The featured photo is of a beautiful loaf of bread Bill made yesterday. He’s become very accomplished at baking bread. It’s a skill he’s learned, and shares with younger daughter… It reminds me somewhat of my writing “career”. If you’re a regular reader, you might want to skip to the subheading.
Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been kind of losing my mojo. I look at the number of posts that actually get read by more than a few people, and I wonder why I keep writing. I have some posts that are very popular and get read by hundreds, or even thousands, of people. And I have some posts that get read by just one person. I’ve been wondering if maybe it’s time to quit blogging and do something else. What’s the point of writing if people aren’t interested?
Granted, it’s not that often that I only get one hit on a post. I also genuinely enjoy writing, especially when I’ve found an especially interesting or “juicy” topic. My blogs have also been useful in unusual capacities. (and apologies in advance to those who already know about the story I’m, once again, relating…)
Like, for instance, when we lived in our former house, and our ex landlady tried to accuse us of committing theft of a refrigerator. Thanks to my blogging and propensity to take lots of photos, I was able to prove that her allegations were false.
Ex landlady had claimed we dumped the fridge on her, and “stole” her nice one… which I had documented was one I purchased several days after we moved in on September 1, 2014. I had a receipt for it, because I bought it on Amazon.de. I had also blogged about that situation, back in 2014, before I realized what a mistake it was to rent that house. Former tenant had been following my writings and commented. Unlike later, when she’d leave comments and delete them, former tenant didn’t remove those early comments… which were much more conciliatory toward us. They came in handy years later, when ex landlady was trying to force us to fund her upgrades. If I hadn’t been a blogger, she wouldn’t have left those comments, and I probably wouldn’t have those photos.
I don’t know if ex landlady really believed that we stole her refrigerator and dumped an old American one on her. But, because on September 1, 2014, I had taken a photo of the crappy little refrigerator in the kitchen on the day we moved into her house, I could show that the old fridge she’d claimed we “dumped” on her was there the day we moved in. We could also prove the fridge wasn’t American, as it was plugged directly into the wall. American appliances have different plugs and use 110 voltage as opposed to 220.
Even though that whole situation was ludicrous, it was still very unpleasant to have to go through it. We were just looking for a place to live, and expecting our landlady to leave us in peace. Apparently, she had different ideas about what was reasonable and appropriate behavior on her part, and she expected us to simply give in to her accusations and demands.
Later, when things really started going south, former tenant was acting more like a flying monkey. I was not as aware as I should have been, and former tenant would leave comments and erase them. I’m not totally sure, but I assume she was stoking the situation– making it much worse than it needed to be. I don’t know what her motive was. Maybe she was simply getting her kicks, enjoying causing problems for us. Maybe she was jealous that we lived in Germany… or maybe she just didn’t like me, personally, or didn’t appreciate that I was a blogger instead of working at AAFES. She might have simply hated the name of my blog, assuming that I’m a narcissistic asshole just based on that. Who knows? I can’t ask her now, because she’s no longer among the living.
What I do know is that former tenant’s interference, coupled with ex landlady’s abuse, did some real damage to me. For a long time, I wondered if I should quit blogging, because she was using my blogs to stir up shit. I had legitimate trouble writing for awhile. I was feeling paranoid, and was, for a time, literally afraid to share my thoughts. It also took me months to feel comfortable in my current home, thanks to that situation with former tenant and ex landlady. I almost quit blogging back in 2019, when things got very intense and Bill decided to pursue legal action against ex landlady.
In the end, I forced myself to keep writing, even though my writing felt kind of “constipated” for awhile. I didn’t want to give those people the satisfaction of forcing me to quit what I enjoy doing. I especially wanted to send a hearty “fuck you” to former tenant, as I hadn’t planned on having an unofficial “minder” included in our rental contract when Bill signed the lease in 2014. Seriously… I don’t know why she was so determined to be involved in our business, but it was truly a bizarre situation. Maybe someday, I’ll even write a book about it. 😉
Things gradually got easier, and I eventually relaxed… I stopped engaging so much with the local military population, which made things much better. Although there are people from all walks of life in the U.S. military community, I’ve found that most of them seem to think I’m weird, annoying, or obnoxious. I am occasionally all of those things, but I don’t go out of my way to bother people. Some people want to assume that I do, though, and stir up drama, and as of 2019, I simply didn’t have the time for it anymore. I left high school in 1990, but some military folks are apparently still there, years after their graduation days.
I’ve since found that it’s much better to simply let readers find their way to me, rather than trying to promote the blog. Contrary to what people might believe, I don’t do this for “fame” or money. But I do sometimes get a little burned out… and I do worry, sometimes, that someone will get angry or upset about something and cause problems I don’t need. Dealing with former tenant reminded me that some people have alternative agendas… or are simply unhinged. So now, I’m much more cautious… and yes, sometimes I do consider whether or not writing is still worth my while.
Which brings me to today’s title…
I used to keep a Facebook page for the blog, which worked okay most of the time, but occasionally resulted in unpleasant and uninvited interactions with people who didn’t agree with my opinions and lacked the courage to comment publicly. I’d usually get those messages first thing in the morning, which would get my days off to a bad start.
Last year, when I got one too many wacko private messages from someone who didn’t even follow the blog or read what she was commenting on, I decided to delete the page. I had already deleted the blog’s contact page ages ago, mainly because people were leaving comments on things, but not including information about the content they were commenting on, which would leave me confused. A few people were also being insulting and chastising me– which, sorry, I don’t have to tolerate. If you want to leave a comment like that, you can do so publicly, so everyone can respond. And that’s only if I deign to approve the comment.
Yesterday afternoon, I received a really nice email from someone who must have been very determined to find my email address. I purposely don’t provide direct contact information on my blogs anymore, mainly because I don’t want to deal with crazies, like former tenant. Not everyone likes what I do, but some people have the wrong idea about me, and my motivations. I try to present truth as I see it, which doesn’t always make people happy. I still have the right to express myself without harassment, so long as what I write isn’t defamatory or libelous.
Making it harder to contact me directly also means that I miss out on positive feedback, like the email I got yesterday. The person wrote that she was very grateful that I had written about British gymnastics coach, Monica Phelps, and her sex offender husband, Brian Phelps. Apparently, the emailer was someone who had experience with the Phelpses, and she and others had read my post(s). And, although I don’t think I was nearly as negative about the Phelpses as I should have been in that first post, they were apparently glad someone had written something.
The crazy thing is, I wrote that first post about the Phelpses in December 2020, during the height of the pandemic. I was just bored one day, and ran across some “funny” YouTube videos someone had made about Monica Phelps and her oddly “verbal diarrhea” style of gymnastics commentating. Phelps made all kinds of appalling, shaming comments about gymnasts’ bodies. These weren’t gymnasts she was coaching, either– not that that would have been appropriate. They were simply girls and young women who were competing in the sport. Monica Phelps was comparing them to stick insects and making very belittling and insulting statements about them as they were performing very dangerous and physically demanding routines on television.
I am a singer, and I have sung in public. I know how nerve wracking that is. Adrenaline courses through the body as you face the audience, hoping you don’t forget words or your voice doesn’t crack… And yes, those things have happened to me before, and when they happen, they are mortifying. But… when you mess up as a singer, it generally doesn’t mean that you could be permanently injured or killed. Gymnasts, especially at the elite level shown on television, can really hurt themselves if they mess up. In many cases, what they’re doing is physically incredible, even if they aren’t at the level of Simone Biles or Sunisa Lee.
It was shocking to me to listen to Monica Phelps talk about what the gymnasts look like, and say some of the insulting things she said. I must admit, when I wrote that first post, I hadn’t really stopped to think about how very damaging it must have been to gymnasts who later listened to her comments. My initial reaction was laughter at the funny videos, but I admit that it should have been more like horror.
As I was completely unfamiliar with Monica Phelps in December 2020, I had no idea whatsoever that she had coached gymnasts, and that there were allegedly a lot of abuses in her facility. It wasn’t until February 2022, when I noticed a lot of hits on that first post, that I read more about Monica and Brian Phelps, and the terrible things that were alleged to have happened in their gym. I suspect that soon, there may be another huge women’s gymnastics scandal, this time originating in Britain, instead of the United States.
Yesterday, when I had “writer’s block”, I sort of took the day off of this blog, and just wrote on the travel blog. Sometimes, I need to do that, to give my brain a chance to recharge. But, as I was looking at the interaction for my latest posts, I wondered why I keep doing this… and making my writing public. Then I realized that sometimes, posts take off later, when they get tracked on Google. And I also realized that a lot of people do read and like what I do. They just don’t always take the time to say so… and there have been times when people have appreciated my efforts. I would say there are more readers like the one who contacted me yesterday than people like former tenant.
And anyway… I have always liked to write. I’ve been doing it since I was a child and had terrible handwriting that no one could read. I’ve always loved writing stories. It’s something I’m good at, and do well. It’s also easier for me to write original stuff for reading, than sing original stuff, although once my guitar skills are better, that could change.
So, I’ll keep blogging… and be grateful when anyone reads my posts, especially when they comment. I don’t even mind criticism, as long as it’s delivered in a civil manner. And thanks again to the ladies who appreciate my posts about Monica Phelps. I’ll be looking for more developments on that story, and probably writing about them.
Hopefully, some will find my efforts interesting… but I think it’s most important that I still find the work worth doing. And right now, I still do… whether you choose to read it, or not.