condescending twatbags, love, marriage, relationships, social media

It’s not all bon-bons, wine boxes, and daytime TV, you know…

Today’s featured photo was taken from our car as we drove through Italy, on the way north. It’s a place called Silandro/Schlanders, and it’s in the Sud Tyrolean region. I’m thinking I’d like to go there with Bill, which I can easily do, since I’m a childfree homemaker.

Before I get too cranked up with today’s post, I want to thank those who took the time to read yesterday’s post, which did get some decent traffic. I got a few nice Facebook comments that were also much appreciated. Honestly, yesterday’s post was created out of my lack of a burning topic to write about, other than politics and religion. I just didn’t feel like going there yesterday, although I know there is a lot I could discuss.

Like, for instance, yesterday I did read a story about how some guy broke into a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse in Provo, Utah, where he proceeded to steal and eat four chicken nuggets. For this crime, he is now facing a third degree felony charge of burglary. Yes, it’s ridiculous, and yes I could rant about it… and maybe I eventually will.

The problem is, that kind of post has a limited shelf life. Moreover, while I could write about how ironic it is that the Mormons, who usually pride themselves on helping the down and out, are pressing charges against an apparently hungry man, I just don’t feel like it today. I do agree that it was wrong for the guy to break into the church and steal chicken nuggets. But I also hope the local prosecutor has some common sense.

Anyway, moving on to today’s actual topic…

Yesterday, I happened to see an Am I the Asshole (AITA) post on “God’s” Facebook page that made me pause. It was about a guy who asked if he was the asshole for mocking his date for wanting to be a “childfree housewife”. If you know me, you know why I stopped to read the post and its comments. Basically, that’s been my life situation since 2002.

Below is the original Reddit post:

My opinion? Yes, you are the asshole for laughing… and for not having a broad enough perspective to realize that a lot of people have done the ‘impossible” and found someone to “take that deal”. I happen to be one of them.

I hasten to add, being a childfree housewife was never my goal. I did plan to have a career, and I also wanted children. That just isn’t how my life went. I realize that the way my situation turned out isn’t the norm, but it’s not completely unheard of, either. While I can understand why the guy on Reddit chuckled at the woman he was dating, I also think people who mock other people– especially when they clearly haven’t done a lot of thinking about the reason they’re mocking– are usually assholes. And in this case, I can see why this fellow is still looking for a wife.

I read quite a few comments, many of which seemed to come from men who claim that this arrangement would be totally unfair. Other comments came from women who seemed angry, and were kind of seething about it, as if they were envious. A few people were reasonable. One lady said she’d like to be a “stay at home dog mom” and wondered if that’s a thing. I’m here to tell her that yes, indeed, being a dog mom is a thing for some of us.

I didn’t really want to share my story, because I knew it would likely invite shitty comments from people. So I just wrote:

“It’s not a bad gig.”

And it’s not, in my case. I pretty much do what I like most days, although I do have housekeeping chores that I stick to. I’m not expected or required to do these things. It’s not like Bill will come home and scream at me if I forget to wash the sheets or something. I do the chores because they keep the house running smoothly and help us maintain basic hygiene. Bill and I aren’t neat freaks, but we do like our environment to be basically clean and pleasant. So yes, I do housework. So does he, when he’s available. He also does most of the cooking, although I taught him a lot of what he knows.

I woke up to a comment from some chick named Jodi who decided to tell me off. Here’s what she wrote, unedited:

Being stuck with no funds and under the financial control of someone who knows you depend on them to keep a roof over your head isn’t a great gig. Being a guy’s maid/cook/therapist/errand-runner/personal assistant and bang maid, all unpaid, sounds like utter hell. Dudes wouldn’t jump at this situation as much as they do, if they didn’t plan on taking full advantage of it and benefitting from it themselves.

Wow… I think Jodi’s been hanging around the wrong kinds of men. Below is my response:

It really depends on the situation and the people involved, doesn’t it? Not all men are like that. 

I hadn’t planned to be a “stay at home wife” when I met my husband, but he was in the Army, and we moved constantly… I’m talking 5 times in 7 years! And we don’t have children because he had them in his first marriage and got snipped. Then we moved to Europe, where he works as a contractor, and it’s not so easy for a spouse to get a career type job if they don’t have a military background (which I don’t).

But we’re celebrating 21 years in November. We get along beautifully and have a great life. And no, I don’t sit on my ass all day and eat bon-bons, nor am I stuck with no funds and no say in anything. We are a partnership, and function as such. I know my situation is not the norm, but it’s probably not as uncommon as some folks on this post seem to think.

I mean, there’s a whole lot more to my story than that. If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably already know some of it. When I was younger, I certainly didn’t aspire to do what I do in 2023. I did want to be a writer, but I never expected that writing would actually be how I earn what little money I do make. I probably could make more money if I tried. In the past, I made over $40 an hour writing and researching for different organizations. But that was as a freelancer in the Washington, DC area. Obviously I don’t live there anymore, and when you move all the time, it becomes very difficult to make connections. I’m not proud of it but, with Bill’s blessing, I eventually quit trying. Much to my surprise, it’s all worked out fine.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about the future. Bill and I both know that things can change in a heartbeat. For that reason, I’ve been saving and investing money for years. With his blessing, every time Bill gets paid, I invest a few hundred dollars. What started as a one thousand dollar investment is now well over 50 times that. We have several certificates of deposits, a few savings accounts, life insurance policies for both of us, and at least one IRA (Bill handles that part). I also stay out of debt as much as possible. We paid off all of my credit cards and my student loans. I research things so Bill doesn’t have to. For example, it’s because of my insistence that we got German legal insurance, which certainly came in handy for us.

I wanted to have children, and we did try. Bill had his vasectomy reversed. It didn’t work out for us, and we couldn’t/didn’t want to spend the money for help with our fertility issues. In the early years, we struggled for money, and I couldn’t see going further into debt for the chance to have a baby– even though it would have been comparatively inexpensive through the military. However, going through IVF or another treatment also would have been very impractical, as in the years after Bill had the vasectomy reversal surgery, he went to Iraq.

Then, we moved to Germany the first time. That put us in proximity to the Czech Republic, where some Americans have gone for relatively inexpensive fertility treatments. I’ve read that the Czech Republic is actually one of the best places to get affordable and effective fertility treatments. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t want to go that route ourselves. More power to those who did have children that way. I think I just got to the point at which I was getting older and decided that the chance to be someone’s mother wasn’t a deal breaker in our relationship. Frankly, seeing how the world is faring these days makes me glad I didn’t have children, even if people negatively judge me for having that view.

Living in Germany has been good for us financially– Bill is paid well for what he does. He also has a military retirement that will not end for me if he predeceases me. We are also not going to get divorced. I know a lot of people say that, but if you know us, you know we ain’t gonna be splitting up, because we’re just way too compatible. Well… I probably shouldn’t say that, because you know– you should “never say never”, and I don’t want to tempt fate. But we do have a very solid marriage. We get along beautifully and have a lot of fun. Neither of us has any desire to ever date again. So, barring a completely bizarre situation, I highly doubt we’ll ever be divorcing.

The bottom line is, our method is working fine for us. That doesn’t mean it would work for everyone, nor would I necessarily encourage other people to do what we did. The way I fell into this lifestyle was completely ridiculous and very unexpected on every level. I didn’t aspire to be a housewife, nor did I think I’d be married to a guy in the military. I also never dreamed I’d marry such a kind and generous man. But I fell in love, and I wouldn’t trade my husband for a spot in a cubicle. He treats me like gold. I’d be a complete fool to sacrifice our relationship for the sake of my pride. Our lifestyle is simple, because there’s only one career to manage. That means it’s easier to take trips together, which gives me stuff to write about. It’s also easier when we have to move.

When Bill and I met, I was engaged in a dual degree graduate program that I hoped would finally lead me out of jobs in retail and restaurants. Had I not met him, I probably would be working in Atlanta or D.C. or somewhere else I could use my public health and social work background and international skills. Maybe I would have stayed in South Carolina so I could help turn the state purple with my liberal votes (I can dream, can’t I?).

Clearly, as you can see, that’s not what happened. I met Bill, and he was not in a job where we could choose to stay where I had a career, nor would we want to do that. Some military couples do choose to be separate for certain assignments, so they can both tend to their careers. For many reasons, we didn’t want to do that. The main one is that we enjoy each other’s company too much. And yes, I could get a job– probably even here in Wiesbaden– but it would certainly not be the kind of work I’d want to do… and honestly, we don’t currently need the money. However, there are other Americans in the military community here that do need the work. They can have the job I might have taken, if I’d decided to work somewhere.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about my lot in life. When you’re an overeducated housewife, you have the time to do that. 😉 People have judged me a lot for my choices. I’ve gotten a ration of shit from everyone– from people in my family, to complete strangers on the Internet. Some people think I’m an asshole simply for the title of this blog. They don’t know me, nor do they know the path that put me where I am.

The thing is, I can’t really complain about where I am. I live in a safe, beautiful country that is close to other safe, beautiful countries. I have a wonderful, kind, hardworking, compatible husband who loves me and treats me very well, in spite of my obnoxious personality and fluffy figure. We have more than enough for our needs. So, being a “childfree stay at home spouse” works fine for me… at least for now. I don’t think I made the wrong choices. In fact, looking at my life, I can’t say I’ve made a lot of bad choices. They just aren’t the choices we children of the 70s and 80s were told we should be making.

I’m not saying everyone can or should follow my example. I’m just saying there’s more than one way to get through life. Not everyone’s path is going to be the same. Some people are luckier than others are, and some people make the most of what they have to create good situations. I do think I was lucky, but I also do my part to give us a nice lifestyle, and I am every bit as involved as Bill is in the planning of our life together. It’s not all bon-bons, wine boxes, and daytime TV, you know… 😉

So, that’s my commentary for today. Now to finish this post and tend to Noyzi’s bedding… and maybe our own bedding. I’ve got things to do that don’t involve watching Dr. Phil or dining on Hot Pockets. I might do some music today, too. Catch you all tomorrow, barring anything strange or bizarre happening. 😉

careers, marriage, money, music, work, YouTube

There’s more than one way to sing a song…

The featured photo comes courtesy of Pinterest.

I was about to title this post “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”, but I figured it would be better to use an animal friendly alternative. One of my particular gifts is a love for animals, after all. Even if I weren’t an animal lover, that particular expression would make me cringe at the violent imagery of it. Besides, who the hell is skinning cats these days? Certainly not anyone I’d want to know.

Since I’m a singer, I happen to know there’s more than one way to sing a song. In fact, as I write this post, I’m listening to Kenny Rogers sing “Desperado”, a song that was made famous by its composers, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, and their celebrated band, The Eagles. It has also been done beautifully by many different performers… Linda Ronstadt comes to mind. Karen Carpenter sang it with her brother, who reportedly felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end when he heard it the first time. Clint Black also sang it for an Eagles tribute album. I do a pretty mean rendition myself, if I may be so bold. However, I won’t be recording it for YouTube, because Don Henley is a bastard about copyright claims. 😉 Not that he doesn’t have the right to be…

I often read articles to Bill– ones I’ve written, or ones I’ve found in any of the newspapers I regularly read. This morning, I came across “The R.T.O. Whisperers Have a Plan”, a fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine (unlocked) by Emma Goldberg about managers who have been trying to get people to stop wanting to work remotely and come back to the office. Instead of reading the article, I decided to play it– listen to it being read by a narrator.

The well written piece was all about how some workers are rebelling against the traditional requirement to work in an office setting. The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily made remote working a necessity. Now, people are finding that they don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things, and office managers are having to adjust. They’re even bringing in “whisperers” to try to figure out how to lure workers back into the traditional office environment, and doing everything from making goodie bags to hosting yoga classes. They’re finding that some people would rather quit than go back to the daily office grind, while others are much happier working away from home.

I knew this was going to happen years ago, though not because of a pandemic. I just realized, even back in 2000 or so, that people would one day be able to work from home with ease. Sure enough, I was right. Some managers are now having to change their perspectives and their attitudes to maintain competent staffing.

There’s more than one way to sing a song…

My first experience with remote work was when I was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. I was a graduate assistant, and my boss, a very progressive nurse who had gone into working in public health legislation, hired me to help her research legislative and maternal and child health issues. After some time, she started telling me to work from home, which worked great for me. Looking back on it, she may have done that because she didn’t like having me around the office. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t always have the easiest personality for some people to take.

Not surprisingly, I loved remote working. I am able to be very productive in my home office. It’s an environment that works best for me. Much of what I did for that job involved writing and research, and working from home made it easier to concentrate. I also loved not having to get dressed up, sit in traffic, or deal with interpersonal conflicts and personality clashes with others.

After I graduated, I went looking for work in the Washington, DC area. Because I was an Army wife, I knew that the clock was ticking, because military families move a lot. I remember suggesting remote work to a hiring manager, who had a very strong reaction against the idea. I remember thinking that guy was going to be in for a rude awakening, because even in the early 00s, I could see that remote work was going to be a wave of the future. There’s a lot good to be said about it.

Yes, it’s hard for some managers to trust that their employees are going to be productive when they can’t actually watch them working. But people who can work from home don’t have to waste two hours a day in traffic. They don’t contribute to road rage, traffic accidents, or air pollution. They don’t spend as much money on dry cleaning or child care. Those who like remote working, whose jobs can be done remotely, and are capable of handling the responsibility, can be very productive and, more importantly, much more satisfied with their work. Moreover, a lot of time is wasted in office environments. Some people in offices spend time chit chatting and doing other stuff rather than doing their work.

The article that I linked specified other reasons why some people prefer remote work. Some of the reasons are issues that might not immediately seem obvious. For instance, the article mentioned that some people feel more comfortable working at home because of racial tensions in the workplace, or having to deal with people who are intolerant about other things they can’t help, like their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Or, perhaps they are more comfortable at home for other reasons. Recently, I watched the film, The Whale, which starred Brendan Fraser, who worked at home as an English professor teaching online classes. Fraser’s character, Charlie, was enormous, and he was ashamed of his appearance, so he turned off his camera, so his students couldn’t see him. This allowed him to earn a living, without having to endure the pain of his students visibly regarding him with disgust, or trying to maneuver in a world that doesn’t accommodate people who are literally huge. I’m not saying that’s the healthiest attitude to adopt. However, that movie does present a fairly realistic scenario highlighting a reason why some people would rather do their jobs from home. Some people work best on their own.

As for me, after that interview in which my suggestion to remote work was quickly shot down, I later scored some remote writing assignments. I found that I was able to complete them quickly, and well enough to earn bonuses. If we had stayed in the DC area a bit longer, I might have carved out an actual career, complete with a livable salary and benefits. 😉 As it was, I ended up leaving the formal workforce altogether.

Ah well. Maybe I could have had a conventional job until 2007. But then, we moved to Germany, and after that, moved three more times until Bill retired in 2014. Then we moved BACK to Germany. It would have been hard to build an in person work history when we were constantly moving. By the time Bill left the Army, we had truly made things work so that I didn’t really have to worry about working for money. Bill gradually proved himself over here, earned a couple of raises and promotions, and then started drawing his military retirement, which is literally like a second salary. We don’t own a home or other expensive property, and we’ve paid off most of our debts. So here I sit… a “professional” blogger and mediocre housewife. 😉

There’s more than one way to sing a song…

This certainly wasn’t what I had planned for myself. I did try to find a conventional job for several years. One day, Bill told me to stop trying to find a “real job”, because the process was really making me miserable, and we had enough money to make the household work. I remember, back in 2005, sitting in our Army provided house at the card table that served as our dining table. I said, “This is temporary. We are going to have a good life. It’s just going to take some time and discipline.”

Not long after that, I got a lucrative writing job that paid for a new dining table, a couch, and loveseat. I was able to do the whole project from home.

We’ve had some genuine perks related to my not having a “real job”, too. My not having a job meant that someone was there to take care of the dogs, do the household chores, and be available to deal with other domestic issues. It also meant that we only had to consider one work schedule when it came time to travel somewhere. Granted, during the early years of our marriage, we didn’t have much money for travel. But, when Bill went to Iraq, we had some extra money, which I used to pay off debt. I paid off all of his high interest credit cards (which he had because of the financial hell of his first marriage). I started paying extra on my student loans. Before long, we were ahead on our bills, and had some extra. I started saving and investing it. I supported Bill in his work, which meant I spent a lot of nights alone. I continued to write and made some money… not a lot, but something.

As Bill’s Army career came to an end, he worried about what was coming next. Once again, I delivered a prophecy that turned out to come true. I said, “I think your time to shine will be in your post Army life.”

Sure enough, in Germany, Bill has been a bright, shining star… He is much in demand for his diverse, yet hard to find technical skills. He’s also very well-liked and respected by his bosses, co-workers, and his clients. Meanwhile, I started saving and investing more of his salary, growing a modest $1000 investment to fifty times that. Bill opened an IRA. We paid off my student loans in 2018, nine years ahead of time. Last week, he got a nice raise. Now, we’re quite comfortable. My 2005 prediction has come true.

There’s more than one way to sing a song…

Why am I writing this story? Because I want to point out that there’s more than one way to be successful. There’s more than one way to get through life. Just because someone isn’t doing things the conventional way, that doesn’t mean they’re a waste of space or not contributing.

For years, certain people have given me a ration of crap over the way I live my life. Most of the people who have had a negative attitude have been people close to me. My dad had a real problem with the fact that I didn’t work outside the house. One time, when Bill was deployed, he called me and demanded to know what I was going to do with my time while Bill was in Iraq. He suggested that I get a job– even if it was waiting tables, so I might have more self-respect. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that how I spent my time was NONE of his business.

I suspect that he made that suggestion because it was embarrassing for HIM to feel like he needed to tell his friends that I was a housewife. He didn’t accept that I am a writer, or that writing is a “real job” for me, for which I have even earned some money.

After years of hearing my dad’s criticisms of everything from how I laughed, to my appearance, to who I dated (though he ended up loving Bill– probably more than he loved me), to where I worked, I was fed up and not about to take it anymore. So I told him to mind his own business, and stop harassing me about how I lived my life. It felt great, especially since there was nothing he could do but react with appropriate sheepishness and finally, STFU.

I’ve also heard comments from people wondering how we can buy certain things. Like, when we bought my car in 2009, my sister wondered how we could afford it and actually had the nerve to ask me. We got a discount and paid it off early. I still have it 14 years later. Years of paying things on time means that Bill and I both have outstanding credit ratings. When I met Bill years ago, that was not the case for him. His credit rating was in the 400s. I told him we would not be doing things the way they were done in his first marriage. We live within our means, and now we both have credit ratings in the 800s.

Other people– family members, acquaintances, ex landladies 😉 … and strangers– have looked down on me for living life the way I do. They think I’m lazy and don’t contribute, because I don’t obviously pull down a salary, and I’m not raising kids. They don’t realize that I contribute in lots of other ways, nor is it really their business, anyway, as long as the bills are paid.

The way Bill and I have done things doesn’t work for everyone. Not all couples can pull off what we have. However, the point is, our lifestyle HAS worked for us, and I have, actually, used that “fancy” education in making this lifestyle work (the finance classes were helpful). Living this way involves a lot of mutual trust, suppression of egos, and understanding. Frankly, given what Bill went through with his ex wife, I’m surprised he trusted me. It did take some time. But twenty plus years later, here we are, and it all works fine for us.

Now… if I needed to work outside the home for our survival, of course I’d do it. But, in our situation, it’s simply worked better for me to stay home. As I sit here, contemplating where we’re going to go on vacation, I can’t deny that it’s worked out fine.

There’s more than one way to sing a song!

After all these years, I feel kind of vindicated, even if it’s still sometimes hard to accept that in a conventional workplace, I was kind of a failure. But that doesn’t mean I’ve failed at life. I’ve just done things kind of differently than expected. And frankly, I’m grateful I didn’t have to spend the last twenty plus years in a cubicle, trying to think outside the box.

Not having a “real job” has also allowed me to make the video below… my version of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need of Love of Love Today”, a song from 1976 that is sadly still so relevant in 2023..,

Here’s take two of my take on Stevie Wonder’s fabulous song from 1976 that not enough people have learned from…
housekeeping tips

Just another Monday in paradise…

The toilet has a ways to go before it looks like that again…

Do you ever get an urge to tackle random cleaning projects? Sometimes it happens to me. Like, for instance, my urge to clean the oven door a couple of weeks ago. I spent a few hours on that, scrubbing with baking soda and Reynold’s Wrap, trying to remove the baked on gunk on the door. Today, I’ve been tackling the upstairs toilet, which is covered with hard water limestone deposits. Germany has very hard water. Wiesbaden is especially bad. There’s a never ending battle against the chalky gunk that builds up because of the mineral filled water.

I got tired of looking at the lime on our commode, so I grabbed a bottle of vinegar detergent, which is widely available here. I’ve gotten some of the limestone to go, but there’s still more work to do. I may have to break out some steel wool.

Using vinegar on hard water stains is just one handy household trick I’ve learned since we moved back to Germany. There are certain things we have to deal with here that we don’t in the States. I do remember my parents’ house in Virginia, circa 1980, had a septic tank. Our water came from a well, smelled of rotten eggs, and had a lot of rust in it. It was the same when we lived in Georgia. Our house there, and the one in North Carolina, had septic tanks. We had no water bills, but the water was pretty nasty. The toilets in the Georgia house had tons of rust in them. I found a miracle cleaner to get rid of a lot the rust. It really was amazing.

I wish I could find something as effective as Whink Rust Stain Remover to rid the toilets of lime. So far, all of the DIY sites recommend vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice. While I appreciate the non-toxic effects of these remedies, they still require plenty of elbow grease. Somehow, I’m going to have to clean the new shower head, too. It’s starting to get lime deposits. That will mean breaking out the stepladder, because I’m too short to reach the shower head.

Sorry… I know this is a boring topic. There are certainly things I could write about, but it occurred to me that a lot of my posts are kind of negative and depressing. Every once in awhile, I like to write things that are helpful or even positive. I have, at least, managed to get rid of some of the lime scale, anyway. And I just ordered some citric acid and pumice stone to try to get the rest of it gone.

I don’t know why I get spurred on to do certain things at odd times. I’ve always been like this. I’ll let things go for a long time, then suddenly go into cleaning mode. Sometimes I’ll clean everything. Sometimes, I just tackle certain annoying projects. The toilet has had lime scale on it for a long time, but I saw a picture of it when we first moved in. It was brand new, and obviously recently installed. There was no lime build up to speak of. And that just made me feel like going into cleaning mode. Monday is a good day of the week for that, since I don’t usually plan specific chores for Mondays.

I do have a topic in mind that is a bit more substantial than this toilet cleaning saga is… but I’m not quite ready to put it down yet. Maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow… after I clean the bathrooms.

For those of you in the United States with a rust problem. Whink Rust Stain Remover is truly amazing stuff. I am an Amazon Associate, so I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.


How should I respond to this request?

Today’s post might be a bit convoluted, and some might think I’m petty to write it. I’m going to write it anyway, because I’ve got nothing better to do. To those of you who manage to finish it and follow all the twists and turns, I offer you the gooiest of cookies.I just want to get this off my chest.Fair warning. It’s going to be long, and it might come across as self-indulgent and obnoxious.Those of you who know me probably won’t be surprised.

One night in May 2014, I was living in Texas, hanging out on Facebook, when I accessed the page for my alma mater, Longwood University. I remember being worried at the time. My husband, Bill, was about a month out from retiring from the Army. He was on “terminal leave”, which meant he was using up all of the vacation days he’d amassed before it was time to separate from the service. He was also job hunting, and it seemed like the pickings, even in Texas, were slim. I’d gone to Longwood’s Facebook page to take my mind off of my nervousness about the potential financial ruin that might face us.

At that time, we were also planning our third, and most recent, Space-A “military hop“, a great perk for military families that allows servicemembers, retirees, and their dependents to hitch a ride on government aircraft for next to nothing. Because Bill was technically still on active duty in May 2014, he was “category three”, which placed him at a high priority for getting a flight. Once he retired, he’d be “category six”, which meant our chances of scoring a flight to Europe or Hawaii would be significantly lower. We planned to fly to Germany and wander around Europe for about ten days, then come back to Texas and plunge into post-Army life. At the time, I thought this last hurrah to Europe could be our final opportunity to visit there for awhile. I had no idea that within three months, we’d be moving to Germany.

That May night in Texas, as I was perusing Longwood’s Facebook page, I shared a snapshot with Longwood’s community that I had taken in New York City, back in March 1994. The picture was snapped at the back door of a Broadway theater. I was with several fellow members of Longwood’s auditioned choir, the Camerata Singers. We’d just seen the Broadway production of Tommy, starring Michael Cerveris.

The Camerata Singers were in New York because it was the end of our spring tour. The choral director at the time, Dr. Donald Trott, would use spring break as a means of promoting Longwood to high school students in Mid-Atlantic states. Our choir would spend the week traveling by bus to different high schools and churches in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, where we would perform concerts for church parishioners and students, staying at their homes rather than in hotels. It was exhausting, but great fun, and a wonderful opportunity for us to bond. Then, at the end of the week, we’d spend a couple of nights in New York City and catch a Broadway show.

The first two years out of the three I went on spring tour with “Cams”, everyone saw the same show– Phantom of the Opera my first year, and Miss Saigon my second. My third year touring– which was my senior year at Longwood– we were allowed to choose which show we wanted to see. I remember a lot of my fellow “Cams” went to see Les Miserables. Only four of us chose to see Tommy, a Broadway show based on the 1969 rock opera by The Who. I wasn’t close friends with the other choir members who had gone with me to see the show, but I did happen to be the only one in our group who’d brought a camera. A couple of them were musical theater majors, and they’d sent a note backstage for Michael Cerveris.

Before I saw him perform on Broadway, I had known the American actor Michael Cerveris as the British character, Ian Ware, on Fame, an 80s era TV show that I’d loved as a kid. He’d moved on to bigger and better things. I got to shake hands with him because the musical theater majors I was with were studying under Pam Arkin, an actress who was teaching at Longwood at the time. Pam (as everyone called her) knew Cerveris because they’d acted together and were friends. Mr. Cerveris graciously met us and posed for pictures. It was definitely a memorable moment in my college career, so twenty years later, I shared it with the Longwood community on Facebook.

In Bacharach… can you blame me for wanting to visit again?

A couple of days after I shared that post, Bill and I left on our Space-A flight to Germany, which took us on a wonderful journey through eastern France. We visited Reims, Epernay, Dijon, Lyon, Nimes, and Nice. Then we flew to Frankfurt and visited Bacharach, an adorable medieval village I’d discovered in 1997, after leaving the Peace Corps. It has the distinction of being the very first town I ever visited in Germany, and I’d been telling Bill about it for years. We’d never had the opportunity to go to Bacharach when the Army sent us to Stuttgart from 2007-09. Since, as of May 2014, we weren’t sure if we’d ever get back to Europe, I wanted to make sure Bill saw Bacharach. We ended up having a very special experience there, which I wrote about on my travel blog.

While we were traveling through Europe in 2014, I got a message from Kent Booty, a writer for Longwood’s alumni magazine. He thought my story about meeting Michael Cerveris was pretty cool, and he wanted to interview me. I remember explaining to him that I was in Europe at the time, so I would have to talk to him once we got back to the States.

Sure enough, once we were back in Texas, I had a long phone chat with Mr. Booty. I explained what I had been doing since I graduated from Longwood in 1994. From 1995-97, I was in the Peace Corps serving in the third group to go to the Republic of Armenia. From 1999-02, I was at the University of South Carolina, earning dual master’s degrees in social work and public health. I had some big career plans back then. But then I met and fell in love with Bill, and became an Army wife six months after I finished my studies in South Carolina. Over the course of twelve years, we moved seven times to four states and Germany. I never got to use my master’s degrees the way I’d planned. Instead, almost every penny I’ve earned since I finished graduate school has been made from freelance writing, which is a lot more portable than social work and public health are, but tends to be less steady, isn’t very prestigious, and doesn’t always pay well.

Crazily enough, just a few weeks after we returned to the States from our space A trip, Bill got a job offer in Stuttgart. I remember telling Kent Booty that we were going to be moving back to Germany. I was excited about it, since it meant we wouldn’t have to live in our cars and we’d get to live in my favorite of our past duty stations. He congratulated me for Bill’s success, and that was the last I heard from Mr. Booty. He never did write an article about me for the alumni magazine. I honestly couldn’t blame him for that, and wasn’t surprised, given that I have pretty much been a housewife since I finished graduate school in 2002. I understand that part of Mr. Booty’s job is to market Longwood to prospective students, and most students are hoping to be gainfully employed once they graduate from college. I sure was when I was a college student. My role as an “overeducated housewife” is probably not very impressive to most people.

Imagine my surprise last night when I got a message on my contact form for this blog, and it was from Kent Booty. He was requesting an interview, and it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t remember talking to me back in 2014. In fairness to him, I don’t really share my name freely on this blog, although if one searches long enough, it’s pretty easy to figure out who I am. Even if I did share my name openly, he probably wouldn’t remember that we spoke in 2014. I’m sure he talks to a lot of people, and most of them are more memorable and impressive than I am. I even realize that he might have been turned off after talking to me, because I know that not everyone can take my over-the-top personality or cackling laugh (people tell me my laugh is the one thing they remember most about me).

I have a feeling this unexpected contact came about because I recently reposted an article I wrote about how an adjunct professor at Longwood changed my life. What I wrote in that article is absolutely true. My life literally changed for the better because I chose Longwood. In fact, last night, I was telling Bill about the many wonderful ways my time at Longwood has blessed me since I began studying there in 1990. Bill’s college experience, by contrast, was not quite as rich.

Bill attended his first two years of school at a now defunct military college in Boonville, Missouri called Kemper, then transferred to the much larger and more prestigious American University in Washington, D.C. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1986, and that was pretty much the last he’s heard from the school, even though it’s probably a lot better known and is definitely a much more expensive school than Longwood is.

Conversely, I have had a bunch of cool Longwood related experiences, even twenty-six years after I graduated. When I decided to join the Peace Corps in 1995, I asked my former advisor, Dr. Massie Stinson, to write a recommendation for me, which he gladly did. I exchanged letters and emails with him throughout my time in Armenia, and even brought him a copy of the Peace Corps cookbook I published while I was there. A couple of years after I came home from Armenia, Dr. Stinson wrote me a recommendation for the University of South Carolina, a school he had also attended. We exchanged emails for awhile until his health failed. When he passed away in June 2013, I sent a message for his family through Dr. Martha Cook, who had also been one of my professors. Dr. Cook and I became Facebook friends, and still communicate almost daily. I have noticed that many of my fellow Longwood friends from the 90s still chat with professors from that time, even though a lot of the professors have retired.

I took this photo from the teacher’s lounge at the school where I taught in Yerevan, Armenia, Ruben Sevak School #151. One of my former students from this school now works for Peace Corps Armenia.

I remember being in the teacher’s lounge at the school where I taught English in Armenia, reading a letter I received from Longwood’s then president, Dr. Patricia Cormier. She had reached out to alumni to ask them what they thought about changing Longwood’s name from Longwood College to Longwood University. I remember writing back to her, telling her that Longwood would always be Longwood College to me, but to the Armenian students I was teaching, the word college denotes “high school”. So I supported changing the name to Longwood University. Dr. Cormier wrote the most beautiful and personal letter back to me, which really raised my spirits at the time.

A few years later, I was living in South Carolina. I had just finished grocery shopping at Publix, and was loading my groceries into my car, which had a couple of Longwood decals on it. A lady came up to me and asked me if I had gone to Longwood. I said I had, and she beamed, telling me that her very best friend, Dr. Patricia Cormier, was the president there. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Cormier, as her tenure as president was after I had graduated, but I remember her strong leadership and how she had transformed the campus with many new building projects.

I remember Dr. Ellery Sedgwick, another English professor from whom I’d never taken a class, writing to me because I’d sent a letter to the English department asking if anyone would be willing to donate books to my school. He sent a very kind letter to me, affirming that Longwood would support my mission in teaching English. I received several boxes of textbooks from the English department, which I donated to my school.

I also remember an incident involving the late Phyllis Mable, back in the summer of 1999. I was working as a waitress at The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia. Ms. Mable came in for lunch and sat in my section in The Garden Room. I recognized her immediately, because she was truly unforgettable. I told her that I would soon be moving to Columbia, South Carolina for graduate school. A few days later, I received a handwritten letter from Ms. Mable, wishing me luck and offering me support. She had taken the time to look me up and sent me that note to let me know that Longwood was proud of me. It made my day.

I remember being at Longwood to welcome Drs. Charles and Lisa Kinzer, when they joined the music department in the fall of 1992. I was a junior that year, and even though I wasn’t a music major, I was allowed to take a lot of courses in the music department, including sight singing, which was taught by Dr. Charles Kinzer (who was then still a Mr.). His wife, Lisa, was my accompanist for my voice studio with Dr. Patricia Lust. I last ran into Dr. Lust back in 2000… and yes, she still remembered me six years post graduation. Dr. Lisa Kinzer is now a professor at Longwood and is still my friend, many years after we first met. I have often told Bill about how amazingly talented the Kinzers are. I would love for him to get to hear them perform sometime.

And finally, I realize that I still have many, many true friends from Longwood. It was the kind of place where it was easy to meet and bond with other students. My late father was a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, and he was friends with many of his “brother rats” his whole life. I may not be quite as bonded to my Longwood buddies as my dad was to his brother rats, but I still have so many genuine friends from my Longwood years and lots of wonderful memories. My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t have any connections to American University… not even long lost college buddies on Facebook.

My husband has gone on to have a successful military career and, as of a few years ago, caught up to me in diplomas having earned a second master’s degree from Regis University. We have an amazing life together, although I have not yet managed to set the world on fire with my own career. Bill is still astonished when he sees how connected I still am to Longwood, and how every year, I am even prouder to be a graduate. He has often commented at how personal the Longwood experience is, and how amazing it is that I can still reach out to the Longwood community for friendship and support.

And yet, I still don’t think Kent Booty would want to write an article about me for Longwood’s alumni magazine. He’s already spoken to me, but apparently found me entirely forgettable. Six years after our last conversation, I’m still just a housewife, although I’m living an enviable life. I pretty much do whatever I want every day. I live in a safe, beautiful, European country which affords me the chance to see other safe, beautiful European countries. My student loans are paid off, and now Bill and I even live in Wiesbaden, Germany, very close to the picturesque town of Bacharach, so we can visit there easily. I live in a comfortable home, and spend my time writing, making music, and playing with our dog, whom I’m hoping will have a new “sibling” soon. Bill and I are still healthy; we love each other; and it’s not a horrible thing for us to be stuck in the house together during the pandemic.

I’m still proud to be a Longwood graduate, and I treasure my four years there. I’m not sure any prospective students would admire me for being an “overeducated housewife”, nor do I think my story would necessarily encourage anyone to apply to Longwood, but I can’t deny that my life has been vastly enriched by the small school experience. It still is, many years post graduation. So, if Mr. Booty happens to read this post and still wants to talk to me, I’m sure to oblige. But I will completely understand if he doesn’t, and I’m happy to keep writing about Longwood on my own space. There’s more than one way to be successful in life. Maybe I am not very impressive to the average person, but in my own way, I’ve achieved successes and had experiences way beyond my expectations. And that is all I ever could have wished for.