Misadventures in Physical Fitness

Poor Martha didn’t know what she was getting into.  She has been asking me to go to the gym to try this “Body Pump” class she’s been taking for months now.  I always refuse.  You see, I hate going to the gym.  As a matter of principle, I hate anything having to do with exercise.  It’s not that I’m lazy, but I figure if I’m going to put forth an effort to push my body to its physical limits, I need to see some immediate results.  For example, when I do any sort of manual labor, usually I can look back and see the results of my hard work at the end of that same day.  Not so with exercise… it seems it takes forever to see any results from that.  I guess I’m just a sucker for instant gratification.

My particular aversion to exercise is nothing new.  Since the days of gym class in junior high school I’ve been this way.  During those days I was one of the few who refused to “dress out” for gym class or any other such ridiculous thing that involved jumping around, sweating, and looking like some fool needing a heavy dose of Ritalin.  If it wasn’t for the academic aspects of that class, I’d still be trying to get a high school diploma at the age of 45.  Silly, I know, but sometimes the truth just needs to be told.

When I went to college, little did I know I would have to endure this nightmare all over again with yet another PE class.  As you can guess, I put it off as long as I could.  I think it was my first semester as a junior before I ever gave in and finally decided to get that God-forsaken class over with.  It wasn’t bad enough they made me go through the agonizing misery that only a sadistic, evil, hateful, spiteful, vindictive, deceitful Bush administration torture expert could conceive of doing to another human being; no, they had to add a swimming test to this class just to prove their callous hearts had no soul.

You see, I do not swim.  I don’t even go into wading pools.  With my luck, I would be the one you read about in the paper who drowned in his bathtub when he fell asleep.  So you can imagine my dismay at the announcement that we had to take this swimming test and actually pass it in order to pass the class.  Just as soon as class dismissed that day, I marched myself right up to my PE teacher with the bad perm and explained, rather convincingly I thought, that I could not swim and there was no way I would be able to pass this test.  Thinking that she would have mercy on my soul and just let me slide from this one thing since I had endured all sorts of humiliating things in the name of finishing college, I felt pretty confident that I would be able to talk myself out of it.  The only thing she would do, however, was give me an “Incomplete” for my grade and told me to take a swimming class the next semester and come back to take the test.  Can you believe that nonsense?  The next thing I remember were the paramedics reviving me with spirits of ammonia.

Time passed, and I had completely forgotten about any swimming test.  But like an old wise sage on the mountaintop, a college registrar forgets nothing.  I got a letter in the mail the next year stating I had an “incomplete” in that PE class to remove from my transcript before I could graduate.  Having a renewed sense of stubbornness and zeal to beat the system, I once again decided there was no way “they” were going to beat me in this thing that, in my mind, had become a full fledged war between myself and the dark forces of the PE department.

The very next day I sauntered myself into the office of the Chair of the PE Department to explain how there was no way I could pass such a test and how unfair it would be to force me to do something of that nature.  I think I used excuses like, “afraid of water” and other things that might not have applied to my particular situation just to make my case stronger.  Believe it or not, the evil little man behind the desk didn’t buy it… I would have to swim whether I wanted to or not.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that didn’t sit well with me.

Not to be outdone, I made an appointment the next day with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to plead my case to someone who obviously had more sense than a simple PE teacher with an over-inflated ego.  But after 30 minutes of bearing my soul and laying it on the line, he proved he was no better than anyone else.  He agreed that I would have to take this test.  That idiot!

Well, that didn’t sit well with me either.

So the next step, obviously, was the President of the University.  Trying to get an audience with him, however, was like trying to get a peek at the Pope.  In no uncertain terms, the little troll of a lady sitting behind the desk informed me that if the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences had agreed with the PE Chair, there was no way the President was going to overrule their decision and I would be forced to take this test or not graduate.  I’ll spare you the details of the scene that ensued in her office… suffice it to say there were threats of calling security that just didn’t fit into my envisioned scenario, so I left.

So there I was, stewing in my dorm room, trying to figure out a way out of this mess that I had gotten myself into.   Still, admitting defeat was not an option.  They say it’s always darkest just before the dawn, and little did I know my “dawn” was getting ready to walk into my room in the form of Shane.  Shane was a good friend of mine from one of the organizations I was involved with on campus.  We started talking and I explained to him my dilemma.  He explained that since there was a completely new staff in the PE department from the time I had taken the class, he could impersonate me and take the test for me.  FINALLY… a light at the end of the tunnel!  The very next morning, we called and arranged an appointment for “Glenn” to take his swimming test.

When the day of reckoning finally arrived, we casually walked over to the natatorium, Shane having memorized and rehearsed all the information needed to convince the swimming instructor he was actually “Glenn.”  After about thirty minutes, Shane emerged and said, “Well, you got an A.”  Once our friends figured out what happened they couldn’t believe we went through with it… and actually succeeded!  Twenty-odd years later, that little incident is still brought up in conversation.  I guess that goes to show you there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

I suppose I tell you that story to give you a little background as to how humiliating it was for me to finally break down and tell Martha that, yes, I would finally go with her to this “Body Pump” class.  You see, I had gotten on the scales the week before and almost had a nervous breakdown because of the numbers that flashed before my eyes.  Never in my life had I been that heavy.  So I decided that something dramatic had to be done.  Little did anyone realize, however, exactly how much drama would be involved with this experience.

The day of reckoning finally arrived.  After work, I followed Martha to the gym where we met her husband who was also taking this class.  Now keep in mind, by this point I’m more nervous than a woman of ill repute in church about setting foot in a gym.  All sorts of terrible scenarios crossed my mind, but the worst was getting ready to become reality.  We walked into this place where everyone looked as if they’d been on a strict steroid regimen for at least two years.  When we got to the room where the class was held I was introduced to the instructor who was this twenty-something girl who looked like the Incredible Hulk, and here I was looking more like the Incredible Bulk.  This was not the start I had anticipated.  We picked out our weights, and I took the smallest amount possible (hey, why kill myself on the first day?).  Finding our place in the back of the class, we started with the warm-up exercises.  I should have known it would be all down-hill from there when the instructor jumped into the class without even a mention of how to go about doing these exercises.

So here I am, at least a beat-and-a-half behind everyone trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing.  About ten minutes into the class, my legs have turned to jelly, and my head is floating about 10 feet above the rest of my body from sheer dizziness.  Then, the truly unexpected happens.  We had to place this barbell over our shoulders for part of the exercises, and that’s when I must have pinched a nerve in my neck.  All of a sudden, I get the worst headache known to humankind.  In two seconds, I had convinced myself I was having a stroke right in the middle of the gym.  Everything blacked out, I couldn’t hear anything but my heart beating in the middle of my head, and I became so nauseous I was convinced I was going to toss everything I ever ate in my entire life onto the floor.   Surely, I don’t have to tell you that this is not how I planned to meet my Maker.  Never in a million years had I imagined my obituary would read something like, “Glenn died unexpectedly from suffering a stroke while working out and drowned in a pool of his own vomit.”  But struggle through, I did.  Before class was over, however, I did have to worship in front of the porcelain god in the restroom and make an offering of my lunch from earlier that day.

At the end of this class, I was so relieved the ordeal was over I could have kissed the ground when I left the gym.  Martha didn’t think it was as bad as I did, which only convinced me even more she must be a card-carrying masochist.  I was so nauseous and had such a headache when I got home, I immediately went to the medicine cabinet, swallowed two Percocet for my headache and shoved a Phenergan suppository up my backside as far as I could get it for the nausea.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening in bed.

The next day, I was so sore it literally took me five minutes just to get down the stairs.  It even hurt to blink my eyes!  My headache was still there, and it would be with me for at least three more days.  I could hardly move.  When I finally made it into work, I wished the ten plagues of Egypt upon Martha all at once for subjecting me to such torture when I hadn’t done anything in life bad enough to have to endure this kind of suffering.  It was sheer hades on earth!

Eventually, the pain went away.  I forgave Martha for trying to kill me, but in no uncertain terms I let her know I learned not to fall for her evil tricks ever again.  The other day, she actually tried to convince me to go to a different class.  The look I gave her almost turned her into a pillar of salt.  The next time I get this crazy idea to lose a few pounds quickly, I can guarantee you it won’t be by going to a gym.  No, next time I think I’ll simply have my jaws wired shut.  Believe me, it’s a lot less painful!

Runway Runaway

I’ve been mulling over the idea of whether or not to write this particular post, due to the possibility of offending certain people. With that in mind, and not being one to back down from setting the ill-informed straight, here we go… and to “heck” if the guilty are upset.

Lately I have found myself being an attendee at a few weddings and funerals; two very different observances in the circle of life, but both extremely important. While attending these particular ceremonies, I have noticed (as one would over the last few years) that I need to remind my dear, precious readers of the importance of at least one very important thing.

What is that thing, you might ask? To put it simply, it’s HOW YOU DRESS!! Of course, there are other things I could discuss concerning how to conduct yourselves during these events, but for this particular blog entry, allow me to focus on this one particular subject.

There is hardly anything in our lives that are more important than weddings and funerals. They are, for the most part, once in a lifetime events for those who are the center of such functions (although I know there are those who marry two, three, four or more times… as well as those who “die,” but there’s a mistaken identity which leads others to believe the dearly departed is another person… or perhaps I’ve been watching too much Days of our Lives, you never know). In times such as these, it is extremely important to remember that those in attendance should have at least one thing for the person or persons you are honoring: that thing is called RESPECT.

For most of us, it pretty much goes without saying that you should dress appropriately for said ceremony, but unfortunately, it seems that it is becoming more common among some people to totally disregard the appropriate dress for such occasions. That brings us to the point that I feel I simply have to remind you of what is acceptable and what is not.

While I thought about discussing each event in individual blog entries, I decided to lump them together since it seems the offending individuals treat both with the same disregard for decency. When you are invited to a wedding, that should alert you to the fact that the couple thought enough about you that they decided to share their most important day with you and that you would, at the very least, wear the appropriate attire based on the time of day the wedding will take place. As a general rule, that would include a suit and tie for men, and dress for women. Based on what time the wedding is to take place and the venue, a quick Google search would tell even the the most ill-informed what would be the most appropriate items to wear to said event. But even if you’re too stupid to read subtle hints, I can assure you that shorts and a t-shirt will not be on the list.

The same rules apply to funerals. If you loved or admired the dearly departed enough to attend their funeral, even the most common of attendees should have enough sense to wear something appropriate for such a ceremony. I have attended funerals lately where people have actually shown up with t-shirts with various wording printed on them, jeans, shorts, flip-flops, etc. Since these people seem to have no frame of reference to base their poor decisions on, let me be the first to tell you that this is not acceptable. At the very least during a funeral, you should wear a suit and tie or dress, similar to the proper attire for a wedding.

Now before you get all huffy-and-puffy and try to blow somebody’s house down, I completely understand and accept that there are exceptions to every rule. There are some situations where other attire would be completely appropriate. For example, I recently attended a memorial service for a very dear friend who wanted his service at the beach, led by a friend who asked others to share stories of their time together, and they specifically asked people to dress casually, in beach-appropriate clothes. It was an amazingly beautiful service, and it reflected the personality of our friend who passed away perfectly. That, my dear readers, is an instance where it’s totally acceptable to show up in shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc.

The same exception can also apply to something like a backyard-barbecue-styled wedding, where the bride and groom have asked those in attendance to wear casual, street clothes. I’m hoping you can see a theme emerging for the exceptions, but if you’re much too daft to catch on, let me spell it out for you: only wear what I would call “street casual” clothes to such events if you’re told by the hosts that it’s the preferred style of dress. Got it? Lord have mercy, I hope so.

Not only does dressing appropriately for said functions show respect for those you’re honoring by your attendance, it also shows respect for YOURSELF. One would hope that when you go to functions such as weddings and funerals, you would also show enough respect for yourself as to want to make an effort to look your best. It may seem counter-intuitive, but actually, dressing appropriately will help deflect attention away from yourself (even though that might be slightly traumatic to those who are actually narcissistic enough think they’re always the center of attention, regardless of the situation), and allow the focus of attention to be on the ones you’re actually honoring by being at their service. When it’s all said and done, after all, it’s about them and not you.

Don’t misunderstand my little rant here by assuming I’m suggesting that everyone show up in the latest Christian Dior or Vera Wang ensemble to come off the runway. Far from it. If you’re someone on a tight budget (and believe me, I know there’s more of us than those who can afford designer clothing), I’d like to point out that even Walmart carries clothes that would be considered appropriate styles for such events. So you see, dear readers, dressing appropriately doesn’t have to break the bank. If you don’t have at least one suit or dress in your wardrobe for such events, now you can go out and get one. You never know when you’re going to need it. Believe me, no one is going to know where you got your clothes or how much you paid for them unless you’re one of those crass people who shout that kind of information from the rooftop.

Keep in mind, all of this is simply my opinion, which I realize in some circles doesn’t mean anything. You might disagree wholeheartedly with what I’ve just said, and that’s fine. You’d be wrong, but you can disagree all you’d like.

So having said all this, please keep in mind that if you ever get the chance to attend my wedding or funeral, I would personally prefer you dress for the occasion. A word of caution, however; if you come to my funeral in flip-flops and t-shirts, I will jump out of that casket, snatch you bald, and have security guards drag you out and throw you onto the street for showing such disregard for my memory.

Got it? Good.

Of Crime and Passion

First of all, I’d like to apologize to all my followers out there for not writing in such a long while. It seems once life speeds up and throws one thing after another at you, plus the lack of inspiration, writing seems to take a back seat to everything else going on in life.

To make everyone aware, my paternal Grandmother passed away this weekend. As you’ve most likely discerned from my previous posts, I’ve always been close to my Grandmothers. Even though I may have been closer to my maternal Grandmother (my Grandmother who passed away this weekend lived much farther away, so distance played a large part in our closeness growing up), that in no way diminishes the love I have for her. But that, as they say, is another topic for another time, when my head can wrap itself around everything that has transpired over the last few days.

The biggest news to come out of this weekend is, obviously, the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With everything going on in my own life, I was one of the last to hear the news until much later. It seems around fifty people were killed, along with an additional fifty-or-so people wounded when a shooter opened fire on a crowd inside a gay nightclub in Orlando named Pulse. I’ve heard some call it one of the worst mass-shootings in modern American history.

Since I’m one of those people who practically stay logged into Facebook, I soon saw all these reports being posted of the incident, and the horrific tales which soon followed. As I began scrolling through my friends posts and reading comments, one in particular stood out to me. Trying to come up with something meaningful to say about the incident was extremely difficult for me, given my own personal loss this weekend, but I think the following summed up what I was thinking more succinctly than any other. After receiving the authors permission (thank you so much, Alex Darke), I’d like to post the message in its entirety for all to read. I think it says a lot about the state of mind and the struggle fought by those affected by this tragedy.

Earlier today, a friend remarked: “I don’t understand. The way you are reacting, it’s almost like you knew someone in the club.”

Here’s the thing you need to understand about every LGBT person in your family, your work, and your cirle of friends:

We’ve spent most our lives being aware that we are at risk.

When you hear interviewers talking to LGBT folks and they say “It could have been here. I could have been me,” they aren’t exaggerating. I don’t care how long you’ve been out, how far down the road to self acceptance and love you’ve traveled, we are always aware that we are at some level of risk.

I’m about as “don’t give a shit what ANYONE thinks” as anyone you’ll ever meet… and when I reach to hold Matt’s hand in the car? I still do the mental calculation of “ok, that car is just slightly behind us so they can’t see, but that truck to my left can see right inside the car”. If I kiss Matt in public, like he leaned in for on the bike trail the other day, I’m never fully in the moment. I’m always parsing who is around us and paying attention to us. There’s a tension that comes with that… a literal tensing of the muscles as you brace for potential danger. For a lot us us, it’s become such an automatic reaction that we don’t even think about it directly any more. We just do it.

And then… over the last few years, it started to fade a little. It started to feel like maybe things were getting better. A string of Supreme Court decisions. Public opinion shifting to the side of LGBT rights. Life was getting better. You could breathe a little bit.

What happened with this event was one of a few things that are pretty dramatically demonstrated by how Matt and I are reacting to this. Matt came out fairly late, during the golden glow of the changing tide. He’s never dealt with something like this. It’s literally turned him inside out emotionally because all that stuff he read about that was just “then” became very much “NOW”. For me, I’ve had some time to adjust to the idea that people hate us enough to kill us. Matthew Shephard was my first real lesson in that. So this weekend was a sudden slap in the face, a reminder that I should never have let my guard down, should never have gotten complacent… because it could have been US.

Every LGBT person you know knows what I’m talking about. Those tiny little mental calculations we do over the course of our life add up… and we just got hit with a stark reminder that those simmering concerns, those fears… they probably won’t ever go away. We’ll never be free of them. Additionally, now we just got a lesson that expressing our love could result in the deaths of *others* completely unrelated to us. It’s easy to take risks when it’s just you and you’ve made that choice. Now there’s this subtext that you could set off someone who kills other people who weren’t even involved. And that’s just a lot.

That’s why I’m personally a bit off balance even though (or because, depending on how you look at it) I live in Texas and was not personally effected by this tragedy. Don’t get me wrong: nothing will change. I will still hold my husband’s hand in public. I will still kiss him in public. We’ll still go out and attend functions and hold our heads high.

But we will be doing those mental calculations for the rest of our lives. Those little PDAs you take for granted with your spouse. They come with huge baggage for us. Every single one is an act of defiance, with all that entails.

So do me a favor. Reach out to that LGBT person in your life. Friend, co-worker, or family. Just let them know you are thinking of them and you love them. That will mean the world to them right now. I promise you.

For me, reading this post and reflecting on the tragedy of this weekend really drove home the point of how hate and bigotry are still alive and well, even in spite of the recent examples of people being more tolerant and accepting of the LGBT community. Of course, I never thought it had gone away, but knew it was hiding in the shadows, ready to strike at any given moment. I suppose I never expected it to strike out in such a dramatic way. I suppose I say all this to express that I simply can’t understand how such crimes against humanity can occur to people who are passionate about nothing more than wanting to go about living their own lives on their own terms, loving another human being without causing harm to any other person on the planet. But hate is an all-consuming, relentless, deplorable state-of-mind, and it causes misery in its wake wherever it goes.

I pray for the families of the victims, hoping they can somehow find peace in all this chaos and sorrow. I pray for others affected by this tragedy that they can (and I know they will) find the strength to keep fighting the evil that seeks to destroy them and hold their head high, knowing that their bravery has overcome that which seeks to destroy them. To everyone personally affected by what has happened, please know that I stand with you in spirit, and I’m sending love your way and encouragement for you to keep being true to yourself, no matter the odds!

The First Annual Christmas Letter

It’s that time of year again—the time where people take stock of the previous year and reflect on the good things that have happened as well as the not-so-good things that have occurred. Many people have taken to participating in this trend of writing Christmas letters to their loved ones, so for the first time ever, I decided to do the same. Here are a few highlights from my year:

As many of you know, my driving expertise is considered by many to be lacking. To add to the weird things I’ve hit with my car, you can now add “swimming pool” to the list. It wasn’t my fault, however, so let me explain… Upon leaving the illustrious Walmart, I found myself behind someone who bought one of those kiddy pools they have propped up on the side of the store. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it tied down very well. As we started driving down the road, the wind picked it up and threw it onto the road, just in enough time for me to run over it as it hit the ground. I suppose I should be grateful their weren’t any “kiddies” in the pool at the time.  Did I also mention I received at text from “John” asking me if I would be interested in driving for Uber?  I guess “John” doesn’t remember riding with me.

This year, I actually received a letter requesting my presence for – of all things – jury duty! To make matters worse, it was from a county I haven’t lived in for probably ten years. While I thought it was a nice gesture on their part to think of me, I wasn’t about to be bothered with all that nonsense. We all know I would have found them guilty just for dragging me to a cold, inconsiderate, uncomfortable courthouse that hasn’t had fresh air in it since 1952. When I called to inform them I couldn’t accept their lovely invitation due to not being a resident of that particular county, the receptionist (or whatever you would call her) on the other end told me I had to send proof of residence in order to be removed. I asked her, “Was the fact that you had to send me the letter to my address two counties away not proof enough for you that I don’t live there anymore?” After a brief silence, Miss Personality rambled on about how they needed a copy of my drivers license and such. Fine. I sent her the requested info to which I received a letter releasing me from said jury duty for the rest of my life.

We decided to move this year after finding a good deal on a house outside of town, so we decided to sell and move.  I don’t know how it is in your area, but I’ve quickly discovered it seems people house-hunting in Wilmington seem to expect people to GIVE them a house.  For free.  After some insulting, low-ball offers, I instructed our Realtor to tell people if they want a free house to talk to the people at Habitat for Humanity and to leave me alone. I hate it for my Realtor, however. She’s the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, and she’s doing her best, given the fact Wilmington house-hunters are cheaper than Ebeneezer Scrooge after he’s fallen on hard times.

Since this is the year where all the arguing and fights start to commence in the political arena, I would be remiss without mentioning that there have been some back-and-forth banter among my friends and myself. Suffice it to say, I have some stupid friends.

That pretty much sums up my noteworthy experiences for 2015. There’s plenty of other things I could have written about, but let’s face it – I would’ve totally bored you to tears if I haven’t already. I hope you have had a great year, and an even better one to come! In the words of Her Majesty The Queen, “A very happy Christmas to you all.”

Prayer for France

Join with me in praying for the people of Paris, and for all those in France and the rest of the world touched by these senseless acts of terror:

Lord of all compassion,

We pray for all of those caught up in the midst of tragedy or disaster.

For those who have lost life and those working to save life,

For those who are worried for people they love,

For those who will see their loved ones no longer,

Lord have mercy.

For those in need of the peace that passes all understanding,

For all who turn to you in the midst of turmoil,

For those who cry out to you in fear and in love,

Lord have mercy.

For those in confusion and those in despair,

For those whose tears are yet to dry,

For those in need of your unending love,

Lord have mercy.

from http://www.churchofengland.org



Vampire in the Limousine: My Review of Duran Duran’s New Album, Paper Gods

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Finally! My wait for the new Duran Duran album, Paper Gods, is over. After being released on September 11th, I went straightway to the nearest store and snagged my copy. I’ve had it in my cars CD player ever since, listening and re-listening to it (as is my custom when they release a new CD) until I know all the words to every song. As with all their new releases, I have to say, I love it!


I’ve been a huge Duran Duran fan since their early days, and I’ve stuck with them ever since. Given that fact, my review of their new album might be a bit biased, but hey, this is my review – so deal with it.

It’s funny to me that when a new Duran Duran album is released and I invariably mention it to others, they always seem to say something like, “I didn’t know they were making a comeback,” “I didn’t know they were still around” or “When did they get back together?” I usually end up looking at them with an “I can’t believe you just said that” expression on my face and say, “Um… they never went away. The radio just stopped playing them.” Duran Duran have been releasing albums on a regular basis since they entered the music scene in 1981. I’ll admit, their biggest commercial success came in the 80’s with songs such as Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, The Reflex, The Wild Boys, Save a Prayer and Union of the Snake. In those days, radio DJ’s would refer to them as the second coming of The Beatles. After their popularity dwindled, they did have a resurgence with Ordinary World and Come Undone in the 90’s, but ever since those days they haven’t made much headway in the top 40 world.

Fast forward though the years and 10 or so albums to today, with the new offering, Paper Gods. It is their 14th studio album, and features a collection of songs they’ve done in collaboration with various artists such as Mr. Hudson (Kanye West/Jay Z collaborator), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and producers Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson. The album reminds me a bit of a journey from a sarcastic feel in the 7 minute long title track, Paper Gods, to a melancholic reminiscent look back in The Universe Alone.

The mood of Paper Gods feels darker than its predecessor, All You Need is Now. Roger Taylor, the bands drummer, says, “The last album was very much about going back to the early days and recreating the early Duran Duran sound. That was what Mark Ronson was really looking for with that record. But I think we’ve allowed ourselves to be very modern and contemporary with this record.”

For me, it’s thrilling to hear Simon LeBons voice singing new material. The album opens with the title track, which sounds oddly spacey and electronic with the sarcastic feel of the lyrics. It’s followed by Last Night in the City, which hits you as a bold electrifying piece which features guest vocals by Canadian singer Kieza. You Kill Me with Silence has been described as one of the best tracks on the album, up there with their most loved ballads, such as Save a Prayer and Ordinary World.

The first single from the album, Pressure Off, is infectious. If for no other reason, the chorus itself gets stuck in your head as it reaches for new heights. Then there’s Danceophobia, which features Lindsey Lohan (yes, you read that right, Lindsey Lohan… the booze swilling, controversy stirring actress) in a speaking part where she plays a doctor offering a diagnosis as well as cure. To be quite honest, I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard Nick Rhodes, the bands keyboardist, state she was going to be on the album. Somehow, though, she makes it work.

One of the main reasons I love Duran Duran so much is for their lyrics, especially in their 3rd album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger. They’ve always been sort of ephemeral, artistic, open to interpretation. Sometimes, they can be just plain odd… and I love them for that. One of the best lines on the entire album, for me anyway, is in the chorus of Only in Dreams, where we hear Simon warning the listener, “There’s a vampire in the limousine, the sun’s going down like a symphony.” I’m not sure what it is about that line but it grabs me.

So do yourselves a favor, dear readers, and have a listen to Duran Duran’s new offering, Paper Gods. As Simon said on their website, “Please spare us the 50 or so minutes that it takes to listen to Paper Gods from its opening note to its closing echo. I promise that you will not be disappointed.” Give it a chance, and I think you’ll like it. After all, Simon knows what he’s talking about.

With these Handcuffs, I thee Wed

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard about a woman named Kim Davis (no relation, thank the good Lord) who serves as the County Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky. Just in case you have been under a rock or in a coma and don’t know who I’m referring to, here’s a quick recap: Mrs. Davis has been making headlines in the news recently due to her unwillingness to issue marriage licenses ever since the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nationwide. She attributes her refusal to issue said marriage licenses to her ultra-conservative religious beliefs.

Ever since the Supreme Court laid down the gauntlet and declared that homosexual couples had the same right to marriage as their heterosexual counterparts, Mrs. Davis has had her apostolic panties all twisted in a knot and has made it impossible for anyone living in her county to receive marriage licenses, gay or straight, by denying everyone a marriage license. So now we have the old, “if I can’t have it my way, no one will have it in any way” song-and-dance.

Why is she doing this? From what I understand, she adheres to a belief that the “homosexual lifestyle” is a sin in the eyes of God, and that signing the marriage license for a same-sex couple is somehow supporting a relationship she doesn’t agree with. Regardless of the fact that it’s one of the main responsibilities of her position, Mrs. Davis has consistently refused to do the very job she was elected to do ever since same-sex marriage became legal.

I don’t know about you and your particular job, but in my situation, I would find myself in the unemployment line faster than I could say “fundamentalist hypocrite” if I were to refuse to do part of my job duties. Herein lies the problem with this whole sordid, convoluted mess. Mrs. Davis was elected to a secular government position which, when she took office, swore an oath to follow through on all duties which pertained to her position – the signing of marriage licenses being one of them. Due to her beliefs regarding homosexuality, however, she is refusing to do her job duties and using “religious freedom” as an excuse to get out of it. Since she’s an elected official, she can’t exactly be fired, so that makes the issue even more of a headache to deal with.

Those who are supporting her and her crusade against same-sex marriage have wasted no time in crying foul to anyone within earshot and trying to make the case that she is the one being mistreated due to her religious beliefs. The poor girl is simply trying to do what she feels the good Lord leading her to do.

A certain friend of mine said it best – “Well ain’t that just the skank calling the slut a whore!”

Anyone with an IQ greater than Forrest Gump can surely see this for what it is; nothing more than hate and bigotry dressed up in the robe of religiosity. Those who support this woman are constantly bleating about how her religious freedom is under attack. Listening to these people have caused me to suck my teeth and roll my eyes so hard that my fillings are loose and I’m constantly dizzy.

In order to gain a little perspective here, let’s talk a little bit about what an attack on a persons religious freedom looks like. If you’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by intruders in your home who’ve come to beat you (or even worse) because of your beliefs, or you’ve been kidnapped and tortured because of your Christian faith, you’ve been persecuted. If you’re expected to sign a marriage license for a gay couple, and it stands in contrast to your faith, you’re not being persecuted. Why? If for no other reason, the fact that you are free at any time to resign from that position and find another job out in this crazy world where you don’t have to deal with another persons marriage should be evidence enough. No one is forcing Kim Davis to remain in her position (or even change her beliefs about same-sex marriage), but she refuses to leave her post, and at the same time, refuses to do the job which she’s been elected to do.

Today Mrs. Davis was finally put in jail for her actions, and from what I understand, will remain there until she gets her head out of her posterior and agrees to do her job or resigns. People on social media are posting their little hearts out, for and against her and her stance. Politicians and other high profile people are also weighing in with their thoughts on the matter. Even presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took to twitter today defending Mrs. Davis. In my own personal opinion, if a repulsive, hypocritical, pedophile-loving piece of trash like Mike Huckabee is defending you, that should tell you just how wrong you are… but I digress.

It remains to be seen how all this will play out before it’s all over with. I hear that the Rowan County Clerks office will actually start issuing marriage licenses tomorrow in Mrs. Davis’ absence. It should be interesting to see what tomorrow holds, and even more interesting, to see how long Kim Davis lasts in jail before she has a change of heart about her so-called convictions.

The Duggar Dilemma

So, my dear readers, it would seem we have another scandal amongst the religious right to discuss. As I’m sure anyone who’s not been living under a rock for the past week has heard, the Duggar family has found themselves a tad embarrassed by the actions of their eldest child, Josh. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Duggars… they’re this cult-like ultra-conservative family who has managed to make themselves famous by having a reality show called “19 Kids and Counting” which has aired on the TLC network. They’re part of this weird group of people who follow some odd “quiverfull movement,” which prohibits any and all kinds of birth control due to some whacked-out belief that it is somehow on the same level as abortion.

These people, who I might add are as crazy as a houseful of sprayed cockroaches, actually have nineteen children. Can you imagine giving birth to nineteen children? My nether regions hurt just thinking about it, but that’s neither here nor there. It would seem Michelle, the family matriarch, has had no problem popping out one child right after the other. I don’t know what Jim Bob (and that’s really his name, I’m not making this stuff up) does for a living, but I suppose he had to be well-paid to feed nineteen quiverfull mouths on a daily basis.

In any case, it has been revealed this week that Josh, the oldest of these nineteen children, had sexually molested his sisters and some others in his early teenage years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his parents knew about it the entire time and kept it under wraps. Now the truth has come out, and as expected they’re playing the part of the victim.

Why the part of the victim, you might ask? As they’ve gained notoriety and fame, they have come out against gays and lesbians, and anyone who isn’t just like they are, to accuse them of living sinful lives and condemning them to eternities in hell as if they had that kind of power to begin with. In doing so, they’ve placed themselves on a pedestal as the definitive Christians that everyone should strive to be, and woe unto you if you don’t live up to what they deem acceptable. In their attempts to be the perfect Christians, they have also promoted themselves as martyrs if anyone disagrees with their viewpoints or fights back against their hatred clothed in religiosity.

Now that pedestal seems to be cracking and falling apart, and rightly so. After all, these so-called “Christians” tried to keep the illegal actions of their oldest child away from the authorities and out of the spotlight so no one would know. I know some will say they reported it to the authorities, but if you look closely they only reported it to a “family friend” who, by chance, was a policeman. This same policeman was also found to have child pornography in his possession. This “child pornography connoisseur” only gave him a “stern talking-to” and left it at that. One has to wonder if this “talking to” was nothing more than trading pornographic child molestation stories or something else. I guess the world will never know. It also seems quite odd to me that this revelation was only made to the public after the statute of limitations had passed for this particular crime.

In any case, these people have led others to believe they are so superior in their ethics and beliefs that they have become (in their own mind) the standard by which all others are judged. They have taken it upon themselves to speak out against such things as transgendered persons using the appropriate bathroom when they have to relieve themselves. Michelle, the family matriarch, accused transgendered people of being “child predators.” Well, I suppose if anyone would be an authority on child predators, it would be Michelle Duggar. After all, she raised one.

But I digress.

It now seems that the shoe is on the other foot for these so called “Christians,” and it isn’t fitting well. It’s funny to me how these people are so quick to sit in judgment of others while they and their loved ones are guilty of the very same acts they accuse others of doing. While it may be said by those who support these hypocrites that “he who is without sin cast the first stone,” one has to remember that it was the Duggars who have been willing to cast the first stones at anyone and everyone who were different than they were from day one. Now, those stones are being thrown back at them and they have nowhere to hide.

Poor Duggars. I guess they forgot about that verse in the Bible that says,”For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17).

Have fun with working out the fact that, like everyone else, you are sinners and no better than the rest of us. Actually, I might take that back: you might be worse than anyone else, seeing that you put yourself on a pedestal for all the world to emulate. After all,”From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”(Luke 12:48)

While I’m sure there will be those who defend the Duggars to the ends of the earth, I have to wonder how they would feel if it was their daughter who was molested by this clown. When the infraction hits close to home, most people sing a different tune than the one sung by his supporters. But I suppose it’s easier to pontificate on appropriate actions from a distance than when you’re the victim or trying to cover up the sins of your family.

The Drama-Llama Goes To A Funeral

I’m sure that most people can agree that, most of the time, social media is a good thing. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it so much easier to keep in touch with others we know who might live far away, and gives us a chance to see what’s going on in their lives. Like all good things, however, there seems to be a rotten, vile, decaying underbelly of a dark side to it which I stumbled across this weekend.

While I’m still not sure how it happened, I found myself with a notification on Facebook glaring at me that a friend of mine had a family member who passed away in another state. Being the wonderful, sweet person that I am, I thought I’d click on the message and see what happened and offer my condolences. Well, dear readers, just when you’d think it was safe to wade back into the waters of Facebook status updates, the sharks I ran across in this thread made Jaws look like a mild-mannered goldfish.

Even as I write this, I’m not really sure what happened to the dearly departed – and from the comments left by those on this message thread, it doesn’t sound like they were 100% sure either. From speculations of a drug overdose to stroke, the cause of death ran the gamut between the two. Eventually, a family member joined in the conversation and told someone it definitely was NOT an overdose, and the one spreading such erroneous information should take that post down due to it upsetting the family even more. Astonishingly enough, said poster refused to take it down, stating that she heard it was an overdose, and she might amend her statement, but she wouldn’t take it down.

Say what? I sat there in disbelief as I read that statement. Even after someone with intimate first-hand knowledge of the situation at hand reveals this person did not die of an overdose, the poster in question still refuses to take down erroneous information?

That’s when things really got heated!

You could tell that people all of a sudden divided themselves into two camps over the issue of who was right and who was wrong, and the hatred and vitriolic comments spewed forth like no one had ever heard of a personal filter before. Suddenly people were attacking each other like they were involved in the cyber version of the Battle of Normandy, and honestly, I think they forgot what they were fighting over. I think if we could have gotten them all in the same room, it would have been the bar fight to end all bar fights.

The whole time I was reading the foolishness people were saying to one another, I kept thinking to myself, “do you people not realize you have someone here who has passed away? Of all times, this is NOT the time for this kind of pettiness!” If the drama llama were to ever attend a funeral, I’m sure it would be really proud of the scene playing out before me on my screen.

Having said all this (and believe me, I left a lot of what was said out of the story because there might be children reading), I want to tell you that this is NOT how to behave when someone dies. I felt bad for the deceased as I read, thinking he would be ashamed of how those he knew and loved were treating each other, especially over Facebook where all the world could see it and read what was being said. While I’m sure there were deeper issues at play than what was revealed on my computer screen, things like this shouldn’t find it’s way out into the world for everyone and their Grandma to see. As a sign of respect, I would have thought that those in mourning over the passing of their loved one would at least honor his life by not fighting over a computer. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but we just don’t do that sort of thing here.

As someone who has spent more time at funerals and wakes than most people my age, allow me to give you a few pointers on how not to behave:

1. When you give information on how the dearly departed has died and are then shown the person in question didn’t actually meet their Maker in that fashion, you should politely apologize for spreading false information and retract your statement. In the same instance, others should accept that apology and move on.

2. This is definitely not the time to drag up old issues that have gone unresolved. Nerves are raw enough without dragging out what Aunt Suzie or Uncle Joe did twenty years ago that still has you miffed. There is a time and place for that, and this is NOT it.

3. If you’re unsure if what you’re about to say is helpful or not, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Simply offer prayers and support instead of risking the start of World War III over saying something stupid.

4. Never, and I mean NEVER, resort to blaming others over what happened or using the moment as an opportunity to air your dirty laundry in public. No one wants to see that, and believe me, you’re doing the person you’ve lost a disservice by acting in this manner.  Keep this argument quiet for another time.

I’m sure I could go on and on about things you should and should not do, but I think you get the point. Maybe someone who was involved in that argument might read this and come to the realization they were acting like petulant children and being an embarrassment to the memory of their loved one. Maybe they’ll see this and get all bent out of shape that I’m using them as an example of poor behavior. If that’s the case and you get angry, well… that says more about you and your self-centered, despicable attitude than it does about anyone else.

Either way, I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you come to honor your loved one with love and respect and can at least put aside your differences until after the funeral.

Until We Meet Again…

As I sit here, it’s so hard for me to believe that my friend has passed. It simply doesn’t seem possible for someone who has always been so full of life, love and laughter to not be with us any longer – at least in this physical life. Right now, I feel as though I’m in complete shock that all of this has happened.

My dear friend – who I’ll keep nameless for the sake of privacy – is one of those people who has always been a joy to be around. He’s always had such a fantastic sense of humor. Listening to him tell what could be considered the most mundane of stories from someone else would have you doubled over in laughter hearing him recount a story as only he could tell it. Whether he was describing an encounter with a “Wal-Martian” in a particular shopping chain he absolutely hated to go to, or recounting the story of some drunk neighbor falling down the stairs of the apartment building where he once lived would always have you gasping for breath between fits of laughter.

Not only was he well known for his sense of humor, his cooking was legendary among all who knew him as well. The spread he and his partner would prepare for friends during Thanksgiving and Christmas were spectacles which would make Martha Stewart foam at the mouth with envy. Everything was always beautiful, and tasted even better! How some people had shows on the Food Network and he didn’t always boggled my mind.

He and his partner have always been extremely loyal to their friends, and they obviously counted them as family. I know during times of great sadness and despair, they have always been there for me to help in any way they possibly could. Very few people in this world today have the courage to show the love and compassion for those around them that he and his partner have done. It’s not everyday you discover these people, and my life has been made so much richer for knowing him.

One of the driving forces in his life was his Christian faith. I realize that has been said about many people, but he is one of the few who actually “walked the walk” instead of “talking the talk” as so many phrase it. Out of the many examples I could share, the most obvious example of his faith has been his desire to help others around him. If there was ever a person you could count on to fight for what’s right in this world, it would be him. One thing he absolutely hated was injustice and how others who were downtrodden were treated at times. I’ve witnessed him do everything in his power to help pick others up and lend a hand in times of need. If you ever needed anyone in your corner, you were extremely blessed to find him there.

I hope one day I can be half the person he was in this life. To find such a person to walk along beside, even if only for a short time in this journey, is a rare blessing. I’m extremely thankful to have shared this time with my friend, and I look forward to meeting him again on the other side of eternity. As he lay in his hospital bed, I whispered to him before he passed, “Tell my Grandma I love her, and make sure you hang out a lot with her. You guys are so much alike you’re gonna get along like gangbusters! And when I get there, I want to hear all about your antics!”

I love you, my friend. I’m so heartbroken you’re gone, but I know you’re better now and happier now than you have ever been. We may be parted right now, but I know in my heart this isn’t the end. I’ll see you again, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to in heaven. Until then, know that those of us who are left will keep watch over each other, and always hold you close in our hearts.