dogs, videos, work, YouTube

Professional dog grooming seems almost like making magic to me…

I had every intention of writing a fresh post yesterday for this blog. I did write one for the travel blog, although it wasn’t necessarily a travel related post. Bill has been using a new gadget to help him sleep better. I thought it was kind of cool, so I decided to write a post for my other blog about it, since it kind of pertains to our home life and the device comes from London. You can click here if you want to read that and head us talk on a video. Otherwise, I will move on to the topic of the day, which is dog grooming.

A few days ago, I made a music video honoring Ronnie Spector. I wasn’t a big Ronnie Spector fan. In fact, I didn’t really know who she was until 1986, when I was a high school freshman, and she sang with Eddie Money on his hit, “Take Me Home Tonight.” I actually got pretty tired of that song when it was popular, but now it makes me feel nostalgic. And it occurred to me that Ronnie Spector was a very talented performer who probably didn’t get the respect she deserved… especially from her ex husband, Phil Spector. I will have to read her memoirs and get more of the scoop on that, and the rest of her career.

Actually, this very sweet video probably led me to the stray dog video…

Because I made that video, as well as the one I made for yesterday’s travel blog/gadget review, I somehow also ended up also watching a video showing a stray dog in Serbia being rescued, rehabilitated, and adopted. Noyzi and Arran watched with me, and were really enjoying the video. Noyzi was especially excited by it and actually tried to bump noses with the shaggy, rescued dog named Albert who was adopted by a Danish diplomat.

A very sweet video about a dog who found love off the streets, which led me to Rover’s Makeover.

One thing led to another, and next thing I knew, I had found Rover’s Makeover Dog Grooming’s channel… And that pretty much did it for the rest of our Sunday. Before I knew it, I had spent hours watching this Oklahoma lady named Marybeth shearing, shaving, and clipping the masses of stinky matted hair off of a bunch of long haired dogs. Marybeth says she does free jobs for some animals who desperately need to be groomed. The free jobs, naturally, tend to be a lot of work. Some of her videos run for a couple of hours. Much to my surprise, I watched several of them from start to finish. Because of that, I never got to my big computer to write anything. My travel blog post was written on my laptop as I watched Marybeth transform mangy mongrels into much happier, healthier pets.

This was the first video I watched. I was hooked pretty quickly.

I used to clip my dog, Rhonda, when I was a kid. She was a cocker spaniel/English setter mix, and she had long hair that would mat if we didn’t brush her a lot. Rhonda never got nearly as bad as some of the dogs on the videos Marybeth posts. My mom later found a groomer who took care of Rhonda’s grooming needs after my dad shaved her all over and made her look embarrassingly bad. Dad seemed to think Rhonda was like the sheep of his youth that he had to shear for his dad. He had no eye for the aesthetic when it came to grooming our poor pet… Rhonda might as well have been a fellow Air Force recruit, getting shaved before basic training!

As a teenager, I also spent hours grooming my horse, Rusty, trimming his whiskers, bathing him, feeding him supplements, and making him shine like a new penny before our big state horse show every year. But while it was satisfying cleaning up Rusty for the show ring, he was never so unkempt that he literally smiled at me after a clip and a bath.

And at the beginning of the pandemic, I had a go at cutting Bill’s hair with trimmers. I did a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself. He never looked any more ridiculous than he usually does, anyway. But Bill doesn’t have matted hair.

Some of the dogs Marybeth grooms are so neglected that they can’t even stand properly. They have matted hair on their paws that force them to stand in an odd way, and cause their toenails to grow straight out instead of curved.

These dogs often smell pretty terrible, too, which makes people less likely to want to pet them.
This little sweetheart was in heat. Marybeth says she doesn’t usually groom dogs who are in heat, but the owners had driven four hours to get to her. Apparently, none of the local groomers would do the job.

While I can imagine this work is very physically demanding and often unpleasant, there must be so much satisfaction when Marybeth sees how much better the dogs look when she’s finished. In many cases, they can literally see better, stand and walk better, and no longer have to endure the heat and pain of hair that has pulled so tightly into mats and turned into a thick cloak. Remember, she is in Oklahoma, and it gets HOT there. I couldn’t help but share in the celebration, watching these animals transformed in a matter of hours.

Phew! This little cutie is smiling now!

Marybeth did mention that sometimes, people do dirty things, though… like ditch their animals with her. At the same time, she cautions her viewers not to judge the owners. Sometimes the “owners” are just people who found a badly neglected dog somewhere and rescued them from the street. Sometimes, the owners don’t have the money to groom their dogs properly, but they still love them.

When it comes down to, you just never know what someone’s personal situation is. Sometimes people take on pets when their health or finances are good, only to go through a severe financial or health setback that makes it impossible to take care of their pets properly. I have also noticed that people tend to be very judgmental when it comes to pets. I think sometimes the kindest thing someone can do for an animal is rehome them– to see that they go to a home where they can get the right care and attention. People will often judge others for doing that, too.

I’m just glad to see Marybeth doing this work for the animals. I can tell it’s a labor of love for her. She’s endlessly patient with the dogs, and so many of them seem to be much happier when she’s finished taking care of them. I’m sure their owners are happy, too.

YouTube is a treasure trove of talent. I’ve found so many YouTube channels with original content that offer fascinating glimpses into people’s lives. I follow so many content creators now, some of whom have been able to turn their channels into full time jobs. I have a very modest channel myself, which I mainly use as a supplement to my blogs and a place to put my musical pursuits. If I weren’t so camera shy, maybe I would make a video showing my face, too. Bill and I have talked about it. He’s as camera shy as I am, though. We would probably do a podcast where we don’t have to be camera ready.

Someone on RfM listened to my tribute to Ronnie Spector and said it led her to watch other videos. She said she found other musicians who never got the attention they deserved… and that just made me realize that for every famous person who has made it big with their talents, there are probably dozens more who are equally or even more talented and flew under the radar. The Internet makes it possible for some of those people to be discovered on YouTube or wherever else. In that sense, the Internet is truly awesome. Of course, it can also be the source of much drama and pain… but that’s a discussion for another post.

Anyway… I am glad I discovered Marybeth and her channel yesterday. Those dogs are so lucky to have her. I know she works very hard at what she does, but the results are so satisfying on so many levels. I know the dogs feel better; Marybeth can see the results of her work; and as a viewer, I can see the transformation right before my eyes, even if it takes two hours or more. Seriously… I can’t believe I watched as much as I did yesterday. I was glued to the channel.

I also got a couple of other chores done. I changed the strings on my guitar, which was easier than it was the last time I did it. I also ordered new lamps for our bedroom, because when I picked up my lamp for dusting yesterday, the base of it fell out without any warning. I bought those lamps with Epinions income share money when we lived in Georgia, about twelve years ago. They have served us well, but it’s probably time for new lamps, even if they are going to be 220 voltage.

Today, we are expecting a delivery of heating oil, which is always fun. Maybe after I practice guitar, I’ll go watch another grooming video. I actually caught myself thinking I might not mind doing that for a living… but then I remembered that I have a sore back that would probably not tolerate that work for long. So I guess I’ll just be content to watch Marybeth work and do great things for dogs in need as she educates thousands of viewers like me.

Edited to add: there is also an update on Leon the Lobster. His “dad” also got a sponsorship to help pay for Leon’s new home.

Leon is lucky, I guess.

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News, social media, YouTube

Big revelations in 2022…

Today’s featured photo kind of spells out how I feel about getting older…

This year is only 15 days old, but some people have already experienced, or at least revealed, some major life changes. And since they are people I know online, I’ve shared in their big news, if only in a small way.

This week, especially, has been one of jaw dropping revelations for some of my friends. Or, maybe it’s more revelatory to my friends’ friends, rather than themselves. I suspect that my friends who have been dropping some truths this week have known for quite some time about their personal bombshells.

Out of respect for my friends’ privacy, I don’t want to be too specific about their big news stories, since none of their tales are mine to tell. I guess this post is more about my reaction to their news… and how it makes me reflect on how things have changed so much. It wasn’t so long ago that I felt like the world hadn’t evolved that much from, say, 1990 until now. But now I realize that it really has become a totally foreign place on so many levels.

There was a time not so long ago when big news would spread via letter to one person, or by telephone, in a newspaper, or maybe word of mouth. As technology evolved, we’d hear news on the radio, or TV, and then eventually cable TV, which had news 24/7 on channels like CNN. Today, we get news from the Internet– especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

All three of my friends shared their personal news in Facebook posts. All three “stories” are a very big deal. I’m talking major life changes and, in all three cases, their very identities are evolving into something very different and potentially scary and exciting. I suspect at least two of the three people will lose some friends over their news, or even some family members who can’t cope with the massive paradigm shifts they will experience in the near future.

These three people are people I know on varying levels, both personal and professional. One of my “friends” undergoing a major life change is someone I don’t know especially well offline. We have been in each other’s physical presence a couple of times, but not recently. The other two people are genuine offline friends with whom I also had a professional relationship. One was someone I hired, and the other is someone who hired me. I haven’t seen either of them in person in a long time, either. Geography plays a big part in these circumstances, of course.

Not twenty years ago, I would not be privy to any of the really big news my friends are sharing. For instance, it would have been unthinkable in the year 2002 that I would find out about major life changes from people with whom I didn’t at least have a casual offline relationship. And yet, all three of these people have shared their news with me. I don’t mind that, per se, since I like them. But there was a time, not long ago, when I know that I never would have heard their big news, simply because I’m not that close to them.

Back in 2002, I certainly wouldn’t have found out, say, about a former acquaintance’s new addition to her family, which I only discovered this morning because she still shows up in comments she made in my Facebook memories, when we still regularly “e-versed”. This was someone I did meet offline a few times, and we had a cordial relationship, although I could tell we weren’t really clicking… or, should I say, “clique-ing”– as she was still in a clique that I had left.

Sometime last year, this person finally unfriended me on Facebook. I suspect it’s because we somehow never meshed, and we don’t have much in common, other than having both lived abroad in military communities. I got the sense that she found me annoying, and if I’m honest, I could probably say the same about her.

Nevertheless, I was still initially a little sad about losing a “friend”, but then I mostly forgot about her, since we weren’t that close to begin with. I was suddenly reminded of her again this morning, when I inadvertently saw her current profile photo. It reveals a very prominent baby bump. I’m sure she’s a mother of two by now, and I wish her well. But it still struck me as odd that I now know about this big news, even though we don’t “talk” anymore, and I hadn’t sought out news about her. And it made me realize how social media really has altered so much about what was once “normal”.

Now, we can communicate with literally anyone in the world who is on the Internet, sometimes even when we’d really rather not. Even if they aren’t on the Internet, like my mom, I can still use the Internet to call her phone. I talked to my mom the other day and she said my sister had shown her my Facebook profile picture. Mom commented that she thought I looked “beautiful”. It is a pretty nice photo, if I do say so myself. I had put on a dress, fixed my hair, and put on makeup. Mom lamented that she didn’t have any recent photos of me. We haven’t seen each other since 2015. I said, if she would just learn basic Internet skills, she could see and talk to me whenever she wants. But she won’t do it, as she’s 83 years old, and doesn’t want the Internet to invade her life. Maybe she’s smarter than I am for that, although I don’t think I could function without it as a middle aged person.

I can even find out about stuff I don’t even want to know about… information that I never sought and even find kind of hurtful. For example, back in 2013, a woman I know from my hometown sent me an email about my former “best” friend, who had had a baby and gotten her baby baptized in the church I had attended as a child. This “friend” was someone I once felt very close to, and knew very well. We spent so much time together when we were growing up. But, friends sometimes grow apart, and in the case of this friend, I realized that our “friendship” had become quite toxic.

When my church lady friend had sent me that email, I realized that my ex friend was still Facebook friends with me, but had restricted my access to her page. She, on the other hand, could freely stalk my page all she wanted. I hadn’t noticed that I was restricted, because I had quit talking to her a long time ago, mainly because I usually felt really bad about myself after our online conversations and had decided to withdraw. Then, a mutual friend dropped the bomb on me via email.

There I was, reeling from learning that my so-called, long time “best” friend from childhood had hidden the news from me that she’d had a baby. I told Bill, who then said that this “friend” had behaved very inappropriately toward him at our wedding rehearsal. It was at that point that I blocked her on social media, but even after blocking her, I still found out stuff… from mutual friends, the church lady (who was bewildered that my friend and I had a falling out), and yes, from Facebook memories.

Nowadays, Facebook memories allows users to omit memories from people they don’t want to remember, but that was not an option until somewhat recently. And, at this point, I no longer care if I hear about her or see her on social media. I even unblocked her, because in her case, I simply don’t care anymore. But I cared a few years ago… when the pain was still fresh in my mind. I wasn’t surprised by what she’d done, since I knew she’d done something similar to her ex boyfriend. I might have even excused her by not sharing her baby news. However, when Bill finally told me what she did at our wedding, that was when I really felt hurt, betrayed, and angry, and decided not to have anything to do with her anymore.

In each of the cases of the three people who shared big news with me, and all of the rest of their friends this week, all I feel is love and compassion. As I mentioned before, these are very big life changes they’re dealing with. I also feel great compassion to the people who are close to them in their personal lives, because the life changing news they shared doesn’t just affect them. In some ways, I think the people who didn’t make the big announcements, but are, nevertheless, very much affected by the news, will need all of the hope, prayers, faith, and thoughts they can get.

At the same time, I’m still somewhat amazed that I got their news. I hardly feel worthy to know of it… well, except in the cases of two of the three people, who are both people I still talk to somewhat regularly, and both of whom helped change my life for the better. In one case, I really didn’t have to know… but in the other case, I obviously would know, because their big news literally changes their identity in some very major ways. Like– I could not be friends with this person anymore and not eventually know their news.

I’m sorry if this post is confusing and weird. It’s really weird for me, too. I would like to be more specific… but I just don’t feel comfortable in sharing more at this point. And if I ever do share more, it will probably be later, perhaps in a protected post… when I’ve gotten more used to the idea. And also, it reminds me of the very interesting turns my life has taken and people I’ve either met, or know of somehow… and how sometimes, they share their big revelations with me, whether or not they meant to share their news that broadly.

Social media has made things strange in so many ways… but it’s also allowed us all to meet and get to know people we otherwise never would, and that’s not such a bad thing. Hell, I’ve “met” some interesting people just by writing this blog and occasionally attracting regular commenters. I’m kind of glad I haven’t hit “the big time” like some people have, since not being popular makes it possible for me to get to know people.

This morning, I was watching Fundie Fridays’ most recent video about Kirk and Candace Cameron, and Jen, who runs the channel with her boyfriend, James, mentioned that she was sorry she couldn’t respond to the many emails and private messages she gets. That channel has exploded in popularity, so now she literally can’t keep up with all of the correspondence. On one hand, I think it’s awesome that she’s so successful. But on another hand, there is a definite trade off, isn’t there? Anyway… I do recommend her latest video, especially if you’re as old as I am and remember when Kirk was a “teen idol”. Now he’s just a middle aged twerp who apparently thinks he’s better than you and I are because he’s the right kind of “Christian”.

Jen should do stand up. She’s hilarious.

Anyway… it’s just crazy to me how things are in 2022, and that I can find out “big news” about people, even if I don’t go looking for it. I never envisioned life would be like this back when I was younger. I’m actually delighted that I grew up in a time when people weren’t always online. And I am very glad that I didn’t have to go to school during the age of the Internet. However, I am happy that I can stay in touch with some people and meet people via the ‘net, even if there are some folks I’d like to be able to ghost the old fashioned way. And I’m sure some of them would like to lose touch with me, too…

Well, I think I’ll get back to my latest book, so I can post a new book review. My book reviews aren’t usually all that controversial, except for some of the subject matter I cover. Hope everyone has better weather than we do over here in foggy, damp, chilly Germany. And I hope all of the news you get this week is good news.

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celebrities, mental health, modern problems, psychology

Repost: Depression is not the “common cold” of mental illness…

I wrote the post below on June 9, 2018, when we were blissfully ignorant of the oncoming pandemic and all of the other shit that has happened in the past few years. I’m going to leave this post mostly as/is. I still feel this way in 2022, and I think that now, more than ever, we should be very careful about blowing off people who seem depressed.

This week, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, two much beloved, highly successful, incredibly talented people, suddenly decided to end their lives.  The news of both suicides came as a total shock to me.  I was especially blown away when I heard about Bourdain.

There’s a trite saying that depression is the “common cold” of mental illness.  I usually cringe when I hear that, though, because most people don’t die of the common cold, which can cause temporary misery, but usually goes away without any lingering effects.  Depression can be serious enough to cause death.  When depression is a factor, I don’t think of suicide as someone selfishly taking their own lives.  I think of it as a terminal event, much like people who have cancer or diabetes have terminal events that kill them.  What’s more, depression can go on for many years unabated.  It doesn’t necessarily clear up in a week or two like a cold does.

At this point, I don’t know why Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  Kate Spade’s husband has publicly come out to say that his wife had struggled with depression for many years.  Maybe Anthony Bourdain was also depressed.  I hesitate to assume I know why Bourdain decided to end his life.  The truth is, at this point, I really don’t know.  Most likely, he also suffered from the so-called “common cold” of mental illness.  Except depression is not really like the common cold at all.  

When Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014, many people were angry and outraged.  Initially, it was said that he’d had terrible depression, and he most assuredly did.  Many people felt he was simply weak and gutless for taking his life.  Then, some weeks later, it came out that Williams had been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia.  A lot of people don’t know anything about Lewy Body Dementia.  It’s not one of those diseases that gets a prominent face in the media.

My father had Lewy Body Dementia with Parkinsonian features.  I watched it take him from being an independent man with a sharp mind and a strong body, to a frail shadow of himself.  My dad was in his 70s when he was diagnosed with it.  It was devastating for him and for my mom, who spent at least six years taking care of him.  In the weeks before his death in July 2014, he was getting so debilitated that my mom was considering putting him in a nursing home.  It was becoming too hard for her to take care of him, even with the home health aides she had helping her.

Robin Williams was 63 when he died and, according to his wife, his case of LBD was very severe.  Although Williams died by his own hand, it was really the LBD, co-morbid with depression, that killed him.  Perhaps Bourdain was also facing a health situation that led him to kill himself.  Or maybe not.  Maybe he was just very depressed and simply decided that living was too painful.  I don’t know.  I actually couldn’t blame him in any event.  I have no idea what he was dealing with in his personal life and could never fully understand it even if I did.

I read that Bourdain died in Kaysersberg, France.  Bill and I were in Alsace two weeks ago and had made tentative plans to visit that town while we were there.  We didn’t end up going, but resolved to visit on a later trip to France. (2022- We did finally visit Kaysersberg two years ago, months before COVID took over the world).  It’s strange to think that this man, whose innovative food and travel journalism I only recently discovered, was just a mere two hours away from me when he died.  The area where Bourdain exited this existence is absolutely beautiful.  Given that he had very French roots, it almost seems fitting that he chose to die in France, even if I’m sorry it happened the way it did.

I only recently– like within the past three weeks– started watching Bourdain’s show, Parts Unknown.  I started watching it because Bourdain had visited Armenia and I was curious about what he thought of it.  I was so impressed by the show he did on a country where I spent two years of my life.  My years in Armenia were pretty difficult.  In fact, my own issues with depression worsened significantly when I was there.  However, twenty-one years beyond my time in Armenia has left me with mostly good memories.  I don’t think as much about the profound feelings of worthlessness I experienced there… and so many years hence, I realize that my time there was not at all wasted.  It only seemed that way at the time, partly due to my life inexperience and partly due to the distorted thinking that comes from being depressed.

One thing I’ve noticed all week is that some people are sharing their own stories about depression.  Other people are imploring their friends and loved ones to “reach out” if they feel suicidal.  Many people are also sharing the suicide hotline.  I’m going to be frank and say that the repeated posts about the suicide hotline kind of get on my nerves.  It’s not because I don’t think people should know about and use the hotline.  It’s more because simply sharing that phone number is about as effective as offering “thoughts and prayers”.  Besides, not everyone who is depressed actually realizes they are depressed.  I didn’t know I was depressed until it had been going on for years.

Clinical depression causes a host of symptoms that make “reaching out” extremely difficult.  Depression robs people of their self-esteem and energy.  You might encourage your withdrawn friends to “reach out” and remind them that you’re always there to listen.  But in the mind of a depressed person, you’re not really talking to them.  Even if you were specifically talking to them, reaching out takes energy and courage.  And sometimes people say they want their friends to reach out, but then they aren’t actually available or interested.

Sometimes, instead of really listening and empathizing, well-meaning people try to cheer up their depressed friend by telling them about all the “good” things they have.  Personally, I think telling someone who is depressed and anxious to “buck up” and “get over it” is pretty much the worst thing you can do.  It’s very likely to backfire.  Someone who musters the courage to reach out, especially to someone who has encouraged them to do so, does NOT need to hear about all the apparently awesome things they have to live for.

Please don’t tell your depressed friend that they are being selfish, overly dramatic, or self-centered, either.  Shaming doesn’t help.  It only makes things worse.

What many depressed people really need is someone who listens to what they have to say and assists them in finding their way to a person who is qualified to help them.  Listen to your friend without interrupting.  When they tell you what’s on their mind, say something that validates their feelings and indicates that you understand that they need help.  You could say something like, “It sounds like you’re very overwhelmed right now.”  If you can’t help them yourself, you could say,  “Let’s find someone who can help you with these problems.”  That’s certainly better than, “I can’t believe you’re depressed.  Look at all this cool shit you have!  I’d kill to live in your house with your hot wife (or husband, as the case might be).”

On the surface, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain had everything to live for.  They were both very successful in their careers.  Both were parents of young daughters.  Both had achieved financial success and had friends who adored them.  They were adored by strangers, too.  Still, somehow they both still made the decision to commit suicide.  They aren’t alone.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is on the rise in the United States.  Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain no doubt had access to medical help that too many people in the United States don’t have, yet they still died by suicide.  Common colds don’t usually end that way, at least not in people who are basically healthy.    

I may have to watch more of Bourdain’s shows.  I’ll have to read at least one of his books.  He left behind so many gifts. Although he died by his own hand, and some people think that was selfish of him, I think he was a very generous person to share his talents with the world.  While I don’t own any of Kate Spade’s quirky creations, I’ve seen a lot of pictures of handbags my friends own.  They’ve been sharing those pictures all week, letting everyone know that Kate Spade mattered to them.  Sadly, when you have depression, you don’t notice that you matter to others… and when they tell you that you do matter, you don’t necessarily believe what they say.  Depression is a major mind fuck.  It’s really nothing like a cold.  And getting over it takes time, effort, money, and the ability to give a damn.

ETA in 2022: Fellow blogger and frequent commenter Alexis wrote this on the original post…

It’s interesting that you mentioned the “common cold of mental illness” analogy. A psychiatrist lecturer I heard in my second year disputed that analogy, saying that if a physical illness metaphor were needed or in any way beneficial, that depression would more correctly be described as “the ‘lupus’ of mental illness.” As with lupus, some people with depression mostly manage to function with medication. Others are never well but aren’t quite terminal. Others with either lupus or depression will lose their lives to the conditions. Depression is far from being a mostly self-limiting condition.

I had read another person refer to depression as the “diabetes” of mental illness. That also seems more like a realistic comparison of depression to a physical illness than a cold. At least if it’s clinical depression and not a situational depression.

Another commenter– DaBrickMaster– wrote this…

Depression should not be underestimated by any means, and it’s hard for someone who has never experienced it to understand. I went through a depression that slowly crept up on me several years ago, and it felt like I was trapped in an unescapable despair that I just wanted to end. I’m thankful for my parents and doctors who were there to support me to successfully get me out.

I realize now that many people out there aren’t so fortunate, and I just can’t imagine how one can get out of depression on your own. So if someone is stuck in a rut, I won’t hesitate to be there and help out.

Thanks for sharing this post, @knotty, and I’m terribly sorry that you and your family had to suffer from depression and LBD. They are most definitely NOT like a common cold.

And this was my response…

Thanks for the comment and for reading. I’m grateful I got through my depression and I’m happy that you got through yours. I think a lot of people just don’t understand it unless they’ve experienced it. The thing that made me realize that depression is a real illness was the process of feeling better and the rational thinking and mental clarity I finally had. It was like someone turned on a light.

I still have my blue days, but nothing so far like what I experienced twenty years ago. I hope I never feel like that again.

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Germany, mental health, modern problems, narcissists, YouTube

Is America really as crazy as it looks from over here?

I recently mentioned that I stumbled across a couple of “Karen” channels on YouTube. And, in spite of my disdain for the derogatory hijacking of the name, “Karen”, some of the videos I’ve seen are like train wrecks. I was especially shocked by the video below…

This video actually shows several incidents, but the one that disturbs me the most is the one captured in the still above. It starts at 8:17.

As I was watching this video yesterday, I literally shrank back against the headboard on my bed. I’m disturbed by the sheer vitriol and rage pouring out of these people. Yes, the woman captured above seems angrier than the guy she’s talking to, but both are extremely distressed. I’m surprised this didn’t become a violent confrontation. Below are a few screenshots.

We do have some angry people in Europe, and there have been some unfortunate incidents of violence and rage reported. But it seems so much worse in the United States, especially given how many people own weapons. In fact, as I was watching this, I felt distinctly uncomfortable. I imagined the other people in that neighborhood being forced to listen to, or actually witness in person, this rage filled argument that was filmed and put on YouTube.

Later, I called my mom and we both lamented how crazy things seem lately. I swear, America is not like it was when I was growing up. People are acting like maniacs. I’m sure much of it is due to our political situation and the terrible polarization that has occurred over the past few years. The pandemic, and all of the new rules and restrictions don’t help. People are very stressed out and worried, and it seems like some people feel like the world is about to end.

I really think a lot of this behavior is driven by the pandemic. People resent the rules and restrictions, and the “holier than thou” and “entitled” behaviors that are prompted in response to the pandemic. Some people seem to have a very hard time adapting, and it doesn’t help that there’s all this doom and gloom news. Several of the incidents captured in the above video are about the mask rules and people not wanting to adhere to them.

I watched a video by Dr. Ramani yesterday. It was about “narcissists and transportation rage”– people who are freaking out on airplanes or in airports. She seems to think that the people who act like this are narcissists. I’m sure a lot of them are narcissists, but the sheer volume of people who are acting like this is disturbing. Are they ALL narcissists? Or are they stressed and scared people who have completely lost their ability to cope?

I know that some people are entitled assholes no matter what. But is everyone who is wigging out lately really a narcissist? I think everyone has a limit, and recently, Americans seem to be proving that their tolerances for frustration and adversity are not as high as they should be. On the other hand, life was pretty difficult even before the pandemic.

I remember having to work several part time jobs with no benefits just to get my bills paid. I remember being scared of the day when I couldn’t meet my own financial demands. I don’t even have children to worry about. Consider that so many people my age are dealing with their aging parents and children in college, or maybe they waited until later to have children and had one with “special needs” of some sort.

Those are stressful conditions under normal circumstances. Add in the pandemic and the hassles and fears associated with it, as well as inflation, lack of affordable housing, and the inability to take a vacation without being constantly reminded of the pandemic. Add in the challenges of taking care of younger children when schools close or go to distance learning, while meanwhile, your parents have dementia or require help taking care of their needs. Sometimes people just freak out because it all becomes too much. And then they get filmed and put on YouTube, where people mock them.

In some of these videos, both parties are acting atrociously. It’s obvious some of these people are fed up and stressed out, but some seem to be permanently unhinged and uncivilized.

I realize I am very lucky on so many levels. From where I sit, Germany is not nearly as chaotic as the US is right now. People are sick of the pandemic here, and there’s definitely some grumpiness. But I haven’t seen or heard of nearly as many people losing their shit as I have in the United States. Of course, in Germany, filming people and putting them online can lead to legal problems in a heartbeat. As a general rule, Germans are big on privacy.

My mom is 83 years old and still is pretty good health. She has enough money to take care of her needs, at least at this point. She is happy living alone, although she did say that she is probably going to move closer to my sister in North Carolina within the next year or so. But that’s mainly because the assisted living apartment where she’s lived since 2009 is getting too expensive. There’s another complex near Chapel Hill, where my sister lives, that is less pricey. She said she has to wait for someone to die before she moves. Apparently, there’s a long waiting list.

I know I need to watch some different videos on YouTube to change the algorithms of what ends up on my suggested videos list. I also need to change the algorithms on Facebook. Somehow, I get posts from Reddit Ridiculousness, where people share AITA (Am I The Asshole) posts. These posts usually consist of stories about people in certain situations that cause discomfort and questions about whether or not someone’s behavior ventures into “asshole” territory.

I will admit, some of the stories are pretty entertaining and/or interesting. But it’s hard to gauge whether or not someone is an asshole based only on an Internet anecdote, because you can only judge them by objective standards and whatever details they include in their stories. Not everyone has a way with words, so it can be difficult to get an accurate picture of a situation. You also have different personalities that come into play. Some people are better than others at hiding who they are, and some people have abrasive personalities, but aren’t necessarily assholes.

I know this, because many people assume I’m an asshole because of my many ventings about Ex. They assume she’s a “normal” person. I’m gratified, though, because now younger daughter talks to Bill and confirms that we aren’t the crazy ones. Aside from that, I’ve shared some of Ex’s public postings with a couple of friends, both of whom have expressed shock and dismay. If you don’t know her backstory, you’d never know that a lot of what she posts is a facade to try to look good. But then she’ll slip some things in that don’t go unnoticed by the astute. Like, for instance, her constant thinly veiled Twitter attempts to wangle money from celebrities.

Anyway… it’s been bizarre to sit over here and watch some of this stuff from afar. I am an American, but some of these videos make me feel kind of ashamed of that fact. I love my country, and I know that our people are capable of great things. But lately, it’s like everybody has gone off the deep end. And yes, it does seem worse there than it is here… although I did get flipped off in Austria a couple of months ago by a guy on a bike. I think the guy meant to flip off Bill, who was driving at the time, but I got the full brunt of his middle finger. I will admit that my instinct was to respond in kind. So I guess there is that. I probably wouldn’t have done that in Germany, though. Flipping people off, especially in traffic, is against the law. Why? Because finger gestures almost always make things worse and escalate situations that don’t need to be escalated. So does yelling, preaching, shaming, and flying off the handle. I feel like people all over the whole world, but especially people in the United States, need to take a deep breath.

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dogs, emergencies, home

I went all Granny T last night…

Last night, I was sitting in the dark living room, working on the latest jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly, I heard Bill, and he sounded concerned.

“Arran, come here. You can’t have that nut!” he said.

Arran, who celebrated his ninth anniversary as our devoted family member yesterday, came running into the living room. He was clearly in distress. Bill was grabbing him around the stomach. It looked almost like Arran was choking on something, but I could tell he was breathing.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“He’s got a walnut in his mouth.” Bill said. Apparently, Arran had found an unshelled nut somewhere mysterious, broke it open with his teeth, and half of it was stuck on a molar. The other half, thank God, was in his bed. Walnuts are not really safe foods for dogs for a number of reasons.

“Oh my God!” I said.

Next thing I knew, my fingers were in Arran’s mouth, feeling around for the nut, which I thought was already halfway down his gullet. Vision of his sudden death flashed in my head as my fingers came out of his mouth, unsuccessful. I noticed splotches of blood on his right front paw, which he’d been using to frantically paw at his mouth, trying to get the walnut out.

I reached into his mouth again, determined to get the nut. I felt it stuck on his tooth. Somehow, I managed to grasp it and pull it out. It was all bloody, having cut the fragile gum tissue.

For a few minutes, all three of us were shellshocked by the sudden emergency. Bill had tears in his eyes as he comforted Arran, who was still scared and bewildered. I suddenly had a vision of my grandmother, Granny Tolley, who had a history of saving the day whenever one of her descendants got in trouble. I remember stories of Granny grabbing hatchets to kill snakes or break kids out of locked bathrooms. Granny died in July 2007, about six weeks shy of her 101st birthday. She was a tough lady.

After a few minutes, we were all a bit calmer, and Arran was back to sniffing the kitchen floor, hoping to find something edible that was dropped. He was perfectly fine within twenty minutes or so, but Bill and I were still a little bit shook up. Arran is about 13 years old, and it looks like he will be the dog who will have the longest tenure with us.

Our dog, Zane, died just a couple of months before what would have been his tenth “gotcha day” anniversary with us. But we got Zane when he was younger, and he had more health problems than Arran has ever had. Zane was a ray of sunshine, but he was fragile, suffering allergies and three years of mast cell tumors before finally succumbing to lymphoma.

I don’t think Arran was in any danger of dying last night, as the walnut wasn’t lodged in his windpipe or throat. But it was definitely a scary situation. I was kind of pleased with myself for jumping in and helping him out. As for how Arran got the walnut, I don’t know… I think he might have found it in the backyard. We lost a tree last weekend, and it’s still lying in the backyard, waiting for better weather and “processing”. I think the tree’s fall has unearthed some stuff.

As for Noyzi… he missed the entire drama. He usually hangs out in his bed upstairs in the evenings, except when we’re eating. Even then, he shows up fashionably late, sometimes even after we’ve already finished eating. He goes outside, does a few frenetic poop runs, tends to business, drinks a shitload of water, then puts himself to bed. Lately, Noyzi has had some pretty disgusting diarrhea, so that’s been fun… especially with the muddy backyard. I’ve been giving him pumpkin to help bind his poop.

As I write this, both dogs have come into the office, begging for attention and a walk. It’s cloudy outside and I’m a little depressed. I’m tempted to stay in my cocoon… but I guess it would do us all good to take a walk and get some air. Maybe it will motivate me to do my much hated Thursday chore of vacuuming, and pick up my guitar for some practice.

Last week, I was inspired to record my version of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” It turned out nicely, although it doesn’t have many hits. On that video, I used a lot of pictures of my dogs, who keep me sane. I noticed the YouTube guy I’ve been doing collaborations with did a version of the same song a few hours ago. I guess he was inspired.

Sometimes I feel like my dogs are my only real friends. I’m sure glad Bill and I were able to dislodge that walnut before Arran got really hurt. I’d like to keep Arran around for as long as possible. He’s such a sweet, loving, gentle dog, and he shows us every day how much he loves us. We love him right back.

If I get inspired to write again, maybe I’ll be back… but I’m feeling a little depressed today. It might be a day for reading and napping.

ETA: I just vacuumed the house, and when I went downstairs to put the vacuum away, Arran had managed to pull a small bag of treats off the counter and was trying to suck them down. Fortunately, he wasn’t successful. I guess he’s fine. Good thing these dogs are so loving and cute.

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