What the Duck?

Last night the internet broke due to Phil Robertson being suspended from his family’s television show Duck Dynasty. It seems that Phil was interviewed by GQ and said some pretty distasteful things about homosexuality and the segregated south. Groups complained and A&E placed Phil, the patriarch of this family, on leave. Almost immediately my Facebook and Twitter blew up with posts about free speech, liberals, Bible quotes, and “Save Phil” fan pages. There was also a smattering of “faggots” thrown in as well. I was fascinated and couldn’t look away.

The first thing that popped in my brain was, “Why the hell would Phil do an interview with GQ?” Is Phil sitting in a duck blind covered in camouflage and flipping through the glossy pages of GQ, wondering what the new hot tech item of the week is? I seriously doubt that is the case. My second thought was, “How did Phil not know this was a bait question?” To that one I answered that he probably didn’t care. Then I thought that what the interviewer did was dirty. It was easy and he knew what the answer would be. The entire show is dedicated to this family’s Christian beliefs and home-spun family fun. Phil is a man of a certain age, who grew up in the Deep South before integration; he quotes Bible scripture from memory, and calls himself a redneck. It does not take a leap of logic to assume that Phil may not be down with homosexuality. He is entitled to his opinion and voiced it to that GQ interviewer. Sometimes free speech has a cost.

A&E has suspended Phil with no known date for his return. No one is telling Phil not to speak his mind, he has a large following and preaches and speaks around the country. He has a vast audience that he is more than welcome to speak to regarding his beliefs, both biblical and otherwise. Again, no one is telling Phil not to speak about what he believes. However, Phil is an employee of A&E and they have just as much of a right to suspend an employee. Free speech is not free. He said something and was disciplined by his employer. It happens to people everyday; while discussing this topic with a co-worker my own supervisor said, “No, more Heather.” There are rumors that I can be a bit much. There is no need to “Save Phil” as he is a duck call millionaire with a vast army of supporters. Trust me on this one, Phil will be fine.

In the comments Phil made to the reporter he listed homosexuality as a sin and then jumped to bestiality. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he tells reporter Drew Magary. “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right (Chicago Tribune).” I would like to again mention, as I have in another blog, there is no jump from homosexuality to bestiality. I looked it up and it is not a thing. Homosexuality is not a gate way drug to loving a horse, it just isn’t. Why people can’t get past this, I will never know.

Phil also had something to say about anal sex, “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” I need to take this to a personal place for a minute. I am fearful that Phil doesn’t have a very good imagination or in the very least doesn’t know about the reach around. Nipples are also fair game on both men and women. As a general rule tight feels good to a penis, and an anus is tight. I am 38, have three kids, and pee on myself everyday. It is safe to say that shit is not as tight as it once was. Never in my 23 years of sexual activity have I heard a man say, “Man, I wish it was a little looser.” Phil is heterosexual and would not find homosexual sex to be pleasant just as a homosexual man would look at Kay and think, “Nope, I’ll pass.” This isn’t rocket science. Part of what concerns me is that there is a presumption by some heterosexuals that homosexuality is strictly about sex. It is about love, friendship, companionship, bickering, and compromising just like my “straight” relationship. Sex is important to most relationships, but it isn’t the most important part.

My DVR has every episode of Duck Dynasty on it and I like to watch it as I fall asleep. Trey and I watch it for the mellow vibe and the relationships between the families. I often gripe about Phil to Trey because I think he has a disdain for women. The controversy that surrounds this show right now has nothing to do with free speech as his rights weren’t infringed upon and A&E is well within their right to suspend him. There is no need to “Save Phil,” he knows what he believes in and stands for. I appreciate that this close-knit family has rallied together and released a statement saying they won’t continue without him. Phil said what he did and now has to face the consequences. The words we use have power and they needs to be wielded carefully. What we need is a call to be kind and to think before we speak, which is something I struggle with everyday.

* After I finished writing this, comedian Rob Delaney posted a video explaining the “tight” thing much better than I do. It was funny. I would suggest looking it up.

Trying My Best to Love Me

This week on Facebook, the radio, and news there was much discussion about a meme showing a very physically fit woman and her three children. The heading said, “What is your excuse?”  There was much discussion both supporting and vilifying this photo. I came down on the side of “if the heading had said, ‘I am proud of what I have accomplished,’” I would have had no issue with the post.  There are many ways to be healthy and many bodies to be healthy in. Size is not always an indicator of health, because like meth y’all. You can be thin and be anorexic. You can be thin and a meth head. You can be all different types of unhealthy and be thin. It needs to be repeated that size is not a sure fire way of determining a person’s heath.

I have body issues by the dozen. Some days I change clothes three times because I feel constricted. I huff and puff and yell that I am too fat to wear anything. Other days I feel like I am a womanly fertility God and meant to be worshipped. Every day is different and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of this is hormone driven. I am me and this is the body I live in. I am beautifully flawed (we all are) and I think it makes me interesting. When people meet me I don’t know if my weight is the first thing they notice? Maybe they say, “Why is that fat lady saying ‘fuck’ so much?” Who knows what they think?

A few nights ago I lay on the couch and watched The Little Couple. Saidee climbed up next to me and asked if she could lie on my boobs. I laughed and said yes, she snuggled up and asked questions about the show, because that is what she does.

“Momma, why are they little?”

“Well, Baby they were born that way.”

“Who is Zoey?”

“Zoey is a little girl in India that they are adopting.”

“Why?”

“She lives in an orphanage and needs a family to love and take care of her.”

“Like Annie?”

Soon she stopped asking questions and I felt her become heavy. Her breath was rhythmic and I could hear a slight snore. On my chest was the head of a six year old that has no question of her place in this world. She is safe, loved, and protected. I worry that I have inadvertently passed on my own body issues to my children. To help keep this little girl from feeling bad about her body I need to be more self aware about the things I say regarding my own body. 

So, to answer the meme I say. I don’t need an excuse for not looking like you. I look like me and I am okay with that, or at least I am trying to be.

I am a size 22 and I am many things: friend, daughter, wife, mother, student, employee, funny, smart, occasionally hateful, and occasionally insightful.  Most of us have a lot going on and don’t need the added pressure of being asked, “What is your excuse?”

Things That Cannot Be Denied

  1. Rainy days are best for sleeping.
  2. When I am angry I feel like my hands are electric.
  3. Breaking Bad was an excellent show and I miss it very much.
  4. The old haunted house at Noble Park was very loud.
  5. My kids are cute.
  6. Google is an excellent source of information gathering
  7. A Facebook meme is NOT a good way to gather information.
  8. If you find an evil book and the first page says, “You have found the answer.” The next line would not say, “I wish that you were dead.” That is silly; an evil book would not warn you away.
  9. Heaven and Hell had questionable (but awesome) song writing skills.
  10. If ever given a chance to nap you should take that opportunity.
  11. My love of Pine sol verges on weird.
  12. As does my love of hoarding candles and Scentsy.
  13. Chili is a soup.
  14. I never stopped cheering for Walter White.
  15. If the dead pig on The Walking Dead is not referred to as “Zombie Wilbur” we have missed an excellent opportunity. 

Thank you for your time.

Zombies in Jodhpurs

As of late I have been reading a lot. Not books, articles, because I am grossly unaware of the world around me. I have read articles about the Weiner/Franzen/everybody feud, and deduced that Franzen is a giant douche. Who calls out Salman Rushdie for using Twitter? The guy lives with a bounty on him, let him use 140 characters without taking crap for it. There have been articles about fat acceptance and health and a dozen articles about rape. One article was about a professor who doesn’t teach female authors except one short story by Virginia Wolfe. And really it was a short story, so does he even count that as literature? Two articles were about voting fraud, and another was about a cold case that was recently solved. This has been a depressing venture, and it makes me feel too much. So today I am blogging about what I feel is an important topic – zombie pants.

I am an avid watcher of The Walking Dead. I have never read the books, although they are on our book shelf. So, the twist and plot turns are still surprises for me and I don’t feel bogged down by the “it didn’t happen that way in the book” mentality. It is a good show with lots of drama and action. There are a couple of things that drive me crazy and one of those things is the way the zombies are dressed.  If I am to believe that a zombie apocalypse has occurred, it would be safe to assume that many of those zombies would have no pants on or be in some state of undress.

Let me start by saying that this zombie pants fixation I am currently suffering with is strictly within The Walking Dead world.  In this world, an unknown pathogen/virus has infected the human race. We do not know the origins of the illness, but we do know that everyone is infected and it may lay dormant in the brain until a person dies. At that time of reanimation, the virus would reactivate the brainstem, so the reanimated zombie would have no higher mental functioning. Zombies do not have problem solving skills (this will be important later). The original outbreak seems to have started with flu-like symptoms that progressed fairly quickly. When I am sick I am generally pants-less. I want to be as comfortable as possible, and not having pants on is the way I am most comfortable.  In theory thousands of people were at home with fever and body aches but somehow remained fully dressed.  Nope, I am not buying that. There were patients in the hospital, including Rick himself, who would have been dressed in hospital gowns.  Want to know what you normally don’t wear with a hospital gown? Yep, a pair of dungarees.

Dependent also on the time that you were overtaken by the pathogen it is safe to assume that people were asleep when they died and reanimated. Guess what I don’t sleep in. Yep, trousers. It is safe to assume that people died/reanimated in the shower. Guess what you don’t wear in the shower. Yep, chinos. I have showered in socks, however. We see the zombies in suits, jeans, overalls, cords, blue jeans, and a shocking amount of Laura Ashley dresses, but I cannot recall ever seeing a zombie in a pair of tighty-whiteys a la Walter White.

Another issue I have about the show is that a zombie would not have the power to problem solve. The only thing kicking up in their noggins is the brain stem. So, a zombie trapped in a room would not have the power to find the door, he may happen upon the door, but if he was facing a wall he would continue to walk into the wall.

Zombies cannot climb stairs.

They just can’t. A few years ago I broke my leg pretty badly. I was in a cast for a few months, and in all that time I never figured out how to step into my house. I was incapable of figuring it. I would hop from my car to the door where I would than throw myself into a waiting wheelchair. I would like to believe that I am slightly more intelligent than a zombie. There is some possibility that if a bunch of “walkers” fell into a stairwell, a zombie could walk over them while standing up, but it seems unlikely. Something else that drives me crazy is when the undead are walking in the woods they make almost no noise and are unsusceptible to changes in terrain. The point (if there is a point) is that I dislike when the undead show more social constraint and grace than me. But soon on a Sunday night I will be perched in front of my television (without pants on) to watch Rick and Daryl fight the good fight. I am a slave to my television. I may even be the pants-less undead.

A 21 Year Old Grudge

When I was in high school, a junior to be exact, I walked in on adults having a conversation about me. I was 17 and pregnant. I wasn’t the first girl to get pregnant and I most definitely wasn’t the last. This was a time before shows like Teen Mom made celebrities out of young mothers. According to Kiaya, who was the fetus involved in that adult conversation, I was the first teen mom. As if Jesus himself didn’t have one as well.

On that faithful day I walked to the school office to ask about getting an excuse. I had an OB/GYN appointment the next day and would need to be away from school the first half of the day. I knew that I would need an excuse if I wanted to attend my junior prom which would be held that Friday. There were pretty tight rules about leaving school on the day of prom, because hair and nails were obviously not as important as English and math. The powers that be had obviously forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. As I turned the corner I heard this sentence, “Well, you know that Heather has ruined her life. She won’t do anything with a baby.”

I stopped and my back stiffened. I remember the pure shock I felt. I remember the ugly outfit I was wearing: a purple and orange flowered baby doll dress with matching bike shorts. That outfit should have been considered a crime against humanity. It was truly hideous. I also remember the anger. I was pissed. One of those all over body rages where your arms feel numb and your fingers feel electric. With my anger brewing I walked into the office. The woman who thought I would amount to nothing looked shocked to see me. She pursed her lips and asked me what I needed. I explained that I had a doctor’s appointment the next day and was going to prom as well. What did I need to do for an excused absence? “We will need a detailed doctor’s excuse.” If they needed a detailed excuse I would give them a detailed excuse.

That year was filled with tiny horrors for me. A great deal of time was spent thinking about how I would tell my parents. There was my first pelvic exam. My breasts leaked in history and I had to ask to be excused. My pee smelled of hell due to the prenatal vitamins and I tried to time my peeing so no one would know how bad it smelled. I count the day that I heard the woman talk about me as the changing point. Heather would be a victim no more.

In the early 1990s the health department was run like a cattle ranch. Teen girls lined up early hoping for a low number so they would be the first called. Pregnant girls, with expanding waist lines, stood in long lines holding on to empty cups to pee in. One by one we would be led into the bathroom to pee in a cup marked with our initials. We would line those cups up on a rolling tray and then we would sit and wait for the doctor who was taking his turn at ranch Questionable Decisions. The process normally lasted about four hours. I was glad that I liked to read. When my turn finally got there I asked a nurse for a favor. I wanted her to write down every thing that happened. From dipping the test strips into my urine, measuring my stomach, to every detail of the pelvic exam; I wanted every second on record. The nurse asked why and I gave a quick summery. She was more than willing to go along with me. After I was done she handed me back the paper and wished me luck. I returned to Reidland High School a little after noon on the day of my prom.

With my five month pregnant belly leading the way I walked into the office and gave the talker the excuse. She read it and looked up at me. “Detailed enough for you?” I asked. “I hope this doesn’t ruin my life.” Her eyes were a little wider as she handed me my excuse for class. I had just had my first “how do you like those apple” moment.

That night I strapped a bright blue size 24 dress to my body; a spray of sequence against one lactating breast. I danced and talked to my friends. We ate an overpriced meal and went to a cabin at the lake. I slept through about half of the fun at the cabin as I was growing someone’s hair.

I will admit that for 21 years I have been holding a grudge against that woman. A grudge against the person who said, “Well we won’t have to worry about the baby being very smart.” A grudge against, “It’s always the quiet ones.” Everything that I or my kids accomplish is a middle finger in the face of those people. Every scholarship and award is a fuck you. At times I feel petty for feeling that way. A better person wouldn’t still feel that way.

I am coming to terms with not being a better person.

Advice I Gave to My College Age Daughters

This world is a tough place. Sometimes it is the bully tripping you as you walk between the rows of desks in the sixth grade. You trip and your face flushes with embarrassment. Other times the world is the loving mother making you brownies for after school, without even knowing a bully had tripped you. This ebb and flow is what makes life both fantastic and frustrating. When Kiaya went to college I had the idea of leaving her Post-It notes all over her dorm, gentle reminders of advice that I had given her over the years.

The first note stated: Do not do anything that would make me call you an asshole. While other parents may give specific advice, I preferred to cover everything with a simple rule; I started using this personal golden rule when they were very young. I simply told the girls to do nothing that would make me think they were an asshole. I thought of this as a blanket statement as it covered almost everything:

Talking too loud on your cell,

Standing in a busy walkway,

Loudly cursing,

Being those asshole kids who put their hands in each others back pockets,

Being racist or homophobic,

Flunking out of college.

My asshole Post-It covered all that with one simple sentence.

Kiaya’s second Post-It stated: Always wear a cardigan. It will make you look cool. This note worked on multiple levels. First I am mildly obsessed with a casual coolness that I feel I lack. Cool kids wear cardigans; it is just a fact of life to me. Right now open a Google search and type “cool people wearing cardigans”; one of the people will be The Dude from The Big Lebowski. I personally can think of no one cooler than The Dude, his coolness traipses time as even my five-year-old sees Jeff Bridges and says, “Hey Momma, look it’s The Dude.” My thought was if Kiaya feels awkward (and if you know her, you know she does) she could wear the coolness of a cardigan as a shield. The other thing is that a cardigan will keep you a magic comfortable temperature, neither to hot or too cold nor too heavy or light. Cardigans are the perfect accessory.

My third Post-It said: Do not become an alcoholic trollop. College is a time for living and experimenting and I get that, but I also know that dependency can be a bitch. I do not live in a world where I think my children will never have sex or try alcohol. I just don’t want either act to be consuming. The Post-It could have read, “Please, don’t be the hung over girl doing the walk of shame with her panties in her purse,” but that seemed rather long.

I left Kiaya other notes as well, one simply said, “Kiaya, Stop talking. Love, Mom.” If you know her, you know that it was good advice.

Selena left for college the following year and she too received Post-It advice. While both of my children are intelligent (naturally – hah!), Selena has a sense of whimsy while Kiaya is very linear in her thought process.

For the first note I wrote: Condoms are cheaper than diapers. It has been my personal goal that my children get past the age when I got pregnant without being pregnant. Kiaya sailed past hers with no problem. Selena has now passed hers as well and I couldn’t be happier. Babies are expensive and easier to prevent than to care for. I want my daughters to have experiences that I didn’t get to have. Go to school, travel, have adventures, and do it without having a baby attached to your hip is the message of that particular Post-It.

Selena’s next note said: Boys will rape. Never drink from a glass a boy hands you. I have seen Veronica Mars so I feel I am an expert on date rape drugs. Of course, I do not believe that all boys rape, nor do I believe in victim blaming, but I think that being diligent about your surroundings is important. Walking in pairs and letting someone know where you are is just a smart way to live on a college campus. Really, it is a good idea for almost every living situation. My current parenting advice is to forbid my children from traveling to India, as India has been a little rapey recently.

The third note stated: Only I know everything, remember that. This was written tongue in cheek because Selena has a history of thinking she knows everything. She was my very own Clarissa Explains It All. I wanted Selena to know that it is okay to take advice from other people and it is okay to admit that you don’t know or understand something. It is normal and how we grow as people. Accept input, if you don’t like the advice you receive, discard it.

Just like with Kiaya, I left Selena other notes as well. One simply said, “Selena, Shhh…not so loud. Love, Mom.” If you know her, you know it was good advice.

Saidee leaves for college in 13 years. I need to start working on her advice now.

Lone Oak Road and a Plate of Fish

 On Monday I have night class and often I am exhausted and not in the mood. After a long day of work, I get in the car and drive towards home. I, however, never make it home. Just as I get close to my town, I have to slow down and turn left to go to class. I park the car, grab my soda and books, and take a small walk to the building my class is located in. I say hello to my friends and proceed to bitch about whatever homework I didn’t finish. Last Monday played out nearly the same as it does every week, except this time I was silently dealing with something that had happened on Lone Oak Road.

 For those who do not live in Paducah or the surrounding area, let me tell you about Lone Oak Road. It is a four lane road that should only be two. It is congested and miserable. This is not a metropolitan area at all, but Lone Oak Road is always backed up. The street lights never work in sync and you will catch all the red lights. Each side of the street is crammed with businesses: banks, fast food restaurants, consignment stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and tattoo parlors. People are trying to get in and out of these businesses and no one is willing to let anyone in or out. It is my 5 o’clock nightmare.

 Last Monday had been a long day for me. I couldn’t make people happy and had been snapped at by clients most of the day. I was exhausted from lack of sleep the night before, and had a music class to attend from 6 to 10. I was grumpy and not in the mood for timbre, tone, and harmony, but I climbed into my van and started to class. I had a craving on that fateful day. A craving for Long John Silvers, only greasy fried fish would soothe this weariness. With my last ten dollars grasped in my chubby little hand I pulled through the drive thru and ordered.

 “Long John Silvers, can I take your order?”

 “Yes, can I get the L11 with a Diet Coke, please?”

 “That is a L11 with a root beer.”

 “No, an L11 with a Diet Coke.”

 “A root beer?”

 “No. A Diet Coke and add a three-piece shrimp please.”

 “Okay, that is an L11 with three shrimp and a root beer.”

 “Yes, that will be fine.”

 I accepted defeat. A root beer it was going to be. I was handed my box of fried fish and looked for a place to put the cardboard box of goodness. My van is in rough shape. I drive about an hour and a half each day getting to and from work. I live in this van. I eat in it. Clean Saidee’s backpack in it. Change clothes in it. And occasionally sleep in it. This activity shows in piles of empty Cato’s bags, empty soda bottles, empty filet o’ fish boxes, toys, and clothes. There was no place to put my box of fried happiness. So I lovingly placed it atop a mound of cardigans and my oversize purse. I opened the steaming box and started feeding myself greasy French fries.

 I drove with my left hand on the steering wheel and the other hand grasping the box of food. Each time I had to slam on my breaks I kept the box from sliding. I was protecting the fish like a mother protects her child who is in the front seat for the first time. Every few seconds I would tear at the flakey fish and feed myself with my fingers. My fingers were covered in grease as I continued to tear. I was in my own world, dreading the music class, singing to the radio, and feeding myself, when it happened. As I moved a plump greasy shrimp to my mouth I turned my head to see a gray car with three teenage boys laughing at me.

 Under normal circumstances I would have mouthed, “Fuck you,” and given them the finger. Under normal circumstances I would have fantasized about their lives and made up a story about the boy in the backwards hat having gonorrhea and how he had just slept with the blond kid’s girlfriend, now the blond kid was infected and prom was going to be a little itchy this year. But I was in a vulnerable position with a greasy face and fingers, the shrimp still perched upon my lips. I put down the shrimp and put both hands on the wheel at 10 and 2. I looked straight ahead and pretended this wasn’t happening.

 I had crossed a line that can’t be uncrossed. This is my life: a life of fast food on the run. My life is lived in a dirty black van, with me singing along to the radio or, if I am lucky, a Clutch CD that Carvell has left in the player. I have always believed that in my own vehicle no one can see me. I can pick my nose freely and change clothes with no one being the wiser. In my car I can sing like Adele. In my car I am safe.

 Tomorrow is Monday and I will be mean and exhausted. I will swing by a fast food place and repeat my order into a microphone. I will go to class and see my friends. My schedule will not change. Three teenage boys with possible gonorrhea took away my sanctuary and I don’t know how to get it back. I am no longer invisible in my own car.