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.
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.
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…
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…
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… 😀
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)?
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.
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.
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.
The last few months have been really strange. Several people who were part of my life in some way have passed away. I just got the news that our beloved Arran is terminally ill with lymphoma, a cancer. Putin is threatening to use nukes if he doesn’t get control of Ukraine. Donald Trump’s legal woes deepen by the minute. And Britain has a brand new king, because his beloved mother finally passed the bar. I suppose it stands to reason that my stomach hurts a little bit… just enough to be annoying and get me to drink tea instead of coffee.
Hell, even my phone is changing. Yesterday, Apple launched a big update, and I updated most of my stuff, with the exception of my watch and my Apple Touch, which is too full of music to handle an update. I just tried to update the watch, and was informed that I have to update my phone before I could update the watch. So I just finished doing that, and now the watch is updating. My phone says it’ll take two hours. I notice the latest update was a pretty substantial one. The display on my phone is different now, and the phone prompted me to set up a new audio setting that involved letting the camera see my ears, get the angles of my face, and figure out optimal audio. I guess, anyway. I find that as I get older, I have less interest in figuring out everything my gadgets can do.
The season is changing from summer to fall. Days are getting shorter. Temperatures are noticeably cooler. Pretty soon, the trees will be changing, and there will be a lot more rain.
Soon, we’ll have just one dog instead of two and, for the first time since 2002, there won’t be a beagle mix in our midst. I was thinking about that last night at about 5:00pm, as we were waiting for Bill to get home from work. Arran has a routine most nights. He goes down to the foyer and waits near the door for Bill to come home. Last night, Bill was a little later than usual because he needed to stop by the store. I had asked him to get some canned pumpkin for Arran, as it’s soothing to his stomach. He wasn’t able to go to the commissary, and couldn’t find canned pumpkin in the German store, so he bought a fresh one and roasted it. Arran was a little confused by it this morning, but did eat it. He didn’t finish his breakfast, though.
Some of the changes that are happening are good things. I see progress being made in repairing some of the damage wrought by Donald Trump, although some people are stubbornly trying to defend him and deny that he’s guilty as hell. Yesterday, someone else tried to bait me into an argument, just based on that one comment I left on Amy Klobuchar’s page. I automatically wished him a good day, after reminding him that it’s still okay to disagree with one another.
I was relieved to read about how the “special master” Trump demanded that Trump “put up or shut up”. Trump couldn’t do it, so the documents he allegedly stole from the White House will be used as evidence as an indictment hangs over him, along with many lawsuits. I suspect this is probably going to ruin a certain small town judge’s reputation, too… for being Trump’s flunky. I really hope Trump is brought to justice. I also hope that people don’t lose their fucking minds if he is brought to justice… but you just can’t tell anymore. Everyone seems to be so angry lately. I long for normalcy, but maybe this is the new normal. Maybe people are going to be angry from now on.
I read this morning that people in Russia, having been told that Putin is about to draft people to fight his pointless war against Ukraine, are trying to flee to other countries. In a very strange twist, it seems that a lot of Russians are heading to Armenia and Turkey, where they don’t need visas. Why? Because they don’t want to fight and die for Putin’s ego, which is what this is all about. It’s very strange to read about this turn of events, though. When I lived in Armenia, Armenians were trying to leave to the country, and they were going to Russia, Europe, Australia or the United States. Now, people are flocking to them for safety. Something needs to be done about Putin, too.
We’re supposed to go away next week… I’ve really been looking forward to it. But now I’m not sure it’s a good idea to go. We’ll probably go anyway, though, as things get weirder and weirder. We might as well. Winter is coming, and this one might be a tough one.
This post is turning out to be about a lot about nothing… I have so much on my mind that it’s hard to settle on one thing. So maybe it’s time to stop writing and do something else, until I can settle on one specific topic. The featured photo is of Arran last night, who tucked himself into bed between Bill and me. He is the sweetest dog… and I am trying to enjoy him, as I know he’s going to be leaving us soon. Losing Arran is probably going to be the toughest change to get used to by far. Maybe he’s the lucky one.
This morning, I woke up to a Twitter alert on my iPad. I don’t really pay a lot of attention to Twitter as a general rule, but ever since my recent debacle with USAA, I’ve tweeted more frequently, and that may be why Mama Doctor Jones came up today. Some jerk named Neil sent her this…
Wow, Neil… don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you make your grand exit.
I don’t understand Neil’s delusional comments. It looks like he didn’t pay much attention in English or social studies when he was in school. He doesn’t know what socialism is, or what constitutes socialism in a country. He lacks compassion for people who don’t want to be pregnant, can’t afford to be pregnant, or for whom being pregnant is unsafe, for whatever reason. He cares more about an unaware developing person than a person who has already been born and is aware. And bafflingly, he seems upset that Mama Doctor Jones (aka Danielle Jones, MD) has left the country. If he has such negative opinions about her, and her beliefs, shouldn’t he be glad she’s left the United States to a place more to her liking?
Not that I actually know if New Zealand is more to Dr. Jones’s liking. I have no reason to believe that she left the United States as a means of protest or disloyalty. Maybe she just wanted to try living in a new country. I’ve done it myself a few times. It doesn’t mean I don’t love the United States. I just enjoy experiencing new cultures and meeting different kinds of people. It also helps that Bill makes an excellent living in Germany, inconvenient as living here can be sometimes.
I’ve never been to New Zealand, but I’ve seen pictures. I know at least one person who voluntarily moved there. I can see why it would be an appealing place to live. From what I’ve seen, the place is absolutely STUNNING. And it has a leader who cares about people, rather than money and power. I would love to visit New Zealand sometime. I envy Dr. Jones for her opportunity to work somewhere different. If and when she comes home to the USA, or even if she chooses to work somewhere else, she will have a unique perspective that will be useful to her colleagues and patients. I wish all Americans had a chance to live abroad for awhile. It might make us better, wiser people as a whole.
Many of the responses to Neil’s comments by Mama Doctor Jones’s Twitter followers are pretty classic. Some people have pointed out that in the United States, as a whole, we don’t really get taught a lot about other countries or their governments. I don’t remember ever learning about New Zealand when I was in school. I don’t remember learning much about socialism or communism, even though the Soviet Union was alive and well when I was in school. I mean, yes, we talked about communism, and we had kickass propaganda movies like Red Dawn to watch, but I don’t remember any of my teachers really explaining what communism is as an economic theory. We just talked about how sad it was that people were being forced to live behind tall fences, with no freedom to live as they pleased. That was pretty much the narrative. We didn’t learn much about why communism or socialism might be attractive on any level. We also didn’t discuss how communism and socialism differed.
It wasn’t until I lived in Armenia that I finally had an inkling of what it must have been like during the Soviet era. I met lovely, generous, intelligent, talented people– people who, just a few years prior to my arrival as a Peace Corps Volunteer, were considered “enemies” just for being Soviet citizens. But yes, I could see how the government system they had lived under was problematic. At the time, I didn’t see how my own “capitalistic” government was also problematic. Now that I live in a country where social democracy is the rule, I can see why some intelligent Americans are seeking to leave the United States. I mean, it isn’t a perfect system, but I think it’s better than capitalism.
A friend of Bill’s recently told him about his wife’s experiences being treated for cancer in Germany. This guy and his wife, both American citizens, went to Landstuhl, the largest U.S. military hospital outside of the United States, looking for help, when his wife came down with colon cancer. The military hospital couldn’t offer her care immediately, so she sought help from the local hospital. She was asked to come in for an appointment that very day. She went in; the doctors found the problem; she was treated; and she’s now in remission. Total cost? It was about $12,000, from start to finish; many of the expenses were covered by health insurance. That would not be the story in the United States, even with health insurance coverage. These folks would qualify for care in a military facility, but as she was not on active duty, and her husband is retired military, treatment probably would have been on a space available basis. And U.S. doctors and medical facilities aren’t always too keen on accepting Tricare, since reimbursement rates tend to be low, and filing for reimbursement is often complicated.
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t problems in Germany or other countries. People here do pay a lot of taxes, and some things are more expensive here than they are in the United States. For example, gas is a lot more expensive. We can get gas on military installations, but it’s still costlier than it would be in the US. Electronics are more expensive. I think clothes cost more, too. But the overall atmosphere is more community minded. There’s plenty of public transportation, and always a “fest” going on (except during COVID lockdowns). Workers have rights, and so do families. New parents get paid time off work to take care of their babies when they’re born, and time off is allowed for workers to enjoy life. My husband works for the United States, but because we live in Germany, we benefit from a lot of the local rules here.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t missed home, at times. I have family and lots of friends in America. It will always be my home. But I sure have appreciated being allowed to live in Germany. If anything, I’ve learned that our way is neither the only, nor necessarily the best, way to live. I don’t know how much longer we’ll live here, but I’m happy enough to stay for now. I don’t have a burning desire to go back “home” anytime soon. I don’t think many people there miss me, either. An added bonus is that people in Germany aren’t compelled to carry weapons with them wherever they go, like a lot of Americans are. I’m sure Mama Doctor Jones has noticed the same in New Zealand.
I also wonder why “Neil” was following Mama Doctor Jones in the first place. Does he require the assistance of an OB-GYN? I mean, I think it’s perfectly fine for a man to follow Mama Doctor Jones. My husband has enjoyed her informative and entertaining videos on YouTube. I have a couple of male friends who have watched her videos, too, because I have suggested them. They enjoyed learning from her, too. But Neil doesn’t seem like the type of guy who appreciated the so-called “gentler sex”. What prompted him to tweet Mama Doctor Jones? And was he really following her? It seems a bit strange to me that someone with an obviously anti-woman viewpoint would watch videos by a progressive physician like Danielle Jones, MD. Either way, I doubt she’ll lose any sleep over his decision to unfollow her. He obviously doesn’t need her help.
And finally, I wonder if Neil thinks that his tweet will cause Mama Doctor Jones to change. At this writing, Mama Doctor Jones is wildly popular and successful on her social media platforms. She has 72.3K followers on Twitter, and 1.15M subscribers on YouTube. I, on the other hand, have 87 YouTube subscribers and around 60 people who regularly follow my blog. 😀 I used to have more followers, back when I was more assertively promoting my stuff. I learned that I don’t have the patience to deal with people like Neil, nor do I necessarily have the gift of charm or tact.
Mama Doctor Jones is a very appealing personality. She’s smart, attractive, funny, and empathic. No wonder people like her. Outliers like Neil, and their silly tweets, only make Mama Doctor Jones more popular. People love to stick up for sympathetic characters, and Dr. Jones is definitely someone who has an appealing message for MANY people. Sure, she’s for a woman’s right to choose abortion, but that only makes her a better doctor, in my view. Because she takes care of her patients, and when a pregnant person comes to her for help, they are the patient. I like that Mama Doctor Jones cares for people who have already been born. That’s the way it ought to be. And since Neil presumably has no need to see an OB-GYN, my opinion probably carries more weight than his does.
Anyway, I sure hope Neil is enjoying life among the clueless in whichever red state he’s dwelling in right now. I’m sure the rest of us who follow Mama Doctor Jones appreciate his consideration in taking himself out of our midsts. Neil’s tweets remind me of the below status update I saw on Facebook yesterday…
In 1983, a band called The Police, fronted by the ever lovable Sting, released an album called Synchronicity. That album has always been kind of important to me, even though I wasn’t necessarily a Police fan in 1983, and some people think it’s their “weakest” work. Personally, I disagree. Maybe Synchronicity wasn’t as edgy as some of the other albums done by The Police, but it legitimately had some incredible songs on it that still sound amazing in 2022. I actually gifted this album on vinyl to my ex best friend, and it was probably through her that I learned to love The Police before Sting went solo. It could have just as easily been my older sister who influenced me, since she’s the one who turned me on to Kate Bush.
As I sit here writing this blog post today, I’m reminded of the wise and intelligent lyrics penned by Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland all those years ago, when I was still a kid, and some of the most important people to me were on the brink of starting their adult lives. I hope you’ll indulge me this clumsy foray into creativity today. Sometimes the clumsiest attempts can eventually lead to grace. Of course, this post could also turn out to be totally cheesy, non-sensical, and stupid crap. We’ll see what happens.
I was sitting on my bed last night, watching my new Facts of Life DVDs, pretending it was the early 80s again. I was a bonafide child in the early 1980s, while Bill was a young man about to embark on his career. Although I didn’t have the greatest childhood, sometimes I like to watch old TV shows from that time in my life. I also love the music from that time, even the really shitty stuff. There’s something about it that comforts me and makes me feel– temporarily– like I’m still young, with my whole life ahead of me. Then I’m jolted into reality as I realize that in a few short months, I’ll be 50 years old. And there’s still a lot I’ve never managed to do. Maybe watching shows like The Facts of Life temporarily make me feel like I still have a lot of years left. So does listening to albums like Synchronicity. But then, Sting is a master songwriter, so his work probably holds up much better than The Facts of Life does.
Tea in the Sahara
The sky turned to black Would he ever come back? They would climb a high dune They would pray to the moon But he’d never return So the sisters would burn As their eyes searched the land With their cups full of sand
As I was soothing myself with the best seasons of a successful sitcom last night, I suddenly remembered my friend, Matthew Jensen, who was killed last May, just hours after celebrating his 58th birthday with family and friends. It was just after midnight in Brooklyn, New York on May 18th, and Matt was walking home from his own birthday party. He had almost reached his abode, and was crossing a dangerous intersection, when a man driving a black Rolls Royce mowed him down in the street and left him for dead.
Every Breath You Take
Since you’ve gone, I’ve been lost without a trace I dream at night, I can only see your face I look around, but it’s you I can’t replace I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace I keep crying baby, baby please
I’ve written about Matt a few times, and I’ve thought of Matt many more times since his death. Although it had been years since we last spoke, Matt left an indelible impression on me. I was legitimately devastated when I heard about what had happened to him. I hated the thought that the person who is responsible for taking him out of the world was still free to harm other people. Since last May, I’ve been watching the news to see if anyone was being held responsible for killing my old friend and colleague. Every time I looked for updates, I was left disappointed that there hadn’t been any new news about the case. I was beginning to lose hope, so my searches had become less frequent. I don’t even know why I thought of Matt last night, in spite of the impression he made on me. Life goes on, even after someone interesting dies.
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
When Matt’s memory inexplicably and suddenly popped into my head, I found myself dutifully searching for news about his case. As usual, I didn’t have much hope that there would be any new developments. And then, there it was. Someone finally got arrested. At 8:45 AM, Brooklyn time, a 30 year old man named Tariq Witherspoon turned himself in to the 94th Precinct station house. Mr. Witherspoon, who was employed for eleven years as an Emergency Medical Technician for the New York Fire Department, is being charged with criminally negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless endangerment, and speeding. Was it intuition that caused me to look for that news? I don’t know. Maybe it was synchronicity.
Murder By Numbers
Once that you’ve decided on a killing First you make a stone of your heart And if you find that your hands are still willing Then you can turn a murder into art
In the early hours of May 18, 2021, Matt was crossing the notoriously dangerous McGuinness Boulevard against the light. Mr. Witherspoon had a green light, but the speed limit was 25 miles per hour. Mr. Witherspoon was reportedly changing lanes at 50 miles an hour, when he and Matt had their tragic meeting with fate. And then, in spite of being an experienced EMT who should have been among the very last people who would commit hit and run, Witherspoon sped off into the night, evading responsibility for Matt’s death for over nine months.
Now if you have a taste for this experience If you’re flushed with your very first success
Then you must try a twosome or a threesome You’ll find your conscience bothers you much less Because murder is like anything you take to It’s a habit-forming need for more and more
You can bump off every member of your family And anybody else you find a bore
According to an article published by the NY Daily News, Tariq Witherspoon has been sued several times for other accidents he’s either directly caused, or been involved in, over the past ten years or so. He seems to have a curious fondness for expensive cars. He allegedly hit Matt with a 2010 black Rolls Royce that he’d borrowed, but other accidents involving Witherspoon have involved a Porsche and a Mercedes-Benz, either driven by, lent by, or struck by him. For some reason, in spite of being repeatedly sued after seriously injuring several other people in accidents involving motor vehicles, Mr. Witherspoon has inexplicably been able to maintain his employment as an EMT. However, in light of his arrest, he’s now suspended from his job without pay. He is currently being held on $75,000 bail or a $15,000 cash bond. ETA: NBC says Witherspoon has posted a $15,000 cash bond.
O My God
Everyone I know is lonely With God so far away And my heart belongs to no one So now sometimes I pray Take the space between us Fill it up some way Take the space between us Fill it up, fill it up
Witherspoon is a Brooklyn resident. He must have seen how much Matt’s community has suffered since he so callously mowed him down last year. There were many memorials for Matt, including one in which former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $39 million to “fix” the dangerous intersection on McGuinness Boulevard where Matt and others have been injured and/or killed.
I was involved in a much smaller memorial for Matt last July. It took place on Zoom, but there were people from around the world who were there to remember him. I will never forget the sincere grief expressed, particularly by the Armenians Matt worked with when we were in the Peace Corps together. One Armenian man was in tears as he remembered the tall, blond man who helped him get a job with the Peace Corps and showed him a world beyond Vanadzor, the city where Matt worked. I’m sure he was just one of many. My heart breaks for Matt’s students, who reportedly adored him. And then there were his family members and friends who are now left without his presence… as well as two cats.
Well the telephone is ringing Is that my mother on the phone? Telephone is ringing Is that my mother on the phone? The telephone is screaming Won’t she leave me alone? The telephone is ringing Is that my mother on the phone?
Matt was a much beloved person by many people around the world. He was incredibly charismatic, and he had a true gift for teaching and presenting. Matt wrote letters, and he had many friends in influential places. He loved to have fun, and he had many quirky interests that made him truly fascinating. He loved ABBA, royal families, and being irreverent. In the weeks after Prince Philip died last year, Matt wrote letters of condolences to Queen Elizabeth II and her daughter, Princess Anne. At the time of his death, Princess Anne had written back to him. Queen Elizabeth’s response, sadly, arrived after Matt was already gone.
I have always remembered Matt as a hilarious, warm, and talented guy, and back when I first met him in 1995, he bore a resemblance to the famous rock star, Sting. He was fun to dance with, and we had many memorable evenings in Armenia enjoying low sodium meals involving beets, lentils, and cabbage. He once told me that he’d learned to cook low sodium meals because his mother had high blood pressure. He also told me a hysterical story about how his mother had once watched a “sickening” Mother’s Day special involving Kathie Lee Gifford. Obviously, I drank in his stories, as did a lot of our colleagues and friends. He was just that kind of person. Unique, magnetic, and just unforgettable.
Walking In Your Footsteps
Hey mighty brontosaurus Don’t you have a lesson for us You thought your rule would always last There were no lessons in your past You were built three stories high They say you would not hurt a fly If we explode the atom bomb Would they say that we were dumb?
I learned later that Matt was affecting his friends, students, parents, and family members the same way he’d affected me, as he worked as a much beloved and highly respected teacher in Brooklyn. I take some comfort realizing that Matt managed to influence people around the world. At our small online memorial last summer, a man from Armenia wept as he talked about how Matt had influenced him. Later, a woman who had worked with Matt in Brooklyn spoke about how Matt had helped immigrant children fit in at their new school.
Fifty million years ago You walked upon the planet so Lord of all that you could see Just a little bit like me
I know for a fact that Matt spoke Armenian and French. It wouldn’t surprise me if he knew other languages, or at least tried to learn a few words, just to help welcome innocent children to their new home in New York. Everybody knew him, whether or not he was their teacher. He had a towering presence and an infectious energy that was impossible to ignore. He stood six feet four inches tall. And yet, Tariq Witherspoon allegedly hit him at 50 miles per hour and just kept going. For nine months, he’s been evading responsibility for exploding the atom bomb in so many people’s lives… especially the students left behind, some of whom aren’t from the United States and really needed Matt’s comforting presence.
Wrapped Around Your Finger
Devil and the deep blue sea behind me Vanish in the air you’ll never find me I will turn your face to alabaster When you’ll find your servant is your master
Why did it take nine months for Tariq Witherspoon to be arrested? I don’t know. But I do know that he’s about to face judgment. I would not be surprised if there are many people who will want to attend his court sessions. There will be people who will want to speak about the man who died because of his careless actions in a black Rolls Royce. Imagine the absurdity of it. A teacher who had served twice in the Peace Corps killed by a careless man in a very expensive status symbol.
Matthew Jensen was a man who dedicated his life to teaching people, helping them make better lives for themselves. He served in the Peace Corps twice– in Senegal and Armenia– and he worked with children in New York who didn’t speak English. He taught university students. He taught other Americans who were going to carry on his legacy in Armenia, teaching youngsters how to speak English. It was a great loss to the world when Matt Jensen died… but at least we know that someone is finally going to answer for this crime.
King of Pain
There’s a little black spot on the sun today It’s the same old thing as yesterday There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top There’s a flag pole rag and the wind won’t stop
I have stood here before inside the pouring rain With the world turning circles running ’round my brain I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain
I don’t know what kind of person Tariq Witherspoon is. I can only make assumptions. I don’t know what made him choose his line of work, which is supposed to be based in mercy and decency. He’s supposed to save lives, not end them. Based on his record of hitting people in cars, hurting them, and being sued for negligence, I can’t help but wonder if Tariq Witherspoon could have used another session with a guidance counselor.
Don’t tell thedirector I said so But are you safe Miss Gradenko We were at a policy meeting They were planning new ways of cheating I didn’t want to rock your boat But you sent this dangerous note You’ve been letting your feelings show
Are you safe Miss Gradenko Miss Gradenko are you safe
I’m glad to know that someone is finally going to answer for Matt’s death. I hope the police have the right guy, and that the charges will stick. I don’t wish pain or torture for Mr. Witherspoon. I just want him off the streets. My unmarried niece lives in Brooklyn now. She doesn’t have a car. I don’t want Tariq Witherspoon to be involved in any other accidents. I don’t want him tending to my niece if she’s ever in need of an EMT. He needs to be taken out of commission for awhile… and hopefully, he’ll learn.
Another suburban family morning. Grandmother screaming at the wall.
Wehave to shout above the din of our Rice Krispies We can’t hear anything at all. Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration, But we know all her suicides are fake.
Daddy only stares into the distance There’s only so much more that he can take. Many miles away something crawls from the slime At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake.
Bill came home from taking our Kosovar refugee dog, Noyzi, to the vet for booster vaccines. I had just read about Tariq Witherspoon’s arrest when he walked into our bedroom. I looked up at him and said, “I don’t know why, but I just looked up Matt Jensen to see if anyone’s been arrested for his death. And someone was today, just HOURS ago. It’s so weird that I would think of him today– out of the blue– and someone got arrested.”
Bill is about Matt’s age, and he’s one of the kindest, most decent people I’ve ever met. For the past year, he’s been studying the psychologist, Carl Jung. He’s been in analysis with Jungian psychologist, and is even taking courses at the Jung Institute out of Zurich. The concept of synchronicity is one that fascinated Jung. Synchronicity, put simply, describes a situation that seems meaningful, but lacks a causal connection. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I see important connections in things that might mean nothing to other people. What made me think of Matt last night, all of a sudden? Was there something in the universe– my subconscious? Maybe it was the ghost of Matt himself, tapping me on the shoulder. Who knows?
Later, we were in our dining room eating dinner and listening to music. My music collection is incredibly eclectic. There’s no telling what will play. I have everything from L.L. Cool J to Beethoven in my playlist. Last night, as I sipped a lovely Italian red wine, the strains of a familiar piece from Gabriel Faure started playing. When I was in college, I took many music courses. I was also in a choir, and we performed a number of pieces by Faure, to include parts of his Requiem and the ethereal Messe Basse. Messe Basse is one of my favorite works by Faure.
Then it occurred to me that Faure, was a French man, and Matt spoke French and had spent time in France… and next week, I hope to be in France, too. Just like I was at around the time Anthony Bourdain died. In fact, I was in the area where Bourdain died just a couple of weeks before he passed. Matt wasn’t unlike Bourdain, in terms of his influence or his very “New York” personality… And then I was reminded that back in the spring of 1994, our choir went to New York City at the end of our spring break and performed Messe Basse in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Synchronicity again!
And suddenly, I’m reminded of how much I miss college… singing in choirs… traveling… hanging out with friends over bland foods that make me fart… sitcoms from the 80s… I am reminded of how important it is to always appreciate the people in your life who make it special or wonderful, because you never know when they will make an exit. I don’t know if I have ever affected anyone the way Matt affected me, and all of the other people in his life. I’m just grateful that the police in Brooklyn have done their jobs, as The Police from the early 80s do theirs every time I need to think about simpler days, or the complex concepts coined by Carl Jung. Somehow, it all seems to come together, at least in my head.
I’m reminded of these lyrics by Sting… and Matt, a man who always reminded me of Sting… Somehow, we’re all connected.
With one breath With one flow You will know Synchronicity A sleep trance A dream dance A shared romance Synchronicity
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
If we share this nightmare We can dream Spiritus mundi If you act as you think The missing link Synchronicity
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
We know you They know me Extrasensory Synchronicity A star fall A phone call It joins all Synchronicity
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
It’s so deep, it’s so wide You’re inside Synchronicity Effect without a cause Sub-atomic laws Scientific pause
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