LDS, music, psychology, songs, videos, YouTube

Putting a face to the voice…

Last week, when I got the news that the great 60s singer Ronnie Spector had died, I decided to try one of her most famous songs. Mind you, I was not one of Ronnie’s biggest fans. I was born in 1972, which was after she was really famous. I didn’t know who she was until 1986 or so, when she and the late Eddie Money had a hit song called “Take Me Home Tonight”. I did like some of Eddie Money’s music, although I wasn’t one of his biggest fans, either. I also got really tired of “Take Me Home Tonight” when it was a hit. It was forever on the radio, and back then, we didn’t have streaming services.

The following year, the movie Dirty Dancing was released, and Ronnie Spector’s big hit, “Be My Baby” was made popular again. I thought it was a nice song, but never noticed how truly joyful it was until last week, when I got it in my head to sing it. So I sang it, and paired it with a video of Noyzi watching fox hunting videos with me on YouTube. I always do that. I don’t like to be on camera. Then I uploaded the video to YouTube.

I don’t share my music videos much, but sometimes I will put a link on the Recovery from Mormonism page. There are some good musicians that hang out there, plus I’ve found that a lot of the posters have really good taste in music. I’ve found several really great artists based on recommendations on RfM. I’ve also found some good books there.

So some people clicked the link and I got some very nice comments. I also got a suggestion. It’s one I’ve heard before, but have always resisted. One person, a guy who is a fellow guitar player and singer, wrote this:

“At this point, I donโ€™t sing and play at the same time, but maybe someday I will get good enough at guitar to do everything at one time.” (quoting me)

Start doing this right away with very simple songs, and recording yourself; maybe use a click track from garage bad or a metronome. It’s good to get the skill of singing, keeping time and moving your fingers to different patterns than your voice is making. Also take video of yourself. Watch what you look like when you play, and practice playing in the dark or not watching your fingers when you change chords or do runs and fills.

You have an excellent voice, viewers on youtube want to see you perform, a good voice with simple backing is much more engaging than singing over commercial backing tracks.

OK enough of my armchair coaching … I needed to take this advice long ago.

I have to admit, I kind of inwardly sighed. It’s not the first time someone has given me unsolicited advice, nor is it the first time someone has suggested that I post a video showing myself. I know he’s right– people like to see who’s singing. I’m still working on feeling competent enough to put more of my guitar playing out there. What I usually do is record the track and pair it with photos, which may or may not have anything to do with the music, or sometimes video. It’s really more about the sound to me, rather than the whole package.

I tried to explain that I get super self-conscious on video. I don’t even like video calls, although those are less anxiety provoking and distracting than watching myself perform. I’m already preoccupied with perfection, but feel even less comfortable with looking at myself. I rarely put on makeup or a bra, and generally can’t be arsed to do so for a video. I’d honestly much rather perform live, with people watching me, than perform on video.

But then a couple of other people added encouragement. I thought about it some more, and realized what the hell? It’s not like there aren’t ugly people on YouTube. And nobody cares what I look like anyway… although that is precisely why I figured it shouldn’t matter if my face is on video. One poster wrote:

We often don’t give ourselves enough credit. I’ve always been the one most often behind the camera. Not only because I feel compelled to record family history but in order to avoid being the subject myself. Same reason – I have had no wish to immortalize myself. My sister sent me a photo not long ago of myself as her bridesmaid, one I’d not seen before. I told her it was the best picture, by far, I’d ever seen of myself. To the point I didn’t even recognize me! She said no, you always look like that. Alrighty then. So that one I’ll keep. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think you look lovely in the video, knothead, and your voice makes it even better. I had to laugh – I’ve visualized you all this time as a tall, thin redhead. Why, I have no idea.

You can always put on a bit of slap for the camera once in a while, and about the bra – will anybody care? ๐Ÿ™‚ (I’m assuming she means my photo, which is on my YouTube channel. I haven’t shown myself in a video yet.)

I had to laugh at how she pictured me. There have been times in my life when I’ve had red hair, but I’m a natural blonde… short, squatty, buxom, and rather fat. And now, at almost 50, my hair is kind of silvery blonde. It does look nice on my YouTube photo, although that picture is about three years old. But I realized again, she’s probably right. People probably won’t care about my actual appearance… and it might make for an interesting experiment. Not that I make any money on YouTube anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter how many or how few views I get, other than in terms of my ego.

I then realized that even if I wanted to video myself playing and singing at the same time, I couldn’t do it due to my mic set up. Until yesterday afternoon, I didn’t have a mic stand. So I ordered a mic stand, along with dog treats (they’ve gotten so expensive) and new “corn cob” lightbulbs for our new Tiffany nightstand lamps.

I bought the new lamps because the base fell out of my old lamp and shattered on the floor. The lamp still works, but I figured the fact that the base is plastic with some kind of heavy material inside of it to weigh it down enough to support the shade, was a sign that it was time to buy new lamps. And the ones I got, while made in China, are smaller and have 220 voltage and plugs. I am definitely happier with them with the new bulbs that didn’t come with the lamps. The old bulbs were too dim.

The lady who encouraged me to post my visage added this comment:

knotheadusc Wrote:
——————————————————-
> I am a short, squatty, buxom blonde/silver haired
> woman who will turn 50 this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I spend most
> of my time in my nightgown, sans makeup and
> styling, because I mostly hang out with dogs.

Haha, thanks for the much-needed laugh today.

I wish I had the dogs excuse. I work from home, which I used to enjoy very much, but somehow with the relative isolation for various reasons, it feels empty like it never did before. Lately I have worked in my pink fluffy pj’s all day. The beginning of the end! Even if someone comes to the door they don’t linger and so it’s not a motivation for me to get properly dressed. Make-up, never. Hair, pony. It’s nice and not nice at the same time.

It would all be better if only I could play the guitar. I’ve always wanted to. Never took the time. My jr high band teacher imposed the clarinet on me – no such thing as personal choice back in the day. I didn’t enjoy the clarinet and it didn’t like me. Now, the sax, I love. But my bones are not musical other than to enjoy the talents of others and wish it were me. I recently watched a Welsh Choir Christmas concert online. The lady on sax was amazing and her sax was gorgeous – shining gold in the light. I’ve never seen a gold sax before.

I’ve always thought that music is perhaps the great peacemaker, something we can all come together around, because humans love music. Except then we’d argue over the genre, for sure.

Thanks again for sharing your talent. I really enjoyed your video and this ensuing discussion. As well as the music history videos I found due to your post. It’s amazingly fortunate that that sound has been preserved as well as stories of the lives of musicians we’ve never heard of before but who deserve to be known.

I agree with her about the value of YouTube videos. Lately, I have been so into YouTube. In fact, I probably look at YouTube more than I do Facebook, which is a really good thing. I love watching old TV shows and movies, as well as some of the very talented folks who put themselves out there every day. I still consider myself a writer, first and foremost, but I may decide to put more YouTube content out there. Bill and I have even talked about doing a podcast at some point, so he can put his story out there in his own words.

Anyway, I just read that Meat Loaf died. I was never a big fan of his. I think I’ve written in this blog why that is– it’s mainly due to the fact that his music, especially “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, always reminds me of a humiliating #metoo moment I had at a party back in the early 90s. However, I recognize that Meat Loaf was talented, and many people have enjoyed his music immensely. So I wish much peace and comfort to his family and friends. Maybe I’ll try “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” today. I don’t mind that song as much.

For those who are curious about my tribute to Ronnie Spector, see below.

First time I ever did this song. It never occurred to me… although I think I enjoyed it enough to try some of Ronnie’s other songs.

Thanks to Putin and the threat to Ukraine, Bill has to work tomorrow. He’ll probably work from home all day, which sucks. I think he has to go TDY at the end of the month, too…

I don’t have any specific chores planned for today. Maybe it will be a music day. Or maybe I’ll watch more dog grooming videos. The possibilities are endless.

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celebrities, disasters, music, obits, YouTube

Hana Horka bets and loses on deliberately catching COVID-19…

Yesterday, I wrote that I’m really tired of reading and hearing about COVID-19, and all of the preaching related to the virus. That’s still a true statement. However, this morning I read a very sad news story about Hana Horka, a woman from the Czech Republic who deliberately exposed herself to COVID-19. Why? Because like Germany, the Czech Republic is making life harder for the unvaccinated by denying them entry to restaurants, theaters, saunas, and the like. Unfortunately, her decision cost her dearly. Instead of heading for the nearest spa, newly recovered from COVID-19, this woman– only 57 years old when she died– is headed to the Great Beyond– whatever that is.

The story goes that Hana Horka, who was a member of famed Czech band Asonance, was against being vaccinated. Her son, Jan Rek, said that it wasn’t because she believed in any ridiculous conspiracy theories. She didn’t think, for instance, that anyone getting a vaccine was going to be implanted with microchips or have their DNA changed in some way. Rather, Rek says that his mother simply preferred to get COVID and have “natural immunity” to the virus instead of getting a vaccine.

According to Rek, over the Christmas holidays, he and his father, who are both fully vaccinated, both tested positive for COVID-19. Horka determined that this would be her chance to finally contract COVID-19 and qualify for a health pass. So, instead of isolating herself and avoiding her sick family members, Hana Horka deliberately exposed herself to COVID. She looked forward to getting the virus and eventually recovering, which would allow her the ability to, once again, access fun venues that are denied to unvaccinated people in many parts of Europe. Having recovered from the virus, Horka would also have been allowed to perform with Asonance without having to be vaccinated.

At first, it looked like her plan had worked. Two days before she died, Horka posted on social media, “I survived… It was intense. Now there will be theatre, sauna, a concert… and an urgent trip to the sea”. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

On the morning of her untimely death, Horka was feeling better. She got dressed to take a walk. But then her back started to hurt, so she went to her bedroom for a rest. Ten minutes later, she was dead, having choked to death.

I obviously don’t know what happened to cause Horka’s sudden demise, but I have read that COVID can cause blood clots. Perhaps she had a pulmonary embolism, which I know can and does kill people very suddenly. But her son mentions choking, which doesn’t sound like the same thing. Anyway, it’s a very sad loss, especially for her family members and friends, but also for anyone who enjoyed her talents. Asonance is the oldest folk band in the Czech Republic. I have no doubt that Horka’s music was beloved by many of her fellow Czechs as well as others around the world.

Hana Horka at work with her band. The music is over for her, now. I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat listening to this.

Horka’s son, Jan Rek, says that he blames the many “anti-vax” groups across Europe who have been protesting vaccine mandates. Approximately 63 percent of the population in the Czech Republic are fully vaccinated. Many of those who aren’t vaccinated have been protesting and rebelling against the government’s new restrictions. There are also reports of anti-vax groups holding “COVID parties”, in much the same way people in the 1970s deliberately exposed children to chicken pox. People who can prove that they have recovered from COVID-19 don’t have to be vaccinated, and they aren’t subjected to the restrictions that punish those who refuse to comply with vaccine mandates.

Rek says the anti-vax groups have “blood on their hands.” According to the Daily Beast, Rek also added:

โ€œI know exactly who influenced her… It makes me sad that she believed strangers more than her proper family… It wasnโ€™t just total disinformation but also views on natural immunity and antibodies acquired through infection.โ€

Rek said that it was pointless to discuss the merits of getting the vaccine with his mom because the discussion would very quickly become “emotional”. I heard similar comments about one of my unvaccinated sisters from my own mom, who had expressed concern to me that she refused the shots. Mom told me that she couldn’t talk to my sister about her worries, because my sister would very quickly get upset with her. Rek says that now he’s telling his mother’s story, hoping that might persuade some people to get vaccinated. It occurs to me that my sister, who has spent too much time in North Carolina, has a habit of saying “Holy Hannah!” as an exclamation. I can’t help but realize the next time I hear her say that, I’ll probably think of “Holy Hana…” in honor of this singer, who may very well literally be holy now.

I know that yesterday, I complained about the pandemic preaching and lectures on social media. I still do find that an annoying practice. However, I think sharing stories like this one is a valuable practice. The main difference is, like anyone else who has had direct experience with COVID, Hana Horka was a living, breathing, singing person who made real and measurable differences in people’s lives. In Hana’s case, it was obviously with her music, but I know there were other gifts she had that other people enjoyed. She made an unfortunate choice, that ultimately led to her destruction. Her story isn’t a “stale” meme, and it’s not been passed around social media like a plate of microwaved hors d’oeuvres at a party. This is real news, and unfortunately, Hana Horka is just one more face to add to the tragic tapestry of COVID-19 deaths.

Look at how much Hana Horka loved to perform. I wish I had discovered this band in a different way… not because a member died of COVID, but because they make beautiful music.
I think it’s profoundly sad that Hana can no longer sing with her band, all because of a tiny, destructive, deadly virus.

So, as much as I am sick and tired of face mask preaching social media posts, COVID-19 lectures, and arguments among friends and family, I do appreciate stories about real people who made choices, and how those choices worked out for them in the end. I do pay attention to their stories and I don’t laud their deaths. Listening to the videos above, I know that Hana Horka’s death is a real loss to many people. I wish she had chosen differently, and I hope her story informs those who need to know about it. But obviously, people are going to do what they’re going to do, and they’re going to believe what they’re going to believe.

My heart goes out to Horka’s family… especially her son, who obviously grieves for her. I’m sure it’s especially heartbreaking for him to know that his mother got the virus from him and his father. He probably lives with an especially hellish form of survivor’s guilt over that. I wish peace and comfort for them all.

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education, lessons learned, music

Is teaching activism a “bad” thing?

Brace yourselves, y’all. I have a new topic to discuss today!

I am a proud graduate of Longwood College, now known as Longwood University. It’s a medium sized liberal arts college in the dead center of Virginia. When I was a student there, it was smaller than it is now. In fact, I know I would be shocked by the huge changes to the campus since I attended in the early 90s. Not only has the campus changed significantly, but apparently, so has the curriculum. Longwood is offering what I think are some very exciting and innovative courses.

Longwood is the kind of school where students are nurtured and encouraged to try new things by professors who really care. I graduated from Longwood in 1994, and 28 years later, there are still people there who remember me when I was a student. I also have so many real friends from my years at Longwood. It’s at Longwood that I started developing my gift for music, and was allowed– and even strongly encouraged and recruited– to study music, just because I have a knack for it. The faculty at Longwood is, by and large, first rate. And while it was not my first choice college, it turned out to be an excellent choice for me. My four years at Longwood truly changed my life for the better.

Naturally, because I am such a booster, I follow Longwood on social media. And this morning, I noticed a post about a new and exciting course that is being offered this spring. Longwood now offers a Civitae Core Curriculum, which did not exist during my college years. Back when I was a student, we called the core curriculum “general ed”. But things have clearly changed, and now freshmen can take a course called Citizen 110– Music Identity and Social Change. This class, which is taught by Honors faculty member, Dr. Kevin Schattenkirk-Harbaugh, will explore how music can inspire people to take action. It will look at artists such as Billie Holliday, George Michael, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, and others, to see how music motivates people to take interest and action in the world.

Now… as a music lover who took many music electives at Longwood to supplement my major in English, I know that this class would intrigue me. I haven’t taken a close look at Longwood’s Civitae Core Curriculum, but my guess is that this class is just one choice of several that students can take to fulfill their degree requirements. Based on the class description, I can state with certainty that I would have wanted to take this class myself. It sounds exciting and interesting. And based on the Facebook comments I’ve seen so far, I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who would be interested in taking this course.

Still, there’s a critic in every crowd, and this post was no exception. A woman, who apparently isn’t even a Longwood alum, wrote this:

Activism? This is what parents are paying for?

Another commenter wrote:

The history of activism inspired by music. A unique and interesting examination of how music has inspired some…

And the original commenter responded with:

I get that. But to what purpose? To incite more activism?

I couldn’t help but get the idea that the poster thinks activism is a “bad” thing. And while I usually try not to respond to people on social media, and had already passed my self-imposed one comment per day quota, I felt compelled to leave a response. This is mainly because the person’s comment irked me on many levels, but also because I know I would have LOVED a class like this in the early 1990s:

No. To teach students about how music inspires people to take action. Whatโ€™s wrong with that? A lot of positive changes have come out of activism. Aside from that, not everyone who takes that course will eventually wind up taking to the streets.

Not all college students are having college paid for by their parents, either. When I went to Longwood, I knew a number of people who were older students and paying for their own education. Or they were in school on scholarship. As legal adults, Longwood students should be trusted to choose electives that interest them. If the course turns out to be inappropriate or unpopular, that will be reflected eventually.

I don’t know this poster at all, but her comment really troubles me. From the implied assumption that all students in college get their tuition paid for by their parents, to the idea that teaching adults about how music inspires action could potentially be damaging, I feel personally affronted by this person’s comment. However, I am not sorry she posted, because her comment did lead me to do some thinking and writing about something besides my current pet topics. I do enjoy reflecting on my time at Longwood, and all of the things I learned there, as well as the many good times I had when I was a student there.

When I was a Longwood student, Virginia was a more conservative state. There was a Confederate statute that stood just off campus. I remember watching many drunken fraternity brothers climbing it at night. While there were some innovative classes offered during that time period, I don’t remember ever seeing a course with such a provocative title on offer at Longwood during my era. I think this new class is a sign that my alma mater is evolving, and I think that’s a really good thing.

Longwood has a long, storied reputation as a school where great teachers are trained. It makes sense to me that new courses with exciting subject matter would be offered. My only hope is that this class allows for constructive discussion from many different perspectives. I hope and expect that the professor who teaches it will allow students to explore the topic from all angles. There will be some students in that class who are conservative, and not politically correct in their opinions. There will also be some students who will take a much more liberal view. I hope that all sides will have a voice, and it won’t be a course in which opinions are taught as fact.

BUT– after my own seven years’ experience as a university student at two different schools, I have found that course quality often has a lot to do with who is doing the teaching. Having spent four years at Longwood, I have every expectation that this class will be taught in a way that encourages reflection and broad thought. It sounds like it will be a treat to take this course. I truly wish I could take it myself, and it’s exciting to me that it’s being offered now. I wish I had a son or daughter I could have sent to Longwood. I have to be contented in seeing some of my old friends’ children deciding to attend college there.

Below is a screenshot of a description of this class:

It sounds great to me!

One of the great things about getting a liberal arts education is having the opportunity to broaden one’s perspectives. When I got to Longwood in 1990, my world view was mostly shaped by spending ten years living in a very rural part of Virginia. Although I had the benefit of living in England and the multicultural D.C. area when I was very young, when I was growing up, I was mostly surrounded by white, southern, Christian, conservative people. My upbringing really showed when I got to Longwood, and in fact, after I graduated, I still had some limited views that could have used some informing.

My mind opened up a lot when I joined the Peace Corps and went to live in Armenia for two years. I still cringe a little bit when I think about how sheltered I was when I was in my 20s, not having been exposed to that much of the world. I remember more than a couple of times when I sounded truly idiotic– perhaps even more so than I might today. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yes, people can choose to take paths that will broaden them at any stage of life, but it would have been great to have had the chance to start the process when I was in college, rather than after I graduated. College is a time for exploration and evolution in a safe place. I think these kinds of courses are crucial for young adults who are coming of age. And they also spice up the usual basic 101 courses that are typically required for freshmen students.

And– by the way– most college students are legal adults, whether or not mom and dad are paying their tuition. Legal adults should be encouraged to take charge of their education, since they will ultimately be the benefactors of it. I know that some parents who pay college tuition bills think they should have a say in what their dollars are paying for. However, I think that’s something that needs to be handled within individual families, not at the level of parents complaining about curriculum offerings. In other words, if you– mom or dad– don’t like what Junior is taking at college, take it up with Junior. Don’t try to take educational opportunities away from everybody by assuming that you, as a parent, should get a say in what courses the university offers when you’re not even a student there. Granted, this one class might not lead a student to a great job, but it might help a student become a person with a heightened awareness and broadened perspective, which could lead them to places they never dreamed of going.

So… count me among those who are cheering about this class, and others like it, that are now being offered at Longwood University. I see nothing wrong with teaching young people about activism, or how certain things– like great songs– can inspire and motivate people to take action, for better or worse. I don’t think the students who are exposed to this course are necessarily going to grab picket signs and stage protests. Some of them might do that someday, but they would probably be the types of people who would have done that, anyway. Rather, I think this class is going to make students aware that they have the power to effect change if they want to– and it doesn’t necessarily have to be for causes that are liberal, conservative, or whatever. It’s just a look at the ways music can inspire and help foster change– for better or worse. I think it sounds like it’s going to be a very stimulating and fun class, and the students are lucky there’s a professor at Longwood who had the vision to create this course. If it turns out to be a flop, that will become clear soon enough.

We shouldn’t be afraid to expose young people to new ideas or exploration of old ideas. We shouldn’t assume that they’ll go astray simply because we encourage them to reach out and learn more about things that might be controversial or against the establishment. I have great faith in the students at Longwood, and I suspect this class will be very successful. Bravo, Dr. Kevin Schattenkirk-Harbaugh! I look forward to hearing more about this course offering.

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celebrities, lessons learned, music, musings, obits, YouTube

The first day of 2022…

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve 2021. Bill and I had a nice evening, marred only by the news that the great Betty White passed away. A lot of people reacted to the news of Betty’s New Year’s Eve demise with great sadness. She was a remarkable woman who was blessed with so much talent, beauty, and humor. When I think of how many people were touched by her, it almost overwhelms me. This was a lady whose career spanned many decades and generations, and she did it all– singing, dancing, acting, sales pitching, and especially comedy. She was the oldest Golden Girl, and the last one to leave us.

She was such an adorable and hilarious pro! God bless her, wherever she is… I hope she and her beloved husband, Allen Ludden, have finally reunited.

I loved Betty White as an entertainer. I admired her a great deal. However, I don’t feel particularly sad that she died, nor do I think of it as a tragic event. I think, as living and dying go, Betty White did it in grand fashion. As far as I know, she wasn’t seriously ill when she passed. In fact, she was even featured on People magazine’s cover this week, as she planned to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17th. She was still “with it”, and not bed bound. Yes, it would have been wonderful if she could have celebrated one last birthday, but 99 years is still a hell of a good run. What happened to her eventually happens to us all… and she had the good fortune to do it on relatively favorable terms.

I think this one was my favorite! Betty’s dusty muffins could not be matched.

So no, I’m not totally saddened by Betty White’s death. She died the same year as several of her co-stars on the Mary Tyler Moore show, as we also lost Gavin McLeod, Ed Asner, and Cloris Leachman in 2021. And all of them lived to ripe old ages, having been able to work, play, and be in the world pretty much the entire time. We should all be so lucky… and in fact, I think we’re all lucky that we were alive at the same time she was.

*Giggle* She was so funny!

MOVING ON…

A lot of people were also mentioning how much 2021 sucked. I’m sure it really did suck for a lot of folks. COVID-19 has really screwed up normal living for so many. However, one good thing I have noticed about the COVID era is that some people are reprioritizing their lives. Yesterday, I read an awesome Reddit thread called “Twas the night before my resignation”, about a guy who decided some years ago that he no longer wanted to prioritize his career over his family. He started taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2021, as usual, he scheduled that week off.

At the end of the year, a work emergency came up. It wasn’t something that should have affected his time off, and he did what he could to warn his employers that he would be taking that week off. But, as it happens, the company dragged its feet and the emergency, quite predictably, became dire as the guy’s week off approached… For best results, you really should read it for yourself. Suffice to say, the guy pretty much told his boss to pound sand, and was richly rewarded for his moxie. And to that, I say, “Kudos, and fuck those people!” I hate it when employers treat their employees like they own them. It’s nice to see that some workers have been able to claim some control over their work environments. I hope this is a trend that lasts, so that working conditions will improve for everyone.

I know… maybe it’s too much to hope for that there will be less greed and corruption in the American workplace. But I can dream, can’t I? Hell… if I were in the USA now, maybe someone would even hire me!

Bill and I actually had a fairly good 2021, in spite of COVID’s suck factor. We finally resolved our lawsuit, and it mostly went in our favor. I know it may seem like a small thing, but holding our former landlady accountable for her egregiously illegal actions, outright lies, and the really crappy way she treated us, was very satisfying. I think we learned a lesson from it, too. Hopefully, that lesson will carry over the next time someone tries to screw with us and shame us into automatically allowing them to have their way.

In 2021, Bill finally started working with a Jungian analyst, which is something he’s been wanting to do for a long time… and something I’ve felt he’s needed to do the whole time I’ve known him. The sessions have been very healing for him, but they’ve also been immensely rewarding and interesting. I didn’t know anything about Carl G. Jung when Bill and I met, despite my background. Social workers do study psychology, but it’s not really the bulk of what we learn, since social work is not psychology, per se. It’s been fascinating to learn more about Jung, and help Bill learn more. He’s been so intrigued by the process that he even started taking classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich. So far, the classes have been online, but we did get a chance to visit Zurich for the first time last summer. If we manage to stay here awhile, he may get to do some serious work.

As for my own successes… I’ve watched my relaunched blog explode. In 2021, I had over 560 times the hits I had in 2020, which was much more successful than 2019, when I moved my blog to WordPress. It really is picking up, and that’s been exciting to see, even though it took some time.

I felt pretty much forced to relocate the blog from Blogspot, although I had kind of wanted to do it for a long time. It was difficult and a bit depressing to start over in February 2019. I had a decent following on the original blog, even though it was a bit rawer than this one is. Moving the blog meant losing followers, as well as ad revenue. It’s not that I make a lot of money at all through ads, but it was kind of a nice thing to occasionally get paid by Google.

Well… that pretty much ended with a thud when I moved the blog, and for quite some time, I felt really constrained and nervous about writing. I know some people don’t think I have any talent… and some people think writing is a waste of my time, so they think nothing about messing with what I do… and some people just plain don’t like me, and want to cause trouble for me for selfish and dishonest reasons. This blog is NOT my life, but it is something I enjoy creating, and it gives me a purpose. So it was hard for me in 2019, when I experienced the setback that caused me to have to start over.

Two years later, I think my blog is better than it ever was. And I’ve been rewarded with new followers, and yes, more ad revenue. I only monetized the blog a few months ago, but pretty soon, I’ll be eligible to be paid. And I can only expect that this blog will be more successful than the original blog was, in terms of money, and quality content. The travel blog is a bit down in views lately, but hopefully COVID-19 will eventually be tamed enough so we can travel again. And really, I mainly write this stuff for myself, anyway, so anyone who reads and enjoys it is just icing on the cake.

I also found a new person with whom I can do music collaborations. In fact, I even uploaded our latest effort this morning! Music is something I do for fun and relaxation, so this is a rewarding development, too…

He lives in the States. We’ve never met, but we have similar musical tastes.

Another great thing that happened in 2021 was that Bill and I finally got to visit Croatia, and pay another visit to Slovenia. I already knew Slovenia was beautiful, but Croatia was magical. Although we didn’t have an “action packed” vacation in the fall, it was still probably one of my favorite trips yet. Just the sheer beauty of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as the time we spent in Austria (another favorite destination) was so awesome. I guess COVID has also made me a lot more grateful for ANY travel. Thank God for vaccines, too. I will be boosted in a few days, which may cause temporary discomfort, but will likely make my chances of dying from COVID lower.

We got to see a few friends, and make a few new friends… and the old friends who are real friends are still with us. We also didn’t lose any loved ones in 2021. In fact, in 2022, Bill will presumably gain another grandchild. And… our beloved Arran and Noyzi are still alive. Noyzi has even become a real part of the family, right down to loving on me when he wants something and showing up fashionably late to dinner! So that’s a blessing.

I have high hopes for 2022… I hope you do, too. To those of you who have been part of this blog, thank you so much! I especially want to thank my friends who have been here since the beginning. You are all a big part of the success, too!

2021 didn’t suck for us… but I know some people are really struggling right now. I don’t know what words of wisdom or comfort I can share. One friend mentioned how bad 2021 was, and I mentioned that I thought 2016 was worse– at least in terms of lost legends. She responded that she’d had a rough time of it in 2021, and compared 2021 to a few other horrible years she’d experienced.

I knew she’s been having a hard time, so I acknowledged that. And then I remembered one of my worst years ever– 1998. If I’m honest, there were a few times during that year that I seriously contemplated suicide. I was dealing with moderately severe depression, and I didn’t see how I was ever going to escape the situation I was in. It was NOT a hopeless situation by any means– which I clearly proved. But at the time, it felt hopeless… and my perspective was so blurred by depression and anxiety that I couldn’t see beyond the fog of despair and despondency.

But some very good things also happened that year. Yes, I was working in a restaurant job where I was abused daily, and I lived with my parents, who were kind of hostile and disappointed in me. I was young and basically healthy, but felt unattractive and unsuccessful. That year, I backed into some lady’s car in our driveway, because I was so upset… and that accident led me to finally seeing a therapist. Dr. Coe helped me so much, and I was eventually put on antidepressants that changed my life. To this day, I no longer feel as horrible as I did for most of my young life.

I eventually got pretty good at the restaurant job, and was able to make enough money to pay for the therapy and save up for an apartment. I bought a car. I had a terrible setback in November 1998– in fact, that was probably one of the worst months of my life. And yet, two months later, the medication was finally correct, and I started getting my shit together… and by November 1999, I was in a dual degree master’s program, proving to myself that I wasn’t as stupid or worthless as I had felt a year prior. That was also the month I “met” Bill online. By November 2002, we were married! And now, 19 years later, here we are… In 2022, I’ll presumably turn 50, and we will celebrate 20 years married.

So it’s good that I didn’t give in to my urges to off myself back in 1998. That would have meant missing out on some really wonderful things. That “abusive” job also led to meeting some truly great friends and learning valuable life and survival skills. In the long run, that turned out to be a good thing, too, despite the suffering that happened when I was still in that situation.

My point is, sometimes what seems like the shittiest times can lead to some pretty wonderful recoveries. So if you are struggling right now, I urge you to hang on as best you can. It can, and probably will, get better. But I also know that those words ring hollow when a person is really suffering. So just know, there are people who really do care, and have been through it, too… You’re probably more like them than you know… unless, of course, you’re Josh Duggar or Ghislaine Maxwell. Those two probably won’t be enjoying life for awhile.

And, with that bit of “wisdom”, I’m signing off for today… Got a few chores to take care of, and then it’s time to watch movies and concerts.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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Bill, home, housekeeping tips, music, YouTube

The power of teamwork and learning new skills…

Bill had to work late last night. Originally, he planned to go to work at noon and stay until 9:00pm, which would have been a reasonable work day. But it turned out that things kind of went to shit early in the morning, so he ended up heading to work at 7:30am. He stayed until 9:00pm.

I knew it was going to be a crazy week, and after nineteen years of marriage, I understand the nature of Bill’s work. Sometimes he has to work at odd times. Sometimes he has to work very long hours. I wasn’t even that annoyed yesterday that he had to go in earlier than planned. In fact, I kind of expected it. Bill is a very dedicated employee and he’s extremely empathic. He knew they needed him, so he jumped right in to get the job done.

Last night, I was sitting in our bedroom listening to Katie Joy’s Without A Crystal Ball stream about Josh Duggar’s trial. I don’t even think I was paying a lot of attention to what was being said. I’ve been trying really hard to finish a book, but every time I try to read, I get really drowsy and either fall asleep or have to take a nap. I want to get the book finished, because I’m really looking forward to reviewing it.

At around 8:00pm, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything and felt like having pizza. So I went down to the kitchen and started making dough. I made a full recipe, so there were two crusts. I put one in the freezer. We have a pizza stone that I haven’t personally used much, although I have made pizza lots of times. Nowadays, Bill does most of the cooking. So I watched a video on how to use a pizza peel.

This was a big help! And yes, I was successful.

I used to be a great cook. I was even paid to cook at one time in my life. I am out of practice, though. It’s great to have YouTube around for handy household tips like this. Nineteen years as an overeducated housewife, you’d think I would have learned sooner.

By 9:00pm, I had eaten two slices of the delicious small pizza I made. The crust was infused with raw garlic, and I had topped it with bacon, green peppers, pepperoni, and lots of cheese. I never said I was a healthy eater. I cleaned up the kitchen, noticing that the oven door was brown with disgusting caked on gunk. Ex landlady liked to used the word “encrusted”. Well, in the case of our oven, the term fit. So I Googled how to clean oven doors, since I had great success with my quest in finding out how to clean the glass fireplace doors a couple of weeks ago.

Sure enough, some lovely housewife blogger provided a simple hack for cleaning oven doors. That was my project this morning, scrubbing the hell out of the inside of the oven door. I got most of the gunk off.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Bill got home at 9:21pm. I had two slices of pizza for him on a plate that I wrapped and put in the refrigerator. I also brought up his beer from the Advent calendar. We both have different ones, since Master of Malt is no longer shipping to Germany or the United States. I used to get us really fun liquor filled calendars from them.

He had stopped at the grocery store and picked up some food to cook. He wasn’t expecting that I had already cooked. But now there’s food to cook tonight, because he’s working late again. Since he was so happy that I made pizza, I might get inspired again today. Maybe I’ll even get fancy and make something healthier!

Bill was definitely delighted that there was already something for him to eat, but for some reason, he thought of me anyway and brought this home…

And one other thing I did yesterday that involved teamwork was collaborating with another YouTuber. Some time ago, I stumbled across a guitar player named John. We have similar tastes in music. A few days ago, he ran across a recording I did of Joni Mitchell’s song, “Urge for Going”. He wrote to me and said he loved it, and wanted to know if I would be willing to sing it to his guitar playing so he could add some harmony. He says he’s obsessed with harmony. So he sent me a recording of his guitar part.

This was the video John found and liked. On this one, it’s just me and a background recording.

I made a recording with my vocals and John’s guitar yesterday. It wasn’t without difficulty. For some reason, when I try to record lately, the music sometimes skips, ruining the recording. It happens on SingSnap (a karaoke site) and on Garage Band. After many tries, I managed to get a clean rendition. I added a simple harmony line and sent it to John, who added more harmony and added it to his channel. He says he didn’t do much editing because he was busy with work. But it’s our first collaboration. Maybe we’ll do another at some point and things will get further refined.

Not too bad for a first attempt. I’m still working on learning guitar so I can accompany myself more.

Personally, I wouldn’t have put as much harmony on this. I would have confined it to the chorus, which you can hear that I did. But hell, it’s just for fun. I do enjoy listening to him play. We like a lot of the same artists. And I’m flattered that he wanted to collaborate with me in the first place.

I haven’t been doing much singing lately, mainly because of the issue I have with the music skipping. It’s very frustrating. But maybe today, I’ll spend some time finding a solution for that problem, now that I know it’s not confined to SingSnap, as I thought it was. I’ve also done the dishes and am working on the laundry. As soon as I close this post, I’ll practice guitar, and maybe eventually walk the dogs and wrap some Christmas presents… and maybe even finish that book, so I’ll have a new book review ready. I’ve got a bunch of other books waiting to be read.

It’s good to be busy, especially when Bill has to work late. Makes the time pass… And I’m so grateful to YouTube and fellow bloggers for teaching me handy housekeeping tips that my mom never taught me.

P.S. I get a kick out of Bill’s penchant for sending me military-esque emails. I asked him to bring home some more baking soda, vinegar, aluminum foil, and bar soap. His response was “Okay. Acknowledge all.” I’m surprised he didn’t write “Roger.”, which he’s also been known to do.

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