Military, musings, psychology, technology

What the hell is the meaning of all of this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology, rants, royals, Twitter

This world is full of “creeps like her”…

Fair warning… this is a highly inappropriate post. Some people who read this will think I’m “crazy”. I don’t really care. I have to write about this stuff, or else I’ll drive Bill nuts. Feel free to keep scrolling. I would, if I were you. 😉

As I type today’s blog post, a brilliant song by Lyle Lovett is playing. It comes from his 1994 album, I Love Everybody. I have loved Lyle’s music for a long time now, having discovered him in Armenia. It was Mormons who introduced me to his brilliance. In my Peace Corps group, there was a very cool Latter-day Saint couple. They lived in Yerevan with me; she taught English, and he worked at the airport, as he had worked for Boeing before he was a Volunteer.

One time, they had a potluck lunch, and I was invited. As always, I was tuned into the music more than the conversation. A song called “Since The Last Time”, which was from 1992’s Joshua Judges Ruth, was playing. I immediately loved it, and asked who was singing. They said, “Lyle Lovett.” At that time, I wasn’t familiar with Lyle Lovett, but I vowed that I would further explore his genius when I had the chance.

When I got back to the United States in 1997, I started buying Lyle’s music. I had already bought most of the albums he’d released before I finally discovered Joshua Judges Ruth. Before that happened, I bought I Love Everybody. On that album is the great song, “Creeps Like Me”. Check out Lovett’s witty lyrics…

I wear grandmother’s ring
On my finger
On my finger
She had a tooth of gold
And just before she died
She said son
You can have my tooth
But do I
Really have to go

Look around
And you will see
This world is full of creeps like me
You look surprised
You shouldn’t be
This world is full of creeps like me

And I keep my uncle Leon
In my closet
In my closet
There don’t nobody know
Just me and uncle Leon
And my closet
And they wonder
Where’d that old man go

Look around and you will see
This world is full of creeps like me
You look surprised
You shouldn’t be
This world is full of creeps like me

And I knew this pretty girl once
She was eighteen
Maybe
What’s a year or two
And one day when she asked me
If I loved her
I said baby
What’s it worth to you

But look around
And you will see
This world is full of creeps like me
You look surprised
You shouldn’t be
This world is full of creeps like me

And I wear grandmother’s ring
On my finger
On my finger
She had a tooth of gold
She had a tooth of gold
She had a tooth of gold

I admire Lyle Lovett for so many reasons. He’s a great musician, of course. I also like him because he’s sharp, funny, and observant. Look at how he says so much with just a few words. In “Creeps Like Me”, he’s describing sociopathic jerks who exploit other people for their own purposes. These words are set to a catchy melody played on guitar… Maybe I’ll have to learn it.

Not surprisingly, this song was inspired by a “creep” of a woman… Listen to what Lyle says at the beginning of the song.

Bill and I have had exposure to a whole lot of “creeps”, both as single people, and as a married couple. The biggest creep, in my opinion, is his ex wife. She probably isn’t the biggest creep in terms of what she’s done to humanity as a whole. But, her delusional, mean-spirited, spiteful behavior has affected us the most in a personal sense. She doesn’t seem to see what a creep she is, either. Or she won’t admit to it. Today’s Twitter extravaganza offers ample evidence.

I’ve been reading Prince Harry’s book, Spare. I didn’t originally plan to read the book, but I changed my mind when I heard Anderson Cooper’s comments about it. So far, I’m glad I’m reading it, because it’s truly been enjoyable. The ghost writer, J. R. Moehringer, is very talented and has done a great job channeling Harry’s voice. Yes, there are some errors in the manuscript. Like, for instance, he writes of Harry getting an Xbox as a birthday gift from his mother after she died in 1997. The Xbox didn’t come out until 2001 in the United States, and 2002 abroad. I believe Diana bought Harry a PlayStation. I seem to remember that was even reported in the press at the time.

Ex is a big fan of the British Royal Family. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as she keeps insisting that she’s descended from a famous Highland Scottish family (bullshit). Even before she claimed to be the descendent of Scottish lairds, Ex reportedly worshiped Diana, Princess of Wales. Bill tells me Ex was crushed when Diana died on August 31, 1997. I think Ex aspires to be extraordinary, like Diana was. Alas, as Lyle’s song goes, she’s just an ordinary creep. There are lots of creeps like her in the world. She seems blind to the fact that she’s a creep, too.

Today, on Ex’s very public Twitter account, there’s a veritable cornucopia of Ex’s hypocritical thoughts on the current issues caused by Prince Harry’s bombshell book. It started a couple of hours ago, when someone shared a 2019 era photo of Queen Elizabeth II with William and Kate on their way to church.

Don’t we all?

The above post isn’t so outrageous, although Ex is, herself, a master at spreading half truths and outright lies. A lot of people do miss Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, though. But then Ex slips headlong into incredible hypocrisy and delusion…

Is this bitch for real? Where is she getting this sudden empathy for fathers? She treats the three fathers of her five children like SHIT!

Ex writes, “Blackmail is not the way to revive familial ties that have been strained to the breaking point.” And yet, she’s a big fan of blackmail, manipulation, lies, and threats in her personal relationships. She has three children who were FORCED to “divorce” their bio dads after her marriages to them broke up. She made them change their last names. Ex may have even coerced Bill’s daughters into being legally adopted by her shithead third husband. Not once did she try to work things out with Bill so that he could stay in his daughters’ lives when they were growing up. She just took his money, lied to him, and exposed them to abuse! Then she got his daughters to disown him and didn’t even have the decency to tell him. To this day, we don’t even know if Bill is still legally their father!

Where did Ex get all of this brilliant insight about interpersonal relationships? And why doesn’t she practice what she preaches? I just can’t even… I shake my head at this, even though I’ve seen a lot of shit from her over the years that makes me cringe. This woman is not living in reality.

The extravaganza continues, as Ex ponders further…

Does SHE know what Diana’s life was truly like? Does ANYONE, other than Diana herself?

I haven’t made it a secret that I don’t like Meghan much myself. I see a lot of Ex in her. She seems manipulative to me, and I’m troubled by how many people in her family are estranged. Ex is a LOT like Meghan. Yet, here she is on Twitter, denouncing her soul sister. Ex tells lies with astonishing skill, and she’s constantly on the grift. In spite of what she posts publicly, her children were raised in extreme dysfunction. But if you were to go on what she’s posting on Twitter, you’d think she was a goddamned saint! And not a Latter-day Saint, either… although that’s the church she coerced her family into joining, until the church members were “too helpful” to her children.

Next, she offers an analysis on whether or not the Royals want Harry “back”… and “wisdom” about what royal life entails. Like she fucking knows from personal experience… 😀

She doesn’t give a toss about anyone but herself, and she doesn’t know the first thing about “hard work” or service to others. That’s why my husband’s 31 year old daughter still lives at home and does the cooking, cleaning, and caring for Ex’s son.

I almost wonder if Ex’s comments are more about her own situation. I know a couple of her children had “flown the coop”. She’s been upset because they are speaking out about the way she treated them. She’s even enlisted her indoctrinated children to try to bring them back to the fold. Fortunately, they have their own children they wish to protect and are wise to the manipulative bullshit. I know Ex would love to have them “back”, in spite of their “troublemaking”. I think it’s too late, though. They’ve escaped the FOG. Once a person does that, there’s usually no going back.

Then she gets off the British Royal Family and answers the random tweet of someone who wants to know something deep…

If she’s serious about this, she really should start with herself.

My husband still bears physical and emotional scars from his time with this woman. It took years for us to recover from the financial disasters wrought from his time with her. I don’t have children of my own, mainly because she’s a selfish, greedy, hateful bitch with no sense of responsibility. She has incredible gall to be trying to present herself as some kind of selfless mensch. It’s truly flabbergasting to me. But, again, it’s not like I haven’t seen it before. The world is full of creeps like her.

And finally, a tweet about her fantasy man… and a comment about what she says she wants in a person, but is unwilling to give of herself.

Oh yes… we know you want a “caring” man. You had a caring man when you were married to my husband. You exploited and abused him. And when he made it clear that he cares enough about himself to get away from your abuse, you tried to destroy his relationships with his family.

I know that Ex is far from the only person who is like this. Last night, I talked to another person who is blinded by her own narcissistic proclivities. She sees herself as an empath! She’s definitely NOT an empath, although I don’t think she’s nearly as toxic as Ex is. But then, I make a point of not engaging with her very much anymore, because of all of the incidents that occurred in the past. I’ve had to walk on eggshells around her a lot. One of the reasons I’ve been in Germany for so long is because I don’t want to deal with these people anymore. It’s a plus to have an ocean separating us.

Still, it blows my mind just how out of touch with reality Ex is about herself. She says the right things… but when it comes down to it, she doesn’t put actions into her words. If she did, Bill would still have good relationships with his daughters and his ex stepson. She wouldn’t be trying to manipulate people in Bill’s family into giving her money and things. There would be a lot less lying and selfishness. And poor younger daughter wouldn’t have nightmares when she has to talk to her own mother!

Anyway, I hope to finish reading Spare very soon. I look forward to reviewing it.

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memories, mental health, psychology, stupid people

Spanking is for losers, leches, and lazy people…

This morning over breakfast, I saw today’s featured photo on Facebook, shared by the Retro Wifey page. I don’t often think of that page as controversial, as the woman who runs it usually shares nostalgic pictures of old toys, retro clothes, ads for discontinued restaurants and businesses, and the odd meme. In fact, I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to what she posts, and I almost never comment. I wasn’t going to comment on the photo about spanking. Instead, my first reaction was to X out the picture and snooze the page for thirty days. I often do that with Father Nathan Monk’s page.

I decided to leave a comment when I noticed the dozens of people who were championing the physical punishment of children. You see, I have noticed that when it comes to spankings and similar punishments, results tend to vary. My southern, conservative, alcoholic, Air Force officer dad raised me like he was raised by his own alcoholic father. When my dad decided I had misbehaved in some way, he would often employ spanking as his “go to” discipline.

Because I was a bright, high-mettled child who could be sassy, I got a lot of spankings. They didn’t happen daily or weekly, but they happened often enough that I couldn’t count how many times they happened in my childhood. I don’t remember my father ever being calm when he delivered them. He never had a talk with me about why what I did was wrong. My dad never offered me a hug or encouragement to “do better”. Instead, when he felt correction was necessary, he would fly into a rage, grab me, and spank (or slap) me with his hand as hard as he could. I would scream and cry, and he would just keep hitting and yelling at me.

My father’s spankings were terrifying experiences for me every time they happened, from the time I was a toddler, until I was an adult. Yes, that’s right. The last time my dad raised a hand to me, I was almost 21 years old. That was when I told my father that if he ever laid another finger on me in anger, I would call the police. Although my dad was outraged by the threat (which was actually a promise), he must have known I was serious. The next time he tried to hit me (when I was 26 years old), I reminded him about my promise, and he wisely backed off. That was the last time he ever tried to use physical “punishment” on me. I decided that from now on, anyone who hits me had better kill me.

I’ve written a number of times about why I don’t think spanking is an effective disciplinary method. I’ve thought a lot about why I feel the way I do. I’ll tell you one thing. When my grown man father unleashed his frustrations on me, a little girl, I didn’t feel respect for him when he finished. Instead, I felt a mixture of rage, sorrow, pain, fear, and hatred for him. To me, it doesn’t make any sense to demand “respect” from someone by hitting them. Physical punishments may inspire immediate compliance, but the violent imprint is hard to erase.

Decades after my last “spanking”, I still have a lot of unresolved anger toward my dad. I still deeply resent him for the traumatic memories I have of those discipline sessions, and the way they made me feel. If my father had done to my mother what he did to me, people would call him a wife beater. And yet, people on Facebook still champion spankings as good parenting, claiming that their parents were “right” to hit them. They claim that spanking is what taught them “respect for others”. I’m sure it hasn’t occurred to them that hitting another person isn’t a respectful thing to do. Especially when the person is as powerless on every level as most children are.

My dad died in 2014. I didn’t cry much, which surprised me. I think I had a lot of mixed feelings about his death. Yes, it was hard to lose my dad on the most basic of levels. Over six years, I watched him go from an independent man, to someone completely dependent on my mother. He had lost his ability to think clearly and move freely. So, in a sense, I was relieved that he died, just to free him of the terrible reality of living with Lewy Body Dementia. There were also some good times, when he was thoughtful, funny, and kind. I remember he could be fun, especially when I was little. Sometimes, we had some interesting discussions.

But, I was also legitimately glad I didn’t have to see him again. Never again would I have to hear him complain about my laugh, or make comments about my body or hair. I would never have to see his reddened face again when he was angry. He would never again try to compete with me or resent my successes and failures. I wouldn’t get another unsolicited phone call from him, criticizing my life choices or demanding an accounting of how I spend my time.

I’m sure if I had asked my dad if he loved me, he would have said yes. In fact, he did tell me he loved me somewhat frequently. So that’s why it’s confusing to me that a man who supposedly “loved” me was okay with hitting me. Would he have encouraged my husband, Bill, to hit me whenever I made him angry? What would happen if that was Bill’s way of dealing with everyone who annoyed or angered him? He’d probably be unemployed, and possibly incarcerated.

My decision to write about spanking again today came about because, when I saw that photo on Facebook, it triggered me. Before I knew it, I was once again spilling my guts to Bill about old, traumatic memories. It can’t be a good thing to still be angry about things that happened 40 years ago. When I’ve talked to spanking proponents about this, they’ve implied that I should just “let it go.” As easy as that suggestion is to make, it’s not always an easy thing to do. If it were easy to just “let it go”, I would have done that years ago.

Other people have excused spanking, claiming that what my dad did wasn’t actually spanking. They tell me it was abuse. A couple of people have even gone as far as calling my dad’s spankings “beatings”. But who decides what constitutes a spanking, and what constitutes a beating? My dad called what he did “spanking”. I don’t think he ever learned about spanking from someone knowledgeable about the subject. I think he did to me what his father did to him. And, I distinctly remember that my father had very negative opinions of his father. He very rarely spoke of him. When he did, it was usually when he was drinking. I don’t remember him having good things to say about my grandfather (whom I never knew). In fact, at Thanksgiving, when family members would speak of Pappy, my dad would usually leave the room.

At 50 years of age, I still have a lot of issues with my self-esteem. I don’t feel lovable to most people, and expect most people to dislike me, so I don’t make an effort to make friends. In my experience, making friends with people usually ends in disappointment. While I didn’t have the worst childhood, and many have had it worse, I still feel quite angry about the way I was treated. That man was half responsible for my being here. The least he could have done was treat me with basic respect. Especially if respect was what he expected from me.

I know it’s water under the bridge. I will never get an apology for the way I was raised. There is comfort in knowing that at least I won’t pass this crap to a new generation. I’m also grateful that I married a very gentle, disciplined, and kind man, in spite of his career choice. I don’t have to worry about physical abuse anymore. But dammit, it still hurts when I see people praising corporal punishment, claiming it’s the way to save humanity by instilling “respect” in children.

Children don’t learn respect from being hit. They learn fear. There is a HUGE difference between fear and respect. I just wish more people would stop and think about how they’d like to be remembered by their children before they raise hands to them. I doubt my dad would like knowing that I still resent him for treating me the way he did.

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condescending twatbags, Ex, family, holidays, mental health, narcissists, psychology, social media, Twitter

Christmas should not be a time for a grand performance…

I wrote a “mushy” post yesterday. It was because I realized how much more I enjoy Christmas than I did when I was younger. Watching my husband put a duvet cover on a weighted blanket he bought for me gave me all kinds of warm, fuzzy feelings. I realized that I don’t care about things. I care about the one person who makes me really happy and loves me for who I am. And Christmas is fun and relaxing for us, because we’re compatible and satisfied with each other. It’s a beautiful thing. Last night, Bill read my post and cried.

I’ve written a lot of posts about Christmases past… ones with my family of origin, and one that directly involved Ex, who is the Grand Poobah of Holiday Misery. Last year, I wrote a post about this topic that I absolutely stand by today. The post was titled “I refuse to let anyone mess up my holidays, and it’s a good policy to have.” It was about realizing that we all get a vote. Christmas is for everyone who wants to celebrate it. It should be a time of peace, love, understanding, good will, and enjoying the good things in life. If you’re Christian, it is, above all, about honoring the birth Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of man.

The religious part of the holiday is not what I want to focus on today, although I know it’s important to many people. What I want to focus on is the stress that inevitably comes from all holidays, but especially THIS one. Christmas is, after all, the biggest holiday of the year. But when it comes down to it, it’s also just a day. It shouldn’t be a day for grand performances, and by that, I don’t mean actual performances involving singing or dancing. I mean people who do things to make a judgmental point, being sanctimonious, or trying to be someone they’re not.

This morning, just before breakfast, I read an AITA (am I the asshole) post on God’s page about a woman whose turn it was to host Christmas. She decided that she wanted her dinner to be “dry”– as in, no booze allowed. When I first saw the title of the post, I immediately had some sympathy for her position. It was, after all, her house. If she doesn’t want to serve alcohol in her house, that’s her prerogative. But then I read the actual post. I note that the Redditors labeled her the “asshole”.

Yup. I agree. She is the asshole.

It sounds like the OP unilaterally decided that there shouldn’t be any boozing in her house. It’s her right to decide that, of course, but her attitude toward her husband’s family is not very kind or charitable. She doesn’t make a polite or respectful request, nor does it sound like she told people a long time in advance about her rule. What would have happened if her sister-in-law hadn’t called to ask about what she should bring? It sounds like that was when she mentioned her “no booze” rule, not when she issued the invitations.

I would have more empathy for the OP’s position if she had stated outright that she preferred the dinner to be booze free, rather than allowing the rule to be spread on the family grapevine. And then, she reveals that she thinks people in her husband’s family are “childish” and need to “grow up”. Those are insulting remarks that aren’t very Christmassy at all.

Her sister-in-law decided to host her own Christmas dinner, which she is well within her rights to do. And the family has decided they would prefer that invitation to the OP’s, who refused to budge on her no booze rule, with no hope of compromise. And she assumes they are going to the sister-in-law’s house because they can’t stay sober for one day, not because she was disrespectful to them.

Sister-in-law even invited the OP and her husband to their house, so there wouldn’t be any booze in the OP’s home. But she’s butthurt about it and refusing to go… and she’s “making” her husband stay home and spend Christmas with her. As if she has the right to dictate where another adult spends their time… I wonder how she would like it if her husband told her she “couldn’t go” somewhere she wanted to go. Some people would call that abusive.

What if the OP had compromised and allowed beer and wine below a certain ABV? Maybe she could have allowed wine only during dinner, or operated a “cash bar” set up, with people paying for libations. The money raised could then be donated to an agreed upon charity, or put in a pot for the next family gathering. Or maybe she could have come up with some other compromise that didn’t involve shame and judgment. That might have cut down on the drunkenness and sloppy behavior, while still allowing adults to have some fun. If she really didn’t want any alcohol in her home, she could have stated it kindly and lovingly, instead of with a judgmental and insulting attitude. Even if drinking alcohol to excess is unhealthy and can lead to obnoxious behavior, offering to host a family dinner and self-righteously lecturing people about their habits on a holiday is very poor form. No wonder alternate plans were made.

And then there’s the “grand performance” intended to put someone in a good or miraculous light.

How sweet.

Against my better judgment, I took a look at Ex’s Twitter page last night. She made several posts directed at Oreo, Betty Crocker, Wilton Cakes, and Spangler Candy. She videoed her supposedly severely autistic son, whom she has said is “non-verbal”, and her youngest daughter. They were decorating cookies and making what appears to be a train made with Oreos, frosting, and candies. She’s presenting her son as “miraculous” somehow, as he reads aloud, reminding everyone again that he’s “non-verbal”. And yet, obviously he ISN’T really non-verbal. Non-verbal would mean he can’t or won’t talk. Obviously he does have the power of speech and uses it. She’s mentioned before times when her son was “trained” to say things (that was her word for it). It serves her when he seems worse off than he actually is, as it gets her sympathy. But she’d rather he not be worse off in reality, because that makes life harder for her… or her daughters, who are evidently the ones who look after him most of the time.

I didn’t watch the whole video, because hearing Ex’s voice was too upsetting for Bill. But she also taught her son a song and dance, which he gamely performed on the video. I was torn between feeling good for him that he was trying so hard and having some fun, and feeling disgust for Ex, because it’s obvious she’s hoping to go viral and, perhaps, score some money from big companies. I don’t think her videos will get that kind of traction, but she plainly has high hopes. It seems to me that maybe it would be better to turn off the camera and focus on her time with her family, rather than trying to pitch her son’s handiwork with sweets to corporations.

@BettyCrocker⁩ Autistic children are amazing, beautiful perfectionists!!! How do you like ***** sugar cookies?

@Oreo⁩ a gift for you from ****!!!

I could see making these kinds of posts for friends and family members, but she only tagged big companies, and it was kind of obvious that she hoped they’d think the display was cute and offer her some kind of sponsorship or endorsement deal. Once again, it looks like she’s making her offspring perform in the hopes of scoring some “easy” (for her) loot. I can see now why a couple of her kids have moved far away from her. Because I have a feeling that this kind of thing is a regular occurrence, especially at Christmas. There’s an image to project to strangers, but very little love for actual family members. I also never see her posting about her husband, who was so much “better” than Bill.

The funny thing is, I’d bet $100 that Bill had a much nicer holiday than they did… And he also got to share messages with his mom and his daughter yesterday. There were no performances or pretenses. It was just everyone being themselves and genuinely wishing each other well. Nobody got drunk or obnoxious or had a meltdown, either. And… everything I bought for Bill is paid for in full. I don’t know if he can say the same thing, but I do know that he can pay for everything if he needs to. Ex can’t say that. In fact, she was recently lamenting about how she had no money for Christmas… but she had lots of money for sweets, which she is now promoting on Twitter. Go figure.

Anyway… it’s not my business. I need to end this post, too. We have a lunch date. Hopefully, steroid mad Arran will stay out of trouble while we’re out… my first time out in a long while. If he stays out of trouble, maybe that will be our Christmas miracle. 😉

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book reviews, mental health, psychology

A review of Matthew Perry’s Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir…

Merry Christmas Eve, y’all. I know it may seem strange to be writing about addiction when I could be writing about the holidays, but I’ve just finished reading Matthew Perry’s book, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir, and I want to express my opinions about it before I forget the details. Perry, who is probably most famous for playing Chandler Bing on the 90s era sitcom, Friends, has led quite an astonishing life in his 53 years. Although I don’t remember watching many things with Perry as an actor, let alone “the star”, I was intrigued by all the hullabaloo about his life story, which was released on November 1, 2022. So I downloaded it five days after its release date, although I didn’t get around to reading it until this month. Overall, I thought it was a pretty interesting story. I can see why there was a lot of “buzz” (see what I did there) about it.

I really should have known more about Matthew Perry than I did before I read his book. Wikipedia tells me that I did once see Perry act, back in the day. He had a guest role on the show, Growing Pains, which was one of shows I watched regularly when I was a teenager. He played Carol Seaver’s (Tracey Gold) boyfriend, Sandy, who died in a car accident after driving drunk. I remember thinking he was way too cute for Carol, but in weird way, life imitated art for Matthew Perry. Drugs and alcohol have almost killed him on multiple occasions. He’s made many millions of dollars, and he’s pissed away millions on drugs, booze, and rehab, as well as bad business decisions and bad movies, caused by his addictions.

Matthew Perry on Growing Pains. I guess he didn’t learn anything from this very special episode…

Growing Pains was just the beginning for Matthew Perry, both in terms of his acting career, and the subject matter of that particular episode. I was never a Friends fan, although I loved watching ER, which came on after Friends. Perry is probably most famous for playing Chandler on Friends, but he reveals in his book that he almost didn’t get the part, because he was committed to another, rather bizarre sounding show, that thankfully never took off.

Originally, the part of Chandler Bing had been offered to actor, Craig Bierko, who was one of Perry’s best friends. But Bierko passed on the part, opting for another show that also didn’t take off. Fate intervened, and Perry was soon making $1 million an episode, along with fellow friends: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Lisa Kudrow. During this heady time, Perry also had a lot of girlfriends, including Julia Roberts, who was a huge movie star at the time, and was even once a guest star on Friends. You’d think he’d be on top of the world, and in many ways, he really was. But he’s also addicted to drugs— especially opiates— and alcohol.

Matthew Perry explains that he was born on August 19, 1969 in Williamstown, Massachusetts. His Canadian mother, journalist Suzanne Marie Morrison (nee Langford), had married Perry’s father, American actor, folk singer, and former model, John Bennett Perry. Perry calls his parents the “best looking” people in the world, but that wasn’t enough to save their marriage, which ended before Perry’s first birthday. In his book, Perry writes about driving to the U.S. border with his parents and his father leaving, never to return to the home. When he was a very young child, his mother would repeatedly send him, alone, from their home in Ottawa to Los Angeles for visitations with his father. This experience apparently really traumatized the young Perry, who writes that he was terrified of being alone on the plane. He mentions the incident repeatedly in his story. As he got older, he had great fears of being abandoned, which led to many breakups. As he got more attached to women, and they got to know him more, he would fear that they were going to dump him. So he’d dump them first… then plunge back into his drug and alcohol addiction.

Matthew Perry’s dad starred in this classic commercial for Old Spice.

Perry was a good athlete and, as a boy, was heavily involved in tennis. He also went to school with Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, whose father, Pierre, hired Perry’s mother as his press secretary. But he really loved acting, and at age 15, he left his mother, her second husband, and his half siblings to move to Los Angeles, where he embarked on a career in show business. Yes, he was successful, but he also had a multitude of personal problems, to include a terrible fear of intimacy and bent toward toward narcissism.

Although he made many friends and had some incredible girlfriends, none of them managed to stay in his life for the long haul. As soon as they would get close to him, he would panic, and that inevitably meant using drugs and alcohol to the point of almost killing himself. I’m not kidding. At the beginning of his compelling memoir, he writes about how his colon exploded, forcing him to use a colostomy bag for nine months, due to his abuse of opioids and its tendency to cause severe constipation. And he also had a very severe bout with pancreatitis, which is often caused by excessive alcohol consumption, that landed him in a hospital for a month while his pancreas “rested”. He couldn’t eat or drink anything for that entire month; all nutrients and fluids were delivered intravenously.

Matthew Perry talks about his book.

In spite of his medical and psychological traumas, a lot of people would think that Matthew Perry is a very blessed man. He has good looks, charisma, athleticism, talent, and money. And yet, Perry writes that he’s often felt suicidal, and would trade everything for the chance to feel normal and at peace. Being sober, he writes, makes him feel close to God and peaceful. But even that isn’t enough to stop him from using drugs or drinking. In fact, I’m not even sure if this book is a declaration of his sobriety, as he’s relapsed many times after going to all manner of rehabs– expensive, exclusive ones in Utah, Malibu, and Switzerland, and “prison” like ones in New York and Philadelphia, usually flying to them on private jets.

I was heartened to read that Perry saw his behavior as narcissistic and self-centered. That tells me that he actually isn’t a narcissist. He is an addict, which causes people to behave like narcissists– (see my recent post about my father). But when he’s not loaded, he has the insight to see that he does frequently act like an asshole, and the world doesn’t revolve around him. That’s to his credit. His writing is very charming, and he seems like he would be a lot of fun to know, when his colon isn’t exploding. I can see why so many people like(d) him. I can also see why he’s made a lot of enemies.

And yes, Perry is in Alcoholics Anonymous, and has tried to “work the steps”. But even after long periods of sobriety, he always seems to relapse. I wouldn’t assume, after reading this book, that Perry has finally gotten “clean”, once and for all. It’s kind of poignant, in some ways, to think of this man in such a predicament. In other ways, it’s kind of infuriating, because there are many people who have nowhere near the blessings that Perry has had, and no means to get clean. He’s no better than they are; he’s just been a lot luckier in terms of his earning power. I also get the sense that Perry might think he’s more famous than he really is. As I mentioned up post, I never watched Friends, nor have I seen any of the movies Perry has been in. I read his book because of the press it generated. I can’t be the only one.

Perry writes about how his drug addiction started, back in 1997, when he was in a jet ski accident while working on a movie. He was in extreme pain, so a doctor gave him some Vicodin. The drug made his insides feel like “warm honey”, and he had to have more. Soon, he developed a habit of taking 55 pills a day, just so he could feel “okay”. He’d already had an introduction to alcohol, back when he was growing up in Canada. The booze made him feel “okay”, as he laid out in his backyard, pondering life. I’ve often heard that if someone has a very significant reaction at their introduction to alcohol, that’s not a good sign.

Addicts can be very endearing, and a lot of them, deep down, are basically decent people who are just very sick. I got that sense with Perry, too. As an actor, he knows how to behave in ways that seem genuine. It’s important to note that acting, by definition, isn’t genuine or authentic behavior. Actors make their money by convincingly playing roles. So, I couldn’t help but notice the usual veneer of bullshit in his writings, even though I admire him for being very candid, especially about the more humiliating and painful aspects of his story. I’m afraid that he’s always going to be an addict, though, and most addicts always have a layer of bullshit about them, even when they’ve been sober for many years. In this book, you can read about one former sponsor of Matthew Perry’s who said he hadn’t had a drink since 1980. That guy had seemed absolutely amazing… but their once “best friend” relationship has ended, and not on a good note. That time, the bad ending wasn’t because of Perry’s shenanigans, but those of his long sober friend’s.

In spite of what might sound like critical remarks about Perry’s character, I did enjoy reading Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. I think it’s well-written and very candid. Many readers will find it very engaging; it’s often even a funny book. Perry does use a lot of frank language, including a lot of profanity. I don’t care about excessive profanity myself, but I mention it because some readers might not like the cursing. He includes some photos, especially of him as a youngster, most of which are in color. He sure was cute; I think we had the same bowl cut hairstyle, which was all the rage in those days.

I’m glad that Perry knows he has a problem and is working on fixing it. I’m even happier to know that he realizes what excessive drug and alcohol use has cost him, on so many levels– from girlfriends (or potential wives, which he’s said he’s always wanted), to the chance to have children, to millions of dollars of his money, to his health. I understand that he has an illness, and that being an addict doesn’t inherently make him a bad person, even if it can cause him to act in ways that are disappointing, dangerous, or deranged. I feel empathy for him… but I think I feel even more for those who love him. And I wouldn’t call this book a triumph, either, because he hasn’t been sober for very long, at this writing. So we’ll see what happens. I do wish him the best, and I hope this time, sobriety works for him. Otherwise, he could be among the celebrity deaths we’ll read about in 2023 or 2024…

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