condescending twatbags, funny stories, Germany

The plot thickens… and Bill definitely should have borrowed my Mister Rogers hat!

So, as I wrote earlier today, we were visited by a strange man yesterday afternoon. Bill was the one who saw and talked to him, and thanks to Arran’s enthusiastic barking and Bill’s generally poor German comprehension skills (which are still superior to mine), we didn’t understand what he wanted. Then he came back a second time, a few minutes later, was more polite, and said something about the dogs.

Looking back on it, Bill did say that he’d never seen the guy before, and he also said the guy seemed “out of it”, or maybe not quite all there. He definitely thought it was a strange encounter, though since he only heard and understood a few words from him, we assumed he was upset about the dogs.

This morning, I noticed in our local Facebook group that one of the group members posted this (translated from German to English):

FYI: There is a strange, probably alcoholic guy walking around the Old Village Street right now ringing in various court entrances for no recognizable purpose – he also rang at our place, after I was at the entrance, he is speechless and with grimmi I quickly walked towards the village square. Are there any potential break-in targets? Little Corrupt Man, Mid 50s, black and yellow sweatpants, gray sweatpants.

Other group members posted these comments:

Aha… I think I ran into one of these guys when we lived in Jettingen!

So I wrote to Bill and asked if the guy he spoke to fit the above description. He said this:

Yes.  Mid to late 50’s.  Black and yellow jacket with a circular logo on the front left breast pocket (couldn’t tell if it was a company or sports team logo), and black pants.  He seemed to be disoriented and acted like he was an angry drunk.  When he got belligerent with me I thought he was going to accuse me of something and demand money.  But now he knows that the house is always occupied.

And then he wrote back that at first he thought the guy was a “tinker”, like the people who used to come to our door when we still lived in Jettingen, BW. But then he got a “Beaune, France” scam vibe from the guy. To explain, when we visited Beaune at Christmas time in 2019, we were victimized by crooks at a rest stop who popped one of the tires on our then brand new car. They didn’t manage to steal anything from us, but they did cost us about 1500 euros because we got stranded an extra night and had to get both rear tires replaced.

Then Bill said, “Yeah, I was thinking circus too.  Funny how they all seem to follow the same storylines.  He definitely went aggressive pretty quickly.  I think the dogs unnerved him.”

Well… that just goes to show that when you live in another country and don’t speak the language fluently, sometimes you fabricate explanations that could be plausible… But it also goes to show that the truth is often stranger than whatever you can make up to explain when weird encounters happen. And obviously, we aren’t the only ones who were visited by this odd guy looking for euros for his “circus”. My guess is that the only circus he’s collecting for is the one in his mind.

At least now we know if he comes back, not to open the door or bother talking to him. He’s probably up to no good.

Standard
documentaries, law, money, Police, true crime, YouTube

America really ain’t so great, is it? A French documentary leads me down another path of true crime discovery…

There are so many things I could write about this morning. Like, for instance, I read that Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend and fellow sex pest, has been convicted. She was facing six charges, and was convicted of five of them, including: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. She now faces up to 65 years in prison. Her sentencing date has not yet been announced, and her attorneys vow to appeal. That’s what they all say, of course…

I don’t take any particular delight when anyone gets convicted of a crime and faces a long stint in prison, but I do think justice has been served in this case, just as I did when Josh Duggar was found guilty. People who endanger others, particularly when there’s violence or coercion involved, and particularly when the crimes involve preying on vulnerable people, should go to prison. They should be removed from society so that law abiding citizens are less at risk. But, of course, that’s not saying a whole lot in the United States these days.

Anyway, suffice to say, I think it’s right that Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty. I think she should be treated humanely, as I hope all prisoners are, but I believe it’s correct to send her to prison for what she did. I hope Donald Trump is next.

MOVING ON…

Yesterday afternoon, I watched America’s Broken Dream, a 2012 French documentary that was posted on YouTube. The documentary, which was presented in English, was about homeless people in the United States as of about ten years ago. It was a bit depressing, on many levels, to watch it, especially given what has happened since 2012. Several families were interviewed– people who were homeless or “half homeless”, living in cheap motels. All of the stories were compelling, although it was the last family that really caught my attention.

This was a sad, but interesting, documentary done by the French filmmakers, Java Films. There is also a French version.

Toward the end of this documentary, a young couple with two adorable little daughters is profiled. The mom, Amber Carter, is in California with her girls, presumably because California, as a “blue” state, offers better social safety nets for poor people. Dad, Daniel Carter, is in Kentucky, working manual jobs to support his young family.

At one point, Daniel comes to California to see his wife and their little girls. I am struck by how much he seems to love the kids, and his wife. Amber is shown trying to fill out job applications, but finds it impossible because she has two tiny kids to look after. I was wondering what she would do with the girls if she did get hired. I know from my days as a MSW student that decent child care is not cheap, always available, or widely accessible to everyone.

It looked like things might be improving for the young family. I had some hope that they might recover. But then Daniel Carter is arrested in Kentucky for striking and killing his neighbor, a man named Christopher Mitchell, with a hatchet. Carter maintains that Mitchell was drunk and had attacked him. He claims that he hit the guy in the head with a hatchet in self-defense.

Carter did plead guilty to fleeing and evading the police, and resisting arrest. But somehow, there wasn’t enough evidence to try Carter for the murder of Christopher Mitchell. He was released after serving 135 days in jail, time he was already credited for when he faced the judge. Another blog, titled Liar Catchers, has this article about Daniel Carter. Christopher Mitchell’s family was “furious” that Carter got away with killing their relative, especially since it wasn’t the first time he had killed someone.

I don’t believe it was mentioned in the documentary that Daniel Carter also did some time as a juvenile in Florida for killing his Uncle Jack Carter with a knife, back in the early 00s. Carter spent 19 months locked up in jail, but was later acquitted of first degree murder charges stemming from the July 2002 stabbing death of his uncle. In that case, Carter also claimed self-defense, as his uncle reportedly had come to his home to help discipline him. Daniel Carter, who was fifteen years old at the time, claimed his uncle had gone into a rage, and he had stabbed him with a rusty knife to protect himself. Jack Carter was stabbed ten times, with one wound to the neck that proved to be fatal.

Many people found it hard to believe that Carter got off in that case, too. One witness said that she’d never seen Jack Carter behave in a violent way and people were shocked that Carter wasn’t convicted. I’m sure that prior case could not be considered when Daniel Carter fatally wounded another man in Kentucky, but it does seem eerie that he killed two men in similar ways and got away with it both times.

I found the below 2015 post on Pensacola’s Community Bulletin Board:

Public Service Announcement

This is Daniel Carter. Pensacola natives might remember him as the boy who murdered his Uncle Jack Carter back in 2002. Though he stabbed his uncle over 10 times with a machete, cutting his throat and nearly severing one of his arms in the process, he was found not guilty of the crime. Why? I’ll never know. Jack’s sister, (Daniel’s mother), had called Jack over to the house that night to help her discipline Daniel, a troubled teen, whom she was unable to control. After the brutal murder of Jack Carter, members of the community, led by his mother Cindy, rallied around Daniel, who was only 15 at the time. Community members even held a fundraiser for Daniel’s defense at Bamboo Willie’s. They got him a renowned child advocacy attorney, who went on to paint a picture of a poor, abused teen, who feared for his life when he took a machete and stabbed his uncle over 10 times that night. When Daniel was release from jail after the trial, people rejoiced that he had won his freedom back. After all, poor Daniel didn’t mean to kill his uncle when he stabbed him repeatedly.  

Let’s fast forward to 2012. Daniel now lives in Kentucky. And in Kentucky, after a dispute with his landlord, (who apparently had a pointed stick in his hand), Daniel proceeded to take a hatchet, (yes, a HATCHET) and plant in right in the center of his landlord’s forehead, killing him. Believe it or not, Daniel was released from jail. Self defense again. In any case, the reason I am posting this is because Daniel is a Pensacola native, and I have no idea where he is now, but it’s defintely possible that he could be back here. If you ever happen to see him and have a disagreement with him, I would advise you to RUN. Whatever you do, DO NOT confront this man. He obvioulsy has a temper, and his history shows he is very dangerous!  

On a side note, the last time I saw Jack was about a week before he passed away. I hadn’t seen him in a while, so we exchanged hugs, and sat down to catch up over a drink. He was beaming. Smiling ear to ear. He told me he was in love. He told me he never thought “this kind of happiness was possible”. And he told me that for the first time in a long time, he was excited about the future, not just going through the motions of the day to day routine. He was happy to be alive ❤

And a few days later, he was gone.  
Rest in Peace, Jack.  
You are not forgotten.

One woman commented that she had been married to Daniel Carter. She wrote that he had conned her and her mother, and he was a very violent person. She expressed gratitude that they didn’t manage to have children together. I guess she must have been married to him before he was married to Amber, the woman who was portrayed as his wife in the documentary, as well as the mother to his two adorable little girls. If you click on the link directly above, you can read the comments about Daniel Carter and people who know him.

I didn’t know anything at all about this couple or the true crimes that were connected with them when I was watching the documentary. From what I could see on the video, Amber Carter was a good and attentive mom, even though she and her girls were living in their old car. It’s certainly not a crime to be poor. I was also struck by Daniel. He seemed to be a friendly, charismatic person. I could see how he charmed people, as he was well-spoken and seemed to work hard, and loved his daughters very much.

It just goes to show you that friendly, charming, well-spoken people really can be hiding monstrous characteristics under the surface. In the documentary, his boss says that Daniel Carter has an “amazing work ethic” and that his little girls are all he talks about. To hear him tell it, Daniel is a fine young man and dedicated provider to his family. I truly enjoyed watching him interact with his daughters, who really seemed to love him. He seemed to love them right back. I was genuinely saddened when the announcer in the documentary talked about Daniel’s arrest. The Carters seemed like they might somehow make it– or, at least it seemed like they were trying to get out of the hole they were in.

I got curious about Amber Carter, so I looked her up. Sadly, it appears that she might also have some serious legal problems. In September 2021, a woman named Amber Carter, who roughly matches the age and description of the Amber Carter in the documentary, was wanted by the police in Jones County, Mississippi. She was accused of “giving birth to a child who tested positive for methamphetamine” and was to face one count of felony child abuse. According to this article, Amber Carter was captured about a week after the news reported about her. She is, at this writing, listed on the inmate roster in Jones County, Mississippi.

As I was searching for more information about the recent charges against Amber Carter, I also ran across another item from May 2018, which appeared to involve the same woman– again, for giving birth to a baby who tested positive for cocaine and meth. If this is the same Amber, that means she’s had at least two more children who have been born into deplorable circumstances and are likely in foster care now.

A screen shot of a news brief about Amber Carter. Sure looks like the same person.

While it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the Amber Carter who was wanted in Mississippi is the same Amber Carter in the documentary, it does make me sad that it could be, and probably is, her. The Amber in the documentary genuinely seemed to be a good mom, although it could be she was only like that when the cameras were rolling. I suppose I can understand how a person in the situation Amber and the other people profiled in the documentary might fall into drug abuse, but it really does seem like a terrible shame.

Although there seems to be an age discrepancy between the documentary Amber and the Amber in the above mug shot, I do think they are one and the same. The documentary was released in 2012, but 2008 was when the recession was really bad. I think it’s very likely that the footage was filmed in the years prior to 2012, and if that’s the case, then the ages for Amber in the documentary and Amber in the mug shot line up perfectly. Also, there is a very strong physical resemblance.

After I finished watching the documentary, I happened across a guest opinion essay in The New York Times about a woman who had once owned a home and horses. She was raised in Palo Alto, California by successful parents, and went to college and studied journalism. Lori Teresa Yearwood once had it all– including her own business. But a series of misfortunes and subsequent mental health challenges plunged her into homelessness. She spent two years on the streets, where she was sexually assaulted multiple times.

Yearwood went to several hospitals via ambulance after the assaults. She was so traumatized that she couldn’t speak, so hospital administrators did not know she was homeless– or, so they claim. As she was getting back on her feet again, with the help of Utah-based non-profit organization, Journey of Hope and an accountant she knew from her days as a business owner, Yearwood discovered just how outrageously expensive being homeless is. People don’t realize that homeless people often incur debts because they get arrested and fined. Yearwood also had huge hospital and ambulance bills, due to visiting the facilities after she was assaulted and locked in a storage shed for two days.

Fortunately, once she was functioning again, Yearwood was able to advocate for herself. She’s now back to working as a reporter. She got the huge medical bills dismissed, after she explained to the hospital administrators that she would be reporting about how they treated her. From the opinion piece, Yearwood wrote:

A public relations official responded that while in the hospital’s care, I refused to speak, so staff members didn’t know I was homeless. I explained that I had not refused to speak; I had been traumatized and had gone essentially mute for two years. By this time in my renewed journalism career, I had obtained my medical records, so I showed the hospital administrators some of the doctors’ notes about me. The next email from the hospital was swift: “Upon reviewing your account, we have decided to honor your claim of being homeless at the time of service and wrote off the remaining balance.”

I asked the hospital administrators if they were going to respond to the harm they had caused by ruining my credit: the stress and sleepless nights, the fact that I could no longer qualify for low interest rates on mortgages. The spokesman apologized but said, “All I can do is make it right going forward.”

Lori Teresa Yearwood is one of the lucky ones. I know it’s hard to climb out of poverty. I remember when Bill and I were first married, we weren’t impoverished, but it sure felt that way. I seriously thought we’d never get out of debt. It took years to do it, but I had my eye on the prize, and we were very fortunate in many ways. Moving to Germany, for instance, was a great move for our finances. But not everyone can do what we did… and many people are burdened by having children to raise.

I look at Amber Carter and I suspect that years of living as she was depicted in the America’s Broken Dream documentary wore her down on many levels. I’m sure that using drugs and having unprotected sex were two escapes for her that made life temporarily more pleasant. But those decisions ultimately made her personal situation much worse, and they also made things worse for her innocent children. She joins so many Americans who are incarcerated, and will find it so much harder to function once they are released.

As for Yearwood, I think she makes an excellent point that Americans need to pay more attention to treating mental health issues. Yearwood was doing great until the 2008 recession hit, she had credit problems that led to foreclosure, the Oregon house she was renting burned down, her dog died, and then, in 2014, she had a mental health breakdown that made it impossible to continue operating her business. When she was slowly recovering in 2017, she was fortunate enough to run into people who coaxed her toward rejoining society. She writes:

Nonprofit employees who work with the homeless should be trained in how to interact with people who have experienced trauma. Otherwise, they may inadvertently shame their clients for being hesitant to return to an economic system that has already penalized and punished them. A classic symptom of trauma is avoiding the source of that trauma.

As I was emerging from homelessness, I trusted very few people. I needed what advocates call a soft handoff. I would never have considered going to a group trying to help me unless someone I trusted had referred me and would go with me. My initial soft handoff was arranged by Shannon Cox, a former police officer and the founder of Journey of Hope. She took me to lunch and drove me to the hospitals to pick up all the records that I had no idea I was going to need to later protect myself financially.

Now, Yearwood is able to advocate for herself and others, but if not for people who cared enough to help her, she might still be on the street. She might still be at risk of sexual assault and falling into illegal drug use to escape the despair. Maybe she might be in a position similar to Amber Carter’s, although thankfully, there probably wouldn’t be any innocent children involved.

The America’s Broken Dream documentary also profiles other families– people who had jobs and homes, and their children, who were forced to live in cheap motels and worry about being picked up by child protective services. I might have to see if any of those people managed to pull themselves out of homelessness. I know it’s hard, though, because as Yearwood points out, it’s very expensive to be poor. A lot of people have no idea. And there but by the grace of God go any of us, unfortunately.

Documentaries like America’s Broken Dream scare the hell out of me, and make me so grateful for what I have… and for Bill, who works so hard to provide for us. But, I swear, every time I read a news article about financial ruin– something that Bill has already survived when he was with his ex wife– I want to start another bank account. It really is hard getting by in America if you don’t have the right skills, enough support, and luck.

Standard
book reviews

Repost: My review of Sarah Tate’s Web of Lies…

I read this book years ago, when we lived in North Caarolina. I thought it was a surprisingly interesting story about a narcissistic relationship, although I think it might have been self-published. It offers a revealing look at the welfare system in Switzerland, of all places! I am reposting it as/is today.

Swept off her feet… right into the Dumpster!

Lately, I’ve been discovering books written by “lesser known” authors on Amazon.com and have ended up finding several good memoirs.  I have a special interest in memoirs about narcissists because my life has been “singed” by my husband’s time with one.  Sarah Tate is a British woman living in Switzerland who spent several years married to a narcissist.  She got out of the relationship, but not without a lot of stress, heartache, and financial ruin.  Tate chronicles her experiences in her book, Web of Lies- My Life with a Narcissist (2011).  

Sarah’s story

In 2001, Sarah Tate was a 30 year old single woman who had just moved to Switzerland for work.  She was excited about the move and her job, which she truly enjoyed.  One day at work, she met Bill, a man in his late 40s who radiated charm and charisma, even though he wasn’t particularly attractive to her.  Bill was balding and somewhat paunchy, but he talked a really good game.  When he asked Sarah out on a date, she accepted.

Bill showered Sarah with attention.  He took her to very expensive restaurants, cooked her lavish meals, bought her gifts, and took her on amazing holidays.  It wasn’t long before Sarah was securely under Bill’s spell and they were talking marriage. 

Sarah was aware that Bill had been married twice before.  With his first wife, he’d had three children who had become somewhat distant from him.  His second wife was a German woman who was supposedly a friend.  Bill explained that he and his second wife, Sofia, had a “business relationship” and had gotten married purely for tax and business reasons.  They’d had no children; in fact, Bill said he wasn’t sure if they’d even consummated the marriage.  Sadly, Bill’s second wife had killed herself, leaving Bill with the failing business.  As Bill told it, Sofia had screwed him over and now he was dealing with the legal and financial aftermath.

Bill impressed Sarah with his stories of being able to command huge sums of money for his work.  He always had big plans that would make him wealthy.  Although some of what he said seemed too good to be true, Sarah pushed those thoughts out of her head.  She was still caught up in the fairytale romance.

In 2002, Sarah and Bill were married in a lavish ceremony in a castle in Yorkshire, England.  Sarah writes that as she was about to walk down the aisle, a little voice in her head warned her to “get out now!”  But she got married anyway, and it wasn’t long at all before she was pregnant.  Wanting to be a stay at home mom, Sarah decided to quit her job rather than just take maternity leave.  Meanwhile, Bill decided he wanted to go into business for himself.  He also quit his job.

It was about at this time that the fairytale romance started to slowly but inexorably turn into a nightmare.  In her very well written and gripping account, Sarah Tate explains what it was like for her to be married to a narcissist.  As the years passed and her three babies were born, Sarah Tate found herself trapped in a web of lies spun by her husband.  He lied about his relationships, financial dealings, legal dealings, and work prospects.  As she was confronted by each falsehood in the form of legal summonses and collections notices, Sarah fell into despair.  As each lie eventually unraveled, Sarah became more and more determined to extricate herself and her children, escaping Bill’s web of lies, once and for all.

My thoughts

I read Web of Lies in one sitting because I had a hard time putting it down.  Though I have been fortunate enough to avoid having an intimate relationship with a narcissist, my husband Bill was married to one for almost ten years.  The aftermath of their marriage has been difficult to overcome and has resulted in some significant financial and personal losses.  Like Sarah, my Bill had a little voice in his head begging him not to go through with the marriage.  Like Sarah, my Bill ignored that little voice to his great detriment. 

Anyone who has been involved with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder will likely recognize themselves in Sarah’s story.  Anyone who has not been involved with a narcissist should count themselves lucky and read this book as a warning.  That old adage about if things seem too good to be true, they probably aren’t, really rings true when you’re dealing with a narcissistic person.  They lie, cheat, and steal, and they have no thought for anyone but themselves.  They think no one else sees how brilliant they are as they try to execute their big plans, then wonder why eventually no one cuts them a break when they ultimately foul things up.  When they get to that point, they have to move to a place where people don’t know them and start over.  Eventually, they aren’t able to fool people anymore.

Overall

I spent about $2 on this book and I think it was worth every penny. Even as I sighed at Sarah’s naivete and moaned as I read about how easily she was swayed by what seemed like Bill’s wealth, I could also see how such a shower of attention and flattery could sway her.  Most people would be overwhelmed by a person who seemed so taken with them and appeared to just want to take care of them, no questions asked.  There are very few people who in the world who are genuinely like that, though, so anyone who is that intent on bowling you over is probably up to no good.  If they are bombarding you with love, gifts, and attention, they are probably trying to blind you from seeing something ugly.

Sadly, Sarah’s three kids have a father who is a narcissist and they will have to live with that legacy.  But at least their mother was able to get out of the marriage and is now rebuilding her life.  As someone who came along post narcissistic relationship, I will tell you that rebuilding is possible, but difficult, and it doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone who loves you… especially if there are children involved.

This book gets five stars from me.

Edited to add: Here’s a very interesting Amazon review… apparently, this woman almost fell for the same guy.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
funny stories, Germany, humor

R.B.F.

Yesterday, the weather was predictably nasty. Bill decided to take the dogs for a quick walk before the rain started in earnest. As he was walking along the main drag, Arran decided to drop a load. Bill was stooped over picking up the mess when a “scraggly” looking guy passed. Just as Bill finished cleaning up the poop, Arran took a couple of steps and cocked his leg on a cement pillar that formed part of an archway.

The scraggly guy turned and said, in German, that letting the dogs pee on structures isn’t a good thing to do. Bill said, “Ja, ja.” and went on about his day. Then he came back home and stewed about the encounter for awhile. Bill is unusually conscientious and takes public rebukes to heart. I could tell he was upset about that confrontation. I can’t blame him for that. I hate it when random people speak to me, particularly when they really need to fuck off and mind their own business.

For some reason, it seems like Bill runs into people like this more than I do. So I told him I thought he should develop R.B.F.

You know what that is, right?

I posted about it on Facebook, and my friend Meryl wrote, “Huh?”

Resting Bitch Face. I think Bill should develop one.

One of my other longtime friends who, I guess, is often shocked by the things I say and write, commented that she was grateful that someone asked what R.B.F. is so she wouldn’t have to. I thought it was self-explanatory. I have a pretty good R.B.F. myself. I think a lot of women develop one so they won’t be harassed by men. Seriously, if you look unpleasant and unapproachable, most people will leave you alone. It’s a great defense mechanism. Today’s featured photo is an example of one of my MANY R.B.F.s. Actually, in that photo, I was pretty pissed off.

As Bill was telling this story, I was cracking up. I told him he should have pulled out his Schwanz and taken a piss, too. It’s not like we haven’t seen dozens of European men peeing in public, although they don’t typically do it on busy thoroughfares. But the weather is so chilly that it would have meant instant shrinkage. We’re talking a stack of dimes shrinkage. Bill isn’t that bold, anyway.

I usually try not to let Arran pee on buildings, though, mainly because I don’t enjoy being confronted by random people about my dog’s natural toileting habits. Arran peed on that pillar because many other dogs have peed there. That’s like the community bulletin board for dogs. They go by and leave their urinary calling cards for all of the other dogs in the neighborhood. It’s Arran’s way of saying “Arran wuz here.”

The one time anyone German (other than ex landlady) ever spoke to me about my dogs’ potty habits was pretty positive. I was walking Zane and Arran through the field near us and one of the dogs pooped near a wood pile. I was cleaning up the pile when a guy drove up in his truck. He had a look on his face that told me I was about to be confronted. I immediately got nervous, because I figured the guy was going to yell at me. Then I realized that the look on his face wasn’t one of annoyance. In fact, he looked amazed and appreciative.

The man explained in German that people were regularly letting their dogs go potty by his wood pile, but they usually just leave their dogs’ piles of crap there. So he was delighted to catch me cleaning up after my dogs and was offering thanks. That was a memorable experience and every time I pass that woodpile, I remember it with a smile.

Hearing Bill relate that story also reminded me of a funny memory from several years ago, when we visited Rome. We were wandering around the city and happened to pass a church, where a homeless looking guy was sitting on the steps, drinking a beer. Another man was passing and shamed the homeless looking dude for drinking on the church steps. The street person did not seem affected by the shaming.  He casually raised his bottle as if to offer a sip to the guy who had just yelled at him. It was pretty funny.

As I sit here writing this, I’m reminded of how much I miss traveling and interacting with people. We have had so many funny things happen to us, especially in Europe. Like, for instance, the time we were in a Seville restaurant drinking wine. A bum came in begging for spare change. This guy was pretty ballsy and had a sense of humor. He was very persistent about begging for change, and I was a bit drunk. The bum and I ended up engaging in a really funny exchange, so at my prompting, Bill gave the guy a euro or two. Then I told him to beat it.

Actually, I rarely wear a mask, because I rarely leave my neighborhood.

I really hope this COVID-19 crisis eases up soon so we can have some fun again. It’s pretty sad when a random encounter with a German guy over dog whiz results in a blog post. I miss creating memories. Hell, it’s almost time for President’s Day, which is typically a long weekend we use for traveling to other places. Last year, we went to France. It’s also Fasching season, which usually means there will be festivals involving costumes, drinking, and partying in the streets. In 2019, we even got mooned while eating in a restaurant! But not this year. 🙁

We can’t go anywhere or celebrate Carnival, because everything is locked down. I guess the one consolation is that the weather is positively shitty right now and will be so for probably another week to ten days, at the very least. So another precious long weekend gets lost to the stupid virus. At least we have Noyzi here to provide some fun. And at least we live in a comfortable home, in a neighborhood where people are generally nice and leave us alone. I don’t have to employ my R.B.F. very often in these parts. I guess I have to take my victories wherever I can find them.

Standard
musings

Wine and roses…

It’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s also the Friday before a legal holiday. When Bill was still in the Army, it wasn’t unusual for him to get off work the Friday before a legal holiday. This was especially true when he was posted in Stuttgart. We ended up taking a lot of awesome four day mini breaks during those two years.

This year, he’s taking today off from work because we’re finally going to Strasbourg, France for the annual wine expo. It’s a huge event and I’ve been hearing about how great it is for several years now, but for some reason, we’ve never managed to make it until this year. We’ve always gone to other places for President’s Day weekend. Last year, we went to France, but the area we went to was what one would consider the “real” France. We were on the edge of Champagne country, though not in a well-known or heavily touristed area.

I kind of didn’t want to go to France again this President’s Day weekend, mainly because this will be the third time we’ve visited in less than three months. There’s much to love about France, but there’s also much to love about the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, Bill has to leave town again Monday, so we need to be somewhat close so we can get back and do all the stuff that needs to be done before he takes off on his latest TDY. Since I run a community wine and food Facebook group, it seems natural that I’d want to go to the expo, once and for all. It’ll probably wear me out and overwhelm me, but I think we’ll also spend some time touring Strasbourg. The last time we stopped and looked around the city was in 2008, and that was only for a few hours. This time, we’ll stay the weekend and explore.

It’s funny how life evolves in a year’s time… A year ago, we had a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner in Wiesbaden, then went to France. Our trip last year was somewhat spoiled by some pretty rotten events. This year, it looks like the tide is about to turn for the better on many levels. We’re feeling fairly optimistic about the future, even if it means another move this year. I’m not saying we’re definitely going to move, only that it’s more possible this year than it has been in previous years. On the other hand, chances are very good that we’ll be staying put. We’ll see what happens. I’d like to get some answers so we can make some plans… but then, this has pretty much been my life ever since I married a military man.

I used to hate Valentine’s Day, mainly because I was terminally dateless. In high school, I remember at the end of the school day on Valentine’s Day, there would be a long list of students read off over the loudspeaker who needed to stop by the office to pick up flowers. Looking back on it, I’m surprised that the school officials allowed flowers to be delivered to the school for students. Seems like it would be disruptive to their work, but what do I know about such things? Life can be quaint in small town Virginia, even though years after I graduated from Gloucester High School, it became embroiled in national controversy thanks to the efforts of a transgendered student who wanted to be allowed to use the boys room, even though he did not possess boy parts. People in Gloucester were outraged about it, but personally, I think it was much ado about nothing.

What I do remember that the list was kind of soul crushing for those of us who didn’t have a Valentine. I did have a boyfriend during my senior year. He brought me six roses on Valentine’s Day in 1990, as well as a big Valentine’s Day card that he’d made himself. He was an artist, and he said I reminded him on an elf, so he drew this elfin character with blonde hair and blue eyes. I’m not sure what I thought of it at the time, since our relationship was doomed even at that point. Now, I think I’d be very touched that he’d taken the time to make such a work of art for me. Maturity and perspective are good things.

I also remember junior year, our school newspaper ran a fundraiser that allowed people to pay for personal ads. Some of them were pretty “funny”… including a mean spirited prank someone played on me and another kid. A person took out an ad, posing as a guy in my class. It read: “To Jenny, our love would fill an ocean. Wanna go to the prom?” I rolled my eyes when I read it, since I knew it was intended to be a nasty joke to embarrass and humiliate me and the guy in question. Kids can be cruel, but time has a tendency to rectify things. That’s true on many levels this year.

Better dead than spread… Gosh, I miss this show.

Bill often gets me roses and candy on Valentine’s Day, but since we’re leaving town today, I’m sure he won’t bother. We’re going to be enjoying a lot of wine, though, and probably bringing a fair amount home. Maybe we’ll have a chance to have some interesting food, although I have a feeling we could be eating pizza tonight. No restaurant reservations on Valentine’s Day can lead to disaster. I will give my body a break from wine next week while he’s gone… give my liver a chance to regenerate and work on my latest jigsaw puzzle as I dream up political screeds for my blog.

Well… I suppose it’s time I packed a bag and got ready for our latest French adventure. I hope everyone enjoys their V.D. I know I will.

Standard