Bill, family, funny stories, LDS, memories, narcissists, nostalgia, Virginia

Spend some money on yourself… it’ll be good for you!

Yesterday was an interesting day. After I posted yesterday’s YouTube related blog rant, I dozed off for a short while. When I woke up, I suddenly thought about a woman I knew of when I was in college. She may or may not appreciate me using her real name in my blog post, but I’m going to do it, because she’s somewhat famous in certain circles and could be considered a public figure. And, as I found out yesterday, she’s currently trending.

Her name is Cullen Johnson Hill. I know of her because we both went to Longwood College (now Longwood University), and she won the Miss Longwood pageant when we were students there. I didn’t know her personally, but she knew some of my friends. After Cullen graduated from Longwood, she went on to win the 1994 Miss Virginia title. She competed in the 1995 Miss America pageant and was the first runner up. I distinctly remember watching Cullen on national television in September 1994. It was at a time when I still didn’t mind watching beauty pageants. I used to think they were kind of fascinating. I especially loved Miss Universe, since the contestants came from all over the world. I thought the international contestants were fascinating; especially the ones who needed interpreters.

The moment of truth…

I was sad that Cullen didn’t win the Miss America title, because naturally, I was rooting for Miss Virginia and a fellow Longwood alum. But I can also understand why Heather Whitestone won the title. Not only was Heather very beautiful, but she’s also deaf. Whitestone was the very first Miss America with a disability. She was also able to perform a beautiful dance solo, in spite of her disability. So, I do think Heather was the right choice for Miss America that year, but I also think Cullen would have been a wonderful Miss America. She really had the look for it, as well as grace and poise.

Time went on. The following year, I wasn’t able to watch the pageant, because I was living in Armenia, working with the Peace Corps. I never really forgot about Cullen, though, and every once in awhile I’d wonder how she was doing. I saw old newspaper articles about her pageant career, including one in which she mentioned a “halo effect” in which people who overcome the biggest obstacles win. It was not a very politically correct observation, although I personally believe there’s a lot of truth in it. This link doesn’t lead to the offending newspaper article, but Cullen’s comment rankled enough that she was mentioned in a SF Gate op-ed.

So anyway, for some strange reason yesterday afternoon, I randomly thought about Cullen. And because I have a lot of time on my hands, I Googled. And there it was… posted on EOnline, December 5, 2023. Cullen had uploaded a rather shocking TikTok video about her struggles with alcoholism. Fresh from a thirty day jail stint, sporting a black eye, and looking unrecognizable from the beautiful woman I remembered from my college days, Cullen was telling everyone like it is for her. She says she’s been an alcoholic since she was 24 years old, and is now on a journey back to sobriety. She says she’s been there before, and it’s “wonderful”. And she’s lucky enough to have a husband and a son who love her very much.

I see that some rather sketchy “media” outlets have picked up Cullen’s story. The TikTok video has been reposted on YouTube by fake news channels that use AI to generate ad revenue. I saw at least one TikTok user reacting to Cullen’s video. I shared the EOnline story on Facebook, because I know some of my friends know Cullen. One friend in particular is a true friend of hers, describing her as a very sweet person. She said she hoped Cullen can restore her health.

I’m not going to throw any shade at Cullen, because honestly, but by the grace of God, I could have easily gone the same way. Like me, Cullen grew up a military brat. Her father, Jay Johnson, was a very high ranking Naval officer, and after he retired, he continued his very successful career in the business world. Johnson had the distinction of taking over the Chief of Naval Operations job from Jeremy “Mike” Boorda, who had a memorable exit from the role when he committed suicide over being accused of “stolen valor”. I don’t know Cullen’s father, but I have been around military folks my entire life, including the high ranking. I imagine she was under tremendous pressure to look and behave in the “right” ways. Alcoholism is a family disease, and it thrives on secrecy and image protection.

I know I could be wrong… and God knows, it’s not easy to live with people who suffer from addiction. But I also know, having grown up with an alcoholic father, that the addiction usually comes from somewhere very painful. Substance abuse is often less about having a good time, and more about trying to dull significant pain through self-medication. My father was himself the son of an alcoholic. My grandfather was described as a great guy when he wasn’t drinking, but when he drank, he became violent and abusive. My dad was only occasionally violent; he was a high functioning alcoholic. But that didn’t make him easy to live with. He and I didn’t have a very good relationship, although I did love him.

On her TikTok video, Cullen wrote in the comments that she doesn’t speak to her father anymore. She also mentions finding her mother passed out once, when she was very young… Again, as a fellow child of an alcoholic, I can relate to that, too. I found my dad passed out more than once. There were a couple of times when he tried to work with fire while he was very drunk. Once, he tried to grill a steak and forgot about it on the grill… My mom, who didn’t know how to use the grill, had me bring the charred piece of meat into the house and leave it in the sink for him to find. Seeing the burned steak had no effect on his behavior. Another time, he tried to burn trash and brush in our backyard while he was drinking. He forgot about the fire and it almost torched his business.

Anyway, seeing Cullen’s TikTok video was a mindblower. I wish Cullen all the best as she recovers. I think she’s very brave to share her story, and I hope she doesn’t encounter too many trolls. My heart goes out to her… and I appreciate that she still has a sense of humor, which she showed in the TikTok video. She did make a less than politically correct comment in the video, and I know some people will drag her for that. I’m not going to, though, because as I mentioned yesterday, I’m not into cancel culture– especially over comments that are simply deemed not “PC”.

While I certainly don’t condone drunk driving, or the fact that Cullen was in jail because she got caught doing that a second time, I also know that alcoholism and other addictions really are diseases. It’s not as simple as just quitting drinking or using drugs. Conquering addiction is a lifelong process that requires strength and diligence. And just like people who have cancer or heart disease sometimes relapse, so do people with addictions.

Which brings me to the title of today’s post…

I remembered mentioning Cullen on my old Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. I went there this morning to see what I wrote. I found the post from September 16, 2013, in which I wrote about how I preferred to watch The Miss America Pageant instead of The Big Lebowski. Bill loves The Big Lebowski, but I am not a fan of that film. I’ve tried to watch it more than once, but I don’t like it. Believe it or not, I don’t like it because of all the swearing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind curse words, but I don’t like listening to a two hour stream of them. I also mentioned that Donald Trump had made the pageants unwatchable. That was in 2013– before we knew how he’d make the office of POTUS an international joke. I only mentioned Cullen by name in passing on that post, and made an unnamed reference to her on an earlier post, and apparently never posted about her again.

I clicked on the previous day’s post, which was titled “Things Bill does now that he never did when he was LDS…” In that post, I wrote about all the fun stuff Bill does now that he didn’t do when he was a Mormon. I made an actual list, and some of the stuff was pretty epic. Then, at the end of the post, I wrote about how I once had to order Bill to buy himself some new undershorts. Thanks to life with Ex, he wasn’t in the habit of spending money on himself… even on true necessities like underwear. Below is the excerpt about when I made Bill buy new skivvies…

Now, for the underwear story… When we first got married, we were pretty broke.  Bill had purchased some cheap knit boxer shorts from KMart.  I was sitting on our bed when he walked into the room.  The boxers he was wearing were not quite large enough to cover him.  I turned around and was just about eye level with his penis, which was poking out of the hole in the front of the boxers.  I gasped and blushed in surprise and covered my eyes, then said “For God’s sake, cover yourself!”

He blushed.  I wasn’t used to seeing a naked man and wasn’t expecting to see that…  Oddly enough, his ex wife declared me “unsuitable” and a “bad influence” for not being Mormon.  Apparently, I’m not moral, even though the sight of my husband’s penis was a shock to me when we first got married.

I then declared that we were going underwear shopping.  The first thing he was going to do was purchase some decent boxer shorts that he liked and that fit him properly.  It was stark contrast to his ex wife’s style, which was to tell him he should be spending all his money on his family or the church instead of his own basic needs.  She would have begrudged him even purchasing decent underwear… because as a Mormon, he should be wearing church approved skivvies anyway.

I later told my Granny the underwear story.  She was in her late 90s at the time and thought it was hysterical.  She was the mother of nine, so I’m sure such a sight would not have made her blush.

…Some people might say that Bill gave up pleasures of the next life for pleasures in this one…  Somehow, I feel like if there is a next life, the same admonishment might come into play.  Some higher evolved being would tell Bill not to enjoy life now because it will ruin the “next life”.  Is there something beyond this life?  I don’t know.  Bill “knows” more than I do, since he has had a near death experience.  Was it just his brain protecting him?  I don’t know.  But it changed who he is and made him more spiritual, despite all he’s been through.  It has helped keep him from becoming bitter and angry. 

It sure has been fun watching him enjoy living and helping him discover new things.  

Well… yesterday was Bill’s younger daughter’s birthday. I sent her a Jacquie Lawson e-card and a $200 gift card that can be used at a variety of places. I told her I hoped she’d use the gift card on herself. But I also know, since she’s Bill’s daughter, that she might not do that. She’s a very kind and generous person, like Bill is. She’s about to be a mother of four, and she was raised by her mother not to be “selfish” and think of her own needs, even though her mother very selfishly refused to share younger daughter and her sister with their father.

I’m sure Ex would be very angry if she knew I had given her daughter such a generous gift. She’d probably accuse me of “horning in”, or whatever, or trying to “buy” younger daughter’s affections. I’ve only met younger daughter in person ONCE in my lifetime. But I’ve gotten to know her online, and I’m relieved that she’s like Bill. And since she’s like Bill, my guess is that her needs tend to come last. I truly do hope she will use that gift card to get herself something she really wants or needs. Self-care is good for the soul.

Well, that about does it for today. We’re going to a Christmas party tonight… and taking a cab. πŸ˜‰ I’ve got to get my dreaded Thursday chores done before that happens.

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tragedies, travel

My second day to be 51…

Hi, everybody. I decided to skip posting yesterday because I caught a virus and was feeling pretty wretched. I did put some posts up on the travel blog, but they were mostly photos. I didn’t take too many of them yesterday, because I slept for most of the day, fighting off a common cold. I’m happy to report that sleeping on my birthday was a wise move, as I feel much better today and will probably be mostly fine by tomorrow.

We are flying to Stockholm tomorrow morning, and should get there at around lunchtime. I’m glad to be going, because although I have enjoyed Bergen and there’s a lot we didn’t get to do that I wanted to do, we’ve spent four nights here. I am ready for new scenery!

I suspect our digs will get a lot swankier on the ship, too. At the very least, I can get my laundry done!

I’ve been reading about the men in the Ocean Gate Submersible. Lots of people are posting really ugly thoughts about them, basically saying they deserve to die because they’re “rich, spoiled, tourists”. Frankly, I have a hard time feeling that way about them… especially the 19 year old young man who was aboard with his father. I think it must be terrifying to be trapped in a vessel under the ocean, knowing that if you aren’t rescued, you will die of hypoxia.

I don’t think many people deserve such a horrible fate. I certainly wouldn’t wish it on someone simply because they happen to be very wealthy. Anyway, I do hope they are found relatively safe.

I’m glad my second day of being 51 was better than my first day. I did experience that legendary surge of energy when a cold starts moving to the next phase. Now, I’m pretty tired, and ready to crash. I’ll probably write more tomorrow from Stockholm tomorrow, but tonight, I’m going to dump more photos on the travel blog. So, if you’re interested in that, be sure to click the link at the top of the page.

The featured photo was taken at the top of the mountain overlooking Bergen. They have goats up there who are even friendlier than they seemed!

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dogs, holidays, narcissists

Sure enough, I was right again about Ex…

Hello to you folks out there in Internetland. I apologize in advance for today’s blog post. This is a tough time of year, though, when there are narcissists in your life… even if they are just on the periphery. Writing about this bizarre stuff is useful for me. It helps me process. I suspect some other people are helped by it, as well. Dealing with a personality disordered narcissistic type is jarring and isolating, at best.

Yesterday, I wrote about my father. In that post, I wrote that I don’t think he was a narcissist. I still don’t think he was. He had issues with alcoholism and PTSD, but there were many times when he had compassion and empathy. He also didn’t deliberately do things to stir up shit, especially during the holidays. It’s just that things would happen frequently on his watch, usually because of his irritability and short fuse, and shenanigans from one of my sisters. If he weren’t an alcoholic and had a chance to work on his demons, I don’t think he would have been who he frequently was. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Ex.

Recently, I wrote a post about Christmas time approaching. In that post, I wrote about how narcissists LOVE to ruin holidays. That wasn’t a new topic for me. I’ve written plenty of times about how Ex has screwed up other people’s abilities to enjoy celebrations. Sure enough, it happened again this year.

Yesterday, we received a box from younger daughter. In it, there was a stocking for the dogs. It was full of rawhide treats and a toy. They went nuts for it, although we don’t give them rawhides. I used to give them to our dogs, but have since stopped, because they can break teeth and cause intestinal blockages. Still, I got some really adorable shots of their reactions to the gift. She also sent a framed photo of her family, which delighted both of us– especially Bill. It’s just so nice to finally have one of his kids back in our lives. Just talking to her brings him joy.

Arran was obsessed with the photo, because it smelled like the treats!
The dogs were delighted with younger daughter’s gift!

Of course, Ex isn’t very happy about younger daughter’s reconciliation with her father. She’s upset that younger daughter lives so far away, and resists her attempts to maintain control of her. Recently, younger daughter celebrated her birthday. Ex contacted her at midnight Ex’s time, which is two hours later than where younger daughter lives. Ex wrote that she hoped younger daughter had a good birthday, then wrote a lengthy screed about her life. It was full of the usual complaints and insults, which younger daughter wrote that she could barely stand to read.

Then she went on Facebook and liked every photo in which younger daughter was tagged, leaving her with about 35 notifications on her account. Younger daughter wisely wrote that it looked like Ex was trying to look like she was being a “good mother”. As Christmas day is approaching, I’m betting there will soon be more of the same behavior… lots of drama and actions that are designed to maintain appearances for onlookers.

Younger daughter also had a discussion with older daughter, and my suspicions about her motivation for going back to school were confirmed. It’s for the loan money… although I’m not sure Ex really thought this idea through very well. The program that older daughter is entering will introduce her to courses in psychology that may ring a bell of recognition pertaining to her own fucked up situation. I’m sure Ex will do her best to encourage older daughter not to expose herself in person to people who might recognize her plight and offer to help her escape. That could, however, wind up being exactly what happens. Who knows?

Older daughter also made it clear that she won’t leave her mother’s home, because she’s too worried about what would happen to her little brother with severe autism. If that isn’t a damning statement, I don’t know what is. Here she is, sacrificing her life to make sure her brother is taken care of. Part of me wonders, though, if she’s made this her mission in life because she’s afraid to try living on her own. I’m sure fear is a big part of it– she’s afraid for her brother, and rightfully so. But I think she’s also afraid for herself– engaging in a little “learned helplessness”. So she stays in a hellish situation, living with her narcissistic mother under the guise of “protecting” her brother, who will soon be an adult. Does she plan to stay there for the rest of her life? I don’t know… but sooner or later, she’s going to be on her own. I hope it’s not when she’s middle-aged.

Also… if her brother’s well-being would really be in jeopardy if he was left alone with Ex, perhaps it’s time for authorities to intervene. It would make sense to get him out of the home, too. Older daughter is certainly old enough to file for legal custody of her brother, if she really thinks he’s in danger, although it might not be feasible for her to care for him alone. She’d have to get a job. But there are programs and schools for people like him. It sounds like she’ll probably be taking care of him, anyway. Anyway… it’s not my business… but I do wonder. I know Bill worries about his older daughter, too.

Older daughter also used to enjoy going to meetings at the LDS church. Younger daughter said that she stopped attending, though, because people in the church were trying to help her, and that upset Ex. It was church members who helped younger daughter escape Ex, so now Ex wants no part of the religion, even though she was the one who brought them to church in the first place. The church is a source of outside influence, friends, significant others, and prying eyes that might get Ex in trouble or cause her to lose resources. I often see Ex posting about protecting children, liberal causes, autism awareness, and other “woke” stuff. But the reality is, she doesn’t even take care of her own son, let alone actually do any work that would further the causes she claims to support. Taking care of her son is her older daughter’s job. Ex doesn’t want her to leave, because she’s basically convinced her to be her slave and allow her to exploit her own child. Older daughter is a “stay at home daughter”, not unlike the unmarried daughters in large fundie families who stay home to raise their parents’ children and do chores.

I would stake money on Ex being involved in something illegal. I would not be surprised, for instance, if she’s engaged in identity theft, or something of that nature. She has a history of doing sketchy things, particularly regarding money, especially with those who get closed to her. Unfortunately, no one has ever held her legally accountable. At least not yet. Hopefully, her meeting with karma is upcoming. I certainly pray for it.

Today’s featured photo also made an appearance in my repost of my review of The Sociopath Next Door. I’m reposting it again, because Ex ticks all of the boxes. I hope younger daughter decides to block her mom soon. She deserves to enjoy her holidays in peace.

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divorce, family, love, marriage

The not so wicked stepmonster…

Last night, I did something I have never done before in 20 years of marriage. It feels kind of momentous, especially since I have technically been a stepmom the whole time I’ve been married.

I sent my younger step daughter a birthday card. If memory serves, she’s turning 29 today… although Bill thinks he might have been celebrating the wrong birthday for all these years. I know for a fact that he told me her birthday was on the 6th, but then last night, he said he remembered the day of her birth was on a Wednesday, which he thinks was the 8th. Now, that was a Wednesday in 1993, so I don’t know if he actually remembers the date properly. In any case, I tend to have a better memory about these things than he does, even though I wasn’t in his life when she was born.

I actually sent her an e-card from Jacquie Lawson, rather than a physical card. I like them, because they’re creative, interactive, and cool, and they’re easy to choose and send. Bill’s late Aunt Betsy used to send them to me, so I subscribed to the service, too. And then, as I was about to schedule the card to be sent, I asked Bill if he thought maybe younger daughter might like a gift card. He said she would, so I looked to see what was available.

At first, I thought maybe it would be good to send her one for Cold Stone Creamery, since I know she likes ice cream and she has little kids… Then I remembered we just sent her a box of macaroons from France, and that might be sweetness overload. Then I wondered about movie passes, but I wasn’t sure if she has AMC Theaters near her… Then I thought about getting a gift card to a restaurant, but then I remembered that she mentioned having car problems recently, which could make a date night problematic. I finally settled on a $100 Target gift card. I figured she could use it on anything she wants. If she has a pressing need, and is short on cash, she can use it for that. Or, if she just wants to splurge on something, she can use it for that purpose.

One thing I remember about being 29 is that I was always broke, mainly because I was in graduate school. And I didn’t even have kids, while younger daughter has three! Some of the best gifts I got during that time in my life were in the form of money… so I could pay bills. I remember one year, my sister sent me $100 or so, and I used it to pay my health insurance premium. It was a huge load off my mind and truly appreciated.

Maybe it seems odd for me to feel wonderment about sending my husband’s younger daughter a birthday card and a gift card. But you have to realize, I have never had a chance to be in her life, and for a long time, I never expected I would ever know her. For years, I was very angry with her for the way Bill was treated. And then, once they did finally reconnect, I didn’t want to intrude, as Bill gingerly tried to reconcile with his long lost child. They had a lot to discuss between themselves, and I felt that I shouldn’t get in the middle of that. One thing that I’ve often heard from stepchildren is that they often feel like stepparents, especially stepmothers, interfere and intrude too much. So I wanted to give them space to bond and heal.

I’ve only met my husband’s daughters in person once, and that was in 2003. At the time of our one meeting, Bill and I had only been married for about seven months. After that meeting, Ex determined that I was too much of a “bad influence”, and refused to cooperate with visitation requests. For the next fifteen years, I felt like there were these “ghost children” in the midst. Then, in 2017, Bill started talking to his daughter again. I started trusting her sometime in 2018, when I could plainly see that she wasn’t her mother reincarnated. In fact, she appears to be the complete opposite of her mother, thank God.

Last night I was feeling generous… and then Bill reminded me of how, when he finally got to see her in the flesh back in March 2020, she sent me a beautiful and sincere “Thank You” note for loving Bill. This year, she sent us a lovely card congratulating us on our 20th wedding anniversary. And it’s very obvious to me that in spite of what Ex claimed, back when Bill tried to assert his parental rights, younger daughter never forgot who her real dad is… nor did she ever regard him as a mere sperm donor (don’t even get me started on that). I do think she was afraid to talk to him for a long time. Ex had told her a lot of lies about Bill, but I also think maybe younger daughter worried that he’d be angry with her. She had no way of knowing that her father is one of the most even-keeled, reasonable, decent men there is. All she had to go on were her own memories of Bill, and the ridiculous stories her mother told her.

I don’t expect that younger daughter will ever see me as anyone more than Bill’s wife… but I can, at least, be better than #3 has been, and show a sincere interest in her. I can be a better, saner example than her mother has been. Aside from that, I like to shop, and I’m damned good at it. πŸ˜‰

Hopefully, I got the birthdate right. Bill has already sent her a gift, which she accidentally opened sooner than she was supposed to… a Le Creuset Dutch Oven, as well as a couple of other kitchen implements. I’m sure she’ll be surprised to get something from me. πŸ˜‰ But I can be full of surprises, you know…

By the way, the featured photo was taken on my birthday last June… We were in Antwerp, Belgium. I’d probably pick a different dessert for younger daughter, as I believe I had a Colonel– that’s citrus flavored sorbet with vodka poured all over it. I suspect that would not be something she would ever order. But I know Bill would look as happy as he does in that photo, if he could be in Utah to help his daughter celebrate in person.

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Germany, music, News, social media, YouTube

Time to change the subject…

Yesterday was quite a day. It wasn’t a bad day, per se. We had beautiful weather, and I was productive, with new posts on this blog and the travel blog. I also made a new music video, which was very suddenly inspired after lunch, as I was listening to my HomePod. The Cox Family’s beautiful version of “I Am Weary, (Let Me Rest)” came on. I like to sing that song and realized that I hadn’t recorded it yet. I also realized that there were three chords in the song and I could play it on my guitar. So that’s what I did…

I think it turned out nicely, even with my amateur guitar work.

Originally, I tried to make a live video to go with this. I even put on makeup! But after four takes, I just couldn’t get the video to look right. I get pained looks on my face when I sing, and I just felt too unattractive and self-conscious. So I used photos of the Rhein River and my dogs who were… resting.

I didn’t share this video far and wide, nor did I really promote it. I did share it on the Recovery from Mormonism board, because there are people there who seem to enjoy my videos. It was kind of disheartening that the first comment was from someone who wasn’t logged in, and they decided to provide links to the original song. I thought about asking the person what they thought of the video I made, since that was the topic I started. Then I realized asking what they thought of the topic at hand would make me sound egotistical and entitled, so I ignored the person’s comment. There was one other comment. It was from the resident legal all knower, who enjoys arguing with people and telling them they’re “wrong”, even on matters of opinion. Her comment was about the Cox Family, too. I kind of wish I could just delete the thread, now. I guess I won’t share links on RfM anymore.

Well, at least Bill liked the video. He was visibly excited when I was done recording. No, he wasn’t “excited” in that way. πŸ˜‰ The below post from Facebook gave me a good chuckle. I don’t think Planet Earth is where this fellow lives. Why is he so obsessed with looking at other men’s junk?

Religious people are fucked.

A couple of days ago, Bill and I attended a little fest in Hofheim, which I included in my post about it on the travel blog. As I heard about the shootings at the Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois, it occurred to me how fortunate we’ve been, living in a country where most people aren’t armed. At that little fest we attended, people were singing and dancing to live music, arm in arm. They weren’t hurling insults at each other, based on their religion or political beliefs. And I never once worried that someone might get shot. In fact, I felt very safe, as the fire brigade was there, showing off their fire engines. We also ran into a very charming gentleman with an organ grinder, playing and singing music to kids and making balloon animals. It used to be that way in the United States. Unfortunately, it’s not like that now.

As the day wore on, I found myself drawn into Twitter again, reading irrational comments from abusive people who compared anyone pro-choice to people like Jeffrey Dahmer and Adolf Hitler. I don’t understand why these folks don’t have an issue with gun toting nuts roaming the streets who open fire on innocent bystanders at parades, but they can’t abide a woman having an early abortion of an embryo, which isn’t yet sentient and has no concept of life, death, pain, or terror. But these folks aren’t known for their brain power or reasoning skills, are they?

I ended up waking up at 3:15 am to go to the bathroom, and when I noticed I had a shit ton of notifications from strangers on Twitter, I decided to delete the app. I’m going to have to make a conscious decision not to visit Twitter often, because it’s far too toxic and abusive, and I have to safeguard my mental health. That’s also where Ex lurks, and while her tweets are good fodder for my blog, they aren’t very good for my mental health, either.

Speaking of Ex… or not really speaking of her, but her granddaughter… The little girl turned 3 yesterday. Younger daughter sent us a video, showing off one of the gifts Bill sent. It was a little pink princess tent, which they had already put up for her. I was the one who suggested the tent. I figured she’s the only girl now, and she might like to have a little tent as she gets a bit older. It will make a place for her to play with her toys, take naps, and read books, if she likes reading. Apparently, the tent was a big hit with big brother, too. He got on the camera and showed off a new toy he got. Bill also bought his granddaughter a little STEM garden toy, that teaches kids about how to garden. It might be a little advanced for her now, but she’ll probably love it when she’s a bit older.

Bill’s birthday is also coming up. I bought him a pair of Keen sandals. He’d asked for them, having worn Keen shoes for years. The Keen shoes are very comfortable, but they don’t breathe. The sandals don’t have that problem. I have worn Keens for over ten years now. They are my favorite summer shoes. I can’t wear their other shoes, though. In the winter, I wear Danskos. So much for stylin’, although neither of these shoes are inexpensive brands. They just aren’t particularly sexy. I dress for comfort.

Anyway… I don’t have it in me to write a screed today. I need a break from the usual topics. I found myself, once again, getting very angry about the lunacy coming from the United States. Sometimes, living over here makes me feel a strange sort of “survivor’s guilt”. I’m really feeling a lot of disdain for the United States now. It’s gotten absolutely crazy.

Another July 4th is down the tubes. July historically sucks for us, so hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come in 2022.

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