It’s Thursday already! And although it’s early August, it feels more like mid September. As I write today’s post, it’s about 59 degrees outside and overcast. I don’t normally like to include weather reports in my posts, but this is kind of unusual, even for Germany. Not that I’m complaining. This year, at least we have a nice, green lawn in the backyard.
I just checked my spam folder for my Hotmail account. I got another one of those “I’ve infected your computer” emails. This time, the message was different, though. Sure, there were the usual threatening words about how, if I don’t pay them, they’ll send my contacts pictures of me doing unmentionable things. But this time, they included several graphic dick pics of some balding guy with a beard and the threat that next time, the photos could be of me. Trust me, it wasn’t what I wanted to see… especially first thing in the morning.
It’s funny, though, because they would never get such graphic photos of me, even if they could video me doing “nasty” things. It just plain isn’t possible. Was sending those nasty photos supposed to convince me to pay them? I don’t know. But it didn’t work, and it was really gross. I reported the email to Outlook, not that I think they’ll do anything about it.
I also came across a stupid blonde joke this morning. Check this out…
I think blonde jokes are stupid, mainly because I’m a blonde, and I’m not dumb. I mean, some people might call me dumb, but I know I’m not a dim-witted person. I have blonde friends– natural blondes, mind you– who are also not deserving of the dumb blonde stereotype. I spell it with the “e”, because blonde jokes are always directed at women. You rarely hear someone making fun of a blond man.
Wikipedia tells me that the “dumb blonde” stereotype comes from 18th century Europe. Blondes were supposedly more desirable, but less intelligent than brunettes. It’s sad that in 2023, people are still promoting this idea through lame jokes. I was a big fan of the old sitcom, Three’s Company, back in the 70s and 80s, and Suzanne Somers played a “dumb blonde”. When she left, her character was replaced with a clumsy blonde, Jenilee Harrison,… then came Priscilla Barnes, who played a smart blonde. But, Priscilla’s character didn’t do that much to change the stereotype.
When I was younger, I did have sort of light brown hair for awhile. But I started getting silver hair when I was 24 years old. I’m now 51, and I don’t use haircolor anymore. My hair is now naturally blonde again. Not only am I not dumb, but I never had that much luck with men, until I met Bill. Then, I really hit the jackpot. I think he married me for my mind, rather than my looks. When I ask him, he says it’s because he felt comfortable with me. It wasn’t because of my blonde hair and blue eyes… although my big boobs probably did play a part.
The funny thing about the above interview is that Barbara Walters is acting like Dolly looks like a “freak”. I guess in 1977, Dolly’s appearance was pretty extreme. But then, I can think of other people from that era who were also pretty extreme in the way they looked. In 2023, that look is nothing, though. Now, so many people seem to be covered in tattoos and piercings.
In 1977, we couldn’t conceive of some of the stuff that is going on today, with some folks trying desperately to take us back to that less liberated era, and other people fighting desperately to keep evolving. It certainly is a strange time to be living… but I guess that could be said for almost any time in history. Imagine how people felt during World War II, when Hitler was trying to take over Europe. Maybe then, it also felt like the strange times would never end.
Watching the news every day, as Donald Trump gets into an ever deeper legal pit of quicksand, I wonder if his reign of the absurd will be ending anytime soon. I don’t think he’ll be president again, but I do think his influence is going to make life more challenging for a long while. He opened a Pandora’s Box of delusional weirdness that may never again be squelched in my lifetime. I have to admit, though, it is kind of satisfying to watch his legal woes pile up.
I am also quite proud of Joe Biden for telling Alabama to stick it and deciding to keep Space Command in Colorado. Fuck those anti-choice people. In Colorado, the whole force will be more ready, because females and LGBTQ folks can get the healthcare they need in PRIVACY. This is about military readiness. In Colorado, it’s more likely the military will be ready to deploy than they would be in Alabama, where politicians want to force people to gestate.
In any case, as the old saying goes, “nothing endures but change.” This weird stuff isn’t going to last forever. I do wonder, though, if I’ll live to see the end of it. It’s got me feeling a little unsettled.
Yesterday, as I was writing my blog post, I was looking for a clip from the show, Avenue Q. I didn’t end up finding what I was looking for, but I did watch a very reassuring video of the original cast singing the last number, “For Now”. “For Now” is a comforting reminder that everything in life is temporary. Times will either get worse, or they’ll get better, but the one thing we can all count on is change. Just as I had platinum blonde hair as a child, that turned kind of dishwater blonde, then light brown, and has now gone back to platinum blonde, change is a given, and it’s a constant. I’m sure eventually, my hair will turn white. If I manage to live that long, that is…
Speaking of change… my life changed when I saw the video below. I had never seen it before today, but it’s been around for 16 years.
I’m all over the place with this blog post today. I had meant to write about a different topic entirely, but I got sidetracked by that disgusting spam email with the actual dick pics. And now I’m a bit traumatized. I need some eye bleach, because I can’t unsee those pictures.
Then, I saw the dumb blonde joke, and wondered why so many people think women with light colored hair are dumb. I think it’s a mistake to underestimate people… especially those who are beguiling. There have been many blonde performers who have milked that stereotype all the way to the bank. While I congratulate them for making money, I also think it’s sad that some people feel compelled to promote a negative stereotype to make a living. No one should be encouraged to act “dumb”… at least not unless it’s being done for a very good reason. I don’t think getting rich is a particularly good reason to act dumb.
Anyway, if you managed to follow me through this convoluted morass of a post, I offer my congratulations. Maybe I am a dumb blonde, after all. But I would never park my ass in first class when I paid for economy. 😉
Well… I suppose it’s time I closed this post, and got on with the day. It’s Thursday, so that means vacuuming. Yecch. Maybe Noyzi will get a walk. He didn’t get one yesterday, because of the rain. I’ve also got to buy some new dress shirts for Bill. So… I’m off to tend to my chores. Have a good one, y’all.
Most people who know me well, know that I am very passionate about music. I love all different kinds, from classical to country to R&B. I have an enormous music library with songs from almost every genre you can think of. Even though I’m not a very religious person, I have a lot of religious music in my catalog. That catalog includes a large number of different interpretations of religious songs, many of which are usually enjoyed during the Christmas holidays. Music helps keep me sane, and before I was married to Bill, it kept me company.
Back in the fall of 1990, when I first started attending what was then Longwood College, I took a voice class for my degree. The class was taught by an adjunct professor named Ann Ory Brown, who also taught at the University of Richmond. Because my parents were involved in music in my hometown, Ms. Brown knew my dad. Her mother was once a concert pianist, and Ms. Brown’s mother directed some locally run choral groups that counted my dad as a member. I, of course, did not know these people at all. I was mostly uninvolved in music when I was growing up, mainly because I didn’t want to do what my parents were doing. But then I took Ms. Brown’s voice class, and she told me I should consider studying voice privately with her. I ended up taking private lessons from her for three semesters, until she stopped teaching at Longwood.
At one point during our time together, Ms. Brown gave me a copy of a Kathleen Battle CD. I don’t remember why she chose to give it to me instead of one of her other students. I remember a voice major who was in my studio actually asked me to give it to her, instead. I chose not to do that, and fell in love with Kathleen Battle’s beautiful, distinctive, crystalline voice. I started collecting Battle’s music, and sometime in the late 1990s, I acquired a Christmas CD she made with a classical guitarist named Christopher Parkening. On that album, there was a song called “Mary, Did You Know.”
This was the very first version of “Mary, Did You Know” that I ever heard. I thought the melody was very pretty, especially coupled with Parkening’s intricate guitar playing. It never occurred to me to be offended by the lyrics of this song. I didn’t know anything about the songwriters, Mark Lowry, who wrote the words in 1984, and Buddy Green who wrote the music in 1991. I just enjoyed the music for what it was to me– peaceful and appealing. The whole album, Angels’ Glory, was just relaxing and good for studying, which I was doing at the time, as I was a graduate student when I first bought it.
Some time later, I came across another version of “Mary, Did You Know” done by The Isaacs, who are known for performing bluegrass, gospel, and spiritual music. I love Sonya Isaac’s voice, and she does a gorgeous rendition of “Mary, Did You Know” with her family members– mom, Lily, sister Becky, and brother, Ben. Lily’s ex husband and the father of Sonya, Becky, and Ben, Joe, was a member of the band until 1998, after he and Lily divorced. Last year, The Isaacs were invited to become members of the Grand Ole Opry.
According to Wikipedia, Lily Isaacs’ parents were Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors; she was born two years after they were liberated from a concentration camp and two years later, they moved to New York City, where Lily’s musical talent soon became evident. She got her first recording contract in 1958, when she was just ten or eleven years old. In 1970, Lily married Joe Isaacs, and they became Christians after Joe’s brother died in a car accident. Their group exclusively performs bluegrass gospel music.
There have been many different interpretations of this song, done by a huge gamut of performers. Kenny Rogers did a version with Wynonna. Dolly Parton has also sung it.
And so has CeeLo Green!
By now you can see, this song has been recorded to great success by MANY fine musicians, coming from an array of different racial and musical backgrounds, and even representing a broad array of genders and sexual orientations.
Most of the performers have sung this song earnestly, with great emotion and warmth. While I can’t say that this particular Christmas song is my favorite, I have generally enjoyed most of the versions I’ve heard. It never occurred to me to be affronted by this song. Until last night, that is… when I ran across a very active post on Father Nathan Monk’s Facebook page.
Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I’m really getting sick of people trying to tell people what should or should not offend them. I’m no fan of mansplaining, which regular readers of my blog will probably notice, but honestly, I have never thought of the lyrics to “Mary, Did You Know” as offensive in any way. I certainly never thought of them as “mansplaining”! Maybe it’s because the versions with which I am most familiar are sung by women! To me, the lyrics express wonderment and awe. They aren’t about trying to school Mary, the mother of Jesus, about how special her baby is. I’m quite sure Mary knew very well. It probably started with that whole immaculate conception thing, followed by her talk with the Angel Gabriel, and the Magnificat. It’s the regular rank and file people who didn’t know about Jesus… and to me, it would make sense for them to ask Mary if she knew. In the song, Mary doesn’t answer. I picture her smiling serenely and nodding, not getting pissed off and offended that a man would ask such questions. I think Mary would be above being offended by mansplaining. 😉
As one might imagine, Father Nathan Monk’s post blew up, with many people opining. Quite a few people heartily agreed with Father Nathan Monk and Jezebel Henny (aka Ally Henny) that this song is “offensive”. Ally Henny, herself, also weighed in, clarifying that the tweet originated in 2019, and that Lowry deleted the tweet without apology.
I totally understand that when someone puts something creative out there– be it a song, artwork, a film, or even a blog post, they invite criticism. I’ve gotten some pretty salty remarks on things I’ve written. In fact, until quite recently, I used to occasionally get nasty comments via this blog’s now defunct Facebook page. I disabled the page because I was tired of getting abuse for simply expressing myself. I don’t mind having respectful dialogues with people who might disagree with me, but I don’t feel like I should have to abide threats, rudeness, or disrespect. Maybe Lowry’s retort to Henny was a bit snarky and rude, but he’s human. I’m sure he was annoyed that she reduced his song to simple “mansplaining”. I would be, too. Like any human, prick him and he’ll bleed. I saw many people referring to Henny as a scholar, and I’m sure she has an impressive intellect, even if I didn’t necessarily discern it in her tweet. I had never heard of her before last night, though. I’m sure Mark Lowry hadn’t, either, when he retorted to her criticism. Maybe he didn’t know he was supposed to be deferential to her. He probably made that comment off the cuff in a flash of irritation. By most people’s standards, his song is an enormous success. I can’t blame him for responding with annoyance, even if it’s not the best look.
I don’t think Mark Lowry sings his song like a mansplainer would. There’s no hint of condescension when he sings… just wonderment, reverence, and awe. The above interpretation is a bit dramatic, and that could possibly annoy some people, who might think it’s too over the top. Others will find it uplifting and inspiring, as Lowry tries to convey the miracles Jesus will deliver during his brief lifetime. There is no accounting for taste. One of the lovely things about being human is that we can each have our own perspective and our own preferences. Many people love “Mary, Did You Know?” and would never see anything about this song as “offensive”, no matter how many supposedly more evolved people tell them their opinions are somehow “wrong”.
Bear in mind that Mark Lowry is also a Christian comedian. In addition to “Mary, Did You Know”, Lowry also wrote and sang a song called “Hyperactivity”. Someone on Father Nathan Monk’s post was upset about that one, too, claiming he was “making fun” of neurodivergent children. I had not heard of “Hyperactivity” until last night. To me, the song sounds like Lowry wrote this song about himself, not all neurodivergent children. It’s supposed to be funny. Not everyone will find it funny, which is the nature of comedy. Personally, I think “Hyperactivity” is kind of an annoying song, but I can see why some people like it. I wouldn’t presume to tell them they shouldn’t enjoy Mark Lowry’s song about hyperactivity, even if it sounds, to me, like he’s trying to copy Weird Al Yankovic.
Here’s one about overeating… Weird Al had “Eat It”. Mark Lowry has “I Can Eat it All”.
I am a big fan of personal expression, particularly when it’s politically incorrect. I think people should be allowed to speak their minds, even if I might not always like to hear or read what they have to say. Some of it might offend me. I might even take a vow not to use certain language myself. For example, I refuse to call someone a “karen” or a “dependa”. I don’t use the term “douche” as an insult, just as many people don’t use the n-word or the word “retard”. I think it’s important to allow freedom of speech and expression. That does also apply to criticism, of course. I just wish people would stop insisting that others share their views, because that’s how we end up with dangerous megalomaniacal people like Donald Trump in the White House.
There’s a large contingent of people in the United States who like Trump, because he freely says what they’re thinking, but feel too intimidated to say out loud. They’re so enthralled with hearing Trump stand up for the “conservative values” that some sanctimonious people are trying to quickly bury, that they excuse and ignore the really awful things he says and does. Then they show up and vote for him at the polls, and the rest of us are stuck with him and his toxic brand of fascist “leadership”. I think if some of the “woke brigade” took things down a notch, lightened up a bit, and showed some respect for other people’s differing values, they would get further in changing hearts and minds. People don’t like to be lectured or shamed.
Anyway… getting back to Father Nathan Monk’s post… I noticed this comment just now and was left a little bit puzzled…
I can see that a lot of people commenting on this thread don’t like Mark Lowry’s music or comedy. I see that some people, like me, didn’t even know who he was until they read the above thread. Now they’re describing him as “execrable”, “in the closet”, and “a turd” in a thread about how he “mansplains” to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It’s very strange to me, because some people are quoting the Bible and demonstrate actual knowledge of theology when they present their arguments. Others have just resorted to character assassination and name calling, having only been exposed to ONE song by the man. I am not a big consumer of contemporary Christian music or comedy. I only know what I like. And I sure as hell don’t need other people telling me that I’m wrong for enjoying what I like. I would feel a bit nervous, though, to add too many comments to this thread, lest someone call ME “execrable” for daring to disagree with them. 😉
Actually, I DID leave a couple of comments. It was to a well reasoned dissenter’s observation. Behold:
One woman wrote the below comment, which I think is pretty respectful. I mostly liked her take, but I was disappointed when she seemed to doubt herself for liking the song. There’s nothing wrong with “checking” oneself, but this response read a bit like a disclaimer. She’s not wrong to wonder if the lyrics come across as mansplaining when they’re sung by a female singer like Dolly Parton or Kathleen Battle, who is not only female, but is also Black. Would I call either of them “mansplaining”? Would I question their choices to sing this song? Neither of them are slouches when it comes to making music, that’s for damned sure!
What an interesting discussion!
I always hear the song from the viewpoint of a mother. I could personally not imagine all of the joys, trials and tribulations my sons would experience and bring me as their mother. I thought about how a theoretical mother of god could not possibly conceive of her future either, even knowing what the score was upfront.
Then again, I can be a little naive about intentions. And yet again, my demographic has me pretty experienced in receiving mansplaining.
I also didn’t know that Dolly Parton did a version. She is pretty much a feminine divine voice IMHO so even though she isn’t the male composer, I would have to hear it differently from her.
But “I didn’t ask?” Humph. When you put art in the world that’s what you risk: criticism and interpretation.
Another person, a guy calling himself a “musician”, wrote this derogatory comment:
Mostly, that song just sucks. As a musician, that is among the WORST and least fun, festive, or even touching or emotional Christmas songs. It’s just a boring list of stuff Jesus did with a weak contextual premise. If little kids don’t like it, and/or it doesn’t touch you emotionally, it’s trash.
Um… lots of bonafide and highly accomplished musicians would totally disagree with the above comment. And plenty of people are “touched” emotionally by “Mary, Did You Know”? Does the fact that the above musician isn’t moved by the song negate other people’s experiences listening to it and overall opinions of it? I don’t think so. And there are a lot of songs I might think of as “trash”, but that’s just MY opinion. I only get one vote, even though I am pretty musical myself. 😉
This whole controversy reminds me a bit of the huge uproar a few years ago about the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” In the wake of the “Me Too” movement, people were saying that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” promotes date rape. I wrote a blog post about my annoyance about that, since “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written decades ago, during an era when it was considered improper for women to stay unchaperoned with men. The song was written by Frank Loesser and his ex wife Lynn, meant to be a “parlor song” for entertaining their dinner party guests. It has nothing to do with date rape. But people sure want to project their modern sensibilities on classic songs and “cancel” them. Is the world really a “better” place without so-called “rapey” songs like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” polluting the airwaves? I don’t think so. I think the world is a better place when people consider context, original intent, and history, and stop trying to impose 2022 values on songs that were written decades ago. Even “Mary, Did You Know” is a pretty old song. It’s 38 years old! And the world was very different in 1984, right?
If people don’t like certain songs, they have choices they can freely make. They can choose not to listen to it, sing it, or buy albums that have it on the playlist. They can listen to and promote songs that are more to their tastes. They can even express why they don’t like it and invite a dialogue. Or, hey, here’s a novel thought– they can try to write their own, more “appropriate” song! But please don’t tell ME that I shouldn’t like a song because of how YOU interpret it. I’ll try my best to show you the same level of respect for your individual opinions and taste. And please don’t try to qualify yourself as a “musician” and declare someone else’s song as “trash”. Lots of musicians, most of whom are more famous, successful, and acclaimed than you will EVER be, completely disagree with your assessment.
I’m getting real tired of people– especially total strangers– insisting that there’s only one way to look at something. I’m tired of people telling me to “stop” doing something because they don’t approve, or that I should do something because it’s the “right” thing to do. I’m over being told how and what to think, especially by people who claim that their freedoms are being infringed upon. This happens on both sides of the political spectrum, and it’s time more thinking people spoke up about it. If we really live in a free society, then people should be allowed to create things freely without fear of being canceled. Yes, it’s fine to criticize creative pursuits, but when you resort to personal insults and character assassinations, you risk falling off that moral high horse and landing at the bottom of the pit with the rest of the lowlifes. I’m just saying.
When I was a youngster in the late 1970s, there was a popular song by the late singer-songwriter Randy Vanwarmer called “Just When I Needed You Most”. I am reminded of that song this morning, just after I called USAA to report fraudulent activity on my debit card. Some of my most faithful followers might remember that on March 8, 2022, I wrote a post about exasperating issues with USAA involving “heavy handed” fraud detection alerts. For the past few years, USAA has been shutting my debit card down at the drop of a hat. Every single time they did that, the charges they were detecting as potentially fraudulent were legitimate.
This morning, as I was checking my bank balance, I noticed that I had three weird charges that I know didn’t originate with me. One was for Insomnia Cookies, which I have learned today is a cookie bakery chain in New York City that, evidently, delivers at all hours. I had never even heard of Insomnia Cookies before today, but I have a pending charge from them on my debit card. One fraudulent charge was for Uber Eats, which does exist in Germany, but not in our area. I have never ordered from Uber Eats in my lifetime. The third charge, which was evidently reversed, was for Uber. I have also never in my life used Uber.
None of those wonky entries tripped USAA’s fraud alert system, even though they were “in person” charges for goods and services obviously made in places where I don’t live, and have never told USAA I was, or ever would be visiting. And yet, last week, when I was bitching at USAA for denying my legit charges in Europe, they were questioning a charge to an Armenian Brandy Boutique in Belgium that I have ordered from multiple times over the past several years. What gives?
I spoke to a USAA member representative at 5:30am, who began the dispute process for me. Now, I have to wait until the new debit card gets to me, which will take some time. And I have to change all of the payment methods for which I’ve been using the USAA debit card and use credit until I get the new card. I don’t like using my credit cards unless it’s absolutely necessary. I spent too long getting myself out of debt to feel comfortable using credit cards for everyday purchases, even though I can and do pay them off immediately. It is annoying that I’ve had to call them so many times about having my card erroneously shut down, but now they’ve missed actual fraud. Clearly, USAA’s security system isn’t working to its fullest potential.
Meanwhile, last week, I made a request to PenFed that they open a new checking account for me. While I was talking to them, trying to get the new checking account set up, their computer system went down. I was told they would send me information about opening the account. It never arrived, so I’m going to have to call them again today.
When we first moved to Germany, I told Bill that I thought we should get a local *German* account. He disagreed, and got one at the credit union on post. Now, he’s changed his mind, and we’re going to look into opening an account that can be used locally so that this kind of crap might be less of a pain in the ass for us.
A number of my friends have told me they’ve stopped using USAA. I’m beginning to think maybe that would be a good idea for us, too. This decision is probably going to be painful and inconvenient. We’ve used USAA for so long that it feels like dropping them would be like divorcing a spouse we’ve been married to for decades. I have been a customer since 1994. Bill has been one since 1984. But unfortunately, it looks like the time has come to reconsider this business relationship. Or, at least start moving some of our business to more secure/less irritating outlets. I actually wanted to ditch USAA years ago, but deferred to Bill, since he’s the breadwinner. I think maybe he’s starting to see the light.
I also checked the Corona Warn app to see if I’m still getting a “red tile”. As of right now, I am. The tile is supposed to expire today, though. I haven’t been sick with COVID-19. Or, at least, I haven’t shown any symptoms of illness, other than my usual asthma cough. So, I guess the bright side is, I still have my health. At least for the time being.
I might be back later with a rant about current events or something else. For now, I think I’ll practice guitar and walk the dogs. That will help me blow off some of this irritation and tension.
Warning– this is a rather personal rant… It may not be of any interest to people who don’t know me. Or, on the other hand, maybe some of you strangers can relate. Either way, I won’t accept any nasty or shaming comments from anyone who doesn’t know the backstory.
I had a bad dream this morning, just before I woke up. I feel pretty sure I know what prompted the nightmare, much of which I was able to remember. I haven’t historically paid a lot of attention to my dreams, but since Bill started studying Carl Jung, who was very much into analyzing dreams, I’ve been trying to pay closer mind to my own dreams. Bill likes to analyze them. Since I’m also a born storyteller, it makes sense that I’d pay mind to the “movies in my head”, even if they’re horrifying.
Here’s what I remember from this morning’s dream. I had just arrived at my alma mater, Longwood University. Or, that’s what I assumed, even though it didn’t look like Longwood’s campus. I was there with my roommate, a non-descript female. I was on basically friendly terms with her, but we weren’t best friends or anything. We were walking around the campus. It was hot and dusty, and in a weird way, the campus kind of resembled an open air airport terminal (no idea why). Maybe it’s because my adulthood took off from my years at Longwood.
We passed a business that looked like an airport bar, except there was no roof. My roommate needed to use the restroom, so we parted ways, and I was left alone. I decided to take a shortcut across campus. I was dressed in my usual outfit during my college days… shorts and a t-shirt, with tennis shoes.
Just as I was about to head into a hilly, wooded area, a huge, fat, anaconda type snake streaked out in front of me. It didn’t stop; it raced past with astonishing speed. It was quickly followed by another anaconda that was just as fast and slick. One might expect a person to pause continuing to walk into the woods after seeing two huge snakes. For some reason, I continued onward, in spite of being startled by the snakes.
I took a deep breath and stepped beyond the trees of the dusty street where I had been walking with my roommate. After I’d walked a few steps into the woods, I noticed there was a lot of detritus and junk in the woods. It was kind of trashy and uncultivated, with a lot of sticker bushes and weeds. It was not an area where a lot of people walked, but obviously, people threw a lot of trash in there. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to try to take a shortcut that way, but then I suddenly got this feeling of dread and danger…
As I was about to take another step, I was confronted by this very attractive woman in a long dress made of black satin. She had jet black hair and very pale skin. Her hair was perfectly arranged in a poofy bun. She wore bright red lipstick. The woman in the featured photo looks a little like her, except the woman in my dream had much paler skin and didn’t have bangs. Her face looked a bit more like the photo of Carmen Miranda, below… She was very attractive, but was also clearly evil and toxic. She immediately started attacking me.
I started fighting back. The woman in black gave a good fight, but in the end, I killed her with my bare hands. There was a lot of blood, and despite the fact that she fought back vigorously, it wasn’t actually that hard to kill her. As she surprised me with her attack, I found some kind of superhuman strength I didn’t know I had in me. And while I felt some pangs of regret at killing this attractive, beguiling, but very dangerous woman, I felt kind of vindicated and exhilarated…
Then I was attacked by a second woman. She seemed to be the sister of the first woman. She had a similar hairstyle– jet black hair in a bun, red lipstick, and a bun. But she wore a red sequined dress. I killed her with my bare hands, too. It was easier to vanquish the woman in the red dress, though no less bloody or horrifying.
I stepped out of the wooded area, breathless, panicked, and terrified. I am not a violent person at all, but I killed both of these women with surprising speed and strength fueled by rage. Of course, they attacked me first. But there I was with blood on my hands, having dispatched these attackers with my bare hands.
Then I woke up…
I told Bill about the nightmare, and together we figured out what it was probably about. Yesterday, we discovered that Ex, older daughter, and Ex’s daughter with #3 all went to see Bill’s stepmother this week. Ex just had a birthday, and has been clamoring for money in a crowd funder. At this writing, she’s managed to raise $500… but it was her own money that was contributed. She claims she needs the money to build a fence for her youngest child, a teenaged boy with severe autism. According to her fundraiser, the boy can’t go outside without at least three people surrounding him, because he runs away and winds up in dangerous situations or meets with “inappropriate people”– ie; homeless people, when he’s not wearing anything but his underwear. I swear, this is a story we’ve heard from a couple of good sources. I don’t know where the boy is right now, with his usual “caretakers” away from home. Maybe #3 is taking time off work, or they found a place to put him. Evidently, he did not go on the trip with Ex and two of her daughters.
Anyway… I figure that Ex decided to visit Bill’s stepmother, because she’s trying to maintain ties to Bill’s family, not because she loves them, but because she wants to exploit them. And Bill’s stepmother is an immature, needy person who will quickly condemn or forgive people on a whim. So, while Ex refused to let Bill’s daughters have a relationship with him, or his parents, she would, on occasion, let the girls and her eldest son see Bill’s dad and stepmother, as she told them lies about Bill. Stepmother told us during my last visit, which was years ago, that Ex had a habit of showing up at their house, letting her kids run amok, and treating her rudely. Stepmother and late FIL would give her expensive gifts or spend money on her, and Ex never appreciated it. She would make rude comments about Bill’s stepmother’s religion, or other things. Remember, Ex actually staged her divorce demand at the in-laws’ house over Easter in 2000. The in-laws have aided and abetted Ex in her schemes on many occasions.
I don’t get along well with Bill’s stepmother. I don’t think she’s as toxic as Ex is, but she is very manipulative and needy, and she will do things like send guilt mongering text messages to Bill, demanding that he come visit. She won’t visit people herself; the onus is on them to come to her. She used to do it to Bill all the time, but now she’s doing it to his youngest daughter, who is a busy mom of two young kids with another one on the way. Youngest daughter lives several states away from SMIL, and doesn’t really have the time or energy to drive several states to visit her.
Adding to this is the fact that SMIL’s adopted daughter doesn’t have children and has recently reconnected with her birth mom. I don’t know how much time they’re spending together, but if I know SMIL, I figure she’s probably feeling alone and betrayed… which would make her a sitting duck for Ex. FIL died in November 2020, so I’m sure SMIL has lost some of her resolve. And Ex needs money, and wasn’t invited to FIL’s funeral. I would not put it past her to try to get SMIL to give her money and/or give older daughter something from FIL’s estate, even though they shunned and disowned Bill and, off and on, his father and stepmother. They shunned Bill’s mother completely; younger daughter is only just now getting to know her grandmother, and they’ve apparently really hit it off.
Now… none of this is any of my business. I only know about it because younger daughter told Bill, and Bill told me. And, frankly, as far as I’m concerned, Ex and SMIL probably deserve each other. SMIL made it pretty clear that she’s on Ex’s side, even though Ex was extremely abusive and exploitative to Bill, and has done some things that, frankly, should have landed her in a prison cell. I know this upsets Bill, though, because it’s like Ex has hijacked his family. Ex wouldn’t even know Bill’s stepmother if they hadn’t been married. But he thinks that his stepmother has always resented him, because as a child, he needed and demanded attention from his father, on occasion. SMIL is a very possessive person. She’s immature, fickle, and treacherous. And even though she told me outright that she’s “just the stepmother”, she feels that Bill’s daughters are her grandchildren, when they’re really Bill’s mother’s grandchildren. The difference is, MIL was more than willing to share… SMIL wasn’t. She, like Ex, hates Bill’s mom. I think she probably hates me, too.
SMIL told me, years ago, that none of this was “any of my business”, since I was just Bill’s wife. However, I would submit that Bill’s kids and grandchildren are even less SMIL’s business, since she’s just the “stepgrandmother”. And she chooses to be involved with Ex, in spite of all of the truly nasty shit she’s done over the years. It wasn’t her husband’s income that went into keeping Ex’s household afloat while they were simultaneously and illegally denied any contact with the children. Why is it that SMIL can be as angry as she wants with anyone she pleases, but the rest of us have to cater to her bullshit and aren’t supposed to be upset with her?
So why is it me who “killed” the two women in my dream? Because I think they blame me for the divorce, even though I didn’t have anything to do with it. The truth is, I didn’t even know Bill when he and Ex split up. They had been separated for three months before I knew Bill was married, plus we were chatting online. I didn’t meet him in person until almost a full year after the divorce. However, Ex told her kids that Bill cheated on her with me, when actually, she cheated on Bill with #3. She also cheated with Bill on her first husband. And yet, I’m the one who is painted as a whore and an interloper.
I think SMIL resents the fact that I married Bill, making it impossible that he would get back together with Ex. She has trouble with change. She also doesn’t like my personality, because I don’t cooperate with her manipulative ploys or give in to her childish bullshit. I have a strong personality that a lot of people don’t enjoy. However, you will always know where you stand with me. I am who I am. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am basically a decent person.
SMIL asked me, last time I saw her, if Bill was ever abusive to me in the bedroom. She asked this, because Ex told her that he was abusive to her. I laughed and said, “no”… because Bill doesn’t have a single mean bone in his body. Anything they did in the bedroom was consensual on her part. However, it wasn’t always consensual on Bill’s part. More than once, Ex told Bill she should slit his throat and, in fact, she did violently sexually assault him at least once, and left scars that a doctor noticed during an exam. Still, even though I told SMIL that Bill isn’t an abuser, at least not to me, she chooses to believe Ex, who has taken advantage of her and FIL for many years.
Why were the two women in my nightmare so attractive? Ex and SMIL are not exactly sexy women, especially not these days. Well… I think it’s because even though I am horrified and angry about their conduct, particularly toward supposed loved ones, I find both of them fascinating characters. Like I said, I am a natural storyteller. I like to write fiction. I used to do it a lot, until a certain unrelated “snake in the grass” decided to get into my business. If I weren’t Bill’s wife, I think SMIL and Ex would make excellent villains in a novel. But, trust me, neither of them are the type to wear satin or sequins.
There’s nothing we can do about Ex and SMIL cozying up to each other. We don’t care about any inheritance from Bill’s dad. However, I do think it would be a real shame if Ex manages to swindle SMIL for money or property she can sell. She is not above doing that. She’s done it repeatedly in the past. I see her posting all sorts of shit on the Internet that makes her look like an empath, but she’s anything but that. She is a true wolf in sheep’s clothing… and some people, like SMIL, will simply never learn not to tangle with her. They deserve each other. They really do. I just hope younger daughter realizes that she doesn’t have any obligation toward them. She’s an adult with her own family, and she has plenty of her own problems to worry about. I hope the next time SMIL sends her a “guilt” text, but then refuses to answer the phone with younger daughter calls her, younger daughter just blocks her number. She doesn’t owe her, or her mother, a goddamned thing.
Hmm… maybe I’m in some of their nightmares, too… It wouldn’t surprise me. I’m everybody’s favorite scapegoat.
Here’s an as/is repost of a book review I wrote for my original blog. It appeared on February 6, 2017.I was reminded to repost this review after watching The Love Boat, yesterday. Juliet Prowse was a guest star and they showed off her fabulous legs. I was reminded of Linda Gray, writing about her “stems”.
Lately, I’ve been watching old episodes of Dallas. They offer a flashback to my youth, a time when I didn’t care about things like politics. I was very young when Dallas first started airing and a young woman when it finally went off the air. So, I guess for that reason, Dallas is a comfort.
Many people know that actress Linda Gray played a pivotal role on Dallas. She was Sue Ellen Ewing, J.R. Ewing’s long suffering alcoholic wife. Later, Gray starred in Models Inc., an Aaron Spelling spin off of the 90s hit Melrose Place, which was itself a spin off of Beverly Hills 90210. Models Inc. flopped and was cancelled after one season. But in 2012, a reboot of Dallas came along and Gray was able to be Sue Ellen again for three seasons.
I like life stories, so that’s probably why I decided to download Gray’s 2015 book, The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction. I finally got around to reading it and finished it yesterday while in my sick bed. It’s basically Linda Gray’s life story mixed with the odd recipe, cute anecdotes, and Gray’s self help philosophies. I understand the book was written to commemorate Gray’s 75th birthday. She still looks good.
I learned some new things when I read this book. I never knew that Gray had polio when she was a child. She spent several months in bed and almost ended up in an iron lung. Fortunately, that treatment ultimately wasn’t indicated and Gray eventually recovered. Gray is also the daughter of an alcoholic. Her mother, who was apparently a very talented artist with a great sense of style, drank to numb the boredom of simply being a wife and a mother. I’m sure growing up with an alcoholic mother gave Gray some cues as to how she should play alcoholic Sue Ellen.
There are a few anecdotes about Dallas, as well as a couple of funny stories about Larry Hagman, who was one of Gray’s dearest friends. Gray also writes about how she came to capture the part of Sue Ellen. Although she’d been a model and commercial actress for years, at the time she got her big break, she was married, 38 years old, and the mother of two kids rapidly approaching adolescence. Her husband had not wanted her to work, but Gray was finding life as a housewife unfulfilling and boring. She went against her husband’s wishes and soon became a star. The marriage fell apart, but Gray finally found a purpose other than being a mother and a housewife. She thrived.
I did take notice when California born and bred Gray wrote about learning how to speak like a rich woman from Dallas. She writes that she met Dolly Parton, who told her to just emulate her. Gray said Dolly didn’t sound “Texan”. She asked Dolly where she was from and claims Dolly said “Georgia”. Um… Dolly Parton is not from Georgia! She’s from Tennessee! I guess Gray isn’t a fan of country music. Gray ended up finding a voice coach who taught her some tricks. She also hung out at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas a lot, to see how rich women from Dallas behaved.
I mostly enjoyed Gray’s book. It looks like she wrote it herself, with no help from a ghost writer. I think she did a fairly good job, although there are a few small snafus like the one I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I liked that Gray came across as very normal and approachable.
On the other hand, toward the end of the book, she offers some advice to her readers that I don’t think she herself takes. For instance, she writes about how off putting it is when people brag. She kind of does some bragging herself. Not that I wouldn’t have expected her to brag somewhat; she is a famous actress who has had an unusual life. But it does seem disingenuous when an actress tells her readers about how annoying she finds braggarts right after she writes about her “come hither” eyes and “amazing stems” (legs). Acting is not exactly a profession for people who aren’t a little bit self-absorbed (although I am sure there are exceptions). Self help advice from a celebrity often rings hollow anyway. A little bit goes a long way.
At the end of the book there are pictures. Many of them are too small to see, at least on an iPad.
I probably could have done without the self help sections, with the exception of Gray’s life “principles”, which were cleverly conceived and included funny anecdotes. She also includes a couple of recipes– one for a conditioner she uses on her hair and another for some kind of meat pie she made for her kids, which doesn’t seem to jibe with her advice to eat clean.
I give this book 3.5 stars on a scale of 5. It’s not bad, and parts are interesting and enjoyable. But self help advice usually puts me off, anyway.
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