Military, musings, psychology, technology

What the hell is the meaning of all of this?

This week, I’ve been writing about some learning curves I’ve been handling as I’ve tried to make our house “smarter”. The “smart house” project has invariably left me feeling dumber, as I’ve repeatedly run into roadblocks in my quest to “modernize” and “simplify” my life. Life will often show you that sometimes trying to make things easier invariably leads to making things more complicated.

I did manage to solve a couple of annoying and persistent problems, though. For instance, we weren’t awakened at midnight by the lamp in the bedroom turning itself on, as it did the first two nights after I installed “smart light bulbs”. I figured out what was causing the light to turn on by itself and toggled the switch in the opposite direction. I won’t know if I was successful with the downstairs lamp that was doing the same thing until later today. I do have a feeling the issue is now fixed, though. I might as well think positive, right?

Yesterday, I was flummoxed by an issue with my blogs. My friend Thomas mentioned that he wasn’t able to comment. Since I don’t usually comment on my own posts, I was unaware of the problem. I thought my writing was just sucking unusually hard lately. Even my other friend, Alex, who is probably the current number one commenter, was as silent as the grave. I know Alexis, who is a long time reader, is very busy with her life right now, since she just got married and has embarked on her career.

I tried to summon help via WordPress. I clicked on the “support” button and was engaged in a chat, but then got knocked offline. Later, when I was back online, I couldn’t find the chat, so gave up on that. I resigned myself to trying again later, when I was in a better mood. What really annoyed me is the fact that I had just spent $500 to renew the site for two more years.

In the process of trying to troubleshoot my comment issues, I accidentally ended up deleting StatCounter from my site, which made it look like no one was reading the blog. That made me think about something that happened a few years ago, when we first moved to Wiesbaden. I think of that time as a low point in my “blogging career”.

At that time, we were having serious issues with our former landlady trying to bully Bill into letting her keep most of our security deposit. I think she had actually planned to keep all of it, but Bill protested, so she gave us about 660 euros (out of 3200). She made some false accusations to support her attempt to “take the piss”, as the Brits and Irish like to put it.

What made matters worse is the actions of the former tenant, who had lived in the house just before us, and was, unbeknownst to me, monitoring my blogs. She sent me a mocking private message, shaming me for being so “mean” to the former landlady. This person didn’t actually know me very well. She’d met me offline twice, back in 2014, and had otherwise formed her (apparently negative) opinions of me on what she’d read in my posts and heard from the ex landlady. She basically implied that I was a loser and my blog sucked. It was a sentiment that was echoed by other people in our community, although I know not everyone felt that way.

As you might imagine, ex landlady’s behavior really pissed us off. I vented about it in a couple of posts, though I never named any names. Former tenant disagreed with my assessment of my own situation and, for whatever reason, decided to try to intervene on our ex landlady’s behalf. Because I didn’t really know her very well, it was hard to determine if she was just trying to cover her own ass, or if she really thought I’m an awful person. She also made a false accusation that was pretty hurtful.

We eventually sued the former landlady, and I moved my blogs to WordPress, which required another learning curve. Then we got hit with COVID-19, which pretty much killed my once vibrant travel blog. Taking that action meant starting over, to some extent. I think WordPress is a better platform, current technical difficulties notwithstanding. Starting over has also been good, for the most part, although it has meant reposting a lot of stuff.

Back in late 2018-2019, I was feeling legitimately sad for several reasons. Bill and I had really enjoyed living in the Stuttgart area. It was our favorite of his duty stations when he was on active duty in the Army. In spite of our housing issues during our second stint, we still delighted in living in that area when we came back to Germany.

I made the mistake of getting too involved in the local military community, especially with a blog called “The Overeducated Housewife”, which seemed to really trigger some people. I wasn’t a blogger when we were in Stuttgart the first time, and Facebook was still in its infancy. In the five years we were back in the States, the community became overrun with Facebook groups. I joined way too many of them, which led to unpleasant interactions with strangers. It wasn’t unlike spending all day on a Facebook comment section for a major newspaper, if you catch my drift. Add in the fact that there were a lot of bloggers who were “competing” for readers and the odd “professional jealousy”. It wasn’t fun, although I had a lot more readers back then.

Regardless of the dysfunctional military community and my place within it, the Stuttgart area still held a lot of appeal for us. I hated that we were leaving Stuttgart on bad terms with our former landlady, whom we really had tried to appease on multiple occasions. I was also genuinely sad to be leaving Stuttgart. In spite of everything, we had loved living there. I actually still miss it. I don’t miss the drama, though, nor do I miss dealing with mean people.

Four years later, I’m now extremely glad we moved. For multiple reasons, Wiesbaden has been a big improvement for us. We have a much better house, and a landlord who is genuinely kind and respectful. Yes, we pay a lot more rent, but we get treated like adults. We enjoy our privacy, and I don’t feel like I have to keep everything to our landlord’s standards. He likes our dogs, and has outwardly stated that he wants us to be happy. Our community is very inclusive and friendly.

I didn’t join a bunch of local Facebook groups, so I am not immersed in local dramas. Wiesbaden is a smaller installation, and the people who come here are mainly older Army folks, rather than people from all of the services. Stuttgart had a lot of young and immature people and sometimes, it felt very high school.

Although we are happier in Wiesbaden, sometimes I still feel like writing my blogs is a waste of time. Few people bother with the travel blog. I can’t blame them, since we have been traveling less due to COVID and Arran’s lymphoma. Writing my main blog sometimes feels pointless. I wonder why I still do it, especially when people can’t comment… or don’t want to. Or I come off like an asshole, even though I’m just writing about what’s in my head at the time.

Then a few months ago, Bill got curious about the former tenant who had been trying to interfere and had caused me so much angst in 2019. I unblocked her and found out that she’d committed suicide. While I hadn’t had any interactions with her whatsoever since 2019, I still felt bad about her decision to kill herself. I wondered what led to it. I couldn’t help but wonder if the former landlady blamed me for it, as irrational as that thought might seem. She seemed to blame me for everything else.

Former tenant and former landlady seemed to have this weird “mother/daughter” relationship going on. All I was looking for was a place to live. I ended up unwittingly becoming part of a strange “triangle” of sorts, as former landlady and former tenant were apparently talking shit about Bill and me, and invading our privacy. Then, when it finally went south, former tenant seemed to want to justify her interference. I could probably write an interesting short story about it… if I didn’t feel so weird about writing fiction now. Again… courtesy of former tenant, who felt the need to mock me for that, too.

So all of this shit came up last night, as I was lamenting dealing with the blog’s technological issues, and the fact that I felt like I was throwing messages in bottles in the blogosphere. Suddenly, I felt frustrated. I said to Bill, “I really don’t know why I keep blogging.”

Bill said, “I like what you write. You are a great storyteller. You have a way of turning any subject into something conversational.”

Then I smiled, remembering that Bill met me in a chat room. He used to read my erotic stories. I wrote them when I was in graduate school. They were cheap entertainment for both of us… a good distraction from public health and social work courses and internships. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my programs. It’s more that I’ve always had an innate need to write. I’ve always done it. I was always good at creative writing in school.

In the same way, I make music… or, I sing other people’s songs… at least for now. I’m still working on becoming a better guitar player. Maybe when that happens, I’ll write an original song. That could be a goal. My YouTube channel has picked up more followers lately, although I still don’t have that many. My song covers on YouTube are less controversial than my blog posts are. 😉

So, I guess the meaning of all of this is… I write because I’ve got nothing better to do, other than scrubbing lime stains out of the toilet, picking up dog shit in the backyard, and doing the laundry. I’m not a super happy housewife, but I’m probably happier doing that than working in a dead end job or waiting tables. I tell myself the blog is for me. If anyone else reads and enjoys it, so much the better. I actually like to read old posts, because they remind me of times past. I especially like the book reviews. But does it make me a worthwhile and productive person? Who knows? If people can’t or won’t comment, I can only guess.

It’s still easy to get discouraged, though. It’s discouraging when you rent a place to live, and the former tenant acts as a tattletale/spy and then kills herself. It’s discouraging when people are shitty because they don’t like the name of the blog, even if they’ve never even read it. It’s discouraging when no one can comment or wants to comment… or it looks like no one is even reading. It all starts to feel really pointless and dumb.

If I didn’t have my blogs, though, I’d probably still spend my time doing equally pointless and potentially destructive things. Blogging, in a sense, keeps me out of trouble and forces me to use my mind. But then, I post something that gets me into trouble… Maybe it’s better to write these things than say them out loud.

Ah well. I’ll probably have to engage the WordPress support people again soon. But for now, I hope some people are able to post comments, if they wish. I also hope those who do post comments remember that there’s a person behind the screen. Be gentle.

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blog news, language, musings, true crime

I need to work on my titles, don’t I?

I’ve never been very good at coming up with good titles for my posts. Sometimes, that means I get fewer readers than I might. Other times, my posts end up being more “click baity” than I would prefer. I think my posts on my travel blog have better titles, mainly because they are usually about something specific. I get tons of hits on my posts about attending nude spas, for instance.

I’ll also admit that sometimes, I deliberately title something a certain way to yank people’s chains. There’s a post on my travel blog titled “Enjoying some extra dick tonight”. I know what it sounds like… but it’s actually about extra thick pommes. In German, “dick” means thick. So, when I buy extra thick frozen fries at the store, it literally says “extra dick” on the packaging! I’m sure more than one person has been disappointed that the post isn’t pornographic, but it IS a travel blog. The blog’s title itself mentions “travel”, so they probably shouldn’t be expecting anything sexy.

I did something similar a few years ago, when I saw a stray cat walking through our rural yard in North Carolina. I titled the post, “Looking for pussy…” or something like that. Sure enough, people clicked. There are a lot of pervs out there. 😉 And I’m sure they were sad that I wrote about actual cats instead of what they were obviously looking for. It was a very short post, and my good friend, Alex, even left me a comment congratulating me on the “clever word play”. Mwahahaahaha! Because it’s such a short post, I’ll even repost it here, for the curious…

Looking for pussy…

No, not THAT kind of pussy.  I was just sitting at my desk and noticed a black cat cutting through the yard.  I decided to go outside to see where it was headed, but by the time I got out the front door, the kitty was gone.  It’s just as well, I guess.  My hounds would love to go out there and chase that cat and Bill is allergic to them anyway.

I came back inside and Bill asked me if I went looking for the cat and I said I was looking for pussy.  That made him laugh.  The dogs were whining up a storm and Arran brought me a toy when I came back inside.  That’s one of his more adorable doggy behaviors.  Whenever anyone comes home, even if it’s just after a few minutes or so, he responds by giving them one of his chewed up toys.  In this case, he brought me a stuffed duck that makes a quacking sound when you squeeze it.  All of my dogs have loved the stuffed duck toys… probably even more than they love the toy squirrels I’ve brought them.

The packers are coming to pack up our house on July 23rd and will load the truck on the 25th.  I guess we’ll leave on the 26th or 27th and start our long ass drive to San Antonio. 

I bet this blog post will get a lot of hits because I used the word pussy…  People have such dirty minds. 

In other news, this post is my 700th.  I’ve been a busy little beaver.  😉

This was very interesting, since I had never seen an armadillo before… not even in a zoo! And it was in Georgia, not Texas. Our dogs went NUTS.

I included the above video of an armadillo I filmed when we lived in Georgia, then added to the end of the above post, “Or, since we’re moving to Texas, I should say I’ve been a busy armadillo.

Arran doesn’t bring us toys anymore, mainly because we no longer give him free access to them. That’s mostly Noyzi’s fault, because Noyzi has been known to eat toys, and we don’t want to have to have them surgically extracted. But, when we give Arran a toy, he will still play with it for a minute or two. Then he demands a treat.

This post seems really random, but I do have a point to make…

I need to get better at coming up with post titles, because sometimes the titles I come up with encourage people to comment before they read. And, as some of my regulars know, that’s one of my pet peeves. It happened the other day, actually. I wrote a post called “But we really don’t need gun control, do we?” I included a screenshot of the sign for Richneck Elementary School, where a six year old child deliberately shot his 25 year old teacher last Friday. At this writing, that post has just nine hits.

I have a whole lot of friends who are teachers. One of them commented on my Facebook link for that post. Below was our exchange:

I think I gleaned more than my friend bargained for when I read her comments.

My friend must have thought my post was a liberal and impersonal rant about gun control, based only on the post’s title. For the record, I do think we need more gun control in the United States. I don’t see how we can continue to go on the way we have, where people don’t feel safe carrying out their usual tasks of the day, because they don’t know who is packing heat.

When I titled that post, I was thinking about how absolutely terrifying it is that a six year old CHILD got his hands on a firearm and KNEW HOW TO USE IT! He was skilled enough that he could aim that gun at a teacher and seriously injure her. And he carried the weapon into the school and pointed it at a beautiful 25 year old woman who was just doing her job. By so many accounts, Abby Zwerner is a much beloved and respected teacher. She could have been killed by a six year old. How scary is that? And then I found out that I’m actually kind of connected to Abby, simply because I lived and worked for so many years in the area where she lives.

In my original post about that incident, I mentioned that Abby and I have a mutual Facebook friend. She teaches in a city near where I grew up, and where I still have a lot of friends. I was born in Hampton, Virginia, which is adjacent to Newport News, where Abby teaches.

It turns out our mutual Facebook friend is a woman I knew in high school. We were in a lot of classes together. I used to sit with her at lunch, when we were ourselves students in public high school, back in the 80s. I remember her stepmother was a substitute teacher, getting her own teaching credentials. Abby’s aunt, my high school friend, is also a teacher with a doctoral degree who teaches in the same geographical area. One of her best friends is an Air Force colonel, who also went to school with us. I just got a Christmas card from her the other day.

So now, I feel even more connected to that incident, even though I moved out of the Tidewater area of Virginia about 23 years ago. It’s still “home”, even though I don’t really have a home to go to down there anymore. Not only do I still know a lot of people from that area, but I also have connections because of so many of my friends– people who have never lived in the Hampton Roads area– who are teachers. And what happened to Abby, could have happened to any one of them. I’m sure all of my teaching friends are feeling a special kind of terror about this case.

My dear friend who wrote the above comments is very special to me. I would be absolutely DEVASTATED if she got seriously hurt while on the job, never mind if she was killed. She doesn’t teach in Newport News, but she is a Virginia teacher. I can’t even fathom how scared she must be to read about gun violence in schools. Because of where I went to college, I know a lot of teachers. I remember watching them prepare for their careers in our dormitories at Longwood University. Their coursework often involved a lot of reading, papers, and tests, as well as complicated art projects. I never even knew what contact paper was until I went to Longwood and made friends with budding teachers. They were constantly using it to make learning aids for their students.

There is so much preparation and dedication involved with becoming a teacher. It’s a lot of work for not that much money… but at least in the early 90s, there weren’t constant gun related events in schools. In those days, my friends were blissfully unaware of the bloodshed that was coming to America’s schools from 1999 onward. My friends who became teachers all have one thing in common. They are kind, caring, creative people who love working with young people. But now, they have to fear for their lives as they do their jobs. My friend wasn’t the only teacher who wrote about how teachers get blamed when kids do crazy things. Another former high school classmate– not someone I was friends with– wrote something similar about the crisis in public schools.

Maybe I don’t really want people to read what I write…

There is a certain freedom in writing things that people don’t think they want to read. I do use a headline analyzer, which gives me a “score” that shows how “good” my titles are. I aim for the green score, which I usually manage to attain, even though my post titles are often kind of cryptic.

After years of writing blog posts, I’ve come to realize that there’s a certain freedom in not giving too much away in a post title. I’ve frequently mentioned that I don’t write this stuff for money, so I don’t necessarily want to upset people. Sometimes I do make people angry, and they have a right to their feelings. I don’t want to deal with hate mail, though, nor do I want to be targeted by criminals. True crime posts often invite lurkers, which is unnerving. I’d rather my readers be people who know and like me, than the random person who jumps to conclusions.

So… maybe, for my mental and physical health, my post titles should stay the way they are… But then, that might lead to people continuing to assume things before they’ve read. I don’t think my friend has yet read the post she referenced. If she had read it, she’d know that I don’t blame teachers for what that little boy did. I don’t even necessarily blame the kid. The adults in his life have failed him. At least we know that he won’t be going to juvenile hall… at least not for this crime. He’s too young. But he probably will end up in foster care, which may or may not be a good thing. Foster care is a mixed bag. If that boy doesn’t get some serious help, he may very well go to juvie soon… and that will probably lead to prison.

Anyway… I’ve found that I often have connections to the things I write about, and that’s what compels me to blog. I want to put my thoughts down somewhere. I don’t mind when people read, especially if they get something good from my insights. However, I also don’t want to be a target. So… maybe these crappy blog post titles are really just a form of cowardice. Maybe it’s time I stopped blogging for the public. Or maybe I should just write book reviews, although even those can be controversial. I wouldn’t be able to post every day, either.

Today’s post probably won’t necessarily attract a lot of readers. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But I do feel better for having written today. I hope one or two people enjoyed my insights, such as they are. Or… at least had occasion to think about them a little bit…

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blog news, musings, nostalgia, YouTube

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I don’t have much to write…

I just wrote a post for the travel blog that I was going to put on this blog… but then I realized that the content fits better with that blog than this one. The travel blog needs a little love, because most weeks I only update it a couple of times, rather than every day, like I do this blog. So I moved the original post that I was working on for this blog to that blog, and now I’m sitting here wondering what interesting things I might write today.

I see this New Year’s Eve writer’s block thing is kind of a chronic problem, as last year I did a “cross post”. That means I put the same content on both blogs, which I do on occasion. Not everyone who reads this blog reads that one, and vice versa. I’m hoping that in 2023, I can get the travel blog up a bit in hits, so I don’t reach cash out status for my ad revenue after I’m dead. As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, I don’t make big bucks writing these things. 😉

I could probably do a cross post this year, too, and this year’s post is more interesting than last year’s was. Or, at least I think it is. But I’ve got nothing better to do than write this stuff today… Otherwise, maybe I’d play Sims 4, which I don’t do very often anymore, even though I keep buying all the content. Or I’d read more of Jamie Lynn Spears’ book and cringe. She’s definitely no Paulina Porizkova, or even Matthew Perry, in the memoir writing department.

I see that last year, like this year, I’ve been doing chores today. I don’t know what it is about New Year’s Eve that makes me want to do household chores. Last year, I finally managed to get rid of the horrible chalky limescale in our bathrooms. Citric acid works wonders, not just for descaling the taps and the backs of the toilets, but it’s also great for cleaning the coffee maker. I notice that last year, I also hauled my ass up on the stepladder and knocked the scales off the shower head. I think I’ll do that today, too, as it needs to be done. Getting rid of the chalky limescale makes for a nicer showering experience, as there’s nothing to block the jets or cause the water to spray awkwardly.

I guess I do this cleaning because it feels like I should do it for a fresh start. Tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new year. It will bring with it the usual challenges, victories, and disappointments. I usually start the new year with some optimism, even though January and February are, weather wise, the most depressing times of the year, in my opinion. Up here in Hessen, it stays pretty wet and cloudy, and sometimes it gets cold. I would mind it less if we got more snow here, although even snow can get tiresome after it hangs around for weeks and gets all saturated with dog pee and frozen poop. I try to keep the poop cleaned up, but it gets buried, and then it gets all mashed up with the soil.

One thing I do look forward to this year is the prospect of more travel. Hopefully, we’ll go to more interesting places. Fingers are crossed, anyway. Maybe I’ll even take a trip “home” to the United States and see my mom, who hasn’t seen me since 2015. There are some places I haven’t yet been to that I would like to visit… and of course, I would love to go back to Armenia, just so I can show Bill where I used to live, half a lifetime ago.

I see from last year’s post that I hoped for a better year in 2022. Personally, I think I got that, but that’s just me. We did find out that our beloved Arran has lymphoma, but this year, for the FIRST time ever, we were able to do something about it. I know we will lose Arran eventually, but man, it’s such a good feeling to be able to do something, for once, when one of our boys gets cancer. It’s been a learning experience for us, and those of my friends who have been following our experiences.

I have no doubt whatsoever that if we hadn’t done chemo, Arran would be long gone by now. But right now, he’s downstairs snuggling with his favorite person, Mr. Bill. I know that some critics would say that chemo only delays the inevitable, and that the cancer will probably come back with a vengeance… but the alternative would have been that we would have lost him weeks ago. What’s the difference between treating cancer and treating a disease like diabetes? If it can be treated, isn’t too expensive, and isn’t too traumatic, why not? But, I also know that in the United States, this would have been a harder decision to make, because healthcare for people and pets is so goddamned expensive! And it really shouldn’t be. Affordable healthcare should be a right, at least for human beings. Living in Germany has taught me that Americans have gotten this policy so wrong. I hope the onerous high cost of healthcare for Americans can be rectified someday before I’m dead.

I also see that last year, I mentioned my guitar skills. Well, this year, they are better than they were a year ago. I still don’t play super well, but I did manage to post a few songs on YouTube with me on guitar. I’m still a much better singer than guitar player, but in 2019, I couldn’t play guitar at all. So that’s a good thing… I try to practice most days every week, although I do usually take off the weekends, unless I get inspired.

This year, I finally got brave and sang on camera on my YouTube videos, which I never did before. I get very camera shy, and I don’t like putting on makeup or getting dressed. I also don’t want to read rude comments from haters. I have to admit, though, people have been very kind. I get more engagement when I sing on camera, even though I’m not as beautiful as some of the places we’ve visited. And I’ve tried some songs I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, too. I’m hoping for more of that in the new year. Even if no one pays attention to my channel, I do enjoy the process of making the videos. Or, at least making the musical part. I often find myself wishing I’d started when I was much younger than I was. Ah well. Maybe someday, I’ll be reincarnated and get the chance for a do over… except maybe the new me won’t have a knack for music. Maybe I’ll be a soccer player, instead. 😉

My latest… it’s a good song for the New Year. Cheers!

I finally got multifocal contact lenses, too… which I had been needing for ages. I still don’t have bifocal glasses, but I think those are coming, if I don’t have surgery. Next year might be the year I’ll finally visit a doctor… German or otherwise. I haven’t seen one for medical reasons since 2010. That could change in 2023. We’ll see. I am getting old, after all. My body doesn’t seem to recover as quickly as it used to. German healthcare isn’t expensive, so I don’t even have that as an excuse. It’s just that– well– thanks to a terrible Air Force doctor from my younger days, I am a bit phobic of doctors. The older I get, the less I think it matters… except I know Bill would miss me if I weren’t around to make him laugh.

Maybe in 2023, I’ll try something else on YouTube. Maybe I’ll v-log. But again, I hate being on camera, and I like to write more than I like to speak. I also like to watch other v-loggers. If I become one myself, I’ll have less time to watch people like Beau of the Fifth Column, Farron Balanced, or even Trevor Coult, with whom I often disagree politically, but I find hilarious, thanks to his thick Northern Irish accent. I also think I’d go a bit nuts trying to make videos where I speak, because I would invariably mess up, which would mean do-overs, which take a lot of time. I’m kind of a perfectionist, too, so that would be a problem. I suspect my channel will mostly stick to music. At least I don’t attract as many rude comments when I make music. 😉 Perhaps this year, I’ll finally write an original song and sing it on YouTube. That would be something different. A year from now, maybe I’ll be writing about that. Who knows?

Well, it’s time to wrap this up… It’s about 1:45 PM and time for lunch… the very last one of 2022. So, I will now close, and wish you all a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year. Let’s cut this cake and take this year home… so I can take down the fucking Christmas decorations. 😉

See you tomorrow!

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celebrities, expressions, music, musings, YouTube

“I’m glad to be so lucky to make you feel yucky everyday…”

Before I get started on today’s post, I want to state upfront that I’m not upset about anything. I don’t need advice or consolation. This post is meant to be a matter-of-fact look at a phenomenon I’ve noticed when it comes to people who dare to “put themselves out there” or share their creative pursuits. It certainly doesn’t just affect me, either, from which I take some solace. I’m just hoping that people who read this will stop and think about it a minute. The world needs less cynicism and meanness, and more kindness and compassion, don’t you think?

James Taylor annoys Oscar the Grouch with one of his more upbeat songs from the 70s.

Have you ever noticed that some people delight in watching the whole world burn? They enjoy taking a big dump on other people’s joy. They live for raining on everyone else’s parades. They love criticizing anything and everything, even if it’s just someone’s creative expression. They lack the ability to simply “scroll on”. Instead, they feel the need to be negative, judgmental, insensitive and, sometimes, downright MEAN.

As a blogger and very occasional musician, I’ve run into this particular phenomenon more than a few times. When we lived in Stuttgart, I used to promote my travel blog. I did so because I truly thought some of the posts might be helpful for some people in the community. It was our second time living in that area, and I was pretty seasoned as a military spouse, even though Bill had retired. While not everyone likes what I do, writing has sort of become my vocation. Being a writer can be a tough road to hoe, as one chagrined author recently found out when almost no one showed up for her book signing. She tweeted about it, and was soon consoled by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Jodi Picoult, and Stephen King, among others, who were similarly dissed at early book signings.

Many people seemingly liked my blogs and, for awhile, they were pretty popular. I had a lot of regular readers. But there were also people in the community who seemed to hate my blog and apparently resented me for sharing it. Some didn’t like the name of the blog, assuming that I was “bragging” about my education. For the record, I’m not. I literally am overeducated for what I’ve done with my life so far. I spent seven years and many thousands of dollars on formal education that I’ve never gotten to use in a professional arena. While I don’t regret furthering my formal education, I mainly went to school out of a perceived need to do it– so I wouldn’t be waiting tables for the rest of my life. I’ve got nothing at all against people who wait tables for a living, but that’s a job that I really didn’t enjoy, even though I made good money doing it.

When I went to graduate school, I was hoping to launch a career that didn’t involve being abused on the daily and surviving on tips. I ended up meeting Bill, instead. The realities of life as a military spouse made pursuing my field problematic. I’ve always liked to write, so that’s what I do. I’m not the best writer, but I try. Some people enjoy my stuff. Some people don’t. I’ve made some money as a writer… actually more than I ever made doing social work or public health. And yet, I think if I’d been a public health social worker, I’d probably get a lot more respect for what I do.

I stopped sharing my blog in military communities, though, because I’ve found that people are triggered by it, for some reason. A lot of people– especially in military communities— find bloggers annoying, especially when they dare to call themselves “The Overeducated Housewife”. Personally, I think it’s because a lot of people in military communities are sexist, and too many of them disdain the spouses (really the wives). The more educated and accomplished the wives are, the less the servicemembers tend to like them, especially if they’re also liberal. And sadly, a lot of the spouses also buy into that limited mindset, willingly referring to themselves by derogatory monikers, like “dependa” instead of insisting on being treated with the basic respect one generally extends to human beings. So, because I don’t enjoy being ridiculed, and I don’t like to bother other people, I’ve decided that it’s better to let people find the blogs on their own.

I also stopped sharing my travel blog in military communities because of the weird, intrusive, psycho landlady situation we’d had in Stuttgart. A former tenant, who had lived in our home just prior to us, had found her way to my regular blog, and was using it to cause trouble with our ex landlady. The ex tenant got upset with me about one of my creative writing projects, which she had freely CHOSEN to read and falsely interpret. She’d actually been following my blogs for over four years, even though it was evidently a negative experience for her. She sent me a nasty message, mocking me for “intruding on my space” and interfering with my “creative pursuits”, clearly indicating that she didn’t appreciate my efforts, and basically calling me “crazy”. It was at that point that I decided to close the Blogger version of this blog and move it to WordPress. Then, I went right back to doing what I do. She, on the other hand, went on to commit suicide. I don’t know what led her to take that action, but I did realize, at that point, that I wasn’t the one with the worst issues. I don’t want a repeat of that bizarre situation, though, so I’ve gone back under the radar.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m not looking for sympathy when I write about this. I’ve come to understand that no one bats 1000 every time. Not everything a person does is going to be well-received. And even if you aren’t a creative type, chances are excellent that someone is going to dislike you, for whatever reason. Even if you’re the nicest, most considerate, most tolerant, least offensive person on the planet, there will be someone out there who is going to find fault with anything and everything you do. As painful as that kind of rejection can be, I’ve found it helpful to realize that in those situations, it’s almost always not about anything you’ve done or said. The negativity is usually about something intrinsic to the critical person– in other words, you might remind them of something negative, so they respond to you with negativity, even if you haven’t specifically done anything to them to cause that reaction.

Here’s an example. My sophomore year in college was rather traumatic. I spent it sharing living space with a woman who drove me crazy. We were very incompatible roommates. A few years later, I met another woman who reminded me a LOT of the first woman who drove me batty my sophomore year in college. Upon meeting her, I instantly had a negative reaction, even though we didn’t know each other. As time went on, I still disliked that woman, partly because she reminded me so much of someone I used to know who drove me nuts. It wasn’t her looks that reminded me of my ex roommate, but more her behavior that I found reminiscent. In spite of those similarities, I know she was, and still is, a good person. However, even if I had never gotten to know the first woman, I probably still would have found the second one annoying. The difference would be that I would have found her annoying solely because of things she’d actually done or said, not because she reminded me so much of someone else I hadn’t liked.

The same thing can happen in creative pursuits. A lot of people love the song, “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” by Meat Loaf. I don’t like that song, although it is in my musical catalog. It’s not that I don’t think Meat Loaf had talent, or even that the song isn’t entertaining. If I’d heard it in the 70s, I probably would have liked it a lot more. But it reminds me of an awful night in 1994, I spent at a party with my cousin. She had abandoned me to make out with her boyfriend, while her boyfriend’s extremely drunk father kept hitting on me. Before the evening went into full swing, I heard “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” for the very first time, while we were waiting for my cousin’s boyfriend in that yucky drunk man’s house. Drunk dad had wanted me to go back to his house with him, alone, to wait for his son and my cousin. He was so drunk he could barely keep his eyes open. When I refused, he called me a “bitch”. So now, whenever I heard Meat Loaf’s best known anthem, it reminds me of that guy. I am only now getting to the point at which I can disassociate that song with the memory of that gross guy who went to high school with one of my uncles and apparently wanted to deflower me.

Last weekend, I was feeling inspired to make music. I made two videos in one day, which is unusual in and of itself, especially since Bill was at home. I usually prefer to make music when I’m alone. I uploaded the videos. One has me on camera, and the other is set to photos. I don’t like to sing on camera, but I’ve found that people tend to find the videos with me in them more engaging. They don’t even seem to mind that I’m not wearing makeup or a bra.

One of the songs I did last week was James Taylor’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I was inspired to make the video by my former therapist, who loves James Taylor’s music, just as I do. He had mentioned that “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is his favorite Christmas song. So, I made a recording of that song and dedicated it to my former shrink. He shared it on his personal Facebook page and tagged me. One person commented, and said “I love that song too, but no one does it as well as Judy [Garland] does.” I noticed that the person hadn’t even listened to the song, and apparently never considered that I would read her comment, which was actually kind of thoughtless and rude. I wonder if this person thinks that no one should ever sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (a Christmas standard), simply because “Judy did it best”.

An old friend of mine said the same thing about “The Rainbow Connection”. I had used the song on a tribute video I made for our dog, MacGregor– Willie Nelson was singing it. I love Willie’s version, and the fact that I used it for a tribute video for a beloved dog makes it especially poignant to me. My friend, who even knew MacGregor, said that no one but Kermit the Frog should ever sing “The Rainbow Connection”. I found that comment thoughtless and insensitive; yet knowing her as well as I do, I realize that her thoughtlessness was entirely unintentional. I didn’t call her out about it. Still, it would have been nicer if she’d kept that thought to herself.

At this date, this video has fewer than 50 hits, but it means a lot to me, because it’s about MacGregor… and Willie Nelson’s version of “The Rainbow Connection” really fit his personality, even if my friend doesn’t think anyone but Kermit should sing the song.

I later noticed that my Christmas video for my ex shrink/current friend, which hasn’t done nearly as well as the other one I did last weekend, had one dislike rating. Two people liked it, and one disliked it… giving it a score of 66% (a failure if we were going by school grading scales). It occurred to me that the “dislike” button is kind of worthless, since there’s no way to know what the person disliked about the video. Was it because I wasn’t on camera? Was it the music? Were they just being mean to me? It’s impossible to know. But I had made the video with love and good intentions, and had dedicated it to someone who helped me a lot when I really needed help.

I’ll admit, those two negative reactions to my version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” kind of hurt my feelings. But the wiser side of me realizes that the negative reactions weren’t really personal, since the people involved don’t know me. Everyone’s a critic, and even the best people get criticized sometimes, and the better a person is, the meaner the critics tend to be. Even James Taylor gets mean tweets! See the hilarious video below…

Someone called James Taylor a douche! I admire how most of these musicians accepted the not so constructive criticism they’ve received…

I’ve also noticed that some people feel like creative pursuits shouldn’t result in anyone making money. I’ve ranted many times in this blog about people who don’t think they should have to pay to read newspapers. They don’t seem to realize that journalists have bills to pay, just like they do. It takes time, money, and training to skillfully deliver the news. They bitch and moan about paywalls.

My mom ran a knitting and needlepoint shop for many years. She is very talented and skilled with needlecrafts. Lots of people felt that her time and talents weren’t worth paying for. Mom was also a church organist for 50 years, and some people felt that she should just be willing to play for the glory of God, rather than money to pay her expenses. It took a lot of time and energy to learn how to play the organ as well as she did… I’m sure she could play beautifully today, too, but she’s pretty much retired from playing the organ now. She’s still stitching, though. Below is my mom with one of her more recent creations, done even though she’s in her 80s. I love what my mom does, although I could never do anything like this myself. I’d rather write or sing… two things my mom doesn’t do.

I didn’t inherit my mom’s gifts with a needle. I look a lot like her, though. Mom is now working on another project like this one.

Anyway… to wrap up this post, I’d like to add one more observation I’ve made. At this writing, I have 109 YouTube subscribers. That’s not a lot of subscribers. I’ve had my channel since 2009 or so, but I’ve never really promoted it. When I first started the channel, I mostly used it for uploading videos from our travels or other random stuff. It wasn’t until I’d had it for about three years that I started making music videos, which I never really shared. And it wasn’t until last spring that I ever showed myself on camera.

YouTube recently told me that I gained 20 subscribers this year, which is a pretty amazing thing. I recently uploaded a video and promptly lost two subscribers. I was feeling kind of sad about it, since I had only recently surpassed 100 subscribers, and YouTube had congratulated me for that. But then, I got seven more subscribers! I guess that just goes to show you that sometimes, even if someone takes a dump on something you put out there, other people will still like what you do. So the best thing to do is keep going and ignore the “haters”. Their negativity is usually much more about them, than you. And creative pursuits, especially when a person feels compelled to engage in them, aren’t for anyone or anything else than satisfying that itch to create… put something out there. Maybe it won’t be what everyone likes, but you still made the effort. And I guarantee, there’s an appreciative audience for everything.

Maybe a couple of people decided to crap on my version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, but the person it was meant for got it… and apparently enjoyed it. So that’s really all that matters. The rest of them can take a cue from Miley Cyrus’s reaction to “mean tweets”… See the featured photo.

Bwaahahahaha… they are good sports. The haters are probably just jealous.

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blog news, Ex, love, marriage, musings

Today’s WordPress prompt is… “Tell us one thing you hope people never say about you.”

Not long ago, I wrote a post about how my blog host, WordPress, seems to think I need “special help” with my subject matter. Recently, I noticed that at the top of each new blank page, there’s now a “prompt”– a question or a suggestion on what my topic should be for the day. I think this is a new feature, as I’ve only just started noticing it. I see I can hide the daily prompts if I want to, but I probably won’t bother with that. Although I doubt I’ll need to use the prompts regularly, there are times when I could use a suggestion. Sometimes, even I get writer’s block– like if I’ve got a hangover or nothing exciting has happened. But I usually have SOMETHING I can write about, even if I’m the only one who’s interested in the subject.

Today, for instance, I could write about Donald Trump’s ridiculous “big announcement”, which turned out to be really embarrassing and stupid. He’s selling Trump superhero NFT cards for $99. Jimmy Kimmel put it as “QAnon meets QVC”. Seriously, this is “not a good look” for Trump. I’m sure a lot of his supporters– many (but not enough) of them former supporters at this point– are feeling kind of sheepish and humiliated now, as their former hero who promised “greatness” is shilling more worthless shit to the masses. Trump is legitimately embarrassing on so many levels now. Just like with Ex, whenever I think I’ve heard the worst about Trump, there’s another layer of rot to excavate. It’s unbelievable that so many people fell for his lunacy. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that one of my cousins bought Trump’s stupid superhero cards. There are too many people who still worship him, though the number is dropping.

How dumb is this?

I haven’t bothered to watch Harry and Meghan on Netflix, because I haven’t been bored enough for that. I am reading Matthew Perry’s book, though. I know I’ve seen him in some things, although I was never a Friends fan– again, it aired at a time when I wasn’t available to watch a lot of TV. I bought his book because I like true stories, and his was getting some good press. So far, I’m enjoying it. Matthew Perry is engaging and funny, though some of his story is sad and scary. I’m four chapters in so far. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on his book soon.

Or I could write about how the dishwasher that was supposed to get to us last night is coming this morning… (ETA: The dishwasher is still delayed) and Bill will be home later today, much to the dogs’ and my relief. I’ve been on the wagon all week, too… mainly because Arran has been getting me up every night , sometimes two or three times, so he can pee and beg for food. He left me alone for 3.5 solid hours yesterday after I yelled at him. He slunk away with a guilty look on his face, as if to say, “Gee mom, I didn’t realize I was imposing that much!” It’s hard to stay mad at Arran, even if he is a little stinker… and he always has been, so this is nothing new. Prednisolone just amplifies the effect. Luckily he’s adorable, sweet, loving, and very loyal. But I really need a full night’s rest! So does Bill.

Yes, I have a lot of topics I could write about, and I don’t necessarily need WordPress’s help. But WordPress has queried about what the one thing is that I hope no one ever says about me. That’s actually kind of a hard question to answer. I’m a pretty forward person, and I’ve never been one to hold back. Lots of people don’t like me, although I don’t think I have too many true haters. Most people just find me annoying for any number of reasons, ranging from my distinctive laugh to the fact that I drink and swear a lot. Most people don’t seem to appreciate the fact that I’m outspoken and opinionated. I’m sure a consequence of growing up with people who repeatedly criticized and disparaged me, often in favor of other people’s kids, is a major reason why so many people seem to think I’m an asshole today.

I suppose a lot of people would be horrified to be thought of as an “asshole” by so many other people. Most people want to be liked. I used to be that way, too. But I found that trying too hard to be liked by everyone was impossible, exhausting, and pretty pointless. Because those who would want you to not be your authentic self for them are not people who would ever be a true advocate. In other words, they’re “dead weight”. I’d much rather have a few loyal, true friends who love me exactly for who I am, than a bunch of “friends” who love me for what I can do for them or a false persona I put on just so I can feel liked and included in a group.

Does it hurt to be– or just feel— disliked and uninvited? Sure, it does. But at least I can wear my jammies when I’m alone, and no one will criticize my laugh, personality, looks, or opinions.

Also, I suspect that even those who feel like others think of them as an “asshole” are overestimating their real impact on other people. I, for one, agree with Eleanor Roosevelt, who said “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement. And, while it may take us aback to consider how little other people actually care that much about us, once you get past that initial shock, the end result is kind of freeing. Because when it comes down to it, people have their own lives, and their own problems… and the truth is, they probably DON’T think too much about you and any “asshole” behavior (from their perspective) you might exhibit.

So… I guess if I’m going to answer WordPress’s query, I would say that the one thing I would hope people never say about me is that I’m a fake. You may not like what you see or hear from me, but rest assured, it’s authentic. I try to be a good friend. I may not always say or do what other people want, but I do things with pure intentions. I don’t intentionally screw people over– which is NOT the same is letting them screw ME over without protest. The one kind thing my dad used to regularly say to me when I was growing up is that I’m a “survivor”. There’s a big part of me that doesn’t feel like that’s true, as I suffer pretty badly from anxiety sometimes. But, when I look back on my life, I realize that he was right. I am a survivor. A lot of times, that means I’m alone. But I am my true self when I’m alone, and I’m myself when I deal with other people. I’m never going to be popular, but what you see is what you get… ALWAYS. Or almost always… because I have to admit, there are times when fakeness is needed for survival. Like, for instance, being polite to an authority figure when you really feel like going off on them.

I feel like I came into Bill’s life for a reason. It was like the universe set it up. Matthew Perry writes about it in his book, about how, against all odds, he got cast as Chandler Bing on Friends. I think I was meant to be Bill’s second wife. I’m here to teach him new things… new ways of dealing with people. Maybe I was a washout as a career or family woman, but I think I’m here for different reasons… if only to show my husband that his voice counts, too. He doesn’t always have to appease other people and strive to be liked. His voice has worth, too. The real him is better than the fake persona he put on for Ex and other people who tried to force him into a place where he doesn’t fit. There’s a place where he DOES fit, just like a puzzle piece. And it’s with me, because I love him for who he is. He rewards me by loving me for who I am. It’s all I could ever ask for. If even one person can do it, it’s enough.

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