controversies, lessons learned, musings

Judging a “lemon” by its rind…

I tried to stay pretty busy yesterday, and I mostly succeeded. I got off to a somewhat late start, as I woke up after 6:00 AM, which isn’t so common for me anymore. Then I made coffee, fed and cleaned up after Noyzi, and started a load of laundry. I did a longer cycle so I could focus more on yesterday’s rambling post that wasn’t particularly tight. While I’ll admit it was a stream of consciousness type post, it did turn out interesting, at least for me. As I read it, I had all of these memories of my younger days, when it seemed like I had forever before I would be considered “older”…

I actually needed some help getting started writing yesterday. There’s a lot I could write about, but I don’t feel knowledgeable enough at this point. And it’s not really what’s on my mind, anyway… I mentioned yesterday that I went down “Memory Lane”, starting with reading old posts about our move to Wiesbaden. I’ve written about that a lot, but I don’t know if I’ve conveyed just how totally difficult that move was to make. It seems like it was just a bad landlady/tenant situation, but it was really so much more than that.

That situation with our former landlady really drove home to me how easy it is to fall into true mind fuckery when you’re dealing with an abusive person. They can make you feel like you’re worthless, as if everything is your fault… or as if you don’t deserve better. It’s hard to break out of that mindset once you enter it. It’s so hard when you trust someone and they betray you, or they turn out to be someone totally different from the person they seemed to be.

Granted, in ex landlady’s case, I did have a subtle warning. There was something about her demeanor that tipped me off at our first meeting. Under normal circumstances, I might not have been so eager to rent her house. Actually, I wasn’t that eager to move into the house, as I was to finally be settled. The summer of 2014 was a very difficult one for us… from Bill’s Army retirement, to my father’s somewhat sudden death, to the very rushed international move to Germany after we found nothing viable in Texas… We were vulnerable.

In August 2014, we still had sharp memories of September 2007, when we spent six weeks in a grubby German Gasthaus in Vaihingen, where there was visible mold on the bathroom ceiling and the place reeked of stale cigarettes. Today, I would have insisted that we move to a better hotel, but we had much less money and experience in 2007, and Bill was fresh from the war zone in Iraq (which he spent with a narcissistic boss). Besides, that particular hotel was in walking distance of where Bill was working, and it was very dog friendly. So we stayed for six weeks. It wasn’t all bad, but I certainly didn’t want to do it again.

So, when we met former landlady, even though I had some mental misgivings about her, I took the former tenant and her husband at their word that she was “great” and my gut feelings weren’t “right”. That was a mistake.

Although it wasn’t all bad, just like our six weeks in a really crummy Gasthaus in 2007, it’s not an experience I’d ever want to recreate. Never before had we ever had such an intrusive situation with a landlord/landlady, even though I’ve seen lots of videos and written plenty of accounts of nightmare property managers, landlords, and landladies. We’ve have had other rental situations that sucked somewhat, but none as personally soul crushing as dealing with our previous landlady. What made it very different and so much worse was the former tenant.

It was one of those perfect storm situations… I’m a blogger, and I made the mistake of sharing my posts in a somewhat small community. People in the military community– I’m sorry to say– are not always the most open-minded people you’d ever meet. You’d think they would be, given how much and how often military folks move to places worldwide. I don’t mean to say that people in that community aren’t diverse, nor do I mean to say that everyone is an asshole. But there are a lot of people who have rigid mindsets about things. Someone who dares to write a blog called The Overeducated Housewife is automatically going to catch shit. πŸ˜‰

I do know that some people down in the Stuttgart community got some good things from my writings. Quite a lot of people told me they tried restaurants I reviewed, or they visited places I wrote about. But there were so many who just wrote off my efforts because they didn’t like the name of the blog and lacked the desire to find out why I titled it the way I did. How dare someone refer to themselves as “overeducated”, even if they literally are for what they do every day? πŸ˜‰

I don’t actually think I am “overeducated”. There is obviously a whole lot I don’t know. I also don’t believe that being “educated” is the same as being “intelligent” or “smart”. I just didn’t need to spend seven years in college to be a housewife. If I had known this was going to be my future, I wouldn’t have bothered with college or grad school… but then, I probably never would have met Bill, either. THAT is why this blog is titled as it is… and it came into existence several years before I started engaging with military folks who might be offended by it. In fact, the beginnings of my blog were very humble, as I didn’t even share my posts on Facebook. It took a long time before it evolved into anything people read on a regular basis.

Former tenant probably wouldn’t have been so involved in our situation if I hadn’t been a blogger. Our situation with ex landlady might have turned out like every other situation in which someone hands off a “lemon” to someone else.

Here’s a for instance. Back in 2003, Bill and I adopted an adorable beagle named Flea who had been abandoned in rural Virginia. Flea was a very fancy beagle. His original owner likely paid a lot for him. But, he got separated from the pack when they were hunting. When Flea was eventually found on the side of a road, he was skinny, covered in fleas and ticks, had Lyme Disease, and heartworms. The lady who rescued him got him cleaned up and offered him to a beagle rescue, as she also fostered him for them. The beagle rescue gave her money to get Flea treated for heartworms and Lyme Disease. When we met her, she’d seemed so nice and committed to Flea. But then it turned out she’d never completed his heartworm treatment. Instead, she pocketed the money for the second half of the treatment. So, when we adopted him, we were unaware that he still had heartworms.

Months later, when we discovered Flea’s heartworms weren’t all dead, we tried to contact his rescuer… who then promptly ghosted us. Flea also turned out to be quite a bit older than she’d said he was. Flea wasn’t a “lemon”, per se. He was actually a fantastic dog. But we got stuck dealing with his problems, because someone lied to us. Fortunately, the beagle rescue paid for him to be treated a second time for heartworms. However, heartworm treatment isn’t easy on dogs. I think it took a toll on his health in the long run. We had him for six years before he got prostate cancer, which eventually killed him.

Just like the situation with Flea turned out to be, I guess that former tenant felt the need to get out of her rental agreement with the ex landlady. And she was eager enough to get away from her that she wasn’t entirely truthful or forthcoming about her when we showed up looking for a place to live. We were sitting ducks… because we really needed a place to settle after a tough summer. Former tenant probably figured there was no harm in what she did… I’m sure she totally justified it. Fair enough. Maybe ex landlady really was as wonderful to her as former tenant claimed, and she really did just need to move closer to her job. There was probably even an element of truth to what she told us… but it wasn’t the *whole* truth.

I figure that if I weren’t a prolific and somewhat well-known blogger in the Stuttgart military community, former tenant would have just ghosted us, too. Ex landlady would have been “our problem”, even though the two of them were “friends”. Ex landlady probably would have complained and gossipped to her about us, but former tenant could have just laughed it off. She wouldn’t have been at all concerned about what I was thinking, saying, or writing. But because I was a somewhat well-known blogger, and she had loved Germany and was still following the community on social media, she couldn’t stop herself from following me… and she got upset that I was candid about our experiences.

Instead of realizing that I have the right to my opinions and perspectives and simply unfollowing me, former tenant felt the need to try to control me from afar. Not only did she deceive me, she also tried to silence me… and she seriously misjudged and underestimated me as a person. To her, I guess I was just a sucker who had the “audacity” to label myself “the overeducated housewife”. She probably thought I was just some silly twit– certainly not a match for her. She tried to take advantage of the fact that I’m basically a good person, using shame, obligation, fear, and guilt as a means of trying to fix the narrative. I complied with her for a time, but then wised up about what she was doing.

The irony is, if I weren’t a blogger, Bill and I probably would have been stuck paying for another lemon. Writers are recorders, so I had photos, blog posts, and bits of history that I could show proving the ex landlady’s version of events wrong. We probably would have won, anyway, but it wouldn’t have been quite so handily. Still, when all of that was going on, I felt like shit. I certainly had no desire to be on bad terms with anyone, nor did we want to sue anyone. But I’m also not about to be someone’s patsy.

As if that situation wasn’t bizarre enough… then I looked up former tenant last year. Curiosity killed the cat. I should have learned my lesson about not following people who show me who they are. That’s when I found out that former tenant took her own life. That makes me wonder about a whole lot of things… and it’s also left me with a burden.

All we had wanted to do was find a place to live in 2014. Now we’re left with this very strange chapter in our lives. We’ll probably always think about it and talk about it, and other people probably won’t understand. Some will even try to blame us, even though I only met former tenant in person a couple of times in 2014. Any interaction we had after we rented that house was initiated by her, after she read my blog. I doubt I had anything to do with her decision, but I don’t know. All I can think is that she had a lot of issues that led her to make a tragic decision. Her decision had ripple effects beyond her immediately family and friends that she’ll never even realize.

I never thought I’d ever be a blogger. I did like writing and likely would have loved a “real job” as a writer. But even when I was a teenager, I didn’t really let myself hope writing was how I could earn a living or make my way in the world. I used to have a lot of ideas and dreams about what my “adult life” would be. I figured I’d have a career and probably a family. As I got older, it seemed less likely that either convention was going to be in my future. I didn’t really date much, nor did I have great luck at impressing employers that would pay me a salary on which I could live comfortably.

Granted, after I finished graduate school, I might have managed to find a job to support myself properly. I didn’t really have a chance, as just after I graduated, I moved in with Bill, and six months later, married into the military lifestyle, with its constant upheavals. I was familiar with it, since my mom was an Air Force wife. But by the time I came along, my dad’s career in the Air Force was winding down. I didn’t know the realities, because my parents ran their own business for over half of my childhood.

I think marrying Bill was the right decision, and the best choice I could have made. But it definitely derailed the plans I tried to make for myself. I don’t think they were the right plans, anyway… but they were MY plans. And now I’m sitting here in Germany, writing this blog, wondering where it all went.

Yesterday’s post was a meandering stream of consciousness piece. It started in one place and ended somewhere else I hadn’t really meant it to go. Alex’s first comment to me kind of took me aback. He’d offered me consolation, which kind of distressed me. But, looking back at it today, I can see why Alex left a comment of reassurance. The end of yesterday’s post was about how I felt after reading the post that had inspired it. I was so very angry about the audacity of our ex landlady, treating us like we were the worst kind of people. It pissed me off anew, and brought up some old feelings of shame and worthlessness passed to me from someone whose opinion used to mean a lot to me.

No, I don’t mean ex landlady. I mainly did what I could to appease her, which I now realize was far too much. I mean my dad. I don’t think he hated me. I think he even loved me on one level. But he often treated me badly, and acted like he didn’t like me very much. He took out a lot of his frustrations on me, and treated me like an embarrassment. When I was a young woman, I realized that he was very often abusive to me, and that treatment shaped how I felt about myself. Some of that stuff still comes up today, as I try to stay out of trouble and hesitate to engage with people. I figure they won’t like me… and when some of them don’t, I get bitter and more reluctant to get to know people. When people treat me poorly, I remember it forever and hold it against them, even if their bad attitude doesn’t even have that much to do with me, personally.

There were a lot of times when ex landlady reminded me a lot of my dad. As a grown woman, I can now react in ways that weren’t safe when I was a child. I can speak out, for instance. So I often do. But doing that didn’t fit in with former tenant’s agenda, and I suspect she thought she could manipulate and control me. So she tried to do that, and I tolerated it for awhile… until I didn’t anymore, and the shit hit the fan. She took issue that I figured out what she’d done… passed off her lemon to Bill and me and expected us to see it as a favor. She wanted me to shut up and pretend I enjoyed the sourness of what she’d done. Because it suited her, and her agenda. Who cared about how it affected us?! We’re just a couple of suckers and losers, right? Obviously, if ex landlady didn’t like us, it was entirely our fault, and it was our responsibility as Americans to make her like us

What a load of shit that is. Seriously… I can’t even believe it! We’re supposed to tolerate abuse and PAY for the privilege, because former tenant is/was friends with the ex landlady, and she doesn’t want to offend her or anyone in her family. If there’s a problem, it’s not because of anyone but me… and it’s entirely my fault. Again… it’s a lot of bullshit that doesn’t even have the courtesy of smelling lemony fresh! I can’t believe we wasted a single year on that crap, let alone four!

Well… at least it’s over now. We did prevail. But, like the proverbial lemon, that situation left a sour taste in our mouths. I’m left a lot more wary than I once was. I don’t share things like I used to. I’m not eager to get to know people like I used to be. I trust people less. The memory of that ordeal leaves me a bit depressed on some level. And the fact that former tenant killed herself makes it all the worse, because now it seems like I should feel sorry for her. Or at least act like I feel sorry for her. Really, I’m just angry with her on many levels. I’m sorry she felt the need to off herself, but I also realize that I spent weeks agonizing, feeling totally traumatized and fucked up, and the truth was, I wasn’t the fucked up one at all!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a believer in destiny… We were probably supposed to meet these people, and these experiences were probably supposed to happen. We’ll just have to learn from it, move on, and either keep our lemons to ourselves or be honest about them. Sometimes lemons are a good thing, after all. In the grand scheme of things, this particular lemon at least taught us to be wiser, and we got to see some beautiful parts of the Black Forest. So that ought to count for something, right?

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ideas, memories, musings

Going down the ever treacherous path called Memory Lane…

Fair warning… this is a stream of consciousness post that tackles many seemingly unrelated topics. Proceed with caution.

Bill is away again, so I’m left to my lonesome self. I usually teetotal when he goes away, but I had a beer when Bill made me lunch yesterday. Then I had another one last night while I watched The Boy in the Plastic Bubble on YouTube, starring John Travolta, Robert Reed, Ralph Bellamy, and Diana Hyland. I’ve seen that movie many times, and it’s always entertaining. Last night, it was strange to watch it, because I suddenly realized just how long ago I was born. I was about four years old when that TV movie aired in 1976. Now I’m 51, and all of the trappings of my childhood seem hopelessly antiquated.

It may seem strange that I’d be watching a 70s era TV movie, especially since I’ve seen it so many times. I love old shit like that, though. I’d rather watch campy crap from the 70s and 80s than most of what’s on TV today. I guess that means I’m really getting OLD.

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble actually has some personal meaning to me. I grew up during the era in which there were a couple of boys who lived in “plastic bubbles”. One was Ted DeVita, who had aplastic anemia and died in 1980. The other was David Vetter, who was born without a functioning immune system (he had a condition called SCID–Severe combined immunodeficiency).

David Vetter was less than a year older than I am, so he was one of my peers. He passed away in 1984, when he was just 12 years old. If he’d been born today, he never would have had to spend years in a bubble. Today, we have the technology to treat SCID with bone marrow transplants. Vetter himself had a transplant, but the bone marrow he received from his mother was infected with a dormant Epstein-Barr virus. It activated after it was transplanted and he wound up with a devastating form of lymphoma that killed him very quickly.

When I was in high school, I actually knew a guy who had aplastic anemia, like Ted DeVita did. I didn’t know him very well; he was a popular guy who played football, and football players weren’t interested in me. But everybody pretty much knew who Mike Haury was, back when we were in high school. To this day, he is memorialized at my high school. I believe there is a tree planted in his honor, as well as a weight room that was funded by people who wanted to memorialize him over 30 years ago. I found a new fundraiser online last night in Mike’s honor, by people who wanted to update the weight room at our high school, originally built in Mike Haury’s memory. In our day, the weight room at our high school was located in a boiler room. Mike’s death from aplastic anemia had led to the creation of a proper weight room. Too bad he never got to see it or enjoy it.

I remember Mike Haury went to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, the same place where Ted DeVita spent most of his life. I remember Mike died on December 7, 1988, and I remember how his death was announced to us in school. You could have heard a pin drop. I wonder if Mike had to stay in a “plastic bubble” during the last weeks of his life. Mike’s cousin, Neil, was in my high school class. Neil left us in 2000… a victim of suicide.

Years later, December 7, 1988 would be significant to me for a different reason, when I moved to Armenia to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. That was the day a massive earthquake hit Armenia, destroyed buildings and infrastructure in a couple of northwestern cities, and ended 25,000-55,000 lives. About 130,000 people were injured. In 1995, when I arrived in Armenia, there was still a lot of wreckage and debris left from the earthquake. They hadn’t had the money or manpower to fix anything, what with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and all. It was still there in 1997, when I left Armenia to go home to the United States. I’m sure by now, things are different. I’ll find out in a few weeks, when I go back to Yerevan for a visit.

Today, Armenia has other problems, to include the struggle over Nagorno-Karabakh– an enclave known as the Republic of Artsakh by Armenian natives. This is a part of the Caucasus region that has historically been populated by ethnic Armenians. Back during Josef Stalin’s reign in the 1920s, as he was forming the Soviet Union, Stalin decided the land should be part of Azerbaijan. Things were, on the surface, peaceful during the Soviet years. But when the Soviet Union fell apart in December 1991, so did the surface peace in Artsakh. Armenians and Azeris have been fighting over the land ever since.

A few days ago, the Azeris seemingly “won” Artsakh, as Armenians agreed to stop fighting, and now hundreds of Armenians are fleeing Artsakh to the mainland. They fear ethnic cleansing, which is understandable, as Armenians have faced genocide in the past. As I was reading about this situation, it made me realize just how profound one man’s legacy can be. Not long ago, I read a book about a woman who fled Latvia, as it was becoming part of the Soviet Union. The woman’s story included a lot about Josef Stalin, and how his disastrous and cruel policies ruined and ended a lot of lives. I couldn’t help but think of that story as I read about how today’s Armenians are still affected by Stalin’s policies. I suspect we Americans will someday see Donald Trump in much the same way.

This situation actually affects me, in a weird way, not just because I used to live in Armenia and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer there, but because of my husband’s work today. He works for the US Army here in Wiesbaden, for a department that does work with countries in Europe and its environs, including Armenia. This situation with Azerbaijan– largely caused by Russia’s distraction with the war in Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin’s affinity for Azerbaijan’s current leader– affects Bill, because the US military is now working with the Armenians.

A few weeks ago, one of Bill’s colleagues actually talked to me for a couple of hours to get some perspective on Armenia and its people. When Bill told her about my experience in Armenia, she was quite excited, as she doesn’t know much about the place, and former Peace Corps Volunteers, especially those who were in Armenia in the 1990s, are in short supply in these parts.

As I sit here thinking about that, I realize how my time in Armenia and my marriage to Bill, both seem to have come about entirely by cosmic chance. I remember how I felt like I was wasting my time in Armenia back when I was there. Now, it seems like I was supposed to be there. And maybe I’m meant to be where I am today, here in Germany, doing exactly what I’m doing now. I’m sure it will fit in the long run. It always does.

Last night, as I was about to fall asleep, I started reading early blog posts on this incarnation of The Overeducated Housewife. The earliest posts on this blog were made when I was using a different blog layout, so some of the posts need to be edited. Some of the posts were also password protected and/or made private, because back in 2019, my privacy was being violated. That’s why I moved the blog in the first place. As I was reading those old posts, I was reminded of how totally mentally fried I was at the time, and how angry I was. In fact, just before I started writing today’s post, I read an old post of mine that inspired today’s

The old post from 2019 is very profane, and also kind of funny, because I was legitimately VERY ANGRY. Some people might think my reasons for being so angry were petty. Maybe they were, in the grand scheme of things. I look at what Armenians from Artsakh are dealing with right now, and I realize that my issues with our ex landlady were not really that earth shattering. And yet, I remember feeling very frazzled and upset during that time, so much so, that I wrote this very profane, sarcastic, and frankly quite funny post in my blog. And that post led to today’s post, which has left me with some rather profound insights…

The main reason why I was so very angry on August 30, 2019 is because, yet again, I was being unfairly judged by someone who doesn’t even know me. Months after I left her hellhole rental house, ex landlady was in my head, mainly because we had decided to fight her legally, rather than letting her just take our money. Former landlady– fixated on her petty bullshit and hunger for money– determined that I’m some kind of worthless, filthy pig. She treated both Bill and me with extreme contempt over a couple thousand euros. She expected us to be perfect, which no one can be, while she blatantly did things that were illegal. She brazenly tried to steal from us, as she accused US of stealing and personally insulted us (especially me), to boot. I was PISSED, and determined not to let her get away with it.

Making matters worse is that, through her lawyer, she was making defamatory accusations against us the day before we would lose our beloved Zane forever. We spent what turned out to be his last full day alive answering her ridiculous false accusations and threats, when we should have been loving our beloved beagle family member, who meant so much more to us than she ever could. The reality of how we spent Zane’s last day made me even more determined to make sure she was forced to pay.

In the end, we didn’t let ex landlady get away with what she was doing. She did have to pay us. It wasn’t easy or painless, but she did pay. I was glad she paid, and it was definitely worth suing her, but we would have preferred not to have to go the route we did. Because, in spite of her erroneous perceptions, I AM NOT A BAD PERSON. I just want to be treated fairly and live my life in peace!

Quite often, when something like this comes up, Bill and I simply let the other person have their way. Fighting over money often isn’t worth the hassle. We are usually big fans of the “pick your battles” mindset. But, this particular fight was more about our self-respect, and being tired of being bullied, harassed, and abused by someone who feels entitled to act like a complete cunt, with no repercussions whatsoever. Sometimes, the answer to such behavior is a hearty “FUCK YOU!” And that is what ex landlady got. Now that I think about it, it’s probably what people in the future will get when they try to pull that kind of shit with us. Because most people get to a point at which they’re no longer to roll over for obvious bullshit, which is what this was.

Still… that bullshit is NOTHING compared to what a lot of people go through. Just reading this blog post and thinking about some of the folks I wrote about today makes me realize that we’ve been pretty lucky. We mostly have to deal with bullies and narcissists. Not that dealing with narcissists isn’t painful, because it is… But once you realize what and who narcissistic people are, you realize that they’re basically empty shells of pain. And, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you always have the power to go “home” again… All you really have to do is click your heels and walk away. Sometimes it does feel good to give them something to remember you by, though… πŸ˜‰

As you can see, when I’m alone, I do a lot of thinking. My thoughts often end up on a straight path, where one thing leads seamlessly to another. Before I know it, I have a long string of seemingly unrelated thoughts and memories that somehow fit, that I feel compelled to write about… much like my seemingly worthless and highly unorthodox existence seems to fit in implausible places. Here I am, an “overeducated housewife”, writing these blog posts when I could be doing something “useful”, like working in a cubicle somewhere, driving a teenaged kid to an activity, tending to an elderly parent, nursing an injury of my own, giving someone a baby shower, or attending a fundraiser… normal things all of my old friends seem to be doing.

Things I always thought I would be doing with MY life… But that isn’t how my life has gone.

A lot of people seem to think I’m a silly, amoral, feckless twat. I’m pretty sure that was former tenant’s and ex landlady’s collective impression of me. They didn’t know me. They never took the time to get to know me. They never cared, because they were not interested. That’s fair enough, I guess. I do wish if that was how they felt, they’d at least allowed me to be strange in private.

They didn’t realize there’s someone worth knowing, deep beneath the surface of my loud giggles, weird jokes, copious flab, and profanity… someone strong, who loves fiercely, feels deeply, thinks constantly, and deserves basic respect and simple regard. The people who casually dismiss me, or make a habit of dismissing anyone else, really, ignore those basic truths at their own perils.

Well… today’s post is a rambling toxic creek of different stuff. If you managed to wade through it, I do appreciate the effort. Like everyone else, I hurt sometimes. I have a very long memory, and a long history of people treating me like trash. I don’t have the type of personality that handles that kind of treatment with much grace or patience, hence these weird blog posts that some people think make me seem “unhinged”.

I’m not crazy, y’all. I think I’m just kind of fed up with everything. πŸ˜‰ Being fed up means I have to empty the bins. Because I’m not an OCD nightmare like ex landlady, I don’t scrub away the shitty residue. When things start to stink, I have to flush. So that’s what today’s post is.

Time to move on with the day. Got to fold laundry, walk Noyzi, play guitar, and buy more beer. So, until the ‘morrow, I bid you all farewell.

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karma, lessons learned, musings, narcissists

When “obsessed fans” are also obsessed with their own privacy…

Wednesday has arrived, and my nose has finally stopped acting like a faucet. So far– knock on wood– the skin under my nose isn’t completely destroyed. I’m a bit congested and tired. I slept for most of the afternoon yesterday, and then through the night, with one potty break. I ordered some tissues and ointment from Amazon, even though I live within walking distance of both a pharmacy and a grocery store. I threw in some mini Reese’s Cups to boost my morale, although maybe I should shop for a new Apple Watch. πŸ˜‰

I am experienced enough with life to know that I should hold off on being too optimistic. Maybe this will turn out to be a brief cold, though. I hope it will. The weather is positively glorious in Germany this time of year. Very soon, it will turn to shit for months on end. I would like to enjoy the last days of summer 2023.

Last night, just to pass the time, I went Googling and soon ended up on LinkedIn. I haven’t used LinkedIn in years, and actually thought I’d deleted my account. But no, I do still exist on that site, albeit with a very naked profile using my maiden name. I went on the site because I was curious about someone I met only once in person, but who, along with his late wife, has had a profound effect on me since we moved to Germany. I don’t think I’ve ever written about him, mainly because I only met him the one time. I wasn’t all that impressed by him on that day in late August 2014. He’s former tenant’s husband, a guy who gave Bill a fake name and basically lied to our faces about how “wonderful” the landlords were.

I found him on LinkedIn last night, and for the first time since 2014, saw his face in a photo. He’s leaving the Army and looking for work. I would imagine retiring is now a necessity, given that he has a couple of kids to raise on his own. The specialized work he did required a lot of dangerous, classified travel to exotic lands. I took a look at his profile and passed it on to Bill, who basically deciphered it for me. Some of the words he was using were code for certain activities in the military… things that civilians wouldn’t necessarily understand at first glance, but Army folks know very well.

I didn’t spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, in spite of my curiosity. Seeing that guy’s profile just made me feel icky. I do wonder, though… I think it’s only natural.

Ever since I found out that former tenant died by her own hand last year, I’ve been left with all kinds of questions. I’m sure a lot of people might think that’s weird, or I’m just being nosy. I guess that’s a fair enough assessment. On the other hand, since she left me with this weird legacy, I figured I’m owed a little wonder. Thanks to her, I went through some pretty significant psychological trauma. Yet, I barely knew her. She knew– or thought she knew— a lot more about me than I did about her.

The only reason I even know about former tenant’s death, or have any questions about her whatsoever, is because for the four years we lived in our ex landlady’s house, she was monitoring my blogs. She had led me to believe she liked my travel blog, but she’d also found her way to my main blog, and she regularly took issue on the rare occasions that I wrote anything about ex landlady or the absolute psychological shitshow our time in that house eventually became. Former tenant would leave me blog comments, then delete them. Later, she unabashedly wrote that ex landlady’s daughter was also reading my blogs, as she chastised me for my content. In her last missive to me, she insinuated that I was “unhinged”. And yet, here I am still among the living, with no young children mourning my absence in their lives.

She shamed me over some fiction I’d written, but not yet had the chance to develop. She thought I was going to “trash” the family… who, frankly, totally would have deserved it. But, for the record, that wasn’t my plan at all. It was a fiction piece— yes, based on people I know, but most of the people who read this blog don’t even know me online, let alone off. And the story itself was a complete and obvious fabrication. Aside from that, she presumed I was writing about the ex landlady’s daughter; a woman I have never met in person, and whose first name I never even knew, until former tenant mentioned it in her final message. Ex landlady had never deigned to introduce me to her daughters. I guess she didn’t want me influencing them. πŸ˜‰

Just because I’ve written snarky stories in the past, that doesn’t mean I ALWAYS write snarky stories. Moreover, the piece I’d started writing was barely developed. There was no outline to the story. It was maybe a page or two, with no significant plot development. I didn’t even know what the plot was, myself. It also never entered my mind that my actions in late 2018– in my new home– were of any concern whatsoever to a woman I had met one or two times in 2014. If I wasn’t “unhinged” at that point, I sure started to feel that way in February 2019, when it felt like I still had a “bug” in my home.

All the while, former tenant would stress how important her “privacy” was. She used different names for every comment, most of which she later deleted. She apparently assumed a lot about me, and what kind of person I am, simply by reading and judging my blog entries. I think she also wildly underestimated my intelligence, as it soon became obvious.

When former tenant was still living, I didn’t stalk her online. I didn’t so much as look her or her husband up on Google. I tried to be respectful of her privacy, even as she clearly had contempt for mine. I tolerated her complaints and even edited for her at least once or twice. Meanwhile, she must have been assuming I am a complete lunatic. I wouldn’t mind that so much if she’d kept it to just thinking I was crazy. Lots of people who don’t actually know me have thought that about me, over the years. But she was, apparently, sharing her thoughts about me with the landlady, and then later boldly admitting it to me, as she shamed me for having the nerve to be pissed. Somehow, this was all supposed to be my fault.

It all came to a head in February 2019, when I read that final private message from former tenant about how cruel and hurtful I was to her “friends”, and demanding to know what they had done to deserve such “mean” treatment from me. The reality is, they were the ones who were cruel to me. All I ever really wanted was to be left alone. You don’t have to like me, or even respect how I live my life. Just leave me alone. Otherwise, yes… I may be inspired to write about you in an ambiguous way. The difference is, you don’t have to read what I write. It’s a conscious choice– one that is usually brought about by being a nosy busybody with a complete lack of respect for boundaries.

Folks… the reality is, I didn’t actually write that much about ex landlady. I vented a couple of times toward the end of our tenancy, mainly because she was driving me crazy. She kept accusing me of doing things I didn’t do, yelling at me in my own home, and treating me like a five year old. She’d complain about ridiculous things, like a clump of dog hair in a doorway, declaring it “filth”. She’d show up unannounced when I wasn’t prepared to receive her, then look at me with disdain when I wasn’t dressed properly. She was extremely rude to Bill, and when we moved out, she tried to rip off our deposit as she declared us the worst tenants she’d ever had. She refused to negotiate over anything, and then threatened us when we had a lawyer write to her, reminding her of German law. She also falsely accused us of theft. And all of this was happening as we were losing our beloved Zane, one of the beagles who kept me sane when I lived in that house.

Meanwhile, former tenant got a pass, because they were “friends”, even though I know very well that at least some of the stuff ex landlady was complaining about were things that happened when she and her husband lived in the house. Fortunately, I DID have those blogs, which served as a record of events, since ex landlady never did a proper check in or check out between us. I also had photos and a few comments from former tenant that helped us prove our case when we later successfully sued ex landlady. So, we were vindicated in the end, although it still left me fuming at the violation and the gall they all had. It could have so easily gone the other way, with us stuck with the bill for upgrading ex landlady’s rental house and looking guilty.

Bill and I have had a few less than stellar renting experiences, but we have NEVER been treated with the level of disrespect and unfairness as we were when we left our last house. And never before did I have someone affiliated with a landlord or landlady monitoring and reporting on my blogs. Especially not someone who simultaneously demanded privacy for herself.

I’m pretty sure former tenant had people in her family monitoring my blogs, too. I could tell by hits I was getting from certain parts of the country, which stopped when the case was settled. I imagine she told her family and friends that I was some sort of mad blogger, trying to ruin people’s lives. That’s not true at all. I just enjoy writing, and I write about things that affect me. It’s sort of my vocation. She made me out to be some kind of crazy person, when all we were doing is asserting our rights to be treated fairly under German law. I’m sure to those people, Bill and I are just crooks who ripped off a kindly elderly couple in Germany. I guess it doesn’t really matter, since I’ll probably never meet those people, anyway. It still smarts a bit, though… because former tenant accused ME of spreading lies, when the opposite was true.

I tried really hard to block former tenant from my mind, but it was hard. The lawsuit took about 18 months to settle, mainly due to COVID. By then, it was around August 2021, months after we reached an agreement– our lawyer had to send former landlady another letter demanding payment, because after she agreed to settle, she never bothered to pay. Hopefully, the lawyer charged her for that letter, too. Former landlady finally sent the money to the lawyer, who then forwarded it to us. Pure contempt, straight to the end!

Once all that awful stuff was finally over, I tried to put it behind me, even though it was pretty infuriating and left me feeling violated on many levels. For three years, I had former tenant blocked on Facebook, and never so much as did an online search of her name. But then in late May last year, Bill told me something that made me curious. Since former tenant had worked for the same company Bill did, he noticed when she was no longer on the roster of employees. He also didn’t see her working for the government.

I decided to search her name on Google, just to see where she was. That’s when I found several detailed obituaries for her in at least two states, as well as a couple of memorial services on YouTube. She’d committed suicide several months earlier. So much for her privacy. She left behind her husband and two sons, as well as a host of family and friends who obviously loved and missed her, and grieved her decision to end her own life.

Here I am, years later, still ruminating on this. I think it’s because it’s September, and that was the month we moved into that house. I remember thinking from the get go that we may be in for a difficult time, but I was so glad to be back in Germany and settled somewhere. The summer of 2014 had been absolutely terrible for us. So I was just glad to be in a home, even if the former landlady had seemed obsessed with monitoring us and was very untrusting. Never did I ever conceive of being in the situation we found ourselves in a few years later.

As a person who likes to read and write stories, maybe some people can understand why this situation is still in my head. It reminds me of a Lifetime movie. All we wanted was a place to live. We ended up with a situation that I could probably turn into a made for TV movie screenplay, if I was so inclined… and maybe if it was the 90s, and people still watched such things on TV.

Sigh… well, at least it’s Wednesday, which means it’s a light chore day. Maybe I’ll find another diversion. I started reading a new book, which promises to be interesting and fun to review. And there’s always trashy TV. That might cause me less trouble than writing blog posts. πŸ˜‰

Anyway… as my literature loving husband, Bill, likes to say, “Murder will out…” Or, maybe in this case, “Self-murder will out.”

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law, mental health, musings, narcissists, psychology

The great awning collapse of 2017…

Good morning everybody. It’s August 30th, which means that summer 2023 really is on its way out…

Here in Germany, it actually feels like summer is ending. I can’t say that it’s a given that cooler weather routinely arrives in Germany at the end of August. I do remember coming to live here in mid September in 2007 and needing to buy a jacket, because it was already chilly.

But ten years later, three years into our second Stuttgart area stint, I remember it being super hot on August 30th. It was so hot that I decided to unroll the ugly orange awning that covered our patio. I was told by the landlords, when we moved into the house in 2014, that this was one way to keep the house somewhat cooler during the summer months. I’d never had an awning in any other house I’d lived in, but our next door neighbor also had one and used it all the time during the scorching summer of 2017.

On August 30, 2017, the awning was 17 years old, and had recently needed to be repaired. Our former landlady sent her very handy husband to fix it, and it appeared that he had succeeded. Ex landlady wrote in an email that her husband had “fixed” the awning, but it was old, and they weren’t sure how long the repair would last. It was blazing hot outside, and I wanted to allow for air flow in the downstairs. So, instead of lowering the Rolladens, I unrolled the awning to block the sun. Some time later, there was a stiff breeze, and the damned thing collapsed with a resounding thud. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed when it fell.

I’ve already written extensively about what happened after the awning fell on August 30, 2017. Our former landlady went on the warpath. First, she wanted to know if we had liability insurance, something that most Germans have as a matter of course. Most Americans don’t carry it, and I think she was counting on us not to have it. But, thanks to Max, our former dog sitter, who strongly advised us to have German insurance, we did have both liability insurance and pet liability insurance policies.

I think ex landlady was disappointed, because she no doubt saw this event as an opportunity to get us to buy her a brand new awning, rather than settle for the low settlement from our insurance company. I’m sure she also realized that by taking a settlement, she would not be able to ask for anything else related to the awning without having to deal with the insurance company. She couldn’t easily manipulate them, like she thought she could manipulate Bill. But again, I don’t think she expected us to be insured. When ex landlady demanded the insurance, she also limited her ability to negotiate a better deal on the collapsed awning.

Frankly, I don’t think we should have even had to give her our the insurance information. Nothing I did caused the awning to need repair; it was simply old and ready for retirement. She sent her husband to fix it, rather than hiring an actual technician. It was part of the house and, naturally, I assumed I was allowed to use it. She never said not to… and I don’t control the wind.

I’m pretty sure it really burned her up that we were wise enough to get insurance. It likely especially annoyed her that we also had German legal insurance. When we moved out and she tried to cover the cost of a new awning by stealing our deposit, I’m sure she wasn’t expecting to be sued. And we sure didn’t want to sue her… but I’ll be damned if I willingly allow someone who treats us with such obvious contempt to get away with it. She was NOT going to be illegally taking our money and acting like a complete jerk on my watch. At least not without a fight.

I’m writing about this subject today because I saw the photo I took of the collapsed awning in my Facebook memories today… and it reminded of me how we ended up moving to Wiesbaden in late 2018. But it also reminded me of how reluctant I was to move. Isn’t that crazy? I actually worried that our new landlord might be even worse! That’s how completely mindfucked I was after four years of living in that house.

It was about five years ago that Bill’s bosses in Stuttgart told him that his job was being converted to a government service job. Consequently, his choices were to:

  • Stay in the same job, but become a GS worker at significantly reduced pay and without a housing allowance,
  • Find a new contracting gig in Stuttgart, either with the company he currently works for, or another company,
  • Move to another location with the company he works for or a different one,
  • Move back to the States and work for the same company or a different one,
  • Retire and live on his pension, while hoping I write the great American novel. That option would have also required a move. πŸ˜‰

Neither of us wanted to move, even though we hated dealing with our ex landlady, and we didn’t really like living in her house. It only had a few things going for it. The rent was relatively cheap, although I doubt a German would have paid what we were paying. It was in a pleasant town near a beautiful nature park and close to the Black Forest. The neighbors were nice and relatively friendly, especially for Swabia.

But the house itself was old and charmless, furnished with old, nasty carpets in the upstairs, and it had outdated appliances. It was originally meant to be two apartments, so the layout was weird and kind of sterile. It was a duplex, and while I really liked our next door neighbors, who were actually pretty cool people, I don’t like sharing walls with people. I’m sensitive to noise, and I don’t like feeling like I’m making too much noise. We had two beagles who I know were loud. I wanted a free standing house… and Bill and I were, by 2018, in a financial position to be able to afford the rent on one.

I still dreaded the idea of moving. I was comfortable with our vet, our dentist, and getting around the area. I’d had a total of six pandemic free years of experience living near Stuttgart. It has its issues, but the area is very beautiful and inspiring. The idea of moving somewhere else seemed daunting. And again… I worried very much that we might land in an even worse situation. Our former landlady was very unpleasant to deal with, especially in the wake of the great awning crash of 2017. But at least with her, we knew what to expect.

So, when Bill was told he should apply for a job in Wiesbaden, I was initially reluctant to consider it. I think he was reluctant, too. Moving is a pain in the ass. Then, as we decided we’d try to stay in Stuttgart, he went to Africa for a TDY, and I was left alone in that weird house…

One night while he was gone, I was sitting there with Zane and Arran, looking around that house, and thinking about the broken orange awning that had caused the former landlady to verbally abuse me in my own space. I realized that I hated the idea of being beholden to her. I hated dealing with her intrusions, which had become less frequent since her outburst to me and my declaration to Bill that I would not be tolerating that again. He sent her an email telling her to talk to him when she had concerns or issues about the house. Naturally, she really resented that request. She clearly didn’t think I was worthy of the consideration, even though she and the former tenant were trash talking us, and it was likely that when we weren’t home, ex landlady was entering the house without our knowledge or consent.

I thought about how I hated the kitchen, the crappy flooring, the cat piss reeking carpets, the weird, mostly useless tiny rooms on the ground floor, and the annual projects the ex landlady did to the exterior of the house… She’d opted to put in a partial new fence and driveway rather than upgrade the antiquated upstairs toilet that clogged three times due to its “water saving” feature and inability to handle American toilet paper. Toilets are a necessary feature of any home. The upstairs one did work, but it was old and actually didn’t save any water, because it required at least two long flushes whenever either of us took a dump. I hated dealing with it.

And then it dawned on me. WHY IN THE WORLD WAS I FIGHTING TO STAY IN THAT HOUSE? I didn’t even LIKE that house! It defied logic. If there was ever a sign from the heavens that it was time to move on to bigger and better things, it was when that awning crashed on August 30, 2017. But I was kept there because I was afraid that the worst was yet to come. I also knew that when we moved out, ex landlady would be a colossal pain in the ass. I expected that she’d try to take our deposit. I wasn’t wrong.

I remember Bill came home from his trip and I told him I’d had an epiphany. I said “I want you to apply for the job in Wiesbaden.” It turned out that he’d independently kind of come to the same conclusion, even though neither of us had initially wanted to move. Also, the folks in Wiesbaden, having seen Bill’s resume, actually asked why he hadn’t applied. He was perfect for the job they were looking to fill, and people with his unique skill set aren’t easy to find. His boss in Stuttgart even told him that if he applied, it was pretty much a given that he would be hired. And that’s precisely what happened.

We were much more careful when we went house hunting in Wiesbaden. The house we live in now was the seventh one we toured. In over twenty years of life together, Bill and I were never as picky about our house as we were when we moved to Wiesbaden. It paid off, because our current landlord is extremely nice and very considerate. He’s also our next door neighbor, and he’s an excellent neighbor. The house itself is also much, much nicer than our old one was, although it lacks the beautiful views and places to walk the dog(s).

Life here isn’t perfect, and I do miss a lot of things about Stuttgart… but I definitely wouldn’t go back to where we were. The move to Wiesbaden was difficult. It took a long time to process the mental anguish and damage wrought by our experiences in our former house. The lawsuit was painful, especially since the wrangling was going on during the height of the pandemic. But… I thank GOD we were in Wiesbaden for that, instead of living in that weird house.

I am grateful we were able to change our situation. I know it doesn’t always work out that way. But thinking about the great awning collapse of 2017, I realize that we were probably a bit “trauma bonded”. This is a phenomenon that can happen when people are in abusive relationships where there’s a power imbalance. It often happens between people who have romantic relationships, but it can also happen between kidnappers and captors, bosses and employees, and yes, landlords and tenants.

In the article I linked about trauma bonding, the author mentions that people often feel the need to reach out and “try again”. I can honestly state that while I did feel regret that things ended the way they did with our ex landlady, I have no desire to ever see or speak to her again. She violated our trust and tried to fuck us over, and she underestimated both of us. That was a big mistake on her part. Not trusting my rather nervous gut feeling when I met her was my big mistake. One life lesson I have learned is that it’s smart to take heed when people demonstrate who they are. Learn from the experience.

Also, we were much too nice when ex landlady egregiously violated boundaries. This is a problem we still struggle with, as Bill and I have both been traumatized by abusers before and trained not to get into conflicts (in spite of his Army career). That’s why, in July, when those awful window workers were in my home, acting like complete assholes, I didn’t throw them out. I also wanted them to finish the job. Now, I realize that I should have marched over to my landlord and had him deal with those guys, as they put their feet up on my patio furniture. Next time there’s a big construction project, if we’re still here, Bill is going to try to work from home. That way it won’t be just me, dealing with the disrespect.

I really do not try to get in other people’s ways. I keep to myself, most of the time. Somehow, I still manage to find myself in these situations with people who act like narcissistic jerks. Maybe it’s the universe’s way of teaching me something new.

Anyway, we are mostly thriving in Wiesbaden. I am truly sorry that the awning fell on August 30, 2017. I certainly didn’t plan for that to happen. I didn’t do anything to directly cause it, other than unroll it on a day that happened to suddenly get windy. But it was the start of a necessary shift northward. Just like Mary Poppins, we stay until the wind changes… and in our last house, that’s pretty much literally what happened. The wind changed; there was a big crash; and we moved on to our next destined place together. It was a good, healthy thing to do. I don’t know when the wind will change again, but I don’t regret our move up here. I just shake my head in disbelief that it took so long to realize we needed to make the move. That’s what happens when you’re stuck dealing with abusive people in your life.

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art, humor, karma, language, narcissists, work

The many ways to be inspirational…

For some reason, when Bill was away last week, I started watching episodes of America’s Next Top Model. I will grant that it wasn’t the most wholesome show on the airwaves, but it was kind of entertaining. I probably decided to watch it because I figured it would help me pass the time. I was soon reminded of how toxic that show was. It gave me some food for thought… and fodder for my blog.

I’m not sure why I ever got hooked on ANTM. I’ve never been into hair, makeup, or fashion. I never liked Tyra Banks, either. To me, she came off like a total narcissist– like, my “N” chimes rang off the hook when I watched her on TV. I didn’t even know much about Banks until I stumbled across Cycle 7 of ANTM. Tyra’s show was probably the first reality show I ever really paid any attention to for longer than an episode. I never got into Big Brother or Survivor at all.

Shameful as it is, I must admit that I did get hooked on ANTM, and I watched it until maybe Cycle 18 or so. After that, it simply became unwatchable to me. I think life events also intervened, preventing me from tuning in anymore.

To view ANTM, you’d think Jay Manuel, Nigel Barker, and Miss J (J. Alexander) were all the best of friends. Jay Manuel, in particular, seemed to be in Tyra’s hip pocket. He served as the creative director of ANTM for years, before finally leaving the series. In 2020, Manuel published a satirical novel based on his experiences with ANTM. In January of 2022, I downloaded his book, The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown. A few days ago, I finally got around to starting to read it.

In the past, I would have been done with Jay’s book by now, but it’s harder for me to read these days. My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, and I have a tendency to fall asleep when I start reading. I will admit, however, that I am enjoying Jay’s book. I do think it needs an editor, and maybe some of the characters should be fleshed out a bit more. BUT– I am enjoying the snark and the “T” spilling going on. Yes, it’s a novel, and fictionalized. But it’s also clearly based on a true story, and all I have to say is, the people who were regulars on that show and weren’t as narcissistic as Tyra is, definitely went through some shit.

I will be reviewing Mr. Manuel’s book when I finish reading it. I hope to complete the book sometime this week, because I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it. However, I can’t resist mentioning it today, because in writing his novel, Jay did something that I like to do when I need to “unpack” something. He turned his real life experiences into a fictionalized “based on a true story”. I imagine that dealing with Tyra Banks gave him lots of material to draw from for the book. When you’re dealing with a narcissist, you have a lot to unpack… but you have to do it very carefully. Narcissists have a way of bringing the pain.

A few years ago, when Bill and I were living in our last house, I did very occasionally write fictional stories about certain people who irritated me. It was a creative way to get out my angst. Not that many people read my short stories, anyway, so I thought of it as a constructive way to “process the crazy” without causing undue upset.

For a short time, I even considered starting a fiction blog. Our former landlady was legitimately driving me nuts, and I needed a safe place to vent. My fiction blog lasted less than a day, though. I started to write a story, but before I got far, I received a private Facebook message from the now late former tenant. She’d read what I’d written, figured she knew what I was about to do with my characters (though she was actually wrong), and decided to intervene on ex landlady’s behalf. She basically told me I was a no talent hack, and tried to shame me into silence. She also implied that I was crazy and “mean”.

I subsequently scrapped the idea of the fiction blog, but not because I agreed with former tenant’s assessment of my talents and character, or lack thereof. I mainly aborted the fiction blog because I knew that Bill was going to take legal action against ex landlady. I didn’t want to complicate matters with my creative and purely fictional doodlings. Thanks to former tenant, ex landlady and her other flying monkeys were on high alert. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of using me to fight against Bill in court.

Former tenant probably thought she’d fixed things when I abruptly stopped writing my fiction story. But it soon became quite clear to her that things were about to get much worse. I’m sure, if she was still capable of hindsight, she might have preferred to mind her own business and not interfere in situations that don’t involve her. Unfortunately, she was entitled and emboldened enough to meddle, and made things a lot more difficult than they needed to be. Really… knowing ex landlady, losing money was probably a lot worse for her than being the fodder for little read fictionalized short stories that were inspired by her narcissistic, passive-aggressive, crazy-making behaviors. I’m sure she also might have preferred my use of a creative outlet rather than my going off on her to her face. Trust me. She got VERY close to that experience, and I feel pretty sure she would not have enjoyed it at all.

In retrospect, for many reasons, I probably should have made the fiction blog invite only, and then opened it to the public years later. Maybe, if and when I feel inspired to write fiction again, I’ll do it that way. Or maybe I’ll just self-publish a book, like my friend Alex is doing. I no longer have to worry about getting any nastygrams from former tenant, since she is no longer among the living. I’m truly sorry she’s no longer with us, mainly because I know she has loved ones who miss her.

I don’t know what former tenant’s motivation was for harassing me. She obviously lacked understanding of the situation on a number of levels. Or, maybe she simply didn’t care. Maybe I wasn’t an actual person to her… or a worthwhile person, anyway. She was clearly a lot more concerned about her former landlady of 18 months, than she was about what was happening to us– the people who innocently took her place for four years. I wouldn’t necessarily expect her to care about us, but I certainly expected her to have a better understanding of things before assuming she had the right to send me chastising and accusatory PMs about my writing projects. In the end, I guess we did the right thing and just let the law handle it.

I know I’ve written about former tenant’s interference before, so I don’t want to rehash it too much. It’s just that reading Jay Manuel’s novel reminded me of that situation. Some people don’t realize that creative people are inspired by literally everything. You might not think writers, artists, musicians, or other creative types ought to be inspired by things that are negative. I’m sure, to former tenant, I should have just suffered in silence… or just privately talked trash to people in the community… or spoken to a therapist, or whatever, instead of channeling that experience into a fiction story.

Or, maybe she felt my complaints weren’t worthy of consideration. Maybe she thought it was okay that I was being screamed at, slandered, and blamed for things that weren’t my doing. Maybe she thought I should have just smiled and sucked it up, rather than trying to process it in a way that was funny and creative. Of course, given what happened to her, I can’t say that she was the best judge of what people should do to preserve their own mental health.

I don’t know Jay Manuel, but he’s obviously a creative guy. And as I read his novel, I recognize the Narcissism 101 traits of his protagonist, Keisha Kash, who is clearly modeled (heh heh- see what I did there?) after Tyra Banks. Last night, I read a couple of passages aloud to Bill. After one passage, I quipped “She sounds like a female Donald Trump!” And yes, it IS a fictionalized book, but obviously, there’s some truth in jest.

Tyra even said it herself to a contestant who got eliminated in Cycle 10. When the exiting model said, “I think I’ll go be an anesthesiologist,” Tyra replied that that was why she was “going home.”

When the contestant said she was “just kidding”, Tyra said, “There’s truth in jest.”

Jay Manuel’s book is obviously snarky, humorous, and satirical, but… “there’s truth in jest.” I have absolutely zero doubts that he drew from a huge well of direct experiences for inspiration when he wrote his book. In fact, as glamorous and exciting as fashion seems to be, Manuel reminds his readers that that world– along with the entertainment industry– is loaded with narcissistic creeps who ruthlessly tear down good people with their obnoxious, entitled, selfish, and crazy behaviors. So… although I think The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown could be improved with help from a professional editor, I also congratulate Jay for turning his experiences on ANTM into art… digital art, in my case, as I’m reading it on the Kindle app. πŸ˜‰

Maybe someday, I’ll be ready to write fiction again. And perhaps there will be some people who will see themselves in my words. There are many ways to be inspirational… and perhaps we can even take heart, realizing that even the most awful people can lead to the creation of something beautiful, entertaining, or educational. I have said and written it often, and it bears repeating… Even the worst things can inspire good things.

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