We’re expecting a few packages today, but the weather is really nice– sunny and kind of warm– so I decided to walk the dogs a little earlier than usual. Actually, this is more like a return to an old habit. When we lived near Stuttgart, I used to walk them in the mornings as a matter of course, but lately I’ve been walking them later in the day.
Arran has me a little worried. His poop is looking kind of abnormal. Parts of it look normal and parts are dark brown/black and greenish. I know he’s been having some digestion issues lately. We took him to the vet last month and had him checked for worms, which they didn’t find. But although he’s pretty perky and playful, he’s not his usual self. He’s also gained some weight lately, which may be causing acid reflux (maybe he also has another mast cell tumor, although I haven’t seen it).
In any case, on our walk, we had to wait for the trash truck, which was maneuvering out of our narrow, crowded street and down the one way road out of the neighborhood. Then we made our way through the main drag, which is narrow and crowded with cars parked on the street. The sidewalks are also crowded with trash bins. I was about to breathe a sigh of relief as we were turning down a pedestrian area where people keep their gardens. I noticed Arran was about to poop and I wanted to have a look at it before I threw it away.
I noticed a guy with an athletic looking female dog approaching as I bent down to pick up Arran’s poop. I had managed to scoop up the shit, noticing that it looked somewhat more normal, although I think I saw some remnants of a toy in the last turd. My dogs were both on leashes, although Arran’s is a Flexi-lead tape leash. He probably doesn’t need it anymore, since he doesn’t run as much as he used to.
Guy with athletic female dog did not have her leashed. She started barking at Arran as I was finishing cleaning up the poop. She also lunged at him, which caused him to lunge back. German guy grabbed his dog, but still didn’t have her secure. So I was trying not to get shit on my hands while handling two dogs who were leashed. Meanwhile, his unleashed bitch was harassing Arran.
I probably gave him a super annoyed look. I didn’t say anything, since my German sucks… but I’m sure all he needed to know was written all over my face. Then I noticed another person with an unleashed dog, but he stayed out of the altercation and was obviously better trained. His owner managed to get him in her house before he got into any trouble.
Seriously, though… why not put your dog on a leash? Especially when you see someone is trying to be responsible and clean up dog shit, plus they have two dogs they’re juggling? Fortunately, this time, no one got hurt. This is not the first time someone’s out of control dog has intruded on my dog’s space. One time, it happened when a dog was able to climb out of his fenced yard. We were living at Fort Belvoir, an Army installation, at the time. He attacked my beagle, Flea, who was feisty but only weighed about 25 pounds to the other dog’s much larger stature. We ended up with a $200 vet bill, thanks to that incident.
My dogs are ALWAYS on leashes. Until we got Noyzi, our dogs have always been beagles, and we can’t let them go off leash because their noses can get them into trouble in a hurry. Aside from that, I don’t fancy having one of them get a bee in his bonnet and wind up on the Autobahn, which is very close to our house. We already lost one dog to that deadly highway last year.
The guy hurried ahead on the trail. I noticed his dog was staying by his side… until she wandered out into the field and took a big crap. Naturally, he didn’t bother to clean it up. That doesn’t really surprise me at all. Asshole.
Yesterday, the weather was predictably nasty. Bill decided to take the dogs for a quick walk before the rain started in earnest. As he was walking along the main drag, Arran decided to drop a load. Bill was stooped over picking up the mess when a “scraggly” looking guy passed. Just as Bill finished cleaning up the poop, Arran took a couple of steps and cocked his leg on a cement pillar that formed part of an archway.
The scraggly guy turned and said, in German, that letting the dogs pee on structures isn’t a good thing to do. Bill said, “Ja, ja.” and went on about his day. Then he came back home and stewed about the encounter for awhile. Bill is unusually conscientious and takes public rebukes to heart. I could tell he was upset about that confrontation. I can’t blame him for that. I hate it when random people speak to me, particularly when they really need to fuck off and mind their own business.
For some reason, it seems like Bill runs into people like this more than I do. So I told him I thought he should develop R.B.F.
You know what that is, right?
I posted about it on Facebook, and my friend Meryl wrote, “Huh?”
Resting Bitch Face. I think Bill should develop one.
One of my other longtime friends who, I guess, is often shocked by the things I say and write, commented that she was grateful that someone asked what R.B.F. is so she wouldn’t have to. I thought it was self-explanatory. I have a pretty good R.B.F. myself. I think a lot of women develop one so they won’t be harassed by men. Seriously, if you look unpleasant and unapproachable, most people will leave you alone. It’s a great defense mechanism. Today’s featured photo is an example of one of my MANY R.B.F.s. Actually, in that photo, I was pretty pissed off.
As Bill was telling this story, I was cracking up. I told him he should have pulled out his Schwanz and taken a piss, too. It’s not like we haven’t seen dozens of European men peeing in public, although they don’t typically do it on busy thoroughfares. But the weather is so chilly that it would have meant instant shrinkage. We’re talking a stack of dimes shrinkage. Bill isn’t that bold, anyway.
I usually try not to let Arran pee on buildings, though, mainly because I don’t enjoy being confronted by random people about my dog’s natural toileting habits. Arran peed on that pillar because many other dogs have peed there. That’s like the community bulletin board for dogs. They go by and leave their urinary calling cards for all of the other dogs in the neighborhood. It’s Arran’s way of saying “Arran wuz here.”
The one time anyone German (other than ex landlady) ever spoke to me about my dogs’ potty habits was pretty positive. I was walking Zane and Arran through the field near us and one of the dogs pooped near a wood pile. I was cleaning up the pile when a guy drove up in his truck. He had a look on his face that told me I was about to be confronted. I immediately got nervous, because I figured the guy was going to yell at me. Then I realized that the look on his face wasn’t one of annoyance. In fact, he looked amazed and appreciative.
The man explained in German that people were regularly letting their dogs go potty by his wood pile, but they usually just leave their dogs’ piles of crap there. So he was delighted to catch me cleaning up after my dogs and was offering thanks. That was a memorable experience and every time I pass that woodpile, I remember it with a smile.
Hearing Bill relate that story also reminded me of a funny memory from several years ago, when we visited Rome. We were wandering around the city and happened to pass a church, where a homeless looking guy was sitting on the steps, drinking a beer. Another man was passing and shamed the homeless looking dude for drinking on the church steps. The street person did not seem affected by the shaming. He casually raised his bottle as if to offer a sip to the guy who had just yelled at him. It was pretty funny.
As I sit here writing this, I’m reminded of how much I miss traveling and interacting with people. We have had so many funny things happen to us, especially in Europe. Like, for instance, the time we were in a Seville restaurant drinking wine. A bum came in begging for spare change. This guy was pretty ballsy and had a sense of humor. He was very persistent about begging for change, and I was a bit drunk. The bum and I ended up engaging in a really funny exchange, so at my prompting, Bill gave the guy a euro or two. Then I told him to beat it.
I really hope this COVID-19 crisis eases up soon so we can have some fun again. It’s pretty sad when a random encounter with a German guy over dog whiz results in a blog post. I miss creating memories. Hell, it’s almost time for President’s Day, which is typically a long weekend we use for traveling to other places. Last year, we went to France. It’s also Fasching season, which usually means there will be festivals involving costumes, drinking, and partying in the streets. In 2019, we even got mooned while eating in a restaurant! But not this year. 🙁
We can’t go anywhere or celebrate Carnival, because everything is locked down. I guess the one consolation is that the weather is positively shitty right now and will be so for probably another week to ten days, at the very least. So another precious long weekend gets lost to the stupid virus. At least we have Noyzi here to provide some fun. And at least we live in a comfortable home, in a neighborhood where people are generally nice and leave us alone. I don’t have to employ my R.B.F. very often in these parts. I guess I have to take my victories wherever I can find them.
I decided to take yesterday off from writing. It was mainly because in the wee hours of Friday morning, I awoke at about 2:00am and had trouble getting back to sleep. I had been having an erotic dream. I don’t have a lot of those anymore, so I was disappointed when I woke up. Weirdly enough, I dreamt I was having sex with Wil Wheaton. I have never even thought about having sex with him, so I’m not sure where that came from. Maybe it’s because I was recently triggered on his page. He’s definitely cute, but we’re both happily married to other people, so I doubt that’s a dream that will ever come to fruition.
Once my eyes cracked open, I got up to go to the bathroom. And then– sorry for the TMI– but I got a case of the shits. After I was finished, I left the bathroom and noticed I smelled it in another room, only it wasn’t of the human variety. Arran, bless his heart, sometimes poops when he sleeps, so I thought maybe that was the issue. But I didn’t see any evidence of that, so I checked on Noyzi, who was in his bed. The smell of poop also faded downstairs, so I could tell he wasn’t the culprit. Noyzi still doesn’t venture upstairs on his own.
Then I went into my office and, though I wasn’t wearing my contacts, I could see a fuzzy, stinky, brown puddle on one of my nice rugs. It’s one that doesn’t get walked on a lot, so it’s still pretty pristine. Arran had gone in there and dropped some diarrhea. Bill got up and cleaned up the mess while I let the dogs out. Noyzi went out and pooped, too… and it was at that point that I realized we all must have eaten something bad. Later on, Bill also had a touch of the shits. My guess is was the chicken from the chicken man, who sells his wares on Thursdays. This has never happened before, so I count it as a “one off”, as the Brits would put it.
In any case, I was kind of tired yesterday and not in the mood to write. I also find that when I take a day or two off, it’s good for my brain. Gives me a chance to refresh. Gives my readers a chance to catch up, if they want to… not that many people do. Right now, it appears I have lots of folks interested in my posts about Jocelyn Zichterman, Scott Drummond, Richard Jahnke, and Erin McCay George. These are all mostly book reviews, which rarely get a lot of attention when I first post them, but later attract readers. That’s one reason why I’ve been reposting stuff from my original blog. The book reviews are fairly “evergreen”– as in they attract views and money, if this blog were monetized, which it’s not. I post the book reviews as a “service” for the interested. Sometimes I read and review books that others are interested in but may not want to buy or can’t borrow.
I spent all day yesterday watching Snapped episodes from 2013. If I were still writing my old blog, I might write about some of the cases I saw on that show. Like, for instance, Nancy Gelber’s case… I found her a fascinating subject. She’s a wannabe author who self-published a novel called Temporary Amnesia, which boasts a very complicated storyline that she claims she dreamt up when she was a teenager. She said that’s where a lot of her ideas come from– her dreams– which are apparently even weirder than mine are.
Nancy’s book is on Amazon.com and it gets terrible reviews. I would probably hate it, and I sure don’t want to spend the amount of money they’re asking for it, especially since Nancy Gelber is a criminal. However, as someone who is interested in psychology, I found her very interesting to listen to. You can tell that beneath her cheerful, chatty demeanor, she’s a hot mess psychologically. Gelber tried to have her ex husband bumped off, but “hired” an undercover cop instead of a real hit man. Then, she claimed that she hadn’t known what she was doing.
It’s actually interesting to watch this show, as opposed to the Snapped episode. It offers more of her ex husband’s viewpoint.
Nancy says she’s going to go to hell… and admits that having her husband offed is a “horrible” thing to do, as she laughs. On this show, she seems a lot more sinister than she appeared to be on Snapped. If you see her on Snapped, she seems a lot more pleasant and normal. How scary for Jody Gelber, her ex husband. I wish I were more of an expert in psychology. She seems like a fascinating subject. I’d love to know what her DSM V diagnosis is. My guess is narcissist, for sure.
This morning, after I watched the YouTube videos about Nancy Gelber, I watched a couple more about Diana Lovejoy, who in 2017, fainted when she was found guilty of murder for hire. I’m not familiar with her case at all. I just found her reaction to the verdict fascinating.
I probably should get back into reading more true crime, now that I’m less interested in politics. To be clear, I’ve never been all that interested in politics. I was just horrified by four years of Donald Trump and his delusional political theater of the absurd. Trump is now reportedly refusing to refer to himself as a former president. His new legal team is referring him to as the 45th POTUS, which is technically correct. BUT– their main defense in the upcoming impeachment trial is that Trump is no longer president and therefore can’t be impeached. So which is it? Rachel Maddow has a good chuckle about it in the video clip directly below this paragraph. If you ever wanted a textbook example of grandiose malignant narcissism, Trump is your guy. By the way, as far as I’m concerned, Trump was never MY president. 😉
And finally, I probably could opine about the recent uproar regarding country singer Morgan Wallen, who was caught on video drunk and uttering racist epithets in the middle of the street with his rowdy friends. He’s facing a lot of backlash… more than the idiots who stormed the Capitol last month, actually. Looks like his fans are still buying his music, even though he’s no longer eligible for music awards and his label has suspended him. I remember when the Dixie Chicks pissed off their base by dissing former President George W. Bush at a concert. They were quickly canceled by a lot of their more redneck fans and country radio. Morgan Wallen uses the n-word and many of his fans are still fine with him.
I hadn’t heard of him before this happened. I do remember reading about Morgan Wallen being canceled from a gig on Saturday Night Live because he was caught on video partying with a bunch of people while unmasked. SNL canceled him because his appearance would put a lot of people at risk. And now, they have another reason not to have him play.
I’m not big on cancel culture. I think people should have the ability to redeem themselves. Morgan Wallen, at age 27, is probably too old to be acting like a drunken frat boy, and I did see and hear the video… and there is no excuse for his behavior. I don’t know that it should ruin his career forever, but I do think that if you’re lucky enough to be able to make a living in the arts, you owe it to yourself and everyone else to realize that with that platform comes responsibility. And, sad to say, it shows an ugly side of him. Clearly, he’s comfortable using that kind of language casually, which is too bad. It’s not the word itself that is offensive– it’s the attitude and meaning behind it. And the fact that so many people are protesting about Wallen’s “right” to free speech and missing the fact that with that right comes responsibility. Yes, he has the “right” to say what he wants. BUT that doesn’t excuse him from consequences. Wallen needs to grow up.
Last night, I was listening to old school Chicago and marveling. I can’t name most of the members of that band. I’m sure being in Chicago, which has been around for many decades now, paid off handsomely for a lot of the members. It occurred to me that is a band– along with so many others– like Earth, Wind, & Fire, Blood, Sweat, & Tears, and Three Dog Night– comprised of people who are passionate about music rather than just money and fame. It occurred to me how much time, dedication, effort, and TEAMWORK goes into making that tight sound. These are very talented people working together for something awesome, not to be rich and famous. I’d like to hear much more from people like them, as opposed to privileged, clueless, jackasses like Morgan Wallen. Just saying.
Well, that about does it for today. Gotta finish the laundry and practice guitar on this dreary Saturday.
Last night, as we were about to tuck into take out Thai food, Bill noticed he got a call from the vet. He also got an email. I was immediately thinking the worst, since I figured no news is good news when it comes to medical or veterinary stuff. But no… it turns out the vet who did Arran’s surgery on Monday was contacting us to let us know that the mast cell tumor she removed was low grade (a two, but a low two) and had excellent margins. She also wrote that she would call us today.
Naturally, we were glad to know this. I’m not surprised it was a low grade tumor. Arran had one in 2015 on his head that was graded 1.5, which meant it had very well differentiated cells. A 2 is not as good as a 1.5, but the grading system is kind of subjective anyway, since it involves individual pathologist’s opinions. Arran’s tumor was in the skin and we got him in to the vet the day after I discovered it. So I would have been surprised if it was deemed high grade.
Nevertheless, I was marveling that the vet called us on a Friday night AND sent an email. When we lived near Stuttgart, both of our dogs, Arran and the late Zane, had mast cell tumors. I remember getting the news for both of them at the next appointment. The one time that didn’t happen, Bill had to call for the results. I liked our vets down there, but they were a lot more conservative and not quite as high tech as the ones up here are.
So… feeling kind of happy about this news and wanting to share our good experience, I went off to the Pets of Wiesbaden group. I know a lot of people in there are looking for vets. Many of them are military folks who are finding out that the vet on post isn’t the best option for anything but the most basic of care. Really, it’s best to have a local vet, even though it may mean dealing with language issues.
I posted about Arran’s good news and that we’re happy with our vet, who happens to have a great reputation anyway. Then, along comes some lady who wants to write about how great Tierklinik Hofheim is. I inwardly groaned, because this happens all the time. Someone posts about something with a specific idea in mind. Someone else comes along and craps on it. I fought the urge to post a bitchy response. Instead, I wrote that I know Tierklinik Hofheim is excellent, but I wouldn’t want to trouble them for a mast cell tumor removal, which is a pretty run of the mill procedure.
Tierklinik Hofheim is a very highly regarded veterinary specialty clinic in Germany. In fact, when we lived near Stuttgart, our vet down there even recommended them over the more advanced facilities in Stuttgart. Tierklinik Hofheim is a good three hour drive from where we lived at the time, but if it came down to it and I needed state of the art experts, I would go there. In fact, now that we only live twenty minutes away from it, we have used Tierklinik Hofheim for emergencies. Arran hasn’t been there yet, but Zane went a few times before he died. They really are outstanding, but they had nothing to do with my original post. I wanted to post about my happiness with our vet. If someone asked for a specialty vet or an emergency vet, then yes, I would absolutely want to post about Tierklinik Hofheim.
This is a pretty common phenomenon, I guess. We all like to chime in on things, and sometimes in the course of doing that, we lead things astray. Sometimes, we take things in an unappreciated direction. I remember one time, a woman got upset with me for pointing out that men can be victims of domestic violence. She wanted to paint the narrative that domestic violence is strictly a women’s issue. While I don’t think I was wrong to point that out, she was upset that I was kind of changing the subject she had introduced. I remember she gave me a ration of shit over it. Now that I think about it, maybe she was right… although as someone whose husband was a victim of domestic violence, I kind of bristle when someone tries to paint women as the only victims.
The musician Janis Ian recently posted an article about “conversational narcissism“. I just recently started following her again after unfollowing her for awhile. She had written about the Holocaust and a bunch of people were engaging in “whataboutism”. Like, they brought up slavery in the United States, or other cases of genocide. Janis rightfully got annoyed about it and dished out some shame.
I’ve found myself changing the way I post… most of the time, anyway. For one thing, I make a conscious effort to try not to post anything but positive stuff on other people’s pages. It’s just not worth it to me to post my real thoughts about some subjects and get into drama with people. Most people aren’t interested in having a real discussion. They just want to post their opinions and aren’t interested in being challenged or arguing about them. Since I have pretty strong opinions, I try to only share them on my space. That way, if people get upset, it’s their own fault. Most people who know me, know I don’t mince words very often. In fact, just the other day, I noticed in my memories that four former friends had posted…. they are former friends because they got offended and blocked me. Three were Trumpers who were upset because I compared him to Hitler, and one was a lesbian who was upset because I expressed appreciation for Mike Pence. At least three of them were on my page when they got offended. Go figure.
For another thing, I try to stop myself from going off topic when someone posts. Like, for instance, this morning I read a post from a woman who rescues dogs from countries like Romania, Cyprus, and the like. There are very serious stray dog problems down there, and the dogs don’t get the best care before they get rescued. Basically, the woman’s post was about how some dogs end up with fleas or parasites that don’t get properly treated before they come to Germany to their new homes.
I was about to post about how our new dog, Noyzi, came from Kosovo and is completely healthy. But I stopped myself and realized it wasn’t a relevant point. She was writing to those who adopt from her. Noyzi didn’t come from her rescue, so my comment that he was healthy when we got him is irrelevant. And, by the way, he’s damned lucky to be so healthy. Kosovo has the same kinds of issues Romania, Cyprus, and other stray heavy areas have. Even the lady who brought him to us advised us to have him tested for diseases like heartworm infestation, leishmaniasis, and hepatitis. Noyzi lived in a big pen with lots of other dogs. He got basic vet care, but the care down there doesn’t compare to what’s available up here.
After reading about the plight of rescue dogs in Romania, I moved on to the Washington Post, where I read what many considered to be a “cute” story about a woman whose obese cat was stolen, along with her rental car, and returned with the help of a self-proclaimed pet psychic. I was kind of amused by the story. Back in the early 00s, I used to watch Sonya Fitzpatrick’s show, The Pet Psychic, on Animal Planet. I even read her book. I don’t know how much I believe in pet psychics. I suppose it’s possible one can communicate with animals in such a way… but like a lot of people, I’m a little skeptical. Or maybe I’m just cynical.
Anyway, I could tell the story was meant to be “feel good”. Many people were reacting to it in such a way. I had a little trouble not shaking my head when I read that the woman’s car was stolen while the cat was in it because she’d left the motor running while she went to take a quick pee. She thought she’d locked the door, but hadn’t. So naturally, some shithead came along and stole the car, along with the cat and all of the woman’s belongings. But I didn’t leave a comment, because clearly other people did. No need to crap on the story myself.
Then I looked at the comments, and there were all sorts left that were not really the point of the story. Like, for instance, one person was upset about the cat’s weight… a hefty 19 pounds, because she eats fresh fish every day instead of dry food. Others wanted to add their two cents about traveling during a pandemic. Incidentally, I also noticed in the story, the reporter was so careful to mention the COVID-19 precautions that were taken for the trip. Why is this? Because you just KNOW that if she hadn’t mentioned face masks and COVID-19 tests, people would be bringing that shit up in the comment section. So few people can’t simply read something and not make it about virtue signaling, shaming, or showing everyone else how smart, considerate, or how “above you” they are.
I was kind of tickled to see that the pet psychic in this case, name of Nancy Mello, was actively commenting. She even left her contact information. I’ve got no quarrel with that. Maybe she really can speak “cat” fluently. And if she helped get the cat home, that’s all that really matters, anyway. I’m glad the story had a happy ending. Hopefully, the lady learned her lesson about leaving a car running, especially when your furry friend is in there. But I sure don’t need to say that, since so many other people are saying it. It was a fun read, anyway, and that’s what matters.
I guess my main point is, nine times out of ten, it’s best to start your own thread if you have something to say that isn’t on topic. Having said that, I admit it’s something I work on every day. Sometimes I fail. My other point is, it’s probably best to keep criticism and negativity off other people’s pages. I think of my Internet spaces as my homes. I wouldn’t go to someone else’s house and be rude. At least I wouldn’t do that intentionally… and at least I wouldn’t do that today, now that I’ve kind of left the id somewhat. I might have done it when I was younger… like, when I was 46.
Anyway… I’m glad Arran’s tumor wasn’t so bad. He still has a huge gash on his leg where the tumor was removed. The vet up here was a lot more aggressive than the one in Stuttgart was. That’s basically the way mast cell tumors are supposed to be dealt with. Unfortunately, if they don’t get removed completely, they can recur with a vengeance. Hopefully, he won’t have any more of them. And I’ll try not to be annoyed by those who want to pimp their vets on threads I start about pimping mine.
The featured photo today is one of me when I was about three years old. It was not taken on December 27th, 1975, but it does appear in my Facebook memories today.
I happened to be awake last night at midnight. That’s something that doesn’t happen so often anymore. I’ve always been more of a nightowl than Bill is. His brain has a tendency to go down with the sun. By nine o’clock, talking to him is like trying to listen to a Walkman with dying batteries. His eyes roll back in his head and I have to tell him to go to bed. I usually go with him, and he wakes me up very early in the morning. He can’t help it. So now, after eighteen years of marriage, we tend to go to bed somewhat early and rise early… and I sometimes have to nap, because I’ll stay up and read.
As Bill slept next to me, I looked at my Facebook memories, freshly available at the stroke of midnight. December 27th has historically been a memorable day. There were quite a few great memories from over the years. And there was also a not so great one from last year. As we were coming back from seeing my friend in France, we stopped at a rest area near Beaune so we could pee and call the people who owned the gite where we were going to stay. As we were about to leave, some jerk slashed our tire. We were driving our brand new car that, at that point, we had only owned since July 1, 2019. I wrote about that incident last year.
At the time of the tire slashing, it wasn’t such a good day… but now I look back on it and realize that some good came out of the slashing. For one thing, we got a taste of French good will. The gite owners let us stay an extra night free of charge, and the guy at the tire shop went out of his way to help us find the right tires. I discovered a love of Pommard wine, and since we didn’t know what was on the horizon in 2020, we got an extra day in a country we’ve come to love. I would love to be stuck in France today… minus the threat of the coronavirus, that is.
The next notable memory was from December 27, 2018. I posted “I am in serious need of fun.” To that, I now say, “I really had no idea.” In 2018, things were still open. Ah well, maybe next year, things will be less fucked up than they are in 2020. Maybe… one can hope and pray. I do have a sense of realism, though. On the other hand, maybe 2020 has taught me to appreciate the small things more. Going out to eat at a restaurant next year would be a great pleasure. Maybe it will happen.
The next notable memory was from December 27, 2014. We lived in Jettingen, having moved there in September of that year. We moved back to Germany in August 2014, but spent the first month in alternative lodging– a hotel for a week, then a temporary apartment that was a little too cozy for us. I was happy to have a home of my own, even if I didn’t love the house we rented and later came to despise the landlady.
Anyway, on December 27, 2014, we had a lot of snow. Zane and Arran were still youthful, and both having been born in the South– Zane in Georgia and Arran in North Carolina– they were not too familiar with the white stuff. Zane had encountered snow once, around the time we first got him. The storm in Georgia had happened in January 2010, I think… Zane was barely out of puppyhood and loved the snow! So I wasn’t surprised by this joyful reaction in 2014…
When we lived near Stuttgart, it wasn’t unusual to get decent snow at least once a year. Actually, where we lived, we got more than a lot of people did, even in the Stuttgart area. Jettingen was a higher altitude than some of the surrounding areas, so the snow tended to stick around awhile. We’d still have sleddable hills long after people in other areas had a sloppy, muddy mess.
Here in Breckenheim, we’re kind of in a valley. It doesn’t snow as much here anyway, so it’s been awhile since we last had a good snowstorm. I miss it. Arran doesn’t. Noyzi seems to like snow, though. A couple of weeks ago, we had some snow that melted after a day or so. He had great fun running around in it. Noyzi has been more playful lately, anyway. He seems to be settling in nicely.
And finally, the last notable memory I was enjoying last night occurred on December 27, 2010. A high school classmate of mine shared this photo of our third grade class…
My German friend immediately picked me out of the crowd, and I started to explain the context of that photo. We had only recently moved to Gloucester County when this was taken. I was eight years old, and my parents had moved us from Fairfax County (a suburb of Washington, DC) to Gloucester. I was actually born not too far from Gloucester, in Hampton, Virginia. A lot of my classmates were born in Hampton, or nearby Newport News or Williamsburg, but they had spent their whole lives in Gloucester. I, on the other hand, was an Air Force brat, and we moved to Dayton, Ohio not long after my birth.
Anyway, two years after my dad retired from the Air Force out of Mildenhall Air Force Base in England, my parents moved to Fairfax, Virginia. Fairfax was a very suburban place in the late 70s. We lived in a neighborhood where there were sidewalks and playgrounds. I had lots of kids to play with and could walk to and from school every day. My school in Fairfax was also diverse, and I had classmates from all over the world. I remember learning about Japan and Thailand in first and second grades. We even had culture days at school where we’d taste foods from different countries (I wasn’t a fan because I was a very picky eater). I remember learning about Vincent Van Gogh and other artists, too. Fairfax had a lot more money than Gloucester did, so the school experience was very different.
Gloucester, by contrast, was like a different world. In 1980, it was still extremely rural. My parents bought a house with a business attached. On one side of the house there was a dirt road, where there were no playgrounds or sidewalks, and the kids would act like they were on the set of The Dukes of Hazzard. Yes, there were plenty of Confederate battle flags everywhere, and instead of playing childhood games, the kids would ride bikes and motorcycles, shoot BB guns, and play in the graveyard (seriously, we did this). It was decidedly “redneck”, and not what I was used to at all.
On the other side of my parents’ house ran Business Route 17, a busy road that led to Gloucester Courthouse. It provided my parents with a supply of customers, but it wasn’t the best place to live. In Fairfax, there was a shopping mall on the other side of the woods behind our house. I could walk to the mall with ease. We were also really close to a meeting house for the Mormons. Little did I know that I would someday marry a Mormon. Now he’s an ex Mormon! In those days, I remember thinking that church was mysterious. In Gloucester, I had to walk about two miles down Route 17 to get to the crappy shopping center. In those days, I could do it– even as a young kid– and no one cared.
My first year in Gloucester was very difficult. I experienced a lot of bullying that year. In Fairfax, I had my cousins nearby, and while we weren’t close friends or anything, they were family. I had friends in the neighborhood. I didn’t have to ride the bus. In Gloucester, I knew no one, and people thought I was weird. I’m still weird, but people appreciate it more now than they did then.
So looking at that photo is a little painful for me. That teacher, Mrs. Thompson, didn’t like me much. That was supposedly the “gifted” class. Half the class wasn’t gifted, though… We were divided into two reading groups. I was in the more advanced group, having been moved there a week or two after I started at Botetourt Elementary School. I had originally been in Miss Booker’s class, but I could read better than the other kids in that class. So I was put in Mrs. Thompson’s class, where all the “cool kids” were. These were mostly kids who were born and raised in Gloucester. Their parents were community pillars. Some of them rode the school bus with me and made every day a living hell. I often came home crying.
In third grade, we were in these big open classrooms that could be separated by an electric divider. Our divider was always open, and the teacher in the other room, Mrs. Holstrom, was a lot louder than Mrs. Thompson was. My attention would often drift to her class. Mrs. Thompson would then call on me, and I would be lost. So the kids would make fun of me, and I would get upset and cry. They took perverse delight in tormenting me for having a short span of attention and being easily upset. And my parents did nothing about it. I remember one of my older sisters used to coach me in comebacks. I’m now pretty good at verbally putting people in their places, but back then, I didn’t have a clue.
I seem to also remember feeling like I needed better clothes. The dress I’m wearing in the photo above came from my former Fairfax County neighbor, Sarah. She’s two years older than I am and Canadian. We ended up friending each other on Facebook! She now lives in British Columbia, but for two years, she was my friend. I inherited a bunch of her clothes, including that dress. I remember liking that dress because it “spun” so well and was comfortable. But all of the kids in Gloucester were wearing oxford shirts, Levis, and Nikes, Docksiders, or saddle shoes, and monogrammed sweaters. They all had combs in their back pockets, too. I never got into the comb habit, nor did I ever own a pair of saddle shoes. I do remember having “Topsiders”, which was a rip off of the vastly superior “Docksiders” shoes people wore back then. It’s now funny to me that I was so into brands when I was 8.
I see that photo was also taken in what we used to call “The Pit”. It was a room where we’d watch films, take music class, and have class pictures taken. That was also the room where we had the horrible “Growing Up and Liking It” discussion. Yep– I learned what menstruation is in that room! The Pit no longer exists. It was “filled in” some years later because the school officials needed another room for normal classroom use. Years after I was a student at Botetourt, I taught an after school enrichment horse class for my 4H club. I was 17 at the time, but still had such vivid memories of going to Botetourt.
I also have curls in that photo. Why? Because my sisters used to curl their hair and I wanted to be like them. I slept in pink curlers the night before that photo was taken. I thought it was a good look. I wore clogs for the same reason. My sister, Sarah, had them and I wanted to be like her. She was in high school then, and used to come of Botetourt to teach the “cool kids” French. That was fourth grade, though, and by then I was out of the so-called “gifted” group. Mrs. Thompson had me put down a level. I ended up being the best reader and speller in my fourth grade class. That was when I had Mr. Almasian, who was very popular and young. He was also of Armenian descent, and he used to talk about it in class. Little did I know that I would eventually go on to live in Armenia. But I could devote an entire blog post to his class, so I won’t continue with that tangent, except to say that being in his class helped put an end to the bullying, at least. But Mr. Almasian had a whale shaped paddle that he used on us. He’d paddle us in front of the class. Yes, it happened to me, and yes I’m still pissed off about it. Again… a story I’ve already written, and one to rewrite and embellish on another day.
Anyway… it’s already after 1:00pm, and so far the most exciting thing that has happened is that I finally vacuumed. So next year, if I write another post like this one, I’ll have to pick another day to do it. At least I’m still married to this guy…
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