Bill, love, marriage, music, musings, travel

It can be so good to be with someone who takes you places you never dreamed you’d be…

I took the featured photo yesterday, when Bill and I were at the bottom of a fairly deep cave. Not everyone could have taken that journey with Bill. I know his first wife would not have been able to… at least not yesterday. It was just one of many things we’ve been able to do together, but may not have been able to do with someone else.

I know it’s corny, but I get a lot of inspiration from music. This afternoon, as Bill prepares for yet another trip to Bavaria on business, I’m reminded of an old John Denver song. If you know anything about Germany, you might know that many Germans LOVE John Denver’s music. There’s a fair bet you’ll hear a stirring rendition of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” at any fest where there’s live music.

John Denver wasn’t actually the only songwriter for that song. It was also written by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, a then married couple who were famously members of the 70s act, Starland Vocal Band. They were the ones who sang “Afternoon Delight”, a total guilty pleasure song about nooners. Danoff was also one of former President Bill Clinton’s classmates at Georgetown University.

I like “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as much as any survivor of the 1970s does, and I’m sure to join in singing it at any German fest. But the song in my head today is another one of John Denver’s traveling songs. It’s one that I first heard sung by Olivia Newton-John; she covered it in 1975 for her Have You Never Been Mellow album (another guilty pleasure song for me). I was a BIG Olivia fan in the 70s… still love her music today, may she rest in peace. Behold:

John Denver wrote “Follow Me”, but I identify a lot with Olivia’s cover. On the other hand, it really is John’s song, and his doesn’t include a banjo. She also changed the last couple of lines of lyrics, which kind of changes the meaning of the song.
John Denver performs his song in 1974. The words to this song make me kind of verklempt.

Check out the lyrics…

It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done,
To be so in love with you and so alone.

Follow me where I go, what I do, who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down,
All the way and all around,
Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.

It’s long been on my mind,
You know it’s been a long, long time,
I’ve tried to find the way that I can make you understand
The way I feel about you,
And just how much I need you
To be there where I can talk to you
When there’s no one else around.

Follow me where I go, what I do, who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down,
All the way and all around,
Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.

You see I’d like to share my life with you
And show you things I’ve seen,
Places that I’m going to
Places where I’ve been
To have you there beside me
To never be alone
And all the time that you’re with me,
We will be at home

Follow me where I go, what I do, who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down,
All the way…
Take my hand and I will follow you.

I just wrote a travel post about the upcoming adventures Bill and I are looking forward to having very soon. The gist of the post was about how I’ve been fretting a little bit about my ability to do some of the things we’ve always done on our trips. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, after all. But we went to the Kubach Cave yesterday, and I managed to make it up and down many, many steps so that we might see the inside of one of Germany’s show caves.

When we got to the bottom of the cave, I looked over at Bill and said, “Here’s yet another thing you’d never be able to do with Ex.” It’s no secret that I dislike my husband’s ex wife for many valid reasons. But, the truth is, she and Bill were completely incompatible. Even if she’d been a perfect sweetheart to him, he would not have been able to go to that cave with her. She currently lacks the physical stamina or ability to make such a trip.

Even when Ex was a lot younger, she was never one to go for physically challenging walking trips. Bill said she had a tendency to “wilt” in hot weather. She was more likely to swim for long periods of time, which Bill enjoys a lot less– mainly because he doesn’t like being seen in a bathing suit. He has, however, started to appreciate the nude experiences. I doubt he would have ever done that with Ex, either. 😉

Checking out her recent social media, I see that Ex just had surgery on her ankle, which I know has given her trouble for a long time. Bill told me it stemmed from an accident she had, trying to garden with bare feet. She stepped in a hole, lost her balance, then fell over and broke her ankle. Apparently, it never properly healed. Or maybe she got hurt again and injured the other ankle.

Anyway, she just got surgery, and the meds made her sick, causing her to have to go back to the hospital. Even if she enjoyed climbing stairs and walking a lot, she literally would not have been able to go to the cave yesterday.

Thinking back on our almost 21 years together, I am amazed at the places Bill and I have managed to go, and places we still plan to see. Given the fact that neither of us ever had a lot of dating partners, it’s astonishing that we ended up together, and we’re able to have so many incredible adventures.

It’s true that a lot of the reason we’ve been able to do these things is because we’ve made certain choices. We don’t have children together. We don’t own a home. We live in Europe, so it’s a lot easier to travel to some of the world’s exotic places. We don’t currently have the tax burden in Europe that we’d have in the United States. I’ve also been making a very concerted effort to pay off debt.

I think the number one reason why we’ve been able to go on these adventures together, though, is because we want to do it. We like each other’s company; we like to do a lot of the same activities; and we make a point of seeing places and doing things together. The end result is that when we pose for pictures, like the one below, we look like we’re having a good time… because we are.

Granted, I took this photo before I climbed 456 steps one way…

I think if I could give my younger self some advice, I’d tell her not to worry about being dateless in her 20s. There’s a good chance there is someone out there waiting… the right person. And in my case, there was. On the other hand, I also know that sometimes there is no “right person”, so you have to make things work alone.

I was in the middle of trying to make things work on my own when Bill came into my life. He had a lot of baggage, and common sense would have told me to run far away from him. But I couldn’t help but be enchanted by his good nature and willingness to laugh at my jokes… some of which are pretty obscene. So I took a chance on him… and he took a chance on me, after having been through an abusive relationship with his ex wife. Now we’re both smiling, and having many wonderful adventures together.

We have been literally living John Denver’s words in “Follow Me”… which I’ll admit, we’re privileged enough to be able to do somewhat easily. I realize that not everyone can literally follow another person. Perhaps another way to take that song is metaphorically. You don’t have to physically follow someone to be on the same wavelength. You can follow them mentally and emotionally, too. For Bill and me, I’ll admit… it’s easy. We both want to do it. For others, I don’t know how easy it is.

I just know that John Denver’s words really speak to me today, as I think about how Bill and I followed each other up and down a steep cave’s steps and had an experience of a lifetime. I do mean that, because we probably won’t be visiting that cave again. But we will visit other caves… and I know that, at least for now, we can still take each other’s hands and follow each other. And I am very grateful that we are still so able to do that.

I also know that for as much as I dislike Ex… if she hadn’t been willing to let go of Bill at the precise time she did, we probably would not be having this life together. So a small part of me will always be grateful to her for that. I’m so glad I can follow Bill… and in turn, he follows me (he’s one of the few and proud, actually). And not just on social media, either. 😀

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Bill, lessons learned, love, marriage, musings

Mundane days that will forever change your life…

I saved the featured photo sometime around 9/11/01. I distinctly remember my former shrink, now a true friend, had shared it in an email to his friends and family in the wake of 9/11. It changed my life when he did that, just as my life was changed when I met him…

It’s September 11th again. Ever since 2001, September 11th has taken on a new significance to a lot of people, especially those of us who are from the United States. I remember all too well that day. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. I was in my last year of graduate school at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. I had gone to my social work field placement location.

That morning, I had Bill on my mind, because over Labor Day weekend, we’d had the most magical visit in Natural Bridge, Virginia. He was working at the Pentagon, having just started there a month prior. We met at my grandmother’s house and had a gorgeous, fun, comfortable, unforgettable weekend. By the end of it, we were in love. It was the first and only time I’ve ever been “in love”. Yes, I had many crushes when I was younger, but I was never in love. And now, I was… I knew I loved Bill after that weekend, and I later found out that he loved me back. However, even after that weekend, we were still calling each other “friends”. Our relationship wasn’t official at that point.

On September 11, 2001, it was a lovely, perfectly ordinary day, just as it is today. I was buoyed by the fact that at age 29, I had finally met someone with whom I could have a romantic relationship. He made me feel so comfortable, and I had never experienced that with anyone before. We just fit together so perfectly. And if you know the story of exactly how and where we met, you might know how unlikely and incredible that is. Or maybe it’s not. Plenty of people who met in church or were high school sweethearts turn out to be completely wrong for each other.

When I heard about what happened at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, I did worry. I wasn’t hysterical or anything. I somehow knew, deep down, that he was okay. But I wasn’t sure, so of course I worried… and I wondered if my intuition was wrong, and he was dead. By age 29, life had already taught me that I should never be too optimistic about anything. Too often, I had gotten up my hopes only to see them dashed. In fact, even though I felt like I was in love, I wasn’t completely sure Bill loved me, too.

Many hours after the Pentagon was struck by a jet airliner, I got a message from Bill. He had tried to call me earlier, but somehow had the wrong phone number. Because he was in the Army, he’d had to work all day and well into the night. Once he finally got home to his apartment, he was able to send me an instant message on Yahoo! Messenger. I had just gotten off the phone with my mom, an experienced Air Force wife. I had just told her about Bill, and she immediately gave me advice. She’d been through somewhat similar things with my dad when he was on active duty, although of course my dad never had to deal with anything like 9/11.

Once Bill contacted me and told me he was okay, I suggested that we tell people we were dating. If something had happened to him, I wouldn’t have known until the casualty lists were made public. On the other hand, if he hadn’t concluded we were in love over Labor Day, he would have had the perfect excuse to ghost me… He wouldn’t have considered doing that, though. Bill isn’t like that, which is one reason why I love him so. My husband is one of the kindest, most considerate, most decent people I’ve ever met. He almost always gives people the benefit of the doubt. I probably don’t deserve him. But then, if I were more like him, we’d probably be divorced by now, because we’d constantly be fighting off exploitive people like Ex.

This morning, as we were having breakfast, I was noticing all of the 9/11 posts on Facebook. I looked back at my memories and realized that in September 2015, we were on a trip I dubbed The Beer and Fucking Tour. I called it that because we went to Austria and visited two beer spas and two areas that incorporated the word “fuck” in them. There was Fucking, Austria (since renamed Fugging after 1000 years), and Fuckersberg, which turned out to be a big field in a very picturesque area.

This sign is no longer posted, because too many people were stealing and fucking under it for posterity… I wonder how many babies were born because of this sign… yet another random thing that could have had a profound effect on someone.

We had an amazing time on that long weekend, just as we did in 2001. We drove my Mini Cooper convertible, and the weather was lovely, just like it was in 2001, so we had the top down. It was fun to go to the beer spa and the beer pool, which we still talk about in reverent terms eight years later. We laugh about Fucking and Fuckersberg. But the most incredible event of that trip happened in a very ordinary place… a place we probably wouldn’t have visited at the right time if we hadn’t decided to visit Fuckersberg, which was out of the way of our onward travel plans.

Because we went to see the big field called Fuckersberg, we hit traffic in Munich. And because Bill doesn’t always want to stop when I really need to eat, we were running late for lunch. I got very HANGRY, especially as it got closer to the witching hour of 2:00 PM, which is when a lot of restaurants close after the lunch service. At the time of this trip, Bill was in an online graduate program. He had a paper due, so he was eager to get to our hotel and wanted to press onward. But I needed food, so we pulled off the Autobahn and went looking for a place that didn’t take a “pause” after lunch.

I remember that we were having a hard time finding a restaurant. I told Bill that he could just take me to McDonald’s or buy me some chocolate. I just needed to raise my blood sugar before I had a total meltdown. Bill was cussing a lot, which was also causing me stress. I don’t usually mind hearing him swear, but when I’m irritable and hungry, it really grates on my nerves. Just as we were about to give up our search and get back on the Autobahn to look for a proper rest stop, I saw a restaurant that might be suitable for lunch. We pulled into their parking lot.

We ended up at this very run-of-the-mill Italian restaurant in a Munich suburb. My mood was decidedly dark as we went into the crowded dining room and took a seat among many large families with loud children. I excused myself to use the restroom, and by the time I returned, Bill had already ordered a half liter of Primitivo (mostly for me) and some San Pellegrino. I was still grumbling as I sat there nibbling on bread and drinking the wine.

I looked up and noticed some cows grazing in a field just outside of the far window. For some reason, I wanted to take a picture of the cows, so I pulled out my iPhone. At that point, I didn’t know how to zoom on an iPhone, so I got a picture that was mostly of the dining room. That’s when I had a very profound experience that I don’t think I’ll ever forget, at least not as long as my mind still works properly.

There’s a stranger in the picture who changed my life.

When I took that photo, I hadn’t immediately noticed the man in the top left corner. It wasn’t until my blood sugar was normal that I saw him sitting with a group of people. He was wearing interesting clothes and clearly wasn’t from Germany. I discreetly pointed him out to Bill, who told me he was a Buddhist monk. I noticed he was with a young German woman who seemed absolutely enthralled and delighted by his company. There were some other locals with him. I watched them give him a pair of what appeared to be hand knitted green socks.

As he accepted the socks, he bowed and smiled, and I noticed that he had this incredibly tranquil aura about him. He had the most serene and gentle countenance I had ever seen. Just looking at him from across the room put me at ease. I was awestruck, even though I never spoke to him, nor do I think he even noticed me. In a blog post I wrote in 2015, I explained it like this:

I mentioned it to Bill who explained what he knows about Buddhism.  I still don’t know much about it, but I was really moved by his presence and how kind and decent he seemed to be.  It’s not often you run into someone with such a peaceful and pleasant aura.  He seemed like a very special person just by his manner.  I didn’t even speak to him, but his body language said enough.  I forgot my initial annoyance and relaxed, truly inspired by just watching the monk interact with his companions.  He left before we did, with the German woman who seemed so enchanted by him.

Edited to add…  My German friend, Susanne, says that the monk is Toyoshige Sekiguchi from Japan. He is rather famous and is currently a guest at a farm in Hohenschäftlarn, which is the town where the restaurant where we had lunch is located.  It turns out the reason I thought the monk was so peaceful is because his life’s work is all about promoting peace and nuclear disarmament.  Of all the places we could have eaten…  How amazing.

Years later, I realize that if we’d been at that place at a different time, or if we’d gone to McDonald’s, I would have missed that experience. Maybe I would have had a different, equally incredible experience, but I would have missed that one. My life would have been different. It probably wouldn’t have been significantly different, but it would not be the same as it is today, because I would have missed that profound moment in time, when we happened to eat at a very ordinary Italian restaurant on a random exit near Munich.

I shared that incredible experience with a man I happened to meet at just the right time in a chat room on the Internet… a man who could have so easily exited my life on September 11, 2001. He was in the wedge of the Pentagon where the plane crashed, but deep enough into the building that he missed being obliterated by the fuselage when it collided. That day changed Bill’s life, just as it changed mine. It changed the trajectory of our lives.

The older I get, the more I think some things were just meant to happen. Even really evil things like September 11th can spawn things that turn out to be good in the long run, if you look at it from a very macro perspective. I think Bill and I still would have gotten married if 9/11 hadn’t happened, but it might have taken longer. We might have taken more time to be sure it was the right thing to do. After what he went through with his ex wife, I could understand Bill wanting to take his time. But that close call on 9/11 made him realize that tomorrow is never promised to anyone.

I think about what came after 9/11… wars in two countries, with countless people dying or maimed. On the other hand, a lot of people were born because of 9/11 and the wars that followed. That event put people in places they might not have ordinarily been. A lot of lessons were learned… some good, and some bad.

Sometimes seemingly innocuous decisions end up changing or even ending your life. It’s on days like September 11th, that I always remember that lesson. You could go to work one day and find out that your undeclared boyfriend has suddenly been killed by a plane crashing into his workplace. Or you could end up in an ordinary restaurant in a non-specific town, watching a Buddhist monk accepting green socks, feeling peace wash over you just noticing his gentle, peaceful aura. Or you could pass a playground, watching small children, just discovering life, running toward the fence, literally cheering when they see the garbage man coming to empty the trash cans (which I did recently witness in my little town). Life is just full of that stuff. You can see it for yourself if you look for it.

Anyway… I figure I’ve prattled on long enough about this topic. I’ve got a neglected guitar that needs a few minutes of attention, and a dog who would love to take a walk. I also want to order some stuff from Aran Sweater Market and Henri Willig. So I’m going to end this post and get on with the day. If anything, I hope anyone who cared enough to read this post will take a moment to think about the little miracles in every day… things that happened and somehow changed your life forever. Maybe it will change your perspective somehow… perhaps even in a profound, life altering way.

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controversies, lessons learned, marriage, narcissists, politics, religion, sex, sexism, slut shamers

Is he really like a male version of Monica Lewinsky?

A few days ago, I started reading Giancarlo Granda’s book, Off the Deep End: Jerry and Becki Falwell and the Collapse of an Evangelical Dynasty. For those who don’t know, Giancarlo Granda was the infamous “pool boy” who had a rather kinky affair with Becki Falwell, while Jerry Falwell, Jr. sat by and watched. The affair, which began in 2012, was in the news during the height of the pandemic. People were buzzing about how this powerful couple, supposedly evangelical Christians leading a very famous Baptist university in Virginia, were drinking, partying, and having wild sex with a young guy from Miami.

I’m nowhere near finished reading the book now, but I don’t think it’ll take too long to get through it. It started off kind of slow, but then jumped into high gear. Just this morning over breakfast, I got a couple of chapters further into the sordid saga. I read aloud to Bill and we talked about Granda’s story, as well as his excuses.

There’s also a Hulu documentary about this… Maybe I’ll watch it.

As I read about how the Falwells lured the handsome 20 year old man (circa 2012) into their world, I feel a strange mixture of disgust, shock, amazement, and basic empathy for Granda. He admits early on that he was fascinated with business and the idea of making a lot of money. He was a good looking, ambitious, and somewhat naive guy, looking to break in with the high rollers of Miami, and he took steps to make that idea come to fruition. That’s why he was working as a “pool boy” at the Fontainebleau, a luxury hotel in Miami, where rich and famous people hang out to relax and make business deals.

Granda didn’t know much at all about the Falwells when he was approached by Becki, an attractive brunette with brown eyes who was, at that time, in her late 40s. He just knew that anyone staying at the Fontainebleau had lots of money… enough to rent a daybed for $150, run up four or five figure restaurant and bar tabs and tip accordingly. Becki was fit and attractive, and Granda was a young man in his sexual prime. So when she invited him to meet her at a Days Inn, he agreed– even though she added that her husband wanted to watch them together.

I suppose he figured this was a one in a lifetime opportunity, one of life’s little adventures that can only come up for the young and daring. Maybe it would lead to a lucrative business deal. Like a lot of young folks who work in hospitality, Granda was focused on making money and connections. I’m sure the prospect of having sex with an older woman also appealed to him, even if Granda wasn’t too keen on the idea of her 50 year old husband watching them and jerking off in the shadows.

According to Granda, Becki quickly attached herself to him… and in a weird way, so did her husband. The two did all they could to stroke Granda’s ego, to get him to continue having the affair. Later, they invited Granda into their business dealings, and were it not for the inevitable implosion of the relationship, he might be a high ranking executive at Liberty University today. But there was a big scandal, which caused Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife to fall very publicly from grace.

As I was reading Granda’s book this morning, I remembered the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which happened in the late 1990s. Lewinsky, for those who don’t know, was an ambitious White House intern from California. She wasn’t exactly an innocent, blushing virgin when she encountered then President Bill Clinton. In 2ooo, Lewinsky was a guest on Larry King Live, and she admitted that when she was barely out of high school, she had an affair with a 40 year old married man. So, although she was a very young woman when she served as an unpaid White House intern in the 1990s, Monica had some experience. And she knew damned well Bill Clinton was, and still is, a married man when she engaged in oral sex with him in the Oval Office.

Still… I will concede that it was probably difficult for her to consider not giving Clinton what he wanted. It’s not like she didn’t have prior experience. She had big dreams and lofty goals, and Clinton was the President of the United States! I’m sure, in her mind, blowing the Commander in Chief might lead to good things for her future. Talk about landing a big fish! In that way, she and Giancarlo had something in common, I guess.

Of course, Monica in the wake of her scandal with Bill Clinton, wound up being the butt of jokes for years. People had no respect for her, and she was relentlessly slut shamed and lambasted for her inappropriate relations with Bill Clinton. By contrast, I don’t remember a lot of people being quite as harsh regarding the Clintons.

Sure, many Republicans were deriding Bill Clinton for being immoral and unfaithful. Curiously, a lot of those same people have few issues with Donald Trump’s disgusting philandering behaviors. But, I didn’t hear a lot of people hurling shame at Clinton for accepting sexual favors from a woman young enough to be his daughter. That attitude certainly didn’t come from people who voted for him. I remember a lot of them saying that Clinton’s sex life was irrelevant, as they ridiculed Lewinsky for sullying their hero’s reputation.

Eventually the whole Clinton/Lewinsky sex scandal thing… blew over (see what I did there?). We don’t talk that much about Monica Lewinsky now. She’s 50 years old and living in California. But Giancarlo Granda brought up her name in his book, and I couldn’t help but kind of nod… as I’d thought of her, too, as he related his story about how he got trapped in an extremely inappropriate sexual relationship with the wife of the now former president of a huge evangelical university in my home state of Virginia.

But then I thought about the situation some more. I determined that Granda’s situation with the Falwells actually wasn’t that much like Lewinsky’s with the Clintons. First of all, Granda didn’t really know much about the Falwells when he ran into them at his job in Miami. Monica Lewinsky, by contrast, certainly knew who Bill Clinton was. He was the very obviously married President of the United States.

While the Falwells are also married, Becki invited Granda to engage in sexual acts with her with her husband’s cooperation and express encouragement. Indeed, Jerry Falwell, Jr. actually watched the two of them doing their business. Hillary, on the other hand, didn’t consent to Monica’s affair with Bill Clinton.

Secondly, the relationship Monica Lewinsky had with Bill Clinton was relatively short lived. There were nine encounters between November 1995 and March 1997, none of which involved sexual intercourse. Granda writes that he never had intercourse with Becki Falwell, but there was everything else, and the relationship didn’t end when the sex part was over. Granda was involved in the Falwell’s business dealings, and continued an emotional relationship with them.

And finally… while I don’t condone rich, powerful people taking advantage of others who are much younger and ambitious, there is a difference between how men and women are viewed in these situations. I know a lot of people are trying to work toward gender equality in the United States, but the truth is, there’s still a powerful force trying to keep women down. A woman who has an affair with a married man is still often considered a homewrecking whore. A man who has an affair with a “cougar” is often considered a lucky guy. And a lot of people, looking at what Granda got out of the deal, would say that he was lucky. This was a young, handsome, healthy, ambitious man who was looking for a way into the rich and fabulous lifestyle. He found a way through the Falwells… and all he had to do was stroke Becki Falwell’s ego and keep her entertained.

Lest anyone misunderstand me– I’m not saying I think Granda is lucky, because I don’t. I’m saying other people– those who are a lot more cynical than I am– would say he was. I do think the Falwells took advantage of Granda and even victimized him on some level, but in fairness to the Falwells, Granda was an adult at age 20. He knew Becki Falwell was a guest at the hotel where he was working. He knew she was married. Like a lot of people, he let his desire for money, power, and sexual gratification override his common sense. Yes, he was young and naive, and the Falwells were rich and powerful, but he had to know that on some level, what he was doing was wrong, and could potentially to lead to disaster. The Falwells actually brought Granda into their family and treated him like a son– which is, in its own way, especially gross. If he was like a son to them, that would make Becki like his “mom”. Eew.

Monica Lewinsky certainly wasn’t innocent in her situation, either. But she got a hell of a lot more flak for what she did than Granda ever could. The only reason people are talking about Granda today is because he wrote a bombshell book. It’s not even a super popular book, from what I can tell. People were making trashy Monica Lewinsky jokes years after her affair with the former POTUS was revealed. When she resurfaced a few years ago to give a TED Talk, the jokes and criticisms began anew. While her notoriety helped her in some ways, it also significantly hindered her, particularly when she wanted to be hired for certain jobs in communications and marketing.

A lot of people were snarking about this when it first came out… and had very little empathy for Monica’s plight.

I don’t know what leads some people to have sexual relationships with people much older than they are. Monica was 18 years old when she got involved with the 40 year old man. What did they have in common? My guess is that she was looking for someone mature who could provide emotional and financial security of some kind. While it was legal for her to be with a man that age, my guess is that the guy manipulated her. Later, when she had a chance to do sexual favors for Clinton, it probably didn’t seem that wrong or inappropriate to her. Again, it wasn’t like she didn’t have any prior experience.

Granda writes that he was manipulated, groomed, and victimized, too. But he freely admits that his motivation was making money and getting an inroad into the high level real estate business world. In both cases, I think the young people involved were left with significant regrets. Granda claims he was “used”, but I would submit that he used the Falwells, too. He saw them as a ticket to financial success in the business world, even though they were a married couple and in charge of a huge Christian university.

I hope to be reviewing Granda’s book soon. I just wanted to write about this theme while it was fresh in my head. Granda does bring up Lewinsky and compares his situation to hers. There are some similarities, but I think the lingering effects of Monica’s case were much more serious in the long run. She’s a woman who got involved with one of the most recognizable and respected people on the planet. Clinton never made her part of his family, or brought her into the family business. When it was over between them, she was branded a homewrecker, while Clinton’s reputation wasn’t damaged that much at all. In fact, check out this sympathetic song…

Eric Schwartz says Clinton got a blow job… which is not so “bad” in the grand scheme of things. If Giancarlo Granda had been a woman who had sex with Jerry Falwell, Jr., I’d pretty much guarantee the people of Liberty University would be calling Granda a “slut” and forgiving Falwell.

Granda is a man who didn’t even really know much about the Falwells before he fell into their trap. My guess is that even before this scandal happened, Jerry Falwell, Jr. had far fewer admirers than either Bill or Hillary Clinton still have. And some of us– myself included– had never even heard of Becki Falwell before this situation came to light. But this story is just a reminder that a lot of people in high places are probably folks you wouldn’t actually want to know… because so many of them got to where they are by doing yucky, hypocritical, immoral things.

The Bible even tells us this…

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:24

I’m not a particularly religious person myself, and clearly neither are the Falwells. But they sure had no problem using the God fearing to fly the Liberty University corporate jet to get to the Fontainebleau, where they met “poor”, “hapless” Giancarlo, looking for a ticket to get to where they were. It makes me glad I decided to go to a “godless” public university, where I had the complete freedom to do as I chose, and my tuition dollars didn’t go toward satisfying the former university president’s exotic and bizarre sexual desires. Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s conduct sure doesn’t seem like very Christlike behavior to me.

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condescending twatbags, love, marriage, relationships, social media

It’s not all bon-bons, wine boxes, and daytime TV, you know…

Today’s featured photo was taken from our car as we drove through Italy, on the way north. It’s a place called Silandro/Schlanders, and it’s in the Sud Tyrolean region. I’m thinking I’d like to go there with Bill, which I can easily do, since I’m a childfree homemaker.

Before I get too cranked up with today’s post, I want to thank those who took the time to read yesterday’s post, which did get some decent traffic. I got a few nice Facebook comments that were also much appreciated. Honestly, yesterday’s post was created out of my lack of a burning topic to write about, other than politics and religion. I just didn’t feel like going there yesterday, although I know there is a lot I could discuss.

Like, for instance, yesterday I did read a story about how some guy broke into a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse in Provo, Utah, where he proceeded to steal and eat four chicken nuggets. For this crime, he is now facing a third degree felony charge of burglary. Yes, it’s ridiculous, and yes I could rant about it… and maybe I eventually will.

The problem is, that kind of post has a limited shelf life. Moreover, while I could write about how ironic it is that the Mormons, who usually pride themselves on helping the down and out, are pressing charges against an apparently hungry man, I just don’t feel like it today. I do agree that it was wrong for the guy to break into the church and steal chicken nuggets. But I also hope the local prosecutor has some common sense.

Anyway, moving on to today’s actual topic…

Yesterday, I happened to see an Am I the Asshole (AITA) post on “God’s” Facebook page that made me pause. It was about a guy who asked if he was the asshole for mocking his date for wanting to be a “childfree housewife”. If you know me, you know why I stopped to read the post and its comments. Basically, that’s been my life situation since 2002.

Below is the original Reddit post:

My opinion? Yes, you are the asshole for laughing… and for not having a broad enough perspective to realize that a lot of people have done the ‘impossible” and found someone to “take that deal”. I happen to be one of them.

I hasten to add, being a childfree housewife was never my goal. I did plan to have a career, and I also wanted children. That just isn’t how my life went. I realize that the way my situation turned out isn’t the norm, but it’s not completely unheard of, either. While I can understand why the guy on Reddit chuckled at the woman he was dating, I also think people who mock other people– especially when they clearly haven’t done a lot of thinking about the reason they’re mocking– are usually assholes. And in this case, I can see why this fellow is still looking for a wife.

I read quite a few comments, many of which seemed to come from men who claim that this arrangement would be totally unfair. Other comments came from women who seemed angry, and were kind of seething about it, as if they were envious. A few people were reasonable. One lady said she’d like to be a “stay at home dog mom” and wondered if that’s a thing. I’m here to tell her that yes, indeed, being a dog mom is a thing for some of us.

I didn’t really want to share my story, because I knew it would likely invite shitty comments from people. So I just wrote:

“It’s not a bad gig.”

And it’s not, in my case. I pretty much do what I like most days, although I do have housekeeping chores that I stick to. I’m not expected or required to do these things. It’s not like Bill will come home and scream at me if I forget to wash the sheets or something. I do the chores because they keep the house running smoothly and help us maintain basic hygiene. Bill and I aren’t neat freaks, but we do like our environment to be basically clean and pleasant. So yes, I do housework. So does he, when he’s available. He also does most of the cooking, although I taught him a lot of what he knows.

I woke up to a comment from some chick named Jodi who decided to tell me off. Here’s what she wrote, unedited:

Being stuck with no funds and under the financial control of someone who knows you depend on them to keep a roof over your head isn’t a great gig. Being a guy’s maid/cook/therapist/errand-runner/personal assistant and bang maid, all unpaid, sounds like utter hell. Dudes wouldn’t jump at this situation as much as they do, if they didn’t plan on taking full advantage of it and benefitting from it themselves.

Wow… I think Jodi’s been hanging around the wrong kinds of men. Below is my response:

It really depends on the situation and the people involved, doesn’t it? Not all men are like that. 

I hadn’t planned to be a “stay at home wife” when I met my husband, but he was in the Army, and we moved constantly… I’m talking 5 times in 7 years! And we don’t have children because he had them in his first marriage and got snipped. Then we moved to Europe, where he works as a contractor, and it’s not so easy for a spouse to get a career type job if they don’t have a military background (which I don’t).

But we’re celebrating 21 years in November. We get along beautifully and have a great life. And no, I don’t sit on my ass all day and eat bon-bons, nor am I stuck with no funds and no say in anything. We are a partnership, and function as such. I know my situation is not the norm, but it’s probably not as uncommon as some folks on this post seem to think.

I mean, there’s a whole lot more to my story than that. If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably already know some of it. When I was younger, I certainly didn’t aspire to do what I do in 2023. I did want to be a writer, but I never expected that writing would actually be how I earn what little money I do make. I probably could make more money if I tried. In the past, I made over $40 an hour writing and researching for different organizations. But that was as a freelancer in the Washington, DC area. Obviously I don’t live there anymore, and when you move all the time, it becomes very difficult to make connections. I’m not proud of it but, with Bill’s blessing, I eventually quit trying. Much to my surprise, it’s all worked out fine.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about the future. Bill and I both know that things can change in a heartbeat. For that reason, I’ve been saving and investing money for years. With his blessing, every time Bill gets paid, I invest a few hundred dollars. What started as a one thousand dollar investment is now well over 50 times that. We have several certificates of deposits, a few savings accounts, life insurance policies for both of us, and at least one IRA (Bill handles that part). I also stay out of debt as much as possible. We paid off all of my credit cards and my student loans. I research things so Bill doesn’t have to. For example, it’s because of my insistence that we got German legal insurance, which certainly came in handy for us.

I wanted to have children, and we did try. Bill had his vasectomy reversed. It didn’t work out for us, and we couldn’t/didn’t want to spend the money for help with our fertility issues. In the early years, we struggled for money, and I couldn’t see going further into debt for the chance to have a baby– even though it would have been comparatively inexpensive through the military. However, going through IVF or another treatment also would have been very impractical, as in the years after Bill had the vasectomy reversal surgery, he went to Iraq.

Then, we moved to Germany the first time. That put us in proximity to the Czech Republic, where some Americans have gone for relatively inexpensive fertility treatments. I’ve read that the Czech Republic is actually one of the best places to get affordable and effective fertility treatments. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t want to go that route ourselves. More power to those who did have children that way. I think I just got to the point at which I was getting older and decided that the chance to be someone’s mother wasn’t a deal breaker in our relationship. Frankly, seeing how the world is faring these days makes me glad I didn’t have children, even if people negatively judge me for having that view.

Living in Germany has been good for us financially– Bill is paid well for what he does. He also has a military retirement that will not end for me if he predeceases me. We are also not going to get divorced. I know a lot of people say that, but if you know us, you know we ain’t gonna be splitting up, because we’re just way too compatible. Well… I probably shouldn’t say that, because you know– you should “never say never”, and I don’t want to tempt fate. But we do have a very solid marriage. We get along beautifully and have a lot of fun. Neither of us has any desire to ever date again. So, barring a completely bizarre situation, I highly doubt we’ll ever be divorcing.

The bottom line is, our method is working fine for us. That doesn’t mean it would work for everyone, nor would I necessarily encourage other people to do what we did. The way I fell into this lifestyle was completely ridiculous and very unexpected on every level. I didn’t aspire to be a housewife, nor did I think I’d be married to a guy in the military. I also never dreamed I’d marry such a kind and generous man. But I fell in love, and I wouldn’t trade my husband for a spot in a cubicle. He treats me like gold. I’d be a complete fool to sacrifice our relationship for the sake of my pride. Our lifestyle is simple, because there’s only one career to manage. That means it’s easier to take trips together, which gives me stuff to write about. It’s also easier when we have to move.

When Bill and I met, I was engaged in a dual degree graduate program that I hoped would finally lead me out of jobs in retail and restaurants. Had I not met him, I probably would be working in Atlanta or D.C. or somewhere else I could use my public health and social work background and international skills. Maybe I would have stayed in South Carolina so I could help turn the state purple with my liberal votes (I can dream, can’t I?).

Clearly, as you can see, that’s not what happened. I met Bill, and he was not in a job where we could choose to stay where I had a career, nor would we want to do that. Some military couples do choose to be separate for certain assignments, so they can both tend to their careers. For many reasons, we didn’t want to do that. The main one is that we enjoy each other’s company too much. And yes, I could get a job– probably even here in Wiesbaden– but it would certainly not be the kind of work I’d want to do… and honestly, we don’t currently need the money. However, there are other Americans in the military community here that do need the work. They can have the job I might have taken, if I’d decided to work somewhere.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about my lot in life. When you’re an overeducated housewife, you have the time to do that. 😉 People have judged me a lot for my choices. I’ve gotten a ration of shit from everyone– from people in my family, to complete strangers on the Internet. Some people think I’m an asshole simply for the title of this blog. They don’t know me, nor do they know the path that put me where I am.

The thing is, I can’t really complain about where I am. I live in a safe, beautiful country that is close to other safe, beautiful countries. I have a wonderful, kind, hardworking, compatible husband who loves me and treats me very well, in spite of my obnoxious personality and fluffy figure. We have more than enough for our needs. So, being a “childfree stay at home spouse” works fine for me… at least for now. I don’t think I made the wrong choices. In fact, looking at my life, I can’t say I’ve made a lot of bad choices. They just aren’t the choices we children of the 70s and 80s were told we should be making.

I’m not saying everyone can or should follow my example. I’m just saying there’s more than one way to get through life. Not everyone’s path is going to be the same. Some people are luckier than others are, and some people make the most of what they have to create good situations. I do think I was lucky, but I also do my part to give us a nice lifestyle, and I am every bit as involved as Bill is in the planning of our life together. It’s not all bon-bons, wine boxes, and daytime TV, you know… 😉

So, that’s my commentary for today. Now to finish this post and tend to Noyzi’s bedding… and maybe our own bedding. I’ve got things to do that don’t involve watching Dr. Phil or dining on Hot Pockets. I might do some music today, too. Catch you all tomorrow, barring anything strange or bizarre happening. 😉

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love, marriage, musings

Ahh… now this is more like it…

As I wrote on my travel blog yesterday, Bill decided that we needed a nice lunch after last week’s home improvement trauma. Last year, at the tail end of the COVID-19 lockdowns, we discovered a restaurant called Landhaus Diedert. We have now been there three times. Every time I’ve left there after a Sunday lunch, I’ve felt very contented. It’s a beautiful restaurant with gorgeous, delicious food, wonderful wines, and friendly, competent, kind service.

Yesterday, we sat outside in the restaurant’s Biergarten for the first time. We had perfect weather– sunny skies, with a gentle breeze, maybe about 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Our table was under a canopy of mature trees, where everyone was peacefully and quietly enjoying lunch. Now THAT was the life…

I do love living in Germany, even though being here has its inconveniences. Like, for example, this morning, I tried to access one of my online bank accounts, which now has two factor authentication. Although I called the bank and gave them my German phone number, and they confirmed that it worked, there must have been a system update. Now, my number has the wrong country code, so I can’t get their stupid authentication texts, nor will they email them to me. Their system won’t let me update the information online, so I’m going to have to call them later, once there are people at work. That’s one persistent problem with living here.

Another is not being very good at speaking German, which means we have to deal with sexist, inconsiderate assholes like the guys who temporarily took up residence in my house last week. I suppose I could have spoken to them in English and let my non-verbal language do the talking. They made it clear they weren’t interested in listening to me, though. While I know it’s pointless to be angry about this, the truth is, I’m still fuming. I hope karma catches up to those two motherfuckers very soon.

And I do miss some people from my past, too… like my mom and my sisters. We’ve missed a lot of family events, although maybe it’s better than we didn’t go to those.

Still, I couldn’t help but reflect yesterday on just how lovely our afternoon was. We had good food, good wine, and good company. It was just a really nice day, and an effective reminder as to why we prefer life in Europe. Too bad Bill has to go away again this upcoming weekend. It’s another week of TDY in Bavaria. But, it looks like he’ll be temporarily changing duties soon, which will mean no TDY travel for awhile.

I was wearing my favorite colors yesterday, which went pretty well with my sun and age bleached hair and blue eyes. 😀 I may look like an old hag when I’m at home, but I can clean up alright when I put on some makeup. I’m definitely a fan of blue. I felt pretty yesterday, in spite of being old and fat.

Not too shabby.

It’s days like yesterday that give me hope and make me want to stick around. And it’s photos like the one below that remind me of how much I disliked living in Texas.

Nine years ago, we were preparing to move out of our house in Texas, and some idiot tried to break in. They bled all over the driveway. Not to say that crime doesn’t happen in Germany, but there’s a lot less of this kind of shit.

Of course… in Europe, we do have our share of jerks, too. But at least, by and large, they aren’t armed. I read a very sad story a couple of days ago about a man whose wife of 18 months was shot and killed in a road rage accident. Someone cut the man off, so he flipped off the driver with his middle finger. Next thing he knew, his wife had been shot and killed. Naturally, it happened in Texas ( in the Dallas Fort-Worth area).

Here in Germany, flipping people off, especially in traffic, is illegal and can result in a large fine if you get caught doing it (especially if you do it to cops). And again… a lot fewer guns here, too… and the weather is generally not so horrible in the summer as it is in Texas.

So… I guess I’ll simmer down, although Bill still plans to have a talk with our landlord, if only to let him know that next time there’s a big job involving craftsmen, he’ll probably work from home. He’s probably a much better man than I deserve.

I think I’ll close this post and play my guitar. Maybe later, if it’s not too hot and I’m feeling cheeky, maybe I’ll record a new song. I couldn’t do any last week. Cheerio!

The featured photo is of the beautiful trees at Landhaus Diedert. Their Biergarten is just lovely, especially on temperate July days.

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