blog news, condescending twatbags, music, true crime

It’s the last Friday of 2022… so how about a few thoughts on the year?

I wasn’t going to share the featured photo, until I realized that it was dated December 24, 2021, which was a week before Betty White died… Eerie! I’d say that kind of sums up a lot of 2022.

Wow… here we are again at Friday! And it’s the very last Friday of 2022, too. Every year, I’m left amazed anew, when I realize how quickly time passes. The older I get, the faster it seems to go. As I’m sitting here thinking about what I would like to write about today, I decided to look at what I wrote about last year. I see that on December 30, 2021, I wrote one of my most popular blog posts– one I wrote about a 2008 French documentary titled America’s Broken Dream. For some reason, a lot of people have hit that post since I wrote it a year ago. I’ve even gotten some comments from people who aren’t regular readers. A couple of people also asked me to update the post with new information, which I haven’t really done.

I don’t really have any insider information about the documentary, or the people who were featured in it, including Amber and Daniel Carter, a young couple with two small children who seemed to be climbing out of poverty when Daniel got arrested for killing his neighbor. When I wrote that post, I was just inspired by my immediate thoughts, after randomly stumbling on the documentary while messing around on YouTube. A lot of people are still intrigued by America’s Broken Dream, but I’ve pretty much moved on, for now. I will keep allowing comments until the comments close automatically, but I don’t have anything to add at this point. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll be compelled to read more about Amber and Daniel Carter, and find out more about what became of them. They definitely have a story, and people are very interested. But, as I’ve unfortunately discovered, sometimes writing about true crime can lead to unpleasant interactions with people. I’d like to minimize those, if I can.

In August of this year, I decided to disable the Facebook page I used to run for this blog. I had been wanting to do it for awhile, but held off because I knew some readers used it to follow me. It also provided a way for people to contact me privately. I had some concerns about the page, though, because it was so public and difficult to monitor. I thought about circumventing that problem by converting the page into a group, but decided I didn’t want to do that, either. I already run two Facebook groups and I’ve mostly found the experience to be rather thankless and unsatisfying. If I’m honest, I think I’d like to discontinue my wine group, because half the time, it leads to drama and negative interactions with strangers who don’t appreciate what I do. The page was less work to administrate, but it was also a lot less secure. I knew the former tenant from our last home was watching it clandestinely, as a way of monitoring my activities. I don’t worry about her anymore, as the issue that prompted her to surveil me is now resolved… and also, I discovered that, for some reason, she decided to end her life.

So the former tenant stopped being an issue of concern… but then in August, I got a very irate private message from a family member of a true crime victim I had originally written about in 2014. The post was based on newspaper articles from several papers, and comments from a family member who messaged me when I originally wrote about it, in 2014. The irate correspondent apparently saw the repost and didn’t notice the original date of the article, which had been up for YEARS, and actually got little traffic. This person decided to send me a nastygram through the Facebook page, complete with legal threats. For the record, I was not at all worried about her threats. I use Statcounter, which allows me to see how long someone spends on my blog. I could see (and I documented) that she spent about two minutes, missed a lot of details, and was apparently unaware of a number of logistical issues that would have made her legal threats pretty hard to carry out. And if she was really that upset about the content of that post, she would have noticed and contacted me much sooner than eight years after I wrote it.

Nevertheless, even though I was pretty pissed off by her message and did not have to comply with her demands, I decided that the blog post she was upset about wasn’t that important, as no one but her and her associates were even reading it. So I’ve made it private, for now. I also blocked her on Facebook. Then I dismantled the Facebook page for this blog, because I’m not here to take abuse from random people who are upset by my opinions and just want to privately send me offensive comments. My mental health matters too, people. I am a real person, and I deserve to be addressed with basic respect, like anyone does. I will happily hear complaints from people, but I expect to be approached with civility. Those who can’t do that are not welcome here, and will be banned.

Recently, I revisited the post I wrote about that incident. It occurred to me that the poster must have also tried to find the now defunct “contact form page”, which I also disabled for similar reasons. I only got one or two rude responses on that page, but I found that the contact page was problematic because people were leaving comments on posts without identifying them. There were times when I literally didn’t know what they writing about. If they had simply responded to the post in question, it would have been more useful to everyone.

The irate woman who wrote to me a few months ago had hastily identified which post had gotten her so rattled (after eight years of it being online… REALLY?). She must have been looking for the contact form, found my explanatory post about why I no longer have one, and found the Facebook page instead. Well, she can take a bow, because her abusive rant caused me to permanently ax the Facebook page, too. I can’t say I miss it, or the weird messages it used to attract from everyone from unhinged anti-vaxxers to obnoxious Trump supporters. I would always see them right after I woke up, which is not a pleasant way to start the day. Now, if you want to address something I’ve written, you can do it publicly, so everyone can see your comments and share in the response.

Like I said, I’m not here to take abuse from random people. I have a right to express my opinions, as long as they aren’t defamatory, malicious, or deliberately presenting false information as the truth. And this is my space– which I pay for– so I will run it the way I wish. I think of my blog space in the same way most of you would govern your own homes. You wouldn’t put up with abuse from a guest in your home. I don’t put up with it on my blog. This person also wrote, with evident disgust, that I just do this “for the money”, which really made me laugh. I don’t make money from doing this. I have made some ad revenue, but it’s not even enough to pay for the subscription to WordPress. So, if anyone ever does want to try to sue me to get some of the “big bucks” I supposedly make from sharing my opinions, they’re gonna be disappointed on MANY levels. Below is what I’ve made on WordPress so far… since I started hosting ads in July 2021.

And on the less visited travel blog, where I’ve hosted ads from the beginning (July 2019), I’ve made a whopping $7.25. It takes $100 to cash out, so I might make money there after I’m dead.

True crime posts do generate a lot of interest, though. I find crime interesting to write about, as they usually involve ordinary people who do extraordinary things. When I use the word “extraordinary”, I mean “out of the ordinary” or “unusual”. I’m not using that word in the normally positive way. Sometimes, I notice people repeatedly hitting posts I’ve written about, and it’s a little creepy. Lately, I’ve noticed my posts about Frederick West Greene are getting a lot of hits. I’m glad I don’t live in the United States– for many reasons, really, but especially because it creeps me out that he’s no longer in prison (as far as I know).

My post about Betty White and misattributing quotes to her was also a big winner this year. I had written about her in late December 2021, not knowing that she would die on New Year’s Eve. A few days later, I wrote a post about how people were “honoring” her by sharing a funny comment that she never made. That post consistently gets hits and the odd share, although no one has commented on it yet. I think it’s one of my better ones, even though I’ve gotten some shit from people for having issues with misattributed quotes, too. One guy got so angry about a post I wrote that he blocked me on Facebook and complained to all his friends, who later hit the post repeatedly and generated some AdShare pennies. Thanks, guys.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a blogger, it’s that people aren’t always going to like what you do. But if all I ever did was write things about hearts and flowers, this blog would be very boring, both for me as a writer, and for you as a reader. Besides, that’s just really not me. I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of person. I think if I were that kind of person, I would probably be a lot more miserable than I actually am. Because it wouldn’t be natural for me to be so cheery and positive. It’s not in my DNA. Seriously… read some of my posts, and you know I come from a long line of the miserable… but talented. We’ve got lots of funny, talented, artistic people in my family. Lots of attractive people, too. Too bad I didn’t get the gene for being thin and athletic. SIGH.

2022 has been interesting. I would say it hasn’t been as bad as last year. At least most of the stupid pandemic restrictions went away, although I haven’t been traveling more or even going out much, hence my low earnings on the travel blog. That’s mostly because of our dog, Arran, who has cancer and will likely be leaving us sometime in the new year. I am trying to prepare for his exit, because I know it will hurt. But I also know that once he’s gone, there will be new opportunities… for travel, for making new human friends (which often happens when one adopts a pet), for new canine teachers, and for new overall wisdom. Death is just something that simply happens to everyone, at some point. It hurts, but it’s a necessary part of life. Arran has taught us a lot, and continues to teach us everyday. I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned from him was reiterated yesterday, when Bill came home from work. You can see, he taught Noyzi, too… And I think he’ll tell us when he’s done teaching and ready to move on to the next place in the universe.

Arran reminds us that it’s important to appreciate and welcome those we love back to the pack when they come home…

Well, it’s probably time I finished this post and got on with the day. Got to practice guitar, walk the dogs, and work on reading my next book, so I can review it for the interested. Maybe I’ll even record another song. An old high school friend heard a Pat Benatar cover I did the other day… a B.B. King from her one “blues” album, True Love, which she released in 1991. It hasn’t gotten many hits yet, but she said I have a knack for the blues. I believe her, because she was originally a music major at my alma mater before she transferred out and became a therapist. She’s right. I do have a knack for singing the blues… both literally, and in this blog. So I guess 2023 will bring more of the same. I hope a few of you will stay tuned for that. Maybe I’ll make more big bucks from blogging in 2023.

ETA: I forgot to mention, just a couple of weeks ago, I got the most hits I’ve ever gotten in one day when someone on Reddit shared a true crime post I wrote in November 2020 about Jessica Wiseman. It wasn’t even a particularly newsy post, but I probably made $5 because about four thousand people hit it in one day. I grew up near where Wiseman and her boyfriend murdered her parents. She was a juvenile, so she only spent a few years in juvenile hall. Her boyfriend, who was older, but apparently the less guilty of the pair, wound up being executed. I remembered the case and wrote about it, and it got noticed… which is especially notable to me, because it’s definitely not my best work. 😉

Standard
communication, dogs, Germany, social media

No need to shoot the messenger…

This post could just as easily work in my travel blog, but I am currently working on my latest travel series, and I don’t want to break it up with this post. Also, I like to keep things as non-controversial as possible on that blog. This post could wind up being contentious.

I currently live in Germany. I live here courtesy of Bill’s employment. He’s a retired Army officer who found work here after he finished his Army career. I had wanted to come back to Germany because we had to leave early when Bill was last posted here with the Army. He was actually posted to Germany with the Army twice, but we didn’t know each other during his first stint, which was back in the late 1980s. Anyway, even though I had wanted to move back here to Germany, I didn’t bank on us doing that. I actually had expected us to buy a house– probably in Texas– and settle there. In retrospect, I thank God that didn’t happen. My opinion of Texas has taken a huge tumble since 2014.

When we moved here in 2014, I never expected we’d still be here in 2022. Granted, yes, we did move from Stuttgart from Wiesbaden… and although I was a bit angsty about the move in 2018, I’m now very grateful we moved. Moving helped me make some changes in my Facebook habits. I quit following most of the military groups, for instance. I have found that it’s given me a lot more peace.

For many reasons, I don’t really fit in with the military crowd, even though I was raised by an Air Force officer and have spent my whole life around military folks. I tend to have more liberal political leanings. I am older, and don’t have children. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have several college degrees, which isn’t necessarily a rarity among today’s military spouses, but having a lot of formal education is less common than it is common. A lot of people, especially in the military community, find me obnoxious or annoying. I suspect it’s because a lot of them have trouble dealing with strong and/or opinionated women, especially when the women are also formally educated, and especially when they are professionals. It is what it is.

Last night, I witnessed a professional woman working in the military community being berated. It was kind of a perfect storm– a woman who is passionate about her work as a professional dog trainer was trying to do a good thing. She ended up upsetting someone, who– I think– got his panties in a huge wad over something that, in the grand scheme of things, had little to do with him. The dog trainer really did appear to be trying to do the right thing, and the guy she inadvertently upset took her comments very personally and made a big stink. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in Facebook groups that involve the military, although in this case, I don’t think the man involved was ever in the military. However, he was kind of acting like some of the worst offenders in some of the military groups.

As we all know, it’s holiday time. That means a lot of people are wanting to travel. For those of us who have pets, travel can be difficult, especially when it involves flying to the US or other parts of the world. Many people in the US military community have limited incomes or want to travel on a whim. These two things can make them inadvertently break German laws regarding dog ownership. A lot of Americans will ask for people to come to their homes to feed and walk their dogs, rather than boarding them, or having the dog stay with someone, or having someone stay at their home. While this is not something I would ever feel comfortable doing myself, I know a lot of people in the States are perfectly okay with this arrangement. However– it’s against German law to leave dogs alone for hours on end.

A couple of people in our local pet group posted requests for people to come let their dogs out and feed them. The dog training lady, who is American but has lived in Germany for years, pointed out that simply having people come to the house to feed and walk the dog is illegal here. On one post, the original author was grateful for the clarification and open to suggestions. But then there was another post. See below:

hello! I will be in the States Dec 5-9.

We need someone to come take our dogs out to the enclosed yard DEC 6/7/8/9 to poop and pee and get some loving around 12n 1300 each day. (30min or so). We live in

Nothing more than inside playing with the 3 and making sure all

go out into the yard for pee & poo

The dog trainer lady, understandably, thought this was yet another solicitation for someone to just come over to feed and toilet the dogs. So she left a comment.

HBB= home based business. I also agree that the initial post made it sound like no one else would be home. I have a degree in English, so I don’t think I have an issue understanding grammar. A lot of people in the military community don’t have both spouses working and would travel together. This gent obviously doesn’t have a household like that, but that wasn’t clear from the initial post.

So anyway, the dog trainer lady then made a general “blast” announcement. She didn’t call out anyone specific in her post, and what she wrote wasn’t incorrect. See below:

Hello everyone,

I have met the most amazing dog owners who I work with in this community and I think the majority are absolutely wonderful.

However, as a professional dog trainer and behaviourist, it’s important that I try to inform as many dog/pet owners as possible that it is very unhealthy and cruel to leave your dogs alone at your home when you are out of town. It is not enough to just have someone stop by to let them out and feed them!

There are other options to board or have someone stay at your home if you plan enough ahead.

The gentleman who got upset with the trainer for misunderstanding his situation apparently felt “seen” and shamed. So, amid the people who were praising the trainer for her informative post, he added his own comment.

Oh wow. 

READ MY POST and use the grammar you learned in school. 

We have lived in Germany over 6 years. 

We know how to take care of our dogs and again, anyone can look at my original post and detect the difference between “I will be gone” and “We need help”

We are not stupid. 

Get a life.

I don’t quite understand why it was necessary to get this pissy over the dog trainer’s post. She didn’t specifically call the guy out, and there have been multiple requests in the group for people to come to community members’ homes and take care of their animals without actually staying over. Moreover, what the trainer wrote isn’t wrong. If someone feels “seen” or “judged” by what she wrote, maybe they should take a look at themselves… or realize that sometimes your actual meaning will get lost in what you write in a Facebook post, even when you do your best to be clear (which I don’t think this fellow did). It doesn’t mean someone is stupid or uneducated, nor does it warrant “shooting the messenger”. They had a miscommunication. It happens. That doesn’t require acting like your sandy undies are lodged way up your ass.

I felt the need to leave a comment, so I did… and I have to admit, I was a little nervous in doing so, because people tend to think I’m “uppity” or whatever. This was my comment:

I don’t think she’s calling out anyone specific. It’s pretty common for some folks in the military community to leave their dogs at home and just have people come by. It’s not an uncommon practice in the US, and some people just do what they always do at home.

I’ve lived in Stuttgart and Wiesbaden for ten years total, and I have seen people do this in both places. There’s no need to take things personally or shoot the messenger. The fact is, she’s right. It’s not legal to leave your dog alone for hours. She’s not wrong to point it out. Maybe her post will help prevent someone getting in trouble with their neighbors, landlord, the police, or all three. 

It’s also not legal to spank your kids here, but mention that in a military group and see how quickly things go south! 

Other people left comments lamenting how expensive and difficult it is to find appropriate pet sitters for when they want or need to travel. I totally understand that. To one lady who commented on that issue, I wrote this story:

I get it, however, there is another solution to this wanting to travel/lack of pet care situation. When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, we used a boarding facility that was fabulous. In the five years we were gone, the lady who made it fabulous left. A new person, who was nice but not very competent, came on board.

It didn’t take long before that facility, which had once been highly regarded, fell into severe disrepute. My husband actually knew a guy whose dog DIED in their care. I knew someone whose dog got hurt and had to be euthanized. Other people’s dogs got very sick because they didn’t take care of them properly. This was especially true for any dog that needed medications, or other special care. Lots of people, understandably, quit booking there. 

So we switched facilities, as did a lot of other people. That led to having to book our spots ages in advance, if we were going on a cruise or somewhere on a plane. 

You know what we did? We started bringing our dogs with us. It was pretty great, too, because we found places we never would have gone to if we hadn’t brought our dogs. One of my favorite vacation memories is of a rabbit and snail farm in rural France. It was a really cool place with alpacas, goats, horses, and an awesome donkey named Antoine. We never would have gone there if not for our dogs coming with us. We had a great time, and so did our dogs. One of those dogs is now at the Rainbow Bridge, but I have great memories of him in France with us and the awesome donkey. 

Last week, we went to Ribeauville for the sixth time to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Why? Because one of our dogs is currently having chemo and I didn’t want him to be boarded. But I still wanted to celebrate our milestone anniversary. So he and our other dog— a mammoth sized street dog from Kosovo who takes up the whole back end of our Volvo— came with us. It was the Kosovo dog’s first trip, but I knew where we were going was very pet friendly. We went, had a great time, and our chemo dog got care from us, while the street dog finally learned to poop on the leash.

Pet boarding is always going to be tough. It’s not as bad here as it was in Stuttgart, when that place went into disrepute. When it comes down to it, though, it’s our responsibility as pet owners. The lovely thing about Europe is that, if need be, you can take them with you. And if anyone wants the link for where we stayed in Ribeauville, just let me know. The landlord is VERY pet friendly and his wife won’t let him have a dog.

She wrote that she has a very large dog, so she can’t travel with the dog so easily. I get that… and I understand that sometimes situations and circumstances lead people to adopt dogs that might be hard to travel with due to their breed, size, or other issues. But when it comes down to it, it’s our responsibility as dog owners to follow the laws. Many Germans, especially in military towns, already think Americans are irresponsible pet owners. The practice of leaving dogs alone for an excessive number of hours (more than five) doesn’t help repair that image. I do empathize, though. Especially when someone is single and has a dog, but has to work a lot. I am home almost all the time, and in all of the German villages where I’ve lived, someone has commented on my dogs’ barking. The most recent comment came from my next door neighbor’s mother, who is also a neighbor. They have a labrador who barks all the time, too.

Other people tried to diffuse the situation a bit. But the guy who was pissed at the trainer wasn’t moved, as you can see below.

Actually, she didn’t call him irresponsible. She said the practice of leaving a dog home alone while you vacation is cruel and irresponsible. And it is. But he hadn’t yet clarified his situation when she posted that comment. Then she advised him to be clearer about his situation, which obviously really upset him.

I would have thought that this would be the end of the spat, but no… the guy posted again– another separate post about how insulted he was by the situation.

Thank you for everyone who responded to my post about needing someone to visit & play with OUR dogs for MY trip to the states the first week of December.

WE have found someone who can take OUR 3 doggies out for the days I will not be in town and my partner can’t make it home during the day.

SO unfortunate others weren’t able to read my intent in my original post but I’m thrilled with those that stepped up to help. Whilst my initial punctuation was not correct, my grammar was.

Oh, and again, HBB business owners should never try and insult potential clients publicly. Get your facts straight before you call pet owners irresponsible.

Have a great night all!

Mmm’kay… well, I don’t know about how this came across to other people, but I don’t think the dog trainer was insulting him, personally. She was criticizing the practice of leaving dogs home alone for too many hours, which many Americans are guilty of doing. Here’s another post that appeared last night, as proof:

Please delete if not allowed but there has been hours of what sounds like 2 dogs barking and crying. This is not the first time this has happened (last time it occurred all night until 730am). The barking is coming from the area surrounding the playground at the top of Arizona/Virginia/Texas Strasse. As much as it is loud and makes it hard to sleep, I am genuinely concerned for these dogs.

It’s 12:50 am right now.

The dog trainer obviously didn’t know the guy from Adam when he first posted, and his initial post wasn’t that clear that someone would be home at night. But he took what she wrote as a personal insult, when it probably wasn’t meant that way at all. And then he turned into a proper jerk with the above comments in a follow up post, highlighting his grammar as if people are intellectually delayed and need the emphasis. I didn’t write this thought in his post, because I have no interest in engaging with someone that thin skinned, but my response to him would be that I would hope a dog trainer running a home based business in Germany would care enough to know the local laws regarding dog ownership and point them out, even if potential clients are “offended” or insulted. And honestly, I would not want this guy as a client, because he obviously has a pretty short fuse and is unreasonable. There was no need for this situation to blow up in the way it did. Imagine his reaction if something were to go wrong when he hires someone to take care of his dogs. He’s probably very litigious. He would not have liked Max, our sitter in Stuttgart, who was very free about lecturing us, sometimes unnecessarily. Yes, it was annoying and kind of insulting at the time, but he wasn’t wrong to do it. He had our dogs’ welfare in mind, which is a quality I highly regard in someone who makes their living taking care of or training dogs.

Should the dog trainer been a little more careful about her comment being seen as an accusation? Maybe… because obviously, some people are going to take offense when none is really intended. He clarified the situation, and she recommended that he add that to his original post so people wouldn’t make erroneous assumptions. He could have just done that and been done with the drama. Instead, he chose to get really offended and go on the warpath, insulting the dog trainer by insinuating that she’s uneducated. In the process, I learned a lot about him that wasn’t very flattering. He’s evidently a very rude person, which is interesting, given that according to his profile, he’s made his living in customer service.

What makes this worse is that someone else piled on with the pissy guy, agreeing that the dog trainer was “shaming” and lording her profession over “parents of fur babies”, who love their dogs but don’t always follow host nation rules. It’s the same kind of shit I’ve gotten in a lot of military groups, because as a woman and a “dependa”, I am supposed to just shut up and color, rather than express an opinion or be myself. I think the person who made the comment about being a parent of fur babies is someone who has bought into the mindset that no one should claim to be an expert, because it makes them feel inferior. Seriously… this is a thing in military communities. People get threatened by professionals and/or educated people, especially when the person who is educated is a woman. Military communities tend to be quite sexist.

I really didn’t think the dog trainer was “condemning” anyone in her “blast” post. Her comment to the pissy guy was a little less friendly, but my guess that came from the frustration of seeing a bunch of people asking for drop by dog sitting, rather than having someone stay with the dogs. Granted, she misinterpreted his initial post, but I can see how that happened. His initial post wasn’t absolutely clear. I got the same impression the dog trainer did.

To be clear– the original poster– the pissy guy– does not appear to be military affiliated. But his adversarial attitude is one that is very common in military groups. It’s not productive. And it added fuel to a post that, in my opinion, really should not have been controversial at all. Instead of just leaving a reasonable response and extending some grace, he got very offended by what he saw as a stranger insulting him. The woman who sided with pissy guy is still arguing about what the local laws are. She insists that dogs aren’t to be left alone, crated. I can tell her that the Germans in my neighborhood don’t hesitate to say something when dogs are howling, even if they, themselves, have dogs that howl and bark. 😉 It doesn’t matter if the dog is crated. If your dog is making a lot of noise and you have uptight neighbors, you might wind up hearing from the police. So knowing and heeding the laws is a good practice, even if it’s not what you’d do at home in America. And if a professional dog trainer doesn’t know, and/or isn’t advocating for following the laws, that’s a much bigger issue than “insulting” or offending potential clients. Just my opinion. 😉

Anyway… this kind of ridiculous crap is why I now avoid military affiliated Facebook groups, except for the one I run… which doesn’t tend to be very controversial, since it’s about food and wine. But even in that group, sometimes I have to clean house.

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, News, rants

“If someone is going to be examining your junk, you have the right to exact high standards…”

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I woke up to pee, probably because Bill got up to pee. He was on the potty when I went into the bathroom. After our encounter, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I started reading the news. There was an article about how hospitals in Ukraine are dealing with shortages of oxygen, thanks to the Russian invasion and the high number of COVID patients. I was kind of awestruck by the picture of the hospital interior. I was reminded that Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, because the photo reminded me of the inside of an Armenian hospital I once visited in 1996. I was surprised that the Ukrainian facility still looked like a 90s era post Soviet hospital.

Then I went to the comment section, where some guy was complaining about the paywall. It always irks me when people bitch about having to pay for newspapers, as if they would be willing to work for free or give away their valuables. The complainer maintained that all coverage about COVID should be free of charge, in the interest of health promotion. For many months, The New York Times provided plenty of free coverage on COVID. Moreover, there are lots of news sources out there. The New York Times isn’t a free publication. It never has been. One doesn’t go into a store and read a print edition, as if one would at a library. Why should it be any different online? And how do people expect journalists to do their jobs if there’s no income stream with which to pay them for their work?

I’ve complained about that phenomenon more than once in this rag of a blog of mine. I’m not wanting to do it again today. I’m just building up to my point, which I’ll get to in due time. Suffice to say that people who whine about having to pay for quality journalism really get on my nerves. I didn’t leave a comment for the whiny bastard. Someone else kindly did it for me, and in good style. However, one thing I did notice, was that the whiny bastard left an entitled response when someone recommended that he block The New York Times from his feed and/or find another, free or cost-effective, news source. This is what he wrote:

1. I will not block them from my feed. Even the headlines are of some value. 2. I certainly didn’t need you to tell me there are other sources of information. I’ve examined dozens just today. 3. If they could publish free articles about COVID, then they certainly could do it in this case, for the same reason – to preserve human life. (Profit took a backseat to doing the right thing then, and so it should now!)

Then, when the person who engaged him advised him to stop complaining, he wrote:

The NYT seems to have a purpose behind this article. To provoke empathy for the suffering people. And, knowing the long reach of their newsfeed, it will get the notice of people who could help. So why put a speed bump in the way, an impediment to humanitarian aid. It doesn’t make sense. (And to remind you, I have a right to express myself – remember America is a land of Freedom of Expression. So I’ll complain all I want, for as long as I want! Many times in my past my complaints have produced real change, sometimes they’ve just changed people’s minds. Either way, Not Going Anywhere !)

I still don’t understand why his points about the shortage of oxygen in Ukrainian hospitals entitle him to read the paper for free. It sounds to me like he’s just cheap. He even admitted that “even the headlines are of some value.” So he admits that the paper is valuable. He just doesn’t want to support it by subscribing. Either way, I guarantee that complaining about paywalls in a comment section on Facebook won’t make a happy damn to the bean counters. They offer a valuable product for which many people, myself included, are willing to pay. I use The New York Times every day. It’s worth the money to me.

I was still somewhat exasperated after reading that exchange. That guy is an example of a person I can do without, although he’s probably a nice enough fellow when he isn’t bitching about paywalls. As Bill and I were enjoying breakfast, I somehow got on a tangent about other people who get on my nerves. I was suddenly reminded of a woman I used to regularly rant about years ago. She was just one of those people who irritated the ever living hell out of me. I think that guy’s comment reminded me of that woman, whom I used to call “Ms. Overly Helpful”.

In the years before social media, I used to hang out on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers. I ran into some really great ladies. I also ran into a few assholes, although in fairness, I’m sure some of them thought of me as an asshole, too. In any case, Ms. OH was just one of those people with whom I can’t mesh. I know she has many friends, fans, and loved ones. I’m just not among them.

There’s no shame in that, by the way. Even the most likable people in the world have some people in their lives who can’t stand them. Bea Arthur, for example, famously disliked Betty White, of all people! I don’t know why, but it was widely reported that Bea didn’t like Betty at all. Even Betty, herself, admitted it. I read that Bea found Betty’s unflappable optimism annoying. To be honest, I think that would annoy me, too. I remember on The Golden Girls, there was even an episode about how Rose Nylund annoys a work colleague by incessantly trying to be his friend, when he didn’t want to be friends with her. Below is an exchange from that episode.

Roger doesn’t want to be friends with Rose. I can relate.

Ms. OH was a little like that sometimes. She fancied herself an “Earth Mother” type, and would offer me unsolicited advice and opinions. Every time I made a comment, she would contradict me in the most patronizing and infuriating ways. And I would try to hold back on the urge to be rude to her, because her comments would almost always rub me the wrong way. Like, for instance, she would question things like whether or not I should buy a new car (used is sooo much cheaper), or a new computer (have I done everything I can to make the old one last)… or whether or not I should be concerned about a strange man loitering by my mailbox (maybe he’s perfectly harmless– stop being so suspicious!). See what I mean?

I remember one time, we had a row that got quite contentious. I commented to her, quite frankly, but as politely as I could, that whether or not it was her intention to be offensive, I found her contrary responses to be disrespectful and condescending. I really tried hard not to be as nasty as I felt like being, while still making it clear that she was pissing me off, and asking her to cease and desist. I didn’t tell her to “fuck off”, though. I just clearly informed her that her comments were offending me. Ms. OH’s response was to send me a private message angrily berating me for “insulting her”. All I really wanted was for her to just leave me the fuck alone! I couldn’t block her on the message board, because we were both “admins”.

So anyway, once we all migrated to Facebook, one day I quietly dropped her from my friends list. For awhile, it was fine. I didn’t have so many encounters with her, and that made my life better. But then I got added to a Facebook group for second wives and stepmothers. It was 2012, so I had just turned 40. I got a message from the local Army clinic that it was time to schedule my first mammogram (which I still haven’t done, and I’m now 49). The clinic had also assigned a primary care manager to me; someone I hadn’t chosen and had never met before. I knew that if I went in to see the physician’s assistant assigned to me, she’d probably want to do other stuff, and quite frankly, that was very scary to me. I have a real “phobia” of medical providers, particularly the ones who want to examine my junk. It’s because I had a traumatic first experience with an OB-GYN.

I looked up the P.A. online, and found some public photos of her that made me think she wouldn’t be mature enough to deal with my issues. She was quite young and inexperienced. So I casually mentioned to my friends in the group that I thought I would be changing my primary healthcare provider, because the one the Army had assigned to me was a poor fit. Ms. OH, and a few others, were offended by my decision. In Ms. OH’s case, it was because her daughter is/was a young healthcare provider who likes to party. She was sure to tell me that her daughter would give me “excellent” care if I went to her, even though she has a “personal life” and likes to party sometimes.

Of course, I had to sigh at that response… because my situation with the Army P.A. I’d never met didn’t have a fucking thing to do with Ms. OH’s daughter. However, I also knew that I would never voluntarily choose to see Ms. OH’s daughter for healthcare, simply because she is Ms. OH’s daughter. I would rather see someone who doesn’t have such an intimate connection to someone who gets on my last nerve. And that choice should be okay, since there are plenty of people in the world who would happily see her daughter for healthcare, just as the P.A. who was assigned to me had a whole shitload of people on her list who would have no issues whatsoever seeing her.

I was just a name on a piece of paper to the P.A., so it’s not like my choice not to see her was even a personal affront. She wouldn’t be losing any money or prestige by my decision. In fact, she wouldn’t even be the wiser about it. I just wanted someone older and more experienced. What the hell is wrong with that? Like I said… if you’re going to examine my junk, I have the right to exact high standards. I honestly couldn’t see why this was such a big deal, and I never expected the controversy to arise the way it did in that group.

Well, the whole controversy was finally blowing over, until Ms. OH chimed in again, and then the issue blew up anew, with new people berating me for having my standards. They were more concerned about my not offending the healthcare provider by being “prejudicial” due to her public social media posts, than my own comfort and sense of trust. I was pretty flabbergasted, since I didn’t realize my choices regarding healthcare providers was up for debate. I mean, wouldn’t “friends” want me to be comfortable with and confident regarding my healthcare providers? But it soon got very ugly… so I quietly removed myself from the group. Ms. OH noticed, and sent me an email, which was, for once, not totally offensive. She wrote that she was glad I was “okay”. Fine.

Incidentally, Bill did end up seeing that P.A. and it turned out my instincts about her were correct. Bill has hypertension, but his case is unusual because he also has congenital hyponatremia (chronically low blood sodium). The P.A. gave him the usual spiel about avoiding stress, exercising, eating right, and not salting his food. However, because of Bill’s unusual and unique blood chemistry, actually he has been told by physicians that he should use salt. In his case, not salting his food is bad advice, in spite of his having high blood pressure. I’m sure the P.A. has plenty of textbook knowledge, and by now, she’s probably very experienced. But my instincts to avoid her were good, because in 2012, she was still pretty “green”.

A couple of years later, I ran into Ms. OH again on social media, and she made another passive aggressive dig to me regarding alcoholism, which is a sensitive topic for me. Having interacted with me for years, I think she was very aware that it was a delicate topic for me. I didn’t think her snarky comment, along with winkie smilies, was innocent, nor did I appreciate it at all. She also had a laugh at my expense, which angered me.

This time, I decided enough was enough, and I blocked her. Then I told Bill, “You wait. As soon as she sees that I blocked her, Ms. OH will send me an email.” Sure enough, I was right. Within a couple of hours, she’d sent an irate email DEMANDING to know why I blocked her. It was as if she felt I had no right to disassociate with her. My decision to block her was a personal affront, kind of like Rose Nylund trying to force her co-worker to be friends with her, when he didn’t want to be friends.

I was still really pissed off, and frankly, very surprised by her nerve. Usually, when people block you on social media, it means they DON’T want to talk to you. If you’re a basically decent person, you understand that the person doesn’t want to talk to you and respect that. And yet, here was Ms. OH, feeling quite entitled to bother me with an angry and demanding email. Part of me felt like ripping her a new one. But I thought better of it, and simply ignored her. Several years later, I unblocked her on Facebook. She took the first available opportunity to apologize to me, which was nice enough, although still kind of controlling– kind of like Hoovering. It was her way of getting the last word, I guess. I was gracious about it, and thankfully, that was that.

Anyway, I guess that commenter on The New York Times reminded me of Ms. OH, with his complaints about paywalls. How dare The New York Times expect payment for services rendered? And how dare a fellow reader take him to task for his whining, which he mistakenly believes will amount to anything more than laughing reactions and irritated comments from other Facebook users? And how dare I have standards for people who have intimate contact with my medical history and my body? How dare I make decisions about with whom I will communicate? People like the guy on The New York Times thread and Ms. OH are entitled twits. I don’t know the commenter at all, but I have to say that expecting to read newspaper content for free makes him appear to be pretty narcissistic, if not a bit deluded. But, since I don’t know the guy, and I feel that people should get the benefit of the doubt whenever possible, I’ll just assume he simply hasn’t thought very much about how journalists make a living.

Well, the dogs are demanding a walk, so I better wrap this up. Have a nice Monday, y’all.

Standard
condescending twatbags, Ex, memories, narcissists, nostalgia

“Dick”… a man who doesn’t know dick! On not “suffering in silence” anymore…

Last night, I was on Facebook, reminiscing with fellow Longwood University graduates about a wonderful professor we all knew. In my case, she was the very first Longwood professor I met when I came to orientation during the summer of 1990. I was immediately impressed by her optimism and enthusiasm. She was friendly and fun and dynamic, and it was all 100% genuine. She really set an exciting tone for me during those early days at Longwood. I’ve never forgotten it, or her. She was the first of MANY excellent professors I had in college.

For many years, this professor taught speech and theater. I was an English major, but I had double minors in speech and communications, so I did end up having her for one of my classes. I always remember her to be a wonderful, kind, and energetic role model.

A little 90s era mood music for people like “Dick”…

During my junior year at Longwood, I had this professor for a course called Interpersonal Communications. It was a large class, so after class began, she decided to split it into two sections. She wanted me to take the later section, which was co-taught by a teaching assistant. I had a conflict, though, because I was also taking voice lessons in the music department, and my lessons were scheduled during the time the other section was being held. Voice lessons were arranged privately between teacher and student. Obviously, my Interpersonal Communications professor had looked up everyone’s schedules, saw that I didn’t have another scheduled class, and figured she could just stick me in the other section.

I don’t remember why we did it this way, but I ended up attending both sections of the class. On the days I had my voice lessons, I went to the earlier session. On the other days, I went to the later class. It worked out fine, and I got an A in the class, although I wonder what would have happened if I’d had a job or some other commitment… but then, it was Farmville, Virginia in the early 90s, and jobs weren’t that plentiful in those days.

This professor’s class was always interesting. I remember she had people come in to speak to us. One day, a physical education professor, notorious for being a very tough grader, came in and told us about how he and his ex wife had lost a child to leukemia. I didn’t have this P.E. professor myself, but I remember my friends talking about how difficult his class was. When I heard his tragic story about how he’d lost a child and it ruined his marriage, I saw him in a very different light.

The professor also told us a lot about herself, and her history. I distinctly remember her talking about her first husband, the father of her sons, and how he was a severe alcoholic. My father was an alcoholic, so I empathized a lot with her story about her ex husband. One day, I wrote in a paper about my father and this professor gifted me with an insightful book about how to deal with alcoholics. I ended up passing it on to my mom, and she was so very grateful, because the book was helpful to her. I also remember going to this professor’s home one Saturday, along with the rest of our class, and being treated to a wonderful home cooked brunch. I still remember her delicious breakfast casserole.

Suffice to say… I have some very warm and fuzzy memories of this professor, and my college, where I got an excellent education in a supportive environment, and found so many lifelong friends. The professor is still living, but is currently in a nursing home/assisted living housing. Her health is declining. So we were all in this Facebook group, remembering her, and I was really enjoying all of the stories and memories… Someone shared her mailing address so people who love her can send cards to her.

And then, he showed up…

There’s one in every crowd, isn’t there? That person who just has to come in and shit on everything. That person who has to break wind in the middle of a room where there’s nothing but good vibes, sunshine, and fresh air. I’ll call him Dick, because frankly, that’s what he is. But that’s not his real name.

I kind of knew Dick when we were students at Longwood. We were both involved with the radio station. It was an activity I had really enjoyed and had a knack for doing. My junior year, someone nominated me for music director of the station. Dick was also nominated. He had ambitions to work in radio. I probably did too, although I don’t have the same kind of overbearing, domineering personality that Dick has.

I remember that Dick had rather forcefully inserted himself in the business at the radio station. He used to lecture everyone about the FCC regulations, warning the disc jockeys about not playing music with swear words, lest we get a “$50,000 FINE!”. I don’t remember why he was lecturing people, as at the time this was happening, he didn’t have any kind of official authority. We were all volunteers anyway.

I also remember that he was constantly ordering people to play new music instead of whatever they wanted to play on their shows. A lot of the music he wanted people to play, quite simply, sucked. But he was bound and determined to be in charge, and was trying to force everyone to do things his way, even though the station only had ten watts of power and could only be heard within a six mile radius of the school. He wanted to take over, come hell or high water.

I remember that Dick set his sights on vanquishing me in our mutual bid to be music director. He harassed me when I was on the air and complained about me to the station manager. He got his male radio station friends to gang up on me, even blatantly getting them to publicly endorse him during our meetings. His friends were popular and into music, but they were otherwise slackers who didn’t really give a shit about their educations.

I had worked very hard at radio, taking time slots for shows that no one else wanted. At one point, I was on the air from midnight to four in the morning on Saturdays. I did those shows because I truly loved radio, even though I’m not naturally a night owl and people weren’t always listening at that hour.

And then Dick came in and RUINED it. I have not forgotten that, nor, if I’m honest, can I say that I’ve forgiven him for being such an insufferable control freak and shitting on an activity I enjoyed so much. I’m not very good at forgiveness.

I couldn’t stand Dick, and since I was not as resilient or assertive back then as I am now, I ended up quitting the radio station so I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore. I regret that I did that now. In fact, even then I hated to do it. Unfortunately, once the radio station was overtaken by Dick and his cronies, I just couldn’t stomach it, or him.

Of course, today I would politely tell Dick to go fuck himself. Therapy is a good thing.

I never forgot Dick…

So last night, there we were, posting our memories about this beloved Longwood professor. In comes Dick.

Do you know what that asshole did? He related a story of his own about the professor. He’d had her for a class. Because she was a very caring and engaged teacher, one day she pulled him aside and asked him why he wasn’t participating in class. And Dick wrote that he told the professor he’d already read all the books she’d assigned when he was still in high school. He related this story in a smug, superior way, as if we should be impressed.

Then, to the rest of us, he wrote that Longwood isn’t a prestigious school like the University of Virginia or Rutgers University (Dick is from New Jersey). And that none of his employers ever cared that he went to Longwood.

Before I knew it, I posted “You were a total jerk in the 1990s, and I can see that nothing has changed.”

Someone else asked him what he was doing in the group, since he had such disdain for Longwood. Clearly the rest of us love the school, even if it’s not the most prestigious university. And, actually, Longwood is a pretty good school, especially for teachers, although there’s a lot more to a good college experience than reputation and acceptance rates. My husband, Bill, is a graduate of American University, which is a well-known, prestigious school. But he marvels all the time about the wonderful experience I had at Longwood, and the fact that I still know professors and fellow graduates almost thirty years post graduation.

Dick’s self-congratulatory post about how “above” Longwood he is, especially in a thread about a wonderful teacher, was bad form and totally out of place. It reminded me of something Donald Trump would do.

Maybe Longwood isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic school for many people. Dick has no right to come in and take a dump on other people’s good memories about a beloved professor with his negative, pompous, arrogant bullshit.

Dick responded to me. He wrote, “I don’t remember you at all.”

I’m not at all surprised that he doesn’t remember me; and, in fact, I am relieved. So I wrote, “Good. I’m glad you don’t remember me. Let’s keep it that way.”

This morning, I noticed that Dick’s comments were deleted. I hope he got deleted from the Facebook group, too, since he obviously has such a low opinion of our alma mater. What a narcissistic asshole!

Although maybe it was wrong for me to call Dick a “jerk”, it was obviously something he needed to hear. Or maybe it was just something I needed to tell him. I know I wasn’t the only person who couldn’t stand him back in the day. Based by the reactions he got last night, I’ll bet I wasn’t the only person who was shocked by his comments about our teacher. I’m sure a lot of people were suffering in silence.

Obviously, Dick hasn’t matured beyond who he was thirty years ago. But I have done a lot of growing… and I have Longwood, in part, to thank for that. It’s too bad Dick wasted his time at such an “inferior” school for his prodigious “gifts” and “talents”. Wish he’d gone somewhere else.

And now for a somewhat related segue about narcissism and how the universe allows us to fix recurring situations…

Bill and I have both noticed that sometimes, the universe gives you a way to fix wrongs from the past. Last night, I got a chance to tell “Dick” that he’s a jerk. I wouldn’t have ordinarily called him a jerk. Ordinarily, I would have used more profane language. But, because I was commenting in a thread about a wonderful Longwood professor, I decided to keep my comments rated PG. Yea for self-control! That’s something of which impulsive narcissists don’t have much!

Bill and I have had a lot of dealings with narcissists. Each time we deal with someone who is narcissistic or has a “high conflict personality”, we get better at handling or flat out avoiding their bullshit. Slowly, but surely, we’ve found ways to deal with difficult people more effectively, and in a healthier, more assertive manner.

It started with Bill’s ex wife. She is an extreme narcissist, and Bill’s years with her have severely affected us both. We still talk about her, although not nearly as much as we used to, since we’ve managed to process and completely recover from the damage she wrought on Bill. She still comes up today, though, because Bill has been talking to his younger daughter. Bill’s daughter is still extremely affected by her mother’s narcissism. She still talks to her mom, so she still gets injured by her. And then there’s all those years she spent growing up with her mom treating her like a possession/servant, rather than a separate human being who should have been allowed to be a child.

Bill and his younger daughter were kept apart for many years, so every time they Skype, they have a lot of ground to cover. The Ex inevitably comes up in every conversation… and with every conversation, new and shocking things are revealed. Last night, as I was reeling from “Dick’s” nerve, Bill was hearing the latest about his ex wife, and how she continues to use and abuse the people closest to her– especially the people she’s birthed. And she apparently HATES #3, but stays with him, because otherwise she’d either go on welfare or– horrors– be forced to work!

We really shouldn’t be shocked by Ex’s shenanigans, though. She’s just doing what all narcissists do. They behave in shockingly self-centered and inappropriate ways, leaving more reasonable and empathetic people with shaking hands and nausea, or maybe just a sick sort of amazement and head shaking at their incredible nerve.

I shouldn’t be so shocked when I hear stories about how, when Bill’s two daughters were growing up, they’d spend hours doing the laundry, folding and delivering the clean clothes. Ex would address the girls while looking at her cell phone. The piles of laundry would be sitting on her bed, and Ex would say, “Well, this is all fine and good, but you should be putting the clothes away for me, too.”

Younger daughter, to her credit, refused. She and Ex butted heads about a lot of things, because even though younger daughter is as kind and empathic as Bill is, she’s not a doormat. I saw this tendency in her when she was a child, and I remember telling Bill that I knew she and Ex would fight a lot as she came of age. At the time, I thought younger daughter was like her mother.

I knew she’d eventually get in touch with us, and I dreaded it, because I figured she’d try to manipulate us the way Bill’s former stepson had. But it turns out that, actually, younger daughter is a very good person who, underneath all of her empathy and kindness, has a backbone and a limit to what she’ll tolerate. And she very wisely got the hell out of her mother’s house as soon as she turned 18.

Unfortunately, older daughter is now 30 and still cleans her mother’s house, does the laundry, babysits her younger, severely autistic brother, and languishes with student debt that her mother forced her to take out and share the excess with the household. Older daughter doesn’t get along with the 18 year old daughter Ex has with #3, and she told Bill’s younger daughter that she was so happy because she’d gone into her sister’s room to change the sheets and suddenly realized her sister was at college.

Yes, it’s a shock that older daughter, who has a college degree and life skills, is still enslaved by her narcissistic mother and changing the sheets for her younger adult sister. But you get what you settle for, right? Ex’s daughter with #3 is allowed to go away to college, because she stayed in state, and Ex can exploit her student loans, just like she did with Bill’s daughters. But Ex didn’t want younger daughter to go to BYU… in fact, she even told younger daughter that she hadn’t turned out the way she was “supposed to”. She wasn’t supposed to go to BYU and marry a guy from Utah. She was supposed to stay close to Ex, so Ex could keep using her for doing chores and getting narcissistic supply.

Bill doesn’t mind talking to his daughter about Ex. They need to compare notes. That lessens Ex’s power, since younger daughter can get information for more credible sources than her mother, who lies and twists the truth to suit her agenda. Yes, it keeps Ex in our sphere, but we get better at dealing with her and laughing at her ridiculous antics, rather than getting upset by them. Just like last night, instead of suffering in silence when “Dick” stank up the room, I called him a jerk for hijacking our thread and making it about himself and his alleged superiority. Honestly… was he expecting us to be impressed by that? I’ll say it again. What a narcissistic asshole!

And, those of you who read my protected post from a couple of days ago, might also realize that I dealt with a similar troublemaker, who was stirring up shit in my wine group, by kicking her out and blocking her. I didn’t give her a chance to cause more trouble. She was literally making me feel physically ill with her toxic bullshit. So I kicked her out, dusted off my hands, and now, things are a lot more peaceful and stress free for me… and probably others who had suffered in silence.

I’m certainly not perfect. I have a lot of neuroses and complexes. I have a lot of hang ups that stem from my “troubled past”. I continue to work on them, though, and I think I’ve made some progress, even if it’s not always obvious to my readers or other people.

Maybe I shouldn’t have called “Dick” a jerk, but it sure felt good to do that, rather than suffer in silence. He needed to be called out for his self-important comments about how Longwood was “beneath him” and a kind, caring professor, who’d regarded him and her job enough be concerned about him, was “unworthy of teaching him”, since he was so well-read, skilled, and talented and belonged at a “better” school.

Likewise, I don’t have to suffer in silence regarding Ex… or toxic people in my wine group who don’t know how to behave like good citizens, rather than stirring up shit and sabotaging what I’ve built. There was a time when I might have let the troublemaker in my wine group shut me down, just as I once let Dick shut me down. But those days are over. I’ve evolved. Clearly Dick and his ilk are the same jerks they were 30 years ago.

And now, that we’ve learned and evolved, Bill and I can help younger daughter free herself from her mother’s craziness, too. What a good feeling that is.

Standard
psychology, rants

For shame!

As Germany is about to enter yet another partial lockdown, I’ve been looking for more ways to occupy my time. I decided to hang out in a Facebook group devoted to fellow graduates of Longwood College. I specify Longwood College because that was the name of the school when I attended. It is now known as Longwood University, and it’s changed quite a lot since my day. Those of us who were Longwood students before all of the insane building projects like to hang out there and reminisce about the old days.

Things have been pretty slow in that group lately, save for the frequent posts by one guy who has managed to sell Longwood College swag. Someone complained about the frequent sales posts. She said the group wasn’t intended to be a sales site. I have to admit, she’s right. But it’s not entirely the seller’s fault, since people did want him to start selling the Longwood College branded merchandise. He supposedly went through a lengthy licensing procedure in order to get permission to sell the stuff.

Now… I don’t actually care too much about the sales postings. It’s easy for me to scroll past them. But I did agree that things in the group had gotten kind of dull. A couple of months ago, I started a thread about Erin McCay George, a woman who used to be the editor of the college’s newspaper, The Rotunda. She ended up murdering her husband for insurance money and is now in prison. She also wrote a book about what it’s like to be in prison. For several days, that was a hot thread. No one seemed to take any issue with it.

Yesterday, I started a more innocuous thread about the State Theater’s roof collapsing during the spring semester of 1994. But then I remembered another “true crime” case involving a fellow alum. The trouble was, the case was about a man who is in prison for viewing child pornography. Although no one seemed to have a problem with chatting about a female murderer who is in prison, it somehow felt potentially icky to bring up the case about the guy who’s in prison for viewing kiddie porn.

People asked me to “spill the tea” about the case, so before I posted the details, I wrote that the crime was pretty yucky. I didn’t mind sharing what I know about it, but I advised anyone who had an issue with it to say so. No one did. In fact, I got more pleas to “spill the tea”, so I did. Bear in mind that this case is over ten years old and was all over the news in Texas back in 2009, 2010, and in 2016. In fact, one can even read very interesting legal documents about the case online. They are readily available to everyone. I also wrote about the case on my old blog.

So, without naming the guy explicitly, I wrote about the case in this group. Then I provided a link to a FindLaw article about his case. Sure enough, I got a shaming comment from someone who was “disgusted” that I would open that can of worms. I wrote that was why I posted a warning as the initial post. The story of the crime was in the comments. She could have scrolled past. She chose not to.

She pressed on that I shouldn’t have shared the story and implied that I should be ashamed of myself. My response was, “Why? No one had a problem with my post about Erin George, who MURDERED someone.” At least in this case, no one died.

Then someone else joked that no one should tell me anything “personal”. And I wrote that this was a news story that was covered extensively in Texas. It wasn’t confidential information. Moreover, I didn’t even write the guy’s name, although I did share a link about the case. It would be one thing if this was something secret, rather than just taboo. But it wasn’t a secret, nor was it even new news. Some people are interested in true crime. I certainly am.

Even if this case was not about someone I knew of in college, I would have found it very interesting, mainly due to the way he got caught. Basically, he hired someone to house/dog sit and did not lock down his computer. She helped herself to the computer, claiming that she was trying to rip music from one of his CDs (which investigators later found no evidence of her doing). She found his stash of child pornography and then went to the police. Granted, this happened in 2009, but it’s still amazing to me that someone with a habit like that one wouldn’t be more careful.

Some people in the group were grateful that I shared the story, salacious as it was. The one woman who “shamed” me eventually got swept up in trading insults with one of the more vociferous posters– the one who had complained about the many sales posts. Meanwhile, I was left perplexed that she’d tried to make me feel small for sharing a story about a ten year old news item. Yes, it was a negative story about an alum, but I did take the time to warn those who didn’t want to read it. And why should the shamer feel she has the right to dictate what people post about if something is not explicitly against the group’s rules? Just like I have explained in response to complaints about my blog, I can’t know what will or won’t offend individual people. I suspect more people were interested in the story– again well reported in the news– than upset by it.

I ended up explaining once again that I knew that some might not think the story about the pedophile was an appropriate post, but if someone who only wants to read positive posts doesn’t heed an explicit warning that a topic might be icky, that’s kind of on them. Even on this blog, I post explicit warnings when I’m about to get raw, raunchy, or inappropriate. Those who were offended by the post after reading the warning need to take responsibility for themselves. Moreover, I don’t understand why it’s okay to post about a murderer, but not a pedophile. No, it’s not a happy topic, but I explained that it wouldn’t be. She had a choice to avoid the topic entirely, but instead decided to call me out.

I have a problem with “shamers”. I’ve found that, so often, people who shame other people have an agenda. They have a momentary spark of self-righteous pleasure. It makes them feel better about themselves for being “above” another person. But the problem with that mindset is that as you point fingers at someone, chances are, a few fingers are pointing right back at you.

Take, for instance, last year, when a certain person sent me a private message “begging” me not to drag a mutual acquaintance through the mud on the Internet. She tried to appeal to my sense of shame in an attempt to silence me, even though Bill and I were victimized by the person she was protecting. The “certain person” who tried to shame me was very vocal about her desire to be “private” in her own life, yet she disclosed to me that she was sharing, and probably gleefully discussing, my personal business with the person she didn’t want me to “trash”. She’d write “supportive” comments to me on my blog, deleting them after she knew I’d seen them, although she didn’t delete all of them, and yes, they were used as evidence against the person whose honor she was defending. All the while, they were sitting around having a fine time reading my blog. Granted, it was a public blog, but I think she knew perfectly well that she was stirring the shit pot and being massively hypocritical. I think she was hoping that Bill and I would take the heat for shit she did and never took any responsibility for doing. And yet I’M the one who should be ashamed? I don’t think so.

In the back of my head, I knew what she was doing. But when she actually came right out and admitted it, and then tried to make ME out to be the asshole, that was just too much disrespect. I’m definitely not the one who should be ashamed about what happened. All I did was write the truth. It wasn’t a flattering look, sure, but abusive behavior rarely is. The person who was being protected tried to take advantage of us and ripped us off. We suspect she’s done it to other people who didn’t hold her accountable. We took legal action and prevailed, and we’re about to put the last nail in the coffin. Shit’s going to get even more real, as well it should. It would be a bigger shame not to address what happened and do our part to protect other people from someone else’s abusive, predatory behaviors.

Should I be ashamed for pointing out that things aren’t always rosy? Should I suffer in silence when someone treats me badly? Asking someone to be silent when they’re being abused is in itself abusive behavior. Shaming someone for being open and honest is shady behavior. I’ve had enough of that kind of treatment. I’m not going to take it anymore, especially from liars and cheats.

As for the woman in the alumni group, I have no idea what motivated her to try to shame me. She probably should know that I have no shame. I’m the same woman who made up a song called “Big Pink Dildo” to the tune of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”. I’m not sure what her goal was… did she expect me to delete the thread? Apologize? I explicitly gave her warning. She could have practiced some self-control and accountability. Not everyone is a docile, genteel, “class act” like she is. What gives her the right to try to dictate what other people say and do? What gives her the right to speak for others when she chastises people for communicating things she thinks are “inappropriate”? She’s one of over 1860 people in that group. She should only speak for herself.

As for the “certain person” who tried to shame me into being silent and has stalked my blogs for years, KINDLY GO FUCK YOURSELF. Your efforts at advocacy for our mutual acquaintance made things a hell of a lot worse than they needed to be. If you had simply minded your own business and not done your level best to try to help your “friend” screw us, your “friend” would probably not be in the situation she’s in. Moreover, your intel gathering skills need lots of work. You obviously misjudged us.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it is appropriate to call people out. But nine times out of ten, shaming is not about righting a wrong. It’s about one person temporarily feeling better about themselves for humiliating another person. Was the woman who called me out really upset with me for posting about a pedophile? Would she defend the pedophile’s actions? My guess is that I actually have more empathy for him than she does. The fact is, as awesome as Longwood is, there have been some pretty bad and, dare I say, fucked up things that have happened there over the years. I have never seen anyone have a problem with those topics– Erin George the murderer, the fire at Dr. Sprague’s house that killed her, the murder of Dr. Debra Kelley, her estranged husband, their daughter and her friend, and the murder of a local antiques dealer, just to name a few. We’ve discussed these things at length with no shaming. Why is a pedophile different?

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