“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and The Season of Giving

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Dean Martin’s rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside has soared to the top of the charts amidst people’s hot wind.

Before I get into the meat of this topic, I’ll give the people what they want: my opinion on the crusty, moldy, oldy Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

I like it. I frequently sing it at my boyfriend, because I like to sing at him, and I think it’s cute. I have been in relationships (e.g. this one) where both parties go through the societal motions of decorum while knowing, exactly, the desired outcome for the evening is precisely in sync.

This year – maybe even especially – I have seen post after post, article after article about what Christmas song is “offending snowflakes” next. I believe the latest outrage was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer promoting bullying. Of course, the song certainly doesn’t. Neither does the Rankin-Bass adaption, really (although it does imply that your worth is based solely on your usefulness at any given time, but this isn’t ABOUT THAT).

But let’s start with Baby. It’s. Cold. Outside.

Shall we?

The song – in context – depicts an evening between a man and woman that really must go on (maybe into the interior rooms: the bedroom, for example), but due to the climate (both literally and figuratively) at the time, the woman must – absolutely must – decline at every step of the way. Despite wanting it, she isn’t supposed to want it. She is supposed to be pure, chaste, and never think about sex, even though it is dripping from every syllable of “well, maybe just a half a drink more.”

So there. That is the loose context of the time. And any good scholar knows we can’t ignore context.

Flash forward to 2018, and women are finally saying “no,” and meaning it. But here we are fighting against fragile men who believe any and all of their attentions are welcome. Men scoff at the #MeToo movement, and even women mock those who speak up now, after decades of silence. We also are pushing back against centuries of the coy giggle, sigh, eye roll, gentle push that all meant, “I’m saying no because I HAVE to.” We are pushing back against the very thing that Baby, It’s Cold Outside makes a fun little game  of: what does it mean to consent?

Consent is a complex subject, but many people are aware of the idea of “implied consent.” Generally speaking, when two people in a relationship, or romantic engagement, are together, it is implied that there is consent (until otherwise noted). For all we know Jane Doe and John Dough have been in this cat & mouse game for years, and there is no maiden aunt, or father pacing the floor. Instead, they just enjoy the chase, and the chase together.

That’s all wild conjecture. Really, it’s easier to talk about what makes Baby, It’s Cold Outside such a sore point for people everywhere. And no, it’s not the line “say, what’s in this drink?”

We live in an age of discovery – not just technological, but sociological. People are beginning to question the fundamental ideas on which we have based most of our society, and it rubs some the wrong way. “Progress is the root of all evil” might be their unironic stand. The idea of gender norms, even gender as a whole, crumbles around them. A record high number of women are serving in Congress, of all colors and credos. The Age of the White Man™ is drawing to a slow close, and people intent on maintaining the status quo grip and gripe at everything they can.

Including Christmas songs.

Even if the song were entirely innocent – and mind you, in context I believe it was entirely innocent – what does it matter if someone takes offense to it? Many have, countless people, and they haven’t pulled it from airwaves or streaming services. No one has barred you from playing the CD at your tacky Christmas party (the one you insisted on labeling as a CHRISTMAS party, even though you invited numerous people who didn’t celebrate Christmas, nor had you been to a church in over five years). In fact, the only people I’ve heard making snide remarks about the song are the people who seem to think everyone in a five-mile radius is offended by it, and OMG, how STUPID, it’s JUST A SONG.

Many things can trigger trauma. We don’t live in a world where women, men or otherwise feel confident coming forward with sexual assault. It is likely that you are in a room with a sexual assault victim at any given time of the day. And you’d never know. And you may never know, considering that you broadcast “UNFRIENDLY TO THE TRAUMATIZED.” Every inane post you make about how people should stop getting their panties in a bunch over this Christmas song, you are telling a friend, secretly, that they could never trust you in a time of need. Every time you share a hilarious meme of the abused and their abuser in relation to this song, you are proving that you are not someone worth reaching out to during times of trauma or tribulation. Not only that, but that – on some level – you understand. You understand that there are implications in this song that are unsavory. I mean:

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Meme’d Misery

This just shows that on some level, you get it. You get it, and you don’t care. I mean, people aren’t out here making creepy Can You Feel the Love Tonight? memes. (Seriously. Google it.) Why? Because that song cannot be misconstrued. Why are people making Baby, It’s Cold Outside memes that are also creepy (there is a Shining one with similar abusive connotations)? Because that song can be misconstrued. And to someone, that’s not even the misconstrued version: that’s the version they hear. Every time. (This turned into a digression. Thank goodness this isn’t going up anywhere important.)

Final thoughts: Listen to the song if you want. Don’t, if you don’t.

But remember: it’s the season of giving, the season of love. The season of compassion: the Christ King is borne unto us, and (spoilers!) will soon be making the ultimate sacrifice for unworthy scum that didn’t like that he was trying to shake things up. (“Love thy brother” was a really controversial statement back in the day, and the people that pushed against it? Wrong side of history, folks.) Jesus was kind, caring and understanding. And if Jesus’s friend had told him, “hey, Baby It’s Cold Outside makes me uncomfortable,” he wouldn’t have prodded. He would have just turned it off.

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The Definitive Ranking of NFL Head Coaches by Hotness (2018 Season)

Hey there, and welcome. If you’re here, it’s for one reason, and one reason only: you want to know the definitive ranking of NFL head coaches by their objective hotness. Everyone has their own personal list, but I have yet to see one online that claims to be the be-all, end-all of rankings. There are numerous “hottest QB” and “hottest player” lists, but nothing that gets down to the real meat, the real prime rib, the real sex appeal of the team: the coaches.

That ends today.

The list will start from least hot, and go to most hot, the cream of the crop! So get out your pens and paper, and start jotting down the definitive ranking of NFL head coaches by their objective hotness*.

32. Bill O’Brien

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There’s something off-putting about Bill O’Brien. It isn’t his coaching ability. The Texans currently are dominating AFC South, and the management seems to like him, seeing as he was given a four-year contract extension at the beginning of this year. If this list weren’t about hotness, O’Brien wouldn’t be bottoming out the list. But it is, so he is. Something in his eyes give me Anthony-Hopkins-in-Silence-of-the-Lambs vibes, and I would be really unhappy staring into them over dinner at the nice Italian place he really likes in his neighborhood. Probably a nice guy, but sorry, Bill. You’re number 32 in this ranking of hot coaches! I don’t want to look at your face.

31. Mike McCarthy

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Mr. McCarthy has been with the Packers for a long time, and has gone through several different looks during his tenure. His “Big Bear Daddy®” beard years were arguably his hottest, and shaving  off that sucker was a huge mistake. When we revisit this list next year, if Mike has regrown his face sweater, we might be able to bump him to a higher number. But as it stands, there might be a new Packers coach for the 2019 season, anyway. This might be Mike’s only year on the definitive ranking of current NFL head coaches’ hotness, and it’s at a paltry 31. Better luck next year, Michael!

30. Marvin Lewis

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Oh Marvin: the man who looks like Hue Jackson’s & Mike Tomlin’s love child who also somehow is older than both of them. Not to mention the fact that his name is Marvin, which evokes images of a cartoon martian at best, and the old man in the nursing home who won’t stop pinching butts at worst. Sorry, Mr. Lewis, but you are not bringing much to the table. You’re not the bottom of the list, mostly because your face has a nice symmetry, and I believe that you have the soul of a man who gives his grandchildren crisp 100 dollar bills at every holiday, including Halloween. If you work on your facial hair game for next year, I believe you could break into the 20s of the list.

29. Sean McDermott 

NFL: Buffalo Bills-Sean McDermott Press Conference

We’ll start with the positives here. If you look at McDermott from the tip of the nose down, he has a little something-something. Chiseled jaw, a well-groomed beard, and let’s face it, he’s a sharp dresser! But when you take Sean in as a whole, he looks like a baby that was aged up rapidly, and something went wrong. The situation could be amended with some eyebrow makeup, and maybe permanent hat game. I think Sean McDermott should get up with Cam Newton, and see where he could purchase some fine swag to hide the upper half of his head. Maybe next year, Sean, you’ll rank a little higher.

28. Andy Reid

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs-Minicamp

Andy Reid looks like your friend’s dad who is always at home, in the La-Z-Boy® sipping a Bud Light®, mumbling to himself about how he could do a better job than the chefs on Chopped. He says things like, “champ,” and “sport,” and is always asking you about how basketball is going, even though you’ve told him every day since the day you’ve met that you don’t play basketball, you do theater. He gets bonus points because he has the most piercing blue eyes, a cuddly demeanor, and you have to give respect to a man who has rocked such a thick mustache for so very long. Perhaps too long.

27. Gregg Williams**
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Gregg “Greggory” Williams has such potential. Glasses, a furrowed brow, and what hair! If this were a ranking based on people from the neck up, I think Williams would have a really good chance of being in the top 10. But it isn’t – we’re talking about the full package here. If he could get to the gym, maybe participate in a pilates class or two, and tone up, he’d be a real contender. But as it stands now, he’ll sit at a paltry 27. If he stays the head coach into the 2019 season, we’ll reevaluate his ranking.

**as of writing this list, Gregg Williams is the acting head coach of the Browns. While Hue Jackson was a head coach in the 2018 season, I will not be including him in this list because he is no longer active with the Browns. As this is a very serious undertaking, I want everyone to know that I am taking this very serious list very seriously.

26. Sean Payton

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Sean Payton has a boyish smile, and lots of well-placed wrinkles that tell me two things: he’s lived a long life, and he knows how to have a good time. He isn’t the most handsome, but he isn’t the least handsome, and there’s something about that smirk that leaves you intrigued. I’m sure he would treat you to an unforgettable evening at the putt-putt golf course with ice cream afterwards. Unfortunately for Payton, I’m not sure that there is anything he could do to bump himself up on the list. He’s a safe hot – not too spicy, something your grandma could put her mouth on.

25. Pat Shurmur

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Pat Shurmur is the alternate reality version of Sean Payton where Sean Payton is just marginally more handsome than he is in our universe.

Unrelated: his last name sounds like someone started saying a word and gave up.

24. Dan Quinn

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos

Dan Quinn is middle-of-the-packing it, because sometimes he looks like an uncooked yeast roll, and other times he looks like a snac™. There’s no in-between. Make a decision, Quinn! It’s up to you whether you rise to the top or sink to the bottom.

23. Jason Garrett

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Jason Garrett has the same issues as Dan Quinn, in my mind. Sometimes he’s a real Daddy™, and then you turn around and he looks like he slithered out of the hot tub at the gym after soaking for about 20 minutes too long. Consistency is key to be in the upper echelons of hotness, and neither Quinn nor Garrett have what it takes at the moment. Quinn probably has less of a chance of going much farther on the list, but Jason Garrett is a wild card. With his boyish good looks, and flaming red hair, he has the potential to become the Daddy™ of the Year, or run right into the “I instinctively lock my doors when I see him” category. Good luck, Jason. We’re rooting for you.

22. Adam Gase

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Where Quinn & Garrett have potential to rise and fall drastically, I think that Adam Gase’s final & only resting place on this list will be at a mediocre 22. He’s got it going on® when he smiles, has a beard, or both, but too often he looks like a man plotting to kill, kill and kill again. In fact, I felt so strongly about illustrating this dichotomy of man that I included two pictures of Gase. On the top, you have the Bachelor who’s looking for love in all the wrong places, and on the bottom, you have the mugshot of an alleged murderer.

Just as well. I believe Adam will anchor this list in a constant struggle to be hotter, while being entirely unable to achieve. Keep rolling that rock, honey. You’re doing great.

(Tie) 15. Guys That Look Like Your Friend’s Dad Who Has a Country Club Membership

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Probably has a huge fortune. Was obviously super hot when he was younger. Anna Nicole Smith would have smashed.

Mike Zimmer
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Would let you use his new golf clubs, and his tab at the Country Club Cafe™. Kind eyes. Weird – but intriguing – neck.

Doug Marrone
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Ridiculously tall. Willing to help you perfect your short game. Will spring for the bottle of the slightly older, more expensive wine.

Jay Gruden
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Would never dream of commenting on your weight. Ready to try out that new fish place that just opened up the road from the country club. Would go halfsies on the surf-and-turf.

Dirk Koetter
NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Isn’t mad, just disappointed. That disappointment fuels the fire in your loins. Brings you flowers without you having to ask.

Bill Belichick
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Constantly ready to make love, or make war. There is no in-between. Keeps things spicy.

Ron Rivera
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The dad you had a crush on as a kid. Holds your hand when you are frustrated, or angry. Will go to bat for you if someone accuses you of lying.

14. Frank Reich
NFL: Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers

Frank Reich has coached a lot of teams, and despite being ditched time and time again, people keep coming back for more. In fact, the Colts brought him back to the fold for the 2018 season as head coach, after he served them in various coaching positions from 2008-2011. So on top of being a tall beefcake, there’s a mysterious bad boy appeal about Reich that just makes you want to know more. He’s ready to catch your balls, if you’re ready to give them to him.

13. Doug Pederson
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Doug Pederson is the version of Doug Marrone who hasn’t been crushed by life. He’s tall, successful, and can pull off a headset. Despite the fact that most NFL coaches constantly wear headsets, most of them cannot pull it off. Yet here Pederson is, lording it over the rest of the coaches. This is how you wear a headset, people. Take notes. Take. Notes. Also: is his hair real, or just very well-done hair plugs? The world may never know. Unless we collectively get to run our greasy fingers through it.

12. Steve Wilks
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Steve Wilks serves Denzel Washington realness, and I am here for it. He constantly looks like he is in the midst of a steamy drama/thriller that breaks boundaries while reinventing them. If he showed up outside of my apartment, dangling from a helicopter, arm outstretched and whisper-shouted, “get in!” I would jump.

11. Matt Patricia
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Matthew Patricia has a luxurious beard, eyes that could pierce you with longing, and he would definitely cuddle you back to sleep if you had a panic attack.

10. Vance Joseph
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What is there to say about Vance Joseph, first in the coveted top 10 of hottest NFL coaches (2018 season)? The baseline of hotness: he takes care of himself in terms of grooming; he serves major face (just Google him, and you’ll see the absolute ridiculous amount of facial expressions this man has), so you know he’s here to have a good time; and I would trust him to carry me across a raging river. That’s an important factor of hotness, and one that many people don’t often consider.

9. John Harbaugh
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Woah! Here comes that boy, John Harbaugh, rocking that headset! That’s to say nothing of his award-winning smile, perfect salt-and-pepper hair, and general vibe of confidence. This is a man that would know what to order you at a restaurant before you even arrived, and even though you were a little peeved that he ordered for you, you had to concede that he picked the perfect thing.

8. Mike Tomlin
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Mike Tomlin is a handsome man who has looked the same since I remember being conscious of football. He has aged so imperceptibly over the course of his tenure as head coach, I wonder if he will age all at once: rapidly, suddenly, horribly. But that’s neither here nor there. Obviously a handsome man. It’s just hard for me to rank him higher because the quarterback for his team is a rapist.

7. Jon Gruden
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Y’all are probably wondering why Jon Gruden is here, so very high on the list, when he sort of looks like an uncooked potato. I’ll have to be honest with you – it’s not all based on his outside appearance (I mean, the hair alone could be enough for a bottom 3). In fact, most of it is based on his charisma. You know you’re going to have a good time with him on one of his 20 yachts. You know he’s going to surprise you with a private airplane ride to a penthouse suite that overlooks Times Square on NYE. You know that he is going to gift you with diamonds from Tiffany’s® on the anniversary of the first time you guys had lattes. He’s gonna remember all the dates, even the little ones, and melt you every time. You know that you are going to be totally and completely wooed by his charms. Don’t lie. You know it.

6. Todd Bowles
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Todd Bowles looks like Terry Crews’ slightly older brother in all the right ways. Need I say more? Need. I. Say more.

5. Mike Vrabel
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Mike is a H O T T I E. He has the added benefit of being a former professional athlete (which, to be fair, isn’t unique to the list, but) who looks like he could still play the sport if someone shoved a helmet in his hands. An award-winning smile, and big hands that could effectively lotion your feet, legs or the hard-to-reach parts of your back. The only downside is that he seems a few cards shy of a full deck. If I saw him with Catch-22 or Pride & Prejudice in his hands, we could talk about bumping him up on the list.

4. Matt Nagy
NFL: Chicago Bears-OTA

Here he is, folks. Daddy™ of the Year. The spot so coveted by Jason Garrett belongs to none other than Da Bears™ coach, Matt Nagy. He’s got the beard. He’s got the grin. He’s got the look of a twice-divorced man who’s ready to have his heart broken again. We can help him with that.

3. Anthony Lynn
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A beard that could slice cheese. Nipples that could cut diamonds. A mouth that would smooch you so tender. The man has it all: grit, and grace. Anthony Lynn would take you on a weekend ski trip, kiss your pink nose in the snow, make you hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, and then ravage you in front of a fire on top of a faux-bear-skin rug.

2. Sean McVay
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By now, those who have their own homegrown lists are probably frothing at the mouth that Sean McVay is not in the coveted NUMBER ONE spot. But stop right there, fellow hottest NFL head coaches (2018 season) fans. I am going to illustrate to you exactly why Sean McVay could not possibly hold the #1 spot.

Sean McVay is the hottest coach from the side ONLY (pictured above).Chiseled jaw, good hair, immaculate skin, and need I go on about the headset? He looks like he has everything under control, like a man that doesn’t wear deodorant because he has never sweat a day in his life. But turn him to the front?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Press Conference

I know what a number 1 hottie looks like, and this ain’t it, fam. This ain’t it. Is Sean McVay hot? Yes. Is he the hottest? No.

This brings us to…

1. Kyle Shanahan
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This is it. The pinnacle of the NFL’s head coaches. Sean McVay if his head had continued growing long instead of wide. The amalgamation of all the best qualities of every head coach on this list, and beyond. He will love you. He will hold you. He will smolder for you. And you will be his, for all time. Get lost in his eyes, my friends.

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The smile of a man who has just seen a dog do something really cute, like sleep or exist.

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The concern of a man who can’t believe you just called yourself fat when he knows you are perfect.

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The knowing squint of a man who is about to go to pound town just for looking so handsome, so chiseled.

Mr. Shanahan, congratulations. Despite having a name that sounds like the person pronouncing “Shurmur” got confused halfway through, you have triumphed over all other head coaches to be named the hottest NFL head coach (2018 season)™. Congratulations. Your trophy will be in the mail.

To all the contenders, my hats off to you. This was not easy to judge, and many painstaking hours were put into its conception. At no point in time did I forget a certain coach existed, and shove him into the next closest place he would fit. At no point in time did I forget that I was making this and come back to it weeks later. This was a constant, and concerted effort to give you the most comprehensive list of NFL head coach hotties. Because that is what football is about, right? Ogling the players. The water boys. The coaches.

See everyone next year.
Maybe.

(Remember y’all, this is OFFICIAL. The Library of Congress is going to immortalize it in their hallowed halls, right next to the Jefferson draft of the Declaration of Independence and Die Hard.)

 

*for the 2018 season

Of Hurricanes & Birthdays

Near the end of July, I called my mom and said, “what do you think about a surprise visit to North Carolina for Dad’s birthday?”

She was giddy at the idea, so excited to see me, to be party to a secret as big as this. The California daughter flying into the three-gate airport in Jacksonville, North Carolina just to give her dad a hug on the day he was born, seventy years ago. We waited a couple of weeks, watching the flights, the prices drop and rise with steady frequency. Finally, I pulled the trigger. A flight into Jacksonville on September 11th (which did give me a skip in my heart) that would have me touching down at just before 6pm. My mom had the perfect rouse – a library meeting gone long – and giggled at her perfected subterfuge. I would stay until the 16th, and make my way back to sunny California by midday Sunday.

We talked about it over the phone almost daily under the guise of “curtain shopping.” Every day, my mom had “a new set of curtains for me to look at,” all the while confirming this or that to our Peter Funk Birthday Surprise. I talked about it with great joy to Grant, who would be my chauffeur to and from the airport. I confirmed over, and over again that he would take care of Andy while I was gone.

“I can come home at lunch to walk him,” Grant smiled, rubbing my back and kissing my forehead. “I’m so happy you are going to get to see your parents.”

Then Hurricane Florence started to churn in the Atlantic Basin.

I watched with bated breath, and called my dad with his thoughts on the matter. I never lead on that I would be flying in. All I did was give away my utter concern for my parents’ safety.

“The European model shows it taking a more southerly route,” I offered, “The European model has been known to be more accurate.”

“We’ll see,” my father replied, grimly, “that would mean it hits South Carolina dead on.”

“I’d prefer it to just go back out to sea,” I laughed, though it was a serious desire. One lone noodle on the spaghetti model – a technical term for the visualization chart of potential storm paths – had Florence veering right and off into the mid-Atlantic.

By Saturday, September 9th, it became clear to me and my mother that our plans in their current state would be foiled. Florence had been locked in a permanent death march towards the North Carolina coast, including our beloved Emerald Isle. The Outer Banks were due to get the Northern wall, one of the most devastating parts of a hurricane. Florence sat at a Category 4, and news personalities like Al Roker were frothing at the mouth at the possibility of a Category 5 by landfall.

“Maybe I could fly into Jacksonville and help you guys drive to Charlotte.”

My parents’ have three cars – two Hondas, and a big red truck. My dad had been talking about the possibility of leaving the truck on the island, as it seemed more likely to weather the storm than my mother’s Fit or my dad’s Accord.

“Maybe.” My mom was crestfallen.

“Then I could just fly out of Charlotte. That way you don’t have to leave the truck.”

“We’re not leaving the truck.” Her Southern roots shone through in that statement. Give her death before she leaves the truck behind. Somewhere on the coast of North Carolina, on the small island of Emerald Isle, a bright blue Honda Fit stuffed with workout clothes and dog hair shivers in a closed garage awaiting the worst.

On Sunday, September 10th, my mom and I pulled the plug.

“You can’t come,” she urged, “I don’t want you to put yourself in harm’s way for this.”

“I’ll reschedule.”

I was naive to think that rescheduling with American (or any other airline, I’m sure) would be so simple. After a terse conversation stating that I couldn’t get a refund unless my flight was canceled, nor could I reschedule my flight past the 19th of September, Grant helped me with the loophole. We rescheduled my flight into OAJ for the 13th of September – my dad’s birthday, and the day Florence was scheduled to make landfall. Sure enough, at 6am the next morning, I received an email that told me my flight had been canceled. There was no option to receive a refund online. I had to call them, again.

I sang my dad “Happy Birthday” over the phone today.

He is sitting in my little brother’s apartment, with his two dogs, and my mother. They are eating cake for breakfast, a Funk family tradition. As I walk my dog around the Burbank neighborhood, my dad confides that he wishes Florence would just “do something already.” I agree. Patience is difficult when lives and livelihoods are involved. We ponder the foolish, or brave few we know who stayed behind on the island. I think of all the people who cannot evacuate. I think of my dad eating his birthday cake from the new grocery store on the island. I wish I were there.

There isn’t a happy ending to this story. Florence is still piddling around in the Atlantic, and my parents still don’t know what damage it will bring, or when they might be able to go home. I don’t know when I will be able to see my parents next. We are all on edge with every news report coming in by the day, hour, minute.

The one takeaway I have from all of this is that I am my father’s daughter. We both know that we cannot change the path of the hurricane. We both know that whatever happens will happen. We both know that all we can do is rise to meet whatever comes next.

I think right now, I make peace with the fact that it is the thought that counts.

Happy birthday, Peter Funk. I love you.

 

 

 

 

America, The Beautiful

The 4th of July is my least favorite holiday.

I’m sitting on my couch, in-between emails and editing, staring out the window. There’s a nest of birds tucked away in the rotting hull of my neighbor’s rooftop. The mother returns from her morning errands – gathering worms, I presume. I can hear other birds lilting in the dawn gloom. A mourning dove, a mockingbird, a mean old crow with boundary issues…

I never knew there could be so many birds in a suburb nestled neatly between two highways in Southern California.

They’ve been going on for months, the fireworks.

It starts off small. So small, in fact, the first time I heard them I thought it was a gunshot. But there were no sirens, and there was nothing in the news. The small bangs and pops rippled into a fever pitch. As of last night, I saw 10 separate private fireworks shows going on in the front yards of good, honest, working folks. Sometimes  there’s hooting, and hollering, but most often, the fireworks are met with a quiet reverence. Rivulets of rust ripple through the cool desert air. A moment of reflection.

That’s not why I don’t like the 4th of July.

The house the birds live in was built in 1912. It’s considered old here. I remember visits to the beach when I was a child – to Beaufort, North Carolina, where the houses dated back to the 1600s. There are older houses in Virginia, so I’m told. Prerevoluntionary homes, owned by affluent white males in the time before the consideration that the color of one’s skin, or what was tucked between the legs, did not determine personhood. The ones in Beaufort look out towards Carrot Island. At dusk you can see the descendants of tough, rugged Spanish horses walking through the lapping waves along the shore. Their muscled backs and flowing manes shine as if on fire in the waning light of the summer sun.

I wonder if the founders of our nation would condone a celebration of the signing of a document that declared “we are free.” I like to think they would have had a beer together, sighed and conceded, “there’s still more to be done.”

One of the birds – a fledgling just stretching its wings – appears from the hole in the roof. Its head pivots from side-to-side searching for predators, unfriendly types. It’s all clear. With one bold step, it is out in the fresh air. The sun breaks through the clouds, and catches on its feathers. The bird plummets to the ground with little resistance. I wonder if it fell into my neighbor’s pool.

July 4th. Independence Day. America’s birthday. It all feels so pointlessly self-congratulatory.

We are living in a time of great turmoil. Our President is fighting tooth and nail to divorce us from the rest of the world. Our Supreme Court is trying to roll back the rights that have been afforded to us through their own hard-fought, hard-won battles. Our Congress sits with their fingers in their ears, crying for civility and decency when all they really mean is STAY QUIET.

So I cannot celebrate the 4th of July this year in the way that the POTUS, SCOTUS or Congress would want me to. I cannot stand the thought of being surrounded by swaths of humanity bedecked in American flag accouterments, whooping into the sky that we are a global superpower of progressivism, change, hope. I will not sing blindly at the flag, hand on chest, pride swelling in my heart as I think about how we are the “greatest country in the world.”

The greatest country in the world would not detain children indefinitely. The greatest country in the world would not prevent women from having the freedom of choice. The greatest country in the world would not protect police officers who shoot and kill innocent, defenseless Black people.

Were we ever the greatest country in the world? No. No country could ever claim that. There are countries more fruitful than others – in healthcare, cost of living, quality of life – but we are all pockmarked with scars of the past, and deep shadows of the present. We will never be perfect, but I believe we can be better.

As I watch the fireworks in my neighborhood tonight, over the crest of the rooftop where the birds grow and sing, I will think of those who sacrifice every day to bring out the best of us. Those people who know that apathy is the poison of progress. Those people who scream over the dissenters, and the complacent, with conviction and resolution. Those people who tonight will sit side-by-side as the last rocket’s red glare fades into the night; those who will sigh into the dregs of their drinks and whisper, “there’s still more to be done.”

I will put my hand to my heart for them. I will stand with them as the last trumpet sounds. I will do my best to do what I can for my country. I hope you too will reflect on what it is that you can do for America. I believe we can be better. Now is not the time for apathy. Now is the time for action. As the crowds disperse, and the nighttime quiets, I will envision the future that I wish to see – America, the beautiful. There will always be setbacks to progress. There will always be those who push down, down, down with all their might to preserve the old ways. So we must push up.

I hear a firm tap on my window and turn to the see the fledgling gripping tightly to the small piece of sill that my apartment has. It is breathing fast, panting. A brief respite from exertion, it peers in at me on the couch and assesses I am harmless. Its eyes look towards the roof, and I smile. I will see this fledgling fall, and fall, and fall, and fall, and fall too many times to count. But one day, it will catch the wind just right. It will fly. That day is not today, but something in this bird wills it to hope, makes it fearless to fall. It too knows that truth we must all have thrumming in our hearts: There is still more to be done.

4 years later…

Wow!

It’s been four years since I made this blog. Four years since I started writing it. Perseverance is a virtue, but I don’t think it was my biggest issue. It’s hard for me to be open with people, and that’s what I was trying to squelch with the genesis of this blog. It didn’t work. That’s okay – we’re here to try again.

A lot has changed in 4 years! I looked back on my posts from then, and some of them still resonated. Others were an obvious cry for help – trying to cope with poor decisions I’d made, or justifying decisions I wasn’t sure about.

So what’s new since 2014?

Boyfriend, dog, job… A lot, really.

And a lot is still the same. I still have General Anxiety Disorder. I still have Clinical Depression. I’m still Southern. I’m still charming. I’m still optimistic.

So, let’s start again, you and me. Get to know each other; get to know me.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.