Bill, music, songs, videos, YouTube

Bill’s 57th year has gotten off to a tearful start.

Today is Bill’s birthday. I already gave him some of his presents on Monday and Tuesday, because they came from Amazon and I have no birthday themed wrapping paper. Monday, I presented him with a book about the art of Carl Jung. Bill loves art, and he’s fascinated by Jung, so I figured it would be perfect.

But then I noticed that Jung’s seven volume set called The Black Books were also for sale. I had already given Bill a copy of Jung’s Red Book on request about eleven years ago. The Red Book was basically a refined and condensed version of The Black Books. It’s just one large volume. He left that book in storage because it’s so big, and we had precious little room for extra stuff when we moved to Germany. Bill’s first company only gave him enough money to ship 5000 pounds. Good thing we don’t have kids.

When Bill saw the Jung books, he got all teary. He came upstairs to my office and thanked me. I turned around and he was wiping tears from his eyes, holding the funny t-shirt I also got for him. This was obviously a good gift… especially since he’s also been undergoing Jungian analysis with an American who lives in Berlin and is being trained in Switzerland.

I’ve been bugging Bill to see a therapist for years, not just because he has a lot of trauma to unpack, but because I know from personal experience that undergoing psychotherapy can be a wonderful healing process. It helped me immensely and changed me in so many positive ways. I came to view it as something I did for myself– a form of personal care– like some people get manicures, massages, or have their hair professionally coifed. I thought Bill would see it the same way. Fortunately, he does. Every week, he tells me about new things he’s discovered about himself through dream analysis and art therapy. He and the therapist have a good rapport. It really helps that Bill knows about Jung, since the therapist specializes in the Jungian approach. I’m sure a lot of the therapist’s clients are just looking for someone to talk to. He’s told Bill that he appreciates having a client who understands the Jungian approach. I think they both get a lot out of the work they’re doing.

I wish people wouldn’t think of therapy as a negative thing for “crazy” people or people who are troubled. It’s useful for anyone. Bill is a very functional person who keeps things together very well. But I know that talking to someone other than me is helpful for him. He’s gaining a lot of personal insight that I think will make him a better person… certainly a happier person. He deserves that, as most of us do. I think he appreciates the support, too. On another note, I love that Bill is so smart, and so interested in topics like Carl Jung. He teaches me so much… and every time he talks about art and Jung and other deep subjects, I thank God I married him, instead of some guy who just wants to drink cheap beer and watch football. Not that there’s anything wrong with cheap beer and football– more that a guy like Bill is more my speed.

And this hat is probably more my speed. Bill likes his women a little on the trashy side.

As a joke, I was also going to give Bill the above pictured baseball cap with Mister Rogers giving the finger. I did order it, but I think when that hat comes in, I’ll just keep it for myself. I doubt Bill would want to wear it, even though he’d think it was funny. He’s getting one more book, which is arriving tomorrow. It’s not about Jung or bartending. We’ll probably also make a cherry cheese pie or Bill’s favorite chocolate blackout cake, which I’ve made for him many times over the years. The cake is fantastic, but it takes us forever to eat it, and it’s probably better for the cooler months.

The tears continued after the gift exchange. This time, they came from someone other than Bill.

Yesterday, I was invited to an online memorial service for my old Peace Corps friend, Matt, who died in New York City in May. Some readers might remember that I wrote about Matt when he was killed. Since I live in Germany and, until yesterday, wasn’t in the club, I missed Matt’s first memorial service. Now they’re doing another one for his many friends worldwide. I was asked to sing a song at the event. That doesn’t surprise me, since I was well known for singing in the Peace Corps. I sent a couple of videos to the person who is arranging the event, asking him which song he thought would be most appropriate for the memorial.

The songs I chose were “In My Life” (in the style of Judy Collins) and “Imagine” (as done by Eva Cassidy). I started with “In My Life”, since it’s not known as an atheist anthem and is very accessible to a lot of people. I remember Matt had once told me he was raised Lutheran, but I didn’t know if the religion stuck, although I doubt it did. I also don’t know if any of his relatives are religious. But then I sent “Imagine”, since I do that one well, and it’s popular and very Peace Corps friendly. The guy arranging the event said “Imagine” made him cry, and expressed preference for that one. He says he’ll check with Matt’s cousin to see if he thinks it’s appropriate. If the cousin likes it, that’s the one I’ll probably do… and hope I don’t cry, either.

This video only has 30 hits, but it’s one of my favorite songs to sing.
This did turn out kind of pretty.

Once we started talking about it, it occurred to me that Eva Cassidy also died too young… and became famous after her death. I feel like that kind of happened to Matt, too. He was in the news after his death, because he was so beloved by his community and because the accident he suffered was so incredibly senseless and tragic. Eva also died in 1996, when we were in Armenia. Also, my sister knew Eva because they worked in a restaurant together in the early 90s. My sister waited tables and Eva played there. Or, at least that’s what my sister claims. I think it’s possible she’s telling the truth. She’s lived in the DC area for years, and often made extra money waiting tables, even though she had a regular “day job”.

And now that I think more about it, John Lennon also died much too young. He also died in New York City, as Matt also did. So while “Imagine” might seem a little too “Godless” for some people, I think it might be perfect for Matt. I don’t think he was really that into religion, although I really don’t know how he felt about God. My guess is that someone who exclaims “Christ on the cross!” in annoyance is not too worried about blasphemy. 😉 I’m not being critical about it, either, because I’m not all that religious myself. “Imagine” is a song written by a man who was a bright, shining star. He gave the world so much in his 40 years. And it was “reborn” by another bright shining star, who also gave so much before she died too young. It seems perfect for Matt, who was a shining star and inspiration to so many people– especially the many young people he taught.

Then this morning, I got an email from a complete stranger who found a video I made several years ago of the song, “On Heaven’s Bright Shore.” I couldn’t find accompaniment for that song, but I really wanted to try it. So I decided to sing it acapella. I coupled the acapella singing with pictures of clouds, mostly taken from airplanes. A lot of people have played it– or, a lot for my channel, at least. I would like to redo it with guitar, once I get better at playing. I make progress every day, but I’m still not quite ready for prime time.

I hope to redo this one someday, when my guitar playing is more advanced.

The person who emailed me wrote that his son had just died and he wanted to play an acapella version of “On Heaven’s Bright Shore” at his memorial. He said my version seemed to be the best. So he was kindly asking for permission to play my version, and wondering if I required payment. Of course I wrote back that he’s welcome to use the video, free of charge. I thanked him for asking me and expressed condolences for the loss of his son. It’s quite an honor that someone would want to play my version of that song at a memorial service, and it was so kind of the guy to ask me if I minded.

I was pretty surprised to get that email. I have some videos that have as few as four views! I don’t really promote my videos much. They’re mostly just songs I want to try. I get better recording results on YouTube than I do SingSnap, so that’s why I make the videos. But I don’t really have a rhyme or reason as to when I do the songs. I mainly just make videos when I need to for a blog post or when I’m inspired to try something. I have also done a couple by request. Not all of the videos are musical. Some are raw footage from travels– memories I want to preserve– or they’re videos featuring my dogs. I admire people who make successful YouTube channels, but I’m not very comfortable on camera, and I don’t want to deal with hostile comments. So I mostly just stick to blogging.

Bill and I were talking over breakfast and I was laughing about how I have such a raunchy sense of humor, tendency for depression, appreciation for profanity, and great love for obnoxiousness, yet somehow I wound up with this very sweet singing voice. The other day, I was practicing guitar and I asked Bill if he noticed I was getting better at barre chords. He said he didn’t know which chords I was playing, which I would not have expected. But then he said, “You were singing along, too.” And I said, “No, baby, that was Linda Ronstadt. But thank you very much for the compliment.” I’m not quite ready to sing and play at the same time. That’s like walking and chewing gum.

Anyway… I’m hoping the song goes off well. I have a feeling the memorial will be moving and fun. Matt was a special person, and I’m sure there are a lot of stories to be told, as well as songs to be sung. He had a lot of friends around the world and I think a lot of them will come together for this.

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Ex

Stuck in the selfish sandpit with Ex…

Special thanks to Wikipedia user, Andrew Dunn, who has allowed free use of his photo. It appears here unaltered.

I thought today, I’d take a break from reposts and rantings about current events. Sometimes, I just need an old fashioned venting session. This particular vent is, yet again, about Ex. It may get profane, so brace yourself or move along. And please, no shaming comments about how inappropriate it is for me to write about this. I’ll write about whatever I damned well please. I know the situation and the people involved. You, most likely, don’t.

July 4th is a big day in Bill’s family. Not only is it Independence Day, which is a big day for anyone in the military community; it’s also Bill’s older daughter’s birthday. Older daughter happens to share her birthday with younger daughter’s daughter– Bill’s granddaughter– who was born on a more recent July 4th. Bill was looking for a gift for his granddaughter, but not for his daughter. Older daughter is still estranged, thanks to her selfish, narcissistic, manipulative mother. He’s come to terms with it. She’s about to turn 30, and she has to make decisions for herself. But that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to watch from the sidelines.

What do we Americans usually do on birthdays? Most of us celebrate. Sometimes we go on trips, like Bill and I did last weekend for my birthday. We send gifts or have parties… or send a card.

Recently, younger daughter told Bill that she would like to send her sister something for her upcoming 30th birthday. Unfortunately, older daughter still lives with Ex, which makes it hard for younger daughter to communicate with her without interference from their mother. Ex evidently monitors older daughter’s phone and mail. I don’t agree with this policy, but it’s not my life. For some reason, older daughter tolerates the invasion of privacy, even though multiple people– including Bill– would love to help her move out of her mother’s house and live life more on her own terms. What can I say? You get what you settle for.

In any case, younger daughter said that she doesn’t think she can send her sister a birthday present or card. Why not? Because she says it would cause more drama for her sister than is worthwhile. Here are a few potential scenarios that could occur if younger daughter sends her sister anything for her birthday…

Older daughter: Look! My sister sent me a birthday gift!

Ex: How nice for you. She didn’t bother to acknowledge my birthday.

Or…

Ex: That looks pretty cheap. I bet she didn’t spend more than ten minutes picking it out. She doesn’t know what you like, does she?

Or…

Ex: That gift is so inappropriate. It’s not the right size, color, style, etc… (you get the idea) Nice that she can send you a gift, but completely ignore me on MY birthday.

Younger daughter has lived with Ex long enough that she knows what happens when someone other than her has a “special” day. Ex has a very long history of ruining holidays and special days. I have written many posts about how she regularly fucks up major religious holidays like Christmas and Easter…. although the last Easter she ruined turned out to be a wonderful blessing, since it meant the resurrection of Bill’s life. She once ruined Bill’s birthday by sending him many boxes of his possessions that she’d held onto for six years after their divorce, along with hateful letters from his daughters AND adoption papers to allow him to let #3 adopt them. She can’t stand for other people to be happy, get rewarded, or otherwise enjoy connections with other people. She regularly shits on other people’s joy and tries to sabotage their successes.

Now… this isn’t really my business at all. I only know about it because Bill told me. I have a lot of empathy for younger daughter, who was always close to her older sister. I know she’d like to be closer to her now, especially since they live in separate states. But she can’t even send texts or call her without interference from Ex. She says Ex will access older daughter’s phone and read what’s on it. When younger daughter calls her sister, Ex will demand to know who’s on the phone. And she just acts like she owns the three kids who still live in her house. This is her way of maintaining control. It’s pure narcissism, and it sucks.

I am comforted in realizing, though, that Ex can’t live forever. Hopefully the ones still at home will eventually break away from her toxic bullshit and live their own lives… although she does have a child who has severe autism and will probably always need help. That’s supposedly one reason why older daughter still lives at home. Ex doesn’t take proper care of her youngest child, so older daughter, who is also reportedly on the spectrum, does it for her.

I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal that two adult sisters feel like they can’t wish each other a happy birthday without interference from their twatbag mother… (sorry, I know name calling is childish, but this shit really pisses me off). Both of Bill’s daughters are grown women and more than capable of telling their mother to fuck off. Of course, they won’t put it in those terms, since they’re LDS and don’t like to curse. Or, younger daughter is still LDS. I’m not sure about older daughter.

Apparently, now that the church is no longer an effective parental alienation tool, Ex doesn’t attend anymore. I’m sure older daughter stays home, too, especially since church members apparently tried to help her in the same way they helped younger daughter break away from her toxic mother’s influence. Some might say the church’s influence is also toxic, but I honestly don’t think it’s worse than Ex is.

I’m experienced enough to know that this problem is one that Bill’s daughters have to solve by themselves. It’s going to take them growing a backbone and insisting that their mother stay out of their business. That’s hard to do, though, when one of them still lives under Ex’s roof. It’s like older daughter is stuck in quicksand, with many people standing around the sandpit with life rings, just waiting for her to grab one and get pulled out of the toxic mire. But she won’t grab the ring.

It could be that older daughter doesn’t mind the craziness. Maybe she’s afraid of the unknown, or worries that she can’t survive on the outside. I know younger daughter told Bill that she didn’t contact him for a long time because she was afraid. She’d been told so many lies… and she worried about everything from potential abuse to a cold reception. Of course, now she’s found out that she could have always reached out to him for help, and life is soooo much better on her own terms. But it can be hard to convince people still entrenched in Ex’s private pseudo-cult that escape is possible and life is good on the outside.

I just think it’s sad– and rantworthy– that my husband’s daughters can’t trade birthday greetings without a bunch of drama from their mother… or even just the perception of potential drama. Obviously, this is something that happens a lot in Ex’s house. When younger daughter explained her apprehensiveness about sending a gift, Bill knew exactly what she meant. He remembers his days living with his ex wife, trying to do something good, kind, or nice, and somehow, she would manage to fuck it up or ruin it. She is a master at sabotaging other people’s joy and satisfaction.

I remember, after their divorce, Bill would agonize over gifts and cards he’d send to his daughters when they were kids. Of course, Ex probably never gave them the things he sent… or she’d throw them away or sell them… or somehow discount them with disparaging words about what a loser she thinks Bill is (even though she made two daughters with him and asked him to raise her older son). Apparently, she makes babies with “losers”. She’s either got terrible taste in men or she’s a fucking liar. I’m going with liar. She doesn’t appreciate decent people. In fact, the nicer and kinder a person is, the more disrespect she seems to hurl at them. Especially, if they’re men.

Anyway… I know it’s not my business or my problem. I just think it’s terribly sad, and wanted to vent about it. I don’t have a very close relationship with my three sisters, but they all managed to wish me a happy birthday last week. It was good to hear from them. It makes me sad that younger daughter now knows a little bit about the tremendous pain Bill went through in the many years he was kept exiled from his children. They can commiserate over this shared bad treatment they received from someone who should have been loving and kind to them. Every day, I wish to God he’d had those kids with me, instead of his ex wife.

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holidays

The birthday boy… “I really don’t care, do u?”

Today is Bill’s birthday. As a gift to him, I told him I wouldn’t complain if he orders Indian food for dinner. This is a big deal, because I don’t really like Indian food very much. It’s too spicy for me. Yes, I know not all of it is spicy, but I just never got on the Indian food appreciation bus. I wish I did like Indian food more. It would make things easier.

When I regularly used to play Cooking Dash 2016, there was an Indian restaurant. I don’t play Cooking Dash 2016 anymore, because I beat all the games and playing everyday became a chore. Anyway, some of the food used in the game looked really good. I was particularly fascinated by samosas. But then I tried to eat one in real life and it set my mouth on fire. I could not finish my very first samosa, and didn’t find eating it a pleasant experience.

Bill, by contrast, loves things hot and spicy. I think that applies to his women, too. He likes women who are a little bit difficult… not totally difficult, you understand. Just a bit spicy. I think he keeps me around for that purpose. He likes a challenge. If I were as bland as grits, he’d get really bored. Personally, I love grits, and other bland foods like potatoes and pasta… must be all that British/Irish heritage I have. Bill is happy to have flames coming out of his mouth.

Actually, to be honest, I told Bill that maybe we should go out to dinner tonight. He went looking for a place to go, but found little availability for tonight in Wiesbaden. He wasn’t too upset about it, though. Bill says that when a person gets to a certain age, birthdays aren’t that important and don’t need to be celebrated. So then I said, “I guess we should stop celebrating my birthdays, then.”

“No, no, no…” Bill said, “I like celebrating your birthday.” And he does, too, because it’s an excuse to go on a trip and/or eat a really nice meal in a restaurant. We usually do something fun for my birthday. I like celebrating Bill’s birthday, too. It gives me a reason to buy cool stuff.

He’s catching on!

This year, it was guitars. Last year, it was a cut crystal mixing glass for cocktails that I noticed him admiring when we went to Cologne last year to see the Eagles. In other years, I bought him knives from Japan or Germany. He started out loving the German Wusthof knives and graduated to Japanese knives. Our taste in knives has expanded. When we met, I was still using shitty Farberware knives.

Ten years ago, we were living near Atlanta, and Craft Atlanta was still operating. Bill had been wanting to go there, so I told him we should book a table. He hesitated, but I insisted that his birthday was worth celebrating. We ended up having a fantastic time, especially when I encouraged Bill to order a $61 steak. It had been dry aged for thirty days and I remember the waiter who looked after us got a look of sublime pleasure on his face. Maybe it was because of how good the beef was… or maybe it was because he was expecting a big tip, which of course he got. I remember coming home from that dinner with lots of amazing leftovers. I was so sad when I heard that Craft Atlanta closed. But then we had to move, anyway… and now, eating in a restaurant is a huge hassle.

Sweet ride…

I recently reposted a picture from that evening. Bill was driving my then new car, a 2009 Mini Cooper convertible. I still have that car, and it still has under 50,000 miles on it because it doesn’t get driven much. We may take it on our upcoming trip, though, because it’s fun to drive it at this time of year, with the top down… I look forward to spending some quality time outside, maybe swimming and taking pictures, reminding myself why it’s better to hang around here than peace out.

Last year, on Bill’s birthday, we were headed home from Leipzig, reeling over picking up a new car, seeing Mark Knopfler perform, and running into him and his band in the hotel restaurant. Six years ago, we were on our way home from Virginia, having just visited my father on his death bed. He died two days later, and we spent the rest of the month preparing for our move to Germany.

He’s no longer “Schfifty Five”…

As for Bill… he’s downstairs at his computer, working from home. I probably ought to make him a cake or something… or give him some birthday sex. Unfortunately, the door on the washing machine is on the fritz, so it’s probably better not to risk getting jism on the sheets until we can get it fixed. I don’t know that 2020’s birthday will be as exciting as past birthdays have been, but just so everyone knows, of course I care that today is Bill’s birthday. I thank God his mom was able to have him, because he’s a real gift to me.

Happy birthday, Mr. Bill! Yes, you can have takeout Indian food… and maybe we can have birthday sex, too. 😉 Or at least a hickey…

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divorce, family

Happy womb evacuation day…

A year ago, Bill and I were in Leipzig, Germany, where we had plans to see Mark Knopfler. I had bought tickets to see the famed guitar god in 2018, and seeing him perform live had been on my bucket list for years. We also bought a brand new car last year and went to Sweden to retrieve it, so we arranged to go up there a few days before the show and drove the car from Gothenburg, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark, to Rostock, Germany, and finally landing in Leipzig. Leipzig, by the way, is an awesome city. I would love to go back again. We happened to be there in time for their annual wine festival, which was a lot of fun.

It’s hard to believe all that has happened since July 4, 2019. I remember the day prior, Bill had a Skype call with his younger daughter. She finally started speaking to Bill a few years ago after many years of total silence. Bill’s older daughter still remains estranged. Younger daughter, on July 3, 2019, was still very pregnant and had plans to have her labor induced by July 9th. July 9th, by the way, happens to be the anniversary of my dad’s death.

When Bill ended his Skype call with his daughter, he said he didn’t think she would make it to July 9th. She was obviously exhausted and looked ready to pop.

The next day, we got in our new car and headed to Leipzig. I remember sitting in the wine festival, listening to music, and watching a couple of live musicians doing their thing. I also saw a young family. Mom and dad and a cute little boy… and mom was clearly expecting a new baby very soon. I suddenly felt kind of sad, because I knew that I would never have what those people had. It was also around the time that the world learned of Joy Anna Forsyth’s (nee Duggar) second trimester miscarriage, which despite my distaste for the Duggars, struck me as exceedingly sad. Of course, she’s about to have another baby next month.

This is about as close to fireworks as we’re getting this year.

Well, sure enough, by the next day, we learned that Bill’s daughter had her baby girl on July 4th. July 4th is also the day Bill’s older daughter exited the womb and made him a father. I know he’s thinking about his older daughter today. He got to meet his granddaughter in March, and he’s already talking about sending birthday greetings for her. Beyond that, we don’t have any major plans for Independence Day. We don’t usually do a lot on the Fourth of July, anyway, but it’s not a holiday in Germany. Bill will probably grill out, like he did last night, and we’ll drink too much and listen to music. Maybe we’ll practice guitar. I got him a few accessories for his guitar for his upcoming birthday. Bill did get yesterday off work, so he spent the day lamenting that Arran destroyed a large part of his garden.

Meanwhile, I spent some quality time with my guitar, surprising Bill with a fairly decent rendition of “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison, which isn’t a really hard song to play if you’re just doing the rhythm strumming and not trying to do the riffs. I also booked us a hotel room for a short weekend break in two weeks. I was wanting to go to Gerolstein, but had trouble finding appealing accommodation in the town itself, which is known for its mineral water. I ended up finding us a place in Meerfeld, which boasts an 80,000 year old “Maar”, a kind of lake formed by an explosion. I don’t feel as anxious about this trip as I did about my birthday trip to the Therme two weeks ago. We mainly just want to get away for a few days and be out in the country. The area is in the Eifel region, close to the Mosel Valley. It’s pretty, peaceful, and there’s a lot you can do outside in nature. There’s also a nearby salt water “Therme”, which I hope to try. Hopefully, we’ll stay healthy.

I’m grateful that Bill at least has contact with his granddaughter, even if his older daughter is still estranged. She’s 29 years old today. The last time I saw her in person, she was about to turn twelve. I haven’t seen Bill’s younger daughter since she was nine. I don’t feel like I’m related to them, even though I know how much Bill loves his daughters and misses them. I’m glad I encouraged him to make the visit in March happen. Although there was a lot of crying, there was also a lot of healing done. For that reason, 2020 will never be as bad for us as it’s been for a lot of people. It’s been the year that Bill finally got to take back what Ex tried to take away from him with her toxic bullshit.

There’s something else I kind of want to write about today… and I might do it later, after breakfast. I hesitate because I don’t want a shitstorm… especially on what should be a holiday.

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