Bill, divorce, Ex, LDS

Lessons never taught– or, how to camp like a champ.

Morning, y’all. I hope all of you had a nice weekend. I know not everyone celebrates Easter, but if you did celebrate “resurrection day”, I hope it was a pleasant experience. Bill and I had a nice quiet day at home. I did some writing, of course, and afterwards, picked up my guitar and played “The Old Rugged Cross” with surprising ease. I was inspired by Rhonda Vincent’s beautiful live version, which is easily found on YouTube at this writing. Although I don’t play the song perfectly, I do play it reasonably well, especially for someone who has learned everything from Fender Play at this point. I might be a fairly decent player by now if I had an in-person guitar teacher. Maybe someday, I’ll get around to investing in one. For now, though, I am really glad I used the pandemic as an excuse to expand my musician skills/cred. I hope to eventually get good enough that someone besides Bill will want to hear me play.

After I played my guitar, I tried and failed to finish my custom made puzzle by Collage.com. My mother-in-law gave me a puzzle by them for Christmas. She found a photo I took in Slovenia and had it made into a one-of-a-kind jigsaw puzzle. I was so impressed by it that I ordered another one of a photo I took in Croatia. Unfortunately, I was not finished with the Slovenia puzzle when I made that decision, and didn’t realize that the quality of the puzzle wasn’t quite 100 percent. So, the Slovenia puzzle had five pieces that didn’t fit properly. I must have made a mistake, but obviously, there were pieces in the puzzle that were very close and fit convincingly. I had an even worse problem with the Croatia puzzle. Now, it could turn out that I put the puzzle together again someday, and somehow get the puzzle right. But I won’t possibly be doing that for some time, since I have several to do that I haven’t done yet.

Bill cooked baby back pork ribs on the grill that were delicious. We enjoyed some adult beverages and listened to music. We did some talking about current events, some of which have been pretty sad and dramatic, if you read yesterday’s post. Bill and I both feel kind of cut off from our families, and yet we do talk a lot about how completely dysfunctional some of our experiences have been. In fact, last night, we were talking about a post the actor Wil Wheaton shared by a Facebook page called The Holistic Psychologist, that we both could relate to with ease. Bill probably related more than I did.

Wil Wheaton, as many people know, has said that his parents were abusive to him. He describes them as “emotionally immature”. I’m sure Wil Wheaton’s observations are perfectly accurate from his perspective. I liked the link he shared, and commented that maybe it would be even more useful for younger daughter. There were many examples of “emotionally immature” parents included, and descriptions of how a child who was raised by such a parent might respond by their behaviors as an adult. Wheaton also shared another link by The Holistic Psychologist that might also be useful to anyone who has grown up with parents who never quite matured properly– at least in the emotional sense.

This morning, Bill got a video message from his daughter. She looked pretty, wearing pearls… like maybe she had come from church. She was talking about things she did on Easter and for her kids on Easter. Younger daughter is about seven months pregnant right now, so she’s pretty tired. She yawned a lot as she talked about her celebration, which somehow segued into talking about her experiences as an older teen.

Younger daughter says she doesn’t like to camp. She doesn’t find it appealing to pack up stuff, go out to the country, unpack, and sleep in a tent. As someone who worked for two summers at a Presbyterian church camp, I can understand why camping might not be so appealing. I lived in a platform tent for both summers, as I was the cook, and didn’t have camp programs to lead. It was rustic living for sure, although there were aspects of that experience that I really loved. For one thing, the camp where I worked was in an absolutely stunning area of Virginia. I would love to own property in that place– it was so tiny, unspoiled, and just pristine… We had so much fun there! Some of the fun included staff training, which included a short campout/canoeing experience– one or two nights in a tent, if I recall correctly. The first summer, we canoed on the Shenandoah River. The second summer, we canoed on the Potomac. I remember at another time, outside of our camp sessions, some of us got together and canoed down the Rappahannock River, but that was just a day trip.

I do remember learning how to pitch tents, cook food over a fire, and enjoy nature. But, to be honest, as fun as those experiences were– and as amazing as it was to be PAID to do that– I can admit that camping isn’t for everyone. It’s not always comfortable to sleep under the stars, even though it’s something that people ought to try. Yesterday, I even read about 8th grade kids in Alaska who camp out as part of their science class. It’s a learning project, yes, but it’s also taught because Alaskan kids, more than other American kids, may really have an actual need to use survival skills. But even though I think youngsters should learn outdoor skills, I know that not everyone wants to camp.

Younger daughter says that she went camping as part of her LDS church indoctrination. I wasn’t surprised to hear that. I know, for instance, that part of the LDS church experience for young people includes going to camp. From what I’ve read, those experiences are very “churchy” and religious, and they include a lot of emotional bonding around a campfire, testimony bearing, singing church songs, and discussing passages from the Book of Mormon. I don’t know how skilled the people leading younger daughter’s camping experiences were, but from what I’ve read on RfM, the people who lead the camp experiences in the LDS church aren’t necessarily super well-schooled on camping outdoors. In fact, from what some ex members have said, the camp experience is more about creating meaningful church experiences, in remote places where outside influences are few, than teaching youngsters the joys of camping.

Likewise, I’ve heard and read that a lot of the Boy Scout troops affiliated with the LDS church are not led by people who are very skilled outdoors. I know that wouldn’t apply to every church affiliated Scout troop, but apparently, it did apply to more than a couple. A lot of former members have shared horror stories about their times camping with the LDS church. Of course, since the Scouts are now letting girls in, I think the church is less invested in encouraging boys to be Boy Scouts.

Anyway, younger daughter says that her experiences at LDS Girls Camp led her to realize that she doesn’t enjoy camping. If her experiences were like what I’ve read on RfM, I can understand why camping doesn’t appeal. But what’s really sad is that her perfectly good father, who was not allowed any access to his daughters when they were growing up, knows a whole lot about camping and how to make it enjoyable. Bill is a retired Soldier, and he’s spent a lot of time in the field. He could have taught his daughters how to camp effectively. Maybe, if they had been allowed to go camping with Bill, those girls would have ended up loving camping. Or maybe younger daughter might not have liked camping, even if Bill had taught her how to do it properly and used good equipment. One of younger daughter’s complaints, for instance, was that she had to sleep in a leaky tent and didn’t get any rest. I’m not surprised, as people on RfM have written that the tents used at the camps were basically Army surplus variety– circa the Vietnam era. But she would have had a bonding experience that she might not have forgotten. I had a couple of camping experiences with my dad (in a pop top VW van, rather than a tent)… but then, my dad wasn’t as good of a father as Bill is.

I don’t know if Bill would have taken his girls camping if he’d been allowed to raise them. But there would have been the opportunity to camp. Maybe, if they came back after girls’ camp complaining about being outdoors, Bill could have showed them a better way. He was denied that opportunity, though, because his ex wife is a selfish person who is more interested in punishing people than doing the right thing by her children. And so, Bill and younger daughter have a lot of years to make up for. I’m glad they are, at least, getting that time now. As we’ve learned recently, tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone. Ex meant for Bill to NEVER see or speak to his children again, all because– over Easter in 2000– Bill didn’t grovel enough. Bill didn’t succumb to her demands that he humiliate himself to an LDS bishop and confess to hating women… which he certainly doesn’t, and never did. Worst of all, in her mind, was that instead of refusing to divorce his abusive ex wife, who used his parents’ home to, once again, emotionally abuse and humiliate Bill, Bill decided to accept Ex’s proposal to split up. She very clearly did not expect Bill to say “yes” when she proposed a divorce; it injured her deeply that he agreed. She had expected him to fight for her, and the fact that he didn’t want to fight anymore deeply disappointed her. She was so aggrieved that she decided to try to destroy Bill’s relationship with his own children.

Now, we’re seeing the result of that decision, and Bill’s choice not to insist on having contact with his kids. In retrospect, he probably should have involved the court system and law enforcement. Or, better yet, he never should have gotten involved with her in the first place. Hindsight is 20/20, I know.

It’s hard for me to understand how a parent can be so hateful, selfish, and misguided that they would deny their children’s access to another loving parent. I mean, yes, if a parent is severely abusive and harmful, it makes sense to limit contact. Bill is not an abusive person. He’s a very kind and loving person, who simply couldn’t tolerate his ex wife’s abuse anymore. Now that younger daughter is an adult, we’re finding out that he was not the only one who could no longer take her shit. It sounds like she simply reached saturation. I relate to that. I am pretty saturated by abusive people, too. I can’t tolerate them like I used to.

As I was listening to younger daughter, living in Utah, and not long from adding her third child to her family, I felt sad that after her parents’ divorce, she never had a chance to go camping with Bill… or eat at a fancy restaurant… or visit a museum. And now, thanks to the way our lives have gone, she may never have that chance. On the other hand, at least they can exchange videos and talk on Skype. And now that the world has reopened, maybe Bill will go back to Las Vegas for TDY and take another side trip to Utah, to see his daughter and her family. Ex had wanted to deny Bill that. Thank God they’re no longer giving her that power to divide and drive wedges.

Every time I think I’ve evolved beyond the mess that is Ex, and the massive damage she’s wrought, I see evidence of more damage that was done. But again, I am grateful that she wasn’t able to permanently destroy Bill’s relationship with his younger child. There remains hope that maybe someday, the older one will wise up and reach out. Even if she doesn’t, though, Bill never thought he’d have what he has with younger daughter. So we can be grateful for that… and the fact that thanks to what happened on Easter 2000, Bill can still enjoy life.

However, I doubt he’ll convince me to go camping. 😉

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Duggars

Another Duggar has wed… Make way for Jed and Katey!

But this time, it seems like it was done on the down low. Jedidiah Duggar, who was being affectionately called “Twin Bed Jed” last year, as he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Arkansas State House of Representatives, has married the former Katey Nakatsu. Their wedding was an outdoor affair that took place in Arkansas, with scores of people in attendance. Jed’s twin brother, Jeremiah, was his best man. Katey’s sister, Lauren, served as maid of honor.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that this pair got married the day before Easter. Maybe it’s because Jed’s ready to “give rise” to a sex life. Or maybe he’d like his political aspirations to be “reborn”. He might be taken more seriously in the political arena if he has a home and a family, right? Especially if his wife is beautiful, which Katey certainly is.

Pickles, who runs the Duggar Family News page and group on Facebook, says that the vows the pair exchanged were traditional and full of what she calls “misogynistic” and “submissive” crap. I am not surprised, and I’m sure it won’t be long before they start having babies. Below is a screenshot:

As my college friend, Chris, would say… “R” (R stands for ROTTEN)

I don’t know much about Katey, except that she’s originally from Arizona, and her family recently moved to Arkansas, much like Lauren Swanson’s family did before Lauren married Josiah Duggar. I did read that Katey’s dad is fond of the letter “K”… or so it appears, as his name is Korey; his first wife’s name is Kim (she’s Katey’s mom); and his second wife’s name is Kerry. Also, Katey apparently has a half-brother who is gay and has his own hair salon in Los Angeles. If that’s true, I think it’s cool. The Duggars need more diversity in their clan.

I also read that Boob gifted Jed a house. It’s a 2000 square foot home located just four miles from the Duggar compound and it has three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. I suppose that’s plenty of room for the Jed Duggar family to start growing. It’s bigger than the Seewald abode, which used to belong to Josh and Anna Duggar. Jessa and Ben Seewald have been in that house for several years now. They have three kids– two boys and a girl– and another baby on the way. But their house only has two bedrooms. I think Jessa’s husband, Ben, is trying to become a pastor. Well, it’s “past time” for the pastor to get bigger digs for his growing brood. But that’s just my social worker side coming out to play.

Jed’s wedding comes a month after his younger brother, 18 year old Justin, married the former Claire Spivey. I quit watching Counting On a few years ago, because it had just gotten too boring for me. However, I have noticed that the weddings aren’t getting as much pomp and circumstance anymore. Maybe TLC has finally decided to axe this show… or they’ve just relegated the Duggars to Discovery+, which I think is a pay per view service. I don’t know… I’m so far out of the loop over here in Germany.

I wouldn’t ordinarily write about this topic, but I can’t think of anything else to write about today that wouldn’t be snarky, petty, or bitchy. And since it’s Easter, I figure it’s better to write about a religious event. I suspect the latest Duggar wedding was held outside because of COVID-19, but I’m sure it was otherwise like any other Duggar event.

On another note… have you noticed how popular the name “Lauren” is these days? Or maybe it was popular twenty or thirty years ago. It seems like there are so many Laurens out there now… and Kaylas, too. I even have a cousin named Kayla. It’s like the name “Jennifer” in my era. I know personally about “Jennifer”, because that’s the name my mom gave me. I’ve always hated it, which is why I go by “Jenny”. I only like that name a little bit more, mainly because I’m more of a “Jenny” personality wise. Jennifer is too formal for the likes of me.

Anyway, the Duggar family has a lot of ties to Laurens. There’s Lauren Swanson Duggar, who is Josiah’s wife, Lauren Caldwell, who is Kendra Caldwell Duggar’s sister, Jessa Seewald’s middle name is “Lauren”, and now we have Katey Nakatsu Duggar’s sister, Lauren. Those are just off the top of my head. There are probably more Laurens in the mix that I’ve either overlooked or haven’t yet discovered, not that I’d take the time.

I have developed an unfortunate aversion to the name “Lauren”, much like I’ve developed an aversion to the name “Sabrina”. Sabrina is the name of my husband’s ex wife, who is a skank of the first order… (sorry, seems a little petty bitchiness has slipped in, anyway). Actually, calling her a skank is being quite nice, especially after what we’ve recently found out about her. But I digress…

I know some people think I’m being awful when I “trash” Sabrina. I’m sure it seems that way to anyone who doesn’t know our story. But trust me… if you only knew the backstory and the illegal and immoral shit she’s done, you’d know I’m being exceedingly kind when I refer to her as a “skank”. She really should be in prison. That’s neither an exaggeration, nor a joke. And Easter is a special day for Bill, because it was on Easter that she demanded a divorce while staying at Bill’s dad’s house, but didn’t actually mean to get a divorce. Happily, Bill took her up on it, and here we are, 21 years later. 😀 We’re living the good life!

Well, I truly hope Jed and his new bride are very happy together, and they have many wonderful years of wedded bliss. I pray that they don’t let Boob intrude too much in their personal business. And I hope that Katey’s first roll in the sack wasn’t too painful or messy. Sorry… there’s that petty bitchiness rearing its ugly head. Must be the onset of menopause working its devilish magic again. 😉

Happy Easter, everybody. And just to show that I’m not a total creep, here’s a video I made yesterday, starring Noyzi the wonder pup from Kosovo!

I love Beth Nielsen Chapman’s songs.

There’s a lot I’d like to rant and rave about… hence the recent protected post. I wish I could make it public, but a certain “Lauren” in my life has reminded me that there are a lot of literal creeps in the world who don’t want to try to understand. Anyone who’s curious and not a creep can always request the password.

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musings

An unusual Easter…

Today is Easter Sunday, which is a day many people typically spend in church. Or, at least they spend an hour or two in church, celebrating Christ’s rise from the grave. This year, we have a global pandemic going on, and people are being asked not to congregate. Many wise people are following this advice and staying home. Some people are worshipping remotely, using the power of the Internet to connect with religion. Some are having church at home with family members. And then there are people like me, who aren’t particularly religious and won’t spend much time thinking about Christ today.

Easter has become kind of a special holiday for Bill and me, mainly because it was Easter 2000 when he and his ex wife drove to a notary public in Tennessee and signed their divorce papers, which were later filed in Arkansas. Ex hadn’t actually meant to get divorced. She’d stupidly issued an ultimatum– as Captain Lee on Below Deck would say, “her mouth wrote a check that her ass couldn’t cash”. But rather than admit that she’d done something really stupid… which actually wasn’t all that stupid in the grand scheme of things… she stubbornly allowed Bill to take her by the hand, lead her to the car, and drive to the older couple’s house, where they began their divorce proceedings.

I’ve always thought of that moment as the day Bill’s life was resurrected. Things only got better for him once he and his ex wife split up. Sure, he went through some hard times, but at least he was with someone trustworthy… himself. And he had already met me online when this was going on, so a year later, we were able to meet in person. And now look at us. We don’t mind the social isolation, because we enjoy each other’s company immensely. We still have a good time talking, listening to music, eating, drinking, watching TV, and laughing at each other’s jokes.

A lot of people are not content to stay home today. I’ve read about it in the news. Some stubborn folks– much like delusional ex– have decided they’re going to going to go to church. I read one account of a pastor who expects 2000 people filling his pews today. Reverend Tony Spell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana is conducting business as usual at his Apostolic Life Tabernacle Church, despite the governor’s stay-at-home order. He says “Satan and a virus won’t stop us.” Spell adds, “Like any zealot or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend. True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear.” I think the real reason these folks want to have such huge Easter services has to do with money. As one astute friend cynically pointed out, Easter is like the church’s “black Friday”. This is a time of year when people make donations. So what if some of them get sick and die?

Up in Idaho, Ammon Bundy, a rancher who made news in Oregon by leading an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge, is up to his old tricks. Fed up with the government telling him what to do, he’s now leading a “liberty rebellion”, calling upon others to ignore Governor Brad Little’s orders to stay at home. Bundy says that a group in the Boise area was looking for a venue to host an Easter service today with a potential crowd of 1,000 people. He said a man in Twin Falls plans to host communion in a park. Bundy himself holds regular meetings with scores of people to decide how to fight back against what he considers government overreach.

Meanwhile, last night I read about some very sorry people who spent time at Florida’s beaches last month. They were dancing, drinking, bonging beer, getting some sun, passing out hand sanitizer, and now a lot of them are sick with COVID-19. As of last night, there were 38 people who from one group who had gotten the virus and a couple of them have died. And again, as of last night, Florida itself has over 17,000 COVID-19 cases, and of those about 400 people have died. It’s true that most people who get the virus aren’t going to die from it. They might not even get very sick. But those who are at a higher risk will no doubt suffer more, and some will wind up on respirators in intensive care units, where the chances of leaving without a body bag are very slim. I almost wonder if some people, when faced with the prospect of being on a respirator, won’t just take matters into their own hands and avoid the huge hospital bills.

I can’t really blame those folks in Florida, though. I remember what it was like to be young and relatively poor. When I was in my 20s, I had no money for trips to Florida. I never took a “fun” spring break trip in high school or college. I think if I had spent money on a long awaited trip to Florida and a virus came along, I might be tempted to risk it. People in their 20s often think they’re invincible anyway. I can see why so many people thought this virus wasn’t a big deal. They live in the United States, and a month ago, it seemed like the risk was just in far away places like Italy and China. It didn’t seem like a tsunami of respiratory disease was on its way. Spring was coming; deposits were paid; people wanted to party. Some of them are now paying the price.

I do hope that things get back to somewhat normal soon. I would hate to spend the rest of my life living this way, even though Bill and I get along so well. I do think this pandemic could change a lot of things in the future. Some people will come out on top. Some will make the ultimate sacrifice. I’m reminded of an old George Carlin quote from about 20 years ago, when he made his album, Jammin in New York. He was taking on all of those people who think they can control the Earth, and trying to “save” everything. In his routine, Carlin rightly points out that humans can’t control nature. And trying to control nature is what gets us into trouble. Carlin says the Earth has been here for billions of years and has been through a lot worse than human beings. He compared human beings to a bad case of fleas. The Earth will shake us off. The planet isn’t going anywhere… we are. Shit… Carlin even mentions viruses, and how difficult they are to control or eradicate. Yeah… he was way ahead of his time. Wonder what he’d think of the coronavirus.

Maybe all this social isolation really is pointless. But this isn’t about preventing people from being exposed to COVID-19. It’s more about making it so that not so many people are sick at the same time. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to church today. Luckily, I wouldn’t be going anyway.

Maybe he was right.

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