family, LDS, lessons learned, love, marriage, narcissists, songs

We didn’t need fireworks yesterday. They were in our eyes.

Today’s featured photo is one of several great selfies Bill and I took on our trip. I have a hard time looking that happy in photos without him in them. We seem to light up when we’re together… not unlike fireworks.

I’m not really a super Katy Perry fan, but this song seems appropriate for today’s post…

For my sparkly husband…

Hmmm… I like Katy’s music. Maybe it’s time I listened to more of it.

Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day working on my travel blog. I still have a long way to go. Preserving memories is something I do for us, even though most people don’t seem too interested. I’ll be honest. I don’t read a lot of blogs myself. Why should I expect anyone to read mine?

It’s funny, because people will eagerly read message boards and social media posts, but they don’t often want to read a blog. However, I have an itch to write, so I do. Sometimes, I like going back and remembering what inspired my posts. So, even though the posts I spent most of yesterday writing have less than ten hits collectively, I’ll probably spend today writing a couple more of them. And I’ll keep doing that until I’ve covered the whole trip. Then, I’ll write other posts about related subjects, and I’ll write reviews for TripAdvisor or Cruise Critic or both… I really am a writer, even if others don’t think so.

I wrote something else yesterday. Just before Bill and I went on our big journey, I went back to the Recovery from Mormonism board. I had taken a couple of months off, because I was kind of pissed off at a couple of regular posters and needed a break. I don’t think that many people missed me, and I was wondering if maybe it was time to move on from that particular spot on the web. Yesterday, I realized that I still do have some things to add to the RfM community, although maybe I won’t be doing it as often as I used to.

Someone posted a thread titled “Sometimes bad decisions turn out to be good.” The thread was about how the original poster had made a poor decision when he married his first wife. But as bad as the initial decision was, and as much pain as the OP went through because of it, in the long run, the bad decision turned out to be a good one.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my husband’s history with his ex wife, and our subsequent love tale. I added a very lengthy response of my own to that thread. I actually hesitated before I wrote it, because I sense that maybe some people on that board don’t believe me… or they think I’m obnoxious or insufferable or whatever. In fairness, our story is pretty incredible. I’ve reread and done some minor editing of what I wrote, and I feel like our story sounds kind of like a made for television movie script. It’s almost contrived. But, I swear, it’s the truth.

It’s almost like Bill and I were destined to be together… but then I realize how easily we could have missed each other in this existence. If one or two things from our personal histories had been different, I might be a 51 year old virgin slogging away in a cubicle, and he might be single, or married to someone not as bad as Ex, but not as compatible with him as I am.

I’m not going to post here what I wrote there, because you can easily find the story in the blog, or you can simply click the link and read the whole thread. But I am going to ruminate on it a little and maybe add some more context to the story.

This could be a song for Bill…

As lengthy and crazy as my post on RfM was yesterday, I really only scratched the surface of our story. I briefly mentioned that Bill was abused by his ex wife in all possible ways, but I didn’t come out and say that he was a victim of domestic violence. I’m sure Ex would deny that she abused him, too… but she did. And it wasn’t just emotional, financial, and mental abuse. She left actual physical scars in private places on his body, as she lied to other people about him. She told my husband’s parents and stepmother that he was an abuser who hates women, when really, the opposite is true. She is an abuser who, apparently, hates men.

Thankfully, Bill didn’t literally burn down any houses, as Martina McBride alludes to in her song, “Independence Day”. But, when Ex demanded a divorce that she didn’t actually want and he agreed, he did sort of figuratively “burn down the house.” That was the moment when the bad decision he’d made in 1990 started turning into a good decision.

In that thread, I shared a video of Bill and me on our Regent cruise. It was the first day, and we were sharing a bottle of champagne. This is the same video I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Bill not liking the sound of his own voice.

Apologies for those who have already seen this… I just want to show how much obvious “chemistry” we have, even after 21 years.

I think videos and photos are a good way of documenting things, and the above video offers people a means of seeing us in a way that my words can’t describe. Years ago, when I first discovered RfM, I tried to share our story, and a lot of people didn’t believe me. I got a lot of scorn and derision, with people openly doubting I was being honest. They figured Bill had to be more at fault for the failure of his first marriage than he was, because so often, it seems like men are the more guilty parties when a relationship fails. A lot of people thought I must be looking at my husband with rose tinted glasses, or just flat out lying.

It didn’t help that I’m his second wife, and a lot of people look at second wives with suspicion, and automatically assume they’re homewreckers. Conventional wisdom tells us that men are typically selfish jerks, and subsequent wives and girlfriends are scheming shrews. Just look at any good fairy tale, or popular movies like The First Wives Club. It took several years before people started to believe me. I think the fact that some people knew me on Facebook really helped. Like I wrote above, seeing photos and videos of people lends credibility. Also, I’ve been hanging out on RfM for over 20 years, and my story hasn’t changed.

I’ve also since learned that when relationships fall apart, no one is ever 100 percent at fault. Even Ex, as abusive as she was, isn’t entirely to blame for their disastrous union. The truth is, Bill made a bad decision that put him in that situation in the first place. He made that choice with the best of intentions, as he does almost every time he makes decisions. Still, he mainly married his ex wife because he had a poor self-image, and because he felt sorry for her, and her son. He believed her lies, and surrendered his critical thinking skills. That’s on him.

Bill is kind, considerate, empathic, and nice to a fault. His father was a very nice person who had a tendency to let people walk all over him. His mom is also a very kind person who made some unfortunate choices that had profound effects on Bill. All of that led to a perfect storm that made him especially vulnerable when Ex showed up in Germany with her toddler aged son in tow. He was ripe for the picking, and she knew it. She took full advantage, and he passively went along for the ride. That part is his fault, not hers. He paid a steep price for that decision, but he takes full responsibility for it. At least he eventually recouped the substantial loss with interest!

As easy as it could be to make Ex the villain, I also realize that what Bill did was wrong. No one wants to be married out of pity. Ex, like most everyone else, wanted to be loved. She lacked the maturity, commitment, and generosity of spirit that true love requires. In my view, unconditional love is a myth. Even parents and children sometimes fall out of love with each other. Everyone has a red line, where a person can go too far and the relationship is ruined. She didn’t want to allow Bill to have a red line. She demanded that he prove to her that she could do no wrong. It wasn’t a realistic thing to ask of him. She wanted a perfect machine, not an imperfect man.

I think Ex expected unconditional love, and she continually tested Bill to get him to show her how unconditionally he loved her. She also didn’t reciprocate. It was a plan that was bound to fail, because all things have a breaking point.

And, to be honest, Bill didn’t really love Ex… at least not in the same way he loves me. I know it sounds arrogant for me to write that, but it’s the truth. Their marriage wasn’t based on true regard or chemistry. It was based on pity, dishonesty, and anxiety over the prospect of being alone. They didn’t marry because they were best friends who loved being together. They married because he wanted a family, and he felt sorry for her and her son. She wanted a husband with a good job, and she was willing to have more babies to secure her spot in his future.

Bill and I got married because we genuinely love being with each other. There are undeniable sparks between us. We don’t need any fireworks on July 4th. They are in our eyes whenever we’re together. The one thing that both of us did right in our lives is marry each other. We just fit. As I struggle to wear fashionable clothes these days, I realize how rare it is to have a perfect fit like ours… 😉 We are very fortunate. And as much as I despise Ex, I realize that without her, and that terrible decision my husband made in 1990, we couldn’t have this. Somehow, we built a beautiful mansion out of what was originally a smoldering hill of crap.

I have made mistakes in my life, and I do have some regrets. I wish I had a less irritating, shocking, and outspoken personality, for instance. I wish I were more appealing to the masses and had an easier time making friends. However, if I were that way, I probably wouldn’t be the right woman for Bill. I may be “obnoxious as hell”, as my mom once put it. But there is no doubt in my mind that I am the right person for Bill.

It also isn’t lost on me that my own self-perception of how most people see me may also be somewhat wrong. My mom sent me a card and a letter for my birthday. In her letter, she wrote something that genuinely touched my heart and was the greatest birthday gift I ever could have received from her.

For most of my life, I was under the impression that my mom found me super annoying. My parents and my sisters used to criticize me a lot, for everything from my appearance to the way I laugh. I got a lot of shit from people about my laugh, which you can hear for yourself in the above video. My dad actually hated it, and told me so. He said I sounded like a witch cackling. My sisters used to tell me it sounded “fake”, when– sorry– that is honestly the laugh God gave me. I really can’t help it!

Well… in her recent letter to me, which was accompanied by a funny birthday card referencing dogs’ common obsessions with their own feces, my mom wrote this…

“I wouldn’t just send anybody this card! I started reading it and started laughing, remembering Rhonda and Ginger (two beloved dogs we had when I was a teenager) and knowing a dog lover would enjoy it– also remembering how you laugh at things– I miss that laugh!!!”

My mom has changed a lot since my dad passed away almost 9 years (to the day– he passed on July 9) ago. She’s no longer under so much stress, so she is much happier and kinder. I know she misses me. She might be one of the few. 😉 I’ll have to give her a ring today.

Well, I supposed I’ve prattled on long enough. Time to practice guitar, walk Noyzi, and write more about our trip. I hope this post made some sense… and, as for Ex, I reiterate the wisdom in this song, which I recorded some months ago…

“I just might sneak up… and try to make him mine!” 😉

book reviews

Repost: A review of Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi…

And here’s a book review that appeared on my old blog on July 28, 2017. It is reposted as/is.

Here’s yet another review of another book about the Holocaust that took place during World War II.  I am finished reading about the Holocaust for now.  Too much reading about the mass murders that went on less than one hundred years ago is depressing and there’s plenty to be depressed about today, without reading history. 

Survival in Auschwitz, originally published in Italy under the name If This Is A Man, was written by an Italian Jew named Primo Levi, who was incarcerated at Auschwitz from February 1944 until the camp was liberated on January 27, 1945.  Levi was deported from Turin, Italy, having been arrested as a member of an Italian resistance group.  At the time of his arrest, Levi was a 25 year old chemist.

The original title of Levi’s book seems to be better than the English title bestowed upon it.  This book is basically about what happens to good people when they are beaten, starved, and placed in an environment where only the fittest and luckiest survive.  With a dry wit and an almost dispassionate tone, Levi writes about the cut throat environment of Auschwitz, as well as the small threads of humanity and even humor.  If This Is A Man was originally published in Italian in 1947, when Levi was still a young man and Auschwitz was still a fresh memory to many people.  However, reading it today seventy years later, it still maintained a gripping hold on me.  At just 172 pages, this book packs a lot of meaning into a brief manuscript.  It was published in English for the first time in 1959.

Levi describes the whole dehumanizing experience of his time at Auschwitz with starkness and clarity.  He writes of how families were torn apart upon their arrival at the camp.  They were stripped of their clothes; their heads were shaved; tattooed numbers on the ones who were not immediately gassed; and treated as mere objects to be used.  The men who were incarcerated with Levi came from different countries.  They all spoke different languages and many did not understand German, save for a few words like Jawohl (a strong affirmative, roughly equivalent to “Yes Sir or Ma’am”).

The prisoners who survived their arrival at Auschwitz were given ill fitting clothes that would never keep them warm, shoes that were full of holes, and the minimum amount of food– soup and bread.  Levi writes about how prisoners would use their food rations as currency and, sometimes, come up with ingenious ways to make themselves slightly more comfortable.  Naturally, trying to make things better was not allowed; prisoners who were caught were made an example of as they were publicly executed.  Levi witnessed many people killed before his very eyes.  He describes the executions, again with a minimum of emotion, yet with grace and clarity.

Every prisoner learned never to trust anyone.  The smart ones never left bowls, spoons, shoes, or anything else unguarded, or it would be stolen.  The prisoners worked hard every day.  Under normal circumstances, those who could not work would eventually be killed.  Ironically, the ones who eventually survived Auschwitz post liberation were the sick ones.  Levi happened to be among them when the Russians liberated the camp.  The so-called “healthy” prisoners who were “evacuated” ahead of the Russians’ arrival did not survive.  Sadly, one of Levi’s friends was among those who left and was not heard from again.

Levi explains that prisoners who were docile and compliant were not the ones who survived.  The survivors were physically powerful, shrewd, or had a skill the Germans coveted.  Since Levi was a chemist, he was of use to the Germans.  That was why he managed to live ten months.  Many, many other prisoners never made it that long.  Some of the ones who seemed like they would be of value to the Germans were murdered, while some who were sickly lived for awhile.  It was as if the selections were arbitrary and careless.

It’s really hard for me to reconcile the mostly good people I’ve come to know here in Germany as coming from the same people who could be so incredibly cruel to others.  I know now that this part of history is still a source of great shame to Germans and they have taken steps to make amends to the groups of people who were persecuted and murdered during World War II.  I am continually amazed when I consider that the Holocaust occurred during my parents’ lifetimes.  I was born not even thirty years after these atrocities occurred.  It seems incredible to me. 

But then I look at our world today and realize that these same horrors are going on in other parts of the world.  The battle is still raging, just with different players.  Maybe that’s why I think it’s so important to read about World War II and the Holocaust, depressing as it is. 

In any case, this book is fascinating and extremely well written.  I think it’s a worthwhile read for anyone researching the Holocaust and what it was actually like to be at Auschwitz.  Levi is very matter-of-fact in his writing, which seems fitting given how casually and arbitrarily human lives were disposed of during World War II.  I highly recommend Survival in Auschwitz (If This Is A Man) to all people who are concerned about where we could be heading if our world leaders don’t pull their heads out of their collective asses soon.

An informative video about Primo Levi, author of Survival in Auschwitz.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from on sales made through my site.

book reviews, Uncategorized

A review of The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

One of my high school friends, now a nurse, suggested Kate Moore’s 2017 book, The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women to me right around the time it was first published. I bought it then, but as it goes with me and my book collection, it’s taken two years to get around to reading it. I’m glad I took the time. The Radium Girls is a fascinating, horrifying, beautifully written, tragic story, that ultimately ends in triumph.

Kate Moore, a British author who has written for the Sunday Times and has penned many books of varying genres, first became aware of the “shining women” when she directed a play about them called These Shining Lives. She correctly ascertained that she had a winner in writing the story of the many young women from Newark, New Jersey and Ottawa, Illinois who worked in factories, using radium paint to make the dials of watches and other instruments glow in the dark. Moore’s work on this story is very interesting and extremely readable.

Who were America’s “Shining Women”?

In 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium (Ra), a chemical element that was once heralded as completely harmless and life giving. Radium was helpful in making luminescent paint that was used to make instrument panels, watches, clocks, aircraft switches, and other things glow in the dark so that they could be seen when there was no light. The luminescent paint was a game changer in technology and, about one hundred years ago, one of the best jobs a young woman in Newark, New Jersey could have was working at the United States Radium Corporation in a studio, painting dials with radium based paint.

Moore writes that the group of young women who worked at the factories were good friends. The work was pleasant and paid very well. They even had fun with the glowing paint, which they had been assured would not harm them. The technique they used to paint the dials required the women to “point” the paintbrushes with their lips. Doing so caused the women to ingest the paint, but again, they were promised it was harmless. Using other methods to get a fine point on their paintbrushes took longer and used more of the product, which was “precious”. However, that didn’t stop some of the women from purposely painting their fingernails and teeth with the substance, simply because it was kind of “cool”. They’d eat lunch at their work stations and came home with the radium paint particles all over their bodies and clothing, spreading it to those who didn’t work at the company. After work, they would literally glow in the dark, prompting them to have the nickname, “Ghost Girls”.

For awhile, all was fine. The women enthusiastically painted the dials, filling orders as fast as they could and raking in handsome paychecks for their time. But then, after years of doing the work and thousands of exposures to radium, the women began to get sick. Often, the illness began with what seemed like dental problems. One of the women would get a bad toothache. She’d go to the dentist, who would pull the tooth. Then, before long, another tooth would have to be pulled. Pretty soon, she would lose all of her teeth, and the woman’s jawbone would begin to disintegrate. The jaw would have chunks of bone breaking off and bleeding, getting infected, and destroying the woman’s health as the poisoning affected other parts of her body and turned her into an invalid. Dentists were at a loss to determine what was causing the rash of dental issues among the employees at the dial factory, but it repeatedly happened to many of the women who worked there.

Pretty soon, the toothless women with the disintegrating jawbones became anemic. They developed sarcomas, some of which ended in amputations. Again, doctors had no idea what was wrong with them and could not seem to help their patients get well. Some of the less scrupulous of the physicians realized what was happening and made deals with the radium corporation not to release their data. Instead, they’d claim the women had syphilis, which smeared their reputations.

Although it was clear the women were suffering horribly after having been exposed to the radiation, the United States Radium Corporation refused to compensate them. Instead, they engaged in cover ups and outright lies. The bravest of the women came forward in a lawsuit to force their employers to do the right thing. But it was an uphill battle– expensive, physically grueling, and there weren’t many lawyers who wanted to take on the job. Worse, some of the women who had come forward to fight were unable to see it through, as they perished from their illnesses before a judgment could be made.

For more on this, you could watch a video… but I really think you should read Kate Moore’s excellent book, too!

My thoughts

Kate Moore has done a masterful job writing this book. I had never heard of America’s “Shining Women” before I heard about Moore’s work from my friend. I kept meaning to get around to reading it. I’m so glad I finally made the effort. This is a great read, which left me both angry and awestruck. As Moore points out, the women who got sick were not the only ones who suffered. Some of the women were married and had children, and their husbands, if they didn’t divorce them due to the illness, had to stand by and watch their wives wither away. Some of the women were left infertile… if they were lucky. One woman had three miscarriages and delivered a stillborn child after having been exposed to the radium based paint.

Greedy company officials, fixated on their fiscal bottom lines, would have the women checked over by medical professionals, but the ones who were very sick never got their results. The officials knew that if those women knew what had happened to them, they would cause a scandal. As we know now, that cover up was ultimately futile. They got their scandal, and ultimately the women who managed to survive, and their friends and families, got some justice. Perhaps more importantly, workplace safety became more of a thing, for women and men.

I liked that Moore translated the monetary settlements into today’s money. For example, a judgment of $5000 back in the 1920s would equate to about $90,000 now. Moore would put today’s equivalent in parenthesis, which gives readers an idea of what the money was worth. The same went for the hospitals’ and physicians’ bills, which would seem very “cheap” by today’s standards. Back then, they were substantially high, and truly caused hardship for the women, despite those who had managed to hang on to their well-paying painting gigs. The aftermath of the factories lingered even after they closed. One former building was turned into a meat plant, which led to people getting cancer. In fact, there were higher than normal incidences of cancer in the towns where these plants were… people and animals were affected. Quite a few pet owners lost their pets to cancer well before the animals every fully matured.

This book is also extremely well researched. Moore covers the women in Newark, New Jersey and Ottawa, Illinois, writing their stories as if they were part of a soap opera, which makes the book compulsively readable. Not only is The Radium Girls informative on many levels, it’s also weirdly entertaining. Moore has a knack for writing compelling stories. I can’t say that I’ve ever been interested in chemistry, but Moore made me want to learn more about radium, which I consider quite an impressive feat. On the other hand, I did study public health, and this is definitely a subject for public health students. I can see it being relevant in several disciplines– environmental science, epidemiology, health administration (paying for all that treatment), and even health promotion.

So, if you’re looking for an excellent read and you like science and history, I would absolutely recommend Kate Moore’s The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women. You’ll learn a lot, and the pages will practically turn themselves. I would not be surprised if someone turns this story into a TV series or major motion picture.