obits

Rest in peace, Prince Philip…

I don’t have much to say today. It’s raining outside, so even if we weren’t still stuck at home, I probably wouldn’t want to go out. I watched Lyle Lovett’s most recent live stream with Willis Alan Ramsey. I had never heard of Willis Alan Ramsey before, but he and Lyle are old friends. It was an enjoyable live stream, although maybe not as interesting to me as the ones Lyle did with Vince Gill and Michael McDonald.

Bill informed me that he’ll be gone for most of May. He also told me that it looks like we’ll be getting vaccinated sometime next month… although if he’s going to be TDY, maybe not. I sure am tired of waiting and I hate this lifestyle. It’s very depressing.

What a life.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to read about Prince Philip’s death yesterday. He was 99 years old and had been married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years. Until very recently, he had enjoyed fairly good health, but I know he spent some time hospitalized a couple of months ago. And, let’s face it… he was a mere two months shy of turning 100, so the end was bound to come eventually. Still, I kind of enjoyed Philip, who was like the court jester of Britain’s Royal Family. He had many quips at the ready, and a lot of them were very politically incorrect. I enjoy political incorrectness very much, even though I know it’s not so cool nowadays.

Last night, Bill and I were talking about everything the Duke of Edinburgh had seen over his long lifetime… He was a young man when World War II was happening. He was here to see cars, computers, televisions, organ transplants, and air travel become normal. He saw the first space travel, artificial hearts, and the Internet. And no matter what you might think of him, his wife, or their family, a 73 year marriage is an incredible accomplishment.

Let’s also not forget that he was a man who faced some significant hardships early in life. He was rushed from his native Greece when he was a baby and spent his earliest years in Germany. His mother went a bit crazy and later joined a religious order. And then, having been a decorated naval hero, he married Princess Elizabeth and became her consort, basically a “kept” man at a time when being a “kept” man was kind of humiliating. He took Elizabeth’s name and walked behind her as she continues to reign over the United Kingdom… Not every man could have handled such a role with the great aplomb Philip did.

I know not everyone loves them, but they sure seemed to love each other.

I have some British friends who are sad that Prince Philip has passed on, although I know there are a lot of other Brits who feel it’s time to get rid of the Royals. As an American, I have no skin in the game, but I have always been a bit fascinated by Britain’s Royal Family. I enjoy watching the pomp and glamour, even if maybe it’s all rather outdated.

Anyway… when I saw video of him riding in a car recently, I thought Prince Philip was looking pretty poorly. I am not surprised that his time came yesterday. My heart goes out to Queen Elizabeth II, whom I am sure already misses him. It’s too bad he wasn’t able to make it to 100, although maybe he didn’t care about that particular goal.

My Granny lived to be within six weeks of her 101st birthday, but I feel pretty sure she was more than ready to go when the time came. She lived a long life and was much beloved, but I think her final years were hard for her. They probably were for Prince Philip too, even if he didn’t have to worry about a lot of the things more common people do.

The passing of the prince led Bill and me to talking about our own deaths. We talked about what we’d like done with our bodies– cremation, burial, or whatever. I told Bill that I don’t really care too much, although I think I wouldn’t mind being turned into a tree. However, I would not want him to use a “mushroom suit” to accomplish that goal, since I have a phobia of mushrooms. That would be my worst nightmare, although it’s unlikely I’d know the difference.

I read that the actor Luke Perry, who was a big star on Beverly Hills 90210, and died a couple of years ago of a stroke, was buried in a “mushroom suit”, which is supposedly made of mushrooms and is an eco-friendly way to dispose of one’s remains. I like the idea of eco friendly burials, but wearing a suit made of mushrooms is enough to make me want to scream. Actually, reading about the suit while looking at the creepy stock photos of mushrooms is traumatizing enough. Still… I do like the idea of feeding trees and doing good things for the Earth… or even providing a handy spot for a dog to pee, though I am not into golden showers as a living person.

Well… like I said, I don’t have much to write about today. I think I’ll close this post and go watch something trashy on TV in an attempt to cheer myself up on this gloomy Saturday. As happy as I am that Bill has a good job, these trips really suck balls, especially when the pandemic prevents me from doing anything fun to pass the time. I guess I’ll keep working on my guitar and pondering what kind of trouble I can get into.

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Ex

Using my words…

Sorry… I wish I had a really lighthearted and less rambling topic for today. On the positive side, I am almost finished reading my latest book and the review will likely be positive. I might even get to it today. In fact, I’m certain I will. It’s dark and rainy outside and I doubt I’ll be arsed to do much more than read and continue binge watching Under Arrest on Netflix.

Last night, as I was sitting there watching the Canadian cop show, it occurred to me that for most of March, I’ll be here by myself. I’ve done this before, of course. My husband went to Iraq for six months back in 2007. But when he deployed, I lived on an Army post and had local friends. I knew my surroundings very well and could even go home to see my parents or other relatives if I wanted to. I never did do that, except in July 2007 when my Granny died.

Yes… this song is originally by Eric Carmen, not Celine Dion… with a nod to Rachmaninoff. Kudos to Eric for not lip syncing here. It’s rather obvious. Hmm… maybe today will be a music day.

Here in Wiesbaden, I don’t know anyone, and I’m still learning my way around because I don’t like driving in Germany. I mean, I can definitely do it. I drove my Mini from Stuttgart with no problem. I just don’t enjoy it if I don’t have somewhere specific to go and/or someone to go with. I’m not sure what happened to me. When I was a social worker, I had to drive all the time and I got to know rural South Carolina pretty well without a GPS or a cell phone. But here, I have to deal with narrow streets, limited paid parking, and obnoxious Staus. Then, once I park and pay, I have to deal with my terrible German skills. Of course I know the solution is to get out more, but it’s hard to work up the enthusiasm for that, especially when the weather sucks.

In Stuttgart, I knew where things were and how to get around. I did drive sometimes, but not very often. We lived in an area where getting my basic needs met wasn’t a problem, but Bill was also never gone for as long as he will be this time. Getting my needs met is not really a problem here, either. I can walk to the grocery store and the bakery. There’s even a small restaurant within stumbling distance of our house. There’s always Amazon.de, too. And if I really needed to, I could drive my car. I wish I wanted to.

So anyway… it’s now March 10th, and Bill will be gone until March 26th. The whole month is stretched ahead of me. I lost the momentum of my old blog, which still gets visitors every day and even the odd message. Now I have this new blog that I’m slowly introducing. It’s hard work launching a new blog, especially when the old spot was well-established. This is overall a nicer place to write, but it’s not quite broken in yet.

I’ll be honest. I was feeling kind of down about writing as recently as yesterday, wondering why I continue to do it when it causes so much drama and grief. Then I noticed I was getting a lot of hits on a post I wrote on my travel blog back in May 2018. A pizzeria in the German city of Ludwigsburg found a glowing review I wrote of their restaurant and shared it on their Facebook page. Then, very early this morning, my dogs woke me up and I checked Facebook. Yesterday’s post didn’t get any visitors at all, because I didn’t share it. But a friend read my post about Bill’s next grandchild and said she loved it. She described my writing as “refreshing” and “poignant”. Well… that got me in the feels, even if I realize my writing is definitely not always refreshing. Sometimes, I am a true wet blanket… and I overshare, especially when I’m angry, anxious, or depressed.

I read a blog post on a different site yesterday advising bloggers that they shouldn’t write when they’re angry. I can’t say I agree with that viewpoint. I think it depends on what your goal is. If you’re writing a blog for business purposes, then yes, I think it’s best to write when you’re not pissed off. But if you write for your own purposes– to share yourself and your thoughts, then I think writing when you’re angry can be an interesting thing to do, as long as you’re not committing libel or writing hate speech. It beats slashing tires, getting in fights, and driving drunk, right?

I need to write. I realize not everything I write is fun or interesting to read. Sometimes I do write some good stuff that gets people excited. I have many posts on my old blog that people come back to again and again. Some of those posts are positive or funny. A few posts got people upset, but generated good discussion. I’m pretty proud of those posts. The trouble is, sometimes people expect the same qualities every day. They don’t seem to understand that my writing is affected by my mood, and these posts are always off the cuff. That’s what a blog is for. It’s not a book or something that gets edited umpteen times before it’s published.

They’ll read something I’ve written when I’m angry or sad about something and stop “liking” me, or leave me a nasty comment. For instance, I think the mess with the former tenant was very telling in many ways. You see, I wrote many posts on my old blog– over 3200, I think. Most of them had nothing to do with the ex landlady or my husband’s ex wife. My old blog had posts about true crime, books, living in Germany and other places, and even old stories from my childhood or early marriage. Some posts were about nothing. Those posts were obviously not interesting to her. In fact, I doubt she read them. She focused on my venting posts and, apparently, came to the conclusion that I’m “unhinged”. Then she sent me a private message to complain, after having seen how I deal with people who complain about the contents of my blog. Here’s a big hint. Complaining about my blog is a waste of time. If you don’t enjoy it, just move on.

Same thing goes for “Wondering Why”, who complained about how “bitter”, “petty”, and “negative” I am. She read for a much shorter period of time and happened to catch a couple of posts I wrote about my husband’s former wife. They were prompted by conversations my husband had with his younger daughter, who was revealing some heavy and disturbing stuff, which was shared with me. “Wondering Why”, who clearly didn’t know the convoluted backstory, left me a chastising comment about my bad attitude and “negativity”, as well as “advice” on what and how I should write.

I usually respond to people like “Wondering Why” with an open letter and, in fact, that is what I did. I’m sure “former tenant” was also expecting an open letter when she wrote to me. In former tenant’s case, I determined that trying to explain or even just responding would not work. She had clearly taken a side and come to a conclusion about me. Also, I know that she’s very concerned about her privacy, so if I called her out on my blog, even though it really didn’t get that much traffic, she would probably not react well, and the drama would continue. So I did something that I think was ultimately a most “healthy” thing to do. I removed her from my audience.

It occurs to me that both of these readers probably meant well. They both reacted in very typical ways people act when they encounter someone whose opinions make them uncomfortable. How many times have we encountered someone who is upset and suggested that they, “Calm down!” Let me ask you this. Does it usually work when you suggest that someone should “calm down” when they’re emotional? Does it usually help when you advise them to “let it go”? It seems like the obvious thing to say, but in my experience, it usually pisses the upset person off even more. Even if that is ultimately the pathway to peace, they may not be ready to take that step.

Both “Wondering Why” and “former tenant” criticized me for airing my thoughts on my blog. I thought having a place to air my thoughts was the whole purpose of writing a personal blog. “Wondering Why” went as far as to tell me that I don’t need to share everything I’m thinking (duh). I’m guessing that she was herself someone’s first wife and my comments hit too close to home. She probably assumes my husband’s ex wife is a normal person. The fact is, she’s not. If she were, I certainly wouldn’t be writing about her. I wouldn’t need to. Normal people don’t unilaterally refuse to let the fathers of their children have relationships with their kids. It might be one thing if she only did it to one man, but she’s done it to two, and we have it on good authority that she treats number three pretty badly, too. Aside from that, since Ex falsely decided she was “done” having children, I didn’t even get to have children of my own. While I understand that I might not have had them anyway, it does feel like that choice was “taken” from me. Life isn’t fair… I get it. It still sucks. Mind if I vent about it on my personal blog?

It upsets me that my husband is only now rebuilding his relationship with his 25 year old daughter, when they should have had access to each other all along. It saddens me that when he sees her in person, it will have been about fifteen years since they last saw each other. But all I’m doing is writing about it. What’s wrong with that? This blog isn’t about anyone’s situation but mine!

I can’t explain the situation with the former tenant. She clearly has a good relationship with the ex landlady. I don’t know enough about her to know for certain why she has a good relationship and I don’t, although what I do know is that she’s much younger than I am, has young children, and is very attractive. When she lived in Germany, she had a job, which got her out of the house. That meant ex landlady could come over and check things out to her compulsive heart’s content without causing upset. Ex tenant didn’t stay as long as we did, and she befriended ex landlady’s daughter. By contrast, I never even met ex landlady’s daughter, don’t have kids ex landlady can play Oma to, and, perhaps most importantly, didn’t try to buddy up with the landlady. It’s not necessarily because I didn’t want to be friends. It’s more because we just didn’t click.

I also get the sense that maybe former tenant is very concerned about what people will think, whereas I am mostly less concerned about that. I think people who are overly concerned with image tend to be less authentic because they’re always concealing things. It might be because I’m a lot older than she is, or it may be because I have a very different personality. In any case, she seems to have come away with the idea that I’m the sole source of the whole problem. I will accept responsibility for being part of the problem, but I won’t take all the blame.

I don’t have girlfriends to gossip with, so I will write about this stuff. No one has to read it. She should have stopped reading it before complaining about my content. The first couple of times she complained, I edited for her. This last time, she forced me to take action. It felt like she was trying to censor me in my own space. I also really resented her condescending tone toward me. It was clear to me that she doesn’t take what I do seriously. She’s not the first person who hasn’t taken me seriously, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to continue to entertain that kind of disrespect on my space.

Now… if this makes me “unhinged”, “unhealthy”, “bitter”, “petty”, “angry”, “mean-spirited”, “bitchy”, “obsessive”, “snarky”, “condescending”, or “sarcastic” (all adjectives people have used to describe my persona on my former blog), alright… I can even own some of those adjectives. However, I’m also a basically nice person with interests, talents, and even a couple of loved ones. When I complain about people like Ex or former landlady, I do so with cause. I think most people would be upset if their spouse was denied access to children from another marriage. Most people would be angry if their former landlord withheld three quarters of their security deposit to upgrade their property, rather than to pay for actual damages. Like I said… better to vent about it than slash tires.

I am far away from my family and friends, and my culture… and I often feel like a lot of those people aren’t really in my life anymore and never will be again. I spend a whole lot of time alone, while, at the same time, not wanting to engage with anyone because so many of them end up not “clicking”. It takes a toll on my mood. Writing is one way I sort things out for myself. It’s basically a healthy thing to do, too, especially since it doesn’t involve drugs or violence. If my writing doesn’t do it for other people, I wish they’d simply move on, rather than try to dictate to me what my subject matter should be. I’m sure former tenant felt compelled to stick up for her friend. I can understand and respect that. But she had no right to act like a “minder”, imply that I’ve got “issues”, and try to censor my writing.

I realize that ultimately, moving the blog is probably for the best, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in mourning somewhat. This mourning comes at a time that would have already been difficult. I’ll get through it, but truthfully, being here sucks sometimes. It would suck much worse in other places, I know… but acknowledging that doesn’t change the situation much. I’m still going to be here all by myself for the next 16 days… two down already. See? I’m already looking on the bright side.

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