condescending twatbags, mental health, overly helpful people, poor judgment

You just used that word… and I don’t think you know what it means.

A couple of days ago, I was feeling a bit angry and depressed. I was sitting here alone, reading the local news, and there was an item about Angela Merkel’s latest desires. Mrs. Merkel wants to allow the federal government in Germany to employ an “emergency brake” lockdown for all of Germany. Normally, each individual state’s leaders make decisions for how things run. But because vaccination rollout has been excruciatingly slow here, and people are continuing to get COVID-19 and overrunning the hospitals, Mrs. Merkel and some of the public health leaders in Germany feel that this is a necessary move.

Germany has been in some form of “lockdown” since early November 2020. Apparently, closing everything and trying to restrict people from being in contact with each other has not been effective in slowing down the latest COVID-19 variants. Neither has forcing everyone to wear medical grade face masks. So, as each month passes, the end of the lockdown keeps getting extended. At this point, the estimate is mid June when we can have some semblance of normalcy.

Meanwhile, I watch as my friends back home are getting vaccinated and enjoying a more “normal” life. Actually, I think things have been relatively normal in the United States since the beginning. It’s just that Americans aren’t being allowed to come to Europe willy nilly, and vice versa. I still think Germany has handled the virus a lot better than the USA has… but the incredibly slow vaccine rollout is quite disastrous. Making matters worse is the fact that Bill and I were supposed to be getting our shots by the end of May. A large shipment was sent to German military installations for that purpose. But apparently, they’re Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and the CDC has just recommended holding off on using them until they can be investigated, since several women developed rare clotting disorders after being given the shot.

I was already in a crappy mood for a lot of reasons. The main one is that Bill is gone this week and will be gone for more than half of May on business. He hasn’t been vaccinated, yet he’s allowed to travel for work purposes while I sit here alone with my thumb up my butt– not literally, you understand. And I’m also pissed off because of some recent upsetting news we got regarding a close family member. Bill and I had a private chat about those matters. I finally had to ring off, because I was tired and in a really foul mood, and I didn’t want to talk anymore.

Just as I was about to go to sleep, I got a private message from another family member. This family member is a bit older than I am, and never seems to want to let me forget it. She also seems to assume being older means always being wiser. In her case, I don’t think it does.

Private messages are annoying under most circumstances, but since it was family, I indulged my relative. I was pretty upset after having read the news about the longer lockdown, Bill’s work schedule, and the news about our family member. She wanted to know why I was so irritated, so I explained. As usual, this particular family member starting giving me unsolicited advice, forgetting a number of things… like the fact that before too much longer, I’ll be pushing 50, and I’ve actually had some training in counseling and related subjects.

She immediately started telling me what she thinks I should be doing, even though I never asked for her opinion and was really more wanting to vent than seek advice. I really would like to have someone to talk to… someone who sees me as an equal and is willing to listen, rather than just offer unsolicited suggestions. She doesn’t seem to realize that most competent people don’t want advice or suggestions; they want insight and support.

On that night, I needed a friend, not a pseudo-therapist… especially not one who seems to think I’m naive and incompetent. I know I’ll always be a “squirt” to her, but I really am a grown adult, and I eventually assured her that I AM pretty competent in most things. I’m just fed up, most of all with this fucking COVID-19 lifestyle and Bill’s constant work schedule, as well as the fact that HE can travel for marathon work trips, but we can’t have any fun. It’s making life a colossal bore, and a drag, and I’m starting to hate being here… and my life in general.

Yeah, I know that sounds a lot like pathetic whining. Maybe, to some people, that’s what it is… After all, the bills are paid; we live in a comfortable house; and for now, we have our health. But being locked down, thousands of miles from home, sucks. Telling someone who is feeling upset to “buck up” or “calm down” is not really the best solution.

My situation doesn’t call for “toxic positivity” or invalidation, nor do I need an overly helpful person to suggest that I do things I’m already doing… like creative pursuits. My relative told me to take an online guitar course. Does she honestly think I’d be dumb enough to buy a guitar and not learn how to play it somehow? It’s like the morons who tell an infertile couple to consider adoption… as if that idea had never crossed their minds! And does she really think, as someone with advanced degrees in social work and public health, I need someone to tell me about narcissists and empaths? That would be like me telling her about her chosen field… which I will admit I know nothing about.

So anyway, all of this was the usual par for the course bullshit, when my relative dropped a bombshell. She’s been reading up on narcissists and narcissism, apparently not understanding that she’s a touch on the narcissistic side herself. She was telling me the usual spiel about narcissists, as if I had never read a single book or watched a singe video about narcissism, let alone had many personal dealings with them. And then she said, “I really think you and I are empaths.

Well… I had to stifle a giggle at that. I wanted to respond truthfully, by saying “You just used that word… and I don’t think you know what it means.” Seriously. I love this relative very much… but I don’t think she has much insight into what an empath is. I also don’t think she has much personal insight as to what kind of person she is.

I think I am capable of empathy. I can definitely try to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I try very hard to see all sides of a situation. But I am definitely NOT an empath… and she is even less empathic than I am. How do I know this? Because I have been on the receiving end of MANY tirades from this particular relative. I’ve known her my whole life, and I’ve seen her lose her shit many times. One time, we were in a city park in Madrid and she got very angry with me for taking too long to find a newspaper. She’d had to pee, and didn’t speak Spanish. Silly me… I though at her age and with her world experience, she would be able to handle going to the potty by herself. But no… and she totally went off on me and called me a “motherfucker”. That is NOT the behavior of an empath.

This relative also has a habit of “glomming on” without much situational awareness… and will ask favors, yet show very little consideration. Like, for instance, the time Bill and I had dinner reservations for my birthday, and she asked me to drive her to a doctor’s appointment because she was going to be on Valium. I told her about the dinner reservations, but she assured me she’d be done in time. On the way home, she wanted to stop at a restaurant for dessert. I was worried about the time, but she promised she’d get the dessert to go. Next thing I knew, we were sitting in a booth. That is NOT the behavior of an empath.

She can be very manipulative and will throw epic temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. I’ve witnessed her being rude to wait staff and store clerks, as well as men who try to be overly friendly to her in bars. And she’s also been rude to me on many occasions. When we were a lot younger, she was occasionally legitimately abusive to me. I remember being verbally and physically abused by her, before I got big enough to fight back. She is capable of being an extreme bitch when the situation calls for it. There have been times when I’ve marveled at her ability to be a bitch… and, I must admit, even admired it. She’s not one to be fucked with by anyone.

On the other hand, she’s a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor. She’s also very smart and talented. She can be contrite and sympathetic, when the mood suits. When she’s in a good mood, she’s a delight and HILARIOUS. I do love her. But an empath, she is most definitely NOT.

However, in fairness, like I said, I’m not an empath, either. And that is not a bad thing. Empaths can often end up being taken advantage of by self-centered types. I do have a big heart and am fully capable of being empathetic to people. But that does not make me an empath. That’s a good thing, though, because Bill IS an empath. I think it would be disastrous if both of us were empaths. My being less empathic is good, because it balances out his tendency to be overly forgiving and kind.

I wanted to correct my relative’s thinking, but realized that if I did, it would probably lead to an argument. She thinks she’s an empath, though, and she’s wrong. And if she really thinks she’s the type of person who is constantly thinking of others and putting their welfare before her own, she’s also a bit delusional. She is definitely not one to take on other people’s problems. I have never seen her cry over someone else’s misfortunes. If anything, I think she’s on the other side of the narcissism spectrum. One time, I described a traumatic incident she and I had to my former therapist. He actually used the term “narcissistic” to define the behavior she had displayed to me.

Truly empathic people are unique and somewhat rare. My husband is an empath, and he attracts narcissistic assholes like his ex wife and his war time boss like flies on shit. These folks can smell it on people– those who will put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. Bill will bend over backwards for almost anyone, is very slow to anger, quick to forgive, and has a “red line” that is way further down the line than mine is. He is genuinely a kind and compassionate person who almost never raises his voice and feels extreme remorse whenever he hurts anyone, even if just by accident.

Neither my relative, nor I, are like that. I will fully admit that I don’t have much regard for people who are disrespectful to me. I don’t go out of my way to be nasty, but I don’t have tons of sympathy.

I think Bill comes by empathy naturally. Both of his parents and, I suspect, his daughters are also very empathic people. They want to please others and they have overdeveloped superegos and guilt complexes. That’s why Ex runs roughshod over them so easily. Bill fully admits to this, too. It’s not that he’s spineless. It’s just that he hates to disappoint people, wants to make them happy, and genuinely feels for people. But he’s come a long way in his people pleasing ways and has become more assertive, which is something empaths must learn to do or be sucked dry.

My relative has no problem telling people off, taking legal action, or making people feel shitty. I know this, because she’s done a lot of those things to me. I haven’t been sued by her– at least not at this point– but I wouldn’t put it past her if she felt it was necessary. That is not the action of an empath!

I do think I am more empathic than she is, though… and although I could have told her to STFU the other night, I indulged her need to advise me on what she thinks I need to do. And last night, when Bill messaged me, I told him about it and we had a good laugh. Because he also knows that she’s not an empath. And he has frequently told me that he’s glad he married me instead of her… although I think it would have been funny to see how this relative would deal with his Ex, former tenant, or the land bitch from Hell. 😀 My guess is that she would not have handled any of them with much empathy.

Anyway… I wish she’d have a little more empathy for me and stop trying to give me unwanted advice. I’m not 12 anymore. And I wish Mrs. Merkel and her minions would get their acts together so we can all have our lives back.

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disasters, expressions

Choosing the harder right over the easier wrong…

As a new week begins here in the land of perpetual lockdowns, my mind is on a heartbreaking opinion piece I just read in The Washington Post. A public health nurse practitioner, writer, and former Army Captain named Jackie Munn wrote about how her parents both contracted COVID-19 a few months ago. Munn’s father, a 28 year Army veteran, had tried to care for his ailing wife, Julie Anne Oeser, while he was himself ill. Unfortunately, Ms. Oeser’s condition deteriorated and she had to go to the hospital. She had initially resisted going, fearing that she wouldn’t come home. Sadly, she was right. On January 26, 2021, as many people were getting their first COVID-19 vaccinations, Julie Anne Oeser died. Her family stood around her bedside. She had spent 11 days in the intensive care unit, battling the novel coronavirus.

Jackie Munn is understandably very angry that she’s lost her mother, who was 62 years old and had “few preexisting conditions.” She writes that her family had “done its part” to fight COVID-19. Munn’s sisters, Jess and Jenn, are also in healthcare. Jenn works as an emergency room nurse in a hospital east of Los Angeles, California. Jess is a medical laboratory scientist at a Kansas City area hospital. Their parents had taken the pandemic seriously and followed all precautions, to include social distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing face masks. Both planned to be vaccinated, although Ms. Oeser died before she was able to take that step.

Jackie Munn writes, “…as a West Point graduate and combat veteran, I was taught that good leaders chose the harder right over the easier wrong.” She acknowledges that her father and older sister, both veterans like her, and been trained to do things that might be unpleasant or uncomfortable, but serve the common good. And she’s understandably pissed off that so many Americans, many of whom were egged on by our former leader, Trump, have decided not to “do their part” to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Birx speaks about the vaccines now available.

Munn blames Trump, of course, as well as Dr. Deborah Birx, who was herself an Army colonel and had been part of the COVID-19 task force in the Trump administration. She served as the COVID-19 Response Coordinator for Trump’s White House. Birx was recently in the news admitting that many COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented if people had taken the virus more seriously and Trump had been a more responsible leader. I remember watching Deborah Birx on video, looking visibly uncomfortable as Trump spoke about COVID-19. She knew the truth, but unlike her colleague, Dr. Anthony Fauci, she did not feel that she could say it out loud. She’s said that she had many “uncomfortable” discussions with Trump. My guess is that he threatened her.

She didn’t feel empowered to speak out during Trump’s reign. She says she should have been more outspoken.
These folks felt “muzzled” by Trump. Dr. Birx says that after the first 100,000 deaths, the subsequent carnage wrought by the virus could have been prevented.

Although I haven’t yet been personally affected by COVID-19, my heart goes out to Jackie Munn and the rest of her family. And yet, I also have some empathy for Dr. Birx. It’s easy for people to say she should have done more. They aren’t in the position she was in, and they weren’t directly dealing with a man like Trump, threatening, bullying, and browbeating them into doing his bidding. I can’t help but realize that Trump is a malignant narcissist, and if you’ve never had to deal with such a person, you have no idea how difficult it is not to bend to their will. They can be extremely convincing, even if they aren’t the U.S. POTUS… and when they are someone as powerful as Trump was, with many minions ready to carry out his wishes, it seems like an impossible situation to be in.

I don’t blame Dr. Birx for deciding to retire. I think it’s a shame that all of the legitimately good work she’s done over the course of her career, to include work in mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS, is going to be tarnished by her unfortunate connection with Trump. I think she was in a no win situation. I can see why it was so hard for her to “choose the harder right over the easier wrong,” even if doing so might have saved lives.

Naturally, I had to read the comments on Jackie Munn’s piece. It was a lot of the same polarized crap we’ve been reading for over a year now. Many people– I’d say maybe 85%– had nothing but condolences and commiseration to add to Munn’s piece. It really is a sad read, and it resonates with a lot of people. A few other people were obviously ignorant pro-Trump trolls, who are clearly belligerent and selfish. But I also noticed a few people whom I thought made sense being called “trolls” or angrily shouted down by the masses. Here are a couple of examples:

Those of you who “know” me, know that I’m not a fan of group think or echo chamber comments. So many people seem to want to pat themselves on the backs for doing the “right” thing, for the good of everyone else. I’ve seen so many self-congratulatory and outright pious comments from people who claim they have done everything correctly and figuratively spit on everyone they assume isn’t toeing the line created by the likes of Dr. Fauci. Don’t get me wrong. I admire Dr. Fauci’s work, and I think he’s a very smart man who knows what he’s talking about. He definitely knows a hell of a lot more than the average Internet user. I also agree that people should do their parts to control the spread of the virus. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more rational discussion, rather than chastising and insulting perfect strangers online.

I had to quit reading the comments when I realized I’d started rooting for the people who were gamely taking on all of the arrogant lecturing and blaming done by those who are all about everyone being forced to do the “right” things. I am not a fan of forcing people to do right, especially when people take a black and white, zero tolerance view. There are always situations that require exceptions to the rules, and the people who require exceptions should have a chance to be heard without being screamed down by others. I don’t like to be the devil’s advocate myself, because I find dealing with the deluge of irritating comments from graduates of the Google School of Public Health too tiresome and ultimately pointless. But I do secretly cheer on those who take on these folks. Most of us can Google. Not all of us are going to come to the same conclusions. That should be okay. People should be allowed to share their thoughts and opinions if they want to, and the ones who make some sense should have their thoughts respectfully considered, even if their conclusions are eventually rejected.

I’m getting especially “prickly” when I see some all knower write something like “You do know that…” or “Pretty sure that…” or “And your medical/public health degree is from…” or “What about seatbelts and helmets…” I don’t think the COVID-19 situation is akin to the other safety measures enforced by law. Ms. Munn is obviously gutted that her mother has died. I can’t blame her for that. I don’t blame her for trying to place responsibility on other people, either. It’s only natural. But even if everyone was wearing a mask and social distancing, there’s a chance her mother still would have gotten sick. There may have been far less of chance, but the chance still existed.

Not everyone is going to get onboard with the new rules. Some people never will, no matter what we do. There’s a good chance those people won’t spread COVID-19, despite breaking the rules. On the other hand there’s a good chance they will. We don’t know who passed the virus to Jackie Munn’s mom, but we do know that it’s an extremely contagious bug, and even if someone does everything right, as Ms. Munn’s mom presumably did, people are still going to get sick, and some people are still going to die. Hopefully, with the advent of the new vaccines, those numbers will drop significantly.

I think it’s useless to point the finger at random people who aren’t doing what they’re told. Those people have their reasons for not cooperating. Maybe you and I think their reasons are stupid, but they obviously think they’re right. And unless we stop and talk to them and actually listen respectfully to what they have to say, they probably won’t cooperate, even if they’re dead wrong. How many random strangers are going to change their habits just because someone insulted them and left an angry comment? On the other hand, if we engage with them from a place of respect and decency, maybe we can come to a meeting of the minds. Maybe then, more people will “choose the harder right over the easier wrong.”

A few days ago, I got into a minor scuffle with some woman from Australia. Well, actually, she tried to start a scuffle with me. I ignored her, which probably pissed her off. Anyway, what happened was, I had read an article about a type of dermatitis that is being caused by mask wearing. Many people are getting perioral dermatitis and mistaking it for acne. The condition doesn’t clear up when they use acne remedies, and they have painful reactions, as their sensitive skin is abraded by constantly wearing the masks.

A woman posted that she was dealing with this condition herself. That’s when Tiffany from Australia responded that she’s owned a medical practice for twenty years, has to wear masks, and just sucks it up and drives on. The original poster came back and reiterated that the dermatitis was actually very painful. Tiffany still had no empathy for her. She wrote that she has the dermatitis too, but she still does her part and masks up. Here’s a cookie, Tiffany.

Enjoy.

I was a bit disgusted by Tiffany’s lack of regard for this woman and her valid complaint. So I wrote, “You made a choice to go into healthcare, where masks are required. Most of the rest of us didn’t. It’s not nice to discount other people’s legitimate problems.” Several people agreed with me, and I got quite a few likes for that comment… not that I needed the likes. They just told me that I wasn’t the only one who found Tiffany’s “suck it up and drive on” attitude annoying.

Next thing I knew, I got a message that Tiffany wanted to “connect” with me. I discovered her message maybe an hour or so after that exchange. I had a feeling she was going to blast me privately. I didn’t read her whole message, but saw enough of it to know that she felt I had no right to call her out for her virtue signaling and she was telling me off in my PMs. The end of her message was, “Cat got your tongue?”

If had responded, I might have said, “I didn’t even realize you had messaged me until I saw my phone. I don’t get those notifications on an iPad. Moreover, your decision to PM me doesn’t require me to answer you. If you want to address me, you can do it publicly and respectfully. Otherwise, I have nothing more to say to you.” What I really would have liked to have said to her, and anyone else who PMs me uninvited and is abusive is, “We don’t know each other, so piss off!” In the end, I chose to ignore her completely, which probably left her feeling like the wind was let out of her sails.

I wonder how many people would like to get in on the discussion and have valid perspectives to add, but choose not to because of bullies like Tiffany who want to call them “babies” or tell them to get over themselves. Likewise, while I completely understand Jackie Munn’s anger, frustration, and outrage that she lost her mother at age 62, I don’t think issuing a blanket blame toward anyone who isn’t doing what she thinks they should be doing is productive. Would she be just as angry if her mom had gotten the flu and died? How about if her mom had had an accident? Would she have felt better if many more people were wearing masks and her mom still died of COVID-19? It’s possible that could have happened, too. The bottom line is, the situation Jackie Munn is in is terrible, and it seems unfair. But we’re in a pandemic, and people are going to die, just as they die in wars and other catastrophes. It doesn’t mean the situation isn’t horrible and tragic– but unfortunately, blaming the world for her mom’s death isn’t going to bring her back from the dead.

Now… to wrap this up and get on with my day…

A few days ago, I wrote a protected post about a situation we’re in right now. It’s going to require some tough choices that may make things temporarily worse before they’re better. Or, they could make things permanently worse. And yet, Bill and I both know that it’s the right thing to do, and it’s something we should have done a long time ago. I was thinking of that situation when I read Jackie Munn’s words– the lesson she learned at West Point– “choosing the harder right over the easier wrong.” It’s so easy to turn a blind eye and let people get away with doing bad things. But in the long run, it can cost dearly.

I’m truly sorry about Jackie Munn’s loss. I absolutely appreciate all she and her sisters have done to fight COVID-19. I’m going to continue doing whatever I can to stop the spread. I stay home about 90% of the time and, on the very rare occasions when I do go places, I follow the rules. But unfortunately, I also know that the virus is very contagious, and some people can and will do everything right and still get COVID-19. It’s not necessarily anyone else’s fault when this happens, and I don’t think it’s helpful to blame others. It’s just a sad fact that until more people are fully vaccinated, people are going to get very sick, and some will die.

Yes, we should do all we can to reduce the numbers and cooperate for the common good. But there will be casualties regardless, and there will be heartbroken people who will suffer tremendous losses, no matter what they do. I also realize that I may very well be among those who will lose, as Bill and I anxiously await the vaccine ourselves. May God help us all.

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healthcare

The laundry hamper… don’t neglect it!

Proper hygiene is very important. It may be even more important today, thanks to COVID-19. The following anecdote was originally posted on my old blog, but I’m sharing it again as a lead into today’s topic.

My dad, who died in July 2014, had a habit of wearing clothes that probably should have been tossed in the laundry basket. He was a typical guy. Bill is better about putting his stuff in the hamper, but there have been a couple of times when I’ve had to tell him that his t-shirt is a bit rank. I definitely have a stronger sense of smell than Bill does.

I have three older sisters. One sister mostly upsets me when I’m around her, but she does have a knack for clever quips. One Christmas, we were all staying at my eldest sister’s house to celebrate the holiday. For his birthday the previous February, I had given my dad a sweater that he really liked. He wore it all the time, even when he should have tossed it in the laundry hamper.

My sister noticed and said, “Dad, you’ve been wearing that sweater for days now.  Don’t you think you should change?”

My dad responded, “I really like this sweater and it’s just easier to wear it since it’s already out of my suitcase.  If I have a high fashion affair to attend, I’ll change.”

And my sister snarked, “How about a hygienic affair?”

I have to admit, that was a pretty funny comment.  My dad good-naturedly smacked her on the head with a rolled up newspaper, which I also thought was funny and well-deserved. I think not long after that exchange, we had a fight. That’s what almost always happens at our immediate family gatherings. That’s why I live in Germany and don’t attend them anymore. 😉 But I do enjoy a clever witticism, and that was a good one.

The topic of hygiene comes up again today as I want to impart a PSA to my readers about face masks. I have a casual Facebook friend whose husband had to go to the emergency room the other day. The side of his face was all swollen and painful, and he and his wife didn’t know why. He ended up being admitted and, as of yesterday, was on two IV drips delivering potent antibiotics. Why? Because he has facial cellulitis.

At first, no one knew how he got the infection. But then a student doctor said that they had recently seen an uptick in facial cellulitis cases due to unhygienic face mask usage. People are wearing them repeatedly, but not washing or replacing them. The dirty surface comes into contact with the face, and bacteria enter the skin via a break– say a nick caused by shaving. Presto! You have a serious skin infection that lands you in the hospital!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may already know that I despise face masks. I know they are required– FOR NOW– and I know that they are necessary until we can get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic. But I also know that they are problematic for a number of people, and I hope and expect that their use, at least among people who aren’t in the healthcare delivery profession, will soon be obsolete. Even if the masks are helpful in preventing the spread of the virus or preventing allergy symptoms, they do no good if they’re unclean. I would like to see us come up with something better than masks for slowing the spread, but for now I feel the need to remind people to use clean masks as much as possible.

The fact that this guy wound up hospitalized because he kept wearing a dirty mask is just one reason why the masks are a potential threat. Lots of people recycle their masks rather than washing them (if they are reusable) or replacing them. I don’t think it has anything to do with money, either. I think people are just busy or lazy or whatever, and they forget.

Folks… I have had facial cellulitis myself. It is not a fun experience. Cellulitis is painful and disgusting, and if you’re not careful, it can recur. Below is a somewhat graphic account, so brace yourself.

In my case, I was getting recurrent skin infections for awhile before I finally saw a doctor about them. I’m not totally sure, but I think I picked up some kind of wandering germ when I lived in Armenia. From June of 1996, I kept getting these nasty, extremely painful infections that caused my skin to occasionally abscess. It was painful and messy, but since I didn’t have health insurance and wasn’t systemically ill, I just kind of lived with it… even when a couple of the infections were in embarrassing areas that made sitting down extremely difficult and painful.

During one particularly excruciating period, I had a large abscess over my butt crack. One day, I noticed I was feeling better. I went into the bathroom, and found that it had burst all over my underwear. A week later, it recurred in the same spot. I didn’t know that was cellulitis and it hadn’t made me sick with a fever. It just hurt like the dickens. Unfortunately, I was temping at the College of William & Mary, broke, and couldn’t afford to see a doctor, even if I had relished the idea of showing my ass crack to one. So I put up with it, and soon got a job working at a popular restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia. I planned to finally make some money so I could escape my parents’ house and get out on my own. But then, I got a case of cellulitis I couldn’t ignore.

The first time I was formally diagnosed with cellulitis, it was April 1998. I was living in Gloucester, Virginia and I had it on my stomach. It was a bright red, extremely painful, swollen rash that kept getting bigger. I eventually developed a high fever (102 degrees) and was really sick and in severe pain, so I went to the emergency room in hysterical tears, where I was put on an IV drip and given high powered antibiotics. That fixed the problem quickly, and I was able to leave the hospital that night. I spent a few days recovering at home, then I was back to work. My savings was completely wiped out, and I was soon buying health insurance!

The second time I was diagnosed with cellulitis was in January 1999, when I had it on my face. The infection started on my left cheek and the whole side of my face, as well as around my eye, was all swollen. That time, I went straight to the doctor. He wanted to put me in the hospital, since the infection was near my brain. He sent me to the emergency room, but the doctor there was less concerned, and sent me home. The next day, the original doctor called me at home and urged me to see another doctor in Newport News, Virginia. That doctor, who was the best of the lot, wanted to admit me to the hospital. I was insured by then, but trying desperately to save my money so I could escape my parents’ house. I told the doctor I didn’t want to be admitted. Since I didn’t have a fever and had never developed one in that case, he reluctantly agreed.

Fortunately, that doctor was very amenable to helping me avoid hospitalization. I got several shots of Rocephin in my hip and took powerful oral antibiotics. A couple of days later, my face deflated, and I looked and felt much better. But then I got shingles, thanks to being run down. The third and final time I got cellulitis, it was a few months later, and I got it on my waist. But that time, I went directly to the doctor and got it taken care of immediately, before it got too large or made me physically ill. I guess that last bombing of my system must have finally killed off the germ, because that was the last time I had cellulitis. Of course, every time I had to take the antibiotic bombs that kill cellulitis bacteria, I also got yeast infections. That was fun to deal with… NOT.

Anyway… after having had cellulitis three times officially, but more times unofficially, I know how uncomfortable, unpleasant, and dangerous it can be, especially when you get it on your face. I don’t have any pictures of myself when I had it, but I can assure you that I looked really scary. Click this link to see some photos of people who have had cellulitis on their faces– I looked a bit like them when I had it. I went in to the restaurant where I was working at the time, showed them my face, and they told me to take off as much time as I needed. I looked hideous. And that infection really can make a person very sick. Not only can it lead to sepsis, but when you have it on your face, there’s nowhere for the pus to go, so it can threaten your eyesight, among other things.

The pus, by the way, is super disgusting. Every time I’ve had it, it’s been thick, sticky, oily, smelly, and tan colored, tinged with blood. Granted, it’s kind of satisfying to see it drain, especially when you look and feel a lot better in the aftermath. But the process of draining it is really stomach turning. It’s just gross.

So… the moral of the story is, practice good hygiene. Don’t poke your face with anything dirty; wash your hands before you touch your face. Be very careful with your face masks. Make sure you wear a clean one as much as possible, and don’t wear the same one for weeks on end, not having washed or replaced it. Trust me. You do not want cellulitis on your face. It’s an unsightly, expensive, and potentially very dangerous problem. And now, more than ever, you want to avoid hospitals, if you can. I mostly survived that experience with no ill effect, except if I look closely, I can see a tiny reddened/scarred area on my face where all of the revolting pus drained out. Yeccch!

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condescending twatbags, healthcare, sex, slut shamers

This just in! “Unintended pregnancies” are caused by having sex!

Okay… now that I’ve had a walk and all of my other chores for the day are done, I’ve just thought of something else to write about… and that is, “unintended pregnancies”. This morning, I learned that they’re caused by having sex! Who knew?

I recently read about how scientists are concerned because not enough people have gotten pregnant during the pandemic, that will eventually cause a shortfall in people to care for the elderly. I blogged about that revelation, which came from information in an article with the headline “Experts sound the alarm on declining birth rates among younger generations: ‘It’s a crisis’.

This morning, I read another alarming headline “The pandemic has caused as many as 1.4 million unintended pregnancies. Here’s how that impacts women’s lives.” I was confused, since I have seen several headlines lamenting the baby bust. The lamenting over the baby bust also confused me, since I’ve been hearing for years about how overpopulated the world is. And the fact that people weren’t getting pregnant over the past year means fewer abortions, right? But apparently, there hasn’t been a baby bust after all…

I started reading the article and discovered that it was about women in developing countries. In places like East Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, plenty of people were getting pregnant. They had lost access to birth control, thanks to widespread closures of facilities that weren’t needed for treating COVID-19. According to the article, a lot of women were unable to get birth control even before the pandemic. After it struck, things got markedly worse, and the women were faced with a potentially terrible choice– have a potentially unsafe abortion (obviously depending on the location) and worry about the stigma attached to that, or be forced into a potentially unsuitable marriage.

Well, none of this is news to me. I used to work in maternal and child health as well as healthcare policy. My older sister is also in public health and spent years traveling to developing countries to research and promote contraception. But, as is my habit, I decided to read the comments anyway. Lots of people who didn’t read were chiming in, as usual. And one man came up with this illuminating comment:

The pandemic caused pregnancies? I know science is distorted these days, but I still believe sex caused those pregnancies.

Another man came up with this one…

And here I thought pregnancy was a side effect of having sex…

When someone asked why he thought this was an amusing subject, he said…

“where did I say it was amusing? Its a fact that pregnancy is a result of sex, don’t want to be pregnant and can’t get access to birth control? Don’t have sex, pretty simple.”

I suppose it is simple, as long as men respect a woman’s right to say no to sex. But, as we all know, some men don’t respect that right. That is especially true in developing countries, where women are thought of as second class citizens and/or property. A couple of other guys chimed in about how women shouldn’t be having sex if they don’t want to be pregnant. When someone else brought up the issue of consent, or lack thereof, a guy asked “So all these women were raped?”

To that question, a woman replied, “only men can be having this stupid conversation. And maybe you should educate yourselves a little bit: even using birth control a woman can get pregnant.

Then, Mr. Brilliant added, “If you get pregnant using a condom you should name that baby Houdini.

Maybe… except this article was about women in developing countries, who may or may not have access to condoms or partners willing to use them. And then, someone else suggested butt sex, which does not result in pregnancy. But it does result in a pain in the ass. Not everyone is that chocolate, either. I know I’m about as vanilla as they come… maybe with a little fruity ripple and a few nuts.

Jesus Christ!

And then someone made a comment about Republicans and manages to add in a blurb about face masks. I agree with her comment about Republicans, but it has no place on this article, which has nothing to do with the Republican Party. It’s about the worldwide shortage of condoms and access to contraception. I WISH PEOPLE WOULD READ BEFORE LEAVING THEIR DUMB COMMENTS.

Wow… for once, I’m with the guys.

And it went even further, with talk of dildoes…

Midgets? WTF?

Well… it’s true that sex causes pregnancy, at least most of the time– barring any medical procedures, that is. But being in a pandemic, with reduced access to contraception and medical care, more women are getting pregnant without meaning to get pregnant. Before I studied social work, I used to refer to the unintended pregnancies that resulted in unprotected sex as “unwanted”. But I was corrected by a field instructor and told I should use the term “unintended”. I’m sure that has a better ring to it, especially in a state like South Carolina, where legislators are continually trying to control women’s uteri. We don’t like to think of pregnancy and the resulting births, which many people consider to be a blessing, as “unwanted”. Many religious folks consider children gifts from God, and they proclaim that God will provide. Except when God doesn’t provide and the women need help.

As we can see from reading this article, unintended pregnancies happen all over the world, and they can and do have a devastating effect on the lives of the people who aren’t prepared for them. And while the headline for this article could have been better considered and more accurate, the fact is, a lot of women are pregnant and didn’t want to be because of conditions caused by the pandemic. That’s the main idea of the article. I got the point; did you?

I’ll end with a poem…

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complaints, condescending twatbags, modern problems, sexism

I really enjoy bitching about things…

This morning, I find myself with a touch of writer’s block. When that happens, I often go to my original Google version of this blog to find inspiration. I did write a few posts on the old blog that are chestnuts… or evergreen… or whatever. At the very least, I can find book reviews that I can repost, although I’m slowly running out of those.

I am working on reading a book right now, but as usual, I keep falling asleep before I can make too much progress. I probably should invest in a chair for reading, rather than reading in bed. Nowadays, I drop off at the drop of a hat if I’m lying down and comfortable. I have really excellent Comphy sheets on my bed, too, which makes for prime sleeping conditions. I don’t work for the company or get any kickbacks. I just really like the sheets, which I discovered on a visit to a B&B in Goshen, Virginia.

ETA: Many apologies, since I have already bitched about this particular complaint on the new blog… the original re-run repost is not exactly the same as this one, but it does include the same screenshots and basic story. Oh well. Maybe I’ll think of something totally fresh later.

Anyway, I came across a rant I wrote back in the summer of 2017. Looking back, that summer was pretty traumatic for a number of reasons. It wasn’t as bad as the summer of 2014, but it was a pretty tough time. One day, I got irritated because some guy, long gone from my friends list, had shared a fake meme. I wrote a post bitching about it. Note– the post was not specifically about the guy, it was about the practice of sharing falsely attributed memes. A lot of people don’t care that the deep thoughts they share on social media are bullshit. Some have rationalized that it’s the thought that counts, not the person who came up with the thought. Personally, I vehemently disagree. Especially when people falsely attribute things to the late George Carlin, who is one of my idols and whose wisdom has gotten me through some shit.

No… George never said this. And you shouldn’t imply that he did.

The guy who had inspired my rant shared the above meme, with the comment “Carlin pulled no punches.” I kept seeing this meme on my timeline and it annoyed me. So I decided to write about it. Former friend read the vent and got pissed off at me. He left a nasty comment on my OH Facebook page and blocked me. Then, he posted the article on his page and I soon had a bunch of right wing mental giants from the Deep South hitting my blog, racking up ad revenue. A mutual friend sent me a private message letting me know that he was riling up all his Trump supporting friends over this vent. From my original post:

Both times I’ve seen this meme featuring George Carlin, I’ve hidden it.  Why?  Because I am very certain that George Carlin never said this.  It pisses me off when people put words in George’s mouth, especially since he’s dead.  I loved and respected his work and I’m absolutely sure he never would have said anything like this.  Carlin’s comedy celebrated obstruction and fighting the establishment.  He was a champion of resistance and bucking authority.  It’s wrong to attribute these words to him or to insinuate that he said them by using his picture with someone else’s words.

Even if I agreed wholeheartedly with this meme’s sentiment, which I don’t, I would not agree that it’s okay to claim that these are George Carlin’s words, especially when there is ample evidence that they aren’t.

I went looking to see if Carlin had, indeed, said this. I found evidence that, apparently, GMTA. Morgan Freeman supposedly said it, too.

Hmmm… naw, I don’t think Morgan said it, either.

I went on to explain why this practice irritates me so much. From my old blog:

I’m sure many people think I’m being anal retentive about this issue.  They wonder what the harm is, especially since so many folks seem to think this is a good thought.  Well, I’ll tell you what the harm is.  The harm is that George Carlin and Morgan Freeman are legends, but they are (or were) also people.  A person has the right to free expression and freedom from being used to promote someone else’s agenda without their permission.  My guess is that people make these memes because they think Carlin or Freeman have the right persona to drive home this particular sentiment.  But what right does one person have to use another person like that, even if the person being used is (or was) famous?  And even if the person posting the fake meme is simply being a provocateur? 

Mr. Carlin is no longer alive to defend himself when someone falsely uses his likeness to express their ideas.  And while many people think this quote is excellent, the person who actually came up with it should be the one who gets attributed, not a random famous person who may or may not have even agreed with it.  

I continued searching for more evidence of who actually came up with these words. And I found these memes…

Jeez! Everybody was saying this in 2017!

And I continued with this idea, which I felt was neither unreasonable nor particularly offensive:

There is nothing wrong with sharing ideas or quotes on Facebook or other social media.  I just think that if you’re going to use a meme with a quote, especially when you use a famous person’s image, you should make sure the person pictured is the person who should be attributed.  You can still spread an idea by posting something like this…

What’s wrong with sharing something like this? Are people really swayed by a picture of a famous person like Carlin supposedly saying the same thing?

Maybe your plain meme won’t get as many “likes” or comments, but it will at least be honest and it won’t be stealing someone else’s famous image to promote an idea or agenda.  As someone who is camera shy and writes, I know I wouldn’t want my image used with someone else’s words, no matter how profound they are.  I’m sure most normal, non-famous people wouldn’t.  

I’ll never understand why some people assume that a famous person won’t mind when a stranger thoughtlessly spreads a Facebook meme using their image with someone else’s words.  Especially when it’s common for people with financial means to sue when someone uses their likeness without permission.  And especially since many famous people make their living by being paid promoters.  No one likes to be ripped off, right?

Maybe the above point annoyed the guy. Most famous people aren’t going to bother suing some random Facebook user over sharing a fake meme. Unless they’re like Richard Marx, or something. I understand he’s pretty uptight. Anyway, this post really upset my former friend, who felt like I had insulted him deeply for writing about this phenomenon. I never named him, nor did I specifically invite him to read this post. But he sure got upset about it. The next morning, I found the below photo and an angry comment from him.

Wow… BUTTHURT!

So I wrote another post, but that time, I DID call him out, not by his name, but by his behavior, which I thought was really childish:

So… yesterday I wrote a rant about “dishonest memes”.  It was inspired by a meme I’ve seen floating around featuring the late, great George Carlin.  I mentioned in that rant that I’ve seen that meme at least a couple of times and, when I see it, I hide it.  When I saw the meme posted yet again, I felt the need to write about it here on my blog.  I figured that would be better than getting into a Facebook argument with the person who posted it.  Those can get long and contentious.  Not as many people read my blog as they do Facebook. 

I will admit that had the person posted the meme featuring Morgan Freeman using the same words, I probably wouldn’t have been as bothered and likely never would have thought to write my rant.  George Carlin is kind of sacred to me.  He’s helped me get through some rough times. 

Anyway, this morning, I awoke to find the person who inspired yesterday’s post had unfriended me.  He left me a comment on the link to the rant on my Overeducated Housewife page.  It was yet another picture.  I like pictures!

Truthfully, this person was not someone I interacted with much anyway.  I’ve never met him in person.  I suspect we have different political leanings, so we didn’t do much communicating on Facebook.  If this person happens to read this follow up, please allow me to apologize for apparently offending you by indirectly calling you out.  It’s (almost) never my intention to be hurtful, although I know sometimes I am.  But I will not apologize for expressing my thoughts on my blog.  

I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong to write about the things that bug me.  That’s what blogs are for.  Moreover, misusing George Carlin’s memory is annoying and offensive to me.  It occurs to me that if we were real friends, you’d know that and actually care.      

I get my ideas from all sorts of sources, including friends, family, and anything I see on social media.  Most of the time, I try not to name people directly, unless they are famous people, people named in the media, and/or certain relatives.  I did not name this person, but he obviously read the rant.  I can only assume, based on the above picture comment he left me, that he was annoyed by it…  just as I get offended by people who carelessly take liberties with George Carlin’s memory.  

It’s okay.  We all get butthurt over different things.  If someone had vented specifically about me or something I did, I’d probably be annoyed and offended, too.  If they were an actual friend, I might care enough to talk to them about it.  Or maybe not.  It’s clear this person wasn’t an actual friend, though, so it’s probably for the best that he dropped me out of his universe.  Moreover, that post was not actually about him, but about the practice of sharing fake memes.     

The funny thing is, one thing I do know about this person is that he likes to write.  I “met” him on Epinions, which was a place that was full of opinionated people writing product reviews.  I didn’t like his Epinions nickname because of my phobia of mushrooms (his name was a play on fungus), but I did like his reviews.  In fact, I think he was even on my Web of Trust for a long time.  One thing I miss about Epinions is that it was a place where one could make money for being articulate and opinionated.

Anyway…  to anyone reading this, if you ever happen to find yourself the subject of this blog, I hope you realize that on some level that you have served as an inspiration to someone.  Sometimes people inspire others in a positive way.  Sometimes the inspiration is borne out of something negative.  Either way, inspiration usually leads to creativity and sometimes creativity leads to genius.  I’m certainly not saying anything on this blog falls into the genius category, but writing it does help keep me sane.  

As usual, this incident ended up fathering a bunch of posts, including one I wrote on “uppity women”. Not knowing the former Facebook friend that well, I still came up with the idea that perhaps he saw me as “uppity” for daring to bitch about his practice of sharing fake memes and falsely attributed quotes. I did point out that he’s one of many people who does this, and I know that my blog isn’t going to make a significant dent in the problem. And, in fact, in 2021, this is not really a problem worth writing about. We definitely have much bigger issues these days.

But in the third post that was partially inspired by that incident, I wrote this:

A former Facebook friend took issue when I wrote about my dislike of “dishonest memes”.  He happened to be the catalyst of that post, although I was not writing specifically about him, per se.  That post was about anyone who shares memes or essays wrongly attributed to people.  I have written about that phenomenon before; the person who inspired the first post is a female friend who, fortunately, wasn’t upset or threatened by my decision to express myself.  We’re still friends today.    

I have noticed that in the wake of that post, many people from the Deep South are now stalking my blog.  They repeatedly hit the post about Dishonest Memes and the one I wrote yesterday.  I’m intrigued by their interest in those two specific posts, which are really not that earth shattering.  It appears the posts are being shared among friends and family and these folks are looking for some kind of action on them.   

The funny thing is, the person who inspired my post about dishonest memes had originally expressed admiration for George Carlin’s policy of not “pulling any punches”.  Many people loved Carlin for telling it like it is and expressing himself.  Of course, a lot of people did not like Carlin.  My dad was one such person.  He found Carlin disrespectful and vulgar, especially when Carlin would denigrate the government, the Republican party, or the military.  He would get very offended by Carlin’s use of profanity.  Perhaps he thought George Carlin was “uppity”, too.  What right did Carlin have to criticize the government?  How dare he express his ideas in such vulgar and outspoken terms?  

It now occurs to me that by publicly shaming and condemning me for bitching about him and his practice of sharing fake memes, former friend made me bitch even more. I wonder if that was intentional on his part, especially since he sent his friends and family to follow my blog. Their hits probably contributed a few pennies to my Google AdSense account. I continued:

My dad had the same disdain for me whenever he thought I was getting too big for my britches and needed to be taken down a peg.  He would tell me that nobody cared about my opinions and that I had no right to say things that he deemed offensive or rude.  In short, I needed to be reminded of my station as a lowly female, and not a very attractive one at that… How dare I express myself?  In his opinion, I needed to keep my mouth shut and my legs crossed.

I’m baffled as to why it’s okay and even admirable for George Carlin to “pull no punches”, but it’s not okay for me to do it on a little read blog?  Is it because I’m not famous?  Is it because I don’t have a penis?  Is it because my comments are somehow “out of line” or wrong?    

My dad, who died in July 2014, put on a uniform every day for over twenty years, in part, to preserve my right to express myself.  However, he didn’t appreciate it when I said things he didn’t like.  He didn’t want to hear someone like George Carlin or Hillary Clinton be outspoken.  I think my dad loved the idea of “free speech and expression”, especially to certain privileged segments of the population, but he didn’t necessarily love the practice of it…  unless it was something he wanted to hear.  I don’t think that’s necessarily an uncommon position, by the way.  I often get angry comments from people who don’t like some of the things I write.  I, too, get annoyed when someone says something I don’t like.  I fully admit to being a hypocrite.  It’s just another one of those things I have to work on in my life.

One of the reasons I love most of George Carlin’s comedy is that he often made a lot of sense.  He enjoyed pointing out double standards and hypocrisy and got a huge kick out of pissing off people who take themselves and others a little too seriously.  I think we all do that from time to time– myself included.  

You folks who are stalking my blog should know that I appreciate the attention and the hits, but there’s really not much to see here.  I only expressed my opinion, which I feel very fortunate to be able to do, since I live in a free society.    

I don’t know if I come across as “uppity” to everyone… I know a lot of people, especially military and certain southern folks, think I do.  My own father thought I did.  But anyway, I really am just an “overeducated housewife” and I don’t have much more going on other than writing my blog, making music, doing housework, reading books and looking after my dogs.  

So I will keep on writing… though not on this subject.  I’m done writing about “dishonest memes” for now, so it may be time for you to move on to your next channel on the Internet.  Or stalk me if you must.  I profit from the attention.

Of course, now it occurs to me that I lied, since I obviously wasn’t done writing about “dishonest memes”. There I go with the hypocrisy again! I do enjoy bitching about things, though. I suppose I could have bitched about the latest mass shooting in the United States, and maybe I will do that, once I learn more about it. I haven’t gotten around to reading the details yet, though. Don’t want to spoil the whole day with more bad news… which includes the fact that Germany is now going to be locked down until April 18th, because according to Mrs. Merkel, we’re in a “new pandemic”. I’m beginning to think we should all just put ourselves out of my misery. I feel like this is never going to end. At least the TDY from hell is over, and I don’t have to bitch about that anymore.

But now I can bitch about the fact that I spent an hour writing this and I’ve already complained about this before on this blog… right down to the same anecdotes and screenshots. It’s not exactly the same, as the first rerun is shorter and includes some new content. But it’s pretty similar. I do wonder when Facebook was named the place where people feel the need to be inspirational or provide words to live by for other people.

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