musings, nostalgia

Repost: Fairfax 1978…

Here’s a repost from April 2018. I’m adding it because it reminds me of a good time in my life… and because spring is here. The featured photo is a screenshot of the house my parents bought in 1978. We lived there for two years. I see someone has added on to it since we lived there. Looks like there’s a room built over the garage, which didn’t exist in 1980, when we moved. I liked that house, but my mom hated it. It’s curiously located very close to the LDS church. Little did I know that I would marry a member (now ex member) many years after we moved.

In the summer of 1978, I was six years old and my parents bought a house in Fairfax County, Virginia.  We lived in a suburban neighborhood at a time when people in America still got to know their neighbors.  I had a playmate who lived a few houses down.  His name was Chris, and we were in the same class in school.  He had an older sister named Kirsten.

I remember Chris and I had the run of the neighborhood and were allowed to run around unfettered.  We walked to school and played at a neighborhood playground that we discovered one day during our adventures.  I remember his dad was very German and his mom was very pretty and worked for the Red Cross.  She was pregnant when we met and delivered a daughter named Ashley in 1979.  I remember when Ashley was born because when I’d go to Chris’s house to see if he could play, she’d have posted a sign by the doorbell requesting that no one ring it.  Ashley was sleeping.

Now Ashley is 43 years old.  Chris lives in another state.  And Kirsten, whom I also remember playing with to a much lesser extent, is an artist in Georgia.  She appears to be quite successful, too.

I found Kirsten when I Googled.  I was amazed by how many people had written about her work.  When I checked out her ceramics for myself, I found myself wishing we still lived near Atlanta so I could visit one of her shows.  We were living in Georgia when I started this blog in 2010.  It’s entirely possible we could have run into each other had Bill and I not moved away from there.

I doubt either Kirsten or her brother remember me.  Ashley wouldn’t have known me at all, since we moved out of that neighborhood in 1980 and she was still a baby.  But I do remember them.  I remember calling Chris in 1983 once, when my parents took me to a party thrown by friends of my eldest sister’s, who lived in the DC area at the time.  That was the last time I ever talked to Chris, because in those days long distance was a thing.  I never forgot him, though, and always wondered how he was doing.

I really like Kirsten’s art.  I would like it even if I didn’t remember living near her when I was a little kid. I like quirky pieces and I can see that’s what she produces.  It looks like she enjoys European cultures as much as I do, too.  I see references to trips to France and Italy on her Facebook page for her work.  I don’t know if we would have been friends if my family had stayed in Fairfax, but I think it’s kind of cool to see what she’s grown up to be. 

Yesterday, I even joined Classmates.com so I could look at old yearbooks.  I found the one for the high school I would have attended had we stayed in Fairfax.  My aunt taught at that school and my second eldest sister graduated from there in 1979.  My aunt’s sons also graduated from there– one in 1986 and the other in 1988.  He would have been in Kirsten’s class, though I don’t know if they ran in the same circles.  It was a huge place, serving 7th through 12th grades.  I used to wish I could have gone to that school, which is probably still the biggest one in Virginia.  It seemed like the students had a lot more opportunities available to them than I did at my rural high school in Gloucester, Virginia.

Me at 17, looking like I smell something bad…

And me at 45… looking like I smell something bad…

And me at 49… 50 in a couple of months, looking like I know something.

I found Chris’s picture in that old yearbook, marveling at how different he looked at 18, although his face was the same.  I think of my own picture in my senior yearbook.  My mom hated it.  She said I looked like a snob.  Like everyone else who was 17 in 1989, I had mall bangs.  I kept them until sometime in the early to mid 90s.  Chris had an interesting haircut that makes me think he probably enjoyed alternative music.  But, of course, I don’t know for sure.

On another note, once again I am amazed by how much one can find out about someone just by knowing where to look online.  While I love that it satisfies my harmless curiosity, it also kind of serves as a reminder to be careful.  You never know who’s stalking you.  On the other hand, the Internet has also made it possible for Bill to connect with one of his long lost daughters… and it made it possible for me to even meet Bill in the first place.  It’s definitely a mixed bag.  I probably live a little on the edge, writing these blogs.

I can’t believe I knew these people over 40 years ago and still remember them so well.  My memory is probably pretty dangerous to some people.  😉

ETA: A friend who is moving to Fairfax, Virginia posted yesterday that she just got word that she and her family managed to secure membership to their community’s public pool. We were members of the pool in my old neighborhood, too. I remember it was a pretty awesome facility, as one would expect in Northern Virginia in the late 70s. It had a high dive, and as a six and seven year old kid, I didn’t mind jumping off of it. I probably wouldn’t do that today, but I read that they removed the high dive anyway, due to liability issues.

A screenshot from Google Earth of the pool I belonged to in Fairfax County as a kid. Gloucester was a huge shock.

My friend’s comment about the pool reminded me of how, when we moved to rural Gloucester in 1980, there was no community pool. My parents joined the American Legion Pool, which was not nearly as nice as the one in Fairfax. And, unbeknownst to us at the time, the American Legion Pool was racist. Black people were not allowed to be members. I didn’t find out about that until 1990, when I took a speech class, and my classmate (who went on to Princeton University), delivered a speech about our community’s need for a public pool. Our high school, at that time, didn’t have a swim team. It has one now, I believe.

I was shocked that the American Legion had such racist policies as recently as the early 1980s (we were only members for a few years). Years later, that policy was confirmed in a Facebook group I belonged to, in which some of my Black classmates bitterly complained about not being allowed to swim at the American Legion Pool in Gloucester! My parents eventually quit joining the American Legion Pool because I got busy with my horse and didn’t go anymore. And when I did want to swim, I could go to Fort Eustis or the Coast Guard Training Center.

I’m pretty sure that pool is now shuttered, and Gloucester does have new facilities for swimming. But I still have good memories of the Sideburn Pool in Fairfax. That was where I learned the very basics of swimming, which served me well years later, when I had to pass a swimming test to graduate from then Longwood College (now Longwood University). The swimming test at Longwood, like its pools, are also now defunct.

Standard
family, musings

On being a black sheep who isn’t missed…

This is kind of a depressing post… but although I wrote it a few years ago, I found myself saying almost the exact same things last night. And although we had a fun evening at the wine stand, I started thinking about this stuff that I probably shouldn’t. I also think I need to see a doctor… but I can’t bring myself to make an appointment. The thought of seeing a doctor fills me with dread and anxiety. And, to be honest, I also don’t really feel like I’m worth the effort. Just the idea of asking for an appointment and getting there seems overwhelming and pointless. I worry that it will set off a cascade of other appointments that I don’t want to deal with. I probably feel this way because of the way I was treated when I was a lot younger.

For much of my existence, I’ve gotten the message from various important people in my life that who I am isn’t okay.  I was always too loud, too opinionated, laughed too much, weighed too much, said too many weird things, overshared too much, offended too much, and simply needed to be taught how to be a lady of some sort.  Many of the people who shared this message with me, either verbally or non-verbally, were close relatives.

I don’t know what Joanna Connor’s life is like, but I relate to her.  I suspect people have the same opinion about her they did about Susan Boyle, before they heard her sing… and the way some people do about me before they get to know me.

The most hurtful messages came from my own father, who often criticized me.  More than once, he left me with the message that no man would find me attractive and I would never make more than minimum wage.  Then, sometimes he’d reverse that comment and say I was “good looking” (after assuring me that he didn’t have to say that even though he was my dad) and, sometimes with surprise, he’d say I was smart.  Although I do remember a few times when he genuinely seemed proud of me and my accomplishments, other times, he acted like I was an embarrassment and a huge pain in his ass.  

Far from having a protective attitude toward me, my dad sometimes actually put me in danger.  I still have physical scars formed in childhood that were a direct result of his boneheaded decisions.  I have a deep scar on my left arm caused when he forced ten year old me to use a box cutter to break down cardboard boxes.  I wasn’t very adept at using the box cutter.  It’s not like he gave me a safety lecture beforehand.  Before long, there was an accident.  The blade slipped from the cardboard and punctured clean through all of the layers of skin on my arm.  I should have gotten stitches, but he didn’t bother to take me to the hospital.  I said I didn’t want to go, and he didn’t insist.

A couple of years after that, my dad took me bike riding.  He wore a helmet and I didn’t.  I had a pretty bad accident when my tires hit some gravel on the side of a busy road (Rt. 14, for Gloucester people who know the roads).  I fell and slid on the pavement, in front of several cars.  I got road rash, sprained a pinky, and had gashes on my face and legs.  I still have a three inch linear scar on the back of my thigh caused by the large sprocket on my bike cutting into my skin.  A nice lady picked me up in her car, while another passerby put my bike in their truck and drove me home. 

Dad rode home on his bike and, once again, neglected to take me to the hospital, even though I had also hit my head.  The next day was the first day of school and I went, looking and feeling terrible.  I remember I made a bad decision to wear an angora sweater.  Little hairs from the sweater were stuck to the huge road rash I had on my side.  There were other situations like this, where I was either neglected or forced to do things that weren’t age or experience appropriate.  I suffered the consequences while simultaneously hearing that I hadn’t been wanted and was a source of shame.    

I also think my dad was very jealous of the fact that I can sing.  In fact, I think he sometimes tried to compete with me.  Like, for instance, in 1998, when I decided to start studying voice privately again, he decided to take lessons from the same person.  He’d bring my mom to his lessons.  When I left the area to go to graduate school, he quit the lessons.

When I first told my dad about Bill, he made jokes about the fact that Bill was LDS.  In fact, everyone in my immediate family seemed to have doubts that I could be dating a really nice, good looking, gainfully employed man.  They also seemed concerned about my competence in picking my own mate.  I got comments from family members who said things like, “I’m surprised at how cute Bill is.” and “Are you sure you want to be dating an Army guy?”  More than once, I heard from my sisters about how unhappy my mom was as an Air Force wife.  They apparently wondered if I had considered her unhappiness when I made the decision to marry Bill.  

Evidently, despite seven years of post graduate education and two years spent living abroad, I wasn’t competent to think about these potential issues.  My mom was nineteen years old when she married my dad.  I was thirty when I married Bill.  Curiously, I don’t remember anyone in my family being concerned about Bill’s psycho ex, who has been the real source of any discontent I’ve experienced (and it’s been pretty minimal, actually).  Later, after we did get married, they mostly seemed to like Bill better than me.  Especially, my dad, who toward the end of his life, clearly preferred Bill’s company to mine.  I don’t blame him for that.  Most people prefer Bill to me.  I’d rather spend time with Bill than almost anyone else, myself.

Later, I’d hear criticism about how Bill and I spent our money (Are you sure you can afford a Mini Cooper?), my looks (Oh my God, you’ve gained weight), my behavior at age 30 (You’re causing a disturbance!), and how I spent my time (Why don’t you get a job while Bill is deployed for six months?).  Sometimes, family members would try to manipulate me into doing things instead of making respectful requests (How long does it take to drive from Atlanta to Durham, North Carolina?).  This was a question I was asked by a sister who felt she knew how I spend my time and wanted me to hop in the car, drive to North Carolina, split a hotel room with another sister, and put in an appearance at my dad’s hospital bedside so she’d feel less guilty about living in Minnesota, where plane tickets and time off from work are too dear.  Instead of asking me directly, she tried to be manipulative.  When I called her on it, she got nasty and accused me of being selfish.  

I’d also get criticized for the things I wanted to talk about beyond trivial subjects like the weather (Why do you always have to talk about such personal things?) or the way I dressed (Why don’t you put on some makeup and fix your hair?  Wear something nicer than what you have on?).  Often, when I’d call home to talk to my mom, I could tell she wasn’t interested.  Then, they wondered why I didn’t want to spend time with them and quit calling home so often.  Oh… and a lot of people in my family hate the way I laugh.  My dad said I sounded like a witch.  My sisters said my laugh sounded fake.  Even my grandmother complained about my laughter, which I will admit is distinctive.  I can’t help it, though.

As I got older, I started to recognize the same attitudes I got from my immediate family expressed more subtly by my dad’s side of the family.  Most of them are Christian Republicans who engage in very black and white thinking.  I didn’t used to notice it because I was surrounded by it all the time.  Then I moved away and started getting to know other people outside of the family.  It changed my thinking and a lot of my previous attitudes.  I started clashing with certain people in my family.  Others just simply seemed to stop talking to me.  In fact, the last time I went “home”, I literally felt like a stranger.  Like… there were family members who literally didn’t seem to recognize me.  Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on a plane ticket and hours of uncomfortable time on a plane to be treated like that?   

Some time ago, I noticed that a beloved cousin of mine, close to my age and someone I used to play with when we were little kids, kept commenting and responding to posts by other family members.  But she ignored me.  Like, I’d see her “like” something posted by one of my sisters or even one of their friends, but I never got so much as a “fuck you” from her.  It made me feel shitty to have to keep seeing that.  It’s not even like it could have even been a “two way street” situation, since she clearly looks at social media, but doesn’t post anything herself.  Or maybe she has me restricted.  In any case, repeatedly seeing her respond to other family members’ posts and not mine made me feel bad, so I decided to delete her.  It wasn’t easy to do that, but I think it was the right decision.  In fact, I doubt she’ll miss me.  

I deleted another cousin for whom I’ve had some hard feelings for a long while.  Some years ago, I discovered she inexplicably had me blocked on Facebook.  I’d see her at family events and she’d be nice to my face, but then I’d notice some shittiness leaking out that she thought she’d kept well-hidden.  In this case, I think it’s yet another situation where there’s some jealousy and insecurity.  Like me, she’s a musician and used to be the only “singer” in the family.  I sense she resents that I am also a female musical type and, while I don’t play guitar or write songs like she does, I have a much better singing voice.  That sounds like bragging… and you know what?  I don’t really care.  It’s the truth.  (ETA: I wrote this in 2018. This cousin died in 2020. I don’t miss her.)

A few years ago, when my dad was on his death bed, this same cousin, who once had me blocked, re-friended me on Facebook.  It didn’t take long before I began to realize that she mainly did it because my dad was her uncle and I was the most active Facebook poster in my immediate family.  It was like she wanted in on this particular chapter of family drama– to make a show of caring, probably because she thinks it’s the “Christian” thing to do.  I soon realized that even though she’s my cousin, she doesn’t like me.  And frankly, the feeling is mutual.  If we weren’t relatives, I definitely wouldn’t choose to be friends with her.

There were a couple of other cousins and relatives by marriage I deleted mainly because of a total lack of engagement or a subtle air of disapproval.  They’d become names on a friends list rather than “loved ones”.  A few years ago, I deleted a couple of cousins because they refused to do anything but argue with me about politics.  They weren’t interested in anything else.  Or they’d post smarmy, condescending bullshit about my being “loved and respected” while they proceeded to insult my intelligence. 

For instance, one cousin wanted to know what my master’s degree in public health (with a health administration focus) has to do with knowing how health insurance works.  He insisted that his time as a former life insurance agent meant he knows more about health insurance than I do, despite my having an advanced degree in the subject.  I certainly wouldn’t discount his experience and basic knowledge about how insurance works, since he used to sell it, but why couldn’t he acknowledge that I also have knowledge of the subject?  Maybe he’s just one of those people who thinks college is for chumps.  But you’d think he could at least recognize that I do know something about health insurance.  I didn’t buy my degree from a diploma mill.  My guess is that he sees me as a simple female, which automatically makes me inherently dumber than he is.  

For years, I’ve tried to be a bigger person about this stuff.  I’ve ignored subtle disses from family members.  Except on this blog, I’ve not really acknowledged that no one from my family of origin values any input from me.  I’ve tried to detach from the drama and mostly tried not to take things personally.  I think I’ve finally just gotten to the point at which I’m ready to be done with the stupidity.  Maybe there will be no one at my funeral.  Maybe I won’t even have a funeral. 

It makes me sad to see people with loving family relationships because I don’t really have any myself.  What I’ve had is basically a facade of a loving family.  Underneath that facade is the unspoken message that in order to fit in, I need to change who I am.  I’ve tried to do that and it just leads to major depression and anxiety.  So I’ve decided that the picture below is my new motto.  

Seriously… because a lot of the stuff that pisses me off is stuff that shouldn’t matter.  It’s better to cut bait and be done with it… and them.

I’m done with swallowing criticism from other people, especially those who aren’t even involved in my life.  From now on, I’m going to do what I want to do.  It may mean I’m done with attending all family events, once and for all.  But, I’ve had it.  I live thousands of miles away and it costs a lot of money and time to visit my relatives.  They don’t value my presence in their lives, so fuck them.  I’m going to spend time with people who actually want to spend time with me.  So far, that seems to be mostly Bill and my dogs.    

You probably have to go to YouTube to listen to this, but this song pretty much sums up how I feel today…

And here are the lyrics by James Taylor… a man who knows the trouble I’ve seen.

I was raised up family, man, I’m glad I’m on my own.
I was raised up family, man, I’m glad I’m on my own.
I mean, God bless the child that can learn to live alone, yeah.

Thinking about my cousin, what it was that did him in.
Could it have been that whiskey, rotgut, bootleg, bathtub gin?
It’s like it took a lot of liquor just to let him live in his own skin.

Back in Raleigh, North Carolina, you got to ride it on back in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The ship set down on the shore of this uncharted desert island,
me and my people fanned out, I guess we settled down a little while.
Ah, but the devil came with the dark days of winter, man, the children ran wild.

I used to know why, no, I don’t know why anymore.
I used to know why, no, I don’t know why no more.

I get to wonder at the Kundalini thunder, down under my floor.

You got to ride it on back, take me back.
Back in Raleigh, North Carolina, yeah, do you wanna go?
Way back in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Well… in my case, it’s Natural Bridge, Virginia.  But you get the idea.

Standard
ethics, Ex, lessons learned, musings, narcissists

Things that make me go hmmm…

The weekend is gone again, and we’re starting a new season. With it will come lots of changes on many levels. It’s nice to see the sun again, see flowers blooming, and observe the days getting longer and less grim. Still, there’s always someone or something out there that is up to no good.

I feel a little like Sue Snell at the prom in the movie, Carrie.

As I mentioned last week, the seaglasshole and some of her spawn recently ventured down to another state see my husband’s stepmother. This was, as I understand it, yet another one of her famous “ye olde surprise visits”, that she’s so adept at organizing. That’s when Ex decides to visit people unannounced, and puts them on the spot to host her. Most of the time, people welcome her into their homes, even though she has a long history of unapologetically grifting money and goods from them, for which she never says as much as “thank you”. Hmmm…

Last night, I noticed that Ex quietly removed a link to a crowdfunding campaign she recently launched. Last I checked, the campaign is still active, but it’s no longer publicly posted on her social media accounts. When no one jumped up to donate to her campaign, she donated $500 to herself. But still, no one responded to her request for money.

The crowdfund campaign was supposedly to help pay for a fence for her severely autistic son, who is fifteen years old and supposedly can’t go outside unsupervised. And yet, though her son supposedly needs constant care and oversight, Ex, older daughter, and #3’s daughter all went to see my husband’s stepmother. They evidently didn’t bring Ex’s son with them. I’m assuming they drove there… and gas prices are reportedly at an all time high in the United States. So they drove many states away at a time when gas prices are very high, and she’s begging strangers for money to fund a security fence for her son, whom she supposedly left alone, though he shouldn’t be left alone (#3 supposedly works full time now). Hmmmm….

And now that the week is up, she’s mysteriously removed the link to the campaign. Does she no longer need the money? If that’s the case, what’s changed? Was she suddenly gifted some money? Or has she just “grifted” it? Hmmmmm…

Younger daughter says that she felt pressured to be involved in this visit… to promote the idea of one big “happy” family… to surprise SMIL with her “grandbabies” and “great grandbabies” (that technically aren’t actually her grandbabies). And if I know Ex, they will only be “grands” until SMIL does something to piss her off or doesn’t do her bidding. Then she’ll try to take them away again. I suspect Ex sees younger daughter’s kids as hers to exploit, just as she exploited (and still exploits) her own kids. It’s hard for younger daughter, because she’s a good person who legitimately cares about her family and doesn’t want to be cast out. But she also knows her mother is abusive. I don’t know if she realizes that SMIL is, too.

Ex also reportedly tried to involve ex stepson’s wife in these shenanigans, even though ex stepson basically used Bill (his ex stepfather) for money and changed his last name to what it was originally. Bill’s daughters also changed their last names to #3’s. All of these people who are supposedly “grandbabies” either aren’t actually related to Bill (and therefore Bill’s dad) or they changed their last names to disown him. And yet Ex still apparently wants to be connected to Bill’s family… the family whose last name was too shameful for Bill’s own bio daughters to keep. Has SMIL forgotten about all of this? I remember she was pretty outraged about it when it happened.

I don’t have much to do with SMIL. She doesn’t seem to like me very much. I know there are a lot of reasons why she doesn’t appreciate me. I’m not the mother of Bill’s children. I haven’t encouraged Bill to move closer to her, nor do I encourage him to tolerate her emotional blackmail tactics. I am not a very pliant person, nor do I go along to get along very well. However, even though we aren’t best buddies, I do hate to see her potentially being taken advantage of, especially by Ex. Last time I saw SMIL, she told us many tales of woe about how Ex has disrespected and taken advantage of her over the years. I don’t know if grifting money was the real purpose of Ex’s visit. It could all just be a coincidence that this trip coincides with Ex’s crowdfunding campaign, the link to which mysteriously “disappeared”. I do think it’s very possible, though… and SMIL may find herself out some money and, once again, outside of Ex’s sphere, once Ex gets what she wants.

I know SMIL is probably feeling very lonely, since FIL died. I don’t know that she has a lot of contact with her other family members who live nearby. And SMIL did recently go on a trip with a friend of hers. I’m sure Ex saw that, and figured SMIL was into some money… perhaps from a life insurance payout. I really don’t know. But I do think her actions of late are very curious and suspicious. They do make me go “Hmmmm” a bit.

Once again, I know it’s really not my business, so I’m not going to say anything to anyone directly involved. SMIL can certainly have anyone she wants in her home. I just think it’s very sad that she’s back to hanging out with Ex, who has legitimately hurt her more than once in the past. I hope someone who cares about SMIL will intervene… or at least ask her if she’s okay. This stuff looks very sketchy to me, and I’ve been around long enough to see the signs of trouble. I also know what Ex is capable of doing. She is a very nasty piece of work. As for SMIL… her daughter posted the below a few days ago. I have a feeling it was connected to this bit of drama.

Kind of telling, isn’t it?

This isn’t the first time Ex has pulled this “one big happy family” bullshit. She’s been doing this for years. And some people seem to fall for it over and over again, much like Charlie Brown falls for Lucy’s football prank. The sad thing is, I know that SMIL knows what Ex does. She’s told us.

I know Ex relates to Peanuts… so in homage to her, here’s a clip that outlines her predictable behavior.

A couple of days ago, I combined some fresh content about USAA with an old post about LuLaRoe. In that post is some wisdom that I think bears repeating. So here it is, slightly edited… and this isn’t to say that I think all families are like this. Just the ones that involve narcissists, grifters, and other dishonest people who are more interested in money and power than real, healthy, loving relationships that aren’t based on acting like a parasite.

“One big happy family” sounds great… until you realize that some of the most toxic relationships a person can have are with family members.  Family members have that advantage of being in the group… they have access to you that other people generally don’t.  They know you better than most people do.  And when something unpleasant needs to be done, family members feel okay about asking other family members for help.  If you go against the grain, you run the risk of being cast out… lovingly, of course, because you need to see the error of your ways.  While I don’t know for sure, I get the sense that Ex’s family system is kind of culty like that.  You toe the line so you won’t be towed outside of the group. 

Ex runs her family like a mini cult. Too many people are caught up in it… not realizing that there are many healthy, decent people in the world who are much more worthy of their love and attention than the narcissistic ex is. Why, if Bill was such a terrible husband to her, is she so desperate to hang on to his family? I think we all know why… hmmm? Anyway, all I can do is watch and muse, so that’s what I’ll do.

Standard
musings

More French hospitality…

A bigger organ than Putin’s…

We will be going home tomorrow. I have to say I’m ready to go, not because we haven’t had fun, but because I’m worn out. I am not used to so much hospitality. Today, after we visited Obernai and Saverne, we came back to our room and I promptly fell asleep. Now, I’m up, but only because we booked dinner again in the restaurant. Last night, we did the big tasting dinner. Tonight, I hope for something simpler and shorter in duration. I am ready to go to bed, get up in the morning for one more excellent breakfast, and go home to Germany, so I can write up all of our fun and share pictures… and of course, see my dogs. I have missed them, too. French people love dogs, and they are everywhere.

Right this minute, I’m watching French news about Ukraine. I have a lot of thoughts about that situation. I have a friend whose wife is from there, and she still has a lot of family members who are trapped in Kiev. I get highly irritated listening to Putin and his threats. He really is a nasty character… one of those people who probably ought to be blown straight back to Hell. However, I am very grateful that my husband is no longer in the Army. I have a feeling the Army will be getting involved eventually, although I hope they won’t.

I do get kind of tickled when I notice the difference between French news and US news. A couple of nights ago, I happened to watch the news when the death of a famous French presenter was being reported. The anchor was openly crying as he spoke about it. He kept saying “Je suis desole!”

I notice that they spell Putin’s name “Poutine”. So now, when I see him, I think of a giant deep friend cheese curd.

And tonight, I saw a protester holding up a poster of a hand drawn tiny penis. It had a caption that read, “Putin: 3 centimeters”. I find it outrageous that one, very toxic man, can hold the world hostage this way with his threats. At the same time, while I don’t think Joe Biden is the best person to handle Putin, I do thank God Trump isn’t in office. He’s a moron who thought Finland was part of Russia. You bet your ass he’d just let Putin do what he wants. Putin probably has dirt on him.

It’s a little scary watching this stuff happening in Ukraine. It’s not that far away. I fear it could get much worse. I am old enough to remember the Chernobyl accident… and I remember that the effects from that crossed over Europe. Bill’s first landlady in Germany died because she got cancer from Chernobyl. The fallout affected the whole continent.

But I guess Putin doesn’t care about that. He just wants land and power… and it doesn’t matter how much humans suffer. For once, I think I agree with Lindsey Graham. I hope someone takes him out.

Standard
Duggars, ethics, law, musings

“If you want the rainbow, you’re going to have to put up with a lot of rain…”

Yesterday, I got the news that after last year’s sad miscarriage, Jill Dillard and her husband, Derick, are expecting another baby. The blessed event is set to happen in July. The happy news was announced on their official Web site. It looks they’re going to get their “rainbow baby”. In the pictures on their Web site, Jill looks radiant. Her bump is already pretty pronounced, at about halfway through her pregnancy.

I must say, Jill looks very beautiful these days. I’m happy for her, and I hope her pregnancy goes well. I also hope she doesn’t attempt another home birth, but I think she’s smart enough not to try that again. It’s not that I necessarily have anything against home births as a general rule. It’s just more that Jill’s first two pregnancies were pretty dramatic at the end, and she ended up having to go to the hospital on an emergency basis. It would not be smart for her to try to birth at home again, given her history.

I still don’t necessarily approve of the transphobic and homophobic comments Derick Dillard made a few years ago. I think part of that was an attempt to cause problems for the Duggar empire, since Derick was allegedly angry with Boob for not paying them for their work. However, knowing how religious Derick supposedly is, I also suspect that he really believes most of the awful stuff he said and wrote about Jazz Jennings. On the other hand, I respect Derick for not putting up with Jim Bob’s bullshit and for, evidently, being a good husband to Jill… and not forcing her to continue to live by Boob’s ridiculous fundie Christian rules.

Today’s post title comes from a little wisdom I picked up after watching Dawson’s Creek back in the late 90s. I was in my mid 20s at the time, living with my parents, and trying to get my shit together after my time in Armenia. It was during that time that the WB network still existed, and I got hooked on 7th Heaven and Dawson’s Creek. It amazes me to think of how long ago that was. The years have flown by so fast!

Anyway, I remember that the character, Jen, played by the amazing Michelle Williams (who does a mean Gwen Verdon impression), had a grandmother who regularly dispensed trite advice. I really only watched Dawson’s Creek during the first season. I was pretty busy at that time of my life, and didn’t have much time for TV. But I do remember the episode that quote came from… as “Grams” was talking to Dawson and said her comatose husband used to say that “If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with a lot of rain.” And then she said to Dawson, “From what I’ve seen of you so far, you better buy yourself a good umbrella.” Sage words indeed, Grams. Hopefully, Derick and Jill and their sons will have a healthy new family member this summer. I also hope Derick has a good job, especially since TLC presumably won’t be there to film the birth.

Tomorrow, Bill and I will be going to Stuttgart to see our dentist. I look forward to being done with that little pesky chore. Afterwards, we will drive just over the border into France and spend the weekend. The dogs will be at the Hunde Pension. Hopefully, they’ll be okay for four nights. I suspect Arran will be annoyed at having to stay there. He’d rather come with us. If it was just him, maybe we would bring him, although he doesn’t do so well by himself and we’re going to dine out. Noyzi takes up the entire back end of our Volvo, so it’s not so practical to travel with him. He loves trips, though.

I’m looking forward to getting out of here for a brief respite, especially since we’re going to France. We haven’t gone anywhere in months. The weather has vastly improved, too. It’s still a little windy and chilly, but the sun has been out a lot. The days are getting longer. Pretty soon, it’ll be time to reconnect the lawnmower and haul the outdoor furniture up from the basement, so we can sit outside.

Although there’s a conflict going on in Ukraine, and it’s very troubling and scary, I can’t help but feel somewhat hopeful and optimistic. I’m not sure why I feel this way. I should be more scared, I guess… but I think the past two years have tapped me out on being scared.

I was sitting in my bedroom yesterday, thinking about how totally awry my life has gone. I mean, I’m very comfortable, but all of the things I planned for myself kind of went out the window. But then, I couldn’t have foreseen all that has happened over the past twenty years or so. Things that were so important back then, don’t really amount to much today. And now that Putin is talking about nukes, maybe it won’t matter at all before too long. So I feel like I just want to enjoy things for now, for as long as I can. Getting too upset about stuff I can’t control is a waste of time and energy.

I did get a little triggered last night, though. I happened across a Reddit Ridiculousness post about a person who accidentally damaged a “friend’s” laptop and offered to pay for a brand new one. The friend with the damaged computer then demanded an extra $500, because she wanted to upgrade… Can you imagine the balls on that bitch? Have a look.

That post was very satisfying to read. The ending was perfect. I can’t abide people who have the stones to try to get over in such a way. I can’t even imagine having the nerve to demand that someone buy me a brand new, upgraded laptop computer, when I negligently put the computer on a surface where people sit down. Good for that judge for holding the computer owner responsible for her own stupidity and carelessness. She probably did that on purpose, hoping to scam someone into buying her a new computer. I’m glad the really kind original poster did not give in to the extortionate demands of the thieving computer bitch. Good on her for letting the bitch sue her, and then allowing the judge to hand the bitch her ass. Serves her right.

As I read that post last night, I was reminded of our ex landlady’s attempt to force us to buy her a brand new awning. I’ve written about that sordid affair a few times and you can read most of long version of the whole awful tale here. The short version is, I had asked the former landlady to have the awning repaired, because it was leaning very low and looked like it was going to fall. She had her husband do the job instead of hiring a professional.

One really hot day, the wind was high, and the heavy awning finally collapsed. I wasn’t outside when it fell, and I couldn’t predict the wind, so ex landlady immediately accused me of being “negligent”, completely ignoring that it was her responsibility to have the thing fixed. She was VERY lucky no one was hurt or killed that day. But she focused on the fact that I wasn’t sitting under the awning when it fell. She claimed that it had been a “stormy” day. If you click the link to my first post about this, you can see that the weather was sunny that day– at least when the awning initially fell. It did storm later, but that happened after the great collapse. In the photos I took right after the awning fell, it’s clearly bright and sunny, with no signs of rain.

The insurance settlement she got from our liability policy was only 300 euros. That wasn’t enough money for her, even though the awning was 17 years old and she hadn’t had it properly repaired. A little over a year later, when we moved out, she came up with a bullshit list of reasons to withhold our security deposit. She wanted 2800 euros to buy a brand new awning. I guarantee you, though, that if the situation had been reversed, and we were the landlords, there is no way in HELL she would have paid for a new awning. I think she knows damned well that’s not how insurance works. She was trying to take advantage of my husband’s good nature, and apparently thought we were both weak and stupid people. I strongly suspect that she’s done this before, to other people… and especially other tenants. In retrospect, we should have held her completely responsible from the beginning, and refused to file an insurance claim, given that she didn’t have a professional fix the awning.

When Bill pushed back and asked ex landlady for a list of bills proving that she’d spent 2500 euros of our deposit to fix the house, as well as proof that we were responsible for the damage, she got really nasty, insulting, and unprofessional. She sent a few bills, including a couple for things that weren’t our responsibility, but were just intended to make us feel guilty for how much money she was spending (on anal retentive things like washing the roof of the carport). She grudgingly gave back about 666 euros or so, out of 3200, and flat out REFUSED to give us more. She falsely accused us of theft, and completely ignored that she did some things very wrong as landlady, as she demanded perfection from us. It was pretty clear to me, at least, that she was determined to take our money, no matter what. So Bill sued her. It took a long time, thanks to COVID-19, but in the end, she had to pay us back 73 percent of what she illegally withheld, and she had to pay our lawyer, her lawyer, and court fees.

In the end, she probably spent over twice what she tried to rip off. She also got off easy, because she didn’t follow several proper landlord procedures, according to German law. If we had been very stubborn, vindictive people, we could have nailed her for a lot more money. But we just wanted to hold her accountable, because we suspect she has a habit of ripping people off. There’s a reason why she prefers American tenants. We wanted proof of her shady practices, so we could provide it to the military installation and have a prayer of sparing other Americans from having to deal with her. Moreover, I was on the receiving end of her verbal abuse for four years, and I figured she had it coming. In spite of that sweet victory, I’m still really pissed off at her. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. I can’t abide narcissistic, abusive people, especially when they fuck with my husband.

Now, of course, we have a much better landlord, and a better house. And, for now, thanks to Putin, Bill has job security. Or, so it seems… I sometimes worry about the future, and where we’ll end up. I try to take steps to make sure we have an “umbrella” prepared for the rainstorms… and hope we’ll see rainbows. So far, we generally do get treated to better times when there are “storms”. But I know that’s now how life always works. I am a bit worried about the world’s problems… but I’m also looking forward to better times. Or, at least a time when problems will be beyond me, because I won’t be around for them. I have always been comforted by the idea that someday I’ll be dead, and I won’t have to care about anything anymore.

I don’t know how much writing I’ll be doing over the next few days. I’ll bring my laptop, making sure not to put it on a couch to be sat upon. But I hope we’ll have the chance to see a lot of stuff, eat some good French food, and enjoy the world a little bit more than we have been lately.

Standard