Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Aunties and Cousins and Pride! Oh my!

My grandmom decided to host a special coffee hour at church to honor and commemorate what would have been her and my granddaddy's 65th wedding anniversary. Thinking about how hard it would be for me to host such a thing for our would-have-been-anniversary, I suggested to J that we should plan to visit for the weekend. Of course, she agreed readily, especially since we didn't have the boys for the weekend and we needed to visit her folks, anyway.

So, Friday we headed down there after J got home from work. We drove through Burger King on the way down so that we'd arrive earlier and thus have more visiting time. My uncle Jazzbo was in town overnight before embarking on a boys' motorcycle road trip with my uncle Vic & cousin John to visit my mom, Graham and Lenore for the evening. Even though he and Anne live in the Cleveland area, too, our schedules prevent us from seeing them as often as we'd like, so I was happy to get a chance to visit with him. We had a nice visit, then J and I blew up our humongous air mattress and Jazzbo tucked himself in on the couch. I ended up staying up until almost one with my cousin Leah talking about school, our shared vomit-phobia and sundry other things. It was great fun to see her again.

In the morning, we visited over cereal, then Jazzbo took off for Columbus in his rain gear while Jeanie took my grandmom to her hair appointment. Leah had opted to attend Dayton Pride with us. She'd never been to anything like that & had a great time despite some obstacles. First of all, we arrived at 10:30 to line up, as requested by the church we were marching with. Nobody from the church was there, so we poked around the library for awhile and re-emerged. Nobody. J was getting hungry, having skipped breakfast, and Leah and I were wishing we' had something more substantial ourselves. I remembered that one of my favorite greasy spoons was around the corner, so we headed over there. Yummy Burger, a joint that serves both American dive fare and Thai food, caught our eyes on the walk over, but we persisted toward Wympee. We sat at the decidedly sticky counter, with its view of industrial gloom and grit, and settled in with the paper. Leah had a BLT, J chose French toast and I opted for a burger with home fries. It was all good and we emerged ready to march at 11:45. We roamed among the crowd until we spotted familiar faces from church. Don and Nan were actually marching with P-FLAG, but were able to point us toward the church and remind us that we couldn't wear political candidates' stickers when marching with the church. Glad we ran into them! I'd forgotten.

So, we got into the line-up and were hugged madly by several folks we'd not seen in ages. I introduced Leah all around. The rain kept coming down and Leah and I were wishing we'd opted for big umbrellas rather than attractive ones, as our whole left sides got progressively wetter. J never uses an umbrella, so she was just getting soaked. Luckily, it was warm! We marched the short route with the church, then ran into the guys who run the local youth support group. It was good to see them, but I was sorry to hear that the group has dwindled away to practically nothing. They seem confident about their plans to revitalize, though. Then, we saw Adrian, a seminary buddy who has gotten me through the last semester with sanity and sense of humor intact despite a very emotionally challenging group dynamic in the class we shared. We had fun visiting with folks we knew, but there was very little going on, just as with the last Dayton Pride we attended. There were a couple of tired-looking drag queens and a few boys running around in tidy-whities (or tidy-blackies) and not much else, who will probably dominate any media coverage, despite the predominance of ordinary folks marching with churches and what-have-you. I'd hoped that it had improved over the several years we'd missed, attributing the general suckiness of the last one we attended to the fact that it was still in its infancy at the time. Adrian assures me that it was the rain and that Pride wasn't sucky last year. However, the suck factor and rain combined to encourage me to respond in the affirmative when J suggested we leave just after the Pride band finished playing. I'd wanted to find Kevin, anoher seminary friend who marched with the MCC, but he was nowhere in sight, so we skulked off to the car and headed for the (equally sucky) gay gift shop. Somehow, Leah had a great time and is going to recommend to her best friend, Casey, that he head to Dayton from Vermont. Hmm. I'm thinking Columbus might be a better Ohio option for the queer.

After we'd browsed all the rainbow merchandise we could stand, we picked up Jeanie and headed to Buffalo Wild Wings to play trivia. We waited for an age to be seated, with staff members staring over at us all the while. All the booths were either occupied or not cleaned off, so we had to sit, little bitty legs dangling uncomfortably, at a tall table. Then, there were no trivia units available, either all taken or broken. We finally succeeded in obtaining 4 when we told the waiter we weren't ordering food unless we could also play trivia. We certainly hadn't come for the big-screen cage fighting. Only 2 of the four actually worked. J was finally able to get hers to work & traded with Leah, taking the one that insisted the player be involved with Texas Hold 'Em rather than NTN trivia. Oy! So, not the best BW-3 visit, but we had fun together anyway. We stopped on the way back to the house at the bookstore and grocery. Back at the house, we spent the evening visiting (and, in J's case, napping) and looking at old family slides Jeanie had put on the computer.

In the morning, we all went to church. Brendan was amazing, giving a really great sermon and call to action, very radical for that church and I don't think they even got a word of it. Sigh. If they don't come around, that church is going to die. If they would actually hear Brendan and heed his message, he could very skillfully lead them into a new life. But, I fear that they won't and that they have no idea what a treasure they have in Brendan. When I congratulated him on his great sermon, he said, "I'll probably get kicked out." I think not because I don't think anyone in that congregation has the energy to raise a boot if they actually catch on to the fact that he's made the transition from pastoral to prophetic. It's so sad to see them all asleep like that. I never really noticed the stagnation and apathy and general unhealth until I got into healthy churches.

The coffee hour went well, alhough it was pretty sparsely attended. When I commented to a friend that we miss doing the coffee hours, she said, "Well, we miss you doing them! It's gotten pretty scraggly lately." In truth, I had noticed that on my last visit. Coffee hour was only stale snack foods like generic cheese puffs and pretzels, tiredly sitting on the counter where they were laid out by frustrated committee members when no one bothered to sign up for coffee hour refreshments. The symptoms are all there, the doctor is willing and able, but the congregation chooses to ignore the illness instead. I don't know how Brendan stands it. Maybe if they combine with the other Presbyterians, there is hope. Can they overcome years of mutual prejudice and competition to survive? The best thing about coffee hour besides getting to chat with Brendan, was the wonderful surprise of Nola showing up with the babies for a visit! It was the very first time I got to see the new baby in person and he is adorable, fat and cheery.

I wished we could stay, but we had to move on to Cincinnati to visit J's folks. I was really dreading it because her mom is under Hospice care now and her dad is often curmudgeonly and hideously negative, guilt-tripping J about not visiting more often, no matter that she works hard and lives 5 hours away. I often joke that he is God's way of giving me practice at difficult pastoral care situations. Luckily, he was in fairly good spirits, although he complained repeatedly about our not bringing the boys this time. Oh, well, next time we'll make sure they are with us, too. The big relief was that J's mom recognized her and was even able to respond somewhat and smile when J talked to her. She even laughed once, which was a good thing to hear. So, we were able to drive home in fairly good spirits, although the long hours on the road and the tedium of the book we'd chosen to listen to took us to the brink of desperate hysteria. Kathy Reichs may be an expert in her field, forensic anthropology, but that doesn't mean she should necessarily write fiction about it. The dialogue came across as overly educational, more like a college lecture than a conversation between colleagues. What's more, most mystery readers in 2008 hardly need to be educated in depth on what Stockholm Syndrome is. It didn't help that the reader insisted on doing a horribly inadequate pseudo-French accent whenever a French-Canadian character spoke. Yikes...shades of The DaVinci Code, another poorly-written novel with fake French accents, which we listened to on the way to Pittsburgh a few years ago. At least the book we listened to on the way to Chicago yesterday is good, even though the producers insist on tinkering with weird sound effects whenever the dialogue is over the phone (one voice faded and tinny, so we can tell it's on the phone, presumably) or the action is a memory (more weird fades).

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