condescending twatbags, divorce, domestic violence, Ex

Promoting the myth of “one big happy family”…

I’ve been a subscriber of The Atlantic since last year. I do read a lot of the articles. In fact, I read more of The Atlantic than I do a lot of the other periodicals to which I am subscribed. However, over the past year I’ve noticed a few things. First off, a lot of the articles are recycled repeatedly on Facebook. Secondly, they keep nagging me to turn auto-renew on, even though I clearly made a conscious decision to disable it (big surprise– auto-renew is turned on by default). In their emails pleading with me “not to miss an issue”, they point out that they’ll tell me before they charge me, and I always have the choice to disable auto-renew. If that’s the case, why not just let me make that choice for myself and leave me the fuck alone about it? And thirdly, so many of The Atlantic’s articles are incredibly depressing, outright ridiculous, and/or overly and annoyingly “woke”. I’m not sure if I will resubscribe when my current subscription ends next month, but the emails pleading for me to let them automatically take my money are off putting.

Reading The Atlantic the other day kind of led to yesterday’s slow news day on my blog. I kind of had to take a mental health day and just write a book review. I went a little nuts on Tuesday. It started with the cannelloni I decided to make for lunch. I wanted some red wine to go with it, even though I usually try not to imbibe when Bill isn’t home. Well… I started enjoying the wine, then I got online and read an article in The Atlantic. It was another one of Lori Gottlieb’s Dear Therapist columns, dated from June 2019. The piece was entitled “Dear Therapist: I Can’t Stand My Fiancée’s Ex-Husband”. The sub title-explanation was, “He wants to take pictures with her and their daughter like they’re still one happy family—and I want him to stop.” Below is the letter in the article:

Dear Therapist,

I am engaged to be married to a wonderful woman who has a 6-year-old daughter with her ex-husband. They share joint custody. A major contributing factor in her decision to end their marriage was her ex’s controlling nature. Even now, after being divorced for more than two years, he tries to control her life.

One of the ways he tries to do this is by insisting on taking pictures of the three of them at every function where they are all present. First day of school, graduations, etc.—he has to have pictures taken of himself with my fiancée and their daughter as if they are still one big happy family.

Since the divorce, he has gotten engaged as well. I can only assume his fiancée must find these odd “not-a-family pictures” as strange as my fiancée and I do. The sole reason we haven’t shut him down when he insists on them is that we think maybe it is a nice thing for the little girl to have pictures of herself with her mom and dad. But we dread every event when we know he is going to expect this.

Will it do the daughter any harm to stop him the next time he starts insisting on this  awkward situation?

Lori Gottlieb’s advice to the letter writer who can’t stand his fiancee’s ex husband was to cooperate for the sake of the child. She explained that she has had many children of divorce in her office who have lamented about how their parents didn’t get along. She evidently sees nothing wrong with the letter writer’s ex husband insisting on family pictures, even though both his fiancee and the ex husband have found new partners and the fiancee, apparently, doesn’t like the forced picture taking either. I do think the letter writer is pretty classy for realizing that the photos with both parents might be nice for the daughter. Hopefully, it will mean that he doesn’t try to replace his soon to be stepdaughter’s father. Sounds to me like bio dad isn’t about to let that happen. I can’t blame bio dad for that, but I also don’t think bio dad should be pressuring his ex to do something she’s not comfortable with doing, for the sake of pushing a “one big happy family” myth.

Those of you who know me at all, might know that I automatically sympathize with the letter writer. I didn’t even have to read the guy’s letter to sympathize. Ex pulled that “one big happy family” bullshit on Bill, too… I would include myself in that comment, but she never asked or even considered how I would feel about pushing that narrative. And that was just one of MANY reasons why, over 18 years after my wedding day, I still can’t stand her and don’t want to be associated with her. I have very good reasons for not being able to stand her. At the very top of the list is the fact that my husband saw one of his daughters last year for the first time since 2004!

That’s right. She categorically denied Bill visitation for years while she happily took $2550 a month from him for three children– one of whom wasn’t even his kid (she denied eldest son access to his father, too). Early in our marriage, she tried to strong arm Bill into naming her the beneficiary of life insurance policies valuing $1,000,000, even though he was paying her about half his salary in child support and had already provided $500,000 in life insurance coverage to her. She told vicious lies about him (and me) to the children and even tried to turn his own parents against him. She also abused him in ALL ways– mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, sexually… you name it, she probably did it. He still bears the scars from the physical abuse. Through it all, my husband has been extraordinarily classy. To this day, he doesn’t trash talk his ex wife, although he does commiserate with his younger daughter about her. It turns out she treats her kids as badly as she does her husbands.

I, on the other hand, have absolutely no qualms about trash talking Ex. She totally deserves it, and I make no apologies for despising her. But it didn’t start out that way. Back in 2002, when I was blissfully ignorant about her, I imagined myself being kind and patient and understanding toward Ex and the children. I wanted to be a good stepmother, loving to his children and sharing access to him. I didn’t think I’d be friends with Ex, but I thought maybe we could be civil. I really try to be civil to most people unless they give me a good reason not to be. I encouraged Bill to stay involved with his daughters. I hoped and expected he’d visit them and be part of their lives. I hoped and expected I would be part of their lives, too, in whatever way. In those days, I probably would have been among the naive, glibly telling people in step situations that they must always do everything for the child’s sake, no matter what.

But, as some of my more regular readers know, I’ve only met Bill’s daughters once, back in 2003. I had no influence on their lives, because I wasn’t allowed to be part of their lives. I could have seen them at Christmas in 2004, which was when Bill last saw them together. That last meeting was, unfortunately, a trap, although Ex had tried to frame as a way to show the children that we’re “all one big happy family”. After that Christmas, Ex completely cut off access to the children and Bill lost contact with them for years. Yes, he could have tried going to court, and he did speak to a lawyer about doing that. But in those days, he simply didn’t have the money or the time to devote to child custody hearings. After his divorce, Bill was saddled with a bankruptcy and a foreclosure, and with the kids on the other side of the country, there was no way he could fight without courting financial and professional ruin– two conditions that would not have made him look good to a family court judge, anyway. It probably also would have ruined our marriage, because unlike Ex, Bill would have allowed his daughters total access to their mom. And we would have been fighting with her constantly.

As it stands now, only Bill’s younger daughter is speaking to him. We both feel fortunate that this happened– because for a long time, we never thought it would. And, personally, I had also gotten to the point at which I was trying not to care anymore and just wanted them to leave us alone. Of course, now I’m glad younger daughter is in contact with Bill. She’s turned out to be a good person. Older daughter remains estranged and, at this point, I’m beginning to think that’s the way it will always be. Maybe that’s the way it should be.

Bill had told me when we were dating that his ex wife could “rip me to shreds”. I kind of laughed at that… and it didn’t turn out to be true. I never let her get close enough to me to be able to “rip me to shreds.” I’m not afraid of her. I think she’s a pathetic loser, and I am pissed off that she was able to do the damage she’s done and continues to do. I’m truly sorry that she was abused as a child and is mentally ill, but that does NOT give her the right to harm other people And the fact that she has done SO MUCH HARM to SO MANY PEOPLE means that I can’t stand her, and will NOT cooperate with her, EVER. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my stance about Bill’s ex wife. She’s not a good person. Fortunately, the girls are now grown women, and I no longer have to worry about pushing the “one big happy family” myth for their sakes.

Anyway… on Tuesday, as I read that article, I visited the comment section and wrote, “Can’t blame him. There’s a reason they’re exes. I can’t stand my husband’s ex wife, either… actually, that is a massive understatement.”

I knew the reaction to my comment was probably going to be negative. I did immediately get one angry emoji. That person apparently blocked me, too. Oh fucking well.

But then I got this comment from some guy named Steve, who wrote… “but if your husband has kids with her, please encourage and support him in being civil for the sake of the children. Being a stepparent that appears against the children’s mother is going to make everything, including your relationship with the kids, much more difficult and stressful for everyone.”

Oh please. This tired screed again? So I responded to the guy, more aggressively than maybe I should have. I won’t lie. I found his comment pretty offensive and presumptuous. I mean, I guess one could assume that I’m the problem because I flat out stated that I can’t stand my husband’s ex. Not knowing anything about me, maybe I would make a similar assumption. It’s a human thing to do. Still, I just felt this overwhelming urge to speak up for people in my situation. It’s really tiresome when people glibly make suggestions like the one Steve made to me. Why would Steve or anyone else assume that someone who comes second or later is going to automatically be the problem when it comes to fostering relationships between divorced parents and their children? Why would he assume that I can’t stand the ex simply because she’s the ex?

There really is a reason why people become exes… and I don’t blame the letter writer for not liking the forced family photos. Those forced family photos are not a reflection of reality, and the ex husband’s insistence on taking them may, indeed, be due to his control issues. Not knowing the people involved, I can only assume they know each other and the situation better than any reader ever could. And while Lori Gottlieb does write that oftentimes, when she speaks to couples, she finds that both parties are equally to blame for problems in a relationship, there are also a lot of situations in which one partner really is a control freak or a narcissistic abuser. The ex insisting on something like taking family photos may seem very minor, in the grand scheme of things, but that might be part of a much larger issue that led to the couple’s split. In any case, I think the fiancee should have the right to veto the photos if she wants to, and no one should judge her for that. The letter writer should be supportive and understanding, no matter what his fiancee chooses to do.

I also agree that divorced couples with children should do their best to work together whenever possible. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to be civilized and occasionally “take one for the team”. But when people split up, they should not be expected to promote a false “happy family” image for the child’s sake. If they can do so realistically, that’s one thing. But it sounds like in the letter writer’s situation, at least two of the adults aren’t comfortable with promoting the charade. Their opinions should be respected, too.

Perhaps against my better judgement, I ended up explaining some of my situation to Steve. I’ll admit, my responses were pretty angry– remember, I’m currently lonely, stressed out, and at that point, had been drinking wine. Steve’s off the cuff “advice” had made me angry, because it’s the kind of useless shit I’ve been hearing for years. I’m tired of people assuming I’m the problem, simply because I’m not the mom and I happened to come second. I would have been delighted to have worked with my husband’s ex wife, if she had been similarly willing to cooperate. Unfortunately, that was not how the situation was when the girls were minors. She’s still spinning tales, and taking advantage of anyone who allows her to, and apparently, getting away with it… although younger daughter, at least, has figured her out and doesn’t want her near her children.

When I responded to Steve, I was thinking of the letter writer, as well as all of the other people I know who are in this very same boat. I know my personal story is probably kind of extraordinary. Most people’s exes aren’t as horrifying as Bill’s ex wife is. Most people are in a position to be able to enforce visitation rights, at the very least. Or their exes realize that by denying their children access to their natural parent (as long as there isn’t a damned good reason for them NOT to be), they are hurting the children. On the other hand, I do know some people who are dealing with truly awful, manipulative, controlling, abusive exes… and the people– especially the women– who subsequently get involved with them often end up being labeled as “wicked”, “homewrecker”, or “obstructive”, or they have to endure rude assumptions and questions like “Are you the reason they got divorced?”

Steve and I went back and forth a few times. He turned out to be a pretty okay guy, and I even ended up thanking him, because in the end, he was ultimately understanding and kind. And now that I’m reading my responses to him, sans wine, I realize that I was a bit triggered and, perhaps, more hostile than I should have been. The truth is, things are pretty stressful right now. Bill is on an extended TDY, so I don’t have anyone to talk to, other than online. This isn’t the first time I’ve spent weeks alone, but doing this routine during a pandemic, in a foreign country, and after having been “locked down” for months, is very trying.

I do know things could be worse. Bill is not in a war zone with a narcissist; he isn’t regularly fighting with his ex wife; we are both healthy; and we have plenty of money to pay our bills. I know there are many people out there who would laugh at me and tell me to get over myself. But even though I know things aren’t really that bad and have historically been worse, that doesn’t change the fact that the other day, it was like I’d run into a perfect storm of triggers that got me pretty wound up. The truth is, I kind of exploded… then imploded.

I ended up going to bed early on Tuesday, after a tense and very brief– and incoherent– chat with Bill. We had a much better chat last night and I apologized for the state I was in on Tuesday. He was understanding, as usual, reminding me that this is a “stressful time”. And it is… the boredom, loneliness, and hopelessness of the past fourteen months have taken their toll. It doesn’t help that my husband, who is half vaccinated, is on yet another business trip lasting weeks. I feel like we’re separated. There is a light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, though. In a few weeks, we’ll both be fully vaccinated, and it looks like the TDYs from hell may be over for awhile. And maybe we can do something enjoyable and spend some money on a trip somewhere. Hope springs eternal.

Anyway… I know I should avoid comment sections for the sake of my blood pressure and mental health. But, if I didn’t read comments, I probably wouldn’t have enough material to blog every day. Other people’s reactions and perceptions can make for fertile content mining. I also know that there are people out there who were glad I spoke up about that fake “one big happy family” falsehood. For a lot of us in these step relationships, that just isn’t reality… and I don’t think we do good when we try to present it that way.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, psychology, rants

Don’t laugh at me…

Back in 2004 or so, there was a show that used to air on ABC Family, or a similar network, that I used to watch on occasion. It was a “feel good” show called Home Delivery. The show’s formula was basically about people with hard luck stories having their dreams come true. The show featured several attractive hosts who would cover the story and be there to present the fairy godmother treatment to the lucky person with a compelling sob story. I remember Home Delivery to be kind of an annoying and cloying show that appealed to hitting people in the feels. I would watch it because, frankly, I didn’t have anything better to do.

Home Delivery…

I remember one episode was about a young woman who had “severe appearance deficits”, as George Carlin might have joked. I don’t remember what the exact issues with her physical appearance were, but they were obvious and she dealt with a lot of mean behavior from others because of it. I think they may have been caused by a medical problem. In any case, I remember she loved the song “Don’t Laugh at Me” by country singer Mark Wills. I had never heard the song before I watched that episode, but I remembered Wills’ song, “I Do (Cherish You)” from a wedding at which I performed (not that song– it was played at the reception). Alas, the marriage didn’t last, and the bride has since wed twice more, though I did catch her bouquet and was married myself a couple of years later.

There’s a lot of truth to this song and many of us can relate to it…

I am one of those folks people love to laugh at, which is probably why I have such a wicked looking resting bitch face. I’ve spent many years being ridiculed, particularly by so-called loved ones. I think that may be why I developed a sharp wit… or so people have told me, anyway. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t very quick with my words. I have an older sister who used to make me cry all the time because she would belittle me. This sister, like several others in my family, is also very witty and funny, although I think she has a tendency to be kind of mean. One time, when we were on somewhat good terms, I asked her how she got to be so quick with put downs. She told me that she’d learned from an early age to cut people down before they cut her down. It got to the point at which she would slay people with a clever barb before they knew what hit them.

I noticed that another one of my sisters also has this trait. She can be deadly with her words when she wants to be, although I don’t think she’s quite as quick witted as my other sister is. The eldest sister is above everything and not particularly funny… except for the rumor that she’s somehow morphed into a Trump supporter. I feel like she’s a victim of body snatchers! This sister, like me, was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She also has a doctorate in public health, speaks several languages, and was a ballerina for years. But she’s drunk the Republican Kool-Aid. I feel like we switched places. I used to be more conservative and she was more liberal. Now, the opposite is true. I blame my brother-in-law.

That song by Mark Wills popped into my head last night. I was reading a story about how over the past COVID-19 year, people have become extremely unruly on airplanes. I think I read that in the ten years prior to the pandemic, the FAA had dealt with some 1300 complaints total. And over the past year, with the new rules and face mask mandates, there’s been a lot of rebellion. According to that article, they’ve had 1300 complaints and counting– just since FEBRUARY.

As usual, commenters were all clamoring about how we should show no mercy to the rule flouters. Throw the book at them and toss ’em in jail! Zero tolerance! Let ’em rot with the child molesters and murderers! I understand the outrage and the sentiment, but I wish people would stop for a moment and think about what they’re suggesting.

I happen to believe that jail is an overrated punishment that is mostly ineffective at best. So I commented something along the lines of “Jail isn’t the best punishment for every crime.” That’s all I wrote. I didn’t write anything about not punishing offenders. I didn’t even express any sympathy for the rule breakers, although I can kind of understand why some of them cracked. I just wrote that I don’t think putting people in jail is the best way to handle the problem.

Do you know that at last count (because I quit looking), there were at least five laughing responses to my comment? I don’t know what was so funny about it. It was a simple statement, and like I said, it’s not like I expressed a wish for the misbehaving people not to be held accountable. I just think putting people in jail for every single offense is wrong-headed and does more harm than good, particularly in a pandemic. And, perhaps because I’m extremely irritable and stressed out right now, I lashed back at a few people who decided they needed to school me with lengthy diatribes about why we can’t let the rule breakers “run roughshod”.

The first response I got was a comment about how we should just execute people so they won’t reoffend. That response was stupid, and I said so (note– I didn’t “laugh” at the guy or call HIM stupid). The next two were from women who both kind of gave off an extremely shrill and neurotic vibe. I wanted to tell them to calm down and hear me out, rather than “laughing” at me and verbally vomiting the same tired script we’ve been hearing all year about how to deal with pandemic rule breakers.

To the first commenter, I wrote that I never said we should let the rule breakers go unpunished. I said that jail isn’t the most effective way to deal with people who break the rules. The lady had said the rule flouters would “learn a lesson”, but I think if she did her research about recidivism, she’d find that a lot of people who go to jail end up reoffending. Moreover, jail sentences don’t just affect the offender. They can have a bad effect on society as a whole. Locking up people costs money to taxpayers, and makes it more difficult for the offender to support themselves and their families. A jail experience can have a devastating psychological or even physical effect on a person… or it can have no effect at all. Again, plenty of people who do time end up going back to jail.

To the second one, whose fingers pretty much vomited out the same shrill diatribe as the first commenter’s, I wrote something along the lines of “Americans are much too wedded to the idea that we have to jail everyone who does something wrong. Consequently, we have many, many incarcerated people who are being guarded by folks who, frankly, often aren’t a lot better than they are.” Then I added that it seems to me that if controlling the pandemic is a concern, locking potentially unvaccinated people up in a crowded jail is not the best approach to fixing the problem. Then I added a comment about how it’s sad that people “laugh” at anyone who isn’t parroting the same crap in the comment sections rather than taking a moment to consider if what they’ve said makes any sense. I ended by wishing them all a good day. A couple of people “liked” that comment.

I don’t know… maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the vast majority of people aren’t thinkers. People have a knee jerk response to so many issues. Someone does something wrong? JAIL THEM! Lock ’em up and throw away the key! Let ’em ROT! To be sure, prisons and jails do serve a purpose. I think they are mostly valuable for keeping society safe from dangerous offenders, although some people who commit egregious, but non-violent, crimes probably should go to prison, too. But not everyone needs to be locked up to be taught a valuable lesson. Maybe it’s my time living in Europe that has made me feel this way, but I really do think Americans are way too enamored with the idea of throwing people away in barred warehouses. It’s sad, ineffective, and inhumane.

Empathy is a two way street. You can’t expect people to have empathy for your situation if your rabid response to them, and their concerns, is to simply lock them up and hope they rot in prison. Jail is not necessarily the best place for people to learn empathy… although I suppose it can and does happen sometimes.

Why are so many people freaking out now, because of the “strip of cloth” they are being asked to wear across their nose and mouth? Well… I think it’s because a lot of them are tired of being told that the “strip of cloth” is not a big deal. Clearly, it IS a big deal to a lot of people. Folks who would have never caused a problem on an airplane prior to the year 2020 are now acting crazy, rebelling, assaulting and cursing at flight attendants, and behaving completely out of character. I think it’s time that we acknowledged that forcing people to wear face masks for hours on end is a problem, and it’s not a sustainable practice. A more acceptable solution must be found and implemented, or these kinds of outbursts will continue. The FAA can keep fining and banning people for life from airplanes, and we can keep throwing the offenders in jail, but eventually that will cost the airline industry, and society as a whole, money that we can’t really afford to lose. Moreover, the job of enforcing the mask wearing will continue to suck and airlines will have trouble finding people to work on their planes.

I’ve found that trying to explain this concept to people is very difficult. I generally don’t try to do that in comment sections anymore, because people have become very rigid in their thinking. And they are quick to “laugh” at anyone who thinks or dares to say anything different. People will dismiss anyone who has empathy for the “anti-maskers” as crybabies, COVIDiots, spoiled brats, irresponsible and selfish, Trump supporters, or science deniers. Speaking only for myself, I can assure you that I’m none of those things. I got my first vaccine last week, and I wear the mask when I must. I will also confess that a year ago, I was afraid the masks were going to become permanent, but this year, my gut feeling is that most people plan to ditch them as soon as they can. That makes me feel somewhat better and more hopeful about the future.

Even Dr. Fauci has said that the masks could become less of a thing soon. He has said that as more people get vaccinated, we should become more liberal about indoor mask wearing. Some people may choose to wear them, and that should be perfectly fine, but the mandates forcing people to wear them will be lifted. Frankly, I believe that once that happens, the FAA will have far fewer issues with passengers attacking flight attendants on airplanes. Instead, they’ll just go back to attacking each other over reclining their seats and being too fat for economy class.

Of course… if someone gets on a plane and does something violent or genuinely puts people’s lives at risk by being disruptive, then yes; by all means, they probably should do some time behind bars. But I don’t think a “zero tolerance– straight to jail” policy is necessarily the best approach to handling every incident or altercation on an airplane. Because, as I mentioned earlier in this post, since February, the FAA has gotten over 1300 complaints about unruly passengers. We have a lot of jail and prison facilities in the United States, but at the rate people seem to want to lock people up, we’re sure to run out of space eventually.

Now… getting back to the title of this post– “don’t laugh at me”. Why was I so annoyed by the “laughing emojis”? Part of it is because, on the whole, I’m generally upset about life right now. But the laughing at me thing has been an issue my whole life. I’m the youngest of four by a lot of years, and my whole life, people have scoffed at me, laughed at me, underestimated me, not taken me seriously, and basically treated me like I’m stupid. Sometimes, I can use that perception to my advantage, but if I’m honest, it gets really old when people feel the need to resort to ridicule and insults. I’m tired of it, and have reached a point at which I’m not willing to tolerate it anymore.

There was a time when I was much more likely to take the blame in a situation in which someone mistreated me. Like, if someone chastised, ridiculed, or humiliated me, I would just feel shame and blame myself. But now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that anyone who resorts to making other people feel bad by being rude or mean to them is the one with the problem, especially if they are a perfect stranger. Some months ago, a YouTube acquaintance/collaborator I had once respected “yelled” at me because I commented on his video in a way that he didn’t expect or appreciate. He had wanted me to simply praise his video. My comment was short, and had nothing to do with the music in his video, but was more about world events. He proceeded to go “off” on me publicly, lecturing me about the genius of Paul Simon (seriously?) and that I shouldn’t post anything on his videos that wasn’t strictly about the video or the music. I took that to meant that he only wanted positive feedback, which he would then reciprocate with a rubber stamp comment on my videos. Wow. Don’t do me any favors.

I didn’t realize that he’d had this policy. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have posted anything. Or maybe I would have just posted, “Nice job.” or something equally banal. I mistook him for a friend, though, so I didn’t simply praise him. I didn’t insult him, nor did I write anything that was extremely offensive. He’d played “American Tune” and my comment was that America wasn’t looking that great lately. My former acquaintance, who is from Scotland, took that to be a political comment, although I didn’t mention a word about politics. He ripped me a new one. I considered responding, but decided that this was the last straw in a disturbing trend. So I deleted my comment and unsubscribed from his channel. I also temporarily hid the recordings we’d done together and stopped featuring one of our duets, because I wanted to take a few days to process his response to me. They have since been restored. I figure if he wants me to take them down, he can ask.

Do you know what this guy did? He came to my channel and took the time to delete every single comment he’d ever left for me over a span of about seven or eight years. That just told me that my initial response to his public ass ripping comment was the right one. Obviously, he’s an asshole and not worth my time. He probably felt I should be grateful to him for sharing his “genius” with me on our collaborations, but actually, I feel grateful because his shitty behavior only prompted me to learn how to play guitar with more urgency. Because I don’t want to remain in a situation where I feel like I have to be nice to someone so they’ll do me a favor. The truth is, I’d overlooked some of his prior bad behavior because I enjoyed making our collaborations. We like similar music and our voices work well together. But he obviously doesn’t respect me and, I think, was either jealous or using me on some level. I should thank him, too, because last month I posted my first two videos in which I played guitar FOR MYSELF. 😀

This doesn’t mean that I think I’m better than he is, by the way. He is a more skilled musician than I am, by far. I think he’s the type of person who doesn’t want to share the credit. He’d suggest collaborations. We’d do them. I’d post them on my channel, but I noticed that he only posted ONE of our collaborations on his channel. And that collaboration got a lot of positive comments, which he brought up repeatedly in emails to me. I think if I had sucked, he wouldn’t have offered to do more collaborations. I think the truth is, we didn’t suck, but he didn’t want to share the wealth. For some reason, he felt perfectly fine in just publicly ripping on me. I didn’t retaliate by ripping on him in kind, because it was his channel and I respect his right to run it the way he wants (although he didn’t reciprocate in that instance, either). But I did vote with my feet. Obviously, my reaction to his public belittling hit a raw nerve for him to be so petty. I’m sure he’ll find someone else to sing with, while I continue to improve my guitar playing.

Last night, I asked my friends on Facebook if I was really “that funny”. It seems like everybody is laughing at me. A number of people responded. I was kind of surprised by that, since it was meant to be a general and rhetorical statement of irritation rather than a serious question. I was heartened to read some kind responses from people I think are real friends. Many of them are people I have known offline, but a couple are people who only know me from the Internet. I will say that those who took the question seriously are high value people worth my consideration and time. Those who just “laugh” at others… not so much. However, I reserve the right to laugh at people who still champion Donald Trump.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

Repost: Asking your husband to get snipped… then divorcing him.

Here’s a repost that appeared on my original blog on October 7, 2018. I still think it’s wrong for a person to coerce another into having an elective and permanent surgery (which is what a vasectomy is intended to be). I get that they are reversible, but sometimes reversals fail. They are also expensive and invasive. I know this because Bill had one.

This morning, as I looked at my Facebook memories, I found a lively discussion that I had last year.  It was about Kelly Clarkson and how she’s demanded that her husband have a vasectomy after she had their two children.  Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows how I feel about coercing people into permanently altering their bodies to suit the other person.  I think it’s wrong.  It’s very admirable if a person offers to get sterilized for their partner’s sake, but I don’t think it’s right for the partner to try to force it.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I found an article in The New York Times about that same subject.  Only this time, it was in the form of a letter to The Ethicist, written by a woman who knew someone who had decided she wanted to get a divorce.  But before she got the divorce, she wanted her husband to have a vasectomy.  Why?  Because she thinks he’s a terrible father and doesn’t want him distracted by kids he might have with someone else.  She also doubts any future women would be interested in having kids with him anyway, since he’s “middle aged”. 

I probably don’t need to rehash my thoughts on this subject.  The short version is that I think it’s wrong for a man or a woman to demand that their partner have a permanently altering surgery.  If you are done having children, you should have the surgery… unless there is a very good reason why you can’t have it.  Even then, you have no right to demand that your husband or wife get sterilized.  There are ways to prevent pregnancy that don’t involve permanent surgeries, which is what vasectomies and tubal ligations are intended to be (even if they can be reversed).  However… to insist that your partner have such a surgery and then dump them in a divorce is unbelievably despicable and unethical.  In reading The Ethicist’s column, I see that he is fully in agreement with me on this point.

What is prompting me to write again today are the horrifying comments people left on the New York Times’ Facebook link.  Thanks to all of the misogynistic crap that has been circulating in the news ever since Trump got elected, there is a hive of emboldened women out there who think the way this man was treated is perfectly okay.  It’s just fine that his ex wife, who did convince him to have surgery and subsequently divorce him, manipulated this man into doing her bidding.  And why?  Because there’s so much “misogyny” in the world.  Who cares if this guy might actually be a decent person and maybe might be a great partner to someone else and a terrific father? He has a penis, so therefore, it’s alright to mislead him.  Screw him and his plans for his own life, and those of any other woman he chooses to have a partnership with or marry.

I noticed a lot of men were commenting, only to be shut down by a group of women who appear to pretty much hate all men.  I will admit that sometimes men can be annoying when they mansplain, but the reverse is also true.  Femsplaining is also extremely irritating.

I’ve never made it a secret that I’m for *actual* equality.  When it comes to reproduction, women have a bit more power than men do, since they are mostly capable of having babies without anything more than a dose of sperm.  However, I would never agree that it’s okay for a man to demand that his partner have an abortion or get her tubes tied.  I likewise don’t think women have the right to demand that a man get himself snipped.  Don’t want to get pregnant?  Don’t have sex.  Get yourself surgery that prevents reproduction.  Use birth control.  But you don’t get to coerce, bully, or trick someone else into having surgery.

I think some feminists have lost their sense of fairness when it comes to this issue.  Some of them seem to have the idea that men should be punished for what women have endured for so many years.  But we will never have equality and fairness as long as one group thinks the other “owes” them. 

I see the comments on the article itself are a bit more even-handed.  A couple of people even suggest that the man would have grounds to sue his ex wife over the duplicity.  She would probably really deserve it if he did pursue that action, although since they have children, it’s probably not the best solution for the children’s sakes.  Besides, a judgment against the ex wife would not bring back his prior fertility.  He’d either have to undergo a reversal, which costs a lot of money and involves some pretty serious recovery time, or some other costly intervention.   

I will admit that my feelings about this issue arise from the fact that I was personally affected by a woman who demanded that my husband have a vasectomy.  She claimed pregnancy was “hard” for her.  Then she had two more kids with her third husband, while I’m left being the mom of beagles.  Bill wanted to have a child with me and I wanted to have a child with him.  We were denied that chance thanks to his manipulative bitch of an ex wife who took advantage of Bill’s kindness and good character.  And yes… I do think she’s a bitch, among other things.  I don’t like to namecall, but it is what it is.  She destroyed his relationship with his children, tried to turn his parents against him, and made it very difficult for me to have children of my own without resorting to measures that should have been completely unnecessary. 

Even if this hadn’t happened to me, I’d still be against this kind of manipulative bullshit.  What the hell right does that woman have to leave such a permanent mark on her victim?  I only hope the man in this story goes on to find a far more ethical, decent, and thoughtful woman than his ex wife is.  The woman described in that column is the very definition of a bitch, among other things.  I hope she gets what’s coming to her.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, expressions

“Not the sharpest knife in the drawer…”

Yesterday, The Washington Post ran an article about how the declining birthrate in the United States is going to be a problem and outlining how other countries have tried to encourage people to have babies. This isn’t the first time I’ve read about how the declining birth rate is causing concern. However, after years of hearing how overpopulated the world is and how our natural resources are dwindling, it does surprise me that now people are being encouraged to breed more. I get that it’s mainly because a steep decline in the birth rate will cause a shortage of people available to work as our population continues to age. However, I think that’s a pretty stupid and selfish reason to encourage people to have children, particularly when the world is so completely fucked.

After I read the article, I checked out a few of the comments on Facebook. Someone posted about the lunacy of encouraging people to breed and a guy named “Ken” made a crack about how we’ll have robots working in nursing homes.

God bless the people who are willing to take care of the elderly, especially if they enjoy doing it and are good at it, but it’s not right to expect people to do it if that’s not what they want to do with their lives. Moreover, the sad reality is, if a robot does become available that can do the work of caring for the elderly, chances are the robot will be made. Robots don’t have to be paid; they don’t need to take vacations or maternity leave; and they can be programmed. Companies that make money by hiring robots to do jobs humans once did will do just that, because money is more important to them than putting humans to work. Having a surplus of babies will not change that reality. It’ll just be more people to feed, clothe, educate, and find work for.

I know I should have kept scrolling, but I couldn’t help myself. I posted that the prospect of robots working in nursing homes is a dumb reason to have kids. I didn’t add this part, but I was thinking about how selfish it is to have babies with the expectation that they’ll grow up to do a specific job… like wiping my ass when I’m an old lady.

Children should be wanted and loved by their parents. They shouldn’t be born simply to fill a quota. It’s not right to expect people to have babies if they don’t want them or can’t have them. Note– I did not call Ken “dumb”, I said having babies simply for the sake of making bodies is a “dumb reason” to have children. Especially when there are families like the Duggars who are having enough babies for many single people.

“Ken” then proceeded to tell me that I’m “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”, then demanded to know if I’d read the article. Uh… I ALWAYS read before I comment. So I responded, explaining to Ken that I’m definitely “sharp enough”. I criticized the idea of having babies just to boost the population– especially since there’s no telling how the people resulting from those births will turn out in the future. I also advised him not to insult total strangers.

He came back and insulted me again, claiming that I’m “ignorant” and “obtuse”, and inviting me to go visit nursing homes so I could see the true state of things. Of course he doesn’t know anything about me at all, and obviously doesn’t want to know. He just lashes out with random insults and assumptions about complete strangers. I wonder if he has any friends.

I was tempted to rip “Ken” a new one, but decided to block him instead. Because when it comes down to it, there’s no point in getting into a war of words with someone who feels the need to insult people they don’t even know. In two comments, this total stranger called me “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”, “ignorant”, and “obtuse”. While I know that none of his comments about me are true, I was really inspired to rip his head off and shit down his neck. Fortunately, I realized that not only would that be unproductive, but it would also make me a hypocrite. I don’t like hypocrisy, or getting into pointless arguments with people I don’t even know. Still, I would be lying if I said his words weren’t offensive, even if I know they shouldn’t matter. They’re not personal, because he would have to know me for them to be personal. He obviously isn’t interested in knowing me or making a connection. He just wants to be rude to people who don’t agree with him.

I am grateful I had enough sense not to waste time arguing with “Ken”, who really should go out and get pregnant, since he’s so worried about the future. I wanted to ask him if he routinely responds to people with such tackiness. I guess he thinks I should have gotten pregnant a couple of times instead of wasting my time on higher education. Maybe he’s right, although if I’d had children, my life would probably be very different. Either way, arguing him would have been a waste of time, so I decided to just block him and move on. Obviously, no one taught him any manners or regard for others, and that’s sad. But it’s not my job to give him a clue, nor should I be spreading the epidemic of incivility on the Internet.

I’m not sure if the stresses of the last year have made people more insufferable and disrespectful or I’m just worn out by the stress and have a much lower tolerance. It could be a bit of both. I did catch myself feeling hopeful yesterday as my arm twinged with the slight pain of my first COVID-19 vaccine. I had a red, slightly swollen oval around the injection site– maybe two inches wide and an inch tall. My body is mounting an immune response to the vaccine, which I hope, after my second Moderna shot, will mean I can finally have some fun again. Maybe the prospect of a trip will have a good effect on my mood.

Actually, the COVID-19 news seems to be getting better, even here in Germany. Last month, there was all this doom and gloom about how no one could get vaccines, and the illness was killing people and overloading the hospitals. Angela Merkel was wanting to lock everything down indefinitely, even though we’ve been locked down in some form since November. But now, about the vaccines are finally being rolled out and there’s talk that the restrictions could be loosening soon. I am dreaming of a trip to Stuttgart to see our dentist and get a cleaning, at long last. Noyzi the rescue dog needs a test run at the boarding facility, too. I suspect in a few weeks, we’ll be able to get out of town and maybe even take a short trip to another country. I’d settle for a short trip in Germany that isn’t in Hesse.

It’s hard to learn the lesson that what other people think of you is none of your business. However, it’s also hard not to know what’s “none of your business” when people like “Ken” so freely share their negative and uninformed opinions about people they don’t even know. It bothers me that a perfect stranger feels perfectly okay calling a total stranger “dull”, “ignorant”, and “obtuse”, simply because of a disagreement. But when it comes down to it, saying those things is more revelatory of Ken’s character than my level of intelligence. He just happened to hit a raw nerve. My whole life, people have underestimated me and called me “silly”, “giddy”, “giggly”, “blonde”, or “jolly”. Then, when they eventually realize I’m not *just* those things, they give me another label– usually a negative one. My father used to say I was “arrogant”, as he added that I would never make more than minimum wage. Then he wondered why I didn’t like him very much and wasn’t interested in spending time with him.

I suppose my run in with “Ken” makes me glad that I married a man who values a woman with a brain. Bill does listen to my opinions and think I’m plenty “sharp”. So even though it stings when I run into people like “Ken”, it probably is best to just block people like him and go on with my life. What he thinks of me is none of my business. The fact is, he couldn’t be more wrong about me, and he’s not interested in learning the truth. So his opinions about my intelligence or lack thereof are irrelevant… and his opinions about the birthrate in the United States are irrelevant to me, too, especially since I’m not tasked with procreating with him. If he’s wrong about my intelligence, he’s probably wrong about a lot of other things. Moreover, he clearly doesn’t understand that there are real people behind the computer screens. The fact that he and his ilk aren’t sharp enough to get that is just one more reason why it’s better not to reproduce.

Sorry… I know this is kind of a “brently” post. I’m just fed up with a lot of stuff. I realize I’m luckier than many people are, but the older I get, the more I think that having a bunch of children is a foolhardy thing to do. Give me my rescue dogs and that’ll be fine. If that makes me “dull”, so be it. At least I haven’t spread any of my defective DNA to any unsuspecting descendants.

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condescending twatbags, Duggars, true crime

No “joshing” matter… Josh Duggar is in the slammer!

This morning, a couple of friends tagged me in the latest news about “sex pest” Josh Duggar. He is currently behind bars having been arrested in Arkansas yesterday. According to People Magazine, Josh was nabbed by Homeland Security. He is being held without bond, although so far, we don’t know what the charges are. He will supposedly go before a judge sometime today. This news comes just a few days since Josh and his long suffering wife, Anna, announced that they are expecting their seventh child, another girl.

Oh dear.

I do remember that in November 2019, it was in the news that Josh’s office at the car dealership where he was working was raided by the feds. Back then, the Duggars claimed that it wasn’t true that any member of the Duggar family was the target of an investigation of any kind. Clearly, they were lying, which is a violation of one of the Ten Commandments. But, as Josh correctly pointed out back in 2015, when he was at the pinnacle of his sex pest scandal, he has been the biggest hypocrite ever. It’s not a surprise that Josh and members of his family lied about his legal issues in 2019.

Yikes. What a weird smirk.

The Duggars are definitely a family a lot of us love to hate. I remember first hearing about them in 2004, when Jim Boob and Michelle Duggar were featured in a Discovery Health special. At the time, I believe Michelle was pregnant with her fourteenth child– Jackson, I believe. After that, the Duggars determined that having more kids was a way to make the fame and money train roll. They popped out five more, with the youngest, Josie, being born extremely premature. There would have been one more girl, but Michelle miscarried her 20th child in 2011. However, they are now raising Michelle’s grandnephew, Tyler, so I guess in a manner of speaking, they got their 20th kid, after all.

Their reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, aired on TLC until May 2015, when the sex scandal came to light. It turned out that Josh Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter back in 2002 or so. The Duggars hid this information for years, and when it did finally get exposed, they downplayed what Josh did. Later that year, Josh was also outed for having an Ashley Madison account and cheating on his wife. At the time, she was pregnant with their fourth child, Meredith. Josh had been working for the Family Research Council in the Washington, DC area, but he was forced to resign in the wake of the many scandals that plagued him. In November of 2015, Josh was also sued by a porn star named Danica Dillon, who claimed he had assaulted her.

I thought things were calming down a bit in the wake of the scandals. I hadn’t heard of any other issues relating to his issues with pornography, objectifying women, or molesting girls. But I had head about him being sued for real estate fraud back around 2019, and many people were horrified that he and Anna were still making so many kids. Josh evidently lost the lawsuit because he missed the court date.

It will be interesting to find out why Josh is in trouble this time. It sounds like he did something pretty serious. However, when I look at his mug shot, I notice he has kind of a weird smirk on his face and looks like he might be on something.

Maybe I shouldn’t feel sorry for Anna, but I do. It’s hard to wrap my head around why she continues to support Josh and stay in the marriage. But, I’m sure that Anna has significant barriers to getting divorced. Besides the fact that divorce is something fundie Christians don’t tend to do, she would be hard pressed to be able to support her huge family on her own. And based on the way Jim Boob Duggar treats his own children — ahem, Jill Dillard– it’s likely that if she ever stepped out of line, he would cut her off and do whatever he could to take the children from her. Now… whether or not he would be successful, I don’t know. But when you are abused, it’s hard to see beyond your own perceptions. That’s why so many people in abusive relationships never manage to break away until tragedy strikes or they are somehow forced out of the situation. Sadly, some people never escape.

Anyway… I hope that the marshals who arrested Josh didn’t do it in front of his children. I know a lot of people think Josh deserves the humiliation of having his kids witness seeing him in handcuffs, but I think that would be very traumatizing, especially for the youngest ones. And Josh’s kids may have a shithead for a father, but they are completely innocent and have no doubt been through enough already.

I guess this could be why two of Josh’s brothers so suddenly got married. They probably had an inkling that Josh was about to be busted and didn’t want the weddings ruined by Josh’s latest scandal Either that, or they wanted to draw attention away from it. Same thing goes for Anna’s pregnancy announcement, which came a week ago. They had to do a reveal, since they might have known Josh was going up the river.

Moving on…

I have to write a short COVID-19 related rant. Yesterday, I woke up to read a news story about a couple whose son died of COVID-19 shortly after they arrived in Hawaii on vacation. The couple were vaccinated and had tested negative for COVID-19; but their son, who was under age 11 and had an underlying health condition, was not vaccinated and clearly wasn’t tested. He developed symptoms of illness just hours after landing.

Given that the boy got sick so soon after arrival in Hawaii, I can only surmise that he picked up the virus at home. Officials are still trying to figure out how and where the boy was exposed to the virus. But that didn’t stop a lot of people on Facebook from berating the couple for traveling. Some people wondered why the parents were tested, but the boy wasn’t. I’m not sure about that myself.

After reading one too many awful comments about how this couple deserved to lose their son to COVID-19 because they dared to travel, I had to say something. I don’t understand how people can be so utterly shitty to each other. These parents LOST A CHILD, for God’s sake! Even if they had been completely irresponsible, and they clearly weren’t, it still would have been tragic for them to lose their son. Would most people be laughing and pointing fingers at them if their son had, say, died in a car accident? What if he’d contracted the flu or pneumonia? Would they blame the parents for that? What good does it do to laugh and judge these parents now? Their son is gone. I think they’ve suffered enough already.

COVID-19 is caused by a tiny virus. Plenty of people have gotten sick, even after doing all the “right” things. The sad truth is, it’s a very sneaky and insidious virus. And no matter what, this child was innocent, and was clearly destined to be sick, since he must have picked up the virus somewhere at home. The fact that he was in Hawaii on vacation when he died is immaterial.

I took one lady to task for being such a judgmental twat. She came back with a lengthy response about why it’s okay for her to have no sympathy for parents who lost an unvaccinated child, simply because they dared to go on vacation. I am so sick of people who have no empathy for other people, simply because they disagree with their choices. My response to her was, “Have a nice life. You are beyond hope.” She thought that was funny. Well, fuck her.

I have an appointment to get the first Moderna shot on Wednesday. Bill says I might be able to get the “one and done” J&J shot on Monday, if I want it. Although the idea of blood clots is a little scary, I would like to be vaccinated and have it behind me as soon as possible, especially since Bill has to go away on business Wednesday. Anyway… the upshot is, I’ll be getting a shot of some sort next week.

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