Armenia, emergencies, first world problems, funny stories, Germany, Trump, YouTube

When the lights go out in Germany…

Whenever Bill goes away, I’m always soon reminded of how much I miss him when he’s not home. Especially when there’s a heatwave, and I’m sick with a virus.

It got super hot again yesterday and the temperatures were north of 99 degrees. That is historically a rare thing in Germany, but is sadly becoming a more common occurrence, thanks to global climate change. I read in the weather report that we might get a thunderstorm last night. I was actually hoping for that, because I was sweating so much, in spite of the air conditioner and fan we have in our bedroom. Unfortunately, we have portable ACs, and they usually require hot air stoppers.

Thanks to our previous landlady’s total conniption about us trying to be comfortable in her house during previous brutal summers, I haven’t really wanted to install the hot air stoppers in this house. Also, under normal circumstances, we can drop the shutters all the way down and snake the hoses that go with the air conditioners on the floor, and out of the balcony doors. In ex landlady’s house, we didn’t have balconies, so that wouldn’t have worked. The hoses would not have stayed in place. Our current landlord is very cool about us acting like this is our house, within reason, of course. But I’m still kind of traumatized by the behaviors of our former landlady, whom we ended up successfully suing for our deposit.

Even with the shutters down, though, because we don’t have the hot air stoppers, there is nothing to stop hot air from coming in. It usually doesn’t matter too much, since it’s usually not that hot here. At night, if we close the bedroom door, the room gets nice and cool, and Arran isn’t able to sneak downstairs and pee on my rug. But yesterday and the day before were exceptionally hot and sticky days. It was pretty uncomfortable, especially since I’m also not 100% well.

So anyway, there I was sitting in bed when the thunderstorm finally started, at about 8:30pm. I was watching an 80s era made for TV movie on YouTube. Suddenly, at about 8:45, there was a tremendous bang, and there went the power. The room was plunged into darkness, and there was no more air… and I was just sweating like crazy. I put my hair up and even rinsed off in the shower, because it was just so gross. Fortunately, I had just topped up the cell coverage on my iPad, which I don’t usually do unless we’re going on a trip. I did it the other day, because our Internet coverage in this house is pretty unreliable at times, and it’s good to have a cell connection in case it crashes.

The storm dumped some much needed rain and cooled things down a bit, not that I could immediately tell. I was coughing, sneezing, wiping my nose, and getting crankier by the minute. Fortunately, the fire brigade was on the spot, and they responded to the outage very quickly. The lights were back about an hour later. I love that about Germany, because power outages are pretty rare here, and when they do occur, they tend to be very brief.

My two years in Armenia in the 90s, where power outages were very common, have caused me to be a lot less tolerant of them in the “more developed world”. I can remember loving outages when I was a kid. They seemed “cool”. As an adult, I don’t think they’re any fun at all. I guess enduring a six week straight stint, without any power at all, will do that to a person. It turned out my Armenian neighbor hadn’t known I was living there, and cut my power so it would go to his apartment. It seemed that a lot of male Armenians in the 90s were all amateur electricians! Once he realized he had a neighbor, my former neighbor fixed my line for me, and I went back to having power for 2 to 4 hours per day. Not long after that, another neighbor harassed me, and I ended up moving out of that building.

Funny story about that. The harasser lived a level down from me, and one night, as I was coming back from a night out, he was in the hall, messing with the hall light. I tried to pass him, and he grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go. He held my arm in a vise-like grip and kept telling me in Armenian not to scream, but I was petrified, because one of my colleagues was recently sexually assaulted and beaten up in her village, and it landed her in the hospital. Then she had to be medevacked to the States. I had visions of her black eyes, broken nose, fractured teeth, and beaten face in my head, as this guy held my arm and menacingly warned me not to scream. I was so scared that I couldn’t think how to respond in his language, but he could obviously tell I didn’t want to talk to him or be near him. For all I know, he was trying to tell me about the lights, but he had my arm, was telling me not to scream, and wouldn’t let go of me. So draw your own conclusions about what I was thinking at the time.

I informed the powers that be at the Peace Corps office, and they sent one of their drivers to come over to speak to my neighbor. The driver was the husband of the Country Director’s secretary, and he was a big, imposing, Mafia-esque looking guy. He basically told the guy to leave me alone, or there would be big trouble. I was told that my neighbor was pretty terrified, as the Peace Corps driver was quite intimidating, and made it clear that he would beat the ever loving shit out of the guy if he ever bothered me again (or, at least it was strongly implied). I never had any more trouble with him, but I never felt safe in that apartment again. And then my landlady decided to sell it, so I had to move anyway.

Not long after my neighbor imposed six week power outage, Armenia decided to restart Metzamor, a nuclear power plant they had shut down in the late 80s after Chernobyl and a massive earthquake destroyed a good portion of the country and killed tens of thousands of people. When I was living in Armenia, some experts, including a few from the United States, examined the facility and decided it was safe.

The Peace Corps gave all us Volunteers little bottles of iodine pills, in case there was an explosion. They were supposed to protect our thyroid glands. I don’t know… seems to me that if there was a nuclear accident, our thyroid glands would be one of the last things we’d be concerned about. Fortunately, Metzamor was still functional, and during the summer of my second year, we finally got electricity 24/7. That was quite an amazing thing to experience, especially as a privileged American. As far as I know, that’s how things still are in most areas. I’m sure today’s Volunteers will never know the pain groups A1, A2, and A3 endured, back in the early days of Peace Corps/Armenia. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So… as you might be able to understand, I really don’t like power outages, especially when I’m home alone. And that seems to be when they happen the most frequently. Fortunately, I had my two dogs with me to protect me. Even Noyzi, who doesn’t tend to hang around with me in the evenings, stayed in the room with me, even until after the lights came on and I went to sleep. He eventually got up and went into his own room, which required me to open the door for him. Then Arran got me up at 1:30 am for a pee break, and then again at 4:00 am, because he wanted his breakfast. I tried to go to sleep again after that, but was too busy coughing. I’ll probably need another nap today, like I did yesterday.

I’m glad last night’s power outage was short lived, although I did hear that there was a fire caused by the lightening. Again, Germany has excellent firefighters, so the blaze was quickly contained. The weather seems a bit cooler today, so maybe the dogs will finally get their walk. I’ve skipped it twice this week, because of the heat and my sickness. I do feel somewhat better today, except for the coughing and mucous. You know how it is. It seems like it’s always the worst right when I wake up and have to clear all of the crap that settled in my lungs overnight. Again, I don’t know if this is COVID-19. The one test I took said it wasn’t. This virus isn’t like last month’s, though, which also evidently wasn’t COVID. I haven’t had a super runny nose, which is a blessing, since that always causes a wound under my nostrils. I also haven’t had a fever or body aches or any weird symptoms. It really is just like a regular cold, minus the runny nose phase.

Bill is also supposed to come home tonight, after he finishes working today. He’ll probably get home in the evening, and we’ll be grumpy together, as the heat hangs around a bit longer. I told him I want to get out of here… definitely for a vacation somewhere cooler. Maybe we can do something in September, after the Germans have had their holidays in August, but before COVID-19 ramps up again!

On another note, I did manage to catch some of Ivana Trump’s funeral. Or, what was shown outside the church, anyway. I’m not surprised she had a golden casket, or that her rapist ex husband was there.

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Bill, Ex, family, Trump

Things are getting pretty surreal…

I’m not surprised that things are surreal… Trump is doing all he can to hold on to his power and people in his base are talking about taking extreme measures to keep him in power. And yet it’s very clear that Trump has lost the election and will be forced to leave the White House. Biden is projecting calmness and maturity and other world leaders are looking to him. News sources are showing less Trump more Biden as Trump continues to whine about non-existent fraud and refuses to cooperate with the transition. It feels a lot like breaking up with a narcissist.

To be clear, I never dated or married a narcissist. Bill did, and she employed similarly “nuclear” tactics on a much smaller scale. The damage was pretty extensive and extraordinary and the bitterness lasted for many years. It’s really only been in the last few years that things have started healing.

My husband spoke to his daughter the other night, just before we knew his dad had passed away. She wisely brought up the logistics of going to Ray’s funeral and how it won’t be possible for a lot of people who otherwise would have gone, mainly due to the raging global pandemic. This is a scenario we never could have foreseen even a year ago. I have been wondering how the inevitable funeral for Bill’s dad would happen. Now, it appears it will happen without Bill due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

Last night, Bill got an email from his daughter and she made it clear that she could now see how the explosion of her parents’ marriage had affected so many people. It didn’t have to be this way. I think younger daughter now sees more of the truth, which often happens as people grow up and their perspectives broaden.

The same is going on as Trump is forced to reckon with the realization that he has lost. I have read articles about how he’s now talking about a run in 2024. God help us! But I think it won’t happen because there are other people who want to run… people who hitched themselves to Trump’s star in a bid to further their own careers. And once Trump is cast out of power, he’s only going to find allies in true right wing nutjobs who continue to worship him despite his tantrums. This is what tends to happen to narcissistic types in the long run. They typically don’t have a pleasant end.

I am hoping the garden variety conservatives who supported Trump have had their eyes opened. I’ve seen a lot of people commenting on how “dirty” the Democrats are. I won’t argue with that point. Pretty much all politicians lie and make deals. It comes with the territory. But there are definitely degrees of depravity. I never saw Obama stoop to the levels that Trump has. I never even saw either of the Bushes doing that… or Bill Clinton. Trump is truly in a class by himself, and it’s alarming how much he has divided the people. It’s not unlike a really nasty divorce, complete with false accusations, DARVO, and gnashing of the teeth. It’s embarrassing and horrifying to watch, even from abroad.

Last night, I read a rather poignant opinion piece on CNN written by Richard L. Eldridge, a journalist whose family pretty much disowned him over his negative views of Donald Trump. I could really relate to what Mr. Eldridge wrote, especially these parts:

โ€œOver our love-filled 50-year bond, you chose a hate-filled New York millionaire who has never spent a moment with you, cried with one of you when your dad died, hugged another of you at your mom’s funeral or otherwise cared about you.

I know his supporters, you included, see the version of Trump he claims to be. Here is who I see. A man under seemingly constant investigation while in office. A man who brags about grabbing women by their genitals. A man who — though he denies it — others say calls members of our military “losers” and “suckers.” A morally bankrupt, impeached and now lame duck President.

A man who refers to members of the press — my chosen profession for the past three decades — as “enemies of the people.” A man who mocks the disabled, who basks in the adoration of a crowd chanting his name as he engages in cruelty.โ€

This is what divorcing a malignant narcissist looks like. When you break up with one, they become very nasty. That’s stressful enough when it happens in a one on one relationship. It’s especially horrifying when the malignant narcissist happens to be a world leader who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. I suspect the coming days will be very scary and surreal, and I pray that people with decency and integrity do what is necessary to contain Trump and his minions before much more damage is done and we become a nation that is literally divided, much like my husband’s family was. If that happens, we most likely won’t be reuniting after fifteen years of silence.

As for my father-in-law… I really wish there was a way we could have been there for him and his wife. I am hoping the funeral can somehow be Zoomed or at least recorded for Bill. He truly adored his father, who was a man worth adoring. It’s breaking his heart that he can’t be at the funeral. At the same time, this morning he told me that he was glad he was with me instead of his ex wife, who would be making the whole thing about her and forcing Bill to calm her hysterics rather than giving him the support he needs and deserves.

I think America needs calmness, love, and support, too… It’s nice to see leaders of more sensible nations offering it to Biden in the hopes that we can all come together and live peacefully. I’m going to try not to be distracted by Trump’s tantrums or disturbed by the delusions of his base… but I can’t help but be very concerned about what’s going to happen before January.

Mary Trump talks frankly with Katie Couric about her uncle’s loss.
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