This week, I’ve been writing about some learning curves I’ve been handling as I’ve tried to make our house “smarter”. The “smart house” project has invariably left me feeling dumber, as I’ve repeatedly run into roadblocks in my quest to “modernize” and “simplify” my life. Life will often show you that sometimes trying to make things easier invariably leads to making things more complicated.
I did manage to solve a couple of annoying and persistent problems, though. For instance, we weren’t awakened at midnight by the lamp in the bedroom turning itself on, as it did the first two nights after I installed “smart light bulbs”. I figured out what was causing the light to turn on by itself and toggled the switch in the opposite direction. I won’t know if I was successful with the downstairs lamp that was doing the same thing until later today. I do have a feeling the issue is now fixed, though. I might as well think positive, right?
Yesterday, I was flummoxed by an issue with my blogs. My friend Thomas mentioned that he wasn’t able to comment. Since I don’t usually comment on my own posts, I was unaware of the problem. I thought my writing was just sucking unusually hard lately. Even my other friend, Alex, who is probably the current number one commenter, was as silent as the grave. I know Alexis, who is a long time reader, is very busy with her life right now, since she just got married and has embarked on her career.
I tried to summon help via WordPress. I clicked on the “support” button and was engaged in a chat, but then got knocked offline. Later, when I was back online, I couldn’t find the chat, so gave up on that. I resigned myself to trying again later, when I was in a better mood. What really annoyed me is the fact that I had just spent $500 to renew the site for two more years.
In the process of trying to troubleshoot my comment issues, I accidentally ended up deleting StatCounter from my site, which made it look like no one was reading the blog. That made me think about something that happened a few years ago, when we first moved to Wiesbaden. I think of that time as a low point in my “blogging career”.
At that time, we were having serious issues with our former landlady trying to bully Bill into letting her keep most of our security deposit. I think she had actually planned to keep all of it, but Bill protested, so she gave us about 660 euros (out of 3200). She made some false accusations to support her attempt to “take the piss”, as the Brits and Irish like to put it.
What made matters worse is the actions of the former tenant, who had lived in the house just before us, and was, unbeknownst to me, monitoring my blogs. She sent me a mocking private message, shaming me for being so “mean” to the former landlady. This person didn’t actually know me very well. She’d met me offline twice, back in 2014, and had otherwise formed her (apparently negative) opinions of me on what she’d read in my posts and heard from the ex landlady. She basically implied that I was a loser and my blog sucked. It was a sentiment that was echoed by other people in our community, although I know not everyone felt that way.
As you might imagine, ex landlady’s behavior really pissed us off. I vented about it in a couple of posts, though I never named any names. Former tenant disagreed with my assessment of my own situation and, for whatever reason, decided to try to intervene on our ex landlady’s behalf. Because I didn’t really know her very well, it was hard to determine if she was just trying to cover her own ass, or if she really thought I’m an awful person. She also made a false accusation that was pretty hurtful.
We eventually sued the former landlady, and I moved my blogs to WordPress, which required another learning curve. Then we got hit with COVID-19, which pretty much killed my once vibrant travel blog. Taking that action meant starting over, to some extent. I think WordPress is a better platform, current technical difficulties notwithstanding. Starting over has also been good, for the most part, although it has meant reposting a lot of stuff.
Back in late 2018-2019, I was feeling legitimately sad for several reasons. Bill and I had really enjoyed living in the Stuttgart area. It was our favorite of his duty stations when he was on active duty in the Army. In spite of our housing issues during our second stint, we still delighted in living in that area when we came back to Germany.
I made the mistake of getting too involved in the local military community, especially with a blog called “The Overeducated Housewife”, which seemed to really trigger some people. I wasn’t a blogger when we were in Stuttgart the first time, and Facebook was still in its infancy. In the five years we were back in the States, the community became overrun with Facebook groups. I joined way too many of them, which led to unpleasant interactions with strangers. It wasn’t unlike spending all day on a Facebook comment section for a major newspaper, if you catch my drift. Add in the fact that there were a lot of bloggers who were “competing” for readers and the odd “professional jealousy”. It wasn’t fun, although I had a lot more readers back then.
Regardless of the dysfunctional military community and my place within it, the Stuttgart area still held a lot of appeal for us. I hated that we were leaving Stuttgart on bad terms with our former landlady, whom we really had tried to appease on multiple occasions. I was also genuinely sad to be leaving Stuttgart. In spite of everything, we had loved living there. I actually still miss it. I don’t miss the drama, though, nor do I miss dealing with mean people.
Four years later, I’m now extremely glad we moved. For multiple reasons, Wiesbaden has been a big improvement for us. We have a much better house, and a landlord who is genuinely kind and respectful. Yes, we pay a lot more rent, but we get treated like adults. We enjoy our privacy, and I don’t feel like I have to keep everything to our landlord’s standards. He likes our dogs, and has outwardly stated that he wants us to be happy. Our community is very inclusive and friendly.
I didn’t join a bunch of local Facebook groups, so I am not immersed in local dramas. Wiesbaden is a smaller installation, and the people who come here are mainly older Army folks, rather than people from all of the services. Stuttgart had a lot of young and immature people, and sometimes it felt very high school.
Although we are happier in Wiesbaden, sometimes I still feel like writing my blogs is a waste of time. Few people bother with the travel blog. I can’t blame them, since we have been traveling less due to COVID and Arran’s lymphoma. Writing my main blog sometimes feels pointless. I wonder why I still do it, especially when people can’t comment… or don’t want to. Or I come off like an asshole, even though I’m just writing about what’s in my head at the time.
Then a few months ago, Bill got curious about the former tenant who had been trying to interfere and had caused me so much angst in 2019. I unblocked her and found out that she’d committed suicide. While I hadn’t had any interactions with her whatsoever since 2019, I still felt bad about her decision to kill herself. I wondered what led to it. I couldn’t help but wonder if the former landlady blamed me for it, as irrational as that thought might seem. She seemed to blame me for everything else.
Former tenant and former landlady seemed to have this weird “mother/daughter” relationship going on. All I was looking for was a place to live. I ended up unwittingly becoming part of a strange “triangle” of sorts, as former landlady and former tenant were apparently talking shit about Bill and me, and invading our privacy. Then, when it finally went south, former tenant seemed to want to justify her interference. I could probably write an interesting short story about it… if I didn’t feel so weird about writing fiction now. Again… courtesy of former tenant, who felt the need to mock me for that, too.
So all of this shit came up last night, as I was lamenting dealing with the blog’s technological issues, and the fact that I felt like I was throwing messages in bottles in the blogosphere. Suddenly, I felt frustrated. I said to Bill, “I really don’t know why I keep blogging.”
Bill said, “I like what you write. You are a great storyteller. You have a way of turning any subject into something conversational.”
Then I smiled, remembering that Bill met me in a chat room. He used to read my erotic stories. I wrote them when I was in graduate school. They were cheap entertainment for both of us… a good distraction from public health and social work courses and internships. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my programs. It’s more that I’ve always had an innate need to write. I’ve always done it. I was always good at creative writing in school.
In the same way, I make music… or, I sing other people’s songs… at least for now. I’m still working on becoming a better guitar player. Maybe when that happens, I’ll write an original song. That could be a goal. My YouTube channel has picked up more followers lately, although I still don’t have that many. My song covers on YouTube are less controversial than my blog posts are. 😉
So, I guess the meaning of all of this is… I write because I’ve got nothing better to do, other than scrubbing lime stains out of the toilet, picking up dog shit in the backyard, and doing the laundry. I’m not a super happy housewife, but I’m probably happier doing that than working in a dead end job or waiting tables. I tell myself the blog is for me. If anyone else reads and enjoys it, so much the better. I actually like to read old posts, because they remind me of times past. I especially like the book reviews. But does it make me a worthwhile and productive person? Who knows? If people can’t or won’t comment, I can only guess.
It’s still easy to get discouraged, though. It’s discouraging when you rent a place to live, and the former tenant acts as a tattletale/spy and then kills herself. It’s discouraging when people are shitty because they don’t like the name of the blog, even if they’ve never even read it. It’s discouraging when no one can comment or wants to comment… or it looks like no one is even reading. It all starts to feel really pointless and dumb.
If I didn’t have my blogs, though, I’d probably still spend my time doing equally pointless and potentially destructive things. Blogging, in a sense, keeps me out of trouble and forces me to use my mind. But then, I post something that gets me into trouble… Maybe it’s better to write these things than say them out loud.
Ah well. I’ll probably have to engage the WordPress support people again soon. But for now, I hope some people are able to post comments, if they wish. I also hope those who do post comments remember that there’s a person behind the screen. Be gentle.