I wrote a “mushy” post yesterday. It was because I realized how much more I enjoy Christmas than I did when I was younger. Watching my husband put a duvet cover on a weighted blanket he bought for me gave me all kinds of warm, fuzzy feelings. I realized that I don’t care about things. I care about the one person who makes me really happy and loves me for who I am. And Christmas is fun and relaxing for us, because we’re compatible and satisfied with each other. It’s a beautiful thing. Last night, Bill read my post and cried.
I’ve written a lot of posts about Christmases past… ones with my family of origin, and one that directly involved Ex, who is the Grand Poobah of Holiday Misery. Last year, I wrote a post about this topic that I absolutely stand by today. The post was titled “I refuse to let anyone mess up my holidays, and it’s a good policy to have.” It was about realizing that we all get a vote. Christmas is for everyone who wants to celebrate it. It should be a time of peace, love, understanding, good will, and enjoying the good things in life. If you’re Christian, it is, above all, about honoring the birth Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of man.
The religious part of the holiday is not what I want to focus on today, although I know it’s important to many people. What I want to focus on is the stress that inevitably comes from all holidays, but especially THIS one. Christmas is, after all, the biggest holiday of the year. But when it comes down to it, it’s also just a day. It shouldn’t be a day for grand performances, and by that, I don’t mean actual performances involving singing or dancing. I mean people who do things to make a judgmental point, being sanctimonious, or trying to be someone they’re not.
This morning, just before breakfast, I read an AITA (am I the asshole) post on God’s page about a woman whose turn it was to host Christmas. She decided that she wanted her dinner to be “dry”– as in, no booze allowed. When I first saw the title of the post, I immediately had some sympathy for her position. It was, after all, her house. If she doesn’t want to serve alcohol in her house, that’s her prerogative. But then I read the actual post. I note that the Redditors labeled her the “asshole”.
It sounds like the OP unilaterally decided that there shouldn’t be any boozing in her house. It’s her right to decide that, of course, but her attitude toward her husband’s family is not very kind or charitable. She doesn’t make a polite or respectful request, nor does it sound like she told people a long time in advance about her rule. What would have happened if her sister-in-law hadn’t called to ask about what she should bring? It sounds like that was when she mentioned her “no booze” rule, not when she issued the invitations.
I would have more empathy for the OP’s position if she had stated outright that she preferred the dinner to be booze free, rather than allowing the rule to be spread on the family grapevine. And then, she reveals that she thinks people in her husband’s family are “childish” and need to “grow up”. Those are insulting remarks that aren’t very Christmassy at all.
Her sister-in-law decided to host her own Christmas dinner, which she is well within her rights to do. And the family has decided they would prefer that invitation to the OP’s, who refused to budge on her no booze rule, with no hope of compromise. And she assumes they are going to the sister-in-law’s house because they can’t stay sober for one day, not because she was disrespectful to them.
Sister-in-law even invited the OP and her husband to their house, so there wouldn’t be any booze in the OP’s home. But she’s butthurt about it and refusing to go… and she’s “making” her husband stay home and spend Christmas with her. As if she has the right to dictate where another adult spends their time… I wonder how she would like it if her husband told her she “couldn’t go” somewhere she wanted to go. Some people would call that abusive.
What if the OP had compromised and allowed beer and wine below a certain ABV? Maybe she could have allowed wine only during dinner, or operated a “cash bar” set up, with people paying for libations. The money raised could then be donated to an agreed upon charity, or put in a pot for the next family gathering. Or maybe she could have come up with some other compromise that didn’t involve shame and judgment. That might have cut down on the drunkenness and sloppy behavior, while still allowing adults to have some fun. If she really didn’t want any alcohol in her home, she could have stated it kindly and lovingly, instead of with a judgmental and insulting attitude. Even if drinking alcohol to excess is unhealthy and can lead to obnoxious behavior, offering to host a family dinner and self-righteously lecturing people about their habits on a holiday is very poor form. No wonder alternate plans were made.
And then there’s the “grand performance” intended to put someone in a good or miraculous light.
Against my better judgment, I took a look at Ex’s Twitter page last night. She made several posts directed at Oreo, Betty Crocker, Wilton Cakes, and Spangler Candy. She videoed her supposedly severely autistic son, whom she has said is “non-verbal”, and her youngest daughter. They were decorating cookies and making what appears to be a train made with Oreos, frosting, and candies. She’s presenting her son as “miraculous” somehow, as he reads aloud, reminding everyone again that he’s “non-verbal”. And yet, obviously he ISN’T really non-verbal. Non-verbal would mean he can’t or won’t talk. Obviously he does have the power of speech and uses it. She’s mentioned before times when her son was “trained” to say things (that was her word for it). It serves her when he seems worse off than he actually is, as it gets her sympathy. But she’d rather he not be worse off in reality, because that makes life harder for her… or her daughters, who are evidently the ones who look after him most of the time.
I didn’t watch the whole video, because hearing Ex’s voice was too upsetting for Bill. But she also taught her son a song and dance, which he gamely performed on the video. I was torn between feeling good for him that he was trying so hard and having some fun, and feeling disgust for Ex, because it’s obvious she’s hoping to go viral and, perhaps, score some money from big companies. I don’t think her videos will get that kind of traction, but she plainly has high hopes. It seems to me that maybe it would be better to turn off the camera and focus on her time with her family, rather than trying to pitch her son’s handiwork with sweets to corporations.
@BettyCrocker Autistic children are amazing, beautiful perfectionists!!! How do you like ***** sugar cookies?
@Oreo a gift for you from ****!!!
I could see making these kinds of posts for friends and family members, but she only tagged big companies, and it was kind of obvious that she hoped they’d think the display was cute and offer her some kind of sponsorship or endorsement deal. Once again, it looks like she’s making her offspring perform in the hopes of scoring some “easy” (for her) loot. I can see now why a couple of her kids have moved far away from her. Because I have a feeling that this kind of thing is a regular occurrence, especially at Christmas. There’s an image to project to strangers, but very little love for actual family members. I also never see her posting about her husband, who was so much “better” than Bill.
The funny thing is, I’d bet $100 that Bill had a much nicer holiday than they did… And he also got to share messages with his mom and his daughter yesterday. There were no performances or pretenses. It was just everyone being themselves and genuinely wishing each other well. Nobody got drunk or obnoxious or had a meltdown, either. And… everything I bought for Bill is paid for in full. I don’t know if he can say the same thing, but I do know that he can pay for everything if he needs to. Ex can’t say that. In fact, she was recently lamenting about how she had no money for Christmas… but she had lots of money for sweets, which she is now promoting on Twitter. Go figure.
Anyway… it’s not my business. I need to end this post, too. We have a lunch date. Hopefully, steroid mad Arran will stay out of trouble while we’re out… my first time out in a long while. If he stays out of trouble, maybe that will be our Christmas miracle. 😉
Last night, I was sitting on the bed, watching YouTube videos, and fretting about Arran, who has his first chemo appointment on Thursday. I got an email from my eldest sister. I haven’t heard from her in months; although in fairness, she also hasn’t heard from me. It was a message about Christmas. She wants to host it in her house, and has invited us to come to her home in North Carolina for it.
My sister is 13 years older than I am, so we’re not very close. Moreover, I haven’t celebrated Christmas with my family of origin since 2003. That Christmas, which was held at my parents’ former house, was a disaster. Bill and I ended up leaving after one night. The following year, Bill’s ex wife “invited” us to spend Christmas at Bill’s father’s house. Because of the previous year’s disastrous gathering with my own family, I wisely opted out of attending Ex’s holiday soiree. Although we did have Christmas dinner with my eldest sister in 2012, when Bill and I lived in North Carolina, it was not an overnight affair. Aside from spending Christmas in France a few years ago, Bill and I have done Christmas on our own. We both much prefer it that way.
This year, though, it would be difficult for us to go back to the States for the holidays. First off, Arran is starting chemo on Thursday, and that will entail needing weekly visits to the vet for nine weeks, then, if he survives, monthly visits. I don’t know how he’ll do on the chemo. It’s possible that it won’t work at all, and we’ll lose him very soon. Or, it may work beautifully, and we’ll have him for some time. Right now, my goal is to get him beyond Bill’s two TDY trips this month. I would love to see him make it to January, so he can celebrate ten years of being in our family. After that, any additional time would be golden. He’s an old guy, and he can’t live forever, especially with a lymphoma diagnosis. He is starting to get sicker, though, so I don’t know what will happen. Hopefully, we can get him some temporary relief, at the very least.
Also, since it’s almost mid October, my guess is that our usual boarding spot is already fully booked for the holidays. We would still have to board Noyzi, even if we lose Arran. And even if we don’t lose Arran, I don’t want to board him anymore. I think it’s too hard on him. We do have a trip to France planned next month, for our 20th wedding anniversary. But we plan to take the dogs with us for that trip. We have stayed in the apartment I booked several times before. The landlord is very dog friendly, and we know the area well. I think it will be okay to go, even if all we do is sit there and drink wine.
I find Christmas pretty stressful, anyway, especially when it’s spent with my family of origin. I am the youngest sister by eight years, and my family seems to find me burdensome and obnoxious. Although it might be hard for some people to believe, I don’t enjoy being around people who don’t enjoy being around me. I’m not one to put in an appearance, either, because at 50 years old, I’ve done it for too many years. From my earliest days, I’ve been told by my family members what a pain in the ass I am, and criticized for everything from my appearance to the way I laugh. Add in the fact that my sister’s husband seems to enjoy watching my family fight and is a Trump supporter. There’s a tendency for people to drink too much and be rude, and I just don’t think it would go well. I mean, who wants to be on a plane eight hours at the busiest time of the year for that?
I do love my family. I especially love my mom, even though she’s the source of a lot of trauma. She’s in her 80s, and I haven’t seen her since 2015. I’ve lost quite a few relatives since I was last “home”, back in 2014. I’m sorry that I’ll never see them on Earth again, but I don’t think any of them really wanted to see me again, anyway. And, to be frank, I don’t get the sense that my immediate family wants to see me that badly, either. Like I said… we’re not that close. From the earliest years of my life, I got the impression that I was a “mistake”, and that I inconvenience people. Christmas should be a time of peace, love, and joy. Frankly, being around certain family members doesn’t make it so for me. I’d rather sleep in my own bed, listen to my favorite music, and be with someone who loves me for who I am… cackling laugh and barrel butt be damned.
It was nice to be invited to the gathering. I do appreciate the invite. But I think I’ve sworn off family holiday gatherings. I’ve had enough dysfunction to last me the rest of my life. At least this year, I do have a valid excuse to skip the trip to the USA, though. I can’t just leave my dogs here. Especially Arran. But then, I also don’t know that he’ll still be with us at Christmas. I do know, however, that he’s been more of a loving presence in my life and a real family member to me than most of my relatives have been… especially my immediate ones. Sorry to make that statement, but it happens to be true. At least from my perspective.
This post is potentially triggering, as it involves discussion of child abuse and death. Proceed with caution.
Over the past few days, and much to my chagrin, I have fallen down the Dr. Phil rabbit hole. I am not proud of myself for this habit. When we last lived in the States, I would watch Dr. Phil on TV, feeling a little dirty as the entertainer with expired and surrendered counseling credentials brought on one trainwreck after another. And I’d sit there and watch, as the people told their stories, and Dr. Phil would lob witticisms at them and, at times, bully, berate, and humiliate them with his overbearing Texas style. A lot of people genuinely like Dr. Phil McGraw. I really don’t like him, but I will admit sometimes he brings interesting stories to his show… interesting in terms of personal drama. And it’s easier to watch that show than try to read a book, as my eyesight gets less acute.
Someone on YouTube uploaded a bunch of episodes from 2014, and I started binge watching them earlier this week. Some of the shows have been downright ridiculous. A few have been sad. One or two were funny, but in a tragic way… like the woman who was married to a very dramatic and controlling man with anxiety issues. I made Bill watch an episode that featured a guy who treated his wife like a child, right down to shaming and scolding her as if one would lecture a six year old. But we saw an episode yesterday that actually made Bill cry… (not that it’s hard to do that… he’s a very kind and sympathetic person, and this episode was sad on multiple levels)
This show, which I think might have been taped in late 2013, was the story about Matt, his ex wife Mindy, and to a lesser extent, his second wife, Heidi. They’re all members of the LDS church, which of course drew in my attention even more, since Bill is an ex Mormon. You might think that Mormonism isn’t relevant in this situation, and maybe it isn’t in the grand scheme of things. However, at the beginning of the program, Mindy talks about texting her bishop as Matt held her and their four young children hostage. Then they showed a couple of typically Mormon-esque picture perfect family photos that were classic “families can be forever together” propaganda. I’ve gotten to the point at which I suspect a family is LDS simply by how they look in photos. Most of the time, I turn out to be right. Some of my ex Mormon friends refer to this special knack as “Modar”.
This episode was dramatic and, frankly, very sad. Matt was a member of the Utah National Guard and had deployed to Iraq. He was also, at one time, a sniper in the Marines. It’s very possible he suffers from PTSD and possibly, a traumatic brain injury, and that was brought up on the show. Maybe that could explain the sheer craziness of his life that, unfortunately, was visited on his four children with Mindy, and at least one child with Heidi. Here’s a quick and dirty list of the things their family faced in 12 years of marriage, before Mindy divorced Matt while he was incarcerated:
Matt made his daughter lick the floor around the toilet to prove that she had cleaned it properly.
Their five year old son had gone through many surgeries due to kidney stones. One time, the boy was in so much pain, he told Matt he wanted to die. Matt handed the boy a knife and told him that if he wanted to die, he should just stab himself in the chest. Matt claimed he was trying to find out if the boy was “serious”, and assess “where he was mentally.” Then Matt told Dr. Phil that he would have stopped his son if the boy– five years old, mind you– had tried to harm himself.
Matt whipped his children with a belt.
Matt duct taped his son to a bench when he was two. At the time of the Dr. Phil taping, that boy was 15 years old and in foster care. Mindy says she put him in foster care because he assaulted her. Matt said he wanted to take the boy home after his treatment.
Matt took the family dog, and his young son, out to the desert, where he shot the dog 15 times, because he deemed her a “danger” to the family. The young son was forced to bury her.
One of the couple’s daughters died of osteosarcoma just three weeks before this episode was taped.
Matt remarried, and his second wife “hates” Mindy, because she thinks Mindy is a controlling and manipulative liar who “pushes Matt’s buttons”.
I guess they had to stop at just these incidents, since each episode only runs for about an hour. Obviously, the most dramatic incident, of quite a few dramatic situations that occurred within this family, was the one involving the SWAT team. On the morning of January 31, 2008, they had an argument, and somehow, Matt decided he needed to hold Mindy and their children hostage. According to Dr. Phil, there were fifty police officers involved in that situation, thirty of whom were SWAT team members. Fortunately, Mindy was able to text their bishop, who called the police. Otherwise, there might have been some fatalities that day.
This particular true crime incident is well documented in the press, and it’s pretty easy to find news articles about it, even though fourteen years have passed. According to Deseret News in 2008, Matt “was arrested after refusing to come out and talk with police officers for nearly four hours. He has since been charged with aggravated kidnapping, domestic violence in the presence of a child and making a terroristic threat.“
But the worst part of the story for both Bill and me, was the part about how he took the family dog to the desert and shot her in the head fifteen times, in front of his son, who was then forced to help bury the pieces of her that he could recover. I can’t abide animal cruelty, especially when it’s coupled with child abuse. According to Matt, the dog had escaped the yard and knocked over a child, then ran to a neighbor’s house where she attacked another dog. The story is kind of vague. I got the sense that Matt was just overcome with rage and wanted to kill something. So he took the defenseless dog and his son, claiming that his young son wanted to be a part of executing the family pet in an egregiously cruel and violent way. Personally, I think he should have gone to jail for doing that, but I prefer pets to most people.
Shockingly, in spite of the well-publicized violent crime perpetrated by Matt, he managed to remarry. His second wife, a woman named Heidi, also said that Matt had been violent in their home. However, at the time the show was aired, he hadn’t yet held her at gunpoint. She said he had destroyed pottery by throwing it at the fireplace.
Close to the end of the episode, the family shares part of the story about the daughter who died of cancer. Matt complained that Mindy would not allow him to see their daughter, who was hospitalized with cancer and immunocompromised. Matt complains that Mindy withheld visitation, and kept him from seeing their children. Personally, I can’t blame her for withholding visitation, given Matt’s violent nature, BUT… she also had four children with this man, and stayed with him for twelve years. And I get the sense that she enjoys being a victim and the drama that goes along with that. I can plainly see that that while Matt is obviously the worse parent in this scenario, Mindy is definitely no great shakes herself.
I got so invested in this story that I went looking for more information on the people who appeared on it. Sure enough, it didn’t take me long to find Matt’s ex wife. Much to my surprise, I discovered that Mindy was apparently later involved with yet another dangerous and violent man. I found a news article about how her ex boyfriend had burned down their home in 2019. At first, I wondered if maybe it wasn’t someone else who had the same name as hers, but the physical resemblance was right. And then I found Matt’s second wife on Facebook, and saw that she “liked” a Facebook page that was dedicated to Matt’s and Mindy’s daughter, who died of cancer in 2013. I did some digging on that page and discovered a couple of posts about the house fire. The GoFundMe that was set up to help Mindy and her family recover did not mention arson. I was thinking to myself… what in the hell? Was it not enough for her to be married to a violent man? She also got involved with another violent man who resorted to arson? Those poor kids!
I paged through the Facebook page for Mindy’s and Matt’s late daughter. I was a bit shocked to see that several times, Mindy had posted one particularly traumatic photo of her daughter being held down for a painful cancer treatment. The girl is in obvious distress, mouth open, eyes wide in fear, and there are several pairs of gloved hands holding her down. One person commented that she thought it was wrong to post that photo of the girl being traumatized like that. She wrote, “What on earth??? Who would think to take a picture…. not me that’s for sure.” Others wrote that Mindy was just trying to show everyone how terrible childhood cancer is. People shamed the woman who expressed shock at the photo and said it reminded her of taking pictures of child abuse.
I noticed that Mindy posted that horrifying photo of her daughter in distress several times, not just once, which makes me think that maybe the drama and the attention Mindy still gets by proxy is attractive to her. The more I looked at the page dedicated to the girl, the more I was reminded of Bill’s ex wife, who posts the same kinds of stuff. If you don’t know Ex, you might think she’s the mother of the year who is all about her kids. She’s constantly posting platitudes about what a caring person she is. In fact, Ex recently publicly posted the below photos on social media. But behind the scenes, the truth lies. In Ex’s case, it’s been affirmed by at least two of her adult children. She puts this stuff out there for strangers to see, obviously hoping to impress them and bask in the dramatic glory, while she alternately ignores and exploits her children, and other supposed loved ones in her life.
On the Dr. Phil episode, Dr. Phil says that Mindy’s and Matt’s eldest daughter wrote him a letter. In that letter, she wrote about the way her father treated her, and why she didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Below are a few screenshots from the letter the girl wrote:
At the end of Dr. Phil’s recitation of the excerpts of the daughter’s letter, Matt almost sounds like he’s going to cry, as he says he’s repeatedly apologized, but his daughter won’t accept his apologies. And there’s nothing more he can do; his therapist said that it was “all on his daughter”. I would agree with that.
Next, Dr. Phil talks to Heidi, who says she has a lot of animosity toward Mindy and she “hates” her. As I listen to Heidi, I can kind of empathize with her, on one level. She sounds a lot like I do, when I talk about Ex. However, the big difference is, my husband is NOT abusive or dangerous at all. He doesn’t even raise his voice, let alone resort to violence. I actually can’t blame Mindy for keeping their children from her ex husband. He is clearly a very violent and abusive man. On the other hand, I can also see why Heidi dislikes Mindy, because she does seem to be very egocentric, attention-seeking, and manipulative.
I don’t know if Heidi is still with Matt today, but I was really taken aback at around 29:00 into the video, during which she describes one of Matt’s violent outbursts toward her. She says he’s called her filthy names and threatened to beat the shit out of her if she called the police. He said he was not going to jail again unless he “deserved it”. At the time of that threat, she was holding their infant daughter. He took the baby from her, not because he was concerned for the baby’s welfare, but because he didn’t want her to take the baby from him. Heidi says she loves Matt, though, in spite of his obviously dangerous and violent nature.
Below are screenshots of Matt confronting Mindy about “stealing” his time with the children. You can see he’s on the verge of exploding. But Mindy looks dispassionate as she responds, “You stole my son’s childhood.” I would say that they both stole their children’s childhoods. She made a choice to stay with this man and have four children with him. Did this violent nature arise only at the end of their marriage? Maybe if he became violent only after going to Iraq, I could see it. I still definitely would have left after he killed the dog.
This story was quite the colossal trainwreck. I almost felt bad for watching it, because it was just so horrifying on so many levels. Yes, I know Dr. Phil brings people on his show that are trainwrecks, and he makes a living out of presenting cases of people who are in fucked up situations to be judged by the masses. It’s pretty terrible that this family’s drama was turned into entertainment… and I am slightly ashamed that I watched this episode, even though the drama was very compelling and, frankly, fascinating. But then, these folks agreed to go on the show, which they didn’t have to do. And the fact that they went on the show, apparently thinking that Dr. Phil would take a side, just shows that they’re all pretty delusional. I also found a recent Facebook post by Heidi that indicates she’s an anti-vaxxer who enjoys watching Tucker Carlson and Fox News.
There wasn’t any talk about Mormonism on this program, except for when Mindy says she contacted the bishop, who thankfully called the police when Matt was holding her and the kids hostage in their home. I do wonder, though, if people in the church noticed how completely crazy that couple was together. I doubt Mormonism helped them much, as bishops aren’t always qualified to counsel people in their wards, not that counseling would have helped this couple. I also notice that Mindy still uses her ex husband’s last name. I don’t know if they were endowed members of the church, but according to LDS beliefs, if they were “sealed” in the temple, she will be with him after they’re all dead. Comforting thought… NOT.
Dr. Phil ends this episode by telling the adults that the children did not “buy a ticket for this trainwreck” and they need to “declare peace.” I’m sure Dr. Phil knows that declaring peace is much easier said than done. It sounds to me like Matt does have a medical problem. It probably was brought on by neurological issues, perhaps due to his time in Iraq. But I also think his ex wife has some serious problems, and those problems existed even before the tragic death of their daughter. And while I can sympathize with Heidi, having been a second wife to a man with a dramatic, attention-seeking ex wife, I think our situations are very different. My husband is not violent at all, and thank God for that.
Maybe it’s wrong for me to write about this. I was a bit triggered, though, and I write when I’m triggered. I think people who go on reality TV or talk shows are kind of fair game, particularly when they augment their stuff by being in the news and posting public social media posts that are designed to get attention from the masses. Unfortunately, as we have learned from watching families like the Duggars go down in flames, going viral, seeking widespread attention, and being famous is a mixed bag. You can’t always control public perception. I think Mindy, like Ex, wants to portray herself in a certain way, but it’s pretty obvious to me that she’s playing a role. And while I might be able to excuse her for marrying one very violent and abusive man, the fact that she got involved with another violent person– one who apparently tried to burn down her house– and then she went on the news to complain about it– tells me that she enjoys being portrayed as a victim/saintly mother type. I would be a lot more impressed with her if she took some responsibility for herself and her children and focused on making sure they are safe, even though I’m sure her surviving kids are adults by now.
I guess today, it might be good if I went back to watching dog grooming videos.
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…
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.
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)
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 meannothing 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.
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.
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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