The Alabama Skimm

I’ve mentioned before how much I like The Skimm, and there’s been a lot going on here lately, so I decided to give you guys a bit of my own homestate Skimm.

Alabama’s been talked about a lot lately.

First, our Governor had a, well, a situation that ended up giving us a new Governor in the most fanfare sort of way.

Then the crazy popular S-Town podcast was released.

And finally, The Daily Show had Alabama Week.

 

So, since I assume that I’m your main news source for all true and on-the-ground reporting of Alabama (amIright?), Let’s do some bullet points.

 

  • You’ll be happy to know that we’re not letting our fame get to our heads. If anything, every time another news story goes national about Alabama, we’re more inclined to do a *headdesk*.
  • Because, apparently, just as “good girls don’t make history”, “normal Alabamians don’t make national news.”

So let’s get started.

  • Several of you asked for further details about The whole Guv sitch (read here for the rest of the deets.) I have a few for you – things that got edited out of my first overview because that thing was freaking long. I mean it had to be – it’s quite the saga. But here you go…

…The Governor had a habit of “running away” anytime he and The Sweetest Little Lady you Ever Did See got into an argument about New Girl. But the thing is, Governors aren’t supposed to just “take off.” You know, security and whatnot. His detail was constantly trying to be ready to chase after him when he left in a huff. One night, after a scramble to locate him, they had to report to their commanders, “Uh, we lost the governor.” It took a while for them to track him down by helicopter – turns out, he’d driven all the way to their beach house to have some “quiet time.” Another one of his leave-in-a-huffs, he left from their hometown of Tuscaloosa and forgot his wallet – had no money, ID, or anything. So naturally, he demanded that a state aircraft take off from Montgomery, pick up the wallet in Tuscaloosa, and deliver it to him at the beach.

Another jewel:

…After New Girl said this about The Sweetest First Lady,

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…she actually wrote a speech for The Sweetest First Lady to make when she finally decided to leave The Guv. It’s THE WORST.

“I am grateful to the kind and good-hearted people of Alabama for allowing me to serve as your First Lady for the last five years. It has been a joy and a privilege to serve you and to work together on issues close to my heart such as Domestic Violence Awareness and support for Alabama’s foster children. I want to thank you all for your continued prayers of support for me, for my family and for Robert. The erroneous and unsubstantiated media reports over the last few weeks have been very hurtful to our family and to (the Caldwell and Mason families) and (other families) as well. We ask for your continued prayers in the days and weeks to come. It has been an honor to serve this great state as your First Lady.”

Thankfully, The Sweetest Old Lady You Ever Did See taught us all what you do when your husband’s mistress/Kellyanne-Conway-Wanna-Be writes you a speech that attempts to exonerate your husband’s mistress: she gave some amazing side-eye and said “Girl. Bye.”

112910_WEB_B_Bentley_t1070_hc875ec9985c267cd83eced2dd63ab131d05bf676If I were a better photoshopper, I’d turn that quilt into The Mean Girl Speech.

…Before leaving him, The Sweetest First Lady employed some fantastic and devious tactics to attempt to undermine New Girl’s hold on her husband. Unbelievably heinous things like…taking pictures with her husband and posting them on social media.

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…”Did New Girl’s husband know? Why would he have been okay with it going on?” Those were questions I got asked the most. All indications and depositions imply that yes, he knew all along. As for why he was cool with all this… between their two government salaries, Rebekah’s later shady salary from the shady ACEGOV that the Guv put together, and their two consulting/ad agencies, New Girl and In-Cahoots Hub made well over a million dollars during the time in which New Girl was in the Governor’s employ. So draw your own conclusions.

…The most drama-filled day of the administration was the Governor’s second inauguration. By then, the Sweetest First Lady had secretly moved back to their hometown and was not residing at all in the Governor’s mansion (but still pre-divorce.) What was going on had not come out in the press yet, but the Sweetest First Lady had no desire for herself or her family to be subjected to the inauguration. The drama and planning that went down that day (as recorded in the First Lady’s Chief of Staff’s notes) is miniseries-worthy…Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 4.18.09 PM

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House of Cards ain’t got nothin’ on Alabama.

Moving on in The News From Alabama…

  • S-Town. I can’t decide how I feel about this podcast. Maybe it’s like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter sequel, The Cursed Child – I had to read it twice, back-to-back, to be able to enjoy it (the second time.) But I don’t feel like listening to S-Town again, so I guess I’ll have to stay confused about my feelings. Some brief thoughts, for those of you who have listened to it…(minor spoilers ahead for those who haven’t.)

…John B.’s house is 54 minutes from my house. I know this because you can type “S-Town Hedge Maze” into Google maps and see that magnificent creation. I have mutual friends on Facebook who are friends with some of the people in the show. These facts are mind-blowing to me, as that world seems three worlds away from my world.

…The first two episodes of this podcast personified why I have such high anxiety about Alabama being in the news. Despite every quadrant of this nation having backwards, close-minded small towns, Alabama (and Mississippi) seem to always get labeled by those places, and are never mentioned for all of our many finer qualities. Also, people become caricatures of themselves and of Alabama. As was shown in the later episodes, all of those people have more depth than what is initially portrayed (for better or worse, in some cases.)

…My overall frustration about the podcast is that I feel like John B. planned the whole thing to be his story. So as to not give it completely away, I believe the “twist” at the end of episode 2 was his plan all along. He wanted to be remembered in a literary fashion, and he was a most fascinating individual, but his methods were ultimately selfish and tragic.

What were your thoughts, if you’ve listened?

Moving on.

  • The Daily Show. It wasn’t at all what I expected – they covered issues that were surprisingly not at the top of the everyday radar – perhaps the fact that it was educational to me is proof that they didn’t exactly catch the overall feel of the state. Such as the Alabama forest conservationist whose actual goal is to protect Bigfoot (or Bigfeet, as he was pretty sure there were more than one.)

…The premise was that because Alabama is the state with the lowest amount of Daily Show viewers, they decided that they needed to get to know Alabama and figure out what they were doing wrong. So for four days, they did stories about Alabama.

…The show was less cringe-worthy and more heart-warming that I expected, which really is wise on their part as they’re trying to lure us, not offend us. Tuesday night’s episode was about “Alabama’s Biggest Problem”, prison overcrowding.

(I mean it’s a problem. For sure. But we have others. If you haven’t noticed.)

…On that same day that aired, the Alabama House of Representatives was voting on whether or not to decriminalize Midwifery (midwifery is so fun to say – midWHIFFery midWHIFFery…). That’s right – if you’re a midwife, you’ve been an outlaw in this state. We insist on either hospital childbirth or do-it-yourself at home with ABSOLUTELY NO HELP, got it??

The timing of these two things did not miss mine and Chris’ attention…and our mental image of overcrowded prisons immediately changed to one of prisons bursting at the seams with midwives. We could only assume that they smuggle in essential oils and practice deep breathing on the regular. Kombucha is the contraband of choice and they line their cells with photos of the babies that they criminally helped out into the world.

And what did they do to get put in those overcrowded prisons? The bustling underground midwifery operation, obviously. Which leads to questions such as how does one find a Midwifery dealer? And I bet that black market midwifery is so very unregulated – we MUST decriminalize so that we can regulate and tax it properly!

The Daily Show really missed a trick on the whole criminal midwifery angle. I mean, if you thought Orange is the New Black was fun, just wait until Orange is the New Midwife comes out!

Between Alabama House of Cards and Orange is the New Midwife, we don’t need no S-Town.

An Alabama Fairytale.

For those of you who live in Alabama, you may have had enough already of this story. Or maybe you’ve been avoiding it and waiting for the overview. But I’ve had a lot of people – locally and not – ask me “what exactly happened down there?”, so I felt it my duty, since I have read pretty much every article about it and a good chunk of the impeachment report, depositions, and exhibits, to write it out as a happy little story for all of you.

~~~~~~~~~

Once upon a time in a State far, far, away, the people elected a Grandpa for Governor.

The State had been plagued by scandal and corruption and sending Governors to jail, and they wanted to try something different. So Grandpa Gov – a Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, Dermatologist who had clearly never once been so vain as to use any youth-renewing items on his own skin, and doting husband of 45 years to the Sweetest Southern Lady You Ever Did See, became the supreme ruler of The State.

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Everything was fine and dandy. Grandpa Gov was kindly and wore his ill-fitting khakis, scoffing at those who suggested he dress like the Governor. He interacted with his staff as if they were his equals and his dearest acquaintances. He continued to teach Sunday School at his home church and would often discuss his Sunday School lessons with his staff. Sure, he looked ever-so-slightly like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, but he was so down-home and innocent that you hardly noticed. Yes, 2010 Grandpa Gov was the heart-warming trustworthy man that The State needed.

A few years went by, and Grandpa had a couple Grandpa goofs as non-career politicians often do. But overall, he was forgiven by his state because hey – at least he wasn’t getting thrown into the slammer. I mean – he wasn’t even taking a salary as Governor – so clearly, Grandpa Gov was delightfully incorruptible.

Then along came New Girl. No one knows exactly how or why or who was behind her appearance into the fairytale land of state government, but oh, are there theories. Theories that, if printed, would be considered libelous. So use your own imaginations. But what we do know is that he met New Girl and her husband at Church. And gave them both jobs at The Capitol.

New Girl competed in Miss State many years prior, and now had three kids. But New Girl was still young. New Girl was pretty. New Girl was good with the flattery.

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Before long, Grandpa Gov started dressing differently. All of a sudden, he had suits that fit. He walked with more authority and more than a little bit of pride. He demanded deference to his position and quit chit-chatting with the staff. And, perhaps most odd, he became the flippinest-floppinest Governor ever on his reelection campaign positions – right after being soundly reelected.

NO NEW TAXES.
(How about a few hundred million of new taxes?)

NO LOTTERY.
(How about a state lottery?)

Yes, it seemed that Grandpa Gov had been replaced by Slick Gov. Or someone had attached some puppet strings to Granpa Gov’s old shoulders.

And then the rumors started.

Nasty rumors.

Open rumors.

Seems like the entire capitol city knew about it.

And apparently Grandpa Gov / New Girl’s Church knew, as they both got their memberships revoked.

Surely not! Not Grandpa. He was such a good husband! Loving and kind and doting and all that. And have you seen his wife? She’s the most delightful, joyful looking little southern lady you ever did see.

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She’s basically Tweety Bird’s Granny but with better hair.

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But as more rumors flew about Grandpa Gov’s misdeeds, all of a sudden the likeness to Mr. Burns became more obvious. And the possibility that New Girl was actually into Grandpa Gov just seemed nonexistent. Clearly she had some devious motivations.

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And then, less than a year after his reelection and soon after their 50th wedding anniversary, The Sweetest First Lady You Ever Did See….

Filed for divorce.

What. The. What. Governors don’t get divorced while in office.

Rumors started becoming very thick. Now the entire state knew what was up.

But it wasn’t until six months later that the people of The State got to hear the truth.

And I do literally mean HEAR.

Right after a previous employee came out and said that indeed, Grandpa Gov and New Girl had been getting it on, a CD of Grandpa Gov’s disgusting phone calls were dropped, behind a gas station, for the press to blare loudly.

No one in The State will ever be able to scrub this from their ears, no matter how hard they try.

Because no one wants to hear Grandpa say…

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When I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and I put my hands (
unintelligible) and just pull you real close. I love that, too.

It was The Lord Above that blurred that unintelligible bit. He knew The State could only take so much.

It didn’t take long for it to come out that it was actually The Sweetest Ex-First Lady You Ever Did See who had made the recordings, simply by “going on a walk,” but leaving her phone behind and recording – it took less than a minute for Grandpa Gov to ring New Girl.

Nor, once the tapes leaked, did it take long for Grandpa Gov to finish completely trashing his kindly reputation by denying the relationship – saying it was just dirty talk – nothing actually happened.

Uh, yeah. Because Governors call me all the time and say things like that just for fun – and I let them – politics and usual here.

New Girl resigned to “spend more time with her family” (although her husband kept his $90K government job and she seemed to still have credentials to come and go as she pleased – for “consulting”, which is apparently what the Grandpas are calling it these days), and there were many more details over the months, but let’s bullet point a bit for sake of time.

  • The State Attorney General promised an Impeachment investigation, because it seemed that Grandpa and New Girl used state resources to aid and protect their dalliances. (They especially seemed to like state plane rides…ew.)
  • But then, A State Senator got put on the short list to be the National Attorney General…
  • And The State Attorney General suspended the Impeachment Investigation in high hopes…
  • And The State Senator did get the National Attorney General Gig…
  • And Grandpa Gov promoted that State Attorney General to Senator. A gift, if you will. No strings attached, obviously.
  • Magically, for just a second, everyone said “What Impeachment? Nobody said anything about an impeachment. Nothing to see here.”
  • But I guess the rest of the AG office was jealous that they didn’t get rewarded so they picked back up the investigation.

And things got boiling.

A little after a year after the trauma of The Tapes, Impeachment rumblings started happening. And furthermore, the State Ethics Commission found probably cause that Grandpa Gov violated the state ethics law and the campaign finance law, and would probably be in super big jailtime trouble.

Grandpa, meanwhile, continued to say “Nope – didn’t do nothin’ – won’t resign. I won’t I won’t I won’t!”

He fought hard to keep all the proof from coming out into the public’s view, but he lost.

And two weeks ago, an entire website dropped – with a thick report and some serious exhibits of Grandpa’s misdeeds.

As it turns out, Grandpa didn’t understand The Cloud. And he didn’t at all realize that his texts on his Government-issued iPhone were duplicated on the Government-issued iPad that he’d handed down to The Sweetest Wife (now Ex-Wife) You Ever Did See.

And she, again, kept the receipts.

We got to read along as New Girl tried to hide her frustration at Grandpa Gov not knowing how to use his burner phone…

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We got to see when Grandpa Gov first learned how to use the Emoji Keyboard…

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And a combination of the both.

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And most traumatically, we got to see New Girl pen The New State greeting.

Move over, “Roll Tide.” Move over, “Hey y’all! How you doing?”

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From now on, expect residents of The State to yell out that greeting. And you better believe there’s already a cross-stitch pattern.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 2.56.51 PMSomebody please put this on a throw pillow for me.

And I made this for you, so that you can always remember Grandpa Gov as he wanted to be remembered…

Bless Our Hearts and Other Parts

But by far the most gaggable moments were when New Girl had to bring God into it – presumably when they started getting caught and were just sooo sad about being mistreated.

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(Based on that last text, New Girl missed out on reading huge swaths of the bible (like, say, The Ten Commandments) where God highly recommends not messing around with other people’s spouses.)

All of the above conversations were interspersed with vomits like this…

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So much ew.

Sadly, we also got the text message to The Sweetest Wife You Ever Did See where Grandpa Gov accidentally called her by New Girl’s Name. Then tried to just move on.

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…And then deny that anything at all was going on when trying to convince The Sweetest Wife You Ever Did See to come to his second inauguration.

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I cannot imagine how The Sweetest Wife must have felt dealing with all this. But kudos to her for keeping her head and the proof, therefore being completely responsible for the undoing of her husband’s grotesque misdeeds. As it should be.

But Grandpa Gov didn’t think The Sweetest Wife was “smart enough” to have compiled information on him, and so he assumed that her Chief of Staff was actually behind it all. And so, after a few nasty threat-laced conversations with Sweetest Wife’s Chief of Staff (including telling her that he was Governor and everyone “bowed down to his throne”), she found a rock through her house window and her car vandalized, incidentally right around the time she was giving a deposition to the Ethics Commission.Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 4.44.46 PM

Yeah. Um. That escalated quickly, Grandpa.

Other “gems” from the impeachment documents included this description of New Girl’s office rearranging…

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And what New Girl had the nerve to tell the Sweetest Lady’s Chief of Staff…

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Why is there a Mr. Burns screenshot for every Grandpa Gov move. It’s as if it was sent to us as a prophecy.

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And this, which was submitted as a typical day on Grandpa Gov’s calendar – the one he quit letting The Sweetest Wife You Ever Did See have access to – and the one for which everyone in his office knew exactly what “Hold Time” was –

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Let me do the math for you. That’s one hour and forty five minutes of actually being the Governor and four hours of Hold Time. What do you do for Four and a Half Hours?

Mayberry and Chill, one can only assume.

There’s so much more to this story, such as

  • The Sweetest Wife coming to the Capitol to take a picture of “The Love Bench” in the courtyard,
  • While trying to justify moving Wanda’s Desk (which happened to be too close to Grandpa Gov’s office for comfort,) Grandpa Gov explained that he was pretty sure Wanda had “a thing” for him. Pretty sure Wanda threw up in her mouth a little.
  • When confronted by a dear friend and State Trooper about “the situation”, Grandpa Gov asked him to go break up with New Girl for him. Which he did. But then Grandpa Gov walked in the room and told her “it’s gonna be okay – nevermind.”sterilebackground
  • Grandpa Gov’s sons attempted to trick him into getting on a plane so that they could have him tested for dementia, due to the extreme nature of his personality change. Let’s hope it can all be blamed on dementia, but more likely it’s blamed on Viagra: the tool that lets men be tools for decades past their ability to run fast enough to flee temptation. (Drug companies should really hire me to write slogans for them.)

But we don’t have time for every detail here.

So let’s jump to the happy part of this Fairytale.

On one fateful Monday, the Impeachment hearing began. And Grandpa finally saw that he could deny no longer. So by the end of the day, Grandpa Gov had negotiated a resignation, which included this mugshot and a booking into the county jail.

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Just as was prophesied.

Bentley Burns Mugshot

You win some (not being put in jail on much worse charges), you lose some (your wife, your house, your beach house, your state retirement, your security detail, your job, your dignity, your kid’s respect, your….oh that’s long enough.)

There was an hour between the resignation of Grandpa Gov and the swearing in of his replacement. And that one, glorious hour was The Fairytale for The State.

For one, amazing, delightful, fantastic, dreamy, carefree hour, The State was ungoverned.

And that was the best governing they’d ever had.

And for that one hour, everyone lived Happily Ever After.

The End.

Unearthing a More Colorful Brain.

“1 is red – right, mom?”

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This matter-of-fact question Noah asked Monday morning while doing his math (in my dirty dressing room floor as I hung up clothes) turned his school day on end. What followed was a fascinating day of me interrogating him while becoming more and more intrigued with his brain as he very factually and without hesitation answered all of my inquiries.

“Do all numbers have a color?”

“Yes!”

“0?”

“Black.”

“2?”

“Yellow. 5 is yellow too.”

“3?”

“Blue.”

“4?”

“Orange. And 6, 7, and 8 are purple, 9 is pink. 10 is obviously red and black.”

Now it made so much sense why, after deciding to use colored pencils for math a couple weeks ago, he had started to want to do more math each day.

“What about letters? Do they have colors?”

“Obviously. A is red. B is blue and pink. C is yellow and D is brown. E is orange and F is blue and purple.”

“Days of the week? Do they have colors?”

“Yup. Yesterday was a yellow day and the day before that was a red day. Wednesday is probably a brown day. Brown or beige.”

“So what about Saturdays?”

“What did I just say that they were?? Red, Mom!!”

I had just discovered that my six-year-old had grapheme-color synesthesia. AND I WAS TOTALLY GEEKING OUT.

Grapheme-color synesthesia: When an individual’s perception of numerals and letters is associated with the experience of colors. Like all forms of synesthesia, Grapheme-color synesthesia is involuntary, consistent, and memorable.

I’d heard about synesthesia in all its forms in my psych classes in college (a fascination that I pursued in my electives), and had more recently listened to a podcast about a woman with Mirror-Touch Synesthesia – a very real and terrifying condition that caused her to physically feel everything that she saw anyone else physically experience. Hug, punch, shivers, itches – whatever.

Synesthesia is a phenomenon where two or more senses are triggered by each other in an involuntary way. Color Synesthesia is the most common, and approximately 1% of the population experiences it. A theory is that it is associated from first memories of learning the letters – kids latch onto the colors of their refrigerator magnets, or the letters in their alphabet book. But this was disproven when they discovered synesthetes who couldn’t possibly have had those early life associations. I can’t help but wonder if there is still some connection there, and if more kids have synesthesia now that they learn their letters with blazingly colorful learning apps.

There are many more bizarre synesthesias, such as where you experience tastes when certain words or sounds are spoken, where smells have a color, when time has a spatial place around you, and where letters and other things are personified as little personalities. Often, people who are synesthetes will experience more than one type, so we had other fun conversations yesterday as well, such as,

“What color is the smell of chicken fingers?”

“What?? Mom! That’s disgusting!!”

“Where is Wednesday? Is it to the left or right of you?”

“I have NO idea.”

I found an online test for synesthetes and started Noah on it. It asks you to pick a color from the whole spectrum for each letter and number, randomized and multiple times, to see if you’re consistent with your answers. It was a bit long for a six-year-old’s attention span, however, so we haven’t finished it yet. But it was delightful to listen to his dialogue as he tried to pinpoint the colors.

“No…it’s a little lighter than that…more of a lavender. Mom, how do I get this to be lighter?”

“It’s more of a green-yellow. No, not that green. Not that one either.”

“9 is definitely pink. Not green. Help me get off the green!”

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What fascinated me most was his complete consistency. When he got to B on the test, he asked “B is blue and pink. How do I do that on here? Should I just pick one or the other?”

All day long I randomly asked him the color of numbers and letters and he’d shoot back, with complete accuracy, what he’d told me before. I kept a running note in my phone because there was no way I could possibly remember his answers from one ask to the next.

While he was taking the test, Ali walked in and asked what he was doing. I explained to her that Noah saw letters and numbers in color.

“Oh! I do too. 1 is blue, 2 is lime green – “

“WRONG!” Noah didn’t even look up from his test to inform his sister that she was categorically incorrect about the properties of numbers.

Ali wasn’t so convinced that letters had a color, but she did think days of the week had color.

She started going through her list, with very specific colors, like “Tuesday is lime green and light yellow mixed together” and when she got to Friday,

“…and Friday is sunshine yellow…”

Noah piped up, appalled, “What?!? That’s Sunday!! You’re so weird.”

I had never had a more surreal conversation with my children, and I was loving every minute of it. I had turned into psychologist mom and there was no going back.

I found this picture online and showed it to him.

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“What is in this picture?”

“Fives and twos.”

“How many twos are there?”

Without taking even a second to count, he said “there are six twos,” then pointed them all out. Because apparently, his brain comprehends them much bolder than my brain does.

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(I did ask him if he saw them in color or in black and he looked at me like I was crazy. “They’re black, Mom!!”)

The next morning, I had the kids separately make their color charts.

This is Ali’s:

Ali Synesthesia Chart

I checked it against my note, and she Ali stayed consistent with her choices, other than flip-flopping on 5 and 8 being light blue / dark blue.

And this is Noah’s. The really bold characters are due to the fact that they are supposed to be purple, and he wasn’t happy that they looked a little pink on first pass.

Noah Synesthesia Chart copy

The only deviation he made from the day before was that he decided that 7 was actually green, not purple. Additionally, he informed me that uppercase e’s are yellow, but lowercase are orange – and he preferred lowercase. I asked if all uppercase and lowercase letters were different, but he said only e and f – uppercase f is blue and purple (he got mad at himself for forgetting to add blue to it, although he did draw the dual-colored B), but lowercase is beige.

One interesting fact that I found while researching: although each synesthete has their own color-mapping, the majority make A red and O white or black. Noah has consistently told me that A is red and O is blue or black.

I have no idea what this brain phenomenon really effects, other than my children’s minds being delightfully more colorful than my own, but I’m excited to figure out how to integrate it into their education.

Noah Colors

As is, apparently, Noah.

So it might be worth the question – offhandedly, out of nowhere, to your kids:

“Hey – what color is the number 5?”

Report your findings immediately.

Note: an update can be found here.