a keyboard, a file,

a blog spiraling its way into the vast emptinesses of hope

to friends I’ve never met

people I’ll never know

other voices needing to be heard.

All of us crying into the darkness in a desperate attempt

not to shut up.

 

– By Judy Wall Crump, 2012

Please don’t reproduce without credit. Thanks.

 

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Hey Hey, We’re the Fundies!

I spent the formative years of my life being forced to attend, a minimum of three times every week, a church that was so far right it believed that Southern Baptists were evil, liberal heathens. Yeah, you read that right.

Ever heard of Bob Jones University? We believed that fine institution was too liberal.

No kidding. It was an evangelical, premillenial, independent Baptist church. Theologically and socially, it was somewhere to the right of Rick Santorum. This week, when I was thinking about the lessons I learned from The Monkees, I also pondered the lessons I learned in church. It wasn’t all bad. There were some truly sweet people and at least three people that I actually considered to be Christians. But the lessons I learned from all those years in the fundamentalist tent have haunted me ever since.

* Obey authority without question. All authority. Always.

* Do what you’re told.

* Don’t ask questions. (This was a big one.)

* Accept your fate.

* Do what you’re told.

* Any personal dreams or hopes you might have don’t  matter.

* Movies and TV are godless and Satanic, but it’s perfectly okay for preachers to deliver sermons that cause nightmares for weeks. Yes, this happened, more than once. The one I *still* have nightmares about now and then is the one where communists arrest my mom and make me watch while they stick needles in her eyes and nails in her ears. Yes, this was a sermon. I was maybe 10 or 11 years old.

* Do what you’re told.

* The best sermons/testimonials are the ones where the person spends 9/10s of the time talking about their lives of sin, in detail, and then wrap it up with a little bit of praise God I got saved. Those were almost as good as TV/movies.

* It’s possible for a preacher to break my Daddy’s heart.

* “Mean Girls” have nothing on Christian girls.

* Do what you’re told.

* Two-faced is normal.

* Sly hypocrisy and underhanded meanness are apparently Christian acts.

* Do what you’re told.

I was about 25 years old before I finally managed to break free of that quicksand horseshit, and it’s the reason I’m as liberal as I am today. I’m not anti-Christian: I just don’t see many of them around. I just see way too many hypocritical Pharisees.

In some ways, I miss church. It’s nice having that church family around. But I won’t go there again. Until I find a church that preaches love, compassion and acceptance, I won’t be darkening any church doors. I doubt that God minds. If He does, She’s never mentioned it to me and we talk all the time.

Hey Hey, I’m Free!

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Be Quiet!

I  was five years old when I started school. There was no such thing as kindergarten in rural Mississippi back then, so thanks to my December birthday I started first grade at age five. To be honest, I don’t remember much about first grade, but I do remember two things.

One, at some point I was given a printed-out copy of a drawing of a Scottie dog to color. With due diligence, I colored said Scottie perfectly, completely black … with a red collar. I recall someone – new teacher? mom? – saying something along the lines of “That’s not very cheerful.” To which I replied, more or less, “It’s a Scottie dog. They’re black.” This continued for a bit with comments about bright colors and comments about yes, but it’s a Scottie dog and they’re black.

I would not be moved.

So that’s the first thing I remember from first grade. I had a tendency to be stubborn and could be argumentative. And I knew, dang it, that Scottie dogs were black.

The second thing I remember from first grade is that I got in trouble a fair amount, and always for the same thing – talking.

Don’t talk.

Be quiet.

Stop talking.

Sit in the hall until I say you can come back in.

Give me your hand (for the ruler swat).

Always about talking. I made perfect grades, did whatever I was told, was a class leader, read all the time, but still played sports on the playground at recess. But I liked to talk, and it kept me in trouble through my whole first year’s encounter with formal education.

At some point in that first-grade year, I decided that talking just wasn’t worth the trouble, so I shut up. I didn’t really speak in school much for the next 12 years. I wrote. I talked to my cat, and to my short-term dog. I talked to myself, while wandering the fields and woods around my home. But I didn’t talk in school.

Talking has always been my Achilles’ heel. I like to talk with people. It made me a pretty decent reporter, and a more than okay teacher, but it just keeps me in trouble with people who don’t talk much.

I talk too much. I blab on. I babble.

So I’m told, even now. Guess it’s time to shut up again, and start writing it all down. And talking to the dog. Heck, I can get a fake ear-phone-thingie and talk to myself even in public, and nobody will think I’m some kind of lunatic.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Be quiet.

Thanks.

 

P.S. Scottie dogs ARE black, dang it. And I’ve colored outside the lines ever since. So there. 😀

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Laying Low

One thing I really hate is when I hit those pockets of life in which nothing I do is right. I’m sure you know what I mean.

It’s those days, weeks, months when everything you do is just slightly off, seems just slightly irritating to those around you. If you’re quiet, you’re too quiet. If you talk, you talk too much. If you try to remain calm, you’re apparently sad. If you give in to exuberance, you’re embarrassing. And worst of all, it’s all in your own head. Not like anybody’s actually saying any of these things.

But it makes existence … odd. I suspect others back away to give me space, and then I feel isolated.

Y’know what? I’m just a mess, and need to stop thinking about this stuff. Here’s some actual factual things:

* I got myself apparently banned from our governor-elect’s Facebook page, and I didn’t even use any bad language. I just kept asking when he’s going to apologize for basically calling me a minion of Satan. Guess he doesn’t like the question. Guess I’d better keep asking it at every juncture.

* Finally reading “Guns, Germs and Steel,” thanks to the Amazon lending library, and finding it fascinating. Right now pondering the issue of disease from the point of view of the disease microbe. Very very interesting.

* Recently read “The Blacksmith’s Daughter,” a first novel by a very dear friend, and enjoyed it greatly. You can find it at Amazon. Also read “The Whip” by Karen Kondazian, on the recommendation of Jim Beaver, and really liked it. It’s a novel written by a screenplay writer, so it reads like a movie, but it’s based on the real life of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, who lived as a man and a stagecoach driver in Goldrush-era California. Nobody knew she was a woman until after she died.

* Been making lots of hats and suchlike lately, which means I’ve been watching lots of movies/TV. Saw “Rio Bravo,” with John Wayne and Dean Martin. Reminded me of why I had such a huge crush on Dean Martin back in the day. Watched “Dark Knight” again, and renewed my admiration for the spectacular creepiness of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Watched (thanks, streaming Netflix!) “The Trouble with Angels,” which I hadn’t seen in at least 30 years. It holds up amazingly well, all things considered, and reminded me why I basically idolized Hayley Mills as a youngster.

All these things are quiet, and quiet is a good thing for me to be right now. Quiet and non-bothersome. And keep many of my opinions to myself. It all works out better that way.

 

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Personhood: Just say No to Sex

I appreciate the beliefs of the anti-choice movement, truly I do. Truth is, in 55 years of life I’ve never met a single person who was pro-abortion. Nobody likes it. It’s a terrible option. But sometimes it’s the only option, and just making the decision to go forward with it is hard enough without all the self-righteous brow-beating that’s become associated with it.

That said, I find this Amendment 26 in Mississippi, the so-called “Personhood Amendment,” overly worrisome. My daughter takes birth control for a medical condition. Is this going to become illegal? Will she just have to live with a condition that’s easily treatable, just in case she might have sex someday? It’s insane.

Anything that makes doctors nervous gives me pause, I have to admit. Plus, it’s just going to be a huge lawyerly clusterbomb from the word go: The only people who will benefit from this amendment, born or unborn, will be lawyers billing by the hour to deal with all the lawsuits. In a state that’s already so strapped for budget that it has persistent childhood poverty and is cutting education and human services, what we really, really need is an influx of state, local and federal law suits to gum up the judicial works and churn out money for the lawyers.

If the personhood people want to go after abortion, let them go after it straight-forward. I know how I’d vote on abortion, but I also know that I’m not going to vote yes on an amendment that might see my daughter have a miscarriage someday and be charged with homicide. With all due respect, I think a lot of well-meaning people need to really, honestly read this amendment, and try to see past the “save the unborn” to all it could potentially do to our daughters.

Upon pondering, it occurs to me… If the anti-birth control amendment passes next week, women will still have one line of defense. NO. Just say no. Ever hear of Lysistrata? Get ready, ladies, for one heckuva battle. But just remember… if he hits you, it’s assault. Just say NO to sex.

My New Motto: Say Yes to 26 and Say NO to Sex. With men. Ever.

Let’s see how that freak flag flies.

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Early Encounters with Death

My maternal grandfather died when I was five years old. He was buried on my sixth birthday.

That was my first brush with death, other than the death of my first kitten, Smokey, who was hit by a car and killed about a year before that. I never saw Smokey’s body: My mom or dad took care of getting it out of sight before telling me what had happened. But with Pa, it was different.

I was never a huggy, kissy child, and my Pa was a very huggy, lovey grandpa, or so I was told. I never liked to sit on laps and be cuddled, so even as a small child, Pa and I had reached some sort of standoff, apparently. I’d agree to sit on his lap for a few minutes and suffer through a hug, and that’d be that. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my grandpa. I just didn’t like being held. Never did, not from the start.

So it was all good with us. Everybody enjoyed a laugh about prickly Judy, who didn’t like anybody hugging her, and that was my oddity in a large extended family that seemed to treasure oddity.

When Pa died, of heart failure on an icy December day, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Mostly, I have two memories from that time.

First, Pa was lying down in the living room. I’d never seen Pa lying down before. He was a rugged, rangy Southern dirt farmer, accustomed to hard work and hard play. He always seemed to be moving, even when sitting down. But he just laying there in the living room, inside the oddest bed. Of course now I know it was a coffin, but I didn’t really have any words or experience to account for that. The living room was full, as it almost always was, but everybody was being very quiet. And I remember it was colder than usual, that the living room fire was barely lit, and it was so very cold outside. My adult self reckons that was to hold the body off from decay for a little while, but to my child self it was just another oddity.

The second thing I remember is my mother’s sweater. I spent a lot of that time on her lap (Mama was the only person I’d voluntarily allow to hold me). She was wearing an open sweater (a cardigan) I’d never seen before, soft and solid black. It had small, domed buttons that were pearly gray-white. I sat on her lap for hours, playing with those buttons and keeping an eye on all the comings and goings between the living room and the kitchen, and in and out the front door.

My Pa had a large family – 13 children, probably half of them married and parents by then – and he was known and liked in the small rural community, so there was a lot of foot traffic.

But when push comes to shove, those are the only real memories I have of my first encounter with death: the pearly buttons on my mama’s sweater and the oddity that Pa was lying down in the living room.

Sometimes I think it was a good thing that I had that experience. I’m glad I had the chance to experience death as a natural, organic part of life, not as something that happens shut away in a special building with machinery and mysterious goings-ons. Pa was alive and then he died, and his body lay in rest in his living room, where he had so often sat and laughed and fussed and talked, and it was perfectly right that it should be so.

That was the first and last in-home “lying-in” I ever saw. But I think it might have been healthier than how we do things now.

ETA: Pa died on Dec. 13. He had 13 children at the time, and 13 grandchildren. Family legend says that he had gone out to bring in the family’s 13 head of cattle, and that the temperature had gotten down to 13 degrees the night before. I can neither confirm nor deny any of the legend, but I’ve decided to believe it. It’s a little bit of cool, no?

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