Back “home” again in Indiana

Posted: May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

So I’ve been back in Indiana since Sunday. On my travels out here (all 14 hours of them nonstop in the car with Izzy), I thought about my childhood and some truths about growing up in Indiana, specifically growing up in the middle of nowhere. I also thought a lot about growing up in a Southern Baptist household and the impact that had on me. I also thought about some of the shared experiences that others like me encountered while living here.  I’d like to share those truisms with you in this blog.

Here’s the first thing. I have met more people in the Midwest whose first job was at Dairy Queen. I’m not kidding. Anytime the topic of first jobs has come up, somewhere it is stated by someone other than me that they took a job at Dairy Queen. At first I was shocked at the consistency of this employment tale but now I have an actual theory. For those of you who grew up in the corn as I did will understand this. There is NOTHING to do in the corn/sticks/fields/piss-ass towns other than smoke pot and make out. I’m serious. So when we went out looking for jobs it had be low-key enough so that it wasn’t overly complicated or challenging (or required a piss test) as we would be high 99.9% of the time spent on the job. The job also had to have hours conducive for us to have a nightlife, a social life. So in essence, the job was just a thing that got in the way, interrupted if you will, our getting high and making out. And really, ice cream tasted really fabulous when I was high. Which was a lot. I admit it. Others I have spoken too have attested to the same thing so I’m not making this up. Ask around. I dare you.

I also took a job at Dairy Queen for two other reasons. One, my best friend was going to work there too. How freaking great was that to basically make shitty ice cream cones and blizzards (we both NEVER worked the food thankfully) with your best friend all day. I was high AND I got to hang out with her and talk all day. Sweet. Seriously. Also, I knew I needed more on a resume other than “I worked for my father’s company for a eleventy-billion years.” I mean, he was a good reference but he was also my father. There is a certain amount of bias there so I knew I would need somebody else to verify I wasn’t a total complete jackass when it came to employment responsibility.

I will say though for the record, that I hated working at Dairy Queen. I mean, really effin hated it which is why I quit after five months or so. It was awfulness and I still say that one of the worst smells is day old ice cream mixed with deep fried grease. Truth be told, it took me almost a decade to even step foot in a Dairy Queen again and eat their ice cream as I had ate my body weight and then some of that crap while I was there. Somedays locked in the freezer helping myself to frozen cookie dough pellets.

That’s the first truism about Indiana and the Midwest in general.

On the Biblical front, I have three stories that have defined my childhood all relating to Jesus. The first is, if a child is six years old and you feel very strongly that they should be ‘saved’, don’t tell them to ask Jesus into their heart and then they will hear Jesus speak. Because six year olds think LITERALLY and I went to bed that night praying to Jesus and guess what? I never heard a thing. Not a single freaking word. Not even a whisper. So naturally I panicked. I thought I had done something wrong. Maybe I didn’t ask the question right. Maybe I didn’t phrase it properly. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus was busy and didn’t hear me. So, I did it again and again and again. Every single fucking night for YEARS. It was an obsessive-compulsive nightly mantra. Asking Jesus to save me. Why? Because Jesus takes a lot like vanilla ice cream and fear.

Which brings me to the second story. When I was around 8 years old, the pastor’s wife of the church I was forced to attend by my mother,asked my cousins and I if we wanted to go for ice cream after church. Well, hell yes. Ice cream? So we went to Dairy Queen. (This may be a secret reason why I hated DQ later on). She ordered me a vanilla ice cream cone without asking me what flavor I wanted. I hated vanilla. I still do.

That bitch.

So there we were, my two cousins and I sitting at a picnic table with Patty Jo. (Yes her actual name was Patty Jo. Only in Indiana). The ice cream I suddenly found out was a clever ruse to really talk to me about Jesus and not burning in hell. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this tactic, it’s called “witnessing.” So there I was eating, trying to eat this ice cream that I didn’t like all the while being told that if I didn’t accept Jesus into my heart and become saved, that I would burn in hell for every single second of the afterlife. Without any water. Or refreshing ice cream like the cone I held in my hand. Alone. Because the rest of my friends and family were already saved and I wanted to be with them in the afterlife, right? In heaven. With Jesus. I didn’t want to be a crispy critter all by my lonesome with other criminals, low-lifes, and other ungodly sinner sorts?

I cried. In my ice cream. It was true, I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to spend my afterlife with the devil while the rest of the people I loved hung out with Jesus in the sunlight and picked and ate delicious fruit. That sounded like bullshit. I like fruit too. So I said, “yes, I want to be saved. help me.” So I went before the church, the congregation voted. Luckily in my favor and I was baptised. All because of vanilla ice cream. And fear. Don’t forget that.

Which leads to story number three. Now, I will preface this by saying that I have met other people who have experienced a similar event and it makes me sick to think that other kids went through what I am about to tell you. So this story stands as a warning beacon to those who think about forcing religion on their kids. You might end up scarring them for life. And clearly I am not really over this trauma if I am blogging it today at 36 years old.

After being “saved”, the focus shifted to the resurrection. At some point, Jesus was going to return for his people. You know, the good people who went around witnessing to others and doing bad shit behind closed doors but prayed for forgiveness so it was okay. Those good people. But the thing was, I didn’t want Jesus to come back. At least not yet. I wanted the chance to date. Go to prom. Drive a car. Have high school experiences. Take a road trip. See California. I obviously couldn’t do that if Jesus came back because I would be airlifted into heaven to eat fruit with my family. Where there is no prom. Or love in the romantic sense because according to my grandmother, we all are brothers and sisters which felt really wrong and gross. Especially for my mom and dad.

It sorted felt like I was getting ripped off. And I didn’t like it. But I was scared to admit it to anyone because I thought they would find me selfish and ungrateful. So I kept it to myself. Now, I was still asking Jesus to save me every night. I had not outgrown that mantra yet even though I was baptised and all. I still worried that I had not done it correctly so I did it every night just to be on the safe side. I mean, you can never be too sure about salvation. I went to bed. I woke up. I went into the living room and there was no one there. No parents or sister in the kitchen. Or their bedrooms. Bathroom or basement.

Then I knew. Jesus had returned in the middle of the night and taken my entire family with him and left me. Because I had not been properly saved. I was alone. Alone in a world where the church said would be riddled with sinners and thieves, murders, and pedophiles. Great. And to top that off, I had no money and didn’t know how to cook or use the damn microwave. I was really screwed. I did what any rational eight year old would do. I became hysterical. I tore through the house screaming and crying and knocking shit over. I then ran outside and screamed and cried and tore through the yard like I was on fire. This went on for maybe five minutes before my parents emerged from the garage fucking terrified out of their minds. I literally collapsed in my father’s arms and wept. I thought they were gone. I thought I would never see them again because little sinners like me didn’t get to go to heaven and eat juicy fruit with Jesus. We got to spend our days in Indiana with pedophiles and melting vanilla ice creams cones.

I never told them why I was hysterical. They would not have understood. I suppose my father might have considering he was not religious but still, better to keep that kind of thing to oneself. So I did.

And over time, I let the nightly mantra go. I stopped believing in the Southern Baptist doctrine. I made my own way with my own religious study and training. I still despise vanilla ice cream. It takes like what I imagine white lies to taste like. And if someone invites me for cool tasty treats, I will pick my own flavor bitches because no one is going to guilt me into doing something I don’t believe in or stand behind.

Am I glad to be leaving Indiana?

Hells to the yeah. I think it will be fine for a visit every now and again to see friends and family. And of course, it gives me some creative stories to tell here on my blog. So it isn’t all bad. But I’ve outgrown this place in more ways than one. I do hear voices now and it isn’t Jesus. It’s me and she’s strong, and powerful, brave, and unique. She is 32 flavors and then some.

Until next time, don’t fear the reefer unless it’s ditch weed and then you will just get a really bad headache and wish you were dead.

  1. Barb says:

    This was a great post! Didn’t know about “witnessing”, but I totally can relate to the “I’m not hearing a thing” from Jebus. I was lucky, I didn’t have him force-fed to me. Oh and
    my first job??? DAIRY QUEEN!!!

  2. illustratedlibrarian says:

    HAHA! Seriously, you worked at DQ too! So did my mom!

  3. Jen says:

    I was lured by a party. I remember the same feeling of thinking I hadn’t done it right. and, giving up and “accepting Jesus” hopping it would work. I really want to give eight year old hysterical Dawn a hug!
    My first job was at The Flagpole (alot like the frozen custard).

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