musings, psychology

Thanks (but no thanks) for the tips, and excuse me for living…

I haven’t had too much trauma being “socially isolated” over the past year and a half. I’ve come to realize that I find a lot of people really annoying. And, sad to say, a lot of people find ME annoying or in need of criticism, too, and have no compunction about telling me so. Sometimes, even when I’m being nice, someone feels the need to offer “constructive criticism” that I never asked for. It is annoying, but I try really hard not to be a bitch about it if I can help it. On the other hand, other people make me really appreciate my dogs. Dogs don’t feel the need to criticize others for being themselves.

Today, I was reading a post I wrote as a tribute to a person I used to know. She died in 2016. I remembered her to be a very lovely person who was always nice to me and super friendly. Below is my tribute to Naomi. It’s proof that I’m not a totally mean and cranky person all the time.

Remembering Naomi

A couple of nights ago, as I was sitting all alone in my house, I remembered a woman I used to work with about thirty years ago.  Her name was Naomi.  We both worked in the German (Rhinefeld) section at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I was in high school and she was a mother and wife.

I used to work in this building. And yes, we had the same music from 1989-92. I could probably sing it all from memory.

I didn’t work with Naomi directly.  I worked in the ice cream shop and she worked in the deli.  Naomi was what was known as a Level B supervisor.  That meant she was kind of akin to the boss of the Level A supervisors.  Level A supervisors were basically peons who had basic managerial powers over even bigger peons like me.

I was at the bottom of the barrel at Busch Gardens.  I worked there for four summers and never once got a promotion.  It was before I realized that I work best alone.  I was also very depressed and anxious at that time, and I admittedly had a horrible attitude, although I was often praised for being a hard worker and very reliable.

Despite my interpersonal demons with some other supervisor types at Busch Gardens, I always liked Naomi.  She was British, very friendly and kind, and always pleasant to be around.  I remember I’d come into the deli to drop off my purse and such.  That was where the lockers were.  There we were in our ugly fake lederhosen, looking rather ridiculous, but there to “put on a show” for paying customers.  She’d always say, “Hello, pretty lady!” in a cheerful tone of voice.  I remember she always made me smile, especially when she described the disgusting non-dairy topping we used on all of the desserts.  It was basically made of beef fat.  She described it as “dead cows” on the chocolate pudding.

Naomi was fun to work with and had a good sense of humor, yet she was quite assertive.  I remember one time, Naomi complained to Busch Gardens’ upper management about one of the bigwigs, an Italian guy named Frank who was verbally abusive.  He’d come barging into the deli and start hurling around criticisms and insults in a way that was very upsetting to the young people working there.  Naomi’s complaint got Frank sent to an anger management course.

Who knew that one day, I’d end up living in Germany for years?

I remember congratulating Naomi on her assertiveness and good leadership and she laughed and said, “They probably put him up in a luxury hotel and gave him an expense account.”  She’s probably right, but it was still pretty cool that she had the guts to complain, and Busch Gardens management actually did something.  She was a good boss, and I think, a good friend.  I even remember Naomi wrote a piece for Busch Gardens’ company newsletter.  It was about how her daughters had worked at Busch Gardens and she had decided to try it herself, to great success.

When I knew Naomi best, she was probably about the age I am right now.  That was thirty years ago, and I learned the other night that Naomi died in October 2016 at the age of 77.  She was a year younger than my mom is.  I don’t know how or why Naomi died.  I gathered from prowling around Facebook that she’d had some kind of medical crisis that was very serious, but didn’t initially trigger a death knell.  The crisis appeared to have happened over a year before she succumbed.  Whatever it was was clearly very serious.  It looked like she never recovered her health.

I quit working at Busch Gardens in 1992.  It was a good time for me to quit, because in my next job as the cook at a summer camp, I did get to be a supervisor of sorts… and I did get to make a lot of my own decisions and work independently.  I found it a less frustrating and less annoying job.  Best of all, I didn’t have to wear dirndls or fake “lederhosen” outfits of blouses with ugly suspenders sewn onto them, black tennis shoes, knee socks, or culottes that gave me constant wedgies.

Some enterprising chap did a walkthrough of Busch Gardens. When I worked there, Ireland didn’t yet exist. Where Ireland now is, there was a medieval town called Hastings. Yeah, it’s kind of schmaltzy, but I liked working there. Makes me appreciate the real Europe more.

I never forgot Naomi, though, or many of the other people I worked with.  I did find a lot of friends at Busch Gardens, many of whom I sometimes interact with on social media.

I do have one more memory of Naomi.  This one is more recent.

About twenty years ago, I was living with my parents in Gloucester, Virginia.  I was suffering from clinical depression and getting treatment for it from a therapist and a psychiatrist.  I also took voice lessons.  I find that, for me, singing is good for relieving depression.

One day, I arrived at Eastern Virginia School for the Performing Arts (EVSPA), which is where I was taking my voice lessons.  I happened to run into Naomi there.  She was directing a group of young people.  I overheard her talking about them doing a show.  I want to say it was Godspell.

I never knew Naomi was into the theater.  I was never really into the theater myself, although I’ve been known to sing show tunes, especially when I was taking lessons at EVSPA.  I don’t know if Naomi remembered me, but I do remember saying hello to her.  She looked much the same as she had when we’d worked together, and she was just as friendly and cool.  I remember being surprised to see her, since I never knew she was an actress.  I’m sure she never knew I am a musician.

I don’t know why she popped into my head the other night, but I looked up Naomi and discovered that she’d actually done a lot of good for young people in Williamsburg, Virginia.  She started a theater group called Backstage Productions.  It was open to all comers.  I have a feeling that Naomi’s vision was tremendously important to a lot of people at a tender age, looking for something constructive they could do… a place where they’d be welcome to try something new.

I wish I’d had the chance to know Naomi beyond working with her at Busch Gardens.  I’m glad I met her, though, and that her memory touched me enough to look her up a couple of days ago.  I’m not happy she died, but at least she died having done something amazing for countless people, from the youngsters who were able to perform with Backstage Productions to all of the people who watched their performances.  And that doesn’t even take into account people like me, who were touched by having the chance to work with her while wearing hideous fake lederhosen at Busch Gardens.

On another note, it occurs to me that the last thirty years have flown by… I probably should be more productive myself.  I tried being productive on SingSnap yesterday.  I decided to do some singing rather than open a bottle of wine, which is what I was somewhat tempted to do.  I try not to drink when Bill isn’t home, and he’s been away all week.  It’s been a sober few days, which hasn’t hurt me at all.  But I do get bored and lonely… and sometimes I succumb to temptation.  Drinking helps pass the time.  But it also gives me dry skin, hangovers, upset stomach, depression and anxiety.

Last night, I didn’t succumb to the temptation to open a bottle of wine, but I was feeling a little self-conscious because I can easily hear people outside my window.  I’m sure they can hear me, too, and wonder what the hell is going on in my house.  I can pull down the Rolladen, which gives me the illusion of more privacy, but I know the sound still escapes.  

I did a few songs, including a religious one.  I’m not a very religious person myself, but I like the song “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” (even if this particular arrangement is a tad schmaltzy).  So I decided to do it last night…  Of course, someone felt the need to offer me unsolicited tips about my “bravado” (vibrato?), which I will admit, kind of annoyed me.  It’s karaoke, not American Idol.  Besides, while my efforts may not have been perfect– and they never are– they’re just fine for my purposes.  The better person in me realizes that the commenter probably meant well… and maybe thought she was being helpful.

But anyway… I dedicate this to Naomi.  I have a feeling she’d be encouraging and kind about it.  I don’t know what happens after a person dies… maybe her soul can hear these things.  At least I know my soul can still connect with hers.

END

Above, you see I linked to a “dedication” to Naomi. I sang “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” I had forgotten that I sang that song for Naomi, so I just clicked the link to check it out. Sure enough, I got some comments from people, which I mentioned in the original post. Most were very nice. But I also got a comment from someone who complimented me, but also wanted to play “voice teacher” on a karaoke site. She said she wanted to hear “more bravado” (vibrato?). Then she instructed me to use my diaphragm more. I suppose she meant I should “support” more with my diaphragm. I have a feeling she’s not an expert.

As I wrote in my original post, I’m sure the lady was trying to be helpful, but I must admit her comments were a bit irritating. If I had asked for advice, that would be one thing. But I hadn’t asked for any tips… and it’s just a karaoke site, anyway. She’s also making a lot of assumptions. What if I’m not someone with healthy lungs?

I’m not going to listen to the recording because, if I am honest, I don’t enjoy listening to my own stuff that much. I find myself criticizing it and wanting to redo it. But it’s entirely possible that I was emotional when I recorded that song. Or… what is more likely is that I didn’t go full out because it would have blown out the recorder. Sometimes, if I get too powerful, the sound cuts out. It’s frustrating, and after multiple redos, you just want to get on with it.

It strikes me, though, that if we were at a bar doing karaoke, I would not get a “do over”. No one would expect perfection. We would all just clap, right? But if you put up recordings on a karaoke site, you might get an unsolicited “lesson” from someone whose counsel and opinions you never sought.

So what does this have to do with today’s title? I just wanted to comment on people who are annoyed by me… and people who annoy me. I’m beginning to think that I’m just not cut out for interacting with others. Some people have the most amazing “people skills”. They are fun to be with and popular. And then there are people like me…

I was going to write a post today about an incident that occurred in the early 90s. I was in a choir and, back then, I was kind of loud and obnoxious. I wasn’t trying to annoy people, but I know I did. And some of them were not at all bashful about telling me so. I remember one guy, who had just made up a song about punching a guy for making him “feel like shit”, yelling at me because he found me “rude” and “obnoxious”. Remembering that song he made up about violence, I couldn’t help but realize it was the pot calling the kettle black.

Other times, people have criticized me for being who I am. Some have outright had the nerve to tell me to my face that I should change who I am to suit them. I remember it made me feel awful, especially since so few of those people ever took the time to get to know me. I’m actually a pretty good person most of the time.

Of course, as I’ve gotten older, I realize that I used to be more outspoken than I am now. And I am not entirely innocent, either. There have been people in my past who got on my nerves. I used to be less kind than I am now. Nowadays, I find myself not wanting to try to connect to people anymore. So many of them turn out to be disappointing… or I disappoint them in some way. I just want to be who I am. And I want to be able to sing a song on a karaoke site, dedicated to a long lost friend, without someone turning it into an unsolicited teaching moment.

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for other people’s opinions about me. I have much less patience for unsolicited advice and verbal abuse. As a matter of fact, one way to permanently get on my grudge list is through verbal abuse. I really can’t take it anymore… and so, that leads me to be kind of socially anxious. I don’t want to try to connect to people, because I feel like it will eventually lead to somewhere unpleasant for both parties.

I think age makes a lot of people set in their ways. I am no exception. I annoy people, and they annoy me… It’s a blessing that I don’t have to deal with people very much anymore. A lot of them make me sad.

I do have fond memories of Naomi, though. She was a very kind lady and, I can see, that she left quite a mark on the world. I’m sure people still miss her very much.

Standard
communication, complaints, language

I don’t care if “it’s what’s for dinner”… especially since “I ain’t been nowhere”.

I think Bill and I are on the verge of insanity. The last few months have been rather difficult for both of us. Bill has been working very hard, traveling for long stints to the same place in Bavaria, and working extremely long shifts– sometimes overnight, which is not a good fit for his early bird personality. I’m not physically and mentally exhausted like Bill is, but I’m feeling the strain of being socially distanced and not having any fun. We both really need a vacation. It’s not that we’ll die without one… it’s more that we both seriously need a change of scenery. Lately, I’ve found myself daydreaming about day trips to the Rhein, which we used to enjoy before the pandemic struck.

Don’t get me wrong… I know the pandemic is still going on and people are still getting sick and dying. But it’s good to see the infection numbers going down and rules starting to relax a little bit. I’m finding myself less interested in reading about COVID-19 or reading the shrill opinions of neurotic people who think we should be wearing masks forever. I hope to score a walk in appointment this week so I can get my second shot and be “street legal” by my birthday on the 20th. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll get pricked on the 9th. I think Bill is already trying to come up with something for us to do… When we finally do get to break out of here, I suspect it will be a nice trip. Or… I hope it will be. You just never know what’s going to happen in the wonderful world of contracting for the U.S. military.

A few friends managed to get away for the holiday. They’ve been posting photos from Belgium, Luxembourg, and Iceland. I’m happy for them that they got to travel. I hope to join them very soon. I think it will do wonders for my disposition. Lately, I’ve been a bit crankier than usual. I’m sure I’m not the only one, either. Even Rhonda Vincent agrees, having just released a brand new album with this fabulous COVID-19 inspired parody of “I’ve Been Everywhere”… because she, like Bill and I, “ain’t been nowhere” because we’re doing the “responsible” thing and staying home… avoiding masks and annoying busybodies who think we should live this way forever– and if we disagree, we need to be “corrected” and “reeducated”. (I need to quit reading The Atlantic, for sure!)

I love Rhonda Vincent… and I love her song, “I Ain’t Been Nowhere.” I ain’t, you know, and it’s making me even bitchier than I might otherwise be.

Yesterday, I posted a crabby status update about how much I hate the old beef ads from the early 90s… you know, the ones that used Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and gave us the ever annoying slogan, “Beef! It’s what’s for dinner!” I don’t remember hating that ad when it was new. It was aired during a time when a lot of Americans had turned away from eating red meat because of the heart risks. Instead of eating beef, people were eating poultry and fish or pork, “the other white meat”. Beef farmers were concerned about their lagging profits, so they came up with this ad, which has led to a highly irritating catchphrase that many people still use today.

On one hand, this was a wildly successful commercial. On the other hand, it’s still irritating the fuck out of me almost 30 years later.

I wish I had a quarter for every time someone says or writes “it’s what’s for dinner”… I would be a much wealthier woman than I am today. Today’s featured photo is a picture I used for my last blog moan about this trend… which I wrote almost five years ago. Yes, this also annoyed me in 2016… and probably before then, too. And in five years, nothing has changed, because people haven’t come up with anything catchier or more clever to say about their evening victuals as they share them with everyone on Facebook.

I bitched about this yesterday, and a friend who is a teacher and also likes to say “kiddo” (another word I can’t stand because it reminds me of a rapey stepfather on the Guiding Light), stopped by to tell me why the beef ad from 1993 is good. I have a feeling she might have felt offended that I was complaining about it, since she’s said she thinks it’s a great ad and apparently uses it as a teaching tool. Look– I am all for people using whatever they can when they teach children. Teaching is a tough job. However, the fact that it’s a good ad for use in the classroom has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it sets my teeth on edge.

I love beef, too. I would happily eat steak or a burger or barbecue with anyone, unless I’m in Armenia, where the beef wasn’t very good. I wouldn’t say German beef is that awesome, either. I’ve got nothing against beef as a food, even if procuring it does involve killing animals. I should probably like it less than I do.

I just don’t want to hear about “it’s what’s for dinner”… because I just don’t give a fuck. I’d like to be having dinner somewhere where I can order something off a menu and take photos of it for my blog. And the fact that today’s kids like that ad is irrelevant. They weren’t around in the early 90s, when it was shown incessantly on TV– back in the days before the Internet, getting into ridiculous conversations about annoying cliches, and wondering why I shouldn’t be able to say I don’t like something without having my opinions corrected.

As for the word “kiddo”… Yesterday, as I was telling Bill about how much I hate the old beef ads, I introduced him to the sordid tale of Bradley Raines, played by the late James Rebhorn on Guiding Light, a soap opera that lasted for over 70 years and has the distinction of being the only daytime serial that ever held my attention. Back in 1983, when I was about eleven years old, the iconic power couple of Phillip Spaulding (Grant Aleksander) and Beth Raines (Judi Evans) was born. Phillip’s original girlfriend, Mindy Lewis (Krista Tesreau) was in the hospital because she got bucked off of a horse named Boss. Beth was in the hospital because she was abused by her yucky stepfather, Bradley. She called him Bradley, even though he had adopted her and she used his last name.

Bradley Raines was a creepy character. James Rebhorn was a great actor, and he portrayed the part of a narcissistic abusive pervert to the hilt. However, thanks to Rebhorn’s turn as Bradley Raines, I’m left despising the word “kiddo”. Every time I hear it, I think of him, and the way he treated his adopted daughter/stepdaughter, Beth, who was portrayed as fragile and sweet… at least in the early years of her character’s existence.

Phillip and Beth meet, after Beth is hospitalized after Bradley threw her down the stairs.
Rapey stepfather!
Kiddo again, at 9:36. Yuck! At 11:00, he’s abusive to Beth’s mom, Lillian, and at 12:30, he hits Beth.
He says that damnable word, “kiddo”, at 9:59. Looks like a mean motherfucker, too. Incidentally, he was a motherfucker, since he fucked Beth’s mother. Most men are motherfuckers, aren’t they?

Ever since the 80s, the word “kiddo” has made me cringe. I feel the same way about the cutesy term, “doggo”. Ick. One time I mentioned hating that word, “kiddo”, and someone decided to correct my opinions about that, too. Why can’t people just let someone express a thought or an opinion without trying to correct it somehow? It’s just an opinion. If everyone agreed, the world would be a very boring place. I won’t be writing any letters demanding that the word “kiddo” is struck from the everyday American lexicon. I just hate hearing it because it makes me think of Bradley Raines.

But really, I mostly think I just dislike cliches. I am more impressed with people who come up with fresh ways to say things. I think the people who made the beef ads were very good at their job… but they were too good, if you know what I mean. Because people are still parroting that annoying cliche many years later, reminding me of dead cow flesh and Aaron Copland. I used to like Aaron Copland’s masterpiece, but now I feel the same way about it as I do the “it’s what’s for dinner” slogan. If I never hear it again, I’ll be pretty happy. 😉

A classic George Carlin routine on cliches… and how fucking annoying they are.

Ah well… I think I will be a lot less cranky when I can no longer say “I ain’t been nowhere.” I think Bill and I both need to get away and unplug for awhile. I don’t know where we’ll go. Europe is opening up… but, like I said, one never knows what will happen in the wonderful world of military contracting. Bill has been working very hard and needs a rest, though. So hopefully we’ll get a temporary one very soon… and even if it’s not outside of Germany, that will be fine. I would be happy just to have a new hill to photograph and a rainfall shower in a stall that I won’t have to clean. Plus, Noyzi needs to meet the dog sitter.

I ain’t been nowhere in way too long… today, my big plans involve going to the backyard and enjoying the sun while drinking myself into a stupor. Bill plans to barbecue chicken… not beef. Because at our house, beef is what’s NOT for dinner… although wine probably will be. Not that anyone cares. If you don’t care, I don’t want to hear about it… or be corrected… and I don’t want to know “what’s for dinner”.

Standard
humor, music, social media

Oscar the Grouch never invited anyone to his trash can…

The weirdness of the past nine months are starting to get to me somewhat. Last night, I was feeling “cheeky”, as the Brits would say. Although I haven’t personally suffered as much as a lot of people have, I have been feeling kind of “tense” lately. Little things bug me more than they might usually, not that I’m a particularly laid back person to start with.

I always get a bit nutty during the holidays. When I was growing up, the holidays were always fraught with expectations that were never quite met. As I became an adult, the holidays became downright unpleasant. For several years, my eldest sister hosted our family gatherings in her house. I can remember a lot of fights with my sisters and tense moments with my parents, especially my dad.

The last time I spent Christmas with my family of origin was in 2003, just after my sister Sarah had her son, who turned out to be the last grandchild. Imagine that. My parents had four girls. You’d expect there would have been a lot of grandkids for them. But nope… My sister Betsy had two kids, a girl and a boy, Becky never married, Sarah had a son, and Bill and I couldn’t have kids thanks to his vasectomy. The older I get, the more I think that might have been a blessing. Family life has become surreal these days. I feel kind of divorced from mine.

Add in the shitshow that 2020 has been, and this year’s holiday season is even weirder than usual. So I had a good laugh when I ran across a funny video by Sandy and Richard Riccardi, a talented couple on YouTube and Facebook who make funny parodies of popular songs. A lot of their material is political, but sometimes they do songs about common situations that come up in everyday life. I think the first song I ever heard by this funny duo was a song called “Unfriend Me”…

Listen all the way to the end for the punchline.

Since Trump came on the scene, this couple has come out with some very amusing songs about him, as well as some of the current events that affect everyone. I like a lot of their stuff, but I don’t always love what they do. Like, for instance, I wasn’t a big fan of this song…

Yeah, I know… I know… but I am so fucking tired of hearing about it.

To be clear… I get that the masks are necessary for now. I’m just really fed up with some how people feel emboldened to constantly clobber people over the head about them. I hate the aggressive, belligerent, and obnoxious hashtags, and in your face slogans like, “Wear a damn mask!”. I don’t think those types of messages are helpful. They certainly don’t inspire respect or compliance.

Yesterday, I was reading a Facebook thread started by true crime author Kathryn Casey, who wrote that she had sent away a couple of maskless workers who had come over to do work on her house. The workers mocked Casey’s husband when he asked them to wear masks while they were working. A thread ensued, in which people were congratulating Casey for sending away the maskless workers and hiring a different company. Casey’s choice to fire the workers would have been alright with me, but accompanying those comments were others that were hostile and aggressive. One lady wrote about how she was tired of how non mask wearers were so “belligerent”. Then she wrote, “Wear a damn mask or stay home!”

Another lady wrote that she was tired of people telling her to “wear a damn mask or stay home.” She explained that she has an eating disorder, lives in a remote area where grocery delivery is unavailable, and has a medical problem that prevents her from wearing a mask. None of her friends or family have offered to help her, so she’s been having to deal with people getting up in her face about her lack of a mask for what, I assume, is a real medical problem.

A third woman came along and, in a rather haughty, holier than thou tone, asked what the woman’s medical problem was. She included a news article (which is what everybody seems to use to cite their points these days) and claimed, per the news article, that there are very few medical problems that actually prevent a person from wearing a mask. This woman added that maybe she could see it if the woman with the eating disorder had a burn on her face or something. But otherwise, she felt the lady with the eating disorder was full of shit– despite not knowing her or her personal situation.

I couldn’t restrain myself from commenting. I feel like a lot of people aren’t really giving this issue much consideration. If I sit here and think about it, I can think of several medical problems that might make wearing a mask difficult or impossible for some people. Just off the top of my head, I’m remembering the two men I’ve met at different times in my life who were literally missing parts of their ears and had trouble using their hands due to injuries they’d sustained in wars. Then there are people who don’t hear well, have speech impediments or breathing problems, deal with severe anxiety or PTSD issues, or have trouble with their vision.

But most people don’t stop and consider people who really do have legitimate problems with wearing the masks. They just say, “Wear a damn mask!” If someone doesn’t or can’t comply, they think they are entitled to an explanation regarding another person’s private medical situation. And they think their opinions about another person’s circumstances have merit, and they are entitled to weigh in, even though they don’t know the other person from Adam and aren’t any more knowledgeable about the pandemic, or public health issues in general, than the average person is.

The “Wear a damn mask” slogan, in my opinion, is too aggressive. Those who truly don’t care about others will simply ignore it. Those who can’t comply will just feel worse than they need to about something beyond their control. And that harsh directive just adds to the overall dehumanized, dystopian, and downright creepy vibe in the air this year. It’s very depressing to me. Although personally, I don’t have it bad at all, I often think of the relatives I’ve recently lost and think they’re lucky to have escaped this living hell. The future seems bleak, and the constant anger and polarization only makes it worse. It makes me want to check out.

I can’t be the only one who feels like this, so I decided to respond to the woman with the eating disorder. I wrote that I was sorry she was having a hard time and I hoped it would get better for her. And I find it rich that people are complaining about belligerent “anti maskers” while they make aggressive demands like “Wear a damn mask!”, and aren’t willing to consider why people legitimately can’t or won’t wear a mask. I added that I won’t ask her what her health problems are, because they are none of my business.

Frankly, if I see someone who isn’t following the rules, I just stay away from them, if I can. I don’t automatically assume they’re selfish assholes. While I’m well aware that there are selfish assholes out there who simply don’t want to comply with the rules, it’s less depressing to me to assume the best about people whenever possible. Or, at least I like to tell myself that.

After that little exchange, I was feeling tense. But I ran across another funny, snarky song by the Riccardis. This one was called “Braggy Christmas Letter”. It had nothing to do with any of today’s most annoying and pervasive topics. I just thought it was funny, so I shared it.

I don’t get too many of these. It’s probably because I don’t go to church.

I had a good laugh as I listened to this song. It reminded me of how, about fifteen years ago, I ran across a family Web site created by a Mormon doctor in Wyoming who, by all images, seemed to be living the perfect life. I remember this guy had every single braggy Christmas letter he’d ever written posted on his site. He’d been divorced, but he even included the letters he’d written while he was with his first wife. I remember sharing that site with people on RfM, who are very familiar with “braggy Christmas letters”. While I don’t think the Mormons have cornered the market on this particular habit, I do think churches that promote a “prosperity gospel” message– ie; if you’re doing really well financially, that means God is smiling on you– prompt certain religious people to send these types of Christmas messages, even if they’re stretching the truth. It’s the whole, smug “seriously, so blessed” vibe that, on the surface, may seem harmless, but can make other people feel really small and devalued.

I didn’t think the above video would be controversial, but somehow even the most innocuous things can become that way. Why? Because everyone is different and sees things differently. Apparently, some people like getting “braggy Christmas letters”. I’m sure they have their reasons for feeling that way. Maybe they genuinely like reading that others are “seriously, so blessed”, with expensive houses, fancy cars, perfect figures, and fat bank accounts. I guess they’re above the petty, snarky people who poke fun. Or they like to appear that way.

I don’t mind getting newsy letters that contain positive news, especially when they aren’t mass produced. But there’s a big difference between a friendly letter with happy news in it and a letter that seems meant to make other people feel insignificant and second rate. The letter Sandy Riccardi is singing is the latter type, and I can’t imagine being happy to receive one of those, especially if they come every year like clockwork. I wonder if the people who were being contrary on that thread actually listened to the song before they commented. Or maybe they just wanted to feed their own egos by being contrary and “above” the snark.

So I got even more tense and grouchy… and Bill, who is always game to make me laugh (and it’s not hard to do), said “You know, Oscar the Grouch never invites anyone to his trash can.”

To which I responded, “But I invited you, Bill. How do you like the smell?”

And then we both laughed.

There was a time when most people had real conversations with people face to face or, at least, on the phone. Nowadays, a lot of us connect via social media. That can lead to a host of communication problems that range from everything from misunderstandings to people feeling emboldened to be mean or smarmy because they’re behind a screen. Some folks also feel that social media is the best place for them to preach or “set a good example” for others to follow. I will admit that it’s annoying to me when people feel the need to check their neighbors and give them unsolicited “special help”. It makes me grouchy.

At the risk of rambling on too long… here’s another example that came along last night. I read a news article in the Washington Post about people who have decided to get plastic surgery during the pandemic. Why? Because they don’t like how they look on Zoom calls. I don’t usually comment on newspaper’s Facebook pages because comments there invite interaction with unusually obnoxious people. But I thought this was an innocuous comment…

I don’t even wear a bra anymore. I figure people can deal with my sagging boobs as well as my wrinkles and jowls. It’s been a rough year.

A lot of people thought it was funny. But then I got this response, which sounded like something my mother might say…

I choose to care about my appearance because if I look good, I feel equally good!

(My mom did actually say that shit to me when I was a teenager, dirty and stinky from hanging out at the barn all day, or simply not wanting to dress up and put on my face. Mom likes wearing her makeup. I don’t. What can I say? People are different.)

So my response was…

Here… have a cookie. Or a Coke and a smile… and then, kindly STFU. You do you, and I’ll do me, mmmkay?

Most of us are legitimately guilty of being smug sometimes, and inflicting our self-righteous, superior bullshit on others. Sometimes I do it myself, although I try to be conscious of it. I mean, you might say I did the same thing to the woman who was harassing the lady with the eating disorder about her reluctance to “wear a damn mask”. But I doubt the lady with the eating disorder will offer me a cookie, especially as I dwell in my trash can of grouchiness.

One last note: I think my landlord’s grandsons think I’m grouchy. They rang my doorbell yesterday while I was binge watching The Crown. I thought they were delivery people. I opened the door; the dog was barking; I wasn’t dressed; and they were speaking very quietly in German. I didn’t understand or even hear them very well, so I said I didn’t understand and closed the door.

In my defense, in Jettingen, I used to get visits all the time from all manner of people wanting to sell everything from many kilos of apples and potatoes to religion or charities. The visitors came in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I had not met my landlord’s grandchildren, so I didn’t know who they were.

They rang the bell again, and my landlord asked me if I wouldn’t mind fetching their ball, which had gone over the fence. I felt pretty bad, and I noticed that one of the boys was cowering under our front stoop. I got the ball and tossed it to my landlord. Then I noticed he’d left us a wheelbarrow full of firewood. Later, I spotted their ball in the backyard again and felt another pang of guilt. I guess the kids were too afraid to tell me the ball was back in my yard. I tossed it over the fence for them. Hope they find it.

I’m really not a bitch most of the time… I’m just on edge, as we all are. Hopefully, next year will be better.

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silliness

Poor writing abounds. Wherever we are.

Yesterday morning, Bill got an email letting him know that he had been purged from “the system” at work. Someone down in Stuttgart thought we moved back to the States instead of Wiesbaden, so they wiped out his information and sent him an email demanding that he turn in his official credentials. Obviously, we haven’t left Germany, so this meant Bill had to take me to get a new ID card, as well as a new SOFA card. SOFA stands for Status of Forces Agreement. It’s what allows us to live in Germany and not be “ordinary residents” or pay German taxes.

This was a pain in the ass for Bill, since he had stuff to do today. Things are getting busy for him at work, so this chore meant he’d had to sacrifice a couple of hours taking care of this paperwork. We showed up at the ID office at about 7:50am, ten minutes before they opened. I was looking at my phone and immediately got annoyed by someone’s meme.

Do elementary schools not teach kids about apostrophe use anymore? How about punctuation, spelling, and sentence composition?

Yeah, I know. I sound really petty. I was a tad irritable, though. Thursday is vacuum day, a chore I really hate doing. Despite my former landlady’s erroneous assumptions to the contrary, I do regularly clean my house. Thursday is when I vacuum each week. And if I need to do it on another day because of an unusual mess, I will. The sooner I get my vacuuming done, the happier I am. Having to be at the ID office simply delayed my post vacuum joy.

We sat in the waiting room, where someone had tuned the television set to AFN Sports. AFN stands for Armed Forces Network. It’s basically a U.S. government run television channel for Americans overseas. When my dad was stationed in England, we did not get AFN. We got the usual British stations. I’m sure AFN was available, but I guess we didn’t use it because in England, most people speak English. My first introduction to AFN was in 1995, when I first visited the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia. They had a bar and a restaurant there, where there was a TV showing AFN. I used to watch the really horrible PSAs of the 1990s. I had no idea that just a few years after coming home, I’d be re-entering the wonderful world of government service/military.

Anyway, on the TV set, there was a sign. I noted in a recent travel post that the U.S. military is very fond of posting signs. Sure enough, the waiting room was littered with signs of varying quality. On the television, someone had posted “Please, do not touch.” I was slightly amused by the use of the comma, which I guess was technically correct. But then I got slightly grumpy at the sight of an official poster advertising the American right to vote worldwide.

Why, oh why, did they not simply make that one sentence? “Americans can vote wherever they are.” There, I fixed it for you.

We were soon called in to make a new ID card for me, since Bill had his done yesterday. The lady who took care of me was pleasant enough, although not particularly friendly. We went back into the waiting room to wait for phase two, having my new ID turned on so it would be in the system. I asked Bill who decided that the TV set should be tuned to AFN Sports. We were watching some show about the Oakland Raiders football team and I was getting really grossed out, since they kept showing pictures of the players’ torn up feet. Think huge blisters covering the whole sole of the foot, torn open with dead skin hanging. It was pretty nauseating, although in fairness, I guess I might be just as nauseated by being forced to watch “The View” or something like that.

Bill just kind of sighed and said, “This sucks.”

I said, “It could be worse. You could be at a proctologist’s office. Hanging out with me is only one form of ass pain.” Just after I said that, I noticed several children’s books on the shelf. There were maybe six of them. The most interesting title was “Once Upon a Potty”. I actually considered picking that one up and reading it, but then thought better of it, since there were others in the room and 47 is a bit old to be reading about the wonders of being potty trained.

The second lady called me in to be helped. Bill was already annoyed with her, since she and some Lieutenant Colonel were sitting there bullshitting about their travel plans when people were waiting. I was less annoyed by that and more annoyed by her choice of clothing. She wore a short dress, cardigan sweater, and pink leggings with polka dots. However, I have seen much less professional attire in government offices. I remember one lady wore grey spandex leggings with a beige, polyester blouse. It was kind of the clothing equivalent of a mullet– business on top, party on the bottom.

She was inputting my information in the system as I was admiring the funny poster showing how to properly take an ID photo. There were all of these examples of what not to do. Some were pretty funny. For instance, I learned today that you’re not supposed to open your mouth when you take an ID photo. The poster looked like it might have been fun to make, although it appeared that the person who made it could use some diversity training. Almost all of the people on the poster were white. Sorry… it’s not a huge deal, but something I did learn about when I used to have a job.

So anyway, the lady asked me if my recorded weight was correct. I, of course, hate it when people ask me about my weight. I have not been weighed since 2007. I do not get on scales and don’t even want to know what that number is. She said, “If your weight isn’t correct, you might not be able to get on the installation.”

I said, “Well, I don’t know my weight, and I almost never come on post.”

She said that was fine, took another photo, then took one of Bill. Then, she asked him his proper weight. He gave it, probably more accurately than I could even guess mine. Meanwhile, I was noticing the super old “boom box” that had an actual cassette player. Haven’t seen one of those in a long while.

We were soon finished with lady number two and back in the waiting room, where I noticed another sign. Someone had put it on a table that held a DVD player. The sign read, “Please do not sit or climb on railing.” I’m assuming the person meant the little table, which had a lower level that people must have sat on at some time. The table appeared to be AAFES quality and probably can’t bear much weight.

I didn’t have much time to think about that, though, because a very courteous and friendly young man called us in to update our SOFA cards. He left me with a very positive impression. I was feeling grumpy when we entered the office, but he was so nice and efficient that my mood improved as we were leaving. We were talking about how I don’t tell anyone my weight and Bill explained that there’s an automated side gate that removes the need for a live guard. The gate weighs you as you come through, and if you are not within fifteen pounds of your stated weight, it won’t let you in. Aha! Well then, that makes sense. Good thing I don’t live on post and never use the side gate.

Bill wanted to get me a donut because I was so crabby, but the Dunkin’ Donuts shop on post is being renovated. So we got in the car to come home. We continued talking about the gate and how I never go on post. I said, “I’ve only come because Bill made me. And he doesn’t make me come enough, which is probably why I’m so grouchy.”

Naturally, that bit of tasteless humor made Bill crack up. I think my penchant for crude jokes is why he keeps me around. I make him laugh by saying inappropriate things, particularly in front of unsuspecting strangers. Bill is, himself, one of those people who is very trusting and always sees the good in everyone. I am a bit more of a cranky pessimist. I expect people to try to fuck me over. When they don’t, I am pleasantly surprised. And when they do, I usually end up being better prepared than most.

Posted on a conservative friend’s Facebook page. I don’t usually agree with this friend, but in this case, I concur. However, once again, punctuation is essential!

Well, I’m glad to have that little bit of bureaucracy taken care of… at least until June, when we’ll have to update again if Bill’s job continues. Now, I think I’ll go back to reading my latest book, so I can write a new book review for y’all.

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