musings

My new address… there’s no HOA here.

It’s been two weeks since I changed blog addresses. I’ve had some time to reflect on the move. In many ways, moving my blog is kind of like moving from a former residence. Having been an Army wife, I’ve had the experience of moving many times over the past sixteen years. Every time we change addresses, there’s a price to be paid. Usually, we have to pay money, and we lose access to friends and familiarity. But with every move, we gain new experiences. The same can be said for this new blog.

I totally get that to some people, I’m like the crazy cat lady who is holed up in her house, shaking her rolling pin at people who walk on her lawn. Actually, I’m more of a crazy dog lady… and, if I’m honest, I’m not even much of a lady. I swear like a sailor, belch and fart like a truck driver, and drink like I’m Irish (which I apparently am, to some extent). But even though I’m not much of a lady, I like to have dominion over my “home”. My blog is like my home. I don’t invite troublemakers over for pie and punch in my physical home, so why would I invite them over on my blog? When I made my blog searchable, it was like opening the door to the world. Most people are nice and understanding, but some people don’t get it. Life is short, and I don’t want to have the clueless folks over for tea.

This morning, as Bill and I were having coffee and fruit, I reflected on the circumstances that caused me to change my blog. Had my old blog survived until this month, it would have turned nine years old. It saw me through our time in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Jettingen, Germany. It mostly served me well. I had many friendly visitors, and I had some not so friendly visitors. But the not so friendly visitors mostly moved on after a couple of random “eggings” and “TP’ings” in the comments section. I mostly felt safe enough there.

A couple of weeks ago, it felt a bit like my former “home” was being invaded. One of people who lived in the house we used to live in was surveilling me in my blog home. And, much like a pesky homeowner’s association officer, she kept “ringing the doorbell”, complaining about the “noise” and the loud colors. I have mentioned before that I don’t like to be fucked with. So, much like I would if I were living in a home where people were harassing me and I had poor security, I decided I wanted to move. It’s not so easy to move actual homes, but it’s somewhat easier to move blog homes. The only bad thing is that I had to leave all my “furniture” behind.

For some reason, when I tried to move my content from the old blog to this blog, it didn’t work. I tried a few times to upload my old posts, but WordPress wasn’t having it. I eventually decided that maybe it was for the best. Some of the “furniture” in my old blog home no longer goes with the new decor. For instance, at my old “home” there is post after post about how angry I was with my stepdaughters and their mother. Those pieces were useful at one time, but they’re not anymore. They would be out of place on this blog. Much like the yucky 70s bedroom furniture we donated to a battered women’s shelter in Texas, that stuff no longer served a purpose and had become downright tacky. So I got rid of it.

On the other hand, my old address has a lot of posts I’m very proud of. Some of the posts make me proud because they were popular and funny. Some, I’m proud of because I think they’re well-written and even somewhat profound, even if no one else agrees with me. I’ve written some posts that I think are legitimately helpful and interesting, too. I would have liked to have taken them with me to my new “home”. Unfortunately, they were too heavy to move.

It’s a bit lonely at the new address. I don’t have many people reading my posts here, although a few people did follow from my old blog. I haven’t made this blog searchable on Google yet. I don’t know if I ever will. It took me years to do it with the old blog. I remember when I finally decided to allow my old blog to be searchable, I got a lot more attention, and that led to poisonous comments from people who don’t know or understand me or my situation.

The blog HOA lady has probably read my posts about Bill’s ex wife and his kids. She probably assumes that I was the “problem” in that situation. Many people like to project their problems, particularly on “stepmothers”. For all I know, HOA lady was a stepdaughter who hated her stepmom. Or maybe she is one of those people who thinks there’s always enough blame to go around. For the record, I happen to agree with that sentiment most of the time. You’d have to know my husband, though, to understand why that doesn’t really apply in his case or mine.

Nothing I ever wrote in my blog actually affected the ex or her kids, unless she read the posts and had “hurt feelings”. I never contacted them, harassed them, messed with their employment or other relationships, or interfered with them in any way. I simply wrote down my feelings and made them visible to the public. I did that because I know there are other people like me, in similar or much worse situations. I wanted them to know they aren’t alone.

I have written before that I don’t go looking for things people might have written about me. No good can come from it. It will only lead to hurt feelings and anger. According to stepdaughter, ex did find my blog and mentioned it to her. Apparently, stepdaughter wisely steered clear. She and Bill are now talking regularly. She even sent him a picture of her latest sonogram, as well as a video of her gender reveal party for her latest baby. Unfortunately, the video wouldn’t run, so we don’t know yet if she’s having another boy or a girl. Either way, I have changed my mind about Bill’s younger daughter. In the face of evidence, I’m still capable of doing that. So how crazy am I, really?

The blog HOA lady also knows my former landlady. Evidently, they’ve had a fantastic relationship. I’m happy for them, although I have lingering doubts that blog HOA lady was entirely truthful regarding the circumstances of her choice to move. But maybe she was… I really don’t know, and it doesn’t matter anyway. What I do know is that we didn’t have the same experience with the ex landlady, for whatever reason. It may have simply been a case of us not meshing, which happens to the best of people. Or maybe blog HOA lady had a very different experience than everyone else who has lived in that house. There’s no way to tell.

The point is, again, I was voicing my thoughts about that in my “home”– on my own blog. I did not name the landlady, nor did I do anything to harass her. I did not write about her in other places where her reputation might have been affected. I simply vented. For that, I got chastising comments, along with preventive chastising comments for things I hadn’t even done yet. Blog HOA lady assumed she knew what I was going to do and tried to stop me before I started. Or, at least that’s how it seems to me. Was she really expecting me to allow her to dictate what I do in my “home”? Would she stand for that if she were in my shoes?

Maybe she anticipated that I would move my blog. My guess is that this was a surprise to her, though. Maybe she’s glad I moved it, since she was compelled to keep coming around to write up complaints. Or maybe she’s sorry I didn’t stick around so she could keep spying. The lovely thing about my new address is that this “house” has better security. I can simply make individual posts available to invited readers rather than shutting down the whole blog whenever problems arise. I can speak my piece in relative privacy among people who get it, rather than open up the house to everyone and allowing them all to chime in.

In a lot of ways, this move reminds me of when I started my first blog. For many months, no one read it. I never got comments. I don’t even think I got any spam. I was in what amounted to blogging wasteland, out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but wild animals and tumbleweeds to keep me company. It was kind of lonely and, in some ways, it felt kind of futile. Why write something no one will read? Well… I’ve been doing that all my life. I got my first diary when I was seven years old. It was lockable and lavender and had a picture of a Catholic priest on it with the word “Confessions” over his head. I think that’s pretty funny, since I’m not Catholic and didn’t even get the context of that until the diary was worn with age.

I didn’t write regularly in my diary until I was about seventeen, but I still had it and occasionally wrote in it. No one read it, but I still have it in storage somewhere. It’s got value because it offers a glimpse of me at a different time. I lost the key to it many years ago, so it hasn’t been locked since I was a child. When I was sixteen, I bought a new diary that had a combination lock. I wrote in it every day, although that diary lacks the charm of my first one. It’s teal, and hopelessly 90s looking.

I’m sure blog HOA lady thinks I’m a bit crazy. She might think I’m mean-spirited and cruel because of things I write. Maybe I am… although I think it’s better to write those thoughts than act on them. All I’ve done offline, so far, is support my husband in his bid to get our security deposit back. But yes, I’ve written about how aggravating I’ve found both our former landlady and my husband’s ex wife. Yes, sometimes I sound bitter, petty, and “mean”. Is it worse to write down these thoughts and feelings, or simply act on them? I mean, I would like to find Bill’s ex wife and knock the hell out of her for the awful things she’s done, but she’s not worth getting arrested for. And that truly would be a “crazy”, destructive, and ultimately stupid thing to do.

Likewise, it might be fun to publicly smear the ex landlady, as angry as I was at her… (my temper has cooled in the past week, since Bill sent his letter) But I have no desire to be sued for defamation of character or have to deal with the potential legal consequences of losing control and going off half-cocked. So I write about her instead… I even tried to put a story in fiction, but blog HOA lady felt the need to intervene. She was happy to silently read all the other stuff I wrote about people, but not the ex landlady, whom she apparently holds dear. It evidently didn’t occur to her that she could simply stop visiting my “house”. Instead, she tried to tell me what to do in my house, and that is not acceptable.

I don’t want to live in a house where other people control what I do. If I want to paint the walls purple or magenta, I think that’s my right, especially if I own the place. I “own the place” on this blog, so I can do what I want. I will not allow blog HOA ladies to come over for tea and complain about my noise or loud colors. My new home is in blogging wasteland again, although I did tell a few friends where I’m “living”. Maybe someday, this blog will feel more like it’s in a suburb, although I hate suburbs. I don’t know. I don’t do this for money or fame. I do it to stay sane. I spend a lot of time alone, and writing helps me feel connected. And most people offline would rather not hear me spew… so I write it, now in a place where there’s no “homeowner’s association” for my blog. For now, anyway.

I hope this makes sense. It’s fun to write in metaphors.

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Ex

Insurance… not a four letter word.

So, when last I wrote about our landlady’s shenanigans, I explained that she sent us extra bills for stuff she paid for, in order to make a case for how much she’s spent on fixing up her house. I am sure she meant to make us sympathetic to her plight, but all it did was really piss me off. I found it a very bold and manipulative move. I am not one to tolerate emotional abuse or blatant manipulation from anyone, especially hostile, passive aggressive landladies.

Anyway, Bill called Stuttgart’s housing office, who referred him to a mediator. The mediator wasn’t in, so he called our legal insurance company. He spoke to a very nice English speaking representative who told him the following:

She confirmed that the landlady cannot keep the money for the plumbing bills because the statute of limitations ended in December 2018. As for the rest, we can ask for almost all of it back. She recommended we let her have the money for the trash (I’m okay with that).

Way ahead. I will send the landlady a letter asking for the Kaution back in May (she can keep it for six months). If she refuses, then I can call the insurance company back and they will set us up with a lawyer here in Wiesbaden who will send her a formal letter in German. 

Bill

I would not want to be with the landlady when she gets Bill’s letter. I suspect she’s going to shit a brick. I doubt she’ll surrender the money easily. We may very well have to involve a real lawyer, who will write her a letter and potentially take her to court. I hope it doesn’t go that far, but at this point, it doesn’t look like her bullshit is going to stand.

Frankly, even if she does surrender the money without a fight, I want her to be reported to the housing office. If she tries this with people who lived in her house for four years and are still in Germany, imagine what she’ll do to people who aren’t there that long, don’t know about insurance or the tenant’s union, and have to leave Germany. She won’t hesitate to screw them over, especially if she doesn’t like them.

I really do want to move on with my life, but it’s gratifying to know that we don’t have to stand for this. And as yucky as this situation is, it does make me glad we’re in Germany, where people can get affordable legal insurance. In America, this might be a bigger and more expensive pain in the ass to settle.

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