Sunday, December 29, 2013

You Can't Go Home Again

One of the biggest drawbacks of being a full-time international bonne vivante is the old idiom originally by Thomas Wolfe about how you can't go home again.  Things change.  People change, and because you are no longer part of the shared experience, you see everything differently than you would if you'd been part of it the whole time.  Just for example, you facebook chat with your sister one morning and discover she's become a breast-feeding nazi, though, thankfully, not one of the outspoken ones who have to post about it all the time (kidding, Babe!)  Seriously, though, things do change, but thankfully, coming from the Midwest, there are some things you can rely on.
Gossip, for starters.  One of the great things about going out with my mom and her friends is the fact that they have all sorts of juicy tidbits.  Driving to their Christmas party with them, I learned that while the new renter of one storefront on Glenwood's classic smalltown square was renovating, they investigated the source of some leaking fluid and found a dead body.  The renter of the upstairs apartment had died, and their rotting corpse was going to cost someone a pretty penny to hire a "cleaner" (which makes me a legal cleaner cheaper than a shady one???)  This led to a lengthy discussion about the types of people that rent apartments on the square.  Personally, I would think this could be prime real estate, but apparently most of them are not rented by upstanding citizens.  Pity.

The Midwest is also a great place to get good "quotes."  I always get one ignorant comment while I'm home.

"Shanghai, huh?  Bet you're glad to be back in the land of air conditioning and flush toilets."
"China?  But you don't look like a native."
"Mongolia?  Where's that?"  My response was north of China.  "Okay, well, where's that?"  I had a hard time keeping a straight face as I said, "China?  You know, like 'Made in China'?"
"Well, what color are them Mongolians?"

So far the best quote I've gotten this trip was while we were talking about the gas prices, and I was asked, "Well, what about Mongolia?  Or do they drive there?"  I couldn't help myself and said, "No, we all ride horses."  My mom thought he was trolling me, but I'm not so sure.

Most of my best quotes come from church members, which is a little sad considering that we're a big missionary church.  This year I was in a mood though, and I'm pretty sure the Holy Ghost was busy letting people know that they might want to keep their well-meaning friendliness to themselves this time.  I've been a member of the Mormon Church for nearly seventeen years now, and while I wouldn't give it up or trade it for anything, there are definitely parts of being Mormon that suck.  Being a teacher who can't drink wine while she grades papers, there's one thing (deep down, I think it might have more health benefits than coke and make my students' writing less painful to read).  Even worse?  Being single at the age of 34 in a church that believes in waiting til marriage.  But the absolute worst thing about being Mormon?  The melody they sing for "Away In A Manger."  I grew up with the real melody of this carol, and no matter how many times my friends who were born in the church try to tell me otherwise, this bastardized melody I am subjected to repeatedly in the weeks leading up to Christmas is simply WRONG.  This year I actually got lucky, though - two Sundays back the Mongolians hadn't started singing Christmas carols and last Sunday was in transit.  And this Sunday?  There were lots and lots of songs in the program, but except for a quick rendition in the prelude music, this monstrosity was not to be found.  IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!

Speaking of which...Happy Holiday, people.

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