Tag Archives: PK Stories

This Isn’t How Earworms Are Supposed to Work

This might come as a surprise to readers who haven’t heard this story yet, but my family didn’t listen to secular music until I was in middle school. Even then it was limited for religious reasons.

We knew a few hymns. We knew a lot about worship music, old folk songs from my parents’ childhoods, and Contemporary Christian music.

We didn’t have cable until I was a preteen. Some years we didn’t own a television at all. Other years we did, but we were limited to the free channels we could pick up with an antenna when the weather was clear. We didn’t have Internet access until I was in high school. Most of the places we lived also weren’t close to any record stores or malls.

It’s hard to imagine that world now. I feel so far removed from it as an adult, but it was all I knew growing up.

When I was old enough to make my own media decisions, I started catching up on the pop culture I’d been completely unaware of as a kid. It happened in a slow, piecemeal fashion. Occasionally I still come across a reference to a celebrity, or a song, or a TV show that most people my age remember but that I do not.

I still hear the religious music of my childhood in my head sometimes. It’s something that I assume happens to everyone, regardless of what kinds of music they like as adults or what they think of the music of their childhood.

Recently I had this song stuck in my head for a few days. The interesting thing about that is that I’ve always thought of earworms as something that mostly happens with songs people hear as children because of the nostalgia factor.

So why is a song that I first heard many years after it was originally released getting stuck in my head in 2015?

This isn’t how earworms are supposed to work!

What assumptions have you made lately that turned out not to be true? What song(s) have gotten stuck in your head recently?

 

 

“I Hate the Devil…”

I’m still recuperating from the “I’m not sick” game, so today’s post will be short and silly.

Growing up I thought the devil was the cause of all of the bad things in the world: bee stings on the bottom of your foot, headaches that appeared out of nowhere, the deaths of small animals.

Now picture a preschool-sized me throwing up into the toilet. It might have been food poisoning or some kind of nasty virus. I no longer remember.  Between heaves  I sat up, looked my mother in the face, and declared, “I hate the devil.”

This was not a joke. I genuinely believed that the devil was the one who’d made my digestive tract curdle into something sour and unpredictable.

How she kept a straight face I’ll never know.

What’s your funniest story about being sick?

 

The Right Way to Grieve

Photo by Juni from Kyoto, Japan.
Photo by Juni from Kyoto, Japan.

The last two years have seen several deaths in our extended families. I haven’t blogged about any of them until now for many different reasons: my strong preference for privacy in certain areas of my life; I wasn’t sure what to say about them; other topics seemed more pressing.

The first person I remember grieving over was my grandmother. When she died I’d just reached the developmental stage in childhood when I realized death was permanent and would someday happen to me. I actually have more memories of missing her than I do of spending time with her. We’d moved around a bit while she was still alive, so I suspect that a lot of the nice  stuff she did with me happened when I was too small to remember it.

For a long time I felt like there might be only one right way to grieve.

– You had to be absolutely devastated that this person was gone.

– You had to believe that even the most severe suffering was worth them still being alive.

– You weren’t supposed to have any nuanced feelings about anything related to this topic.

Yes, it’s possible that I have extremely high standards for myself. 😉 Sometimes this is a good thing, but it can also become an unneeded strain in an already stressful situation.

One of the things I’ve been learning through these past few years is that every experience with death is going to be different because every relationship is unique. It simply isn’t possible for everyone connected to the deceased to have the exact same reaction to his or her death. A son or daughter’s grief is different from how a sibling,  pet, or second cousin might react.

That’s more than just okay – it’s utterly normal.

I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I felt when I stopped worrying about grieving the right way. There is no right way to do it. As much as I would like to type out a foolproof, bulleted plan for figuring out how to react to death, I can’t.

It’s something each of us has to figure out on our own.

The only thing I can tell you is this: if you’ve felt it or thought it, so has someone else. You’re not alone.

Who Should Speak for Pastors’ Kids?

How likely is it that preachers’ kids will lose their faith? Is it any different from the general population?

The Barna Group, a Christian polling organization, just published the results of its study of pastors’ children to see whether it was true that ‘those who’ve grown up closest to the church are the quickest to leave it….’

I think it’s important to point out here that all of these results came from telephone conversations with pastors, not their children.

From Why Do Pastors’ Kids Leave the Church? A New Poll Investigates…by Asking the Pastors.

Photo by Richard Melo da Silva.
Photo by Richard Melo da Silva.

The results of this poll aren’t as important as its methodology, but the above links do make for an interesting read if you have a spare 20 minutes.

Longterm readers know that I was a preacher’s kid. I spent all but the last six months of my childhood immersed in subculture that holds pastors and their families to a very different standard than is expected of the average Christian family. Explaining what it’s like to grow up in this environment is like emigrating to a new country as an adult and then attempting to explain your childhood to people who have no personal experience with the culture or history of your home country.

Now imagine someone who grew up elsewhere deciding that they know your life better than you do. When people ask why you emigrated, they start spouting off statistics about the increasing number of polar bear attacks or your chances of drowning in maple syrup.

Yes, sometimes they might actually stumble upon the truth. There are people out there who are sensitive to unspoken assumptions and cultural mores, but the fact still remains that they’re putting words into your mouth. Their experiences are not yours, and as important as it is for them to learn about other points of view being told what something is like is no substitute for actually living through it. Even preacher’s kids from the same family can have very different reactions to their childhoods. I know PKs who are Atheists and devout Christians, straight and gay, traumatized and deeply happy as adults.

Gather 20, 50, 100 of us in the same room and you’ll find 20, 50, 100 different stories. Invite our parents to join us and I have no doubt that in many cases their understandings of where we are now won’t be the same as ours. It doesn’t mean that anyone is lying, only that families are complicated, past experiences colour present expectations, and not everything in life in static.

Ideally there would be no spokespeople. Asking a handful of people to speak for an entire group usually leads to only certain stories being told. Everyone who doesn’t fit a narrow definition of what is acceptable is filtered out during the selection process, and that only leads to more misunderstandings.

But at the very least you should be directly interviewing the subjects of any study. No one who wants to be taken seriously would poll men on what women think, teachers to speak for firefighters, Christians to weigh in on Tibetan Buddhism, or straight people to explain what it’s like to be LGBT.

If anyone from the Barna Group ever reads this, I would be happy to participate in a new poll. I would pester…er, encourage all of the other PKs I know to hop in as well. If you want real data, we can help.

 

If You Could Keep Only One Memory What Would It Be?

One Memory If you could keep only one memory what would it be? 

Thanksgiving, 1992.

All five members of my nuclear family are gathered around the table eating what we consider to be a feast: mashed potatoes, gravy, a meat of some kind ( probably chicken), pie for dessert. There were no doubt other delicious things on the table that evening as well, but those are the foods I’m fairly certain I remember.

I’m 8 in this memory, my brothers are nearly 6 and 3. Our family had very little money to spare in the early 90s, but we were together, we had a roof over our heads and our bellies always had something in them.

When everyone is finished eating mom and dad give me permission to bring my hamsters to the table. It feels wrong for them to be excluded from such a happy meal, and I want them to have a taste of our feast. In retrospect I wonder if eating people food was bad for their digestion, but at the time I adored watching their cheeks puff out as they devoured as many leftovers as they could stomach.

That was one of the happiest nights of my childhood. As much as I’d hate to lose the rest of my memories, I think the one I kept should be so full of love that it would make up a little bit for not having access to the rest of them.

How would you answer this question?

 

 

 

 

Personas Aren’t People

The next chapter of After the Storm is taking a little longer to write than I had anticipated, but it will be posted tomorrow evening. Today I’m responding to a blog post about public personas. My golden rule when looking at a celebrity is to ask myself whether or not I would like to be… Read More