business, condescending twatbags, dogs, Military, social media, stupid people

The wrong way of takin’ care of business…

Yesterday, Bill and I enjoyed another rainy Sunday at home. Even if the pandemic weren’t still in full swing, I doubt we would have chosen to go anywhere. It was cold and dismal outside, with traces of ice and snow. There wasn’t nearly enough for it to be pretty.

I decided to do some writing and listen to music. I heard a version of “Til the Season Comes ‘Round Again”, a pretty Christmas song that I originally heard Amy Grant do years ago, but then I heard her (now) husband’s, Vince Gill’s, version. I decided to try it myself, complete with harmony. Here’s the end result. I may try again in a higher key. Or maybe I won’t… it depends on how inspired I am.

The weather is rainy today, too, and although I know the dogs could use a walk, I’m not sure I want to venture out in the slop. At least it’s not freezing cold, though, so that’s a vote toward taking a quick jaunt so Arran can take a dump. He prefers to poop when he’s taking walks.

I’m also still working on reading my latest book. It’s a good book, but my progress is slow. My attention span and eyesight aren’t what they used to be. In fact, my attention span has never been particularly good… especially when I am distracted by petty dramas on Facebook. And that brings me to today’s topic. All names in the following tale are pseudonyms, in the unlikely event that someone local is reading this. I simply want to air my own opinion on this situation.

Yesterday, I happened to run across a thread in the local pet group on Facebook. A woman I’ll call Mary was frustrated because, back in October, she had hired a 19 year old woman to look after her pets for a portion of the holiday season. The young woman– I’ll call her Katie– had enthusiastically agreed to take the job. Mary has a dog and a cat, and she was willing to pay $250 for about 8 days worth of work. The stipulations were that Katie was to stay at Mary’s home, since her cat doesn’t do well with other animals and she wasn’t sure how the dog would behave. Katie agreed.

Two months go by, and it’s the day that Mary was supposed to leave on her trip. Katie sends Mary a message, suddenly changing the conditions of their agreement. Katie explained that her sister was flying in, so she wanted to spend time with her. And it would be more convenient for her to watch Mary’s pets at her parents’ home, since Mary lived far away from Katie’s parents’ house.

Mary was upset about this, since it wasn’t what they had agreed to… but she was kind of over a barrel. She had these travel plans, and though she hadn’t mentioned it in the thread, she probably pre-paid for her lodging and, perhaps, air fare. Her choices weren’t so good in this situation. She could: cancel her plans; try to find another pet sitter at the last minute; or let Katie do what she wanted to do.

Mary ended up letting Katie have her way. But then, when she came back to get her dog, she tried to have a discussion with Katie about what had happened. This is where it gets especially weird. Apparently, Mary’s feedback pissed off Katie’s mother. I’ll call her Alice. Mary had asked to speak to Katie privately when they were in person, and this didn’t sit well with Alice, who is evidently a bit of a “mama bear”. For some reason, I’m reminded of this pre-Trump relic…

Lordy…

Drama erupted when Mary picked up her animal, and in the end, Mary left the house with her dog, feeling unsatisfied, and missing her dog’s favorite toy. Katie then blocked Mary on Facebook, so Mary wasn’t able to resolve this dilemma privately. Mary later took to Facebook to air her grievances in our group, which was where she’d found Katie in the first place. In her initial post, she never mentioned Katie’s name. She simply put out what I would call a blanket PSA to all of the pet sitters in the group, asking them to be very clear about what they’re willing to do when they take a pet sitting job. Below is exactly what she wrote:

Ok. If you or your child are going to take on pet sitting jobs can we please have those taking on the jobs to ASK questions. How much are you charging. How long? Where do you live? I just had an experience where the sitter changed plans on us a *few hours before we were supposed to leave. It messed up our plans and made it more complicated and the reason behind it was they didn’t know how far our house was from them. This was something that was set up 2 months in advance. Why were these things not asked? It’s not just about the money. You need to be clear and tell our younger kids to be assertive and responsible. This sitter has now blocked me on FB even though they changed up the plans and did not follow through with what was expected. They also did not pack back up any of my dogs toys and one of them was a plush dog toy that he got when he was a puppy. . I’m so sad and disappointed.

Now… I notice that Mary didn’t “out” the young woman who looked after her dog. She doesn’t curse. She doesn’t write anything rude or nasty. She simply makes a polite request. One person misunderstood and thought the sitter had canceled at the last minute. Mary reiterated that Katie hadn’t canceled, she had simply changed the terms of what they had agreed to, which was to watch the dog and cat in Mary’s home, rather than at a stranger’s (to the pets) home. As it turned out, Katie only watched the dog. I guess the cat fended for itself.

A few people responded to her post, vague as it was. All of a sudden, Alice– the mom– shows up and writes this in response.

My daughter was your dog sitter, she’s also not a child. She’s 19. I don’t know where your dogs toy is but she took very well care of pippin to the point where you messaged her and asked her to keep him longer. She blocked you to avoid the drama that you brought into my home the other day, I have never met a more obnoxious, rude couple in my life. My daughter dog sits for many dogs and has never had a problem, until you. She returned everything she could find. Mind you we actually have a huge yard. Also, she watched him here because it was Christmas time and she wanted to spend it with her family. And lastly you still owe her $

At first, I wondered if maybe Mary had misrepresented herself in the thread. As we all know, sometimes people do act like jerks, but then try to cover it up when they talk about a situation to other people. But then I kept reading, and it became very clear that Alice was making the situation so much worse. First off, she basically outed her daughter. And secondly, she says her daughter is an adult, but yet “Mommy” is in the Facebook group, fighting her battles for her. I was not the only one who thought this was a bit fucked up.

Mary came back with this response. Again, I thought it was fairly even keeled and reasonable.

I have screenshots of the dates we agreed upon. Back in October Is when we talked about what the plan was. I also did not name names in this post. All I’m asking for is the toy back.

Alice responded:

you messaged her saying you didn’t know if you were still going with them dates and then asked her to keep him

So Mary wrote:

Because she told us an hour before we were supposed to leave, that she was going to take the pets to your house. That wasn’t the agreed upon plan. Our cat doesn’t do well with other pets. Then we had to wait a few more hours for her to show up to get “Fido”. I was trying to find another sitter to watch the pets and when I couldn’t, I just had to allow her to take just Fido. (not his real name)

Alice wrote:

she showed up @ 3:30 to pick up “Fido”, that was the agreed upon time.. she was at work and she left work early to get him.

And Mary conceded:

Ok I’ll give you this. Looking back at the messages I did say 3 pm. You are correct. I do still take issue with being told the day of travel that plans were changing.

At this point, other people started to chime in. There were a few who were on Alice’s side. Some had hired Katie to watch their pets and liked her. A few appeared to be friends of Alice’s and Katie’s. But, by and large, most of us were squarely on “Team Mary”, including yours truly. This situation is one major reason why Bill and I use a locally run Hunde Pension, rather than hiring a teen. I used to be a house/dog/horse/cat/turtle sitter myself, so I know how it goes, but although I’m sure our dogs would be happier at home, I prefer them to be somewhere where this is someone’s livelihood and the people involved have insurance.

Anyway, the drama continued. Alice wrote this:

You never have to allow someone to take your dog. There is always other options.

Then, Mary produced a screenshot of the chat she’d had with Katie, dating from mid October, in which she spelled out what she wanted and how much she was willing to pay. It’s there, plain as day, that Katie had agreed. And, as a 19 year old woman, Mary felt inclined to take her at her word. But then Alice basically proved that her daughter was NOT actually an adult, when she wrote this:

her mom ( me) said no to your home.. that’s creepy. And it was Christmas time, she didn’t know her sister was coming in from (across the pond) until last minute

Uh… excuse me? She’s 19 years old, Alice. You, yourself, said she’s an adult. Why do you get to veto Mary’s house as “creepy”? What the fuck? And this is a standard practice here– people who pet sit often go to people’s homes or stay overnight. No one was even at the house, so why would it be “creepy”?

And Mary agreed with me, writing:

creepy? To house sit and watch a cat and dog? There was no one there. How is that creepy? I thought she was an adult. Not a child… If she would have told me this back in October or even maybe not a few hours. Before we were supposed to leave, that would have been fine.

Alice brazenly came back with this:

100% creepy. Let it go, pay for the rest of services rendered and move on.

I’ve gotta say, if I were Mary, I probably would have ripped Alice a new one for that response. In fact, I probably would have considered complaining to the garrison about Katie. I would not have been nice. People who run businesses on the installations are supposed to get approval from the garrison as “home based businesses”. There are tax implications and rules to be followed. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts, as Bill would say, that Katie isn’t running her business the “legal” way.

But all Mary wants is her dog’s toy:

give me the dog toy back and we will… Even though we paid her the same amount to watch the cat and dog and she only watched the dog

Alice wasn’t moved, though. She wrote:

You asked to speak to her out of any ear shot of her family. Had I know you had asked her that, mama would been right with you both and then to express your displeasure after you got your dog watched and still her money..

At this point, I took a peek at Katie’s FB page. This chick is evidently in the military herself. And yet here she is, blocking her client, and letting Mommy fight her battles for her.

Mary was still being very reasonable, in my opinion, when she wrote:

but I thought she was an adult. And what I told her was that I was disappointed with the services rendered. I told her that going forward she should ask these questions and make sure that everything is clear. I didn’t cuss her out or even yell or anything. I just said, money is important but so are the other details.

All I said was, can I speak to you for a moment. She even stated that she knew I was disappointed and she understood why I would be.

But Alice continued:

16-24 8 days, you paid $139. My daughter charges $20 a day. Total would of been $160

Personally, under the circumstances, I think Mary was perfectly justified in not giving Katie the whole amount. Katie didn’t do the job to her client’s specifications. And she has her MOM arguing on her behalf! Mary shared another screenshot about the payment they had agreed to. I don’t see why Mary should have to honor the payment end of the agreement, when Katie didn’t honor her side of it by staying at Mary’s home and watching two pets. According to the screenshot, Mary had offered $250, which I would have loved to have gotten when I was 19 and house/pet sitting.

Alice very stubbornly persisted, writing this:

adult or not, she lives in MY home.. You don’t see me asking you for carpet cleaning $, your dog peeped and pooped several times on my carpet. Again, let it go. Learn your lessons and move on. Your screen shots mean nothing to me, you let her take your dog, you asked to have him here longer. Don’t try and blast someone for something you let happen.

Um… Alice? My takeaway from this exchange is that I shouldn’t ever consider hiring Katie to watch my pets. Because hiring Katie means that I’ll probably have to deal with you, and you are not a good representative of Katie’s brand! All you’ve done is show everyone that Katie can’t handle her own business; that, in fact, she ISN’T an adult; and that her client’s wishes mean absolutely NOTHING. What’s more, Mary never even outed Katie in our group, which is full of people who occasionally need a pet sitter. YOU DID THAT. It was a very stupid thing to do, and it will cost Katie. Some mama bear you are.

Mary continued:

so evidence proving my point means nothing? I literally had this arranged with your daughter. All these details and then last minute is when things changed.

And Alice responded:

you only complained after he was watched and you picked him up. He was very well taken care of. That’s what anyone with a pet wants

I suspect Mary didn’t “complain” at the time because she had travel plans that dated from months ago. She needed Katie’s help and was over a barrel. And sure, the dog was taken care of in the sense that he’s still alive and well, apparently. But Katie still didn’t do the job according to her client’s wishes. And contrary to Alice’s opinions, anyone with a pet actually wants that their pets are taken care of in the way that the owner wants the care to be given.

More people opined, including one woman who took on Alice, who responded about how she “loved” that people who weren’t involved had come for the “drama”. At that point, I think I would have told Alice that it was her choice to have people “come for the drama”, as she chose to air this shit in a Facebook group, instead of privately. Her grown ass daughter, Katie, blocked her client, rather than working with her privately to resolve this issue without input from other people. Moreover, Alice doesn’t seem to understand that when pets are stressed out in unfamiliar places, sometimes they have accidents. If Katie had watched the dog in Mary’s home, as was agreed, any accidents the dog had would have been on Mary’s floor, not Alice’s. I think the accidents were entirely Katie’s fault, in that case.

I finally had to comment myself. I wrote this:

You could have stayed out of this. Your daughter is an adult. You said so yourself. And Mary has clearly proven what was agreed. I don’t blame her one bit for being pissed. I would be too.

At that point, more people chimed in, including a few who were on Alice’s and Katie’s side. One person took Mary to task for putting a “kid” on blast. Another person commended Alice for having Katie’s back. I see nothing wrong with a mother having her child’s back, but she should have done it offline, and insisted that her 19 year old adult daughter speak up for herself. At this point, I’m left with the impression that Katie is very immature, irresponsible, and not equipped to handle taking care of pets. What would have happened if the dog had gotten sick? Would Katie have been able to get him to a vet? Could she pry herself away from the holiday festivities with her “sister” to look after the dog she was being paid to take care of? After reading this exchange, and seeing how her mother puts the blame on the paying client, I think not.

One guy wrote this, with which I completely agreed:

I like how you don’t name the sitter and her own mother dimes her out in this post and tries to justify the unprofessional behavior. Then the mom doubles down after your screen shots show everything was agreed upon in advance and calls services the adult sitter agreed on “creepy.” You’re completely justified in being pissed off. I would be pissed too. It doesn’t matter that her sister came in town or it’s Christmas, you were clear in what you expected well in advance and the sitter agreed to it as well.

Alice responded thusly:

I didn’t “dime” her out, I spoke up for my daughter. Big difference, what you read is only half the story, there’s always 3 sides and at the end of the day a service she actually agreed upon was complete and she then she still wasn’t happy. Period.

No, Mama Bear… you totally fucked this up and stuck your nose where it doesn’t belong. You and Katie are wrong, in this instance. Grow up and accept responsibility. Of course, they clearly didn’t, since Alice left the group.

The guy responded:

your daughter wasn’t named, therefore you DID dime her out. Literally no one reading this post other than the OP/you/your daughter knew who the sitter was until your comment. Take the L, you’re wrong, your daughter’s actions were wrong, period. But to clarify the point, once you make a commitment, you follow through. You don’t alter the agreement the day of travel ffs.

There were more comments, but most of them weren’t as juicy, and I think we get the point, anyway. I probably shouldn’t be writing about this, and I don’t know why I feel compelled to, other than to show some of my faithful followers some of the DRAMA that can erupt on military installations. Bill and I once lived on Fort Belvoir, pre-Facebook, and there was enough drama that went on before social media was a thing. I can only shudder to think what it’s like now.

I’m not in very many local American Facebook groups, though, because of situations like these that arise. I made the mistake of being in a lot of them when we lived in Stuttgart, and it caused me a lot of angst. Usually, the pet group is pretty placid, but every once in awhile, I’m reminded as to why I think it’s better not to join a lot of Facebook groups, especially when the US military is involved. Things can get really hairy and fucked up in a hurry. There are people from all walks of life involved with military service, with varying levels of maturity and sophistication. Some people are folks who just can’t understand normal thinking. I think this exchange is a prime example of that phenomenon at work.

Well… I think after I practice guitar and have some lunch, I’ll try to get back to my book so I can have another book review ready by New Year’s Eve. Wish me luck. Have a nice Monday.

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My blog is now more like Muzak…

A few years ago, when I was still writing on my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife, I wrote a post called “The blog equivalent to Muzak… on seeking a return to obscurity”. I was tired of the drama that often erupted on my old blog and wanted to go back to a less stressful outlet for my posts. Too many unfriendly people were reading the old blog and stirring up shit. The shit stirring was making it a lot harder to do what I love. When I first started writing my blog, I didn’t even share my posts with friends. I was pretty anonymous, mainly because my husband’s younger daughter was still a minor. I wanted to stay somewhat clandestine for that reason. I became more open once she turned 18; and that was fine, until we moved back to Stuttgart– which is a microcosm of American military types. That’s when all the drama ramped up.

In my initial “Muzak” piece, I lamented the drama that had erupted. I was so mindfucked at that time that I was apologizing to people who were offended by my writing. I now think I was wrong to do that. I can’t control how people react to what I write. It’s never my intention to be hurtful when I write. I mostly try to be honest, even though sometimes I dip into rants. Rants are fun to write and are probably entertaining for some people to read. But there’s often someone who gets offended. Sometimes, they leave me comments. I think of my blog as my “home”. People visit it because it’s open. But they can only do that because I paid for the space and left it open. Ultimately, it’s my “house”… and I shouldn’t have to apologize for what’s at my house, as long as nothing I’ve written is libelous.

At the time I wrote that post about blog “Muzak”, it was October 2018. We were about to move, and I was pretty stressed out about a lot of things. I’d say about 75% of the reason I was stressed out was because of our former landlady. I dreaded having to deal with her as we prepared to leave Stuttgart. She had gone from being somewhat annoying and intrusive in the earliest months of our time in her house, to being full on passive aggressive and hostile. She was trying to force us to pay for an awning that she’d neglected to have properly fixed by a repairperson. She blamed me for “negligence” when the wind blew it over, and added on a lot of insulting comments about my character for good measure. She didn’t seem to realize that she was negligent for not having the awning fixed by someone more qualified than her husband. She is damned lucky no one was hurt or killed when it fell. I resented the hell out of the disrespectful way she treated Bill and me. But I soon found myself unable to process those feelings on my blog, because a spy was sticking her nose in our business. I guess that’s an occupational hazard of blogging, especially when the writing is honest.

One of the people who had lived in the house before us was monitoring my writing. Now, I’m not that naive. I had a feeling she might be gossiping about me with her “friend”, the ex landlady. But then, months later after we moved, she later came right out and told me, quite brazenly, what she was doing, apparently expecting me to apologize to her. Then she tried to shame me for the content of my blog. She basically said I was being mean and cruel– having made totally wrong assumptions about some fiction content I’d written– and she put it all on me that Bill and I were leaving our former home on bad terms. I was both horrified and angry that this person felt the need to monitor and harass me– especially since I really hadn’t written anything that was that earth shattering. She was probably hoping we’d take the blame for damages done when she lived at the house. I also think I was correct when I suspected that she and her husband had moved out of that house early because ex landlady was driving them crazy, too. She once left me an indignant comment, claiming that my suspicions were way off base. She later deleted the comment. Why? Because she was being dishonest and didn’t want to leave the proof in plain view.

I hadn’t written anything directly accusatory; she’d objected to two sentences in which I wondered if they’d been completely truthful about their sudden mid tour move. In a comment she later deleted, she’d insisted that she’d told us the truth and that I shouldn’t assume anything about what happened. I think the real issue was that I’d actually hit the nail on the head. If she and ex landlady were that close, she shouldn’t have been worried about what I wrote. Rather than leveling with me about her bullshit, she decided to try to censor me and bully us into letting ex landlady illegally withhold our deposit. She made things so much worse than they needed to be by meddling. If she had just minded her own business and not tried to make trouble for me, it’s possible that we never would have ended up going the lawsuit route.

Add in the fact that a lot of other Americans in Stuttgart were reading my blogs. Granted, I had openly shared the travel blog, because I had lived in Stuttgart before and I enjoy writing. The travel blog is pretty benign, but it was connected to my mainstream blog. Sharing the travel blog ultimately led to unwanted attention from people reading the other blog. So, by October 2018, I had determined that I wanted to go back into obscurity. I just wanted to be able to write in peace. I determined that there’s a downside to being “famous”. I wasn’t really famous, per se, but I did become somewhat known in the Stuttgart military community, and that led to notoriety that I didn’t enjoy.

A few months after we moved to Wiesbaden, the flying monkey from our former house sent me a private message that led to my final decision to move the blog to where it is now. The funny thing is, I had blocked her the night before I saw her message. She must have sent it before I had her blocked, and I didn’t notice it for a couple of days. That’s unusual for me, but when I saw her message, it really offended me. She’d made accusations about some content I’d written that were flat out false, and decided to interfere in my personal business.

The truth was, I had been wanting to move the blog anyway, for several reasons. I had noticed that the more professional blogs weren’t on Blogspot, which seemed to get wonkier by the year. The WordPress platform has more functionality. I can make some posts open to certain people. I can make some private. There are also themes I can choose from with different features. Yes, it costs money, where Blogspot didn’t. But it has a nicer look and it somewhat easier to use.

I didn’t like having Google as a landlord. I own the domain for this blog, so I can write whatever I want without getting a nastygram from Google about “inappropriate” content. I once got dinged on Blogspot because I had a picture of a used pink dildo on a post about a woman who had decided to try to sell it on a yard sale page as a joke. I was informed that the photo of the pink dildo, which looked like a chewed up dog toy (and probably was used as one) was pornographic, even if there was nothing at all inappropriate in the story that accompanied it. It was a funny post about people getting uptight about the sale item.

I get fewer rude comments by drive by readers on this blog. Part of the reason for that is because I moderate all comments from new commenters on this blog. The other part is because this blog is only now picking up steam. It took some time for it to attract readers, which made writing here kind of painful at first. But now I’ve got more people reading… a totally different audience, actually, which is a nice thing. I have fewer immature people from the military community reading and more people who are actually interested in what I write and/or me as a person.

So… all in all, the move to this platform was a good thing. I buried a lot of toxic waste, too. The old blog has a lot of rants about personal issues Bill and I went through earlier in our marriage. While I found the writing kind of therapeutic and totally justifiable, strangers who don’t know us would think I was crazy or toxic and leave comments to that effect. Granted… I have my moments of toxicity, but I am nothing compared to my husband’s ex wife. She has done some truly diabolical things over the years… terribly hurtful things that have affected a lot of people besides Bill and me. I needed a place to put that stuff. Maybe I should have kept it private, but I felt that some people might be comforted that they aren’t the only ones dealing with a crazy ex… and some of what we went through was truly incredible.

Before I met Bill, I had never known anyone whose children were completely and unfairly turned against them the way Bill’s kids were. Bill is definitely not someone who deserves that treatment. I know some people don’t believe that, but it’s the truth. He doesn’t have a mean or irresponsible bone in his body. However, he is mild mannered and empathic, so he attracts bullies and people who think they can steamroll him. He’s come a long way in the years I’ve known him in being more assertive. For instance, I’m pretty sure our ex landlady thought she could take advantage of Bill because he was always nice and conciliatory toward her. He never raised his voice to her or got obviously angry. I think she assumed he’s a wimp. I also think she’s taken advantage of a lot of Americans. She found out the hard way that his being kind and nice isn’t akin to his being a chump. Also… while I’m not a mean person by nature, I am not as nice as Bill is… and he has to share a bed with me. Another important lesson she should have learned is that it’s not wise to wage war with someone who plans war for a living. And that is literally what Bill does.

For all of her complaints about me, one thing ex landlady can never say I did is sabotage her ability to get new tenants. I have noticed on Bookoo that landlords are starting to advertise their places and disgruntled former tenants are running warning ads. I’ve seen two of them so far. Both places were also blacklisted by the military housing office. We didn’t have ex landlady blacklisted before she got her most recent tenant. She’s probably blacklisted now, though, and for good reason. We got a judgment against her.

I guess I like the quieter, more Muzak, less drama oriented version of my blog. I don’t like dealing with people getting pissed off at me for expressing myself. I can assure anyone who reads my blog that I don’t deliberately try to upset people. I don’t wake up with the express intention of causing anyone problems. But if I can’t write freely, I can’t be authentic. And if I can’t be authentic, I really might as well be writing something as bland as Muzak. The truth is, I am not the kind of person who writes about hearts and flowers. If I tried to write that way, it would not be interesting or successful. I liken it to wearing shoes on the wrong feet. Maybe I could make it work, but it wouldn’t be comfortable for me or anyone reading. Besides, there are plenty of chirpy mommy bloggers out there. I’m not a mommy, nor am I “chirpy”. But I’m also not evil, irresponsible, or all that mean and cruel. I just don’t suffer fools or foolishness.

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The holidays are coming…

I expect ours will be drama free this year, since we’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Germany and it’s not a German holiday. Christmas will be spent in France, with my friend from high school and college. She’s married to a Frenchman, so we’ll have the chance to experience a French Christmas. That should be fun, too.

I have had my fill of dramatic holiday seasons. Bill and I have talked about this a lot, especially since he’s also been through quite a lot of dramas over the years. We both treasure “heavenly peace” at this time of year. However, I must admit that it’s kind of fun to read about family dramas on www.exmormon.org. Who needs the Hallmark Channel when you can read about all of the control issues and high expectations that come from religious families?

Shunning, threatening, fighting, forced church attendance, forced praying, underwear checks, and leading questions abound, and people write about this stuff all the time on that site. I sympathize with them, even though I have never been LDS myself. I think stress during the holidays among family members is a given for many people. Christmas, especially, is a day that a lot of folks fill with great expectations and hopes for magic. It pretty much never works out that way, because Christmas is just another day. In some parts of the world, it’s not even a holiday!

Peter’s home for Christmas. Break out the Folger’s! Only the best for family, right? It’s all just a fantasy.
“O Holy Night”… that’s a challenge to sing even when you’re not emotional, missing your brother!

Should Christmas be a little “magical”? Well, sure… if you can manage to make it that way. Everybody likes it when friends and family can come together and be happy as a unit. But if you can’t make it magical, there’s no need to go nuts. It really is just a day.

Thanksgiving doesn’t tend to be quite as crazy as Christmas is. That’s why it’s my favorite holiday. Historically, I’d spend it with my extended family in Virginia, which has a reunion every year. There’s a lot of music, dancing, drinking, singing, game playing, football watching, and visiting. The best part about it is that everyone stays in the hotel, so there’s little fighting. And if a fight does erupt, there are plenty of other people to talk to and places to go to get away from the squabbling. Our Christmas celebrations were usually a lot more stressful, since most of us would stay in the house and spend too much time together. Inevitably, there would be a fight– as there was the last time we celebrated with my family, back in 2003. I swore them off after that year!

Last time we went to my family’s Thanksgiving party was in 2014, and we flew all the way from Germany to attend. We were mainly there to honor my father, who had died a few months prior. To be honest, as much as I had always loved those gatherings, they had become very crowded and chaotic. And now, even though I’ve always loved the family shindig, I kind of appreciate staying home and having a quiet time with my husband. This year, it’ll just be him, me, and our dog, Arran, since we lost Zane a few months ago. Maybe we’ll just go out to dinner… or we’ll cook something at home. Our oven is kind of too small for a whole turkey, though, and even if it were big enough, there are only two of us.

I’m always grateful to have a spouse who not only respects my preferences, but enjoys peace as much as I do. He doesn’t pressure me to hang out with his family during the holidays, and I don’t pressure him to hang out with mine. I miss some of my relatives, but I don’t enjoy fights. So I’m for staying home… and reading up on RfM for all of the inevitably outrageous stories that occur at this time of year. More people need to realize that they have the right to say “no” to drama, especially when the holidays are afoot.

Here’s a little mood music for this post! 😉

God bless Paul Thorn… he gets it!

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musings

Couple of things…

Actually, more than a couple of things… more like a few things I could write about today. I have a bunch of topics clamoring for my attention. My brain feels like it’s full of hyperactive squirrels all running in different directions, chasing nuts. This is pretty funny to me, since I rarely even see squirrels up here in Deutschland. Even when I lived in a rural area, it wasn’t so often they’d come out. And here, they’re small and either red or brown… not huge, grey, and rat-like, as they are in the United States. But anyway, though I’ve been in Germany for almost five whole years and I don’t see squirrels very often anymore, I haven’t forgotten them or how ubiquitous they are in the United States.

First on the agenda… apparently, my favorite uncle, Brownlee, recently had a stroke. I found out about it a day or two after it happened, thanks to a post on Facebook. The post I read was not from a family member, but from a friend of the family. Or, really, a friend of my uncle’s family, since I don’t know this person at all.

I’m probably wrong to feel this way. I’m not the one in a crisis, after all. I just felt a little stung that I had to read about this on Facebook, on a post written by someone I don’t even know– especially since I have a huge extended family and not a single one of them thought to clue me in on this. Still, I sent my aunt an email letting her know we were thinking about her. And I left a very slightly bitchy/passive aggressive comment to my cousin, who informed me that she’d told my sister and asked my sister to alert me about our uncle. Obviously, my sister failed in her mission. I just don’t understand why my aunt or this cousin wouldn’t have told me before she told my sister, who has a Facebook profile, but is rarely active on Facebook. Or why, if Brownlee’s immediate family isn’t able to spread the news because they’re obviously busy, no one else in the family bothered to say anything to me. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

I guess it’s my own fault for being so physically far away and determined not to go along with the crowd. I used to spend a lot of time with my Uncle Brownlee. We always got along well because he has a great sense of humor and loves music as much as I do. His birthday is the day after mine. It’s his house where the annual Thanksgiving party is. I used to be a very regular attendee until I got married and moved far away. But I didn’t move away because I chose to, and my proud, Republican, military family should understand that better than any family does.

I pray my uncle is able to recover. One of his greatest joys in life is playing the organ, and I know it will really be hard for him if he can’t play anymore. He also loves to build things and is amazing with his hands. I don’t know how serious the medical situation is, since I’ve only gotten limited information from the smattering of Facebook postings from friends of the family. Anyway, he was always one of my favorite people, and I guess I’m kind of hurt that I had to read about this on Facebook. I’m beginning to feel like the family I thought I had was just a sham. I’m glad I do, at least, have Bill.

A couple of years ago, my good friend Erin’s father died very suddenly. I haven’t seen Erin in person in about 25 years, but she thought enough about me to send me a private message on Facebook to let me know about what happened to her dad. Her parents were very involved in 4H as leaders, as I was also when I was a kid with a horse. I always got along great with her dad, and she explained that he’d always been particularly fond of me. She wanted me to get the news from her, rather than reading about it on Facebook or in the newspaper. I was really moved by her thoughtfulness and kindness. I think it’s sad that this old friend I haven’t seen in 25 years has more regard for my feelings than my own family has. But again… I’m not the one in crisis, so I’ll try to get over myself for now. I really hope everything will be okay.

Edited to add: Another cousin has told me the stroke happened on Friday night and my uncle is in the ICU. The CAT scan indicates no major damage, but he can’t move his right side or speak right now. He will supposedly be moved tomorrow.

Next on the agenda… a friend of mine shared this meme, which I found especially apropos.

We were just talking about this…

I’ve seen this happen over and over again with people who are recovering from abusive relationships. A person will finally get the courage to talk about being abused and someone else will doubt them, based on their own experiences with the person in question. I’m not saying that sometimes people don’t lie about being abused. What I am saying is that not every relationship is the same. The dynamics are often different between different personalities.

Also, the very definition of abuse is kind of subjective and fluid. Behavior that doesn’t bother one person may feel very abusive to another. For instance, I have mentioned more than once that I have a low tolerance for verbal abuse. I can’t tolerate being yelled at, particularly in my own home. Other people may be less sensitive to being yelled at, but more sensitive to physical altercations. Personally, I think yelling at people and hitting them is always abusive. Others may disagree.

My husband was abused by his ex wife for years. He kept silent about it, which gave her free rein to say and do whatever she wanted. It wasn’t until I came into the picture and acted like a “bitch”– basically by asserting my right to enjoy Christmas without being ordered to spend it with her at my in laws’ house– that got her to change her behavior toward Bill. Of course, being assertive and not allowing another person to control or abuse me doesn’t really make me a bitch. However, I have a feeling that’s how she sees it. I’m sure she sees Bill as “abusive” too, since he finally quit giving in to her whims and became more assertive.

Same thing with our former landlady, who I’m sure thinks she’s completely in the right to accuse me of things I didn’t do, yell at me in what was my home, and rip off our security deposit for unjustified reasons. She probably doesn’t realize that her behavior was abusive and has had some fairly damaging and lingering effects on Bill and me. I’m sure it never occurred to her that we felt like we were walking on eggshells, especially for the last year or so of our time in her house. Nothing we did was good enough, either. It didn’t matter that she got her money in full and early every month and we tried to comply with most of her demands as best we could. It doesn’t matter that we spent four years in her house, sparing her from having to look for other tenants, who might have even been less reliable or less to her liking than we were. I doubt it even occurred to her.

It’s true. I am a slob. I’m also very creative, even if you don’t think so.

I have a feeling that she had little to no regard for what I do with my time, not that how I spend my time is any of her business. I got the sense that she thinks I’m lazy, mainly because I don’t spend all my time cleaning, don’t have children, and don’t work outside the home. She probably doesn’t care much for my efforts at writing or making music, and sees my flabby body as the sign of someone who is undisciplined and unworthy of the most elementary modicum of respect. More than once, she claimed to be “too busy” to let us know when she was going to be coming over, because obviously I can’t be doing anything important or actually be busy myself. And certainly, because I’m “wasting my life” without a suitable career, children, or a devotion to housekeeping, I’m not worthy of a simple text or email alerting me to her desire to come over so I can be prepared.

It doesn’t matter if I’m sick, sleeping, showering, or simply not in the mood to be bothered. My time and right to basic privacy have no value, because I’m not worthy of that much consideration. But her time and “right” to extort money from us is absolute, and we’d better respect it. Because she also apparently thinks she has the right to speak or write to us in any tone she wishes, with no appreciation for our perspective. We should be grateful she even gave us the time of day.

These are just my basic impressions, based on her behavior and things she said to me over the four years I lived in her house. It’s possible that my impressions are wrong, but I really doubt it. I think the fact that she actually asked me point blank if I caused my husband’s divorce was a pretty good indicator of what she thinks of me. She was only slightly more respectful to Bill, probably because he was the one paying her. You see… I see her behaviors as absolutely abusive, and I have a perfect right to feel this way and speak up about it.

However, I know at least one other person claims to have had a very different experience with the ex landlady. She’s friends with her, and evidently can’t see why I’ve been so upset about the way she’s treated us. She thinks she has the right to try to silence me about my experiences. She makes erroneous assumptions about me, and even about my fiction writing, while she loudly objects about any assumptions I might make. She stalks my writing projects and feels perfectly free to try to censor me. It’s fine if I write about any subject, except for the “beloved” ex landlady. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that she could simply stop reading, consider that maybe we had different experiences, and have some basic respect for other people.

Now… I really don’t know what this other person’s actual experiences have been. I have no reason to doubt what she writes. I’m sure she was a more suitable and admirable person in the ex landlady’s eyes, since she has a job, children, and isn’t so obviously “lazy” about things. I’m sure she really is like another daughter to the ex landlady– the kind of daughter she’d be proud to have. I understand that.

It’s okay, really, because I never aspired to be anyone else’s long lost daughter other than my mother’s. And my mom sometimes liked other people’s daughters more than she liked me. I remember being humiliated because my mom took a liking to some girl in Camerata Singers who was a lot prettier, thinner, and more ladylike than I was. She fawned all over this girl, who spent the night at our house as our choir made its way on our spring tour, while she ignored me, her flesh and blood. The girl in the choir had perfect hair and makeup, a cute figure, and a solo. I’m sure my mom wished she could have been her mother instead of mine.

If the former tenant was reading this, I’d tell her that the snippet of a story she complained to me about was actually about that phenomenon. It was not a smear piece about any of the ex landlady’s children. I’ve never even met the ex landlady’s children, and didn’t even so much as ever know their names. And just like she didn’t like it when she claimed I made erroneous assumptions about her (when I was actually referring to all of the people who had lived in that house as tenants, and not her specifically), I sure didn’t like it when she made nasty implications about my character and my writing. You don’t like my writing– fine. Just don’t read it, and stop meddling in our business. You love the ex landlady? Great. Go with God. I think the ex landlady is abusive, and she needs to be held accountable for that. I’m tired of being quiet about other people’s asshole behavior and I refuse to keep doing it just to spare other people’s feelings.

Well… this turned out to be a lot more personal than I wanted it to be. And since I know people are watching, I’m going to have to password protect it. Thanks to the ex tenant, I can’t even say what I want in my own space anymore. Maybe I should get better at cleaning. Obviously, that is a more productive use of my time than writing is.

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