Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random plant event: Pelargonium x Hortorum 'Vancouver Centennial' flower bud, plus Personal-ish: funerals

Plant-related stuff first. My 'Vancouver Centennial' Pelargonium moped for quite a while in the plant room before circumstances intervened to bring it into my office instead, where it's been sitting about four inches beneath a pair of shop lights (so four four-foot bulbs). The new growth since then has been coming in reddish, like the leaves are supposed to look, while all the old growth has been turning odd colors and falling off. I assume this is normal.

And then for the first time in the nine months I've had it, suddenly it's decided to bloom as well.

I don't like Pelargonium blooms particularly. Nothing against the blooms themselves, but one of the major ongoing tasks at work every spring was going around the tables and picking off the spent blooms, and if you don't get them at exactly the right time, they dry out and shatter all over the table, which leads to eventual grossness. So I have bad associations.

With 'Vancouver Centennial,' the flowers aren't even the point. The foliage is why one grows the plant. So the flowers are probably best removed, in order to keep the plant from putting lots of energy into building flowers instead of leaves.

I'm not going to, though. At least not on this first round. I'm curious about what they look like.

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Personalish rantings about funerals and family below; do not proceed if you think this might be upsetting or offensive to you. It really could be, 'cause this whole post was written really fast, so it didn't go through as many layers of proofreading as usual. But not so fast that I didn't include jokes. Which is probably kind of disrespectful, now that I think about it. But I didn't mean it that way.
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In other, personalish news, a young (early 20s) cousin of mine died over the Thanksgiving weekend. I didn't really know him: I think our last meaningful conversation happened when he was three years old, and I've only seen him once since then, as far as I remember (which was, as it happens, at a funeral). I probably wouldn't have been able to pick him out of a lineup. So this is not devastating for me in the way it is for other members of the extended family, but still: I like some of the more-affected members of the extended family, and feel bad for them. Really and truly. To a distracting degree, actually.

This event doesn't have that much to do with the blog: I'm not devastated, there's not anything I could do about it one way or the other even if I were devastated, I expect posts to go up more or less according to the usual schedule and to be about more or less the usual things. But the husband can only listen to me talk just so long, and I apparently have a lot of things I want to say about this. So.

I do not want to go to another funeral. I hate funerals. And I don't mean that I hate occasions where everybody is depressed or sad about something. I'm all right with those. (Those are practically my fucking element!) But funerals, Christ. They do not do any of the things that everybody says they're supposed to do. I don't find them comforting at all. I don't enjoy seeing the extended family all together (I don't like seeing them all individually, either, though.). Funerals don't help me to understand that this was all part of God's plan or in any way motivate me to sing about how cool God is. They don't provide any closure. They're just a bunch of awkwardness where people who aren't sad try to pretend like they are and people who are sad try to pretend like they're less so, and a preacher who may have met the deceased but probably never actually talked to him/r quickly hits the family-provided bullet points of the deceased's personality. (There are exceptions. I've been to one, and heard of others. But the majority of the ones I've been to are startlingly impersonal.)

The husband has already been instructed that in the event: I prefer to be cremated (UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS THERE TO BE AN OPEN CASKET! I WILL COME BACK TO HAUNT SHIT IF THIS RULE IS NOT FOLLOWED! AND IT WON'T BE THE FUN KIND OF PATRICK SWAYZE / POTTERY WHEEL HAUNTING EITHER!), I want no preacher of any kind, and I insist that alcohol be provided (or at least BYOB is strongly encouraged). Not that alcohol is always a good idea, but nobody in the extended family, on either side, ever has alcohol present, and so many of these weddings and funerals would be so improved if I'd experienced them slightly drunk.

I should look into what a hip flask would cost.

(Also, people should probably not send plants to any funeral of mine. More likely the husband should bring plants from the house, and the guests can take the plants away.)

But then on top of not wanting to go to a funeral because I don't like funerals on general principle, there's also the issue of the husband wouldn't be there with me, because I'm not out to the extended family, more or less in deference to my parents. When Evil Grandma died a few years ago, Dad actually asked me to take off my wedding ring (which was not at the time from an actual wedding, but only because a wedding wouldn't have been legal) for the day rather than invite questions about when I got married, and to whom, which I was willing to do then but would not be willing to do now. (It made sense at the time, but I look back at that and I'm like, what the fuck? Why did I do that?)

Also it's a moot point anyway because my knuckles have gotten larger, to the point where I couldn't get it off to save my life. And even if I could get the ring off, there is literally no small-talky question that anybody could ask that would not involve me coming out (Where are you living now? Really? Why there? And where are you working? Oh you're not working? Well then how are you paying for stuff?), except possibly weather-related inquiries. And how long can you really talk about November weather before you start repeating yourself?

So! If I were to go anyway, despite all of this, I run the risk of coming out to a large group of highly emotional and likely sleep-deprived people, some of whom are Evangelical Christians and therefore likely take a very dim view of Teh Gay, by myself, without the husband present. Which does not sound like a good time, even if this funeral were totally different from all other funerals I've been to and is free of bullshit / open caskets / awkward helpless feelings, and features copious amounts of high-quality liquor and, like, pony rides in the parking lot or something. Pony rides do not make up for being chased by drunk/angry/grief-crazed mobs. So I really hope I'm not expected to go.


Ginny Burton said...

I am not only not offended, I'm with you all the way. As my adorable Aunt Polly once said, funerals are terribly hard on the survivors. I'm not having one either--cremation, followed by improving the soil with my ashes, will be my final exit. (Although when I put my friend Paul's ashes around a Styrax japonicus {japonica?} that I was planting, it died. Not sure if it was cause and effect, or just bad planting technique.)

I did go to a wonderful funeral once that you would have enjoyed: brief service followed by a catered reception and two open bars. Quite festive! And the amazing thing was that it was all done right there in the church, a very modern Episcopal one. The back of the nave opened to reveal the tables of food and the bars. (I remember having noticed some delicious smells during the service, but didn't realize it was food for us.)

One last thing, though. Shouldn't you come out to all the extended family? You can do it by sending holiday (solstice?) cards with a picture of you and your husband on your wedding day, if you have a picture, or have the local paper publish the announcement (it would probably cost some moolah, but might be well worth it) and then send the clipping to everyone. You don't much like these people anyway, so why not let everyone know where you stand? And maybe some repressed cousin will see it and think, "If he can do it, I can." And it would also mean that for those who object, you would be off the guest lists forever. And that would be a good thing, too.

Happy Hermit (happilyhiddenhermit@gmail.com) said...

I never got the giving of dead and dying flowers for any occasion . Now Flower Seeds , or living plants actually planted on em would make more sense to me.

I want an apple tree over my non-processed dead self , so that generations later people could just eat me. LOL

I have visited an ancestral grandma (great great great maternal) tree for peaches before , I like the idea so it stuck with me.

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton:


Yes, probably I should, but . . . well, the main reason why I don't is that Mom and Dad would (rightly?) interpret it as an attack. Whether or not it would necessarily be a particularly bad thing if they did, given the circumstances, I don't know, but it's one of those things I can't take back once it's started.

Also I would have to put a lot of time into finding people's addresses, and I'd be opening myself up for weekly harrassing cards about my sinful lifestyle. (Which does happen: I dated a guy once who had this happen to him. Some aunt somewhere found out he was gay and started mailing him all the time. If I remember right, she hadn't previously been concerned about his life until she found that out.)

I agree that it sounds like a good idea in theory, but it's much easier said than done.

mr_subjunctive said...

Happy Hermit:

Yeah, my mom is particularly irritated by the giving of flowers, and has a whole rant about the practice (which I paraphrased in this post), which I kind of agree with.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Funerals are just simply awkward. I was once at one for my great-aunt, and the pastor remarked in his eulogy, "Your presence here to celebrate Mary Lou's life confirms your belief in Jesus Christ," and it was only for not humiliating my mother that I remained seated. Gah!

One outlier funeral I found moving was my grandfather's; he was in WWII, and a cousin who is in the army was part of the flag-folding ceremony. Some ritual is okay.

But when it's a cousin you've never been close to, it's hard to act appropriately at the funeral. You'll end up seeing a relative and wanting to share a funny or sardonic story with her, and when both of you cackle and guffaw you'll realize where you are and feel instantly ashamed and partially righteous. Errh, at least, maybe that would happen.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and P.S. I know what you mean about being affected by the grief of people close to the deceased, to a distracting degree. It can be just heartbreaking to think of their loss, on their terms.

Karen715 said...

I'm sorry for all the (potential) family drama, Mr_S. I hope you don't have to go either. Funerals aren't for the dead, and as you and others point out, they aren't really for the living most of the time, either.

My mother's funeral was something I had arrange because it was expected in her circle (church, friends and extended family), not because it was going to benefit me (her only child), or her, or anybody else really. I got nothing out of it except relief when it was over.

Most of all, I hope you can work something out (on your own time, on your own schedule) so that you don't have to fear being out (or outed) to your family.

Ginny Burton said...

Okay, I understand. As a bi woman, I know how difficult it is to come out to family, and how painful it is to be asked to go back in, for special occasions.

However, if the reason that you haven't come out to your extended family is in deference to you parents' feelings, then surely they owe you the courtesy of not expecting you to attend any family functions where your husband, qua husband, is not welcome.

And in any case, you have swine flu symptoms and are too thoughtful to risk infecting others.

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton:

Well, it's still possible at this point that they won't ask me to go; there's been at least one wedding that happened without me, though I don't remember whether they gave a reason for not asking me to go or not.

In the event, I'd be more inclined to tell Mom and Dad straight up what's what and let them decide whether it's worse to accept the husband or lie to everybody about why I can't be there, instead of feigning swine flu. I bet they'd rather lie, if it comes to that. Which more or less works for me, as I don't like funerals anyway, and it'd work for the husband, who would go if he had to but obviously it's kind of an unfair situation to put him in.

Thomas said...

If the holidays aren't tough enough. I'm am sorry. I've been to "those funerals", too. But I've been to one as well for an old friend. The really large chapel was packed, he was wearing a "smart" outfit, tearful friends stood up and spoke, close friends went up to his casket and left him gifts (cigarettes, a martini glass). I just connected these thoughts: after the funeral home closed and the building was converted to office suites, the chapel became a bar called 'Chapel'. I know wherever he is he's smiling and saying 'Of course.'

Probably not the kind of funeral you'll be missing, however. Since you're already being coerced into deception by your parents, if you're asked you could say you have the flu. Or the husband could call for you - "He's not gay and he has the flu." Or maybe not.

In lieu of flowers make a donation in his name? Your choice, of course. Oddly (or not, it IS the season) but I just read on another blog (http://arewemarried.com/) of a couple who just experienced what you want to avoid. But from them I also learned about a Mormon (YES, Mormon!) organization that supports marriage equality: http://mormonsformarriage.com/. Imagine all the mental t-bones that would induce.

Jennifer said...

On the way home from school with my 11 year old (on Friday), she asked me, "Mom, do you think gay marriage should be legal"? Hmmm, unexpected question and not a topic that we have ever discussed. I may have skirted the issue entirely and I'm still not sure, but I told her that I know our church frowns on it, but really, I can't see how love and all kindness that evolves from it can ever be wrong. Real love, not its sometimes negative derivatives...how can love be wrong? Feeling like a 60's child, I thought it would get complicated at that point, but she said, "Good, that's what I think" Conversation over. Wise girl. That being said, it can still be a hard path to follow even in this "relatively" enlightened age. I respect your efforts to smooth the path of your parents and wish you and your husband many years of marital happiness.