complaints, money, rants, work

Repost: Got big expectations? Want quality? Well, quality costs… and right here is where you start paying for sweat.

Here’s a repost from my original blog. I wrote this on September 23, 2018. As Christmas approaches, I think it’s relevant… and I’m still deciding on today’s topic. My mom made the socks on my feet in the featured photo, too.

A friend shared this post from Scary Mommy yesterday.  It was originally written in March 2018, but somehow I missed the viral round.  I entertained myself by reading it as Bill and I came home from our excursion.  The Scary Mommy story was gleaned from a Reddit post that shows just how completely rude and entitled people can be sometimes, especially toward creative people.  

A guy on Instagram asked a crocheter named Krafty Katt if she takes commissions.  He wanted her to make him a queen sized blanket using expensive wool yarn and employing a complicated stitch.  She told him she’d do it for $400, with $200 paid upfront.  The guy’s response was very profane and he basically told her she was ripping him off because he could go to Walmart and buy a blanket for $15. He used every trick in the book to get her to lower her price for creating something stunning by hand.  She wouldn’t budge and eventually doubled her price.  I offer mad props to her for being so calm and handling that jerk the way she did.

I must admit, she was a whole lot nicer than I would have been.  I probably would have told the guy to go eat a bag of dicks the first time he started using foul language toward me.  Some people don’t seem to understand that handmade goods don’t just cost the price of the supplies.  They also require time and effort.  The guy’s insistence that the crocheter could buy yarn on sale and basically work for free was extremely insulting, especially considering how rude he was being to her.

My mom was making this the last time I visited her.

She also made this.  I did not inherit any of my mom’s talent for needle creations.  My sister got that gift.

I probably have even more insight into this phenomenon than other people do.  I grew up watching my parents making money from their creativity.  My mom ran her own knitting and needlework shop for over 25 years.  She ran her shop out of our home and taught countless people, mostly women, how to knit, needlepoint, cross stitch, and candle wick.  When I was really young, she even used to make clothes for me.  My mom has a gift for making beautiful things and she sold high quality supplies to like minded people who wanted to create beautiful things.  She probably knows all about the yarn Krafty Katt wrote of on her Reddit thread.

My dad had a complementary business doing custom picture framing and selling art by local artists.  Both of my parents made their livings laboring over beautiful things.  People would bring their creations to my mom when they needed help.  I remember her “blocking” needlepoint done by other women or finishing up projects for people.  I remember my dad and his assistant, Deborah (who took over his business), creatively framing pictures and making shadow boxes for patrons.  It all took a lot time, effort, skill, and most of all, vision.  Most people were very pleased with the end results, although some bristled at the cost.

Edited to add for 2021– this is my mom and one of her creations. She’s in her 80s and still does this…

Besides running her own knitting and needlepoint business, my mom was also a church organist for over 50 years.  People were eager to hire her to play for weddings and funerals because she is extremely talented.  I don’t remember her charging a lot of money to play the organ, but I do remember that each event required her to practice.  She had to practice for each Sunday service, every wedding, and all funerals.  That took time, energy, and effort, and she was entitled to be paid for it.

I have run into this issue myself.  I am a writer and a singer.  Writing and singing are two of my innate talents, so they come fairly easily to me, but I still have to develop them.  I studied voice for several years and put in a lot of time practicing and learning how to breathe.  I paid for music and an accompanist, as well as instruction from a teacher.  Now I can sing pretty well, but that skill didn’t come without cost, commitment, and a lot of effort.

My mom also made these.

It takes time and effort to make music or write a piece for someone else.  A lot of the pieces I’ve written for money have required extensive research, fact checking, and equipment.  Computers cost money.  Software costs money.  So do subscriptions to publications that provide the information I need to write something factual and credible.  I went to school for seven years past high school to develop the knowledge and skills to be able to write professionally.  God knows that took money!  Some people might argue that one can learn how to write well without a college degree.  I might agree with that.  However, I went to graduate school and studied specific areas that give me expertise that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  It’s been awhile since my last freelance assignment, but back when I was writing for money, I was earning anywhere from $40 to $80 an hour in the Washington, D.C. area.

I even had a social work professor who told his students that we should never give away our work for free, even if we only charge a dollar.  When someone pays for something, they value it more.  Although I don’t always think monetary compensation is required for one person to value another person’s contribution, I do agree with the idea that nothing is really free.

A person is more likely to take another person’s work seriously if payment is required.  The payment doesn’t always have to be monetary.  It can also be given in the form of gratitude.  For instance, I would never expect someone to give me money for a gift I present to them.  A gift is, by definition, given without the expectation of money.  I would hope that the recipient would “pay” me by saying thank you, although that doesn’t always happen, either.  Sometimes people are clods… myself included.

Bill had this kilt made when we went to Scotland in 2017.  The kiltmaker measured him and created that kilt by hand.  It’s absolutely beautiful, but it cost plenty and took about three months to create.  Ultimately, it was worth it.  I’m glad we went to the kiltmaker instead of a big company that makes kilts in bulk.

Aside from the hard costs of producing something beautiful, there’s also the issue of time and labor.  No one wants to be a slave.  There has to be a pay off for being productive, and the more productive a person is, the bigger the pay off should be.  Krafty Katt is obviously very good at what she does– good enough that the guy who proposed that she make his blanket asked if she does commissions.  But then he insulted her by accusing her of ripping him off by demanding to be paid for her work.

I would not have made a blanket for the guy on Instagram for any amount of money.  I don’t think I could put my heart into creating something for such a selfish prick.  I think his best bet is to go to Walmart and buy something that was made in a sweatshop.  That’s the quality of person he seems to be… and probably the quality he deserves.  


Every cloud has its silver lining…

In June 2013, I wrote a post on my original blog called “Silver Linings”. That post was about how something good can come out of even the worst situations. In 2013, my concerns were mostly about things that seem a lot less significant now. Back then, I was still very upset with Bill’s ex wife for the horrific damage she wrought on Bill and his daughters. I was angry with Bill’s daughters, too, for rejecting and hurting Bill, and for not being wise enough to see that by pushing him away, they were also hurting themselves. But, as time has passed, Bill has managed to reconnect with his younger daughter. They have talked about what happened after Bill’s divorce, and they’ve learned more about each other and the abuse they both experienced at the hands of Bill’s ex wife. Now, they’re both wiser.

June 2013 was also when my beloved college advisor, Dr. Massie Stinson, passed away after a long illness. Dr. Stinson and I weren’t tremendously close, but he did help me join the Peace Corps and get into graduate school. When he died, I sent a letter to his family via another professor, who is now a friend. A friend who was also an English major at Longwood attended Dr. Stinson’s funeral. She said his family members were very moved by my comments, which made me feel good. I was honored to be able to pass on a few stories about how Dr. Stinson had made my life better.

In that post, I reminisced about our dog, MacGregor, and how he’d died of spinal cancer in December 2012. It was very sad to see him in so much pain and to let him go. But then Bill and I made new friends in the process of adopting Arran, who is still with us and keeps us smiling.

I also mentioned war. War is an awful thing, but good things can come out of war. Many people die because of it, but many people are also born due to war. Cultures are explored out of necessity. Even medical advances are made due to wars. For instance, we have much better prosthetic limbs now than we once had, mainly because it was necessary to develop them due to war injuries. Not everyone who loses a limb will do so because of war, but that technology that came about because of grievously injured people in wars will ultimately benefit everyone, including those who lost limbs due to disease, accidents, or because of congenital defects.

In my time on the planet, I’ve found that most adversarial things we go through somehow also have a positive effect. Even wars and catastrophic illnesses can turn into good things… or can spawn good things. Last night, I read a fascinating article about a very brainy married couple, Laurie and Kevin Hommema. She’s a family practice physician, and he’s an engineer. Together, they came up with a new process to disinfect N95 masks. They were just sitting at their dinner table with their two young daughters, talking about how the masks are in short supply and how she, as a doctor, would not have enough protection in taking care of her patients because of the coronavirus crisis. Her husband remembered a study he’d done through his work. Next thing you know, they’d come up with a plan that is now in action. Machines have been made and are being used in cities around the United States. Necessity is the mother of invention.

The environment is getting better because people are driving and flying less. The air is clearing up and there’s less pollution. Water is becoming cleaner because there are fewer cruise ships. While the reason for the bluer skies and clearer water is sad and scary, it’s still great to see how quickly positive changes are taking place in the environment. And it’s something for us to learn as time goes on. If we change some of our habits, maybe the future, for those of us who survive the pandemic, will be better.

Two years ago, I was one of about 40,000 people in a stadium, watching The Rolling Stones play. It was an excellent, unforgettable, incredible concert, and I’m glad I went. We paid 1200 euros to sit on row thirteen, I think. I could see the Stones without looking at the huge monitors, but even being on row thirteen, there was a huge crowd of people in front of me, obstructing my view. I remember it took awhile to get out of the stadium because of the huge hordes of people. Fortunately, I had ultimately come to hear the music, and hearing it live was really something special.

However, as great as that show was, I also remember sitting underneath some guy’s unwashed exposed armpit for a few hours. This dude had worn a tank top, and the seats were crammed so close together that I was breathing his smoke and his underarm funk the whole time I was watching Mick Jagger strut around on stage. Now, thanks to coronavirus, maybe huge crowds will become a thing of the past. Maybe if I ever manage to go to another show, I won’t be immediately downwind of someone’s halitosis. In restaurants, I won’t be practically sitting at some stranger’s table, as Bill and I were in France back in February, because tables are so close together.

Hell, maybe the virus will prompt the airlines to stop cramming people onto airplanes like sardines! Wouldn’t that be a lovely aftereffect of the pandemic? You can finally fit in your seat and not have some stranger leaning on you for hours while a person in front of your reclines in your lap and a person behind you sticks their knees in your lower back! The thought of that is exciting for me, although it will probably mean flights will get more expensive. But then, maybe that’s a good thing too, because it will mean less air pollution.

I am kind of psyched about how teleworking is becoming more acceptable now. I have enjoyed having Bill at home with me. I know not everyone likes to be around their spouses or children all the time, but I think that togetherness could be a great gift to the children of today, who don’t always get to see their family because of the demands of work. Although travel is a good and necessary thing, and I will always love to see and experience different places, I’m glad Bill hasn’t had to go on any work trips since March. Out of necessity, things are having to be done differently– everything from Zooming business meetings and classes, to even court proceedings being done remotely. That will mean less pollution, less traffic, less gas, and probably fewer car accidents. It will also save time, since people won’t have to travel unnecessarily to another location for meetings that can be done by computer.

The virus has also prompted some pretty amazing creative efforts. For instance, this lady’s funny remake of “I Say a Little Prayer” turned into an anti Trump parody has made a number of my friends laugh with me.

As one of my musical friends noticed, “she really takes it home at the end!”

Watching that lady sing a funny song about Trump has made me feel like coming up with one of my own. Maybe I’ll get around to it today, after I do my weekly pointless vacuuming.

Another friend shared this hilarious gif with me. Yes, it’s rude and disrespectful, but it sums up things nicely for those of us who are tired of the Trump style circus shit show.

Disturbing… much like Trump’s presidency… I’m delighted that some creative person thought to make this for my enjoyment.

The virus will expand medical knowledge. Scientists and physicians and all of the other healthcare professionals out there will have to become more knowledgable out of necessity. Yes, it completely sucks having to get that knowledge in the way we are at this point, but if you look at history, it’s always been this way when a new germ develops. I remember the AIDS era, back in the 80s. So many people died horrible deaths. It seemed like the AIDS crisis would never end. But AIDS is no longer the threat it was 35 years ago. It no longer kills people the way it used to, because scientists came up with ways to treat it and prevent it. Policies were changed so that fewer people were exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through blood transfusions. Effective drugs were developed so that the disease could be kept at bay. Now, people with HIV antibodies aren’t necessarily facing a death sentence the way they did in the 1980s. Eventually, the same thing will happen with COVID-19. In fact, it’s already happening. With every passing day, people are learning more about how to prevent and fight this disease.

This was a blessing last night.

And finally… I would like to pass along one more silver lining. Last night, as I drank a “Jenny sized margarita” made for me by my loving husband, I came across an obituary for my hometown’s very first COVID-19 casualty. I notice that the article was written by Sherry Hamilton, a reporter I had the pleasure of meeting myself, back in 1997. She interviewed me after I came home from Armenia. I knew her late husband, Grant, because he and his first wife, Kyle, were my family’s neighbors in the early 80s. I used to play with Grant’s and Kyle’s children.

Grant’s second wife, Sherry Hamilton, wrote a very moving article about Alicia Marsh, a woman who, along with her sister, Sondra, were admitted to Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, in Gloucester, Virginia. The sisters had both come down with COVID-19. Just a few hours before they were both going to be released from the hospital, Alicia suffered a pulmonary embolism and died. Her death was very sudden and devastating to her close-knit family, particularly since the sisters’ father, Johnny, was also hospitalized with the infection the day after his daughters were admitted to Walter Reed.

Alicia died on Tuesday, April 7th. However, two days before she passed, Alicia made a video that another sister, Jessica, had discovered on Alicia’s phone. Sherry Hamilton writes:

In the video, Alicia said she could hardly believe she was where she was, and that it was difficult to be apart, but that everyone should cherish the times they had together. She said that God was good and had blessed her many times over.

“Even though I sit here in a hospital bed, on oxygen and weak, I’m not worried ’cause I know that God has done so many wonderful things for me and that I have a relationship with him,” said Alicia. “Either way, I’m heaven-bound, and I thank God for that.”

Jessica said that watching the video had given her family peace in spite of their loss, and that they felt like people should see it, so they shared it on Facebook.

“The most important part is having a relationship with God and trusting him and thanking him for everything,” said Jessica. “We see people passing away every day while we get to get up and drink a cup of coffee or see our spouse or go to work. We should thank God for that every single day.”

Even two days before Alicia’s time on Earth ended, she was inspired to create something that would bless and teach her family, as well as others who take the time to read her story and watch her video. I am not particularly religious myself. I do believe in God, but I don’t necessarily believe in religion. I was very moved by Alicia Marsh’s video, though, because ultimately, what she said doesn’t even have to involve God. People should slow down and think about the many things we’ve taken for granted for so many years. We should stop for a moment and think about how we can live better and smarter. We should realize that cleaner air and smaller crowds are good things. We should learn that money shouldn’t be the only thing that matters all the time. Because money doesn’t matter to the dead. Life should be about much more than just making money.

We will all learn something new from dealing with this virus and the ones that will come after it. Some people will learn very hard lessons, and many people will suffer losses and tragedies. But there will also be survivors, and they will know how to handle the coronavirus better than today’s people do, because of this pandemic. Policies will be changed, and some people– the smart ones, anyway– will be less ignorant. As my Armenian friend Stepan says, “we plant trees in whose shade we may never sit.” Maybe the seeds of knowledge about COVID-19 that are being planted today will grant shade to people of the future. Maybe what is being learned now will be a piece of the puzzle of a bigger problem that needs to be solved later.

Anyway… I’m just trying to look on the bright side. That doesn’t happen very often because I am a pretty pessimistic person by nature. But, as scary and awful a pandemic is, it isn’t lost on me that this crisis could end up teaching us some good things… and prompting people to be smarter, more creative, and happier with what they already have.


If God leads you to it…

Have you ever heard that saying, “If God leads you to it, He’ll lead you through it?” I’m not a very religious person, but I will admit that sometimes I have flickers of spirituality. I was probably more religious when I was younger, but as the years have passed, I’ve become less impressed by the mysterious ways of the Almighty. Bill is a lot more in tune with God than I am. He has more reason to have faith. He’s been through some major shit in his life. My shit, by comparison, is relatively small potatoes. I have never been to war. I have never been at war with an ex spouse hellbent on destroying me. I have never had a near death experience. I have never been divorced or had children. I have never been a child of divorce, either.

For some reason, despite never having these challenging, life altering experiences, I often feel exhausted and embattled by life. My challenges have been different than Bill’s have been, and we have learned different ways of coping. One of my methods of getting through tough times is by turning to creativity. I think maybe it would have been easier if I had been an artist, like my sister is. Pictures can be upsetting, but they probably aren’t as upsetting as the written word is. It usually takes longer to paint a picture than write an essay.

I’m also a singer, although I mainly do that as a form of self-therapy. I don’t share my music nearly as much as I do my writing. I doubt most people take it seriously, even if I do. Maybe it would be better if I simply made music rather than write… although I am finding this week that writing could end up saving me.

The past few days have been very challenging. Some of you are aware that Bill and I escaped the rental house from Hell last year. I didn’t initially think of the experience as “hellish”. What started out as having to deal with an eccentric, overbearing, nit picking landlady has turned into sheer craziness. I used to write about my frustrations dealing with her, but then it became clear that she had a negative advocate stalking my blogs and probably reporting back to her. Not that I wrote that much about her, mind you… and I certainly never identified her. 99.9% of the people reading my old blog and the scattered posts in which I mentioned ex landlady would never know who she was. Moreover, there were also posts in which I praised her. At first, I was sincere in my praise, because she had initially seemed nice. Later, I wrote those posts only because, in my gut, I knew they could be significant later. Two years ago, it became clear to me that we were going to be where we are now… on the brink of a lawsuit in a country that is foreign to me.

Bill has never sued anyone. Neither have I. I don’t plan to be a party to this lawsuit, mainly because I didn’t sign the lease and wasn’t responsible for paying the landlady and her husband. In fact, I’m not officially the reason we’re in Germany. I’m tagging along, because Bill got a job here and I’m his wife.

Several months ago, when it became clear that my blogs were being monitored by former landlady’s ex tenant, I decided to move my writing to a more secure location. I removed any questionable posts, but left the old blog open. It has a lot of good information in it that has served a lot of people, including students in universities. I happen to know that at least one of my posts was used in a criminal justice course at Drexel University. Now… no one ever asked me about it, but I could see the hits and where they came from. And people had left comments letting me know that a book review I’d written was useful. So I left the old blog open for those people, even though I needed a more secure place for my new posts.

All spring, I anticipated the reaction to the bomb Bill planned to drop on our former landlady. I knew she was going to go ballistic. I mentally prepared myself for the fallout. I had a feeling she’d threaten us with legal action, too… because how DARE we hold her accountable for ripping us off? Our ex landlady is apparently obsessed with money and feels entitled to blatantly take what she thinks she has coming to her. Other people’s perspectives and opinions seem not to matter to her. She seems to have an astonishing lack of shame and self-awareness. She’s “right”; you’re wrong, and if you argue with her, there will be HELL to pay.

In February, Bill contacted ex landlady about our deposit. We knew she was going to deduct charges. The day she showed up to do the final check out, she made it clear that she was deeply dissatisfied with the days of cleaning we did. I knew very well that she would be. I knew that despite cleaning as best I could, she would find multiple issues. I resigned myself to it, even though my body ached from the effort of trying to turn her sow’s ear of a duplex into a silk purse.

I was in Wiesbaden on the day Bill checked out. I felt it would be best, since I can barely stand the sight of ex landlady. I had to put up with multiple incidents of verbal abuse and false accusations from her, and I had finally reached the point of saturation. The last time we had a real conversation was the day she stood in the living room of our old house and shouted at me because her 17 year old awning had collapsed on my watch. She was pissed off because it couldn’t be fixed and a brand new one would cost 2800 euros. But… I had told her the awning was listing and instead of hiring a technician with specific expertise related to awning repair, she sent her very handy husband. She later told us the fix was likely temporary, but it was repaired for the time being. Indeed, it did look like the awning was fixed, so I used it on an especially hot day to block the sun from the living room. There was a sudden gust of wind and the damned thing collapsed with a thud.

I wasn’t sitting under the awning when it fell. She claims that makes me “negligent”. Because if I had been sitting under it, I would have noticed the windy conditions and rolled it up before it collapsed. But… the wind was powerful and sudden, and although I have a lot of capabilities, I have not developed the ability to predict it. And if I had been sitting under it, the awning would have injured or possibly even killed me (if it had hit my head). It was very heavy and supported by metal. Ex landlady apparently hasn’t considered what would have happened if I had been sitting under her awning when it collapsed. She obviously doesn’t care.

So, on that September day in 2017, she berated me for the awning’s collapse. Then she berated me for an electric Rolladen that wouldn’t come down. She claimed it was because I didn’t use it often enough. Later, it was determined the Rolladen was not properly installed. No apology was forthcoming from her for accusing me of being “negligent” in that instance.

She also complained about a clump of dog hair in the doorway. She claimed it was “encrusted”. It certainly was not “encrusted”. It took two seconds to clean up, and if I had known this was going to cause her to have a meltdown, I surely would have made sure it was cleaned away before her tirade.

The weeks following that incident were awful. I wanted nothing more than to move away from that abusive bitch. But Bill didn’t want to move. He said it would cost too much and we had no guarantee that a new landlord wouldn’t be worse. So we kept living there and paying her, putting up with her passive aggressive hostility. I soon hated her and her house. Our insurance company gave her 300 euros because her awning was so old. That’s how insurance works. They don’t give you enough money for a brand new items. It’s meant to defray costs, not totally cover them. Prior to the payout, she had written in an email to Bill that she agreed that the collapse was caused by an “act of nature”. When the payout was so low, suddenly it was entirely my fault again.

Fast forward to February 2019. She clearly meant to keep our entire Kaution, but when Bill pressed her, she decided to give us 666 euros. I noticed that the amount she kept was about what a new awning would cost, minus the 300 euros the insurance company gave her. How very noble. She did not list the awning as a charge, but instead levied a lot of nitpicking charges for petty things, with no proof that she’d actually spent money to fix the items. She sent charges for things that were beyond the statute of limitations and charged us full price for things she’d decided to replace for arbitrary reasons. She also charged us to remove the awning, which she had no right to do.

She also sent us a receipt for what she spent to have her the roof of her carport cleaned. We hadn’t been expected to clean that, but she wanted us to know that she had already spent a lot of money. And dammit, she and her husband are pensioners and aren’t wealthy. We should be ashamed for demanding our deposit to be properly accounted for and returned to us. When Bill complained, she became progressively more hostile and shaming. She basically said we were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had and that we lived in filth. But… we were also the tenants she had the longest and she never once got a late payment from us. And over four years, it was clear to us that money was what mattered most to her. She never once asked us to leave her shitty house, although she did offer to find us a housekeeper (like I needed having someone spying on us and reporting back to her).

So in June, our lawyer sent her a demand letter. It was devoid of emotion and bluster. Our lawyer demanded our Kaution, as well as a refund of our Nebenkosten (money for trash, lawn care, and other costs) for four years, since she never did the required annual accounting of it. Now… Bill and I didn’t really expect to get the Nebenkosten returned to us. However, our lawyer pointed out that in Germany, the law states that landlords must do an annual reckoning of the Nebenkosten. Ex landlady never once did this, so legally, we are entitled to request that she refund that money. Over four years, it amounts to a lot of money.

As I predicted, ex landlady went absolutely batshit nuts when she got the lawyer’s letter. Pretty soon, I noticed her friends and family members stalking my blogs, hitting certain posts repeatedly. I started to think she might try to accuse me of Beleidigung (insult). In Germany, it’s illegal to insult someone. I have never named ex landlady or posted a picture of her, but former tenant had been reading and knew whom I was writing about. Sometimes, she’d leave comments defending ex landlady or agreeing with me, but then she’d delete her comments. That practice left me realizing that she was up to no good.

Ex landlady had her lawyer send us an outrageous letter alleging that we had “destroyed” her house. As Bill translated it, I could practically hear ex landlady’s shrill voice through the lawyer’s bluster. And she demanded even more money from us, tacking on truly ridiculous charges. She’s trying to force us to replace her laminate floor and her carpet (at least 18 years old). She demands the fees for her lawyer, and the real kicker is, she claims we stole her refrigerator. Of all of the things she’s bitching about, the refrigerator claim amazes me the most. Apparently, she thinks the refrigerator I bought for us is her refrigerator, and the piece of shit German one that was in the house when we moved in was one we abandoned and– get this– it’s an “inferior American brand”. She evidently doesn’t realize that we have different voltage in the United States and would not be able to use an American fridge without a plug converter and transformer. The fridge that was left there is German and has a European style plug… and thanks to, we have proof that the fridge we took belongs to us.

Ex landlady also claims that we agreed that she didn’t have to do the annual Nebenkosten reckoning. That can’t be true, since before a few months ago, we didn’t even know that was the law in Germany. There’s no way we could have agreed not to hold her to that requirement. Our lawyer has seen our lease, so I’m certain that if it was buried in the language there, she would have noticed it. We used a standard military lease, same one we did for this house and the house we rented in 2007-09. I can’t think of a single reason why a military lease would exclude the Nebenkosten reckoning. And I know Bill never verbally agreed to it or even discussed it with ex landlady. As a German, she must know this is a standard thing. But she never did it and now she’s busted, so she’s claiming we agreed that she didn’t have to do it. Why would we ever agree to something like that? It wouldn’t be in our best interest to do that.

Shitty German fridge that was there on move in day… She claims we abandoned it because it’s an inferior American brand. Note the European plug and German brand name.
Nice German fridge that I purchased, but she evidently thinks belongs to her.

Now… I have been reading up on lawsuits and I know ex landlady does not stand a chance in hell of forcing us to pay for all she demands. I am pretty certain that she’s simply trying to scare us into capitulating. In fact, her claims are so completely asinine that I question her lawyer’s competence. It’s obvious that her case is weak. She never so much as did a real check in with us, probably because her former tenant was there on the day we moved in and still had crap she was cleaning up when we took possession. There is no proof of what the house looked like when we moved in, because ex landlady never did her due diligence. I know for a fact ex tenant didn’t get the thorough scrutiny we got when we moved out. I am absolutely certain that we are being blamed for things her ex tenant did, but because they’re friends, they feel perfectly fine in pinning all of this shit on us. And ex landlady has the nerve to claim we’re being “unfair”. Seriously? My husband is one of the kindest, most accommodating people I have ever met. In fact, I think that’s why she’s taking this hard line. She thinks he’s a wimp and has no respect for him.

Naturally, I’m pissed off, but I’m also horrified. Our lawyer sent us a letter encouraging us to file a lawsuit, since it was clear some of her assertions are “fictitious” and she won’t willingly compromise. I’m furious, of course, because it just feels like one more insult from her. I resent that we have to take her to court to force her to do the right thing. It will be expensive, inconvenient, and to make matters worse, we have to see her ugly face again. But now that she’s made her demands, we can’t let this go. Clearly, she also needs to be reported to the housing office in Stuttgart, because if she’d do this to us, she’ll do it to other people. I’m also angry because I feel like my privacy has been violated, and my hard work has been RUINED. And much of my work is good stuff. I know it’s helped people. Thanks to the ex tenant and her need to pry into my business, I can’t share that work with others… at least not until this mess is sorted out. And I think that could take a long time.

I don’t even care about the money. I want her to be held accountable for her absolutely deplorable conduct. Especially now that she’s falsely accused us of theft! She can’t expect to get away with this! This could affect Bill’s livelihood! And if she honestly didn’t know that fridge was hers (or someone else’s), how can we believe she knew the condition her house was in back in 2014? She didn’t do her job and now she’s being called on it, so instead of growing up and owning up to her laziness, she’s claiming we’re dirtbags. Once again, the familiar refrain, “We’ve never had any problems with other tenants.”… but she doesn’t realize we’ve never had problems with other landlords.

This would be enough. This shit with the ex landlady, comical as it may seem years from now, would certainly be enough. But now my beloved Zane has lymphoma that promises to kill him soon. Many of ex landlady’s complaints stem from the fact that we had dogs. She blames them for most of the issues in the house. She forgets that ex tenant had a dog, and the people before her had cats, and everything in that house is old. It was certainly not pristine when we moved in. In fact, I have an early blog post in which I lament the smell of the carpet and former tenant admits that many pets had been hosted in that house. It was one of the few comments she didn’t delete.

I know things could be worse. I know I have friends and family dealing with much worse. I also know that ex landlady’s case is so ridiculous that if we do go to court, chances are good that she will be humiliated. That’s probably why the lawyer sent such a strongly worded letter to us. He’s trying to scare us into letting this go, because if a fair and impartial person with a lick of sense hears this story, it’s likely they’ll lose in a big way. We’ve been assured by three lawyers and a housing official in Wiesbaden that our former landlady is completely out of bounds on this. But what if the judge is as wacko as ex landlady is? It’s a possibility.

I try to reassure myself that this will be okay. I try to focus on Zane, who has temporarily improved on the prednisone I’m giving him. It’s borrowed time. When he goes, he’ll take a piece of my heart with him. Ex landlady won’t care about that. She doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but herself and her money. I’m tired of her abuse and her bullying tactics. It’s time to open a can of whoopass and teach that bitch that it’s not smart to engage in a war with people who make war their business. Even if we lose, I relish the idea of making her sweat and spend money on this, even if it’s just the deductible for legal insurance. I’m not sure she knows we are insured, too. And we intend to see this through. God led us to it… and maybe if He’s real, he’ll lead us through it. But I have a feeling that my sheer hatred for her and my resolute unwillingness to tolerate more abuse from her is what is really going to see us through this situation.