It’s a nice Saturday, and I’m hoping to get out of the house for a little while. But it’s already just after 11:00am, which means we need to get a move on if we’re going to go anywhere or do anything.
Bill lost his brand new brown cap (pictured yesterday) while he was gone on his trip. I ordered him another one, plus one in olive, since he liked the first one so much. Maybe I should put his name in the caps, too, since it looks like someone made off with the last one. It would have been nice if the person who found it had dropped it off at the lost and found.
While Bill was away, he quit shaving. I think it was because he worked overnights, and shaving was just a chore after a night of working. He is currently sporting facial hair for the first time since 2016. Bill actually looks really good with a beard. He grew one before we went to Ireland for the first time, around the time of our 14th wedding anniversary. But I don’t really like kissing his beard, and I guess he prefers the clean shaven look. He got rid of the beard and hasn’t grown another one until now.
Last night, I joked that he looked a bit like the old cartoon character, Snuffy Smith. I used to love reading Snuffy Smith in the Sunday comics. Looking back on it, I’m not sure why I enjoyed reading the comics so much when I was a kid. It probably had to do with the colors and simple language. 😉
Looks like 8 o’clock shadow…
Bill says he’s going to make a video for younger daughter, so she can see him with a fuzzy face. After that, he’ll probably shave. Below is a photo of him with a beard, back in November 2016.
Not everyone can pull off a beard. I have to admit, I think he looks debonair with facial hair, so I won’t protest if he keeps this look– even if I prefer to kiss him without the hair. It’s his face, so whatever he wants to do is up to him. I just look forward to seeing him looking a little less unkempt. A good night’s sleep has already helped, though. He was pretty tired last night.
Anyway… I know this isn’t the most exciting blog post. I don’t have time to do a deep dive. It’s Saturday, and I desperately need to get out of the house for awhile. So I think I’ll close this post and get on with the day. Enjoy your weekend!
The featured photo comes from our new lighting projector… Isn’t it pretty?
We had quite an interesting weekend. It was our first in over twenty years without a beagle in the house. I miss Arran’s presence already. His presence was a constant, because he clung to us. He wanted to be with us all the time. Now, there’s an empty space on the Zane memorial rug, and no one is waiting to help me dry off after a shower. Noyzi only visits on occasion, when he wants something or is curious about a Dodo video on YouTube. I swear, Noyzi used to be terrified of the television, but now he LOVES watching animal videos. It doesn’t matter what kind of animal it is, either. Somehow, he just knows when there’s a critter on TV, and he wants to watch it. I’ve found that turning on animal videos is one of the best ways to summon him.
We went out twice, which we used to do all the time, but had gotten out of the habit of because of COVID-19 and Arran’s cancer. We are slowly getting more acquainted with Wiesbaden, which is crazy, since we’ve now lived here longer than we’ve lived anywhere else in our marriage. But again– the craziness of the past three years has caused us to be somewhat delayed in getting to know our environs.
I notice that today is the 20th, which is also the day three years ago, when we tried to adopt a new dog and failed spectacularly. I don’t want to dwell on that memory. I almost wonder if Arran’s recent passing wasn’t a way to help us forget about that tragic incident that ended in an innocent dog’s untimely death and a lawsuit… which fortunately didn’t directly involve us.
We also talked to Bill’s younger daughter a bit. Every time we talk to her, I’m alternately stunned by how kind and bright she is about some things… and how “stunted” she is in other ways. We shared some more with her about how Bill and I got together, and my mom’s hometown, Buena Vista, Virginia, which is where Southern Virginia University is. My mom is an alum of Southern Seminary, which is what SVU was before it was taken over by LDS businessmen. I explained to younger daughter that I knew the wife of one of the businessmen who started the LDS version of my mom’s alma mater. I didn’t get too far into it, but I suppose it will eventually come out about how the invasion of Mormons kind of changed the local culture. Maybe it’s for the better, as that area used to be pretty depressed, although it was, and still is, also beautiful.
Younger daughter talked about her decision to go west for college. Ex had been vehemently against it. She brought up all sorts of “reasons” why it was a bad idea for younger daughter to go far away for college. She had wanted her to stay in New England, live at home, and commute to college.
Younger daughter said she used to think her mom was “worried” about her, but now she knows she just wanted younger daughter around to take care of her and provide income in the form of college loan money. I caught a look of bemusement on younger daughter’s face as she spoke of older daughter, who still lives with Ex and takes care of their youngest sibling, who has severe autism. Older daughter is back in school, and younger daughter said something along the lines of, “My mother doesn’t care that my sister is $100,000 in debt. It’s not her name on the loans. She just wants someone around to take care of her and relieve her of her responsibilities.”
I couldn’t help but practically explode as we were responding to younger daughter. I told younger daughter that although I barely know her, I was so proud of her for having the guts to chart her own course. What she did took a lot of courage and determination. She made decisions that led her out of years of misery and practical “slavery”, borne out of fear, obligation, and guilt. Younger daughter is stunningly astute, as she tells us about how her mother uses guilt to maintain control of her adult children.
We learned that when younger daughter had her wedding, Ex couldn’t leave her alone, even when she was on her honeymoon. She tried to get younger daughter and her husband to move back east. And while younger daughter was hours beyond taking her vows, Ex was sending her constant texts, trying to get her to go to the hotel where they were all staying and go swimming and eat pizza.
Ex complained bitterly, even when ex stepson (Ex’s eldest) and his wife temporarily moved to the east and were living just an hour away. They weren’t close enough. They didn’t come by often enough. She wanted them to live in her home with her, even though it meant NINE people under one roof… in a house that couldn’t accommodate them.
On the surface, it sounds like Ex “loves” her kids too much, but I think she just wants an army of people who will do the work for her. She wants people to control, and is constantly trying to guilt her kids into taking care of her fifth child, who will almost certainly have to move into a “home” at some point.
Then she said something that really surprised me. She said that Ex, who had been trying to discourage younger daughter from going to a LDS owned college, found her daughter with #3 “annoying”. And #3’s daughter wanted to go to a school close to home, where she could be with her friends from high school (high school was a privilege denied to Bill’s daughters– Ex made them drop out and be “homeschooled”, and didn’t allow them extracurricular activities other than going to church). Ex wanted her to go out west, and live near younger daughter. I wonder if that was because she was hoping to influence younger daughter somehow, via her younger sister. Or does she really want that distance? The whole thing is so bizarre. The kids all had such different and inconsistent upbringings. The only thing they all had in common was chaos.
Ex also made a comment about how her eldest son went to jail… It was probably just an arrest in which he spent a night in jail, due to being busted for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She suggested that younger daughter might do the same thing! And here’s younger daughter, who is very sweet, innocent, responsible, and religious. Of course she wasn’t going to experiment with drugs! Naturally, that was just an excuse to keep her from launching and living her own life as a capable adult.
The more I hear about this stuff, the more impressed I am with younger daughter’s resilience and resolve. She is amazing. And I can see that she is determined to give her own children a better childhood than what she had. She pointedly said that she doesn’t want her children to be burdened with having to take care of their severely autistic uncle. Then, she added, “half-uncle”.
As someone who also grew up in “chaos”, albeit that of a different sort, my heart goes out to Bill’s daughter. I don’t know what it was like for her to grow up with Ex as her mom, but I do know what it’s like to have a mentally ill parent who is hyper-controlling one minute, and batshit nuts the next. And I know what it feels like to have a parent who seems to want to maintain that familial connection and control as they also do things that are extremely repellant and violate boundaries. Calling your newly married adult child while she’s on her honeymoon? What the actual fuck!!!
All I can do is shake my head…
I might be tempted to write about this on RfM, but I think after that very unpleasant exchange I had there the other day, I might have to look elsewhere for support. Or maybe I’ll just write about it here. It’s probably just as effective.
I have come to realize that I really don’t like controlling people… but I especially can’t abide overbearing, all knowing, overly helpful women. I think it’s because they remind me too much of my sister. That makes me sad, too, because I would like to have better relations with my family. I would like to be close to people, other than Bill. But I can’t seem to get there… and every time I try, it ends in disaster. So here I sit, thousands of miles away, feeling “divorced” from my own family, just as Bill divorced Ex and his kids to save his own sanity. Maybe that’s why we get along so incredibly well.
I still thank Ex every day for “dumping” Bill. He makes me very happy. I think, after we have a vacation, we’ll start looking for another dog who will hang out with me and make me feel less isolated and alone.
The featured photo is me at age 12, on my beloved pony, Rusty… At that time in my life, I figured I might be a mom someday. It wasn’t in the cards for me… Maybe that’s okay. Warning in advance that this is a very personal post.
I continue to learn more about Bill’s younger daughter as every week passes. Lately, we’ve been exchanging emails. This morning, I received one that gave me pause. In it, she apologized to me for being “insensitive” about my “infertility”. I had recently written in an email that I had always wanted to have children, but was never able to have them. I didn’t elaborate as to why. I figured she already knew.
But this morning, I found an email from her, and she expressed kindness over my “infertility”. I guess she assumed I never had children because I literally couldn’t get pregnant. The truth is, I don’t actually know if I was infertile. I am almost surely infertile by now. In any case, I have never been pregnant.
There I was, sitting in bed this morning, trying to decide if it was appropriate for me to tell my husband’s daughter the reason I don’t have kids of my own. I asked Bill, and we decided that I should tell her that Bill had a vasectomy when he was still married to Ex. He later had it reversed, but it was eleven years after younger daughter’s birth. Though the reversal surgery was technically successful, I never managed to conceive.
Then Bill went to Iraq, and we had a bunch of Army moves that made trying to conceive with medical help logistically difficult and financially impossible. By the time we had recovered financially from Bill’s first marriage and paid off most of my student loans, I was getting pretty old. We ultimately decided that not having children was okay.
I carefully wrote this explanation for younger daughter. Bill is going to follow up with more of the story. I don’t want her to think he had the vasectomy because of her.
My father also had a vasectomy after I was born. My parents always made it seem like he did that because I was such a “difficult” child. Of course, now I realize that decision had nothing to do with me, personally. My mom hadn’t expected to get pregnant again after my sister was born. Eight years later, there I was… and I was a big, colicky baby, with big lungs. Mom didn’t want another child. Quite frankly, she hadn’t really wanted to have me. So, to keep the peace, my dad got snipped. I don’t think he had wanted to have a vasectomy, but my mom insisted.
In Bill’s case, he decided to have a vasectomy mainly because of financial reasons. Ex had her son from her first marriage, plus the two daughters they’d had together. Bill was supporting the whole family on his income, which, at the time, wasn’t much. He was an Army captain at the time. Ex got pregnant with ease, but she wasn’t a very attentive mother.
One time, when older daughter was a toddler, Bill came home from work to find that she hadn’t been fed. Ex was in bed, depressed, and older daughter had pulled a block of cheese out of the refrigerator. It had a knife plunged into it. I’m not sure where ex stepson was at the time, but it was clear that Ex wasn’t taking good care of the children.
Then, because his Army career also wasn’t going that well, Bill temporarily got off active duty. The family moved from Washington State to Arkansas, and Ex’s sister and young daughter moved in with them. Bill was supporting his family, plus Ex’s sister and daughter, on the piddly amount of money he made working at factories in Arkansas and from National Guard duty. It would have been disastrous and irresponsible for them to have another baby.
Bill was also concerned about the bizarre way Ex behaved when she was giving birth to younger daughter. He said she had kind of disassociated from the pain, crying that she would “be still”, as if she was hallucinating about being abused. At one point, she even refused to push. Bill had to tell the nurse that Ex was a victim of abuse and was apparently having some kind of traumatic flashback. The nurse realized what was happening and managed to get Ex to snap out of her spell and give birth to younger daughter. The scene was disturbing enough that Bill didn’t want to see it happen again.
Bill did propose to Ex that she get her tubes tied, since she clearly had issues with being pregnant and giving birth. Ex, of course, shot down that idea and shamed Bill for even suggesting it. So he had the procedure done, which in the long run, was probably a blessing. Ex clearly wasn’t done having kids, and she would have gotten pregnant again with Bill if he hadn’t gotten snipped. She had two more babies with #3. I don’t know what their births were like, but according to younger daughter, Ex is still neglectful and abusive.
Of course, a few years after Bill made that life altering decision, he met virginal me. I appreciated that he was willing to have the reversal surgery. The Army also offered reproductive and fertility treatments, but we needed to be living in an area where they offered the therapies. We lived in the Washington, DC area when Bill had the vasectomy reversal, so that worked out for us. After that, we frequently moved (five times in seven years), and sometimes to places where fertility treatments provided by the Army weren’t always readily available. We weren’t willing to go more into debt to try treatments with a civilian provider.
I had always wanted and expected to have children, but Bill was my first and only sexual partner. So I don’t have children… and the whole mess surrounding the vasectomy is another major reason why I’ve been so angry with Ex all these years.
It wasn’t enough that Bill left their marriage infertile. She also severely alienated the children they did have together. It’s only because younger daughter is a kind, loving, and thoughtful person, like Bill is, that he’s able to know his grandchildren. Ex wanted to deny him that, too. She told them many lies about Bill and me. Making matters worse is the pervasive attitude among people that fathers are expendable and second wives and stepmothers are always homewrecking whores.
I wrote to younger daughter that I’m “okay” with not having children. I suppose that’s true, at this point. I certainly wouldn’t want to have a baby now, at this time in my life. But I do feel like that decision to be mother was taken from me. Yes, I know there are people who will try to point out to me that I could have married (or just had sex with) someone else… or adopted… or gone through fertility treatments. Those kinds of comments are very belittling and discounting. I specifically wanted to have a baby with Bill. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with the fact that I can’t. Now I realize that it’s probably better that way. Fortunately, Bill is enough. I love him very much and wouldn’t choose another partner, regardless of everything that has happened.
I hope that my email to younger daughter isn’t too much of a bombshell. I honestly thought she knew about Bill’s vasectomy. He will write back to her and explain it more, since he was the one who made the choice. I just want her to remember that infertility isn’t always due to the woman. For all I know, I was infertile, too. We never had the chance to find out for sure.
Yesterday, younger daughter and Bill exchanged Marco Polo videos. Bill is finding that he has to dispel some impressions that she has, as well as offer her some basic history lessons. I can’t help but think that if they had been able to have a relationship for all of these years, they would both be so much better informed. But hopefully, they can make up for lost time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Bill really should have fought harder for his daughters. But dealing with a malignant narcissist is very difficult for the unaware and ill equipped. Unfortunately, when he and Ex split, Bill wasn’t in a good position to fight harder for access to his kids. So now, all he can do, is damage repair and restoration. Still, I am relieved that just like the song, younger daughter is truly lovely. She really is Bill’s daughter, in spite of everything. I’m finally starting to love her. Thank God for that.
I was having some trouble thinking of a topic for this morning, when I turned on the soundtrack for the 2009 film, Funny People. I have not seen the movie, which stars Adam Sandler, but I instantly fell in love with this song by Neil Diamond. It’s called “We”. On the soundtrack, it’s a different version than the popular one, neither of which I’d ever heard until this morning.
I might have to watch the movie this soundtrack comes from. Besides “We”, it also has some nice stuff by James Taylor, Robert Plant, and Wilco, among other artists.
I couldn’t resist trying it, so here it is. The video sucks, because for the life of me, I couldn’t get it to line up perfectly with the audio. I have a new computer on its way to me, so I hope this will be a short lived issue. I had to use my laptop for the video part, because for some reason, Photo Booth quit working. I did a bunch of takes, but just couldn’t get it right. The dogs need a walk, so I had to settle for this. It’s just almost right.
I think the audio part is pretty decent, anyway. I doubt people watch my videos to see me mug for the camera. This song put me in such a good mood, I may redo it when I have a better machine for the job. Hope some of y’all enjoy…
Here are the lyrics of “We (early take)… by Neil Diamond.
Love is all about chemistry Talkin’ bout the way you feel inside It′s all about a mystery All about taking a magic ride It’s not about you, it′s not about me Love is all about we It’s all about we
It’s all about the plans we make All about you and me being friends All about the road we take together how we both gonna reach the end It’s not about you, it’s not about me Love is all about we It’s all about we
With a string you can tie a knot But you gotta have somethin′ to tie it to Otherwise all you’ve got is that knot When it ties me to you It′sa whole other thing Love is all about we Say it’s all about we
Love is not about young or old Been around the earliest days of man Matter of have and hold Do it all alone and you’ll understand It’s not about you, it’s not about me Love is all about we Say, it’s all about we
With a string you can tie a knot But you got to have something to tie it to Otherwise all you’ve got is that knot But when it ties me to you It’s a whole other thing And love is all about we Yes, it’s all about we
It’s not about you It’s not about me Love is all about we Yes, it′s all about we Yes, it’s all about we You and me All about we You and me You and me All about we We
I just wrote a piece for my travel blog, that details our Christmas morning. So far, it’s been a nice holiday. I asked for a new vacuum cleaner, and Bill delivered a cordless Dyson. I hope it will be less cumbersome and annoying to use than the canister vacuum I’ve had for the past seven years. I just tried it out, although it’s not yet quite fully charged. All I gotta say about that is that our carpets are pretty disgusting. A new vacuum was definitely needed and appreciated, even though one of my former bosses once told me that no one should get appliances for Christmas. She criticized me for giving my mom a new hand mixer. That boss and I didn’t get along, as you might have imagined. I’m one of those people that other folks tend to love or hate. 😉
I’m better at Christmas shopping than Bill is, because I know what he likes and needs, and he’s easy to please. I’m a lot harder to shop for, because I have a tendency to get what I want when I want it. The vacuum cleaner was an outlier. I’ve been eyeing the Dyson cordless vacuums for ages, but never pulled the trigger. One of the reasons I hate vacuuming is because it feels futile. The vacuums never seem to do a good job– even other Dysons I’ve had have not been very useful. But downgrading isn’t the answer, either. I used a Dirt Devil when we first got back to Germany, and it lasted about a year before it started dropping parts. Our dogs shed a lot, and Noyzi, in particular, leaves tons of hair. So I needed something lightweight and portable. We’ll see how long I like the new vacuum, but I suspect we’ll get a couple of good cleanings from it.
As usual, I bought a lot more stuff for Bill than he did for me… although he did get some higher dollar items for me. And a few of the things he got were kind of surprising. Like, he bought me a weighted blanket, even though I just bought two new duvets for the bed. But maybe the blanket will turn out to be something I didn’t know I needed. And he bought me three shawls in different colors, but with the same patterns and in colors I probably wouldn’t necessarily choose. I do wear a lot of shawls on the rare occasions when we go out. He also got me a new chair for my office, which has heating and massage capabilities. I do need a new chair! I wear mine out pretty regularly.
As I watched Bill put the new cover on the weighted blanket, it occurred to me… every day is a gift with Bill. I smiled, and blurted “You don’t really have to buy me anything for Christmas. You have already given me the best life.”
It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or where we are. Some places are better than others are, of course. I remember when we lived in our first slummy apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Christmas day, back in 2002. It was just weeks after our wedding, and we were pretty broke. We still had a nice celebration, with a tree and cheap ornaments from Rose’s, which was a discount store in the nearby strip mall. We had a nice meal and listened to music on the cheap CD player I owned that I had to weigh down with a jewelry box, because the lid wouldn’t stay down on its own.
The following year was full of challenges, as we lost our first rescue dog, CuCullain (C.C.) to a rare mycobacterial infection, my car got broken into, and Ex went on the warpath to try to get me under her thumb. We moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, into a Craftsman house that was meant to be “temporary” and came from a kit from Sears. I actually loved that house, even though it had its maintenance issues. We were there for three years, until we moved into a “brand new” house a mile away, where I mostly lived alone while Bill was in Iraq. We left that house after about eight months, as Bill finally rotated out of Virginia and into Germany. We had Flea and MacGregor, rescue beagles from BREW, a beagle rescue in northern Virginia.
Then, in 2007, we moved to a town near Stuttgart, Germany the first time as a couple, and we both fell in love with living here. We hoped to get three years, which is standard, but had to come back to the States a year early. We moved into a huge rental house in Fayetteville, Georgia, where we lost Flea to cancer, and added Zane to our family. Bill learned to brew beer. We spent two Christmases there, out in the woods with a family of deer, some black snakes, at least one armadillo, and chimney swifts who chirped incessantly for a month. I remember one of those Christmases was when I experienced my very first “White Christmas”.
Then, the post in Georgia where Bill worked closed down, so we had to move again. In 2011, we moved to North Carolina, where we had two more Christmases in different woods– one of those years, we visited my sister, who lives in Chapel Hill, not that far from Sanford, the town where we were living. We lost our sweet beagle, MacGregor, and adopted Arran, who is still with us.
In 2013, we moved to Converse, Texas, a San Antonio suburb, where I assumed we’d end up staying… but no jobs were forthcoming in 2014, when Bill retired. We moved back to another town near Stuttgart, where we spent four years, and now we live near Wiesbaden, and have been here for four years. Half our stuff is in storage in America. It’s hard to feel rooted, since Germany isn’t our official place of origin. And yet, as long as Bill is with me, I’m home and happy. And I can’t believe we’ve been in Germany for eight years. We lost Zane in 2019, but now we have our first non beagle rescue, Noyzi the Kosovar street dog!
We have worked together to make a great life, and we have succeeded, in spite of all the kvetching I do on my blog posts. I really do feel so fortunate for all we have, and the incredible man with whom I get to share my life. But honestly, we could be in a tent somewhere, and I think I’d be happy on some level, just because I’m with the right person… and he’s with me. I am amazed by all of the great stuff we’ve managed to do together, in spite of the pettiest of annoyances. And today, I was just reminded of that and just feeling so grateful… even to Ex, who divorced Bill. If she hadn’t done that, who knows where I would be? We make each other laugh, teach each other new things, and make life better for each other every day. I need to remember this feeling for when the going gets tough, as I know it will.
I know 2023 will have its challenges. I expect we’ll be losing Arran in 2023, because he has cancer. But we are lucky to live in a country where we can enjoy him for a little bit longer without going bankrupt. And there’s always the threat of something bad happening… but as long as I’ve got “my Bill”, it all seems bearable. No matter where we are, it “feels like home…” Today, I’m feeling really grateful, and I just wanted to share.
I might redo this song… maybe even today. Why not?
Younger daughter sent a video the other day while she was holding her newest baby. He was obviously hungry and was trying to get to her boobs, but he was so cute and good natured about it. I feel very grateful that she shares him with us, as well as her other two adorable kids. It’s so nice to have her and her husband back in our lives. It just goes to show that, in the long run, love always wins.
I hope you’re having a good holiday, if you celebrate. If you don’t, I hope you have a good day. Now, back to the festivities.
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