Ex, narcissists, Twitter

Scottish by blood, Ex? Really?

More ragging on Ex. You’ve been warned.

I had kind of a crappy weekend. We had bad weather. Bill had to leave for another weeklong business trip yesterday. Saturday night, I found an enlarged lymph node on Arran, which indicates that the chemo is starting to fail. Arran is still acting like himself. In fact, he let me stay in bed until about 4:15am, when I finally got up by my own choice and asked him if he wanted to eat. He practically leapt out of the bed and danced all the way downstairs. I think we were all hungry, because I didn’t make dinner last night. I was too busy watching Body Cam cop videos on YouTube and drinking beer. I only had two, though, so that wasn’t bad.

I started reading a compelling new book last night. I’m already well into it, because I didn’t sleep well. I woke up at about 2:00am, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I finally dozed off for about an hour, and Bill sent me a private message, which made my watch vibrate. I do love that man… but now I’m feeling kind of cranky and snarky. I see the weather is still kind of yucky, too. So, I might as well rag on Ex again. Why not?

Last week, I mentioned that I found out that I have ties to the Fraser clan in Scotland. Ex also proudly claims to have ties to the Fraser clan. We seem to have ties to different branches of that clan, which fills me with relief. I’m not particularly proud to have ties to the Fraser clan. I don’t know much about them. But, if I have to have ties to them, I’d prefer them to be distant from Ex’s professed ties. She’s not someone I want to share DNA with at all.

Truth be told, according to Ancestry.com, I have ties to quite a few different clans. Make no mistake, though… I am an American. I was born there, and have spent most of my life living there– in Virginia, mostly. Germany is catching up in terms of the number of years where I’ve lived. It’s now in second place. I’ve spent about ten years in Germany– a total of six living in Baden-Württemberg, and so far, four in Hessen.

I’m still an American, though… even though 23andMe has only found a slight trace of Native American DNA. If I were to go only by my DNA, I’d definitely be a Brit… and most likely, a Scot. However, it’s been a few hundred years since my ancestors last lived in Scotland and other parts of the British Isles. Most of them moved to the United States in the 1600s and 1700s. So, I think calling myself Scottish would be impractical, disingenuous, and kind of pretentious.

Sure, I definitely look the part, and I definitely enjoy Scottish humor and libations, and sometimes I wish I could be anything other than a US citizen, especially given the dark road our country has been on of late. But Donald Trump is half Scottish, so that’s reason enough for me to embrace some of my other heritage. 😉

Ex, on the other hand, is convinced that she’s a Scot. And not only is she a Scot, but she’s downright aristocratic. She never misses a chance to brag about it on Twitter, either. She’s a super fan of Outlander, which I just realized is on Netflix. I’ve never seen the show, and before I started watching Ex’s Twitter feed, had never heard of the author of the books or the actors who portray the characters. Ex is apparently obsessed with them, and has now adopted Scotland as her “home”. To my knowledge, she’s never even been there to visit, but she does have an active fantasy life.

A few days ago, she was all excited about Robert Burns…

Thanks for this lovely tribute to Robert Burns!! Sam is a great example of how much we Scots love him and all he does for the heart and soul of Scotland. I for one long to go home to Scotland and just breath… Slàinte Mhath, Tash!! Happy Burns night!!

Um… I’d love to know if Ex even knows the most basic of poetry written by Robert Burns. Oh, maybe she knows “Auld Lang Syne”. I remember the first poem I knew was written by him, but I learned it due to being in a choir. It had been set to music, just as “Auld Lang Syne” is. Below is the version we did in 1991, done by a different university’s choir.

Aw….how pretty. Makes me want to join another choir. I still remember the soprano part and the words. Music is a good partner to the English major.
This version is beautifully done. Better than the one above, in my opinion. The first version is probably more like what my choir sounded like. We didn’t have enough really good male singers.

I’d be surprised if Ex even knows the poem, “A Red, Red Rose.” But maybe she’s gotten into Scottish poetry and reads it in bed, after an Outlander watch party. Bill says when they were married, she was obsessed with Ireland. They even had claddagh rings. Older daughter has an Irish first name, too. It was chosen by Bill, but Ex downplays that fact. Now, she’s obsessed with Scotland…

Funny thing about Ireland. Bill’s surname is Irish, and to me, he really looks Irish. But, according to our DNA tests, I’m more Irish than he is. 😀 My maiden name originated in England, and I’d always assumed we were mostly English by ancestry. Apparently not.

I’d barely recovered from Ex’s crowfest about Robert Burns, complete with fake “Scottishisms”, when someone posted another photo of her dream man, Sam Heughan (who looks a lot like Ron Howard, to me). Ex wrote:

I love this pic on the right. He was out and about when he saw a fan trying to snap a picture… so he flashed them his sweetest smile. He loves the fans and respects them… let’s make sure we ALL reciprocate!

But then she is gently corrected…

It wasn’t a fan, it was paparazzi.

So then she writes:

Ohhh that actually makes me sad, then. I’d heard it was a random fan. I wish the press would leave celebrities alone and concentrate on matters that need our attention, dire or uplifting. Extra pics of our favorites can’t make us love them more after all!!!

Um… she wants the press to leave celebrities alone, yet she’s constantly tweeting at them and asking them to give her daughter an internship. See Mark Hamill, Sam Heughan, Chris Evans, and Diana Galbadon… I guess she doesn’t see herself at the same level of peskiness as a paparazzo. Based on what happened to Bill during his relationship with her, I would say she is every bit as damaging, if not more so.

Next, there’s a gushy post about how handsome Sam Heughan is, and another poster writes:

Today, I told my long time husband, “I apologize for never being slender.” It’s not in my DNA. I said it because I see him perk up at women, who I don’t think are attractive, but they’re slender. Then I said, “You can apologize for not being a 6’3″ buff ‘red’ haired young man.”

Ex responds thusly:

Och aye!

It’d be hypocrisy to objectify @SamHeughan (&@ChrisEvans) best looking men I’ve seen, but I don’t think it’s just looks that make me feel that way. I think it’s his heartfelt philanthropy, genuine desire to help others be healthy, the way he lives his best life.

It seems to me that Ex would be best off not ever meeting her heroes. I doubt they would live up to her impressions of them. I also know that her ideas of the perfect man are constantly evolving. She demands that her men play a role, rather than be who they are. What I think is sad is that she had a truly wonderful, caring, willing partner in Bill, but he wasn’t good enough for her. So now, she’s with #3, who apparently never even bothered to give her a wedding ring. See below:

Yeni… I have been married nearly 21 years and do not have a wedding band.

…I’m totally there with you! The teacher should have returned this and apologized. IMHO!

The above comment was in response to a post someone made about a teacher who had confiscated a love note from a 7th grader who had given it to a classmate. The note quoted When Harry Met Sally. “Yeni” had said she never got something so romantic from her husband, and Ex decided to throw shade at #3, I guess.

She did have a ring with Bill, but they were cheap, gold plated affairs. When Bill and I got married, we bought platinum rings from Mervis Jewelers in the Washington, DC area. That was important to him. He wanted good wedding rings for our marriage, so our marriage wouldn’t resemble a country song…

I don’t think Bill knew this song in 2002, but I think he and Ex actually got rings from a pawn shop.

Next, she crows about a new season of the show, complete with a clear indication of her priorities.. Ex isn’t “from New England”, either. She just lives there right now…

I’m from New England, US. I put it on my family calendar so I would NOT forget to watch & share. I labeled it “Mom Unavailable”. When that popped up on my phone I didn’t know what it was for!

Spent all day trying to remember, how could I forget this:

That actually makes me laugh, because it’s as if she ever is available to her kids. I happen to know that her kids were generally expected to take care of themselves, often to criminal levels. They were also expected to take care of her, too… as in doing all of the cooking and housework. Woe be unto anyone who made a dish Ex doesn’t want to eat, either, even if there’s no food in the house.

Of course, now four of the five of the kids are adults, but they mostly raised themselves. It’s a shame, too, because Bill had really wanted to raise his kids. She wouldn’t allow it. And now older daughter is taking care of her youngest… whom Ex describes, after a tweet about Tyre Nichols:

This terrifies me. I’m mother to a large, strong non-compliant autistic boy. If they told my baby to sit down, he would; but he would run away home the second he could. This beating could have happened to my son, anyone’s son. There is no service or protection here just murder.

Yes… and she uses that “boy” every opportunity she can, to prop up her “caring supermom” facade. Meanwhile, instead of looking after her son, she tweets at more strangers with creepy preludes like this:

I’m only 45 minutes from Boston! We’re neighbors! When the cast comes again, let’s go together!

And…

Och aye!!! I want to come and make your acquaintance!! I’ve been doing my genealogy and have traced my mother’s line to the Frasers du Lovat up in the Highlands!! We’d have so much fun!

And…

Oh Cat, we love you so… love your hat #samwho too btw!! Without Claire, there would be no Jamie to swoon over. I’d say, just as many swoon over Claire and the way in which you play her, as swoon over Jaime and the way @SamHeughan plays him.

I wonder if the actors and authors Ex tweets are weirded out by these breathless, gushing, adoring posts?

I was going to ignore all of this stuff, though. I really was. I keep telling myself that I need to find a new topic to write about. Maybe do something more serious and useful to the general public or something… but let’s not kid ourselves. This is just a blog, right? And I’m just the interloper who married her divorced ex husband, whom she totally screwed over on every level. I decided not to ignore it when I saw this. Yet another declaration of her being Scottish by blood…

She can’t just say she’s disgusted. She has to bring up her alleged fancy Scottish heritage again… to a perfect stranger. LOL… Then she moves on to Lynda Carter’s page, where she swoons and sucks up some more. It’s enough to make me want to hurl. 😉

I’m beginning to feel like H.G. Tudor on YouTube, who has made so many videos about Meghan Markle. I think Ex and Meghan have a few things in common, although Meghan is younger, prettier, skinnier, more famous, and much wealthier. H.G. Tudor would tell me to stop paying attention to what Ex does… but he doesn’t really follow his own advice, because he makes so many videos about people he claims are narcissists. But then, H.G. claims that he’s a narcissist, too.

I don’t claim to be a narcissist. It’s possible that I have narcissistic traits, as most people do. But I don’t have that particular personality disorder. If I did, Bill would be long gone by now. I think I’m just a garden variety eccentric, made dysfunctional by alcoholism and neglect on the part of my parents. I have empathy, especially for Bill. I appreciate him for all he does. I don’t even get crushes anymore. He’s absolutely the right man for me, and boy do I miss him when he has to go away for the week. I will always be grateful to Ex for dumping him.

Actually, as Bill and I were talking about Arran and how he will probably be leaving us, soon, we both expressed appreciation for his original adopters. They kept him for nine months, calling him Marley. Then they brought him back to the rescue. He’s turned out to be a wonderful dog for us. We’re grateful they brought him back to the rescue, even though I know it really hurt Arran to be “dumped”.

Likewise, as disgusted as I am by Ex’s spectacles on social media, and the way she gushes at celebrities and strangers, as she abuses people she supposedly loves, when it comes down to it, I feel gratitude, too. Because when she divorced Bill, she gave me a tremendous gift. He’s the right man for me. I’m genuinely glad he wasn’t “good enough” for her.

Still… I totally cringe when she claims to be a Scot… and I kind of wish many more of my people had hooked up with some French and German people, instead. 😀 Then I remind myself that, yes… I am an American, as Ex also is, and as an American, I should try to be a good example of our people to the Germans I live among today. So I think I’ll end this post and do something constructive… play some guitar and maybe cook a roast, or something. That will make Arran happy, and maybe I’ll be less hangry tomorrow. Ciao.

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Military, music, musings, nostalgia

The “road not taken” is sometimes an overrated thrill… Common paths can still lead to spectacular places!

In the spring of 1991, when I was a freshman college student, I joined the concert choir at Longwood College. I did so because the previous semester, the very first one of my college career, I had taken a group voice class. The teacher, who was acquainted with my musical dad, recognized that I, too, had some musical gifts. She thought I should join the Camerata Singers, which is one of Longwood’s auditioned ensembles. The trouble was, I had never really sung in a choir before. In fact, I had never really sung before. So, just so I could learn the ropes, I enrolled in the concert choir with the plan to audition for Cameratas that semester. I also took my first private voice lessons that spring.

My parents are/were musicians and I somehow knew that I’d wind up being enmeshed in their stuff if I studied music. This was not so much an issue with my mom, who was a church organist for about 50 years. But it was an issue with my dad, who had a habit of either competing with me or trying to show me off to his friends. My dad and I never really got along that well, especially once I hit puberty. I loved him very much, but we rubbed each other the wrong way. He was extremely active in choirs and choral societies. I relished the times he was at practices or in rehearsals, and I didn’t want to end up in a situation where we would end up spending too much time together and getting into fights.

Also, I honestly didn’t know back then that I had a good singing voice. I knew I could sing on key, but I didn’t realize it was anything special or unusual. I did have some rudimentary music knowledge, having taken piano lessons as a very young child and been identified as having “perfect pitch” (AKA absolute pitch). I was in band for a year… first playing drums and then, when that turned out to be the wrong instrument for me, I played my sister’s clarinet. Although I was pretty good at playing clarinet, I didn’t like the band teacher and wasn’t encouraged by my parents, so I dropped out of that and focused on my horse. I have much less talent for horseback riding, but I do love animals. 😉

Years later, when I decided to study voice outside of college, my dad proved that my instincts about his tendency to want to “compete” with me were dead on. I signed up to take lessons at the Eastern Virginia School of Performing Arts. I didn’t tell my dad at first, because somehow I knew he’d also sign up. Sure enough, when he did find out I was taking lessons, he signed up with the very same teacher. 🙂 I wasn’t all that happy about it. I was taking lessons to help alleviate my depression and relieve stress. And at the time, he was a major source of my stress, as I was living with my parents after having finished Peace Corps service. As grateful as I was that my parents let me live with them, it was definitely not an easy time for any of us. But I am glad that they didn’t object to my decision to supplement my treatment for depression with voice lessons.

“The Road Not Taken” from Frostiana… words by Robert Frost, music by Randall Thompson.

Anyway, I digress… back to 1991… and my first semester in a choir. I remember during that semester, the concert choir did a piece from “Frostiana“. It was the American poet Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken” set to music composed and arranged in 1959 by Randall Thompson. Much to my shame, when I was 18 years old, I had never been exposed to Frost’s poetry. “The Road Not Taken” was a new concept to me, and I actually loved the choral piece. I see from YouTube that it’s still commonly performed.

This morning, I’m reminded of that piece as I reflect on a conversation I had with Bill last night. We were talking about his career as an Army officer. Although he did well enough as an Army officer and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel promotable to Colonel, he thinks he made some regrettable choices during his time in the Army. Had he made different choices, he might have had a more successful career. Or maybe he never would have been in the military in the first place.

My husband is a kind, empathetic, gentle person. He’s probably the antithesis of most people’s vision of a military officer. Military officers are stereotypically tough, gruff, profane, impatient and politically incorrect. Military officers don’t cry easily. They have a “killer instinct”. A lot of military officers are politically conservative and somewhat old school in their views. They aren’t often interested in the arts, psychology, reading books, or visiting museums. They like to watch violent sports and action movies. And they aren’t interested in introspection.

I hasten to add that I realize this is very stereotypical thinking. Of course, the armed forces are comprised of people from all different walks of life, with all of the characteristics that go along with having such a diverse population. However, having been around military folks my whole life, I can attest to the idea that there’s a “type”. And, my point is, Bill goes against type.

When we were dating, my sisters warned me against getting involved with Bill. They seemed to think he was going to be a “knuckle dragger”. Even though I’ve always made decent decisions and have never been in any serious trouble, my sisters, and even my parents, didn’t trust me to choose my own mate. But it turns out that I was right on the money. This year, we will celebrate 19 years of a very successful union. We are shockingly compatible. I guess, like me, Bill sometimes has trouble fitting in with the crowd and goes “against type”.

Last night, Bill was telling me that he wishes he hadn’t been a “combat arms” officer. During his years in the Army, Bill was a “tanker”. He was in the Armor branch. Early in his career, a superior officer wrote that he felt Bill should do something different. The senior officer “fired” Bill from the job he was doing and gave him a bad evaluation. Another superior officer advised Bill that he didn’t have a “killer instinct”. At the time, Bill was offended by his bosses’ appraisals of him. He said he spent years resenting those negative comments that he got early in his military career. He felt that his superiors had been unfair and wrongly appraised him.

Then, in 1995, at his ex wife’s behest, Bill left active duty and worked in low paying and unfulfilling factory jobs in Arkansas. Here was a guy who had studied international relations at American University. He’d learned how to ride a horse and fence. He was interested in politics, religion, arts, movies, music, and so on… and he was making toys at a toy factory. Later, he was supervising a line for Whirlpool, overseeing the production of refrigerator doors. He wasn’t making any money, and he was living in a nightmarish situation with a woman with whom he was incredibly incompatible. Bill stayed in the National Guard to help supplement his meager earnings and, if we’re honest, to give him an escape from his ex wife, who by that time had made his life a living hell.

In 1999, Bill decided to go back in active duty via the Arkansas National Guard. He was unusual in that he managed to get a full time job as a Guardsman, working as if he was back on duty with the regular Army. That decision allowed him to continue his military career, but he was paid from a different pot of money and subject to different promotion procedures. It also helped him avoid lengthy deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He did spend six months in Iraq– again, working for a very narcissistic boss.

Bill later realized that he probably should have pursued another branch… maybe in military intelligence or as a Foreign Area Officer (FAO). Or maybe he should have become a mental health therapist specializing with working with veterans. Any of those fields might have been better fits for him, rather than combat arms. He was sorrowful about it last night, wishing he’d taken a different path, instead of being an Armor officer, and wondering where it would have led him.

I could relate, as I have often wondered what would have happened to me if I’d studied music instead of English. Maybe I’d still be where I am today. Or maybe I’d be somewhere entirely different. As I mentioned before, I didn’t pursue music when I was growing up. It wasn’t until college that I was especially turned on to music… and realized I had a knack for it. I often wonder what would have happened if I’d changed my major. I never seriously considered doing it, though. I probably suffered a bit of worrying about failure.

I was a very mediocre English major. I love to write and read, but I don’t really enjoy analyzing literature, and I had no desire to teach school. Longwood’s English department, at the time I was a student, was mostly set up for would-be teachers. They didn’t have a creative writing program. They only offered a few classes. Ironically, I never even took the creative writing class, and none of my professors knew that my goal was more to write than study literature. I didn’t tell any of them until after I’d graduated and my former advisor, who had been writing letters to me in Armenia, commented that he thought I had a gift for writing stories. I explained that I’d been an English major because I wanted to be a writer. He used to tease me about taking music classes, but I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t had them at Longwood. I loved my music classes. I took a bunch of them for fun. I can’t say that about most of my English classes.

So there Bill and I were on the patio, as the sun was dipping down, and we were enjoying the last of our red wine. Bill got a little choked up as he realized that those bosses who had noticed his “lack of a killer instinct” had been right. And if he’d been wise enough to heed their counsel, he might have gone in a different, far more successful direction. There wouldn’t have been any shame in changing course. Everybody fails sometimes, because no one is a superstar at everything they do. For a moment, Bill seemed genuinely troubled at what might have been if he’d only been brave enough to take “the road not taken”.

But again, it’s not like he was unsuccessful in his role as an Armor officer who lacked a “killer instinct”. In 2014, Bill retired from the Army with a full pension. He now gets a paycheck for getting up in the morning and gets to enjoy the benefits from having served in the military. Not only that, but he left the experience mostly mentally, emotionally, and physically whole. I’d call his career a success, even if he hadn’t done work he was perfectly equipped to do.

Realizing that Bill actually was a success, I said, “There’s no point in feeling badly about the career decisions you made. Because even though you might have been better at a different job, the fact of the matter is, you still managed to succeed. By all accounts, retiring from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel promotable to Colonel is still a very successful career. And you left the military whole– with two master’s degrees and marketable skills– free of mental illness and basically healthy and strong. You are very fortunate.”

Bill nodded in agreement. Then I said, “And now you are doing well in your post retirement career. Maybe what you’re doing isn’t thrilling for you, but you are among MANY people who work in jobs that aren’t a perfect fit for them. God knows, I have done plenty of jobs I hated so I could pay the bills. So have you.”

I continued, “You now not only have recovered from a terrible first marriage and financial disasters, but you completed a successful career. Now, you are also enjoying a very comfortable and, I dare say, luxurious lifestyle. And you have the freedom to explore things that interest you. You can study Carl Jung. You can work with a therapist and talk about your dreams and travel to Switzerland to see Jung’s house. You can take courses at the Jung Institute and read Jung’s books and learn guitar… And the reason you can do those things is because, even though you think of the military as a ‘easy choice’ in terms of secure, decently paid employment, and maybe it was not where your true gifts lie, you did a good job. When it comes down to it, you were still successful. I think you should celebrate that, because you’re way ahead of many people.”

Likewise… although I have visions of where my talents and dreams might have taken me, I really can’t complain too much about where I am. I have had the great fortune to see and do many things that my peers never will have the opportunity to do. And they have seen and done things I will never do. That’s the nature of life. We all have strengths and opportunities that take us on a path through life. Maybe it would have been more exciting and fulfilling to take the “road not taken.” But we’re both halfway through life now… and we can’t recapture our youth. What we CAN do is take those experiences we had when we were younger and follow our passions now. So Bill will probably never have a fulfilling career as a FAO or as a “healer”. He can still pursue his interests and learn new things. And who knows, maybe there will still be a fork in the road that takes him down the “road not taken” after all.

Same for me… maybe in the second half of my life, I’ll finally write a book or record an album… or do something else that is earth shattering, life changing, or even just interesting. It beats the hell out of working in a factory or waiting tables to pay the bills. And before anyone gets upset, I hasted to add that there’s nothing wrong with working in a factory or waiting tables if that’s what gets you through life or it something you even enjoy doing. That’s not the point of todays’ post. The point is, there’s no use in lamenting past career decisions that can’t be changed. Life is a continual journey. As long as you’re still breathing, you have the opportunity to change course and try new things. And Bill, for one, is especially fortunate, because he truly does have the ability and the freedom to explore things that interest him, even if he got here on a well-traveled road that maybe he wasn’t the best suited to travel. He still got here… and he still has places to go. I’m glad I get to travel with him.

We’re both lucky, because we can and do continue to do things we love. Not everyone has that luxury. There are so many people who, due to financial, health, or personal constraints, end up spending their lives on the hamster wheel, working to get by and not especially enjoying the process of life as much as they could. We should count our blessings and realize that all things considered, things have worked out just fine. I think it also makes sense to consider that sometimes the “road not taken” is a road straight into Hell. 😉

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