Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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Thinking a lot about D-Day today. The NY Times had a lot of really powerful, moving articles with gorgeous, haunting photos in it. 

I cannot understand how some assfaces can look at those photos and read the accounts and think either that the holocaust was fake, the photos are fake, that Hitler and/or Nazis were fine people, or any of that.  

Reading that there are only 3% of WWII veterans left (who are all over 90) makes me wonder how we can make this history feel real and urgent to younger generations who only think of WWII as some random they had to memorize for a history test once. 

You hear so many people say, "My dad fought in the war, but he never ever would talk about it." So any chance of hearing stories first-hand were probably scarce to begin with, and now are dwindling so rapidly. 

When I was in high school, I was one of those people who didn't care about history, but now it fascinates me. Matt's folks take tons of classes at Delaware's Center for Lifelong Learning, and in a few years I'll be old enough to attend (I believe you have to be 50, though it might be 55). Matt's dad has taken a few classes on WW1, The Great Depression, WWII, and beyond. He said he's learned so much from listening to these historians with a knack for public speaking/teaching. 

Anyway, here are links to some really interesting articles if you wanna check 'em out:

D-Day in Photos: Heroes of a More Certain Time. (The photos are unreal. There's this one shot of a bunch of bandaged guys waiting to be taken to the hospital, and I noticed one guy up front has impossibly great hair considering where he is and what he just went through that day. But then it occurred to me that his big, boofy hair that I consider "impossibly great hair" was WAY too long at that time. Matt's dad said you could tell how long someone had been fighting by how long their hair was.)

Their Fathers Never Spoke of the War. Their Children Want to Know Why. (This article is about how historians are able to piece together pretty detailed pictures and descriptions of a particular soldier's every day life during the war, thanks to meticulous recordkeeping. Some of those records were damaged in a fire, but what remains is still pretty impressive.)

‘Archaeology of D-Day’ Aims to Preserve What the Soldiers Left BehindThe title says it all. 


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Related: I also worry that the people with memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be gone soon. We're not going to get nuke deniers, exactly, but we could be in for a generation of leaders who just... need to try it for themselves. :-O As awful as Trump is, at least he dislikes war as a tool of statecraft. Unless it tweaks Obama.
 

I have Joni Mitchell's "California" in my head, and that makes me happy. We are sitting in the Long Beach Airport, waiting to board our plane to Phoenix, where we will likely get stuck because of the snowstorm hitting Philly tonight.  We scored first class tix, and this canceled-flight crap only ever seems to impact us on these rare occasions when we are flying on a non-Southwest flight and also managed to score first class seats. (So it's gotta be our fault somehow.)

We were in California for about 36 hours, for Uncle Greg's funeral services. They had a very short viewing just for close family, and good LORD, Greg looked AWFUL. Like, we all joked that maybe they brought the wrong guy to the funeral parlor, because seriously-- no resemblance whatsoever

It's fascinating watching people from different families playing these familar roles... mourning wife, mourning sister, mourning children. No matter whether they're from my family, Matt's family, or a friend's family... there are these motions everyone has culturally agreed to go through, clothes you wear, things you say, body gestures you make... and we all have more or less agreed to play these roles when they are foisted upon us. 

We gathered in a Catholic church in the middle of a breezy beach town in California, yet it smelled like a Catholic church, it had all of the symbols that I recognize... and I admit it brought me comfort somehow... being thousands of miles away from the church I grew up in, yet got comfort in the familiarity of the smells, sounds, and symbols that I assume are in every Catholic church. 

But I also knew very deeply that these traditions didn't really *mean* anything to me other than simply tradition. And it made me think: When I die, I don't want this stuff. 


At times I found myself imagining being in that front-row of the church, playing the role of the person closest to the departed, accepting the condolences and watching all of these gathered people playing their parts.

I know we will go through all of these motions/play these roles for when my Mom passes, because these things are very meaningful to her. And I imagine as my brother and I bury my Mom (and I guess my Dad; I've never really asked him what he wants), these rituals will be comforting to me and Jeff (my brother) because it's what would be expected of us.  And in some weird way, it would be a symbol that we are the "family elders" now. 

But when I die, I don't want a church service. I don't want a viewing (unless you can stuff my body so I'm standing up and making some totally silly expression, with my hands positioned into finger-guns so people can take tacky selfies). But seriously-- I don't want any of this formal Catholic stuff... but because what I want lacks the formality of these generations of practicing these roles, I kinda accept that when I kick off, there won't be any kind of "official farewell." Because without the formality, it also loses importance somehow. 

Anyway.

Been thinkin' a lot today. 

And with that, our plane just arrived, so it's time for us to fly to Phoenix so we can get stranded there. Yay. 

[Edited to add: Flight from Phoenix to Philly took off right on schedule. Not sure what the weather sitch will be when we land, but I'll find out in 90 mins when our flight touches down. In the meantime, this has been a very pleasant flight so far.]

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2/17 '18 15 Comments
Yeah.

Death is for the living though. I think I wrote something like "cremate me - or really do whatever the hell you want - you're the ones going through a terrible time. Sorry, wish I could be there to help."
Thomas Boutell 2/17 '18
Glad you’re not stuck somewhere. I’m sorry for your loss, for you both.
Safe travels. It's uglaaaay here in the 19810. 3 inches of fluffy snow.
They would be on my bucket if I had a bucket.

Robert Bryan 2/17 '18
if i go first, i want to be made into diamonds and have everyone wear me someplace fabulous: http://www.lifegem.com/index.php

welcome back. and i'm sorry again about Greg. :(
Jenn A 2/17 '18
I want to be planted in a tree planter, but I’m afraid I’d get dug up to build a Hooters or something.
Lindsay Harris-Friel 2/17 '18edited
that got me.
Robert Bryan 2/18 '18
I hope it got you in a good way.

Worse, the tree would probably be dug up by a developer, to build a Hooters with a Chuck E. Cheese right next door.
It was a good way.
Like, I woulda probably shot coffee out of my nose if I had been drinking coffee at the time.
Thanks.
Robert Bryan 2/18 '18
When I die, I want all of you who are still living to gather around my children and tell them stories about me. They'll be adults, so you can even tell the embarrassing ones.

I want my mortal remains scattered at Eastern State Penitentiary, on Broadway, at Versailles, at the Tower of London and in the ocean off Bermuda by Archer and Hunter together. That's not really about the ashes, it's about them taking that trip together, that pilgrimage to their mother's favorite places. Now that I think about it, there are also a couple of stops along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway - the FI, the PMA. I hope they think of me fondly every time they smell The Heart.
This choked me up.
💗
I love you. If I do go first, I picture you and Matt L. telling the boys lots of diner stories.
I HAVE THAT SONG IN MY HEAD TOO BEFORE I EVEN READ THIS WHAT.
Rabbit 2/18 '18
ASDFGTYUIFGYHJGTUJGH!!
Death/Funerals really does produce a kind of out-of-body experience, doesn't it? You float over it all, see the patterns and the rituals, you contemplate your own end. You ponder time and entropy, and what it is to be human... My love to you and Matt.

Anne Mollo 2/18 '18
Thank you, my friend. Xoxo