family, LDS, music, social media

My life is incredibly absurd…

This is going to be another one of my much too long personal postings… Some people might think it’s “inappropriate” to write this, but it’s what’s on my mind today. This blog is, really, more for me than anyone else. And maybe a few of you out there can either relate, or maybe there are even some “curious” people out there who wonder WTF when they read my posts.

I got a bit upset last night. I didn’t mean to get upset. In fact, the evening had started out relatively well. Bill came home from work with five boxes that were waiting for us after our trip. One of the boxes that came was from Bill’s younger daughter. In March, Bill sent her a box of gifts from our trip to France. Bill’s younger daughter, Catherine, who will be giving birth to her third child within the coming weeks, decided to send us a box from Utah.

Before she sent the box, she wondered what to include in it. Bill requested for her to send us things exclusively from Utah. He meant things like “fry sauce”, or maybe certain types of candy or locally produced products that are specific to Utahn culture. Catherine, who is a devout Mormon, joked that Utah is best known for sugar. We had a laugh at that, since we know how true it is. Since Utah’s population is heavy with people of the Latter-day Saint persuasion, sugar is the one vice in which many people freely indulge.

Sure enough, the box younger daughter sent, addressed to both of us, was full of sugary treats. She did send us a bottle of fry sauce, too. I’m eager to try it, since I’ve heard how good fry sauce supposedly is. Also included within the box of goodies was a Book of Mormon. In fact, when Bill saw the book, he said “We got BoM’ed” (pronounced “bombed”). He was amused, especially since Catherine served a mission for the LDS church and has clearly not stopped being a missionary.

I shared the below photos on Facebook.

The comment I made with this post was pretty banal. I wrote “Bill’s daughter sent us a care package from Utah… complete with a BoM.” I don’t think that comment indicated that I was upset about or threatened by the gift. On the surface, my comment was rather matter-of-fact, but I probably should have clearly indicated that I’m happy to share in receiving this box. The reality is, I am delighted that Catherine is talking to Bill and sharing with him.

It’s true that I don’t like Mormonism, but I understand why Catherine is grateful for her faith. I know that people in the church helped her when Bill couldn’t. And no, I don’t mind that she shared a BoM with Bill, especially since she underlined passages that she finds comforting. This is a way for her to connect with her father, a man whose company she was denied for so many years. He can read those passages and relate to her. They will help him understand her more. I have no concerns that he’ll go back to Mormonism. Even if he did go back to the church, I’d still love him, as long as he didn’t try to convert me, too. I have no interest in being LDS.

Reactions to the post ran the gamut. A lot of people don’t know the intricacies of our story, which is pretty convoluted and, frankly, absurd. I think some folks might have thought I was offended by Catherine’s gift of a BoM. One person wrote, “Well, it was a nice gesture.” I assume it’s because a lot of people would be turned off by getting a Book of Mormon.

Another person wrote “You have to try to look at it as someone sending you their favorite book for you to read. You might not enjoy it as much as they did, but it’s the thought.”

I was initially somewhat puzzled by these comments, but I realize they come from people who either don’t know the whole story, or know full well that I don’t like Mormonism, and figured this gift would be objectionable to me. I think I have good reasons for not liking the LDS church. BUT– I absolutely do understand that there are some good things in the LDS church, and there are also very fine people within the organization. I don’t have to like Mormonism to appreciate Catherine’s gift. I’m just thrilled that she’s reconnected with Bill before it’s too late.

I fear Catherine’s older sister will miss the opportunity to really know her extraordinary dad. I’m torn between feeling compassion for older daughter, and anger that she’s already thrown away so many years with her father. I know this is a choice that older daughter has to make and live with. I still think it’s an incredibly stupid move on her part. It would be one thing if Bill were the kind of guy who didn’t care about other people, but Bill is an extraordinary man. He is so kind hearted, unselfish, and forgiving. He is loving, thoughtful, and brave. I haven’t met many people like Bill in my lifetime. Very few people trigger protective impulses in me. Bill does. He is a rare specimen who, sadly, tends to attract predators who take advantage of his decency.

It’s been heartbreaking to watch the fallout from the dissolution of Bill’s first marriage, even though Catherine, at least, had the good sense to reconnect with her dad. I wish older daughter would wise up, but that’s something she has to choose to do. Once again, I find myself cursing about the fact that Bill spent more than five minutes with his ex wife, who wasn’t fit to wash the shit stains out of Bill’s shorts. That may seem harsh, but it’s the God’s honest truth. Ex is a sick woman who has done some really vile things in the name of avenging her “shitty” childhood. She makes other people pay for her tragic past. Her actions have had devastating ripple effects on so many people, many of whom seem to be blind to the damages she’s wrought until it’s too late.

Last night, as I was pondering the comments left regarding Catherine’s gift to Bill, I chatted with my sister, who reminded me of my own “fucked up” childhood. On the surface, we had pretty normal and fortunate upbringings. My parents were married for 56 years. They came from families where there was no divorce. In my dad’s case, there were many other siblings who loved and cared about each other. My parents always had work, and we never had truly serious worries about finances. I had a pretty privileged lifestyle as a child. I owned a horse, and attended horse shows and fox hunts. I had a car to drive. My parents were even home all the time, because they owned and operated a business out of our house.

And yet, there was so much dysfunction… my sister wrote that she’d sent our mom a Mother’s Day card with a unicorn on it that read, “Keep on doing ‘mom’ things. You’re so good at them.” I knew she was being passive aggressive and sarcastic, because our very talented and beautiful mom was famously not into being a mom when we were growing up. Our mom wasn’t the type of mom who doted on her children, or her friends’ children, or served as a role model to others. She couldn’t wait for us to grow up and get out of the nest. She should not have had four children. But she did have us, and here we are… all four of us dysfunctional and neurotic, in spite of the many privileges we enjoyed when we were growing up.

I don’t mean this as a slam on my mom. Actually, I have generally gotten along fine with her, in spite of acknowledging that she was often pretty negligent and had some screwed up priorities. In my case, it was my dad with whom I had significant issues. He once told me I would never make more than minimum wage. He was an abusive alcoholic, although he was probably more into being a parent than my mom was. He and I didn’t mesh for a lot of reasons, but I do think he was the more caring of my parents. Of course, he also wasn’t doing the “heavy lifting” of parenting. That was a task that fell to my mom, who really wasn’t into the job. In a different era, I’m sure my mom would have made different choices, but she grew up at a time when women were expected to get married and have kids. So that’s what she did. In spite of my seemingly negative comments, I do think she did the best she could, under the circumstances. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that my memories of growing up mostly aren’t idyllic.

So I had a bit of a meltdown last night. Bill came down to me, having just spent an hour talking to his analyst. I was drinking red wine, wondering how I ended up in this bizarre situation I’m in. My life is incredibly absurd. To people on the surface, it seems like I live a “dream”. I don’t work outside the home. I don’t have children. I get to travel a lot to some pretty lovely places. That would seem like a fabulous lifestyle to many people. In fact, last week, a long time friend of mine told me that she envies my life. I didn’t know how to respond to that. She really has no idea… and yet, I absolutely CAN understand that most of my problems are of the first world variety. I do see why some people might feel envious of me. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I feel like so many people don’t like me.

Unlike Bill, I don’t feel the need to try to please others in order to get them to like me. I figure that if people don’t like me, that’s their choice to make, just like it’s older daughter’s choice to throw away her wonderful dad without ever taking the time to try to understand why he had to leave her when she was little. He had to leave, because staying with Ex would have meant dying… perhaps literally, but almost certainly metaphorically. He could not live with his ex wife anymore. If he had been a woman and Ex had been a man, absolutely no one would begrudge him for leaving. Ex is a domestic abuser. Even Catherine realizes that. She even went as far as to send Bill a link to an article for victims of domestic violence, which makes me wonder what she’s witnessed in her mother’s relationship with #3.

Maybe some people don’t see this when they talk to me, but I really am a good person. I am a decent, loving, kind person. I’m not always “nice”, but I am, deep down, “good”. I come by these qualities honestly. I try to do the right thing whenever possible, even if it doesn’t seem “nice”. Last night, I was frustrated, telling Bill about how my life has gone completely off the rails of what I thought it would be before we met. I meant to have a career and children of my own. That ordinary lifestyle was what I had planned for my whole life. But instead, here I am, writing blog posts in Europe, watching my friends and family members with regular jobs, children, and grandchildren… wondering how this happened, and if I make a difference to anyone besides my husband. It’s not a bad life at all, but it’s not what I planned. I also know that some people probably think negatively of me because of it. A few years ago, I was interviewed for my university’s alumni magazine. The person who interviewed me approached me because of an extraordinary experience I had when I was in college. But when he heard the reality of my life, he must have figured there was no story there worth putting in the alumni magazine. I didn’t become “someone”. I am just an “overeducated housewife” with an absurd lifestyle.

I do know that I serve a huge purpose in Bill’s life. But sometimes I wonder if that’s the only reason I managed to be born. Was I just born to keep predatory people like Ex and former landlady away from Bill? Was I born just to encourage him to have fun and travel? How is it that I’ve managed to land in this weird existence, where I feel envious of people with careers and children to worry about, as some of them envy me for my supposed “good life”? It’s absurd, isn’t it? Especially if you know just how totally FUBAR and totally bizarre Bill’s life has been. Even the way we met was very strange and kind of hard to specifically talk about with other people.

This morning, just before I started writing this post, I watched the funeral service for my cousin’s wife, Chris, who passed away last month after a lengthy cancer battle. I didn’t know Chris as well as I would have liked to, especially having heard several well-spoken people sing her praises. Chris was a very beautiful, vibrant, creative woman, who obviously touched many people’s lives. She was much beloved by friends and family, and so many people had stories of how she’d blessed them with her happy, warm, and thoughtful presence. Chris was a devout Christian, as are many of her bereaved friends and family members. I don’t know who she voted for in 2016, but I’d be willing to bet lots of cash that she voted for Donald Trump. I know for a fact her husband, my cousin, did.

I don’t understand how decent people can’t see who Donald Trump is, and why he’s so bad for the country. I know my family members were raised with conservative Christian values, and that means they feel they must always vote Republican. I can respect that on some level. I used to feel the same way. But how can a Christian ever cast a vote for Trump or anyone like him? How can they not see how truly awful and inhumane he is?

I listened to several people extol Chris’s many wonderful qualities as they spoke about her. I know they were a small sampling of many people who were touched by Chris. And please don’t get me wrong. Chris genuinely deserved every one of those accolades. She was a very special person. But I know, that as nice as those people are, they aren’t always as good as they seem to be. They are good to acceptable people within their own communities. I’m not sure they’re as good to people who are in trouble and need help. I don’t mean designing a room or catering a party. I mean offering real help to people who have very serious problems, sometimes arising from so-called “bad choices” they might have made. I mean people who might have done things that crowd would find immoral. As good as my relatives are, they probably think I’m immoral for swearing, drinking wine, and voting against Trump. Some of them might feel like I abandoned my family. I feel like very few of them miss me. If I died tomorrow, my funeral would probably be a pretty lonely affair. I know I haven’t touched people in the way that Chris did. I also know that my extraordinary husband is much better off with me in his life, even though a lot of people probably wonder what he’s doing with me. They don’t see the big picture. I guess I don’t see it either, at least as it pertains to older daughter.

Bill is probably like Chris in a lot of ways. He’s generous, thoughtful, loving, caring, kind, and incredibly smart. I can’t believe he married me. I would love to be more like him, because I admire how decent he is. However, this morning, when we were talking about last night’s little “meltdown”, Bill pointed out to me something I said during my rantings. He said, “you pointed out that you offer a counterbalance to my overly generous, people pleasing nature. If we were both people pleasers, we would be sitting ducks for predators.” And that’s true. If Ex thought she could drive a wedge between us, she would definitely try to do it. But she knows I can see who she is. And she knows not to fuck with Bill, because she will be fucking with me… and I am not nearly as “nice” as Bill is. But I would like to be nice. I would like to be thought of as a light in people’s lives, as my cousin’s wife, Chris, was. I don’t like to be annoying. I certainly never aspired to be a stepmother, or even an “overeducated housewife”. But here I am… obnoxious as the day is long.

I probably will address this video later, because there’s a lot I can say about it.

Which brings me to another point… One of the bones of contention people have with me is that I refer to myself as “overeducated”. I know a lot of people in the military community think I look down on them because of my education. If they got to know me, they might find out that part of the reason I call myself “overeducated” is because I literally am overeducated for what I do. That doesn’t mean I disparage others for not having degrees. In fact, if I had known this was going to be my life, I would not have gone to graduate school. But then, I probably wouldn’t have met Bill, and he was obviously meant to be in my life. I think education is very important, and I am grateful that I had the chance to go to school. The way our country is going, I worry that females may find themselves marginalized as they were in the not too distant past. I realize, again, that I’m fortunate. I just wish I could have used my education in a way that feels more significant. I was taught by my family that I needed to “be someone” and do something important. And I feel like I haven’t, in spite of multiple efforts… even though I know that I have made a huge difference in Bill’s life. But was this the only thing I was meant for? Was I, the daughter of parents who really didn’t seem to want me, and even told me on many occasions, only meant to help Bill evolve into someone who values himself more?

I love this song so much. I relate to it on many levels… although I did manage to find love.

Anyway… as Beau says in the video above, “it’s just a thought”. I would like to close this mishmash of a blog post with the beautiful lyrics to Ron Block’s song, “Someone”. If you ever wonder WTF when you talk to me or read my posts, you might consider these words and apply the context. I really need to hear this song every day. I hope someone reading this post will take the time to listen to this song. Maybe these are words you need to hear, too.

My father was an old man, he worked so hard and long
He asked me to believe that he had all that he could want
Holding up his hands he said, ‘These hands have bled for you
Lord knows you’ve been worth it, too’

He smiled at me sadly as I walked out of his door
I told him once again, just like time and time before
I know that you’re contented but before my life is done
I am gonna be someone’

I set out on my own to find the life I planned for me
I was longing for a high and lonely destiny
Spending all my days on the debt of my tomorrows
Looking for some love but I found none, ’cause I was gonna be someone

It took me years of pain to find what he already knew
Contentment doesn’t come from what you say or what you do
Peace just like a river comes by resting in the sun
And I don’t have to be someone

I set out on my own to find the life I planned for me
I was longing for a high and lonely destiny
Spending all my days on the debt of my tomorrows
Living comes from resting in the sun and I don’t have to be someone

Peace just like a river comes by resting in the sun
And I don’t have to be someone

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Bill, family, love, marriage

Few people manage to “come see the softer side of me…”

Some years ago, before its recent financial woes, the retail store Sears had a catchy jingle that went, “Come see the softer side of Sears.” It was about how the store, known for its hardware, heavy mechanical goods, and power tools, also sold things like fuzzy sweaters and silky nightgowns. Potential customers were invited to “come see the softer side” of the retailer and maybe go home having bought new sheets or a fluffy bathrobe.

It’s not lost on me that, especially online, sometimes I come off as a really cantankerous person. There are a number of reasons why I’m like this. A lot has to do with my own personal baggage and traumas from my childhood. A lot of those damages were caused by my family of origin. Some were caused by people outside of the family. I’m not necessarily trying to blame anyone for this, by the way. I think everybody has the potential to unintentionally damage other people. We all have baggage, don’t we? Sometimes, that baggage causes pain to others.

For instance, I know that my father wasn’t an evil man. Most people who knew him would never think that about him. He was outwardly a very nice guy– at least to those who didn’t have to live with him. They saw him as a “peach”– soft, sweet, and fuzzy on the outside. But the truth is, he had a lot of personal problems that were brought on by his own upbringing and situations he was forced to face in his lifetime. Like, for example, his time in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era. He went over there and came home with PTSD. But he was also the eldest son of a violent alcoholic who was abusive. He never dealt with that issue adequately, so he passed that crap along to others. I was one of the recipients of his crap, and sometimes I pass it along in the form of being cranky online.

I don’t necessarily blame my grandfather for my dad’s crap. Like my father, my grandfather wasn’t an evil man. But he did have problems, and sometimes his problems became problems for other people. I know that my grandfather caused his family significant pain. I also know that he was a very funny man, and according to my Granny, he was a very kind person… when he wasn’t drinking. He was, in part, a product of his environment, just like we all are. He didn’t come of age in an enlightened time. I’m sure our strong Celtic heritage didn’t help matters much.

So anyway, this morning, I noticed that one of my sisters went on Facebook last night. She is a “friend”, but she almost never visits Facebook, and comments and “likes” by her are even rarer than that. I was surprised and amused to see comments and reactions by my sister. Then I looked at my Facebook feed and realized that an average person looking at it might come away with the idea that I’m kind of a bitch. I mean, seriously… it’s like looking at The Atlantic’s feed, which lately mostly consists of “doom porn”. A lot of my status updates are cranky. My blog posts, which I share on my personal page, often have cranky titles. I often share “bad news”. On the other hand, I do try to share “cute” stuff, too… like funny animal videos. But, by and large, my feed is kind of pessimistic and crotchety.

While we were eating breakfast, I looked over at Bill and said, as objectively as I could muster, “I see that Becky has left me a few comments and reactions. Looking at my my latest posts, I must come off as kind of a bitch.”

And Bill deadpanned, “I don’t think that’s ALWAYS true…”

I had a good laugh at that, and took a picture of Bill, who laughed with me. He knows I’m not always as cranky as I seem. Over our twenty years together, he’s had long talks with me. He’s seen me cry when I listen to especially beautiful or moving music. He’s heard me laugh when he says something funny, which is pretty often. I am easily amused, so offline I laugh a lot, even if I seem like a crab to people who have never met me in person. He’s heard me say loving things to him, and especially our dogs, who accept us the way we are. He knows that there’s a lot more beneath my prickly, bristly exterior. I can be kind and generous and very soft and emotional. But if you don’t actually know me, you might never see that side. Instead, I sometimes look like a jerk to other people. I’m kind of hard, rough, and coarse… kind of like a coconut. But beneath the shell is sweetness.

Bill has a good laugh with me after his observation that I’m not ALWAYS a bitch… Actually, he would never call me a bitch. Compared to Ex, I am an angel.

Maybe it’s not always a bad thing to look like a jerk, though. It’s kind of a defense mechanism, isn’t it? If I manage to turn someone off before they ever get to know me, maybe they aren’t actually worthy of knowing that softer side of my personality. It’s said that real friends are true rarities. Most people want to know you when you’re doing okay. It’s the ones that hang around when things are bad– and don’t have any ulterior motives for hanging around– that are real friends. I mean, a person could be dying of a terrible disease. If they are very wealthy or they have something of value to others, maybe others would hang around in hopes of being named in a will or something. But it’s the people who care for those who can’t give them anything that are real friends. In my experience, those types of people can indeed be rare.

So, when someone is good to me even when I’m feeling cranky or irritable, I pay attention. I give double points to those who make me laugh when I’m feeling like that. And I give triple points to people who don’t mind my many idiosyncrasies. For instance, yesterday I was trying (and failing) to finish my latest jigsaw puzzle, while listening to my HomePod. A karaoke version of the song “Hello Young Lovers” came on. I like that song, so I joined in… Bill complimented my “performance”.

I said, “Thank you. You are a very tolerant man.”

And Bill said, “And you are very talented woman. It would be different if my ex tried it.” Then he gave me a grin, Stanley Roper style.

Bwahahahaha… I’m a Three’s Company super fan.
Kinda like Stanley…

To put this into context, Ex once serenaded Bill with her version of Juice Newton’s 80s era song, “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)”. Because he’s a very good man, he listened to it with a straight face. For all I know, it really was a sweet moment between them. Ex reportedly wanted to study music, but was told she needed lessons before she could major in music at a local college. But now, Bill can’t bear to listen to “The Sweetest Thing” anymore. Ex actually ruined a lot of songs for Bill. Some of them are good songs, too. Like, he doesn’t like “Strong Enough” by Sheryl Crow, because Ex used it in one of her object lessons. And he doesn’t like “To Really Love a Woman” by Bryan Adams for the same reason. For the longest time, he didn’t want me to play Kenny Loggins’ children’s album, Return to Pooh Corner, because of Ex. Ditto to anything by Sesame Street or The Muppets. But he doesn’t mind when I burst into random song… or when I redo songs, replacing their words with silly, profane, or disgusting lyrics. At least when I sing, I do it with feeling and on key. 😉

Bill has proven to me time and again that he’s a real friend. So he gets to see the softer side of me whenever he wants. Or, at least he sees it after I’ve calmed down and had some dip.

The coconut vs. peach idea isn’t one I came up with. I’ve often heard certain cultures described that way. A lot of people think of certain southerners like peaches. They’re sweet, juicy, fuzzy, and warm on the outside. But beneath that sweetness, there’s a stone pit of a heart in some people. Those sweet “honey lippin'” types who are nice to people’s faces can sometimes be, deep down, hardhearted people who would disown their own family members for being gay or marrying someone who isn’t the same religion or race. And some people think of people from New York City as being more like coconuts. They’re gruff, cold, and hard on the exterior… but when something really terrible happens, they are compassionate and kind. Of course, neither of these stereotypes always apply to every situation. Some people from up north are mean. And some southerners are extremely kind and loving. But you get the idea, I hope…

Toodles!

Anyway, Mr. Bill wants to go to Wiesbaden and get a Swiss “vignette” for our car. We need one because we will be passing through Switzerland on our vacation, which starts next weekend. So I will close today’s post and get on with the day. I hope you all have a good Saturday. I’m really not as irritable as I seem… and contrary to some people’s opinions, I can be quite introspective. I just have some baggage full of peaches and coconuts.

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Bill, funny stories, karma

Repost: Bill and his Irish dark side…

Here’s a repost of a blog entry I wrote on July 15, 2018. At the time, we were visiting Dublin to see Paul Simon, James, Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt in concert. Yes, they were all performing in the same awesome show! I reread this story today, remembering our fun in Ireland, and the opportunity Bill got to right a wrong.

Like most everyone, my husband Bill has a dark side.  Sometimes it comes out inappropriately.  I’m usually surprised and amused when he says something egregiously shocking or mean.

Yesterday, after we had dinner and drinks at a local pub, we stopped by the Spar (Austrian mini mart) to buy some water and a bottle of wine.  We’d had several beers between us and a couple of whiskies, so we were feeling no pain.  As we approached the cash register, a very thin, bearded man standing behind us asked the cashier if the toilet in the store was working.

The cashier obviously lied and said, “No Mate, the toilet isn’t working.  Sorry.”

As we left the store, I said, “Well… that was clearly bullshit.”

Bill responded, “Right.  He probably should have said, ‘No, I don’t want you shooting up in our bathroom.'”

Just then, as we crossed the street, the guy passed us.  He turned and glared at Bill, who was mortified.  I don’t know if he heard Bill make that comment, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Bill had kind of blurted it out in a normal tone of voice.  The toilet seeking chap did seem to send Bill a death ray with his eyes, which would make it seem like he’d heard him mock him.

It was kind of surprising that Bill was the one who made that crack.  Usually I’m the one who says stuff like that.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think that guy was a drug addict, though, or even homeless.  He hadn’t appeared to be homeless to my eyes.  In fact, he simply looked like a working person, which Bill and I have both been in our lifetimes.

Poor Bill is wracked with guilt, though.  In fact, while we were enjoying afternoon tea today, he said, “I feel awful about that comment I made.  I think I’m going to donate to a homeless shelter.”  Sure enough, after we finished having tea, we came back to our hotel room and he started researching charities.  

So many people would have just brushed off the incident, but Bill feels the need to repent.  Actually, I had the same thought that it might be a good thing to do– give to a homeless charity.  Maybe it will improve our karma.  I’m just glad no one whipped out a cell phone to record the incident and put it on YouTube.

This morning, as we were touring the Jameson’s Visitor’s Center, Bill was telling me how guilty he felt for making that obnoxious comment.  I have felt that way before and have made comments I later regretted.  Fortunately, I haven’t yet been caught on film.  As current events have shown us, though, it’s not hard to be caught having a bad day, saying or doing shameful things.  I know Bill isn’t a shitty person, but sometimes he does make shitty comments.  Don’t we all?

One time, we were walking into the German city of Ludwigsburg and we passed an enormous piggy bank in front of a bank.  The piggy bank has a name, though I can’t remember it at the moment (ETA: it’s Louise).  One can go inside of it and/or drop coins in it to be donated to charity.

It was 2014 and we hadn’t yet been back in Germany for long.  Bill said, “I wouldn’t want to go inside of that pig.  I’d be afraid someone would close the door and turn on the gas.”

Instantly, my mouth dropped open, since we were standing there in Germany, where people had once been rounded up to be gassed in concentration camps.  Bill, of course, hadn’t even thought about the concentration camps.  He was thinking of some book he’d read where people were killed that way– had nothing to do with Hitler’s era.  It was just a thoughtless comment, same as yesterday.  When he saw my facial expression it dawned on him that what he’d said was kind of shocking and potentially offensive.  It kind of revealed a dark side of a man who is usually one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know.  

Almost all of us have a dark side.  Some people are less ashamed of letting theirs show than others are.  I don’t think Bill needs to feel guilty, though.  Everybody fucks up sometimes.  And most people don’t feel the need to repent afterwards.  That’s what makes Bill such a special guy in my eyes.

Wish I were there.

EDITED TO ADD…

A couple of hours after I posted this, Bill and I went out into the city.  The Dublin area has been experiencing a drought for the past 40 days.  In fact, a significant archeological find was discovered recently thanks to the drought.  The New York Times reported on it.  Today, there was rain.  It’s been raining all day.  So after we tasted Irish whiskies, we came back to the hotel and had high tea.  Then we went to our hotel room, thinking we might not go out again.  But then I started to get a little hungry.

At about 6:30pm, we decided we might like to have some dinner.  I really wanted a Sunday roast or prime rib or something… but as we walked around the hotel, we found a number of places closed.  We thought about eating at a place that advertised tacos, but decided tacos in Ireland might be too weird.  So we kept walking and I decided to turn left at the first street we encountered.  I figured it would take us back toward the hotel where I knew we could get something.

Suddenly, just as we were nearing the end of the street, the same guy Bill had insulted yesterday popped into our path.  Looking more closely at him, I could see that he definitely was a street person.  He was very small and slender, with red hair and a beard, and obviously somewhat older than I’d originally thought he was.  He looked unkempt and was missing teeth.  It’s certainly possible he abuses drugs, but I can’t know for sure.  His appearance could be just as easily due to hard times or some other illness.  I don’t know if he recognized Bill, but Bill definitely recognized him. 

He said, “Do you have any spare change so I can get some coffee?”

Bill said, without any hesitation, “Yes, I do.”  And he pulled almost all of the change out of his pocket… about ten euros worth.  He said something had told him to carry it with him, while it was I who had decided to turn on that quiet street near our hotel.  We could have just as easily skipped dinner or had it at the hotel or the taco place.  But fate put us in the path of the guy Bill had insulted yesterday.

The guy was shocked as Bill gave him the change and the guy said, “God bless you,” as he accepted it. 

As we walked away, Bill’s eyes got teary and he started to look like Michael Landon during one of his more emotional scenes on either Little House on the Prairie or Highway to Heaven.  And then, as if things couldn’t get any more touching, there was a restaurant right in front of us specializing in beef dishes.  We stopped in and had a very nice dinner, topped off by a final nightcap in the hotel bar before we head back to Germany tomorrow.

Maybe this story means nothing to many people.  I have a weird knack for running into people, though.  I always have.  And Bill is a very perceptive and sensitive guy whose superego has a tendency to run amok.  It’s entirely possible that guy hadn’t even heard Bill’s snarky remarks yesterday, but I think both he and Bill ended up coming out winners in this situation.

Bill still intends to donate to a charity, too.  I think this trip will go down as one of our very best and most memorable.  I’m looking forward to writing it up, starting tomorrow evening.

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celebrities, lessons learned, music, musings, obits, YouTube

The first day of 2022…

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve 2021. Bill and I had a nice evening, marred only by the news that the great Betty White passed away. A lot of people reacted to the news of Betty’s New Year’s Eve demise with great sadness. She was a remarkable woman who was blessed with so much talent, beauty, and humor. When I think of how many people were touched by her, it almost overwhelms me. This was a lady whose career spanned many decades and generations, and she did it all– singing, dancing, acting, sales pitching, and especially comedy. She was the oldest Golden Girl, and the last one to leave us.

She was such an adorable and hilarious pro! God bless her, wherever she is… I hope she and her beloved husband, Allen Ludden, have finally reunited.

I loved Betty White as an entertainer. I admired her a great deal. However, I don’t feel particularly sad that she died, nor do I think of it as a tragic event. I think, as living and dying go, Betty White did it in grand fashion. As far as I know, she wasn’t seriously ill when she passed. In fact, she was even featured on People magazine’s cover this week, as she planned to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17th. She was still “with it”, and not bed bound. Yes, it would have been wonderful if she could have celebrated one last birthday, but 99 years is still a hell of a good run. What happened to her eventually happens to us all… and she had the good fortune to do it on relatively favorable terms.

I think this one was my favorite! Betty’s dusty muffins could not be matched.

So no, I’m not totally saddened by Betty White’s death. She died the same year as several of her co-stars on the Mary Tyler Moore show, as we also lost Gavin McLeod, Ed Asner, and Cloris Leachman in 2021. And all of them lived to ripe old ages, having been able to work, play, and be in the world pretty much the entire time. We should all be so lucky… and in fact, I think we’re all lucky that we were alive at the same time she was.

*Giggle* She was so funny!

MOVING ON…

A lot of people were also mentioning how much 2021 sucked. I’m sure it really did suck for a lot of folks. COVID-19 has really screwed up normal living for so many. However, one good thing I have noticed about the COVID era is that some people are reprioritizing their lives. Yesterday, I read an awesome Reddit thread called “Twas the night before my resignation”, about a guy who decided some years ago that he no longer wanted to prioritize his career over his family. He started taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2021, as usual, he scheduled that week off.

At the end of the year, a work emergency came up. It wasn’t something that should have affected his time off, and he did what he could to warn his employers that he would be taking that week off. But, as it happens, the company dragged its feet and the emergency, quite predictably, became dire as the guy’s week off approached… For best results, you really should read it for yourself. Suffice to say, the guy pretty much told his boss to pound sand, and was richly rewarded for his moxie. And to that, I say, “Kudos, and fuck those people!” I hate it when employers treat their employees like they own them. It’s nice to see that some workers have been able to claim some control over their work environments. I hope this is a trend that lasts, so that working conditions will improve for everyone.

I know… maybe it’s too much to hope for that there will be less greed and corruption in the American workplace. But I can dream, can’t I? Hell… if I were in the USA now, maybe someone would even hire me!

Bill and I actually had a fairly good 2021, in spite of COVID’s suck factor. We finally resolved our lawsuit, and it mostly went in our favor. I know it may seem like a small thing, but holding our former landlady accountable for her egregiously illegal actions, outright lies, and the really crappy way she treated us, was very satisfying. I think we learned a lesson from it, too. Hopefully, that lesson will carry over the next time someone tries to screw with us and shame us into automatically allowing them to have their way.

In 2021, Bill finally started working with a Jungian analyst, which is something he’s been wanting to do for a long time… and something I’ve felt he’s needed to do the whole time I’ve known him. The sessions have been very healing for him, but they’ve also been immensely rewarding and interesting. I didn’t know anything about Carl G. Jung when Bill and I met, despite my background. Social workers do study psychology, but it’s not really the bulk of what we learn, since social work is not psychology, per se. It’s been fascinating to learn more about Jung, and help Bill learn more. He’s been so intrigued by the process that he even started taking classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich. So far, the classes have been online, but we did get a chance to visit Zurich for the first time last summer. If we manage to stay here awhile, he may get to do some serious work.

As for my own successes… I’ve watched my relaunched blog explode. In 2021, I had over 560 times the hits I had in 2020, which was much more successful than 2019, when I moved my blog to WordPress. It really is picking up, and that’s been exciting to see, even though it took some time.

I felt pretty much forced to relocate the blog from Blogspot, although I had kind of wanted to do it for a long time. It was difficult and a bit depressing to start over in February 2019. I had a decent following on the original blog, even though it was a bit rawer than this one is. Moving the blog meant losing followers, as well as ad revenue. It’s not that I make a lot of money at all through ads, but it was kind of a nice thing to occasionally get paid by Google.

Well… that pretty much ended with a thud when I moved the blog, and for quite some time, I felt really constrained and nervous about writing. I know some people don’t think I have any talent… and some people think writing is a waste of my time, so they think nothing about messing with what I do… and some people just plain don’t like me, and want to cause trouble for me for selfish and dishonest reasons. This blog is NOT my life, but it is something I enjoy creating, and it gives me a purpose. So it was hard for me in 2019, when I experienced the setback that caused me to have to start over.

Two years later, I think my blog is better than it ever was. And I’ve been rewarded with new followers, and yes, more ad revenue. I only monetized the blog a few months ago, but pretty soon, I’ll be eligible to be paid. And I can only expect that this blog will be more successful than the original blog was, in terms of money, and quality content. The travel blog is a bit down in views lately, but hopefully COVID-19 will eventually be tamed enough so we can travel again. And really, I mainly write this stuff for myself, anyway, so anyone who reads and enjoys it is just icing on the cake.

I also found a new person with whom I can do music collaborations. In fact, I even uploaded our latest effort this morning! Music is something I do for fun and relaxation, so this is a rewarding development, too…

He lives in the States. We’ve never met, but we have similar musical tastes.

Another great thing that happened in 2021 was that Bill and I finally got to visit Croatia, and pay another visit to Slovenia. I already knew Slovenia was beautiful, but Croatia was magical. Although we didn’t have an “action packed” vacation in the fall, it was still probably one of my favorite trips yet. Just the sheer beauty of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as the time we spent in Austria (another favorite destination) was so awesome. I guess COVID has also made me a lot more grateful for ANY travel. Thank God for vaccines, too. I will be boosted in a few days, which may cause temporary discomfort, but will likely make my chances of dying from COVID lower.

We got to see a few friends, and make a few new friends… and the old friends who are real friends are still with us. We also didn’t lose any loved ones in 2021. In fact, in 2022, Bill will presumably gain another grandchild. And… our beloved Arran and Noyzi are still alive. Noyzi has even become a real part of the family, right down to loving on me when he wants something and showing up fashionably late to dinner! So that’s a blessing.

I have high hopes for 2022… I hope you do, too. To those of you who have been part of this blog, thank you so much! I especially want to thank my friends who have been here since the beginning. You are all a big part of the success, too!

2021 didn’t suck for us… but I know some people are really struggling right now. I don’t know what words of wisdom or comfort I can share. One friend mentioned how bad 2021 was, and I mentioned that I thought 2016 was worse– at least in terms of lost legends. She responded that she’d had a rough time of it in 2021, and compared 2021 to a few other horrible years she’d experienced.

I knew she’s been having a hard time, so I acknowledged that. And then I remembered one of my worst years ever– 1998. If I’m honest, there were a few times during that year that I seriously contemplated suicide. I was dealing with moderately severe depression, and I didn’t see how I was ever going to escape the situation I was in. It was NOT a hopeless situation by any means– which I clearly proved. But at the time, it felt hopeless… and my perspective was so blurred by depression and anxiety that I couldn’t see beyond the fog of despair and despondency.

But some very good things also happened that year. Yes, I was working in a restaurant job where I was abused daily, and I lived with my parents, who were kind of hostile and disappointed in me. I was young and basically healthy, but felt unattractive and unsuccessful. That year, I backed into some lady’s car in our driveway, because I was so upset… and that accident led me to finally seeing a therapist. Dr. Coe helped me so much, and I was eventually put on antidepressants that changed my life. To this day, I no longer feel as horrible as I did for most of my young life.

I eventually got pretty good at the restaurant job, and was able to make enough money to pay for the therapy and save up for an apartment. I bought a car. I had a terrible setback in November 1998– in fact, that was probably one of the worst months of my life. And yet, two months later, the medication was finally correct, and I started getting my shit together… and by November 1999, I was in a dual degree master’s program, proving to myself that I wasn’t as stupid or worthless as I had felt a year prior. That was also the month I “met” Bill online. By November 2002, we were married! And now, 19 years later, here we are… In 2022, I’ll presumably turn 50, and we will celebrate 20 years married.

So it’s good that I didn’t give in to my urges to off myself back in 1998. That would have meant missing out on some really wonderful things. That “abusive” job also led to meeting some truly great friends and learning valuable life and survival skills. In the long run, that turned out to be a good thing, too, despite the suffering that happened when I was still in that situation.

My point is, sometimes what seems like the shittiest times can lead to some pretty wonderful recoveries. So if you are struggling right now, I urge you to hang on as best you can. It can, and probably will, get better. But I also know that those words ring hollow when a person is really suffering. So just know, there are people who really do care, and have been through it, too… You’re probably more like them than you know… unless, of course, you’re Josh Duggar or Ghislaine Maxwell. Those two probably won’t be enjoying life for awhile.

And, with that bit of “wisdom”, I’m signing off for today… Got a few chores to take care of, and then it’s time to watch movies and concerts.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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holidays

The last day of 2021… (cross post)

This post also appears on the travel blog, since I have different readers there. The featured photo is of cookies the landlord brought us.

I’m getting a late post up today. I was actually thinking of taking off the last day of 2021. I didn’t have anything earth shattering on my mind that I felt compelled to write about. Bill had the day off, and we were both kind of tired. Bill was especially tired, since he never gets a full night’s sleep. So I worked on reading my book, and he took a nap. Later, he’ll fire up the fondue/raclette grill set I got him for Christmas, and we’ll try it out. He’s already used the new hot tea pot I got him. He’s drinking tea as I write this.

Bill and Arran, preparing for tonight…

Arran took a nap with us, while Noyzi tried to steal my brand new fuzzy slippers. I think he thinks they’re small animals. I might let him take them, but he’s already eaten a couple of toys. The emergency vet is the last place we want to go tonight.

I managed to accomplish a couple of other chores, too. After I worked on trying to rid the toilet of lime scale and calcium stains, I went on Amazon.de and bought some citric acid, as well as cleaning soda and salt. Today, I tried the acid on a really terrible hard water stain in the shower that I’ve never been able to get rid of. I poured the acid on the stain and, wouldn’t you know it? That stain was gone in minutes! There’s no trace of it. I think it’s a wonder drug. It’s hard to believe it’s taken seven years to figure this out. Vinegar is good, but citric acid is the bomb! And it’s cheap, too!

I also climbed up on a stepladder in the shower and knocked the calcium off the shower head jets, so the nice rainfall spray won’t squirt all over the place anymore. Now, the new shower head is as nice as it was in September, when it was installed.

I heard that fireworks weren’t supposed to be sold in German stores again this year. Like last year, the government wants to discourage people from setting off fireworks, because they don’t want people getting hurt and needing to go to the hospital, thanks to COVID. I suspect there will be fireworks, anyway… Germans are law abiding people, but they love fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I think that’s pretty much the only day they are allowed to be set off, at least by the regular rank and file folks. I seem to remember that there were fireworks last year, despite the ban on them.

Our New Year’s celebrations are usually pretty boring affairs. We spend them much the same way we spend any night at home… listening to music, drinking wine, and talking.

I’m hoping 2022 will be a better year for everyone… although 2021 wasn’t, for me, a particularly bad year. I’ve had worse. But this COVID-19 shit needs to be fixed. Hopefully, 2022 will bring us some breakthroughs.

In any case… I want to offer sincere thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blogs. This site, in particular, has really taken off this year! In the past month or so, I’ve had an explosion in traffic. That really does my heart good, and makes writing this blog worth the time and effort.

The travel blog has been somewhat less trafficked this year, but I can understand why. I haven’t been traveling as much… nor have many other people! I’m sure the traveling we have done may even be a downer for some folks. I know some people suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), and it can be depressing to look at other people’s travel posts when travel is so potentially risky and definitely stressful. I am very grateful, though, that we finally managed to go to Croatia. I hope we can visit again. There are more places I want to see. And with any luck and maybe God’s grace, if you’re into God, that is– maybe COVID-19 will be more under control by this time next year.

I’m still making music, too… Been getting better with my guitar skills and can even play some songs. There are some times when I find myself playing things completely spontaneously. I still have plenty of learning to do, which is a good thing. And I’ve also found someone to collaborate with on YouTube, too, which is very rewarding. Maybe I’ll put up a new song or two, now that I have new gear. Maybe I’ll try to learn bass guitar and banjo, too… if the virus continues to spread, I might have to do something else to pass the time.

Well… I don’t have much else to say, except…

I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve, and a very fortuitous New Year’s Day… and 2022!

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