Heather Ryan

Heather Ryan
Eugene, Oregon, US
December 20
"Imagine," says writer TK Dalton, "a knocked up Bookslut, Salam Pax with a dead beat ex instead of Raed. That's Terrible Mother." She's also a quick-thinking, smart-mouthed single mother to three kids. By day, she teaches writing to college freshmen and sophomores. By night, she cooks, cleans, parents and writes. She is, despite vehemently claiming to be one, not a hipster, but does have an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon, which she earned by duct-taping her children to chairs and feeding them bottles of Benadryl (not necessarily in that order). Terrible Mother still lives in Oregon, where she deals her snarky brand of parenting humor to her friends. "Another single mother blog?" says novelist Roby Connor. "Someone get this lady some Jesus."


Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 12, 2008 4:31PM

Crazy Talk: The Friday Challenge

Rate: 20 Flag

Two nights ago, my friend New Slang Philosopher* came over with both cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.  Of course, the former included a bottle of Starbucks coffee liqueur and fat free half ‘n’ half**, while the latter included pita chips and hummus, but I was not complaining.  In fact, the little feast was glorious.  I put the kids to bed and New Slang Philosopher mixed drinks. 

We sat at the kitchen table, drinks in one hand, pita pieces in another, and talked.  We talked way into the night about motherhood and academia and the difficulty of finances and men.  It was a good night, made even better by the fact that New Slang is incredibly smart in a way I’m not, but we complement each other pretty well.  She’s way more theoretical and academic than I am, and her capacity for remembering specific philosophies of people like Hegel and Heidegger is astounding. 

If you’re wondering why I’m not so good at those types of things, it’s because that, even though I know better, every time someone says “Hegel,” I think, “You mean Katherine?  I really liked her in Knocked Up.” 

This is why, though I may teach college, I will never truly be an academic.  I only win Academe Points*** because I at least know better than to mention the actress, as opposed to the philosopher.  

But at my kitchen table, with a few shots of Starbucks liqueur in her, New Slang Philosopher was more in my normal league of thought.  This became readily apparent when she started telling me about her conversion to Christianity as a teenager.  This was immediately interesting to me, because New Slang is so different now, and because I had a conversion story myself, so I could relate.  Toward the end of the story, New Slang gave a few reasons why she thought the teenage conversion worked, and so said, “And, you know, Jesus was this really cool guy.”

“Yeah.  I always kinda thought that.”

“I mean, he was so charismatic.  With all those sermons and the way he led people.” 

“Totally agree.”

“He was kinda hot.”

I choked on my drink.  “Wait  What?”

“You know.  He was so amazing in the Bible.  Imagine what it would have been like to be around him.  You’d be attracted to him.”

 Hells Yes!

I tried to consider this for a moment. “Maybe,” I said.  “But he’d smell bad.” When New Slang frowned at me, I added, “Because there weren’t showers.”

(Note to self:  if you ever again use the sentence “because there weren’t showers” to make an argument about Biblical times, unless it's about leprosy, then I’m going to kick your ass.)

“No one had showers, TM.  You would have smelled the same way.”

“Oh yeah.”

 "Look, don’t you think Jesus was cute?”


"Because I’ve read lots of religious and theological texts, and I’m telling you, lots of nuns think the same way.”

“I’m not sure nuns are a good litmus test…”

“I mean, every time I think about Him turning over the tables of the money changers, I get all excited.  Because Jesus is fucking hot.”


“He’s totally hot!  Admit it!”


“I can!  Read Matthew!  Read John!”

I plugged my ears.  "NO!  JESUS IS NOT HOT!"

New Slang laughed while I felt physically ill. 

Which brings us to today.  Often on my other blog, I have something I call "The Friday Challenge." Issued on a Friday, readers have several days to contemplate said challenge.  I've asked people to give me their most irrational fears and write  my new personal ad (not at the same time, though that does give me an idea for next week).   This time, I'm asking you to post the craziest conversation you've had with anyone that would somehow rival the end of mine, which is "Jesus is fucking hot."  Post your best example by Tuesday, September 16, 12:00 noon, PST.  I’ll pick the winner the following Friday and he or she will get bragging rights. 

Game on, people. 


*So named because I think I’m going to use the term “Jesus is hot” as slang for “that’s crazy talk.”  Forever and ever, Amen*.

**Does anyone else call shenanigans on fat free half ‘n’ half?  I just can’t see how there isn’t something completely wrong with that concept.  It must be either a total lie and is therefore loaded with fat, or it causes cancer.  There can be no in between!

***which can be saved redeemed for either a tenured track position in the discipline of your choice, or a sabbatical in Greece.  Proof of purchase not required. 

*[The footnote of a footnote!  Eat that David Foster Wallace!] The conversation above ended abruptly when I said, “I’m so putting this on the blog!” 

“No!  You can’t!”

“Come on.  You just said, ‘Jesus is fucking hot!’  How can I not use that?”

“You can’t!”

"I’ll give you a fake name.”

“Do you do this to all of your friends?”

“Oh yes.”

"Well, okay."

"To be fair, no one has ever given me a "Jesus is fucking hot" before."

"Just don't make me look bad."

"I'll do my best, but you've set a high bar here."

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So Bob, the psychic medium who works out of the store I read tarot out of, he and I are sitting around waiting for clients, and the topic of the election comes up. At some point in the conversation, we conclude that Bob could be the first psychic U.S. President.

"I can just see your cabinet meetings now, Bob....everyone, it's time to get started, let's open with a little meditation."

"And of course, Fletcher would have to be there..." (Fletcher is Bob's spirit guide.)

"Excuse me, everyone, but Fletcher has a few comments on the budget."

"But you know, I'd probably get a lot of death threats. My secret service detail would LOVE me."

"But of course they would! You'd be able to tell them where the assassins were! Their job would be easy! I can see it now...'I see a man with a high powered rifle. He's in that building on the corner...'"

"And it would freak them out, because of course, I'd be right. And I would have to talk with all the ghosts in the White House. They say Lincoln's ghost still walks around there, you know."

"Maybe you could put HIM in the cabinet."

"That would be so COOL!"

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I have spoken with Abraham Lincoln, and he has a few things to say about affirmative action."

"The seance will begin in the East Room at 9:00 p.m. I expect you all to attend....."

(at this point, we were laughing so hard, we couldn't keep going...)
Have you ever heard this song by King Missile?
"Jesus was way cool.
Everybody liked Jesus
Everybody wanted to hang out with him
Anything he wanted to do, he did
He turned water into wine
And if he wanted to
He could have turned wheat into marijuana
Or sugar into cocaine
Or vitamin pills into amphetamines."

It ends with: No wonder there are so many Christians.
True conversation with my then-five-year-old:

It's at night and we're in the hall putting dirty clothes in the hamper, not that that's relevant, just that it sets the stage.

Louie says with extra feeling, in that way a kid does when the whole thread of thought that led up to this moment has gone on silently in his own head and he's feeling particularly caught up in his own insightfulness: Mom, I was thinking about if we were all planets in the solar system, and I thought D should be Jupiter b/c he's the oldest, and J would be Venus because it's so bright and shiny and he likes metallic things and stuff, but you know I couldn't figure out who should be the Sun, you or Dad, because it's the biggest, and you know how Dads are taller but Moms are fatter?

I remember once having a conversation with you, HR, that went something like this:

Mike: "Ok, look. No more choosing men whose bodies are metaphors for damage."

HR: "But I like damage."

"Exactly. And it's not ok."

"But Eight-Fingered Jon was good in bed."

"La-la-la-la I can't hear you! Don't tell me again about how it was 'useful' for him to be missing a leg. I'm pretending you never told me that. And look. There's the rub-- quadraplegic poet will be a no-go in bed."

"No, no. He's fine."

"He can't use his arms or legs!"

"But the necessary parts work fine. He told me."

{Silence} I think I have to go now.
Don't we all remember Gilda Radner and Lorraine Newman debating which of the Jesus renditions was "the cutest"? "cute" was the "hot" of the mid to late 70's when SNL was THE cultural arbiter and true entertainment which it is no longer, and I was too young to stay up that late except when I got to stay over at my big sister's place in "The City" and pretend to be a college girl too. And yes Jesus IS hot and was hottest in The 10 Commandments.
I have a thing for Jewish men.

And this was an unavailable Jewish man who was married to his work and who had a progressive mother who eschewed social mores like marriage before pregnancy.

Not to mention his carpenter skills (which are so handy in a husband.)

Jesus was definitely hot.
carpenter skills are soooo handy.
Also, damn you Mike. Damn you!
I took the beatings of a brother (who was determined to make Eagle Scout) in order to show him that he was only going to church to become an Eagle Scout. I have been thinking the same things about the American people and their predicament heading into the election.
I was totally thinking of that King Missle song, too.
“Jesus was way cool. He walked on water and he swam on land…”

Fat-free half and half freaks me out, too.
As far as I’m concerned, bring on the fat!
Jesus is my friend.

This discussion on Jesus being hot or not for some reason reminds me of the panel debate on Betty versus Veronica (with which one would sex be better?)
I have to admit the craziest conversations I've had - outside of political debates with right-leaning libertarians during the past eight years - took place mainly in the late-70s and early-80s, fueled largely by liberal amounts of one chemical compound or another, sometimes combinations of them, but most memorably involving LSD.

I was a self-selected "pathfinder" of sorts among my circle, and I have to say here that I owe all my own survival skills, together with any I may have managed to pass on to fellow travelers, to my patient and kind-hearted indoctrinators, without whose shepherding hands I would have been lost long ago on the seas of doubt and confusion. It's bad enough that I've been merely adrift there lo these past thirty years.

Anyway, one lovely spring evening, walking through Uptown New Orleans, a small group of us was actively marveling at the magic of dusk's soft and soothing crepuscular natural lighting as it gave way to the shiny, living, streaming, twinkling, flashing lights of the manmade world, and one of my friends started to lose it.

He couldn't deal with how beautiful everything seemed as we strolled under the broad canopy of live oaks, trying vainly to keep our balance and a steady course, tripping and stumbling over the heaving, broken sidewalks, and he kept saying, "man this is so beautiful, this is so awesome, and I just want to remember it, but I'm so fucked up and I know I'm not gonna remember this and I want to remember it so bad..." and I could tell he was having a hard time. He was near tears.

I was walking beside him and I put my arm around his shoulder, brought my mouth real close to his ear and said, softly and slowly, "It's OK, Dave. You don't have to remember. You just have to remember you wanted to remember."

He though about that for a moment and a new spring came into his step, a smile spread across his face and he seemed as though the weight of the entire universe had left his shoulders. For years afterward he remembered that conversation and told people it was the best thing anyone had ever said to him while tripping.

That's crazy talk.
funny - reminds me of a SNL with Gilda Radner and Lorraine Newman pretending to be 10, wearing nightgowns at a sleepover watching "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and comparing how cute that Jesus was to his various incarnations in other made for TV movies.
@ Lonnie -- I read the first paragraph of your comment and, without the commenter's name being visible, knew it was yours.
Julie, I know. I'm quickly gaining a reputation here at OS as a bit of a one-trick pony. I may play in the Electric Rodeo, but still...
Supposedly, Tori Amos got into trouble at the Christian school she attended as a child because she told the teachers she thought that Jesus was hot and she wanted to be his girlfriend.

I dunno, he was a carpenter, he was probably pretty cut...