The Teddy Bear Jihad

A British female teacher in Sudan allowed the kids in her elementary school class to name a teddy bear “Muhammad”…and got arrested for it.  She was staring down the barrel of six months in jail and forty lashes under Islamic sharia law.  Instead, she was convicted and sentenced to fifteen days in jail and deportation at the end of her sentence.

But that’s not enough for mobs in the streets of Khartoum…they want her dead.

To their credit, Muslim organizations in the West have denounced both the verdict and the near-riots that followed it.  (Now if they’d only denounce, oh, I don’t know, blowing up buses full of Israelis and flying jetliners into crowded buildings with the same speed.)

I don’t remember Christians rioting in the streets when some “artist” in New York submerged a crucifix in a jar of urine and called it “Piss Christ.”  I don’t remember Catholics brandishing knives and machetes when some “artist” in Brooklyn made a picture of the Virgin Mary out of elephant shit.  But let a guy draw a picture of Muhammad with a bomb for a turban, or a woman let a 7-year-old kid name a freaking teddy bear after their precious Prophet?  Grab the beheading knife and the AK, Achmed, it’s go time.  Islam is a religion of peace, and if you don’t believe it, you slimy kaffir, we’ll cut your head off.

And people wonder why some of us here in the West wonder if Islam is even compatible at all with a modern, civilized society?  

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We now return you to your regularly scheduled boredom

Back in Durham now.  We arrived back on Wednesday afternoon, completely exhausted from the weekend’s happenings.

The visitation Monday night was, as I mentioned to our friend Lauren, “suitably hellish.”  That might be a little unfair, actually, because once things got rolling, it was almost fun.  The worst part was being one of the first to arrive and seeing Trudie’s husband almost totally break down as he stood and looked at her in the casket. 

(Aside:  open-casket visitations or funerals freak me out.  It’s one thing to be propped up in the corner with coins on your eyes while everybody around you gets shitfaced, Irish-style.  But having the Guest of Honor lying there with an inch of troweled-on makeup, wearing her favorite sweater and one of Wife Unit’s matching bead necklaces, hands folded in repose like she’s sleeping in this perfectly clean and shiny casket?  Creepy.  Doubly so because people always do the same thing–they come in, view the body for a sad moment as if looking at some museum curiosity, and then spend the rest of the evening trying their damndest to ignore it.)

A lot of people showed up.  I mean, a lot.  At least 70 or more.  Trudie had a crapton of friends, and she made quite an impression on them.  And really, it became a celebration of her life, not a grieving about her passing.  Lots of laughter, lots of good memories, lots of hugs.  It was hard, and it was exhausting all around, but by the end of the evening, everybody felt better.  The love and the caring that surrounded us for that three hour span really started the healing process.

So now, it’s back to blessed abnormalcy.  I’m still looking for my next job, wondering why we’re broke, and watching Nublet veer back and forth between angelic and demonic in the way that only a two-year-old can.  Wife Unit is trying to get over a cold that won’t let her go, and recover from the ordeal that 2007 has been for her.

There’ll be more later.  I think I’ve got a couple of good rants warming in the oven.

The best-laid plans…

…of meese and men go tits-up, guaranteed.

It’s looking like now, after coming down here for my mother-in-law’s funeral, that I won’t actually be attending my mother-in-law’s funeral. See, we have this Nublet. She’s two. Being two, she’s (a) too young to sit still through the entire funeral production, and (b) in need of constant supervision to prevent Bad Things from happening. And all our attempts at finding somebody to sit her on Tuesday morning have crashed and burned.

So right now, it looks like I’ll be sitting here with her on Tuesday, in my jeans, while my wife and stepfather-in-law and all the cast of thousands pay their last respects to Trudie. While it does keep me from having to drop a couple of hundred dollars that we don’t have to buy a suit, I feel horrible about it. I liked my mother-in-law, a lot. Even though I will be there for at least part of the visitation tomorrow evening (leaving early to bring Nublet back for her bedtime), casually dressed per permission of the stepfather-in-law, I still feel like I’m somehow not doing what I should to properly honor her, y’know?

Off to bed. Early morning tomorrow, following the stepfather-in-law to drop off a car that needs work…and thence to a Waffle House for “guy breakfast.” Ooooookaaaayyy.

The pain left behind

My mother-in-law died Thanksgiving night. Wife Unit, Nublet, and I are down here in Atlanta right now preparing for the…uh…festivities? Ceremonies? Broadway musical and hoedown? I’m not sure what you’d call them.

Trudie’s death was not unexpected. She had been fighting angiosarcoma for several months, and by the time it had been diagnosed, the cancer had already spread. The suddenness of it–earlier in the day she had come off a ventilator and was steadily strengthening after hip surgery–caught us off guard, but we knew it was coming sooner or later. We just hoped that it was later, not sooner.

So now come all the million and one attendant little things that go with the death of a loved one. Solicitous relatives visiting asking if there’s anything they can do. Rummaging through closets to decide what stays and what goes and what gets sold and what gets kept. Husbands and daughters who don’t always get along trying to put on a smiling front and a brave face while walking on eggshells around each other and praying they can hold it together until sometime on Tuesday. Buying suits. Juggling a demanding three-day schedule while dealing with a fractious toddler who’s alternately Miss Perfect and Hellbaby, changing second to second.

Sometime on Tuesday, for most of us, it’ll all be over. The graveside service will be done, and the friends and relatives will disperse back to Atlanta and Charlotte and Columbia and other places.  We’ll get on the big Delta bird Wednesday morning and rocket back to Durham.  Her husband will come home to an empty house except for one dog, and try to put his life back together after four months of hospitals and surgeries, rehab centers and hospices, doctors and nurses and funeral directors, all spend watching his 58-year-old wife of 15 years die in front of his eyes.  All of us will have this Trudie-shaped void in our lives, of varying depth and varying size depending on how close we were to her.  But life won’t stop to let us heal.  It keeps dragging us forward, inexorably, at one second per second, and the wounds’ll just have to scab over as we go.

Trudie’s with God now.  Her pain is over.  The only pain left from her life now is our pain at losing her.  The pain left behind.

I can has blog now?

So yeah.  I had this wonderful introductory blog post written.  It was witty, it was cute, it told you a little about me and why I decided to make this, roughly the forty-eight squintillionth blog on the Intertubes.

Thirty seconds after I wrote it, I went to the WordPress “dashboard” and promptly deleted it by accident.  So this is its lame-ass replacement.

And the state of North Carolina thinks I can drive a car, folks.  Scared yet?