But I already have some ideas for future posts, and not all of them have to do with this mind blowing trip to Armenia I’m taking. I just wanted to drop a line for the regulars to let everybody know we made it, and are having a really good time. Yerevan, and its people, will always have a part of my heart.
I might be back later with a full fledged post… although we have some plans for the evening.
Bill got home yesterday at about 2:45 PM. I was in a very pissy mood by that point, because I’d been walking up and down the two flights of stairs in my house for hours, hauling laundry and checking the status of my loads. By the time he came home to get me for our visit to Wiesbaden, I was exhausted and cranky. I’d also just started a load and had one more to go. I didn’t like the idea of walking from the Theater parking garage to the art gallery. I asked Bill if he wouldn’t mind going alone.
He kind of demurred when I suggested that I stay home, because we needed to pick out a frame for my bird painting. He doesn’t trust his own taste. I told him to pick out something neutral, and if he had any concerns, to just email me. He sent me a private message with pictures, and it turned out that the mother of the guy who helped us– no doubt descended from the original owners who started the business in 1905, suggested a red frame. We ended up going with her suggestion! All three paintings will be ready for pick up on November 21st.
The house could still use a lot more cleaning, but we’ve run out of time, and I’ve run out of patience and stamina. On the positive side, the bedroom is much cleaner, and we both slept very well last night. I love fresh sheets, anyway, and I washed all of the bedding, so it smelled really fresh. The actual sheets got washed in the three hour “hygiene” cycle, so they are really clean. And, on the positive side, I didn’t see any evidence of bedbugs when I was cleaning yesterday. Of course, that could mean nothing… but for the next nine days, there will be no way for anything living to feed on us… at least not in this house. Hopefully, we won’t encounter anything creepy or crawly during our travels.
I decided to wash Noyzi’s bedding again as I’m writing this, just because. He’s already on his way to the Hundepension, so he’ll have a nice fresh bed when we all come back on the 19th. I put his bedding on a longer cycle, so maybe it’ll get cleaner.
I think I might start using the hygiene cycle for our sheets more often, since I noticed that they felt cleaner last night. On most days, I don’t do tons of laundry, so it’s no big deal if it takes three hours. Especially if I start the cycle at 5:30 AM, which I usually do.
Noyzi was so cute this morning. Bill made biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and I had one bite left that I didn’t think I could eat. I offered it to Noyzi, who took it very carefully. He tentatively chewed it, then brightened and jauntily wagged his little stubby tail as he was finishing it. Obviously, he approved!
I always marvel at how different Noyzi is than our beagles have been. He doesn’t gobble down food. I think it comes from being born a street dog and knowing instinctively that he has to be careful about what he eats. He often doesn’t eat right when I put food down for him. He eats when he’s hungry. And he doesn’t eat every thing I offer him. I’m sure it’s because some of his ancestors were poisoned. Street dogs are truly fascinating creatures.
Sorry to write such a mundane post today… But then, in my case, deep cleaning isn’t such a mundane activity. I don’t do a lot of it unless I’m motivated somehow. It would probably be a good thing if I were more into cleaning more thoroughly. That way, I could spare myself painful days like yesterday. My Apple Watch says I more than doubled my usual rings. Of course, that’s not saying much these days. In any case, cleaning kept me from worrying too much about our trip tonight.
I can’t believe that in 24 hours, I’ll be back in Yerevan… a city that changed me on so many levels. It’ll be a lot to unpack. If you’re interested in the trip, keep an eye on the travel blog (there’s a link by my heading). I will update as much as possible. As for this blog, will see what transpires. Maybe something will happen… or I’ll finish reading John Stamos’ book before I get back to Germany.
I am not a super neat person in any sense of the word. I don’t like cleaning. I am not a filthy slob, mind you. I have a high bar for hygiene, and I am willing to do chores to keep my living space from being a health hazard. But I tend to be kind of lax about things like dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and making the bed.
Every once in awhile, though, I get inspired to clean. I start throwing things away, give everything a good run through the washing machine, dust, spritz, and just go into what I call “cleaning mode”. It doesn’t happen very often. Usually, I get into this state when something has either made me nervous, or I just suddenly get disgusted by something and decide it needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Once I get into cleaning mode, I tend to go on a pretty good tear and clean like a maniac for hours.
I’ve been up this morning since a little after 5:00 AM. I have a rash on my torso, and I’m not sure what it’s from. Reading about the current bedbug scourge has given me the heebie jeebies, especially since we just took a trip to Czechia. Most of the press indicates that Paris has a big bedbug problem right now, but the truth is, they’ve become a worldwide scourge. I don’t know if we have the little bloodsucking pests in our house. Bill says he isn’t itchy. For all I know, I have a rash because of some other reason.
I am allergic to dust mites, and God knows there are a lot of those in my house. Still, the idea of bugs eating me when I sleep has put me in cleaning mode. So, for the past couple of hours, I’ve worked up a good sweat cleaning my bedroom. I completely stripped the bed, did my best to vacuum under it, moved the nightstands and vacuumed and dusted them, and I’ve been spraying everything with bedbug killer/repellent, which is probably a waste of time.
I know it’s probably a lost cause. If we do have bedbugs, we’ll probably need an exterminator. But it makes me feel better to declutter, dust, and get rid of stuff. I hate vacuuming, but I do appreciate seeing all the dog hair and dust when I dump the canisters on my vacuum cleaners.
We also have plans to go into Wiesbaden today and pick up two of our freshly framed paintings from the Czech Republic. We will order framing for the other one, which is supposed to have been stretched. I suspect when we get back from Armenia, we might have more art that needs to be framed.
Tomorrow night at 6:10 PM, we’ll be on our way to Vienna, where we’ll board another plane at about 10:00 PM and take an overnight flight to Yerevan. Actually, it’ll only take about three hours… but Armenia is three hours ahead of us. So, when we land, it’ll be 1:40 AM in Germany, and 4:40 AM in Yerevan. And then, we’ll have to find a cab to take us to our hotel, which is so far not impressing me with its lack of communication. That’s probably another reason why I’m in cleaning mode. I’m a bit nervous about this trip. I think it’ll go fine, but I don’t know what to expect. I guess that could be said for anything, though.
I’m glad it’s raining today. It makes me want to clean more, even if it’s a lost cause…
I made a couple of new videos last night, in honor of our 21st wedding anniversary… Have a look if you’re so inclined.
Both of these videos could use a few hits… I think someone got turned off by my raunchy parody, “I’d Love To Go Down On You”. I lost a subscriber. But then when I made it unlisted, someone complained! So I made the parody public again… It IS kind of funny, as long as you’re not a prude.
Well, I better get back to my laundry. I think it’s going to take all day. Then I have to vacuum. Joy of joys…
I’m ashamed to say this, but swearing is one of my many shortcomings as a human. I cuss like a sailor. Always have, and probably always will, although I’ve mellowed somewhat in my old age. Although deep down, I am a lady, to most people, I come off as crusty as a crab cake. I don’t even like crab cakes.
Despite my cranky, bitter, and petty demeanor, I still have quite a few true friends who have known me for many years. I made a lot of those friends in my freewheeling college days. College was a pretty good time for me, although I spent those years fairly hampered by social anxiety and depression. I still managed to have a great time at Longwood, despite those handicaps. I left that school with lifelong friends and mostly good memories. It was a really nice place to go to school.
One of my friends is a woman I met during the very first week of our freshman year. In those days, Longwood College (as it was then called), had its bookstore in the basement of the much venerated Ruffner building. The bookstore wasn’t that big, so one often had to stand in line to get in there at the beginning of each semester. It was a chore that could take awhile.
I was standing in line, waiting for my turn to load up on overpriced textbooks, and somehow struck up a conversation with the striking redhead standing next to me. She was a fellow freshman, dressed in denim shorts, a t-shirt, and a beautiful cardigan, which was very stylish in 1990, although curiously, I would imagine it would have been hot as hell to wear that during a typical Virginia August. It’s also possible that my memory of what she was wearing isn’t quite accurate, although I do know she loved colorful cardigans and pearl necklaces. What I do remember very clearly is that I noticed the redhead’s well-coordinated, stylish outfit and her brilliant red hair. She was friendly, confident, and funny. Her name was– and still is– Donna, a fitting name for her that means “lady”. Donna is very ladylike and hilarious, to boot.
We stayed friends throughout college and shared a suite during my traumatic sophomore year of school. We were both English majors; she also majored in Spanish. She joined Sigma Alpha Iota, the honorary music fraternity, and I was her big sister. We were both members of Camerata Singers, which was Longwood’s auditioned choir that included a lot of liturgical, classical, and Broadway music.
I lost touch with my friend after we graduated. Then, one day in 2006, I got an email from her. It was out of the blue. She had included an adorable picture of her then three year old daughter, who was pretty much her clone. Donna’s daughter has the same flaming red hair her mother has. Not long after that, Facebook became a thing, and we reconnected that way.
This morning, as I looked at Facebook memories, I was reminded of something really funny that happened eleven years ago. My old college friend, Donna, was having dinner with her super bright and funny daughter. They had the following conversation:
Tonight over dinner, [her daughter] C says, “Your friend Jenny is a cusser!”
Me: “What are you talking about?”
C: “Your friend Jenny on Facebook. She’s a cusser.”
Me: “Why are you saying this?”
C: “Because every time I get on the computer, your Facebook page is up & she posts pictures that have the F-word by them. She’s a cusser.”
My friend continued…
Okay, so I just scoured your wall & I only saw one picture with the “f-word” near it & it was posted by [our mutual friend] Chris. HE’S the cusser! LOL!
It really is sad how she ended up a crack-baby & all. Especially since I never did any crack.
Donna is a dear friend, and we’ve known each other since 1990. Her daughter, C, is now a student at our alma mater, Longwood University. I’m sure she’s making her own hilarious memories at our school. Every year, on November 7, I see that funny post from 2012 and have a good laugh. What’s even funnier is that as of 2012, C hadn’t yet met me in person.
In 2014, just a few months after we moved to German, Bill and I flew home for my family’s annual Thanksgiving reunion. We were there to memorialize my father, who had passed away in July of that year. The memorial service was held in November so more people could attend. That’s also why I got married in November, although it turned out we couldn’t get married over Thanksgiving weekend. We probably should have done the deed in October. The weather would have been nicer.
Anyway, on that trip to Virginia, we met up with my college friends, Joann, Donna, Donna’s husband, and their hilarious eleven year old daughter, C, who had correctly identified me as a “cusser”. She was just as cute as she could be! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her. As we were about to finish our visit, I said “Do you really think I’m a cusser?”
The girl blushed scarlet and hung her head in shame. I laughed and asked for a hug, which she willingly gave me. That day was probably my favorite of the whole visit, since it had been so long since I’d last seen Donna and Joann, and it was the first time I got to meet Donna’s husband and daughter and they got to meet Bill. Sometimes I think if I lived in Virginia again, I might even have some semblance of a normal social life. On the other hand, maybe I wouldn’t, because I’m kind of a recluse most of the time.
It’s getting close to Thanksgiving again. I recently got an email from my aunt announcing the annual shindig, which she blasts to everyone in our humongous family every year. Although I complain a lot about my family, they’re mostly very good people. I don’t agree with most of them politically– quite a lot of them are diehard Trump fans and conservative Christians. But they’re fun to see when there’s a wedding, reunion, or funeral. Despite being a huge family, we’re somewhat close, thanks to the annual reunion at Thanksgiving. Some family members are closer than others.
Lately, I’ve felt like an outcast, but then I live pretty far away now, and have altered my views on religion and politics. I no longer have the patience for long-winded arguments that I used to have, particularly with southern white men who are convinced that liberal politics are the pathway to Soviet Union style communism. I might have agreed with them if I hadn’t spent so many years in Europe, which does have some socialist policies that work pretty well and doesn’t resemble the former Soviet Union in the slightest. Having lived in the former Soviet Union just a couple of years after it fell apart, I feel as though I can speak with some authority about what it was like there. Europe is not like that at all. Since we are related, we all seem to have inherited a penchant for arguing to the death. And some are more insistent about it than others.
In just a few days, I’ll be visiting Armenia, a former Soviet territory, for the first time since 1997. When I arrived there in 1995, it was still pretty Soviet in most things. Today, it’s a lot less like that. Every year, there are fewer people who remember what the place was like when it was a Soviet country. I wasn’t there when it was part of the Soviet Union, but I did go there less than five years after it became independent. And I can tell people I know– especially my conservative Christian southern relatives– that I have yet to see any place like that in my travels, even in countries that have “socialist” leanings. But they don’t listen to me either, because I’m not very religious; I don’t worship Donald Trump; and I am a CUSSER. Somehow, it seems like my love of swearing is the worst of my sins.
Many of my relatives who would argue with me about this are people who have not been outside of the southern United States, let alone “across the pond”. They don’t respect my experiences or education, and stubbornly insist that they’re exactly right, no matter what, refusing to even acknowledge a perspective that differs from their own. They don’t seem to understand that even though I’m a woman who is a bit younger than they are, I’m not stupid, inexperienced, uneducated, or in need of “special help”. I simply have a different viewpoint based on actual things I’ve seen and done.
I find it frustrating to engage in conversations with a lot of my family members, so I keep my distance. And they avoid me because I curse a lot. But that doesn’t mean I’m not fond of most of my family members. I wish them well and would happily break bread with them, if I was in a place where that was easy to do. Maybe there will come a time when that’s the case again.
In July 2014, I discovered Paul Thorn’s hilarious song, ” I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love”, as my dad was dying. It’s a really perfect description of how I think of some of my family members. I do love them, but I can’t spend a lot of time with them… and yet, I’d like to see them for an evening, maybe… as long as we don’t talk politics and/or religion. Ah– never mind. It won’t happen. But I still wish them well. And I actually do love most of my friends– the ones who know me well, and accept me for exactly who I am.
Anyway… it might be worth it to go home to Virginia again, if only to see a few friends and eat some genuine American style junk food. Seriously… I was looking at the menus of some of my favorite crappy chain restaurants in the States… places where there’s nothing at all healthy on the menu. I certainly don’t need to be eating any of that stuff, but I still kind of miss it sometimes.
November always makes me think of being home in Virginia. I do sometimes miss being “home”. I haven’t seen most of my friends and loved ones in years. I think it’s having an effect on me. I also miss really good southern fried food that will send me into a diabetic coma. *Sigh*… guess I’ll have to settle for Armenian food this weekend. I’d probably rather have fried chicken, American style pizza, or ribs. It’s probably just the hormones talking, though… which will later be silenced by my cranky digestive system. Isn’t it fun getting older? 😉 I think I’ll cuss about it some more.
Incidentally, today is Election Day in the USA… so please go out and vote, if you can.
Friday morning at last! And I’m kind of happy this morning, because Bill sent me a message yesterday letting me know that he’s going to be home tomorrow, instead of on Wednesday. So I won’t be spending a boring weekend home alone. I mean, it might still be a boring weekend, but I won’t be spending it watching YouTube videos.
I’m feeling better today. The abdominal pain I was experiencing earlier in the week has mostly subsided. I still have a little annoying pressure, but it’s hardly noticeable. This is a good thing. I’ve been living a relatively clean lifestyle, for me, anyway… no beer or wine since Saturday, and no big meals. I just can’t be bothered when it’s just me. I usually cook a roast or a chicken or something and eat that all week, unless I get in the mood to cook. The older I get, the less interested I am in cooking, unless it’s for someone besides me.
I was looking through my Facebook memories this morning and I found a funny status update from 2012. I had a conversation with someone who reminded me of a relative who used to give me “self-improvement” gifts for Christmas and my birthday. One year, she gave me a workout video called The Daytona Beat. I still remember the hideous soundtrack, which included a very annoying and repetitive theme song that I won’t torture you with, except that they used the words “heat” and “beat”. I mean, Daytona is in Florida, right? I would expect it to be hot there, even in the 1980s.
Another year, she gave me a makeup kit from a fancy company. It was probably Estee Lauder, rather than my preferred Lancome. She probably got it for free when she bought cosmetics. Not that that’s a bad thing, per se. We all love the gifts that come with purchases at the cosmetic counter, except that the colors they give you are usually the ones no one buys. I don’t buy a lot of Lancome anymore, because it’s no longer that easy to get it from my usual source. So I do have some Estee Lauder makeup now, although I rarely put it on. Sometimes, I don’t even put it on when I make videos. I did put some on for Alex’s video a couple of days ago, but I didn’t do a full makeup job. It was near bedtime, and I didn’t want to have to take it off.
But the most tone deaf gift came when she presented me with Proactiv, which is an acne treatment system. I have never had particularly severe acne. Yes, I have had zits in my life, but never so bad that I would go to a dermatologist or consider using a special system. I remember her telling me that Proactiv had worked for her, and she’d gotten a “deal”. So she was sharing the wealth.
I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth. The truth is, I was kind of curious about Proactiv at the time, although I never ended up using the gift she sent. By the time she’d sent it, acne was no longer a big problem in my life. This particular sister is a lot more image conscious than I am. Generally speaking, I don’t really care too much about being a hottie. At my age, that particular ship has probably sailed. But even when I was younger, I didn’t really care too much about being super cute. I do wear makeup, and there was a time when I was more interested in dressing well and looking good. However, I was certainly never as concerned about my looks as she was, and it shows. 😉
I’m sure my sister was just being pragmatic. She saw areas in my life in which she thought I could improve myself. It probably didn’t occur to her that the message she was sending was potentially offensive to me. This kind of thinking is pretty prevalent among many people. They see an obvious “problem” and figure all you need to do to fix it is have the right tools. So, I could be thinner, fitter, and therefore cuter, if I just had a cheesy aerobics video to work out to in front of my parents’ floor model television.
I could have a prettier face if I just had some expensive makeup to slather on it, evening out the acne spots and blotches and bringing out my eyes, which are probably my prettiest physical feature besides my hair (which I’m now wondering if I should color again). Why wouldn’t I want to have a prettier face? Actually, the makeup was probably the gift that was the least offensive to me, especially when I was younger and didn’t have money for such things.
I could have smoother, blemish free skin if I’d just use Proactiv. And if I have smoother skin, maybe I’ll be more attractive to others. Being more attractive to others will lead to… what, exactly? Do I actually want to be more attractive to people who only care about what I look like? I’ve seen what often happens to pretty women. They tend to end up with men who treat them like trophies or just want to fuck them. Mind you, that’s not always the case… but it happens pretty frequently. See this post for an example.
It reminds me of the summer of 1997, just before I left Armenia for a month in Europe, then onward to home. At the time, there were a bunch of people in Yerevan trying to sell Herbalife, which is a supplement from a multi-level marketing company. Armenians apparently didn’t realize that, as an American, I come from the country where Herbalife originated, and I already knew about it. They used to stop me on the street to show me before and after photos, figuring I’d be interested in buying their crappy MLM product. Even if I’d had any money back then, I wouldn’t have been interested.
I’m sure they thought they were helping me, when what they were really doing was mortifying and humiliating me. It happened to me at least two or three times that I recall, and every time it happened, I died a little more and eagerly anticipated getting out of there. I was so obviously not Armenian, so people noticed me wherever I went. At that time in my life, I was also a very single virgin and wondering if I’d ever be attractive enough for a man. I pondered if I was just too ugly to live, or something. Fortunately, Bill came into my life two years later… and later, he literally came into me! (Yes, I know… super gross thing thing to write, even if it’s true. I never claimed to be classy.)
The traumatic Herbalife memories are one reason why I am a little apprehensive about going back to Armenia. I was just trying to go about my business, and people would actually stop me to talk about my “obvious problem” and offer to sell me Herbalife. It was beyond offensive, although I can intellectually understand why they did it. They probably thought of it as a win/win. I’d miraculously slim down to “acceptable” standards, and they’d make some much needed money. I’m sure it never occurred to them that I just wanted to be left alone. They had no idea that I spent years obsessing about my looks and body, thanks to comments from so-called “loved ones” who were just trying to be “helpful”. Fuck them. They should focus on themselves, and their peculiar need to “fix” people other than themselves.
I know I’ve written about this phenomenon a few times in my blog. I actually wrote a different version of this post ten years ago, on my original version of The Overeducated Housewife. I chose not to repost that one, though, because I realize I have different things to write about this trend of people feeling like they need to try to “fix” other people. In my original post, I focused more on how hurt I felt that my sister gave me several self-improvement gifts, seemingly without a thought about how that might come across to me. In this post, I feel more philosophical. More things have happened since 2013.
For example, a few months ago, a relative by marriage– supposedly a “friend”– complimented my looks based on a picture I shared that wasn’t even of me. And she didn’t know me well enough to understand that what she’d meant as a kindness was actually very offensive to me. I vented about the incident in my blog. She read it, got pissed off, and blocked me. I’m sorry she was upset by my negative reaction to her mistake. I’m sure she “meant well”, when she attempted to compliment me and failed spectacularly. Apparently, I should have just suffered in silence. Why is it that other people are allowed to be offended, but I’m not?
In fairness to my relative by marriage, she didn’t actually know me as well as she assumed she did, and didn’t realize that I have a lot of baggage that comes from the expectation that I should be “pretty”. If she’d been an actual friend, she probably would have been more aware… or at least would have been concerned that complimenting my looks, based on a picture of someone who isn’t even me, was pretty offensive. Especially when she laughed it off instead of apologizing. The photo she complimented was of a younger, thinner woman with longer, browner hair than I’ve ever had in my lifetime. It was also an obvious meme that had been passed around Facebook like a plate of stale hors d’oeuvres. Moreover, I don’t think she even read before posting, which is a chronic problem on the gamut of social media platforms. Maybe I shouldn’t have been hurt by that, but I was. Sorry, I’m (clearly) not perfect. Prick me and I bleed.
It’s taken me a long time to move beyond the way I used to think of myself when I was younger. I was much less secure then, which isn’t to say that I’m particularly secure today. But, at least today, I’m married to a man who truly loves me for who I am and doesn’t expect me to change. He doesn’t care when I say outrageous things. He doesn’t criticize the way I laugh. He doesn’t buy me gym memberships or gift certificates to plastic surgeons. He never looks at me in disgust, the way my parents did on multiple occasions, and complain about my appearance… or get so excited when I put on a dress and makeup that he pulls out the camera to take photos for posterity. My parents probably worried that my lack of attention to trying to be pretty was a poor reflection on them. They probably also worried that I’d never get anywhere in life.
I’m truly confused about my looks. I’ve been told I’m “pretty” by a number of people. Sometimes they even seemed to mean it when they said that. Other times, it seemed more like they pitied me… like the time I was at an ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting, and some guy exclaimed, “You’re so pretty!” and then started gushing about something that was kind of embarrassing at the time (don’t remember the details now, but I do remember how I felt). I think it might have had to do with my working at a restaurant and losing weight because I had no time to eat and was constantly running all day. I suddenly lost about 35 pounds, but I was also constantly sick.
I do believe the guy meant it when he said that; he was a good person who I truly think was trying to help me feel better about myself. I had a pretty low self image at that time, even though I was kind of blossoming then– losing weight, dressing well, getting haircuts, and wearing makeup. But then some time later another man– a different guy– from that meeting took me on a scary ride on the Colonial Parkway and asked me for sex. Maybe it’s safer to be ugly.
This is why I prefer to hang around with dogs. Dogs don’t care what you look like, as long as you feed them and take them for walks. Ditto to horses and donkeys and other farm animals. And you never have to worry about them propositioning you for sex because they think you’re “hawt”. Fortunately, I’m at an age now that even if I got really skinny and “cute”, most people would think I’m too old to “hit that”.
Anyway, my main point is, y’all, if you’re thinking of giving someone an unsolicited “self-improvement” gift, take a moment to consider how that gift will be received. If you truly care about the other person’s feelings and self worth, consider giving them something that doesn’t indicate to them that you think they need improvement. It will save you both a lot of angst. It’s also a much kinder and more considerate thing to do. Now, if they specifically ASK you for Proactiv or something else like that, that’s totally different.
Well, I guess I’ll get on with the day. It’s 10:00 AM, and I’m not dressed yet. But that’s a pretty normal thing for me. Hopefully, I won’t offend anyone by being a dumpy old housewife as I walk Noyzi. 😉
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