communication, complaints, rants

Back to the chum bucket with you…

We just arrived home a little while ago from our brief trip to the Schwarzwald. What should have been a relaxing break from Hesse turned into a bit of a shit show.

Before I get into the specifics of what happened, I will state upfront that this issue is partly my fault for not unplugging from social media. I really need to break the Facebook habit. It seems to bring me a lot of displeasure and discontent lately. I also need to quit caring about people and things that ultimately don’t matter.

Our trip began on Wednesday. The drama started a couple of days prior, and culminated into a trifecta of toxicity last night. I’ll try to keep it simple…

Last Monday, I got a private message from a woman who used to live in Stuttgart and moved back to the States a few years ago. She was very active in the community when she was here, ran several groups, and organized tours and such. Every year, she helped a vintner in Stuttgart with their harvest. This year, she says she got so busy that she forgot about the harvest. She asked me if I would mind helping her.

At first, I was pretty cool to the idea, because it sounded like I would have to be in Stuttgart. We live three hours away now. I have never met the people she’s been working with, and I don’t want to be expected to go to Stuttgart every weekend for three weeks. But then she said I didn’t have to actually be in Stuttgart to help pick the grapes or anything. So I told her I wouldn’t mind hearing what she had to say. She said we would have a video chat the next day. But then she never contacted me.

Off I went to Baiersbronn. Didn’t hear from the woman until Friday, as we were enjoying a fantastic lunch. She wanted to video chat. I said we were busy, so she rang off. Then last night, she contacted me again, wanting to video chat. I told her today would be better, since we still weren’t home. Then I told her that we had to go get our dogs between 6 and 7 our time, so 7:30pm would work best.

She asked which video chat program I preferred. I told her that I actually hate video chats, so I rarely use the programs. I get nervous on camera. But I have Skype and Zoom, and I didn’t say I wouldn’t do a video chat. I just said I don’t like doing them. She said there was no reason to be nervous… then she said maybe she should find someone else. I agreed with her.

Then she said this was their “livelihood”, so it was “serious business”. And that came off as a bit manipulative and passive aggressive, so it pissed me off. Especially since she came to me for a favor. But as I’m looking at the chat log now, I see she’s put in a bunch of smilies and stuff. Maybe she wasn’t trying to be manipulative and lay a guilt trip, but that’s how it came across. Bill thought so, too, when I showed him the chat.

Then I shared a wonderful article from the New York Times Magazine about Baiersbronn. We decided to visit it in 2018, after I read that piece. I shared it in the wine group I run. One of the members left an “angry” reaction and snapped, “I’m not paying for a subscription to read that!”

I responded that she didn’t have to subscribe. I don’t get commissions from the New York Times. It was just a nice article about the town and its many chefs. I thought it would be a good read for people in the group. But… then I got a comment from someone wanting to know the names of the restaurants… and someone else who linked to a vastly inferior blog post about Baiersbronn. Neither of the comments had anything to do with the article I posted.

Bill commented that people shouldn’t expect to read content for free. Then the woman came back and wrote that the New York Times isn’t a “credible” news source. Guess she’s a Trumper. Either way, though, all she had to do was scroll on, if the link wasn’t useful or interesting. Instead, she basically implied that she doesn’t like the source because of her politics. There wasn’t a fucking thing in that article about politics. It was written during the Obama era. I just thought it was an informative and interesting link…. and I was sharing information. Evidently, that wasn’t okay.

And then, I noticed a “like” from the formerly resident troublemaker. A couple of months ago, this chick, who is a sommelier or something, and runs her own wine group in Stuttgart, was pimping her group in my group. I slightly lost my temper with her and told her that pimping her group in my group was disrespectful. I finally implied that I was going to kick her out. She laid low for awhile, which was nice for me, but recently started posting again. She never posted her own stuff, though. She would just leave comments on my stuff, often in an attempt to make me look incompetent. Or, at least that is how it appeared to me.

A few days ago, I shared an ad from the Stuttgart Sky Beach about an event they’re having. I have no stake in the Sky Beach. I was just sharing information about an event. She posted a link to a competing event in the comment section, writing about why people shouldn’t choose the Sky Beach event. I suspect that she was getting kickbacks from selling tickets to that event. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that she’s hooked up with a bunch of wine sellers and is about making money.

I thanked her for sharing the information, then asked her to put it in a separate post. People can choose for themselves what activity they want to do. She ignored me.

This morning, she added her two cents to my New York Times link… a link to the Michelin site, for the woman who asked about the names of the restaurants. She helpfully added that the Michelin link is “free”.

Maybe I’m crazy… but it seemed to me, that once again, she was trying to make me look incompetent. She has asked me more than once to join her group. If I did that, my group would be redundant, and she would be in charge. I don’t care that she has her own group. I don’t care if people in my group are in her group. But I don’t want to be in a Stuttgart area group, because they tend to be toxic. Aside from that, I know that she promotes things that make her money. I don’t care about making money. I just want to have a group that is friendly and helpful and fun for everyone, including me. I don’t claim to be a wine or food expert. I just want to share information, and I want to do it without having someone posting after me, trying to undermine me.

It was getting to the point that I would cringe when I saw her name pop up. She literally made me feel sick to my stomach this morning. So I decided to kick her out of the group. The decision was a long time coming, and it brought me no pleasure to do it. But you know what they say– “too many cooks spoil the soup…” She wanted to be in charge of my group. She has her own group to run.

Bill pointed out that the toxic chick was acting a lot like Plankton on Spongebob Squarepants. He said I should send her back to the Chum Bucket. I agreed.

I didn’t send her a PM or address her in the group. I just quietly kicked her out and permanently banned her. Then… perhaps by coincidence, I got three new requests to join. I’m wondering if one or more were from her friends. I let two in. The other claimed to be living in Germany, but his profile indicated that he’s a chef who lives in Barcelona, Spain. My guess is that he’s someone she does business with. In any case, he can always join her group. He doesn’t need to be in mine.

I think this chick wanted to be in my group for ideas, new members to spam, and to irritate me to the point of closing the group. I came close to doing it a few weeks ago, but then decided not to when some people seemed to be enjoying the group. I found myself revisiting the idea this morning, as I choked down breakfast. That’s how “toxic” I feel about this woman. Her motives may be innocent, but my intuition tells me that she’s up to no good. I’m usually right about these things. She has her own group, though, and she can run it the way she wants to. And if everybody else wants to join her, that’s fine with me. I’m not trying to make money or be popular. I just want to share information.

Poor Bill had to listen to me complain most of the way home… all of this stuff comes from the neuroses I have from growing up with a very dysfunctional family. I really hate conflict. I don’t like dealing with manipulators. I can’t stand feeling like I have to confront people… especially people who ought to be adults. That woman who posted an angry reaction to a newspaper link got me a bit irritated. I was tempted to kick her out, too… But I know that doing such a thing would probably lead to a lot of high school styled drama.

I really don’t like feeling like a tyrant. I don’t think I act like one. But I think my instincts are right about these situations…

I probably should sign up for a Fuck It retreat in Italy. I need to learn not to engage with these people… and just say “fuck it” and delete the people who get under my skin.

As for the vintner lady looking for free labor, I calmly wished her luck in finding the right person to help her. I think it’s a tall order, but I’m sure someone out there would be more than happy to get involved in her project.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

No good deed… road to hell… et al…

You know those old sayings? “No good deed goes unpunished…” “The road to hell is paved with good intentions…” And I’m sure there are others. You get the point, right?

This morning, having successfully downloaded the COVPass app, I decided to write a post for my travel blog about how to get the COVID-19 vaccine certificates and load them into a smart phone. This may not seem like a particularly difficult thing to do, but for Americans in Germany, it can be a process. I spent a couple of solid hours on the post, laboriously writing out the story of how I achieved success and each step I took. Then, once I was finished I shared the post in a few limited Facebook groups. Why limited? Because I’ve been in enough Facebook groups– particularly those affiliated with the military– to know that some people can’t simply be appreciative.

The very first comment I got on my link was from some guy who apparently isn’t a very careful reader. He wrote that my post was “good, but…” and then he proceeded to write about a point I’d missed about not needing to include the banking info. Except I hadn’t missed it. He just hadn’t read the post carefully. And then, to add insult to injury, he cut and pasted someone else’s long ass Facebook post about getting the app on an iPhone and left it in a comment. I guess no one needs to read that post I worked hard on this morning, after all.

I was already in a bit of a mood, probably because of hormones, so his comment immediately pissed me off. And I know it shouldn’t have. Mansplainers are a fact of life, particularly in military circles. There’s always some guy waiting to issue criticism or correction or, in more than one case in my experience, insults. Still, I don’t get paid to write this shit. I genuinely was trying to be helpful to the community when I wrote about my experience. It really felt belittling and dismissive to get that thoughtless comment from some guy who felt the need to be critical instead of kind. He obviously didn’t consider how much work went into that post… or he just didn’t care.

I know how these kids feel.

I suppose I could have given in to the urge to be bitchy. I kind of felt like ripping the guy’s nuts off, but realized that wouldn’t be a good look for me. So instead, I wrote, “Right, and I included that information in the post…” I also didn’t add what I was thinking, which was “that you obviously didn’t take the time to read carefully before you criticized…” You see, I wrote my post in a story form, rather than a cut and dry technical way. Maybe it was just too many words for him. Oh well… I can’t please everyone.

Seriously, though. It’s been a long time since I last posted in that group. It’s mainly because it’s a travel group, and I haven’t been traveling. Today, it occurred to me that I had something to add, and this guy has to piss all over it by criticizing it. I wonder if he realizes how that kind of response may have a negative effect on other people. I know I’ll think twice about posting information, since there’s a risk that some jerk’s thoughtless comment will irritate me. That would be a shame, since I’m going on seven years living in Germany this time and I have a lot to add about the subject. But I don’t like feeling aggravated… and it’s just as easy for me to let people find the content on their own, rather than trying to share it in a group.

I’m sure the guy doesn’t realize how irritating his comment is to me… although I understand that maybe this is an overreaction. Like I said… no good deed goes unpunished… the road to hell is paved with good intentions… I should have known better… I need a vacation. And now that I finally have the credentials, perhaps I can travel somewhere. If others find value in the work I did this morning, so much the better. I just wish people would stop and think before they indulge the impulse to be corrective… and make sure they read carefully beforehand. Because I’m passive aggressive, coming off my period, and completely over it, I went back and bolded, italicized, and partially underlined the part where I clearly wrote you don’t have to add the banking info. I suppose I could have also added this…

I’m CRUSHING your head, you mansplainer.

At least it’s Friday.

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healthcare, mental health, musings

Death of a head shrinker…

A few days ago, I read an article in The New York Times about new drugs that can help treat obesity and perhaps “end the stigma” of being overweight. I’m old enough to have seen a lot of so-called magic bullet obesity drugs on the market. I remember in the late 90s, there was Meridia, which used to be advertised on TV all the time. This ad showed pleasingly plump women in loud prints, breezily lumbering along with smiles on their faces… The ads promised that the drug would help fat people control their appetites and lose weight. Then it was voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2010, because it was shown to increase risk of heart attacks and strokes.

I remember this ad so well…

In the 1990s, there was also the Fen-Phen combo of drugs, which was said to be very effective in helping people lose weight. Bill says his ex wife took that combination for awhile. Apparently, she was very upset when it was taken off the market. I remember that combination of Fenfluramine and Phentermine was removed because it supposedly caused heart valve problems as well as high blood pressure. Ex, indeed, reportedly had issues with her heart, other than the fact that it’s so small. She had to have surgery at some point.

And then there was the drug my former psychiatrist gave me. For some reason, my former shrink felt besides the antidepressants I definitely needed, I should also take Topamax to help me lose weight. Topamax is a drug that is used for stopping seizures, curing migraines, and treating bipolar disorder. My shrink didn’t give it to me for those purposes, though. He prescribed it because one of the side effects of Topamax is decreased appetite. He felt I was too fat, and Topamax would help me lose weight.

Granted, I wanted to lose weight… and I was tired of hearing him harp on my body when I went to see him for prescription refills. So I tried Topamax for awhile. I often got the third degree from pharmacists, since I was also taking Wellbutrin, which is said to cause seizures in some people (but not me). Pharmacists would become alarmed at the drug combination and question me, and I would have to tell them that I wasn’t taking Topamax because I have seizures. It was embarrassing.

The Topamax did kill my appetite, which Bill didn’t like, because I didn’t want to cook or eat dinner. It also made carbonated beverages taste terrible, which wasn’t a bad thing, since I was addicted to Diet Pepsi at the time. But even with health insurance, the drugs were expensive, especially since I was also taking name brand Wellbutrin (the generic version didn’t yet exist). I also didn’t lose a lot of weight, much to the psychiatrist’s dismay. He wondered if I had a slow thyroid.

I remember feeling really horrible about his comments. At the time I was seeing him, I had actually lost a lot of weight because I was waiting tables and didn’t have time to eat or sit down. The pounds came off pretty easily and most people thought I looked pretty good. However, I was constantly sick during that time, partly because I was fresh from the Peace Corps and kept getting skin infections and also because I was run down because I was always working. I developed a distinct disdain for that shrink because even though I suffered greatly from body image issues, eating disorder issues, anxiety and depression, this guy kept harassing me about my figure… even after I was happily married to Bill, who didn’t care that I wasn’t skinny.

I was reminded of this shrink the other day, as i read the article in The New York Times the “new” magic bullet drugs that could help people shed pounds and the scorn and harassment that comes from being overweight. I shared the article on Facebook and my former therapist, who is now a friend, commented that the article is interesting. I wrote that I thought his “friend”, the psychiatrist, should see it. My former therapist wrote, “Yes, but he’s dead.”

I hadn’t known the former head shrinker had died. I went looking for his obituary, and lo and behold, there it was. He actually died two years ago. I had no idea. Several people had left kind comments about his memory. If I’m honest, I could see how they came to their conclusions about him. On the surface, the former head shrinker was “nice” enough. I remember thinking he had kind of a gentle, steady air about him. But he also really pissed me off on a regular basis by calling me “kid” when I was a grown and married woman, making comments that were belittling, and giving me a hard time about not being thin when I already had terrible issues with self esteem. I got the impression that he had a personal bias. I also didn’t like it when he acted in a paternalistic way. He was very much an old school kind of doctor who treated me like a child. It wasn’t very helpful at a time when I was trying to launch.

Fortunately, I only went to see that doctor for medication. I saw my therapist, a younger, hipper, and more empathetic guy, for psychotherapy. I will give the head shrinker credit, too. He was a competent psychiatrist in that he found the right drug for me. Wellbutrin changed and maybe even saved my life. Within just a few days of taking it, I felt like a completely different person. After taking it for several years and then getting off the drug, I still haven’t gone back to the awful way I used to feel every day… the way that was normal for me, but made other people think I was legitimately crazy. People used to ask me if I was bipolar all the time. They don’t anymore, although I don’t spend much time around other people anymore.

In 2007, before we moved to Germany the first time, I requested my records from the shrinks. I needed them because the Army required all of my medical records so I could be evaluated for the EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program). This was supposedly a must before they would send us to Germany, but as it turned out, the National Guard (Bill’s official employer– he was a full time “federalized” Guardsman) didn’t give a fuck about my EFMP status the way the regular Army would have. I was forced to join the EFMP, but it turned out that I could have skipped the whole process and the National Guard wouldn’t have been the wiser. It would have been nice if I had known that, since the whole EFMP screening process was traumatic for me on many levels. I won’t get into that now, though. I think I reposted about my experience with the whole EFMP business. Thank God Bill is retired.

Unwisely enough, I read the notes my shrinks wrote about me. My cool therapist wrote positive, affirming notes. The dead head shrinker wrote things that upset me… like, for instance, I had a “garish” appearance. I was a bit taken aback by that. People have described me in a lot of ways, but never “garish”. That implies that I looked tacky, gaudy, or like a clown. And I didn’t see what my choices in makeup and clothing had to do with my mental well-being. Isn’t it better if someone with depression isn’t wearing black? He also made comments about my weight in his notes… and on more than one occasion, seemed a bit frustrated that his chemical cures weren’t slimming me down. I know very well that I’m not a thin person… but he made it sound like I was just disgustingly obese. When I was seeing him regularly, I wore a size 14 or 16… which is pretty average among American women, even if it’s not ideal in terms of most women’s most attractive body size.

It was a little strange reading about this man’s death. I mean, I know it had to happen… he was old enough, although he was several years younger than my father was when he died. I noticed the obituary didn’t mention a wife. I remember he was married when I saw him. I’d heard she was his third wife, and she had been about my age, while the shrink was old enough to be my dad. He’d had a young daughter back in the late 90s, which would mean she’s a young adult now. He also had four other children. I remember thinking that I hoped his youngest daughter didn’t have weight issues when she was growing up. I had a feeling he would ride her about them. And I guess, just based on his obituary, that his wife was no longer married to him when he passed a couple of years ago. He was a tall, somewhat handsome man, and he didn’t have a weight problem. But that didn’t stop him from having problems of his own.

I don’t like seeing doctors. I haven’t seen one since 2010, when Bill made me go because we thought my gallbladder might need to come out. It turned out it wasn’t bad enough to be yanked. One of the reasons I don’t like seeing doctors is because of that shrink… as well as the horrible OB-GYN who did my very first (of only two) gynecological exams. She physically and mentally hurt me so bad and shamed me so much that I became a bit phobic of medical people, even though I have a background in healthcare. Now I don’t go to doctors unless I’m about to die.

But maybe I shouldn’t blame these doctors for turning me off of their services so much… They’re only human, right? I’m sure they had my best interests in mind when they fat shamed me. The OB-GYN wrongly predicted I would get very fat in Armenia. I actually lost a lot of weight there. I did gain it back, but then I came home and waited tables and lost even more weight. And then I gained it back when I quit waiting tables… which was a good move for my overall health– especially my mental health– even if I didn’t have as pretty a package for people to look at. I’m glad to hear about the new drugs that might help people lose weight. I think it’s a good thing to think of obesity as a medical problem rather than a character flaw. However, this is not the first time I’ve heard about drugs that can help with weight loss… and so many of them turn out to be harmful.

Well… one more week to go before Bill is home. I continue to try to keep the faith. Last night, I was thinking about places I might like to visit when we’re finally able to travel again. Funnily enough, I’m planning based on whichever place is the least likely to give me a hard time rather than where I’d really like to spend time. One of the many luxuries of living in Germany is that there are plenty of places to see, and a lot of them are not so hard to drive to. Last night, I was thinking about visiting Krakow, Poland. It’s about a 9 hour drive from where we live. Maybe we can go there this year… after my second vaccine next month.

Also… I guess I’ve now arrived. Yesterday, I was made aware of someone having made a cloned account from my Facebook profile. It had one of my photos from last year, a cover photo using a picture I took in Rothenburg in 2018, and claimed I was a Mexican living in Nashville. I reported the profile, but Facebook naturally says they can’t do anything about it because it “doesn’t violate standards”. Meanwhile, they can give me bullshit warnings because they claim one of my comments was racist hate speech when it was really a criticism of a racist game being pitched on Facebook. They really need to get some real people evaluating these reports again. Facebook sucks, and is becoming more of a joke by the day. Anyway, I left several more complaints, along with a profane comment on the cloned profile. I doubt it will amount to anything. I changed my passwords, just in case.

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complaints, rants, social media

Why do people do this?

It’s Friday afternoon, and Bill is leaving town for three weeks starting tomorrow morning. I’m not in a great mood, because I’m about to have a pretty solitary experience for the next 21 days. I hate these marathon business trips Bill has to take, even though I’m grateful he has a job. Germany is still locked down, so this isn’t a pleasure trip in any sense. It still sucks, and puts me in a crappy mood.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of spam messages on Facebook. Frankly, I’d like to get rid of Messenger altogether because, 90% of the time, people who contact me are folks I don’t want to hear from. They’re either strangers, or they’re “friends” who send me jokes, memes, and videos. I always wonder why my friends can’t simply put this shit on their own timelines, especially when whatever they’ve sent isn’t all that offensive.

As for the spammers, a lot of times, it’s creepy people who are looking for cybersex or money. I’ve posted about that before, so I won’t get into that phenomenon today. And, in the past, I’ve also posted about the other kind of unwanted PMs– the ones that, nine times out of ten, come from disgruntled males who feel entitled to send private messages to perfect strangers with whom they disagree.

This may seem like a petty thing to a lot of readers. I will admit, many times it is a petty thing, because these guys are usually too simple-minded and chicken to have an exchange in public and want to take their abuse private. For instance, a few years ago, I got a private message from a guy who invited me to kill myself because he didn’t like my opinions about abortion. This guy was someone I didn’t know at all, and frankly, he wasn’t a big thinker. Why would someone who claims to be pro-life invite someone to commit suicide? What an asshole! What made matters worse is that Facebook could do “nothing” about that, but they could “warn” me for posting about a racist game they kept sending me ads for.

Why is this concept so difficult?

Last night, I read a charming article on The New York Times about senior citizens who have found love during the pandemic. Accompanying the article was a photo of a very elderly couple. The man, Sam Gallo, was 91 years old. The woman, Millie Hathorn, was 86. Both wore face masks as they got married. They met at their retirement home, St. James Place, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and were engaged in March 2020. Their wedding took place August 5, 2020.

It was a sweet story, and one that was very hopeful. However, as we know, some people like to shit on other people, and have to criticize. There was a guy who noticed that Millie’s face mask had slipped beneath her nose. She dared to allow that photo to be published in an international newspaper. And this random Facebook jackass made some comment about how Millie’s improper face mask wearing was going to send her to an “early grave”.

I was a bit gobsmacked by the guy’s comment. I mean, these folks have already lived a normal life span. Millie is 86. Sam is 91. They aren’t going to be going to an “early” grave, regardless of what kills them. They aren’t teenagers, or even middle-aged. And they sure as hell didn’t need to be chastised by some busybody guy who feels the need to confront others about how they wear their mask on camera. I made a comment to that effect. Next thing I know, I’ve got a spam message from this guy who chewed me out, telling me that a death from COVID-19 is a premature death and calling me “stupid”. Of course he blocked me, so I couldn’t respond.

I don’t expect that “Adam” will ever read this post. I feel compelled to write it anyway, though, for anyone who happens to engage in this regrettable practice. First off, you are automatically the ASSHOLE if you send someone– especially a stranger– a private message uninvited, particularly if it’s full of profanity and insults, and doubly so if you invite them to commit suicide. Adam didn’t invite me to commit suicide, but he did invade my PMs and insult me, someone he doesn’t even know. It’s lame to be doing that. At best, you’re basically a gutless worm. At worst, you’re a perverted creep. So allow this to be my social media etiquette PSA to everyone. Grow a set, and keep your rebuttals public. Don’t send anyone a PM unless you know you’re welcome to do so. And if you do send a PM to a stranger, have the decency to welcome a response. Otherwise, you’re nothing but a coward and you’ve automatically LOST the argument, because you don’t have the guts to stand your ground.

I know that writing this post won’t stop this practice. I just feel like venting because I’m really irritated and frustrated. The next three weeks are going to suck. And to anyone who wants to leave me a comment about how thin skinned I am and how I need to “get over” the comments, kindly zip it. If you don’t like it, my opinion, or me personally, you can simply do what the above photo suggests. Problem solved. 😉

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