Saturday, February 26, 2011

10 Things About Me

Here are 10 facts about me that many people do not know. These aren't necessarily the most important things about me and my life, but they are facts that help others to understand who I am. And at the least, one or two will cause most people to scratch their heads and go, "It's a wonder she isn't stranger than she is!"

1. I bought my first Book of Concord at age 14.
What may be stranger is that I started to read it at that age, also. Of course, there is a story to this. A "son of the congregation" had completed his seminary education (at Concordia Seminary St. Louis) and received his first call, and was being ordained in his home congregation. My mother and I attended the service. During the course of this event, the one being ordained is asked about his allegiance to and intention to preach and teach in conformity with the writings contained in the Book of Concord, and then the various writings are named. The one that caught my attention was the Smalkald Articles. On the way home, I asked my mom, "What in the world are the Smalkald Articles?" Her answer was that they were one of the writings in the Book of Concord, that pastors were the only ones that bothered with reading those things. That just got my curiosity burning brighter. At home I looked up the cost of a Book of Concord in her Concordia Publishing House catalog (she ordered material for the congregation's Sunday School), and sent in my order for one B of C. When it arrived, I found out that it had the Small Catechism, a Large Catechism (news to me!) and myriad other writings. My dog-eared and heavily underlined copy accompanied me to seminary 14 years later, and still sits in my office.

2. I know how to tap dance.
Seriously. My parents enrolled me in dance lessons when I was 4, at Miss Jane's Dance Studio. I took tap, jazz, and ballet for 12 years (and studied modern at a later time, but that's a different subject). Tap dance is so much fun, and it is one of the few times where a child is encouraged to make noise, and a lot of it! And like riding a bycicle, you don't forget how to do a time step (my buck-and-wing is a little rusty, however). I even did a liturgical tap-dance while a student at LSTC, for the "Feast of Fools." There are witnesses who can attest to this. Fortunately, this predated Youtube and cell phones with video upload capabilities. My children are most grateful for this.

3. I love to sing.
I have enjoyed singing since I was little. I don't remember a time when I didn't enjoy singing. And I have what I call a "decent" voice. I especially like singing in church, singing hymns and liturgical music, singing in choirs. One of my favorite experiences came from when we lived in Nebraska, and several years I got to sing with the Axtell Community Choir for their yearly Messiah performance. I loved learning the choruses, and really came to appreciate what Handel had done in putting those beautiful words to music. I'm not trained; I've picked up bits of vocal technique along the way, by dibs and drabs. But from nursery rhymes to chant to Broadway show tunes, I enjoy trying it all. In fact, one hymn I want sung at my funeral is "What Wondrous Love is This" just for the last two verses. "To God and to the Lamb I will sing," and "And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on!"

4. I know a lot of songs.
This goes with the above. My husband says this, too, but a little stronger: "My wife knows all the words to all the songs." Well, no, I don't. Not all of them. But I do know a lot of words to a lot of songs. Credit Miss Jane. She used Broadway show tunes for a lot of her recitals, and I learned the words just by listening to the records over and over. Also, my parents had a lot of Mitch Miller records (which is how I learned all the words to "Nothin' Could be Finer than to Be in Carolina in the Mornin'!"). And as a native Tennessean, I (of course) know all the words to the following songs: The Tennessee Waltz, Rocky Top, Hound Dog, Heartbreak Hotel, Polly-Wally-Doodle, Dixie, On Top of Old Smokey, Wade in the Water, and We Shall Overcome. My mantra: So many songs. So little time.

5. I read through the Bible, beginning to end, in the 9th grade.
I was taking Latin that first year in high school, and the teacher would give extra credit for reading certain books. Most were history, though there were a few very long novels ("The Last Days of Pompeii" and "Quo Vadis") that were included. And the Bible. And he didn't want a "book report." If we wrote on a piece of paper, "I read (name of book)" and signed it, he counted it as extra credit. So, I read the Bible. Front to back, including the "begats" and all the laws about blood sacrifices in Leviticus. The start of a long, and mostly wonderful, relationship with this book (though I didn't anticipate that at the time).

6. My Mama and Daddy met in the basement of the National Funeral Home.
I really need to turn this into a short story someday. But my parents met in the bookkeeper's office of the National Funeral Home, after my father came back from WW II and my mother went to work there. And the bookkeeper's office was in the basement. And the Funeral Home was owned (at that time) by my grandfather and his brothers. Who were all named Charles. (But that's another story!)

7. My grandpa's brother's wife's youngest brother was my Daddy's best friend. (Mull that one over a bit. The relationships aren't incestuous, but sure sound like they ought to be, right? That sums up Southern families.)

8. I love the Old Testament, but it breaks your heart.
Broken promises, broken relationships, and starting over again even when every nerve in your body is saying "Mistake! Big mistake!" That's the Old Testament. Think about it.
But it is also all about Jesus Christ. Who also breaks your heart, but in a different way.

9. I was confirmed on the Palm Sunday after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, in Memphis Tennessee.
And yes, he was killed in Memphis, and I was confirmed at my church in Memphis. The National Guard was patrolling the city streets, and my godmother had to go through their checkpoints to get to our church. The events of that spring in my hometown took me years to sort out in my head. (Another story I need to write, some day.)

10. I was a member of the National Organization for Women while in college and through my early twenties.
I joined while in college cause I was a young woman in the South who wanted to work in journalism and get equal pay for equal work. (Like, duh!) I quit after deciding that I couldn't support NOW's stand on abortion rights. But I'm glad I was a member for a while. I gained a lot in self-confidence, and met some wonderful women. It was also the first time I met and got to know women who identified themselves as lesbian. In hearing their stories (especially regarding life in a Southern city known as the belt-buckle of the Bible belt) I learned a lot, both about them and about how churches do not always witness well to Christ.

There you have it, ten random facts. At some future date, one or two of these may merit a longer essay of its own.

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