controversies, nostalgia, slut shamers, social media

Partial repost: Let’s keep ’em closed (and covered up), people…

Today’s entry is a partial repost, some of which I originally composed on September 5, 2015. I am reposting part of my blog today, because I feel like being kind of funny, and I’m not in the mood to write about Kevin McCarthy’s ridiculous Speaker of the House vote. I also don’t follow football, so I can’t opine about Dahmer Hamlin. And I’m not quite done with Jamie Lynn’s book… so here goes.

Before I repost what I wrote in 2015, here’s a brief briefing. The repost was based on a 2013 era viral blog post that was written by an Austin, Texas based mom, Kim Hall, who complained about teenaged girls posting pictures of themselves in various stages of undress. It went viral, with many people sharing it, and quite a few people writing snarky rebuttals, about what they considered “slut shaming”. This morning, I’m struck by how innocent we were in 2013, when so many of us were up in arms about pictures of scantily clad girls on Facebook and Instagram. Kim Hall wanted teenaged girls to cover up their bodies if they were going to share photos and videos on social media that her sons might see. Little did she know that a few years later, people would want them to cover up their faces, too. She had no way of knowing about the challenges that teens would face when a novel virus came to town. It’s almost comical…

Anyway, below is my 2015 post. It’s relatively brief by my standards, and most of the links still work.

***Two years ago (in 2013), a woman’s blog post about “slutty” looking teenagers went viral.  The post was called “FYI– If you’re a teenage girl…”  Why am I remembering this?  Because I checked Facebook’s “On this day” app and noticed that I had posted a link to a blogger’s funny rebuttal (I highly recommend reading the snarky rebuttal, which is still up. It’s hilarious!).  The post that had spawned the rebuttal was removed, but not before it was viewed millions of times and shared all over the place.  Indeed, I even responded to the post myself– but my rebuttal is on the old blog… maybe I’ll repost my rebuttal. Why not? 

A couple of days ago, another blogger wrote a post about an entirely different teen related topic.  Her post obliquely referenced the FYI post that has now been deleted but still exists all over the Internet.  Christine Organ writes:

Don’t worry; this isn’t going to be one of those letters. You know the kind. Some well-intentioned and wise adult writes with a just-trying-to-be-helpful shrug about how you should stop doing this or change that. Usually it has something to do with your clothing choices or selfie-taking habits or flirting protocols. Believe me, I’m just as sick of those “letters” as you are.  

Two years later, I’m remembering that post and how it caused such a stir.  An Austin, Texas mom named Kim Hall wrote somewhat eloquently about how she was going to block girls who post inappropriate photos and YouTube videos from her sons’ Facebook pages, because she didn’t want her boys seeing girls in their pajamas without bras, or wrapped in just a towel.  She didn’t want her boys to be unable to “unsee” the sexy teens in their midst, and think of them in a sexual way.  I’ve never been a teenaged boy, but my guess is that it matters little how girls are dressed when boys are at a certain age.  A good stiff breeze can make them think of sex. (I remember Mrs. Hall got in some hot water, too, because her post was originally littered with pictures of her shirtless sons, flexing their muscles in their swimming trunks. People thought that was very hypocritical, and it was! She later reposted it with the boys in street clothes, did some creative editing and rephrasing, and then took the post down altogether.)    

For the record, I don’t necessarily disagree with all of Mrs. Hall’s points.  I don’t like looking at scantily clad girls, either.  However, I think it’s pretty hard (heh heh… I wrote “hard”) to prevent people from seeing those images.  Humans are naturally curious beings and they like to see the forbidden.  So even if Mom scours her sons’ Facebook pages every day, they will probably still see some stuff she doesn’t want them to see.  They may end up with hardened dicks, too.  Perish the thought.

What amazes me is that I had totally forgotten about this incident and was suddenly reminded of it due to another blogger’s oblique mention of it.  I don’t know if she wrote her post about teenaged girls at the swimming pool almost exactly two years later on purpose, but it does seem kind of strange.  

I also wonder if Kim Hall knew that her blog post would take off like it did.  I mean, when she wrote her “open letter” to girls two years ago, did she know that it would be the subject of so many blog rebuttals, Facebook arguments, videos, and online magazine articles?  I wonder why she took it down, too.  It made her kind of famous.  Her blog is still up and was recently updated.  My guess is that she got tired of the attention.  Taking the post down was kind of like closing the barn door after the horse has already gone… but hell, it probably made her feel better.

The overwhelming message I got was that people should keep their legs closed… and their minds closed.  Because sex is bad.  Thinking about sex is bad.  And teenagers in towels are bad.  Especially on Facebook and Instagram.

My thoughts are a little scattered this morning.***

Now, on to my fresh post…

This morning, I noticed that someone in Alabama hit a post I wrote in late June 2020. It was about face masks and the totally nuts– over-the-top– reaction a lot of people on social media were having to COVID-19. At the time I wrote that post, I was feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and hopeless about the future. I was giving serious thought to getting rid of Facebook… a notion I’ve had a bunch of times over the years. It was mainly because I felt inundated with the prospect of a bleak, dystopian world, post COVID. I was tired of all of the annoying, sanctimonious preaching being done by all of the Google experts on social media. In 2020, COVID was very scary, but so was the public’s polarized reaction to it. I was genuinely feeling a bit crazed by it. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

In the post someone hit today, I noted that I expected face masks to be a temporary measure. Fortunately, my predictions and expectations regarding the pandemic have mostly come to pass. Even here in uptight, but stoic, Germany, people have calmed down a lot about COVID. I was afraid that we would all be forced back into masks this winter, but that hasn’t come to pass. Masks are still required on most buses and trains, although Bavaria– which had the strictest regulations for a long time– recently dispensed with them on local trains. The masks are no longer needed on flights. They are still required in any medical office, including veterinary offices. But, I suspect, they will eventually be phased out, even though COVID is still a problem and there are new mutations. Life has mostly gotten back to normal, and that is a really good thing. Thank GOD.

I guess the one message I take from reading my post about face masks, before reading about a mom who was concerned about her sons seeing girls in towels and braless in pajamas on social media, is that our battles have a way of changing. There was a time, not so long ago, that people were all upset about a woman admonishing girls about being too “sexy” online and asking them to cover their bodies. That was what a whole lot of people were thinking and talking about, blissfully unaware that they would soon be angry about people not wanting to cover their faces. And there was a time, not so long ago, when the topic of the day was face masks, and how we not only needed to cover our bodies, but we also needed to cover our faces… forever. How very depressing. I’m glad most of us have moved on from that idea, at least for now.

In 2015, Donald Trump was still just a very rich and famous guy talking about running for office. No one had ever heard of COVID-19. The idea of wearing a face mask in public was just for germ avoidant freaks. In 2023, we’re all older, wiser, and wearier. I’d say most of us lost some innocence.

Just for shits and giggles, I went to see if Kim Hall is still blogging. It looks like she still is. Her blog was updated within the past few months, anyway. It appears that she’s a dedicated conservative Christian, and lately, her posts seem to be about the evils of allowing transgender teenagers to access treatment that would allow them to transition. She writes about how devastating it is when some of these folks wind up “de-transitioning”. To be honest, I don’t know much about how many people decide to de-transition. It’s not a subject I spend a lot of time researching. Apparently, Kim Hall is upset about it. I see in the summer of 2020, she posted about the “hysteria” over COVID, and how God has “lovingly” numbered our days. So we all might as well simmer down… those were not her actual words, but I think it was kind of the attitude she imparted. I don’t think we were in disagreement about that, based on what I wrote in 2020, although my reasoning has a lot less to do with God’s plan and more to do with how extreme reactions often do more harm than good.

Anyway… Kim Hall is probably better at blogging than I am. She has a Facebook following of about 11,000, while I recently took down my Facebook page for this blog. So what do I know? 😉 Looks like her kids are pretty much grown now, too, so that means she doesn’t have to concern herself with what they see on Facebook anymore. See? Battles change all the time!

And, what the hell… I think I’ll repost my 2013 commentary about Kim Hall’s post. Stay tuned.

 

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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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bad TV, good tv, modern problems, nostalgia, politicians, politics, Russia, Trump, YouTube

TDY weeks are made for made for TV movies…

As I mentioned in today’s first post, my husband, Bill, is gone this week on a business trip in Bavaria. I don’t have any local buddies to hang out with, so that means I have a lot of empty time on my hands. When Bill was deployed to Iraq back in 2007, I spent a lot of time watching reality TV. At that time, we lived in the States on Fort Belvoir, and we had FiOS (fiber optic cable TV and Internet– which is just becoming a “thing” here in Germany). This was before Apple TV, so I couldn’t spend my time watching relics from my childhood, the way I do today. I’m glad for Apple TV and YouTube, because now I can watch stuff I missed back in the day.

Back in February 1987, I was fifteen years old, and very busy with school and taking care of my horse. I wasn’t at all interested in politics, religion, or current events. I was kind of “dumb” then, as we didn’t have all of the news and information sources we have now. In those days, the Soviet Union was still very much a thing. People worried about nuclear war to the extent that it was a topic on sitcoms, like The Golden Girls. There were a number of Soviet themed films that were released for the big screen. I remember the movie, Red Dawn, came out in 1984, when I was 12 years old. It was the very first PG-13 rated movie, mainly because it was, and still is, a very violent film about Soviets invading the United States. I remember being very “fired up” when I saw that movie the first time. I was young and impressionable, and thought the height of patriotism would be to join the military and fight for my country. Hell, when I was 12, I might have even made the military’s weight standards. 😉 Actually, I’m kidding. As a teenager, I thought I was fat, but I really wasn’t. Like I said… I was kind of dumb in those days… dumber than I am today. But today, I am fatter than I was in the 80s.

Since the Soviet Union was still so threatening, the American Broadcasting Company, otherwise known as ABC, made the mother of all miniseries. It was a seven night EVENT, which even in the era of network TV, was a big production for a miniseries. Most miniseries lasted two or three nights. I was interested in very few of them, because like I said, I was BUSY then… and not interested in politics, religion, or current events. But other people were interested, so ABC made this miniseries called Amerika. It was set in 1997, in a fictional midwestern town called Milford in Nebraska. It starred, Kris Kristofferson, Mariel Hemingway, Cindy Pickett (“Ferris Beuller’s mom”), Christine Lahti, Robert Ulrich, and a very young Lara Flynn Boyle, among other people who are now either dead, or more or less famous than they were in 1987.

The premise of Amerika was that the Soviet Union’s leaders had messed with our elections and that had led to a “bloodless” coup. The United States was no longer. Instead, it was broken up into smaller areas. The flag and national anthem were changed, and the idea of communism was introduced to our capitalistic society. The miniseries was about how the country changed. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and it was obviously based on the propaganda of the time. Remember, the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991, so a lot of today’s adults weren’t around when it was still in existence. But some of us old farts remember it very well.

Well, I completely missed seeing Amerika when it originally aired. It only aired once, because it caused a lot of issues with leaders in the Soviet Union, who were outraged by it. It was also a really long television event that was probably expensive and disruptive to air. In the 80s, we had our “must see TV”, and these kinds of special shows would usurp our old favorites. And then, after just a few years, Amerika seemed over the top and ridiculous, as the Soviet Union literally fell apart, and formerly closed borders started opening. Hell, the movie was set in 1997, but I was actually finishing up my Peace Corps assignment in Armenia, a former Soviet country, in 1997. So, as you can see, it didn’t make a lot of sense to air the program again. It was later released on video, but it doesn’t look like a DVD set was ever released. However… someone did upload the entire series to YouTube. I watched the whole thing in several sittings, as the program is over fourteen hours in length. Even couch potatoes like me need to get up and move sometimes.

A trailer for Amerika.

I don’t want to get too much into the specific plot of this series, because frankly, it seems like an overwhelming task. As I mentioned up post, the series was set in a fictional town of Milford, which was named after the enterprising American family that helped build it. Some of them still lived in Milford, only to watch their town being overrun by Soviets and American politicians who figuratively “got in bed” with them in a bid to seize power. We watch as people with private businesses can no longer offer what they used to have. A woman who ran a cafe for over thirty years was forced to serve soy products instead of the comfort food she used to offer. Later, everyone is forced into a curfew and heavily armed Soviet soldiers bust the woman’s neon sign, which had been lit for decades. She cries as she’s forced into the back of a truck to be driven off to God knows where.

We see a talented young dancer (Boyle’s character, Jackie Bradford) being ignored when she auditions for a show because she’s too good and would ruin the uniformity of mediocrity of the others. By the way, while I can see where the writers were going with this point, years of watching Soviet athletes and listening to Soviet trained musicians tells me that the culture certainly embraced the talented. They were showcased! Just watch any 70s or 80s era Olympics or a Russian ballet! But the point is, communists didn’t give anyone an incentive to excel, since everyone was “treated equally”. Except they actually weren’t. There were certainly people in communist countries who had it better than others did, due to their stations in life.

We see dissidents being forced into “re-education” camps. Kristofferson’s character, a former politician and 1988 presidential candidate named Devin Milford, had been imprisoned in Texas for trying to fight against the regime and speaking out against corruption. At the beginning of the series, we see him being released and sent into exile in Milford, where he is to stay within 25 miles of his property or risk being jailed or shot. He watches as families lose their homes as Soviet squatters are not recognizing the former Americans’ rights to own land. Children in school are being propagandized with communist principles, which they spout off by rote.

Devin’s eldest son is sent to a psychiatric hospital to be “treated” for thought crimes. He and his fellow patients are shown propaganda while hooked up to electrodes, drugged, and kept in cells. His middle and youngest sons are kept from him. The middle child is bright enough to see through what is happening, but the youngest child becomes very indoctrinated, to the point at which he turns on his father, with a literal gun. Devin’s ex wife, Marion Andrews (Wendy Hughes), is becoming a government leader who wants her ex husband killed.

Fellow Milfordite, Peter Bradford (Robert Ulrich) becomes president, with his wife Amanda (Cindy Pickett) as his first lady. Amanda is very disturbed by all she sees, and tells Bradford that she can be his wife, but not his first lady. Sounds kind of like Melania Trump! Except Amanda is nowhere near as narcissistic and vacuous as Melania is. 😉

And then there’s Kimberly Ballard (Mariel Hemingway), who was very young and beautiful in 1987. She plays a musical theater actress whose work is affected because of censorship. She also gets involved with a Soviet military leader– well… she falls in love with him, and he falls in love with her. But their love can’t survive, because she’s an American through and through, and he’s a Soviet. And politics always take precedence over love.

Mariel Hemingway “sings” as Kimberly Ballard… or does she? This is disturbing.

Like I said, this is a very long series, and to be honest, it was a bit of a plod to get through it. It starts off rather slowly, but then gets more interesting. The musical score may be familiar to some people, too, as the composer of much of the music was Basil Poledouris, the same guy who did the music for the original Red Dawn. In some ways, this film reminded me a bit of Red Dawn, minus most of the violence… at least at first. As Americans start waking up to the reality of communism, a la a frog in slowly heated water, there’s more violent action. Some of it was kind of chilling to see, even by today’s bloodthirsty standards. There are a lot of “dead” people shown– eyes frozen open in shock and horror, as fake blood runs down their faces. In 1987, it was still uncommon for Americans to see mass shooting events.

In some ways, Amerika still seems far fetched and ridiculous. It’s now 2022, and 1997 was a long time ago– 25 years! But realizing that this movie was made in 1987, it’s kind of interesting to see what we had in 1997 that wasn’t yet conceived of in 1987. So, for 1997, Amerika seems pretty quaint and antiquated. However, I moved to Armenia in 1995, which was only about 3.5 years after the Soviet Union fell apart. Things were still very antiquated there in 1995, and things were still pretty much run like they were in the Soviet era. In fact, conditions were worse there at that time, because they were on their own. We had no electricity most of the time; some places had no running water; and almost no one had hot water from a tap. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia in 1995, I took bucket baths with water heated on my kerosene heaters or propane stove. I read books at night by kerosene lamp light. Anything I wanted to buy was behind a counter. And I lived in a series of ugly Soviet era cookie cutter apartments.

But, in other ways, Amerika is scarily prescient. The miniseries was probably conceived of by right wing political conservatives, as it has a very anti-communism message. BUT… as we all know, in 2016, the Russians fucked with our presidential elections. We had a “Republican” leader in Donald Trump, who doesn’t really resemble an old style Republican at all and, in fact, isn’t one. Trump is a fascist, dictator wannabe, and he’s spawned a bunch of power hungry acolytes who would love to follow in his footsteps, even though he’s clearly against freedom and outwardly said the Constitution needs to be “suspended” so he can be put back in power.

This bitch needs to be voted out… but Georgians are too wedded to being “Republicans”. She says that if she and Steve Bannon had been “in charge” of January 6th, they would have “won”. What a fucking loser she is. How DARE she?!

Yesterday, there was news about how, on January 17, 2021, South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman sent a text message to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, calling for Trump to institute “Marshall law”. He means “martial law”, of course. But he was actually calling for Trump to use military force to overturn the legal and fair 2020 presidential election, to prevent Joe Biden from taking his rightful place as the US President. Can you fucking believe it? These are Republicans! Aren’t they supposed to be about smaller government, the Constitution, and freedom for everyone (except women of childbearing age)?

How dare he? These MAGA motherfuckers need to be run out of power. Especially Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is among the worst of the lot.

I saw a lot of comments on the Amerika videos. Many people were trashing Biden, and saying that America is headed for the scary communist dystopian reality presented in Amerika. And yet, I lived in a former Soviet country, and I learned that the people living there weren’t bad people. They really weren’t that different than I was. They just came from a poorer country in need of assistance. In the 25 years since I left Armenia, I have been really heartened to see how far the country has come. It’s truly become a cool place to be, in terms of the incredible culture and the insane talents of its citizenry. Meanwhile, the United States is starting to look more like it could go the way of the old Soviet Union, as Trump and his minions try to take over and force us to accept his “leadership”. I’m actually not that afraid of Trump anymore, because he’s old and has been revealed for what he is. BUT… I am afraid of the younger, smarter, more polished, power hungry types in his wake who claim to be patriots and fans of the Constitution, but want to do away with fundamental American principles like separation of church and state, the right to privacy, and not having the military running the government so that the overall unpopular extremist, dictatorial types like Trump can stay in charge.

Peru and Germany DID something about their dictator wannabes. Let’s get with it, America, and put these dangerous people away, before they ruin the country.

This week, there was a coup stopped in Germany, which is where I live right now. The people involved in that are now in massive legal trouble. They have been arrested. In the United States, Donald Trump is still a free man, in spite of showing us who he is, and what he wants to do. For some reason, Republicans think their party is still what it was years ago, when it was about keeping government out of people’s private business and keeping taxes low. Do these folks really believe that Trump and his deplorable minions won’t be trying their best to take what’s yours? Trump just wants money and power. But there are people inspired by him who want more. They have shown us… and there are a lot of awful people in public office who care more about being re-elected than doing what is right for the citizens of the United States and running free and FAIR elections, without corruption.

One thing that I did learn, having lived in Armenia, is that abortion wasn’t really a big deal in the Soviet Union. I met many women who’d had them, mainly because birth control wasn’t freely available, and their men didn’t want to bother with condoms. And when you’re making the US equivalent of $10 a month, it’s hard to have enough money to raise children. But, it hasn’t escaped my attention that a lot of Republican business owners who don’t want to pay a living wage, nor do they want to offer birth control coverage on health insurance policies provided through work, are very much against allowing abortion. At least for now. 😉 Some of those folks might eventually realize that religion makes it harder for them to control the masses, as people have a power higher than the state. I think with time, religion and the so-called morals espoused because of “God” will become much less fashionable among Republicans, just as the Constitution apparently has.

Yeah… she’s all for church, until she realizes that people are giving money to churches that they could be giving to government officials, like her. What an un American idiot she is. And no, the church is NOT supposed to direct the US government.
It’s UNBELIEVABLE to me that people are so blind to WHO these MAGAts are!!!!

Anyway… just like I was in 1987, a lot of Americans are concerned about other things. And they aren’t paying attention, even though we have a lot more ways to pay attention now, than we ever had in the past. I hope some people wake up before we start seeing America turn into Amerika. I don’t even want to say that all Republicans are bad, per se. It’s just that the old school ones are being replaced like MAGAts… like cancer cells, they are taking over.

So, although Amerika was a “plod” to get through, I am glad I took the time to watch it. It made me think. If I had taken more time, I probably could have written a much better blog post about it. But if I manage to inspire someone to watch it and draw their own conclusions, maybe I will have done my good deed for the day. It was eye opening for me, but not in the way that other viewers saw it, apparently. This is the type of thing conservatives would tend to watch, because of that dirty word– communism– and Soviet Union style politics. They don’t see the similarities between Soviet Union style communism and Trump style fascism that I see, like the Trump style desire to suppress the media— something very much in the Soviet playbook. As someone who has experienced life over there, and has voted on either side of the spectrum, I see other, more frightening things. We, as a nation, need to collectively wake up and do something about these deranged, fascist, violent people before it’s too late.

WHEW… I meant for this to be about two movies. Guess I’ll be writing another post, which seems fair enough, since it’s snowing outside right now.

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love, marriage, music, musings, nostalgia

“The secret o’ life is enjoying the passage of time…”

Yesterday afternoon, I was feeling kind of inspired, so I decided to record a song in honor of our 20th wedding anniversary, which happens tomorrow. I spent some time looking through the songs I had available and tried a few before I noticed an old chestnut by James Taylor. Back in 1977, James released his album, JT. He was still married to Carly Simon at the time, and they had two young children– three year old Sarah Maria, “Sally”, and newborn Ben. James was transitioning to a new record label, moving on from Warner to Columbia Records. Just a few years after JT was released, James and Carly divorced. However, that album has some really nice songs on it. For the longest time, one of my favorites from that particular release is a song called “Terra Nova”, which includes beautiful vocals from Carly. Years later, Ben and Sally would sing the coda from “Terra Nova” on one of Ben’s songs.

Maybe James and Carly’s marriage didn’t work out, but they sure sounded nice together.

That album also included an actual song for Carly… a love song James wrote called, “There We Are”. Maybe I could have done this one, but I don’t think it has quite the same ageless quality. Also, ultimately, James and Carly didn’t stay married. And I would have had to do it in the original key, which probably would have been hard.

What a sweet song. The sentiment is lovely, but the marriage didn’t survive.

I remember when I first bought JT on compact disc, back around 1991 or so, and listened to the whole thing. I realized that my sister, Becky, had this album on tape and played it when we were living in England. I heard the deep cut, “If I Keep My Heart Out of Sight” as a five year old in 1977, and remembered James’s lyric, “All I can say is I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.” I remember hearing this when I was about 18 or 19 and being kind of shocked by the deep memory. It had been so long since I’d heard the song, and I didn’t realize what a good song it was. The early 90s are when I really got into James’s music, and he helped me get through some very tough times.

A song that was buried in my consciousness for many years.

But one song I never really liked, at least when I first heard it, was “Secret O’ Life”. I don’t know why I didn’t like it. I think maybe when I was 19, I thought it was boring… the lyrics are pleasant, but at least at the time, they seemed kind of banal. It wasn’t until I heard James sing it live that I realized what a good song it is. I still never thought I would have sung it myself, and yet yesterday, that is precisely what I did, after dropping the pitch three steps. And even funnier… this time, I actually videoed myself as I was singing, which I don’t do very often. I can’t be arsed to put on makeup or a bra… and as you can see, I didn’t do that yesterday, either.

That thumbnail is horrifying! I usually make that face in the throes of ecstasy.

Here are the lyrics, written by James Taylor:

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

Now the thing about time is that time isn’t really real.
It’s just your point of view, how does it feel for you?
Einstein said he could never understand it all.
Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.

Some kind of lovely ride. I’ll be sliding down, I’ll be gliding down.
Try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.

Maybe it’s not obviously a love song… or an anniversary song. It just seemed perfect, for some reason. After 20 years, Bill and I are very comfortable with each other. And I feel like we’ve had a “lovely ride”, for the most part… and we’ve definitely done some things in style, even if we don’t usually dress in style.

I also thought this was a good song for us this year, because it looks like James might be able to do his concert in Frankfurt, after all. As I write this, James is in Stockholm, preparing for tonight’s show. He shared a video that I think he took himself, as he walked through downtown Stockholm. I heard the trace of a cough and he seemed a little tired, but that’s to be expected. COVID has that effect on people. I’ve never been to downtown Stockholm. I’ve only been to the dock.

It looks like we’ll see him this weekend. Or, I still maintain hope… especially since this might be the last time we get to see him. Or, maybe it won’t be. I know James loves to perform and will probably keep doing it until he physically can’t do it anymore, but things are getting weirder and weirder, and none of us are getting any younger. So, I’m glad I had a chance to try “Secret O’ Life”, and enjoy the passage of time with Bill. May we have twenty or more years together!

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memories, nostalgia, tragedies, Virginia

German road signs that make me fall down rabbit holes…

A few days ago, when Bill and I were heading home from our trip to the Black Forest, I looked up and noticed a road sign for a town called Hirschberg. Google tells me that Hirschberg is a town in the northwestern part of the German state of Baden-Württemberg (as well as a place in Thuringia). I’ve never been there, and before Monday, I had never noticed that sign. But seeing the name of that town brought back some very old memories from my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia.

This is something I’ve noticed in Europe and the United Kingdom. A lot of the place names here, and in my home state of Virginia, come from surnames. A lot of places in Virginia, especially, are named after places in older establishments. Take, for instance, the town of Kilmarnock, Virginia. It shares that name with a place in Scotland. I guess people from Scotland settled the town in Virginia and named it after their original hometown across the pond. I have to agree, having been to both places, the landscapes are kind of similar.

In any case, when I saw the name Hirschberg, I was immediately reminded of a tragic story from my childhood, over 40 years ago. The date was March 23, 1981. I was eight years old, and a third grader at Botetourt Elementary School. In March 1981, I had only lived in Gloucester for about nine months. My parents bought their business, The Corner Cottage, in the spring of 1980 and we moved to Gloucester on June 21st of that year, the day after my 8th birthday. I experienced quite a culture shock in Gloucester, because we had come from Fairfax, Virginia, which is a MUCH more populated place. And we’d only been in Fairfax for two years; prior to that, we lived on Mildenhall Air Force Base in Suffolk, England. In 1981, I still felt kind of like a foreigner in the United States, having spent three of my conscious years abroad. I wasn’t fitting in very well in Gloucester and, truth be told, I hated it there.

My next sister, Sarah, was sixteen years old on March 23, 1981. She was soon going to be 17 years old, and she attended eleventh grade at Gloucester High School. I would graduate from there myself in 1990. In 1981, 1990 seemed like a million years away. And in 2022, 1990 seems like it was yesterday.

In 1981, the principal at GHS was Mr. Donald W. Hirschberg. I didn’t know anything at all about him, but I do remember Sarah talking about her life at GHS. She probably mentioned the principal, too. She seemed so grown up to me at that time. I remember she was studying French and was even allowed to come to Botetourt to “teach” French to some of the gifted kids. At the time, one of my friends was one of Sarah’s “pupils”.

I don’t think Sarah was at Botetourt on Monday, March 23, 1981, though. That was a day that is still remembered by a lot of my peers because it was the day that Mr. Hirschberg’s wife, Nancy, and their twelve year old daughter, Julie, would die in a horrific car accident. I’m not absolutely certain, but I think another child also died in that crash. I make that assumption because I found a Facebook post about the accident that mentioned another girl who died. Strangely, I don’t remember hearing as much about her.

I was still very new to Gloucester in 1981, so I never had the pleasure of meeting Julie. She was three years older than me, and went to what was then called Gloucester Middle School and later became an elementary school (after I had finished GMS myself). I do remember the accident, though. It happened at a time when Gloucester had very few traffic lights. I know it’s a cliche, but in 1981, that county was still very much covered in farmland. We had a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut that served the whole county. Gloucester Courthouse, which is about a mile or two from where I lived, had really disgusting water that tasted like sulfur. Our house had well water, which was only marginally better. I remember turning on the taps and seeing rusty water.

I’m not totally sure where the fatal intersection was, but I know I drove past it many times. Route 17 runs from north to south through Gloucester. It’s the main artery through the county, and it’s virtually impossible to avoid driving on it if you’re traveling through Gloucester. I actually think the intersection was one very close to my home. For years, there was nothing but a stop sign there, where people would wait as traffic coming down Route 17 barreled down the highway. Since 1981, the farmland has been turned into a huge Walmart complex. People probably don’t zoom past that intersection anymore, because it’s now heavily moderated by traffic lights. If that wasn’t the intersection, then it was one not far from there, and I would have passed it many times over the 19 years Gloucester was my actual home.

So there I was on Monday, October 3, 2022, speeding down the Autobahn, suddenly remembering Gloucester in the early 80s. I saw that sign for the town of Hirschberg in Germany, and it made me think of twelve year old Julie… a girl I never knew, but heard a lot about when I was growing up. Knowing how Gloucester was in the 80s, I feel very sure we would have probably met at some point. Back then, Gloucester was the kind of place where most people knew each other. I don’t think it’s like that anymore, though. I do still know a lot of people who live there, as a number of my classmates either never left or have returned with their own families.

I got curious about Mr. Hirschberg, too. So I looked him up, and discovered that he died in 1998. He had moved to Poquoson, a city not far from Gloucester, and remarried a woman with the same first name as his late first wife’s. Mr. Hirschberg, at age 61, wasn’t that old when he passed. I wonder if he never got over the grief of that terrible accident. People on Facebook were still discussing it as recently as 2011, with some saying they would never forget that night. A few said it was the first tragedy of their lives, and the first funeral they ever attended. Some said that they still think of Julie and the other girl who died every time they go through that intersection.

I think about the fact that Julie was just three years older than me, and it appears that she was a very popular girl with a lot of promise. She was involved in many community activities and probably would have gone on to live a very productive life. It amazes me that her life ended the way it did– so suddenly, tragically, and randomly, it seems. It could have been any one of us who met that fate. I wonder what she would think about me– someone who never met her, but was one of her contemporaries– thinking and writing about her 41 years after her death, reading about her on the Internet, which didn’t even really exist for regular people back in 1981. I wonder what she would think about people in the “You grew up in Gloucester” Facebook group, still remembering her in 2011 and posting about that dreadful day in March 1981. Julie never experienced Facebook, but I bet she’d know it well if she had lived to see adulthood. I never knew Julie, but I knew a lot of her friends, and they still miss her so many years later. That amazes me.

I haven’t been to Gloucester since 2010, when my mom finally sold the house I grew up in. I was astonished by how different Gloucester was then. It was weird to walk through the house and see things I hadn’t seen since we moved in back in 1980. Our house was old, and kind of weird, so there was a big plumbing pipe coming up through the floor in the tiny room that had served as my bedroom in the early 80s. It had been covered by my twin sized bed for many years. Now it was laid bare, looking as strange as it did in 1980. Even our house is very different now than it was in 1980. My parents doubled its size in 1984, when they added on a new kitchen and a knitting and needlepoint “shop” for my mom to run. My dad had a new custom picture framing “shop” built in 1997, knocking down the weird building that was erected there some decades before. Now, it’s owned by the lady my dad hired in 1989 to help him frame pictures.

Isn’t it funny how the most random things can cause a person to fall down a rabbit hole of memories? Or, at least that’s how it happens for me. I used to wish I was born in 1968, so I could be closer in age to my sisters and have more of a relationship with them. But now I’m glad I was born when I was. I think it was the right time. I don’t know why my mind takes me on these tangential rides, but I have a feeling someone else out there still remembers Julie. I’ll probably be “visited” here by people from Gloucester, who can recall the spring of 1981, too. I am not a Gloucester native, but I know a lot of people are, and they have long memories.

I was pretty fortunate to grow up in Gloucester, even though I hated it in the 80s. My sisters were all Air Force brats, so they were moved constantly. I don’t know if they really feel like they have a “hometown” like I do. They’ve settled in different places, but their childhoods were nomadic. I used to be envious of them, but then I became an Army wife and experienced that lifestyle myself. I think it would have been hard for me as a child. It’s hard as an adult. It’s nice to know that there is a place where people remember me, even if no one in my family lives there anymore. I’m glad to have some roots… although I doubt I’ll be moving back there. I don’t think I fit there anymore. It’s like the old Neil Diamond song, “I Am… I Said”, when he sings:

Well I’m New York City born and raised
But nowadays
I’m lost between two shores
L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home
New York’s home
But it ain’t mine no more

Yeah. I can relate to that.

Just because it’s a great song that still works in 2022.
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