Here’s another repost from the original blog. I wrote this in January 2019, just before the old blog went “poof”. I am reposting it as/is here, since I recently reviewed Not Without My Sister, a book about sisters who were raised in the Children of God cult. This was the first post I wrote about this cult; I first heard about it on the A&E series mentioned below.
Having now exhausted Leah Remini’s Scientology episodes, at least for now, I moved on to another A&E series hosted by Elizabeth Vargas, called Cults and Extreme Belief. Since yesterday afternoon, I’ve seen three episodes. The first two, about NXIVM and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were disturbing enough. But the third one, about the Children of God (now known as The Family International), made me stop and blog.
Before I watched the show, I had heard a little bit about this religious cult, founded in California in the 1960s by a charismatic preacher named David Berg. Originally called “Teens for Christ”, this group mostly consisted of runaways and hippies, and preached to each other about salvation, happiness, and a coming apocalypse. Creepy founder, David Berg, was frequently known by the alias Moses David, and gave himself the titles of “King”, “The Last Endtime Prophet”, “Moses”, and “David”. His first wife, Jane Miller, married him in 1944 and divorced him in 1970, two years after he started his cult. Berg married his second wife, Karen Zerby, in 1970. She is currently leading The Family International, since Berg died in October 1994.
One thing that struck me about this cult is that it was full of musically talented people, children in particular. One of the children involved was Berg’s granddaughter, Merry, who was also known as Mene. Merry, who died in her sleep in December 2017, was fifteen days older than I am. She was musically talented and very ethereal looking, with beautiful blonde hair. Merry was featured on musical recordings done by Children of God, as well as videos.
Other talented children were also used to make songs about love and sex, and some were also forced to do strip teases. Aside from that, there was rampant sexual abuse. Merry was one of the most victimized of the bunch, having endured multiple forced exorcisms as well as extreme abuse on all levels. She was forced to live in different places, locked in a closet for six months, whipped, tied up, and screamed at by her grandfather, who claimed she was possessed by the devil.
The whole story was very disturbing to me, but I think what really captured my attention was the way these kids looked. Here they were, maybe ten or eleven years old on these videos from the 70s… a lot of them are probably my contemporaries. Most of them were attractive and musically gifted, singing so beautifully songs about love. But the love they sang about was inappropriate and forbidden because it involved sex. Indeed, these children were commanded to go “flirty fishing” to entice new people to join the cult. The flirty fishing was more than just flirtation; in fact, it included sex. David Berg preached sex.
As I watched the above video, I was eerily reminded of the beauty pageants that used to be so popular in the 1980s. The lyrics sound so wholesome, yet all of the singers look like they’re in a trance. These teens in the video were likely born into the cult and knew nothing else. It’s all about worshiping their sick leader, who was supposedly an alcoholic and may have also suffered from mental illnesses.
As a child of the 70s and 80s myself, I am also aware of the late actor, River Phoenix, who was extremely famous and much beloved by people of my generation. Phoenix died in 1993, having overdosed on drugs at The Viper Room in Los Angeles. He and his similarly talented siblings were raised in this cult when they were very young. Phoenix once claimed that he lost his virginity at age four, but later said he was kidding.
David Berg unofficially adopted Ricky Rodriguez, nicknaming him Davidito. He was born in the Canary Islands, the son of Berg’s second wife, Karen Zerby, and a man she “flirty fished”. In 2005, when Rodriguez was 29 years old, he murdered a woman who had been his nanny and sexually abused him. Then he killed himself. Rodriguez was forced into inappropriate sexual relationships when he was a child and developed deep seated resentment toward Berg and Zerby because of the abuse he suffered.
I know I heard of this cult before I watched Elizabeth Vargas discuss it this morning. I remember hearing about River Phoenix and his siblings being in a religious cult when they were young. It’s tragic how many youngsters were affected by this cult, which was considered a “religion” and granted special privileges. Many who were raised in The Children of God later committed suicide because they had no foundation from which to launch their lives beyond the cult.
It’s amazing how many cults there are out there and how people get caught up in them. It’s tragic that children grow up in these organizations and are left with nothing when they come of age. I may have to find something a little lighter to watch later.
Although she’s been all over the news all week, I’ve been cautiously waiting to write more about Gabrielle Petito. Even though I kind of knew deep down that the dead body found in Wyoming would probably end up belonging to her, I hesitated to state outright that she was deceased. I didn’t want to get on the bandwagon of assumptions that people often get on in cases like hers.
I also initially couldn’t bring myself to comment much on this case. So many people were offering opinions that they were very certain about. I still didn’t feel like I had enough information, although the signs were certainly there that Gabrielle Petito was a victim of abuse perpetrated by her boyfriend. Even now, in spite of the many creepy and disturbing signs that Gabby’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is an abuser and potentially a murderer, I don’t want to make that statement outright. Because, in spite of all of the damning signs, I still don’t know for sure. I can only strongly assume, and I feel like there’s enough assuming going on right now. The truth is, a lot of this story is still pretty mysterious, especially since Mr. Laundrie is still missing. At this point, he’s still just a “person of interest”.
What I do know is that abusers come in all shapes, sizes, sexes, and flavors. So, I also hesitate to be among my friends who have been posting things like this…
Also, sadly, I don’t think this is a lesson that can always be taught. Sometimes a parent can do their very best to teach their children right from wrong, and the kid still grows up to be an abuser. I think some people are just naturally prone to have bad intentions. I can think of a lot of families I’ve known… good, hardworking, decent folks… who have one or two people in their ranks that aren’t quite as upstanding as the rest of the family. So I don’t automatically put the actions of an abuser on the parents. It’s not always their fault.
I don’t know a thing about Brian Laundrie or his parents, so at this point, I really can’t judge the parents for what their son might have done to his girlfriend. But, the other day, I did watch the entire body cam video of the traffic stop involving Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito in Moab, Utah. The video was over an hour in length, so I can’t say I was watching it very intently. I do remember hearing how friendly and at ease Brian seemed to be with the police, even as Gabrielle was crying and clearly upset.
I do want to commend the cops for treating Petito and Laundrie professionally. They were especially kind to Gabby, letting her sit in air conditioning and giving her water. On the other hand, I heard the main cop, who was primarily in charge, repeatedly talking about Gabby to Brian as if they were buddies. He related his story about his own wife, who has “anxiety issues” and needs medication. I don’t think the cop’s wife’s mental health issues are necessarily relevant to this situation. It sounded to me like the officer was making some assumptions without knowing all of the facts. I can’t blame him too much for that. We all do it to some extent. I also think he truly was trying to help, which is commendable, although I think maybe he got a little too friendly with Laundrie. I wonder if the cop would have been as friendly if Laundrie and Petito weren’t young, attractive, white people.
In the wake of the video and the news about Petito’s remains being found, more people have come out to say that they saw Brian mistreating Gabby in public. But even if those people had come forward sooner, I’m not sure what could have been done. I do remember reading one account of a park ranger who told Gabby that her relationship with Brian appeared to be “toxic”. Melissa Hulls, a visitor and resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park in Utah, was among the officers who dealt with the couple when they were stopped in Utah. We don’t see much of what was said to Gabby during the stop, although I do remember hearing the officers discuss whether or not they were going to arrest her for domestic violence against Brian Laundrie. According to the link:
“I was imploring with her to reevaluate the relationship, asking her if she was happy in the relationship with him, and basically saying this was an opportunity for her to find another path, to make a change in her life,” Hulls said of Petito, who was living with Laundrie and his parents in Florida prior to the trip.
“She had a lot of anxiety about being away from him, I honestly thought if anything was going to change it would be after they got home to Florida,” Hulls added.
I remember all too well crying like Gabby in the calm, assured faces of abusers. They made it seem like I was the “crazy” one. For a long time, I felt like I was crazy. And then, when no one else was watching– or the only other witness was a “flying monkey”– the abusers would go off on a rage. I can also see a red flag in Melissa Hulls’ statement about how Gabby was afraid to be away from Brian. Abusive people like to isolate their victims. They get to the point at which they don’t think they can function on their own. That’s how the abuser wants it to be, because then the victim will always be there to take more abuse.
In the end, the cops decided not to file charges against Petito. Even if they had arrested her, I’m not sure if the outcome would have been any different in the long run. But the fact that Gabby might have been arrested is another wrinkle in this situation. Oftentimes, people who are being abused don’t want to ask for help because if they do fight back, there is a chance that they will be the ones who end up in cuffs. My husband was abused by his ex wife in just about every possible way. He never reported her behavior to the police because he knew that it was just as likely that he’d wind up in trouble. She also had him convinced that everything was his fault. In the above police body cam video, you can hear Gabby talking about how she’d made Brian angry.
Hulls adds that when the stop was made, the police officers really did think it was a mental health situation caused by the two of them being together for too long, living in austere conditions. They had no reason to believe at the time that either party was truly in any danger. More than once, I heard the police refer to Gabrielle’s diminutive size compared to Brian’s, although Brian was the one with visible injuries. And Brian was very calm and friendly, while Gabby was crying and distraught. I think it’s important for people to remember that police officers aren’t necessarily mental health experts. Their job is to assess whether or not crimes are committed and enforce the laws. But clearly, Melissa Hulls got a bad feeling about Brian Laundrie.
Another couple from Louisiana, who happened to be vacationing in Jackson, Wyoming when Gabby and Brian were passing through, remember witnessing a “commotion” at a restaurant. Nina Angelo, and her boyfriend, Matt England, saw Gabby and Brian leaving The Merry Piglets Tex-Mex restaurant on August 27th. Brian was reportedly clearly agitated and angry, going in and out of the restaurant and being abusive toward the wait staff and hostess. The waitress who took care of Gabby and Brian also experienced abuse from Brian and was very shaken. Later that same day, Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, received a strange text that supposedly came from Gabby. It was the last communication she got from her daughter.
Later, on August 29th, a couple in Wyoming gave Brian a ride. They said he offered to pay $200 for the ride, even before he got in their car. The couple said Brian told them Gabby was at the van, working on her blog. But when it turned out the couple was going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, rather than Jackson, Brian allegedly became “very agitated” and asked them to stop the car. He got out of the vehicle near Jackson Dam, less than 30 minutes after they’d picked him up.
These signs that are surfacing now tell us that maybe people should have done more. I think it’s hard to take action in a case that doesn’t seem cut and dry. We’re taught to mind our own business and give people the benefit of the doubt… and there’s also the very real risk that the abuser will turn on those who intervene. There were a few people who did try to do something.
On August 12, someone called the police to report a domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie. In the 911 call, the caller says “We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl… Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off.” Another bystander named Chris reported to the police that he saw Gabby and Brian fighting in Utah. He heard Gabby say something along the lines of “Why do you have to be so mean?” He also saw Gabby punching Brian in the arm and the face, trying to take a cell phone from him. He described their interaction as “aggressive.” Below is a video by the Body Language Guy, who analyzes Laundrie’s body language.
And yet, even though all of this was going on, no one was willing or able to intervene in time to stop Gabrielle Petito’s murder. The autopsy does confirm that she was killed in a homicide. It certainly looks very much like Brian Laundrie had something to do with it. In fact, it looks like he had everything to do with it. I will be very surprised if it turns out he’s innocent. But until I know that for sure, I hesitate to say he’s asbolutely guilty of murder, because we haven’t heard the whole story yet. What I do think is clear is that he regularly abused his girlfriend and, whether or not she “gave as good as she got”, she’s the one who is definitely dead.
Of course, at this point, it looks like Brian might possibly also be deceased. He has somehow disappeared in Florida, and officials there have brought in deep divers and special equipment to see if he’s somewhere at the bottom of an alligator and snake infested swamp or something. The mystery continues.
Some time ago, I ran across some entertaining videos by a heavily accented man named Jesus Enrique Rosas, otherwise known as “The Body Language Guy”. Rosas regularly makes videos about celebrities and analyzes their body language. I get a kick out of him, because he’s got great energy and charisma. I must admit that his accent is also interesting. I probably listen to him longer than I might someone with a less exotic (to me, anyway) accent.
I don’t know much about Rosas. I have no idea what his qualifications are. But I have noticed that he has an awful lot to say about Meghan Markle, and most of it isn’t very complimentary. He’s also kind of witty, which I definitely appreciate. It’s not hard to make me laugh, but if you manage to do so with style, you get extra points from me!
The below video was the first one I saw Rosas make about Meghan Markle. He thinks he has her pegged as a narcissist. Behold…
Certainly, Rosas isn’t the only one who’s noticed that something seems a little off kilter about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. He’s focused on their body language, but I focus more on what she says and does. I watched the Apple+ series Meghan and Harry did with Oprah Winfrey. I thought it was very interesting. But I was mainly more interested in hearing from Harry, than Meghan. He comes off as very generous. Meghan comes off as less so… at least to me, anyway. I think I’m pretty sensitive to narcissistic types, mainly because I’ve unfortunately had a lot of exposure to them.
Harry has always struck me as a sensitive, kind, and decent person. I know he was legitimately devastated by his mother’s death in 1997, when he was just 12 years old. I also think he’s a protective person. Meghan, by contrast, is very much a go-getter. I remember reading about how she wrote to an advertiser about sexist language used in promoting their products.
Meghan probably doesn’t need Harry’s protection, but if she is a narcissist, she might exploit those tendencies to keep him doing her bidding. Also, check out today’s featured photo. Some years ago, I used to follow Dr. Tara Palmatier’s blog, Shrink4Men. “Dr. T”, as she went by, frequently mentioned how high conflict, narcissistic typed women were hung up on being “princesses”. She refers to it as a “princess mentality”. The quote above came from Markle’s now defunct blog. She obviously watched William and Kate get married on television… and yet she says she never Googled Harry? Seriously?
But it seems that being in the British family was more than Meghan bargained for. I won’t dispute that the British tabloids can be brutal. They certainly can! And I won’t dispute that racism is a real problem, even in 2021. It certainly is! But I don’t believe that Meghan was treated as egregiously badly as she claims.
In fact… thinking about Harry’s and Meghan’s great exodus from England last year, it reminds me of how Bill’s ex wife pressured Bill into getting out of the Army. The Army provided Bill with an identity, and she had to live by the Army’s influence. She didn’t like that, so she pressured Bill into quitting. That action deprived Bill of his livelihood. She also separated him from people outside of their sphere who might influence Bill, or threaten her power over him.
I see a similar dynamic between Harry and Meghan. Obviously, staying in England would mean the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William would have MUCH more influence over Harry than they would in the United States. So Meghan says the British press was too “hard” on her. Harry, being sensitive to mental health issues because of his mother’s difficulties, is quick to acquiesce. Before you know it, the couple has left royal life. But… they still complain about being “cut off” from the British family’s riches. Apparently, Meghan didn’t realize that being married to a high ranking British royal entailed doing some work. And she was quite firm about doing things her own way, British tradition and expectations be damned!
In the above video, Rosas says he’s “not a Meghan hater”. But minutes before he says that, Rosas calls her a narcissist. Later, he says she’s fake. Aside from that, he admits that Meghan has good public speaking skills. But then he reiterates that she’s a fake narcissist and a snob. He ends the above video with the hilarious quip, “At least Harry found his balls and he’s allowed to play with them.” Bwahahaahaha.
Interesting… and I have my own opinions about Meghan Markle. I probably agree more with Rosas than disagree with him. I have noticed some discrepancies in some of the things Meghan has said, as opposed to her actions. I also notice that Meghan seems to have isolated Harry from the life he’s always known. I don’t know if Harry is truly happy in California. I have no idea how he and Meghan get along. But I do recognize that Harry and William, who were always very close, are not very close anymore. And this is perhaps evidenced by the somewhat chilly birthday greetings sent out to Harry via the Cambridges’ social media.
Yesterday, I happened to catch The Body Language Guy’s video about the recent Time Magazine cover of Meghan and Harry. I was oblivious to the cover until I saw the below video. Then, I noticed that a lot of people were talking about it, both on YouTube and Facebook.
In the above video, Rosas points out how Harry is fading into Meghan’s shadow. She is presented as equal to or even larger than he is. She stands with her legs apart, wearing white, as he wears black and seems to “hide” behind her. She looks powerful, but he looks a bit cowardly. And we all know that Harry, who served the British military in Afghanistan, is no coward by any stretch of the imagination. At one point, Rosas says Meghan is “emasculating” Harry.
Honestly, if I had seen that cover without having watched Rosas’ video, I probably would not have noticed all of the weird stuff he points out. It would not have occurred to me to linger on the photograph, mainly because I’m not that interested in Harry and Meghan. I wouldn’t say I actively think about them much… I probably think a lot more about William and Kate, and especially their adorable children.
I’ve always liked Harry, though. He strikes me as a very kind, funny, and empathic person. And unfortunately, having married a man like that, I know he is fresh meat to narcissists. I don’t know if Meghan is a narcissist, but I do think she tells untruths. Like, for instance, I don’t believe that she didn’t know anything about Harry when she was growing up. Harry is the son of the most photographed woman in the world, the late Princess Diana. In the 1980s and 90s, Diana was everywhere. And, as Meghan is a modern woman living in the Internet age, as well as an actress, I don’t believe for a second she never Googled Harry.
When Meghan says “I never Googled Harry”, I’m reminded of a similar whopper Bill’s narcissistic ex wife told him. She said that she was accepted to several top flight universities, to include the United States Military Academy (AKA West Point) and Rice University in Texas. But… take a look at Ex, and you’ll quickly notice that she’s never been particularly physically fit or academically gifted. Then you realize that she wouldn’t last five minutes at West Point. It just doesn’t pass the smell test. Likewise, Ex dropped out of high school and got a GED. Bill went to high school with Ex and doesn’t remember her to be an academic superstar. Those types of students– the ones who go to colleges like Rice– don’t usually drop out, especially in the 1980s, before homeschooling was as popular as it is now.
Then I look at other things about Meghan that seem a bit “off”. Like, for instance, the stories about how she treated palace staffers… The awful drama involving Meghan’s father and half siblings from his side of her family, just before she married Harry… The way she and her first husband, actor Trevor Engelson, abruptly split up after just two years. I remember reading about how William was concerned about the speed at which Harry committed to Meghan. William took forever to marry Kate, and their marriage seems pretty solid. But Harry started dating Meghan in 2017, and was married to her in 2018. By 2020, he’d pretty much decided to quit being royal, and he and William, who once enjoyed a close relationship, now seemingly have very strained relations.
Another feature of narcissism is a lovebombing rush, and very quickly “hooking” the victim into permanent commitments like marriage and conception. My husband, for instance, was confronted by his ex wife when she traveled all the way to Germany from Texas with her eldest son in tow. She showed up on his doorstep and gave him a sob story. They very quickly married and, within two months of their wedding, she was pregnant with Bill’s older daughter. I noticed the same pattern when she married #3. Married within two months of Bill telling her he was going to propose to me. Pregnant within four. And… Meghan did have baby Archie less than a year after marrying Harry, although I might cut her some slack on that, since she’s an older woman.
Remember, though…. Meghan Markle is an actress. Maybe she’s not the best actress there ever was, but she was trained to convincingly portray someone she’s not. And so, it’s possible that her relationship with Harry is the biggest acting job she’s ever taken on. Or maybe not… but I can understand why people are concerned. At any rate, regardless of whether or not Harry and Meghan are really happy (and if she truly is a narcissist, I would guess not), I do hope that someday, Harry and William can repair their relationship. I think their difficulties are the saddest part of this situation.
Interestingly enough, I don’t see any videos about Donald Trump by the Body Language Guy. If he really knows anything about narcissists, he should be covering the orange turd. But then, maybe Rosas is a Trump fan. Or maybe politics bores him.
I have a YouTube channel, but I don’t use it to make a name for myself. It started as a place for me to deposit raw videos from my travels. Now, I use it for travel or dog related videos I put in blog posts or when I feel like trying a song. Usually, when I record a song, I do it on SingSnap, since a lot of the ones I want to do are available there. It’s easy to record a song on SingSnap, but there are some drawbacks. The sound quality isn’t typically as good. I’m recording on the Internet, so that can affect syncing and background noise. SingSnap also got a new recorder, which I’m finding to be pretty wonky. However, in terms of ease and just trying stuff, SingSnap is good.
Sometimes, I make YouTube videos for music because I want to have something sharable. I’ve also found some interesting people on YouTube and, at least in the past, I could collaborate with some of them. I have no illusions of becoming a YouTube star, though. In fact, I don’t really promote my channel, nor do I post a lot of content. I have 79 subscribers at this writing. I’m not unhappy about that. I am primarily a writer, not a YouTube personality.
There was a time several years ago when I thought I’d like to expand my “audience”. I got a taste of what that can be like. I realized that when you put yourself out there, you can run into some real snakes. An encounter with a “real snake” is one reason why I moved my blog to WordPress. I don’t like drama. I just like to articulate my thoughts, and I tend to be very honest about how I feel. Some people like it. Others don’t.
Why is this subject coming up today? It’s because I’m sitting here listening to Jimmy Snow, a popular YouTube personality who has been going through some major YouTube drama right now. Some people know him as “Mr. Atheist”. I like his channel, although he has recently changed formats, which I don’t like as much. But still, I find him clever and interesting, and sometimes he’s pretty funny, too. Lately, Jimmy has gotten into some kind of disagreement with two women over someone’s book of poetry that was poorly reviewed. Somehow, Jimmy got into the middle of this and it’s turned into a huge drama. I’m not going to try to explain it, because I can’t. But I’ve seen sooo many videos about this drama, and it’s all culminated in the one I’m watching right now.
I don’t really know what this is all about. I’m not sure exactly why a negative book review has turned into such a huge deal. I’ve seen several videos by other YouTube personalities who have commented on this. Some have said some bad things about Jimmy Snow. Maybe, for some people, it’s personal. Maybe they’re involved in the drama themselves. I suspect, however, that some folks are making these videos for views and money. It strikes me as kind of tasteless and needlessly dramatic. I listen to Jimmy talk about this– he’s obviously upset and stressed out. It seems kind of pointless… and it reminds me that there’s a downside to being popular.
For the record, I still like Jimmy. I even like his new format somewhat, although I preferred his Mr. Atheist stuff a bit more. When I listen to him speak in the above video, I hear someone who really is hurt and distressed by what’s happened. He sounds sincere to me, although again, I don’t know him personally. I just find his show entertaining and sometimes funny. I don’t like to see people in distress… but listening to him talk about this situation makes me realize that I’m happier as an obscure blogger. I remember how I felt when it seemed like people were stalking and spying on me, trying to stir up shit. I definitely don’t like it.
Jimmy Snow isn’t the only one who’s been getting dragged lately. Katie Joy Paulsen, of Without a Crystal Ball, also seems to have a lot of enemies. Katie Joy does a lot of videos about the Duggars, and she’s pretty popular. I do watch her videos sometimes, having gotten hooked on them when Bill was TDY for weeks. I’ve seen many people posting about her, making allegations that she lies and threatens people.
Katie Joy has made videos addressing the critics. She says she’s had CPS called on her, as well as multiple visits from the police over videos she makes. She’s even said she’s had dealings with the FBI due to death threats. Obviously, like Jimmy Snow, she makes money on these videos. But she’s also been sued over her commentary. Believe me… I am not interested in that kind of notoriety myself. I don’t know Katie Joy personally, so I’m not involved in her drama. But other people sure are.
This guy, Road Hog, has been posting all kinds of videos about Katie Joy. He calls her a liar and takes great pains to find falsehoods in what she says and does. It’s creepy and weird. I don’t know if what he says is true. He’s not the only one I’ve seen criticizing Katie Joy. I wonder if part of it is an attempt to score viewers and cash from monetization, or if he’s just on a quest to “uncover” a scandal. I just know that dealing with this kind of shit doesn’t appeal to me at all.
I notice that the more followers a person has, the more likely he or she is going to have to deal with strife. I write because it brings me pleasure. I find it liberating to put my thoughts down. I like sharing these thoughts with others, especially when they enjoy or even learn from my observations. But I am not interested in the kind of stress people like Jimmy Snow and Katie Joy are enduring, especially when it’s clear that making YouTube videos is their job. Jimmy has said that he has an actual “staff” who depend on him for their livelihoods. So when people start turning on him, it doesn’t just affect him.
My YouTube channel is pretty boring and non-controversial. In fact, last year I even stopped doing collaborations with a YouTuber because he reacted very negatively to a relatively innocuous comment I made on one of his videos. I decided I didn’t need that kind of drama in my life, so I unsubscribed. He didn’t seem to take that well, and he actually came to my channel and deleted every single comment he’d ever left on my videos within about eight years. That, to me, is pretty telling, and definitely weird. It’s a sign that I was right to back away from him.
The other main reason why I don’t try to make a name for myself on YouTube is that I don’t like being on camera. I don’t want to put on makeup, fix my hair, or wear a bra. I have an okay speaking voice, but I get very self-conscious on camera. The Zoom meeting I attended last week was enough video exposure for me. I don’t even use the camera when I make SingSnap videos.
So I am content to write this stuff on my personal space, on a fairly under the radar blog. I let the people who want to find me, find me… and enjoy relative privacy. I don’t know what I think about Jimmy or Katie Joy and whether or not these dramas are justified. I just watch their channels to kill time. There’s a downside to popularity, and I’m too old and cranky to deal with it.
Today is Bill’s birthday. I already gave him some of his presents on Monday and Tuesday, because they came from Amazon and I have no birthday themed wrapping paper. Monday, I presented him with a book about the art of Carl Jung. Bill loves art, and he’s fascinated by Jung, so I figured it would be perfect.
But then I noticed that Jung’s seven volume set called The Black Books were also for sale. I had already given Bill a copy of Jung’s Red Book on request about eleven years ago. TheRed Book was basically a refined and condensed version of The Black Books. It’s just one large volume. He left that book in storage because it’s so big, and we had precious little room for extra stuff when we moved to Germany. Bill’s first company only gave him enough money to ship 5000 pounds. Good thing we don’t have kids.
When Bill saw the Jung books, he got all teary. He came upstairs to my office and thanked me. I turned around and he was wiping tears from his eyes, holding the funny t-shirt I also got for him. This was obviously a good gift… especially since he’s also been undergoing Jungian analysis with an American who lives in Berlin and is being trained in Switzerland.
I’ve been bugging Bill to see a therapist for years, not just because he has a lot of trauma to unpack, but because I know from personal experience that undergoing psychotherapy can be a wonderful healing process. It helped me immensely and changed me in so many positive ways. I came to view it as something I did for myself– a form of personal care– like some people get manicures, massages, or have their hair professionally coifed. I thought Bill would see it the same way. Fortunately, he does. Every week, he tells me about new things he’s discovered about himself through dream analysis and art therapy. He and the therapist have a good rapport. It really helps that Bill knows about Jung, since the therapist specializes in the Jungian approach. I’m sure a lot of the therapist’s clients are just looking for someone to talk to. He’s told Bill that he appreciates having a client who understands the Jungian approach. I think they both get a lot out of the work they’re doing.
I wish people wouldn’t think of therapy as a negative thing for “crazy” people or people who are troubled. It’s useful for anyone. Bill is a very functional person who keeps things together very well. But I know that talking to someone other than me is helpful for him. He’s gaining a lot of personal insight that I think will make him a better person… certainly a happier person. He deserves that, as most of us do. I think he appreciates the support, too. On another note, I love that Bill is so smart, and so interested in topics like Carl Jung. He teaches me so much… and every time he talks about art and Jung and other deep subjects, I thank God I married him, instead of some guy who just wants to drink cheap beer and watch football. Not that there’s anything wrong with cheap beer and football– more that a guy like Bill is more my speed.
As a joke, I was also going to give Bill the above pictured baseball cap with Mister Rogers giving the finger. I did order it, but I think when that hat comes in, I’ll just keep it for myself. I doubt Bill would want to wear it, even though he’d think it was funny. He’s getting one more book, which is arriving tomorrow. It’s not about Jung or bartending. We’ll probably also make a cherry cheese pie or Bill’s favorite chocolate blackout cake, which I’ve made for him many times over the years. The cake is fantastic, but it takes us forever to eat it, and it’s probably better for the cooler months.
The tears continued after the gift exchange. This time, they came from someone other than Bill.
Yesterday, I was invited to an online memorial service for my old Peace Corps friend, Matt, who died in New York City in May. Some readers might remember that I wrote about Matt when he was killed. Since I live in Germany and, until yesterday, wasn’t in the club, I missed Matt’s first memorial service. Now they’re doing another one for his many friends worldwide. I was asked to sing a song at the event. That doesn’t surprise me, since I was well known for singing in the Peace Corps. I sent a couple of videos to the person who is arranging the event, asking him which song he thought would be most appropriate for the memorial.
The songs I chose were “In My Life” (in the style of Judy Collins) and “Imagine” (as done by Eva Cassidy). I started with “In My Life”, since it’s not known as an atheist anthem and is very accessible to a lot of people. I remember Matt had once told me he was raised Lutheran, but I didn’t know if the religion stuck, although I doubt it did. I also don’t know if any of his relatives are religious. But then I sent “Imagine”, since I do that one well, and it’s popular and very Peace Corps friendly. The guy arranging the event said “Imagine” made him cry, and expressed preference for that one. He says he’ll check with Matt’s cousin to see if he thinks it’s appropriate. If the cousin likes it, that’s the one I’ll probably do… and hope I don’t cry, either.
Once we started talking about it, it occurred to me that Eva Cassidy also died too young… and became famous after her death. I feel like that kind of happened to Matt, too. He was in the news after his death, because he was so beloved by his community and because the accident he suffered was so incredibly senseless and tragic. Eva also died in 1996, when we were in Armenia. Also, my sister knew Eva because they worked in a restaurant together in the early 90s. My sister waited tables and Eva played there. Or, at least that’s what my sister claims. I think it’s possible she’s telling the truth. She’s lived in the DC area for years, and often made extra money waiting tables, even though she had a regular “day job”.
And now that I think more about it, John Lennon also died much too young. He also died in New York City, as Matt also did. So while “Imagine” might seem a little too “Godless” for some people, I think it might be perfect for Matt. I don’t think he was really that into religion, although I really don’t know how he felt about God. My guess is that someone who exclaims “Christ on the cross!” in annoyance is not too worried about blasphemy. 😉 I’m not being critical about it, either, because I’m not all that religious myself. “Imagine” is a song written by a man who was a bright, shining star. He gave the world so much in his 40 years. And it was “reborn” by another bright shining star, who also gave so much before she died too young. It seems perfect for Matt, who was a shining star and inspiration to so many people– especially the many young people he taught.
Then this morning, I got an email from a complete stranger who found a video I made several years ago of the song, “On Heaven’s Bright Shore.” I couldn’t find accompaniment for that song, but I really wanted to try it. So I decided to sing it acapella. I coupled the acapella singing with pictures of clouds, mostly taken from airplanes. A lot of people have played it– or, a lot for my channel, at least. I would like to redo it with guitar, once I get better at playing. I make progress every day, but I’m still not quite ready for prime time.
The person who emailed me wrote that his son had just died and he wanted to play an acapella version of “On Heaven’s Bright Shore” at his memorial. He said my version seemed to be the best. So he was kindly asking for permission to play my version, and wondering if I required payment. Of course I wrote back that he’s welcome to use the video, free of charge. I thanked him for asking me and expressed condolences for the loss of his son. It’s quite an honor that someone would want to play my version of that song at a memorial service, and it was so kind of the guy to ask me if I minded.
I was pretty surprised to get that email. I have some videos that have as few as four views! I don’t really promote my videos much. They’re mostly just songs I want to try. I get better recording results on YouTube than I do SingSnap, so that’s why I make the videos. But I don’t really have a rhyme or reason as to when I do the songs. I mainly just make videos when I need to for a blog post or when I’m inspired to try something. I have also done a couple by request. Not all of the videos are musical. Some are raw footage from travels– memories I want to preserve– or they’re videos featuring my dogs. I admire people who make successful YouTube channels, but I’m not very comfortable on camera, and I don’t want to deal with hostile comments. So I mostly just stick to blogging.
Bill and I were talking over breakfast and I was laughing about how I have such a raunchy sense of humor, tendency for depression, appreciation for profanity, and great love for obnoxiousness, yet somehow I wound up with this very sweet singing voice. The other day, I was practicing guitar and I asked Bill if he noticed I was getting better at barre chords. He said he didn’t know which chords I was playing, which I would not have expected. But then he said, “You were singing along, too.” And I said, “No, baby, that was Linda Ronstadt. But thank you very much for the compliment.” I’m not quite ready to sing and play at the same time. That’s like walking and chewing gum.
Anyway… I’m hoping the song goes off well. I have a feeling the memorial will be moving and fun. Matt was a special person, and I’m sure there are a lot of stories to be told, as well as songs to be sung. He had a lot of friends around the world and I think a lot of them will come together for this.
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