A few days ago, my friend Alex shared with me a post he found on the God page. It was about people taking some guy on Twitter, named Eric, to task for posting this…
Not that I think Alex is offended by vulgarity… it’s just that he thought I’d appreciate people slamming this Eric guy for being such a judgmental asswipe. And, I would imagine Alex also identifies me as a “vulgar woman”. It’s true, I like to cuss. It’s something I’m really good at, despite my parents’ efforts to quash it. My dad, in particular, didn’t like cursing. I rarely heard him say anything stronger than “hell” or “damn”, despite his almost 22 years as an Air Force officer. My dad flew on missions in Vietnam that very likely resulted in people’s deaths, but God forbid if I ever said the word “fuck” in front of him (and I did on more than one occasion). He wouldn’t hesitate to knock me upside the head for that.
I remember often getting in trouble for having a potty mouth when I was growing up. I also remember being hired to work at a Presbyterian church camp and actually worrying about my vulgarity getting me into trouble. Little did I know that my boss was going to be a hilarious Scotsman who also cusses… even though he eventually became a minister and performed my wedding. Of course, now he’s left the ministry and converted to Catholicism.
Bill doesn’t cuss as much as I do, but he seems to enjoy my foul mouth. He likes it when I randomly burst into song, making up little ditties about dicks, vaginas, asses, and unusual sex positions. I always ask him what he sees in me whenever I fall down the rabbit hole of made up silly songs. He laughs and says he admires my ability to come up with weird shit on the fly. He appreciates my ability to let things fly… I think he kind of enjoys a vicarious satisfaction from it, because he’d like to be more that way himself, but is too buttoned up to let it all hang out. That’s probably also why he’s employed and I’m not. 😉
Anyway, when Alex tagged me in that post, I laughed and typed “moi?” But I know why Alex thought of me. For some reason, a lot of my friends, especially the guys, have noticed that I’m kind of a vulgar woman. It used to bother me. Actually, it used to hurt my feelings when some dude would get disgusted and ask me if I “kiss my mother with that mouth.” Actually, yes, I have kissed her with “that mouth”. Why do people get so hung up on curse words? They’re only words! Another guy said I have a “potty mouth”. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to kiss my potty mouth… but the funny thing is, I actually find open mouth kissing rather disgusting, anyway. I’d be fine with never having some guy’s tongue in my mouth ever again. Yuck! I’ve actually never kissed Bill like that in almost 19 years of marriage.
Personally, I prefer raw language to raw brutality. I think it’s healthier to “use my words” than use my fists. But I will acknowledge that language can be hurtful… People can use words to abuse others. But a lot of times, it’s all in good fun.
I wonder why Eric is so offended by the word “vagina”? There’s nothing wrong with that word. It’s the name of a body part. What would he have gynecologists do? Especially if they’re female? He probably objects to women being doctors, though… It sounds like he’d prefer a trophy wife who stays silent, gazes adoringly at him, and has no spirit or spunk… except maybe the spunk he shoots in her mouth. Yep… I would not be surprised if he was that type of guy– the Josh Duggars of the world– who preach about family values and decency, then behind closed doors, abuse women and children and treat them like objects.
I was gratified by my friend Andrew’s comment. His response was,
Jenny – please don’t ever change. Those who need to change are the ones who mistake a vibrantly expressive personality for vulgarity or vice.
Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate that very much. The older I get, the happier I am when I find people who appreciate me just the way I am.
I have just checked out Eric’s Twitter account. It’s very interesting. He’s supposedly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but it also says he’s in Kenya. And his email address is a Kenyan account. In that case, I guess I can understand the misogyny and judgment. Not all of his advice is bad, either. But then he resorts to calling women “sluts”. That’s a shame. Also, he doesn’t like women who get angry and “throw tantrums”. I can only shake my head at some of this stuff. And, I suppose I would tell Eric what I tell everyone who doesn’t like me… he can go fuck himself. He’d probably enjoy it more. I’ll just keep being a “vulgar woman” and shocking people with my “loose morals”. Actually, I’m a pretty moral person who is the very opposite of a so-called “slut”. I just cuss like a sailor. I also drink like one.
Somehow, I managed to find a really nice husband as well as quite a few good male friends who appreciate my vulgar language and potty humor. So Eric and his ilk wouldn’t like me. So Eric and his ilk prefer a quiet, obedient, sober woman. I prefer guys who like a woman who’s a little crazy– a little, mind you. I am crazy in the fun ways, not in the destructive ways. I probably drink too much beer and wine. In fact, I know I do. But at least I’m not a smoker or a slut… or a thot– whatever the fuck that is. Actually, I just looked it up. A thot is a woman who has many casual sexual relationships. That’s definitely not me. Apparently, it stands for “that ho over there.”
There’s all kinds of commentary about this phenomenon on the Internet. Quite a lot of people are offended by “feminism” and the idea that women might like to make their own decisions. And the idea that she might curse who use indecent finger gestures is abhorrent to these folks. Tragically, some women agree with the men who have a problem with mouthy women… and they end up married to guys like Josh Duggar, pregnant and facing many years alone. Today’s women really need to learn how to say “fuck you”. They need to learn to be strong for themselves and their own survival. In fact, I think that’s truer now than it’s ever been.
I know my dad preferred the women in his life to be more ladylike. I probably wouldn’t have turned out that way, even if I weren’t rebelling against his authoritarian parenting style. I’m just not a prissy type. I don’t think growing up fundie would have caused me to be that way, either. It would have been an uphill battle. I think the men in the independent Baptist circles would be revolted by me. But that’s not a bad thing. Who wants to wind up married to some dickhead in the Baptist church who acts like a reprobate? I look at Anna Duggar. She ain’t married to a prize. Below is a post that came from the Duggar Family News snark group. The top part was on Reddit… the bottom part appears to be satire.
I, on the other hand, am not very ladylike, but I have a husband who adores me for who I am… he cooks for me, takes me on dates, and cherishes me. He listens to what I say… he listens to me sing and doesn’t mind my laugh… and he doesn’t try to break my spirit by criticizing me for being who I am. Some men like “vulgar women”. I’ve found that the BEST men appreciate women who are a little earthy and weird. I think a man who tries to squash a woman’s true self is one I’d like to avoid. I don’t think Eric would like me at all… but that’s okay. I don’t like him, either. And he really should go fuck himself. It would be more likely to be sex with someone he loves.
At my age, I figure I’m never going to change into a lady with a clean vocabulary. If I did, it wouldn’t be me. I pride myself on being authentic, even if it offends some people. As Bill’s ex says, “I can’t help how they feel.” I do try not to be offensive. Sometimes, I fail. But I think if the worst thing someone can say about me is that I’m outspoken and vulgar, I’m doing okay. At least I don’t plot violent crimes against Bill when he sleeps, right? Ex did… despite her cleaner language and “churchy” visage. No thanks. It’s not for me. I’ll keep cussing and drinking wine until it doesn’t work for me anymore. As Sinead O’Connor says, “How About I Be Me, (and You Be You)”. Good advice. Words to live by. Sinead is wiser than people know.
I don’t remember when I discovered the God page on Facebook. I remember liking it when we lived in Texas, which was about seven years ago. I probably liked it in North Carolina, too… which was about ten years ago. It used to be a genuinely hilarious source of laughs on a daily basis. But now, it seems to be full of self-righteous virtue signalers who want to live in an echo chamber. And since this past year has been unlike any other in my lifetime, I find that I have less time for people who try my patience. It’s not so much God that tries my patience. It’s his “followers”, many of whom are, frankly, very obnoxious, narrow-minded, and hypocritical.
I may decide to follow God again at some point, but I’ve found that many times, once I get sour on something, I don’t want to return to it. I used to follow George Takei’s page, but I had to quit following him a couple of years ago… again because of the other people who follow him. Same with Janis Ian, although I did recently re-follow her. And Wil Wheaton… had to stop following him, too. I just can’t hack it.
So what brought on the unfollowing? It was a post God had shared about a woman who went maskless into a grocery store in New York. The woman– who is now dubbed “Bagel Betsy” (again with the hijacking of people’s names and turning them into insults)– was asked to put on a face mask. She adamantly refused. Security asked her to leave the store, and she dropped the n-bomb at the cashier. Later, when people gave her hell on social media, the woman posted a picture of a report from 23andme, claiming to be biracial, and wrote that all of her children have a Black father. She also defended her right to call the cashier a “bitchass n-bomb” because she claims that she, herself, has Black ancestry.
As you might have guessed, the post was quite inflammatory and there were over a thousand outraged comments. A few brave and intrepid souls tried to inject some reason into the flood of hatred. One woman bravely posted that words only have the power that we give them. She got a huge ration of shit for that. Another asked why it’s only okay for certain people use certain words. Again… tons of insults lobbed at her for asking a serious and honest question. Below is just one example of the exchanges on that thread.
Here’s a comment from Pam:
“She does have a point. I’ve often heard black people say that word. If it’s ok for them to say it, but not white people, isn’t that racist too?“
Oh boy… that opened the flood gates of hypocrisy. One guy, name of John, wrote this:
“my friends and I call each other all sorts of names but god help anyone else who tries it on with us! You have missed the point by a stratospheric amount.“
So Pam asked:
“Again, its an honest question. I’ve never understood why its bad”
And John responded:
“really, please tell me you are being sarcastic. As a Scot I don’t mind being called a “Jock” by other Scots. But don’t you dare call me a Jock if you aren’t Scottish. It is about the use of the language. Using the N word if you aren’t black is normally a way of suggesting that people of colour are inferior to whites.”
At this point, I have to ask… how would we even know where exactly someone is from? How would we even know what their racial makeup is? At what point is someone “Black enough” or “Scottish enough” or whatever, for someone to use a widely accepted insult and not face repercussions? I have mentioned before that when in was in college, I studied African-American literature and Women’s literature. Both classes included slave narratives that we read and discussed. I distinctly remember learning about concepts such as the tragic mulatto and the one-drop rule in both of those courses. The one-drop rule held that anyone who had even just a drop of “Negro” (in historical terms) blood was considered Black.
By that definition, my husband Bill, who looks very much like someone who is European to the core, would be considered Black. He has ancestors from Nigeria and Ghana. Of course, no one would know that to look at him. He would never dream of dropping the n-bomb in an insulting way. But 120 years ago, he technically could have been classified as a Black person, based on the one-drop rule– which, thank Heavens, was never codified into a federal law, but was codified as a state law in some states. Direct from Wikipedia:
The one-drop rule is a social and legal principle of racial classification that was historically prominent in the United States in the 20th century. It asserted that any person with even one ancestor of black ancestry (“one drop” of black blood) is considered black (Negro or colored in historical terms).
This concept became codified into the law of some states in the early 20th century. It was associated with the principle of “invisible blackness” that developed after the long history of racial interaction in the South, which had included the hardening of slavery as a racial caste and later segregation. It is an example of hypodescent, the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union between different socioeconomic or ethnic groups to the group with the lower status, regardless of proportion of ancestry in different groups.
The one-drop rule is defunct in law in the United States and was never codified into federal law.
In no way do I think that the racist outburst by the maskless woman at the grocery store was a good thing. It was absolutely disgusting behavior, and I do not condone it under any circumstances. But I also think the barrage of negativity that comes toward anyone who questions the logic of people losing their shit over racist epithets, but thinking nothing of insulting total strangers with hateful and dehumanizing words like “bitch”, “cunt”, “white trash”, “slut”, and “asshole” simply because they have a different perspective, is mind bogglingly non-sensical and hypocritical.
I’ve just gotten to the point at which reading that stuff makes my head (and heart) hurt, even if I also fully admit to being hypocritical. I like using a couple of those words myself. 😉 I just think that if equality is what we all seek, we have to realize that using degrading language toward any person, regardless of their racial makeup, is offensive and wrong. I’m working on myself, too, and reading that stuff makes it harder to break the habit, even if it does sometimes provide blog topics.
Is it really a good thing to wish for people to be unemployed? Especially when they have children? It seems to me that we’d be better served to wish for “Bagel Betsy” to grow up and be civilized. We should want her to raise her own kids, rather than have them taken by government authorities and put in foster care. We should hope that she becomes a better person tomorrow, rather than trying to destroy her livelihood and break up her family. Many people in that thread were commenting that “Bagel Betsy” should lose her kids over this outburst. Have they even thought what that might mean for the children? Foster care is a crap shoot. It’s a blessing for some children; for others, it means going from one bad situation straight into another.
I don’t approve of what “Bagel Betsy” did, but I don’t wish her dead, injured, ill, unemployed, or for her to lose her family. It’s my experience that people who behave the way she did have reasons for behaving that way. Making things even worse for her, and for her family by association, will not teach her a lesson. It will probably just make her even more hateful, inconsiderate, and mean. Moreover, this is just a tiny sliver of her life. I’ll bet there are people in her life who love her. If there aren’t, perhaps that’s why she’s dropping n-bombs in public.
I find the single-mindedness of people’s negative comments disturbing. I’ve written about this before, but it really is creepy when a horde of people insist that we must all subscribe to a certain viewpoint, or we’re worthless and must be destroyed with insults. And, as much as I can’t stand the Trump mindset, I also dislike the super left-wing politically correct crowd who can’t see their own hypocrisy and hubris. Here’s another comment that indicates that you don’t have the right to use certain insulting words unless you’re in that group yourself…
There are words acceptable among your friends, your in-group, that you are a part of that are NOT acceptable in the general public or if you are not part of the group –this is true of some terms used for women, disabled persons, LGBTQ etc. Again you need to BELONG to the group to have the right to choose what you call yourself and your community.
Who gets to decide what “group” a person is in, that makes it okay to use denigrating language toward that group? Can a person decide for themselves, or does it take another person or more to make that decision? I don’t understand this rationale, and it’s exhausting to try to understand it. If you ask the question among these folks, they resort to insults and shaming. They never answer the question in a mindful, serious way.
Another example of why I unfollowed God was this below post, which appeared this morning as I was unsuccessfully trying to find a lone wise comment in that huge thread about “Bagel Betsy”.
The few brave folks who wrote that this is not a good idea were promptly drowned out by the self-righteous. Many people who have declared themselves fully onboard with the anti-covidiot crowd feel perfectly free to harass, judge, and insult those who have a different view. And even if you declare that you agree with wearing face masks, but disagree with the above obnoxious behavior, you will be aggressively called out by God followers who can’t have a civilized discussion.
The lady who posted the above comment got so much hate from the peanut gallery for simply suggesting that people pick their battles. Frankly, I think paying your kids to call people out over a lack of a face mask rather than doing it yourself (if you feel so inclined) is the height of cowardice. Having your kids do your dirty work is potentially dangerous and very stupid. At what point is it no longer going to be okay for them to call people out? When will people stop thinking it’s “cute” that a kid took an adult to task over absent or improper mask wearing?
There’s a good reason why the adults don’t want to call people out themselves. It’s because you never know who’s carrying a weapon and having a bad day. The adults figure people won’t harm a child, so it’s somehow “safer” for them to “innocently” chastise an adult for not following the rules. But children get harmed by the unhinged all the time. And, as easy as it is for you to whip out a camera and put someone’s bad behavior online, it can be just as easy for someone who is angry and unsettled to whip out something and do the same to a child, who is being encouraged by an adult to be obnoxious to strangers. If you’re lucky they’ll whip out a camera, rather than a firearm. Personally, I wouldn’t want to put my hypothetical child in that position, and I hate to see it being encouraged by “God”. Seriously speaking, I think it’s a very bad idea, even if it’s being suggested in jest.
Really, though, the main reason why I’m no longer following God is that the page just isn’t funny anymore. It used to be about jokes. Now, it’s mostly inflammatory articles about people behaving badly in public, and insufferable strangers reacting to the bad behavior in extremely hypocritical and self-righteous ways. Instead of promoting better behavior and civility, these folks are not a lot better themselves. Their comments often indicate that they’re just as immature and offensive as the perpetrators are, only they’re on the “right” or “left” side of public or political opinion. It’s exhausting and annoying to read that shit, and everyone knows I can’t resist the comments. So I have decided to bow out. Maybe, now that a year has passed since we lost Jonny the would be rescue hound to negligence, it’s time to follow the dog rescue pages again. That might help me keep my blood pressure down.
Thanksgiving has historically been my favorite holiday. For years, I loved it because it meant going to my Granny’s house, hanging around my mostly fun extended family, seeing the mountains of Virginia, and eating good food. Then afterwards, we’d have a party. There are a lot of musicians in my family, so on Friday after Thanksgiving, there was typically dancing and live music. I remember a few post Thanksgiving Friday night “hops” over the years that were real “barn burners”. Almost every year, for as long as I can remember, there’s been a big Thanksgiving family reunion party at Granny’s. It was something we could all count on, except for a couple of exceedingly rare years when it didn’t happen. 2020 is one of those years.
I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since 2014. I went there to sing at my dad’s memorial service, which was held over Thanksgiving so more people could come to his memorial. He actually died in July 2014. Since then, a lot more people have passed away, but living in Germany has kept me away from home for their funerals. Some deaths have hurt more than others.
I’m not a very religious person, but I do like to think that Heaven is a real place. I imagine my cousin Karen, who died on Saturday, arriving in Heaven, being greeted by long lost loved ones like her parents and our grandmother. I think of my Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Bob waiting by the Pearly Gates, ready to embrace her and lead her to see Granny, who passed away in 2007.
I like to think of the arrival of a new soul in Heaven as a big party, like the ones we had years ago at Granny’s house, when everyone was still young enough and healthy, and wanted to stay up visiting. My mom would have a couple of drinks and get on the organ and play with my Uncle Brownlee’s band. Or my Uncle Steve would play trombone. There was a lot of dancing and singing and drinking too much… Maybe that’s what homecoming was like for Karen and my other relatives. Maybe they’re all sitting around a big table, as if they’re waiting for more people to join the party up in Heaven.
I picture my Aunt Nance serving turtle cheesecake that has no calories. I picture my Uncle Kenneth sitting at the table telling stories with my Uncle Carl and his wife, Aunt Betty. I think of my Aunt Susan, who died in 1962, healthy and making up for lost time with her brothers and sisters who have finally passed the bar. I think of my Uncle Brownlee playing organ while my dad nods along approvingly. I think of Granny and Pappy looking on adoringly. No one is drunk or angry or being obnoxious. Everyone is having a great time, just like we did at so many Thanksgiving parties over the years… and they’re all waiting for the rest of us to arrive.
Then I start thinking about all of the people I’ve found as I’ve searched our genealogy. I wonder if they’re at the party, too. Will I somehow know my ancestors in Heaven? What about people I’m related to by marriage? What about Bill’s dad, who died just nine days ago? Somehow, I think if Heaven exists, he’ll be there. Because anything is possible in Heaven, right? And there will be no worries about not enough bathrooms, cleaning up the mess the next day, lack of parking spots, or paying for anything. There will be room at the table for everyone; everyone will be heard and appreciated; and there will be no talk about politics or controversy. And no one will be sneakily taking any unflattering photos, either. 😉
My Uncle Brownlee was probably my favorite relative. We had a lot in common. His birthday was the day after mine and we shared a love for music and off color humor. He died in 2019. I couldn’t be at his funeral due to the logistics. Now that we have COVID-19, it’s even harder to go home. And even if we were in the United States, people would probably shame us if we tried to have a gathering this year. In fact, attending Thanksgiving with a bunch of relatives on Earth might hasten our own arrivals at the Heavenly Thanksgiving Party.
I don’t think about God as much as a lot of my relatives do. Some of my people are super Christian types. They don’t curse and they go to church a lot. They figure cursing offends God. Personally, I think if God is as perfect as people claim, S/he (does God have genitals?) is probably above being offended. Being offended is a human thing. I don’t think God is human. Humans aren’t perfect. I’d like to think that God is nothing but wisdom, kindness, and love, but that’s probably too simplistic of a description. The fact is, I can’t imagine God, although I’m not quite at a point at which I don’t believe in God. But even if there is no such thing as God or Heaven, I do think that concept has inspired a lot of people to do incredible things. And that’s mostly a good thing. On the other hand, the concept of God has also inspired some pretty horrible things, too… albeit for very flawed human reasons.
Anyway, as Thanksgiving approaches, I am picturing my long lost relatives, all of whom loved being together on Thanksgiving (I presume, anyway), and enjoying the holiday up in Heaven, eating, drinking, laughing, singing, dancing, and visiting, with no worries about anything. They could have that Heavenly Thanksgiving Party forever, if they wanted to. Because Heaven is a perfect place, where there’s no suffering. Or, if they hated parties on Earth, maybe they’re somewhere they loved to be. Sitting by a quiet, rushing brook in the most beautiful place, with nothing but the company of beloved pets… actually, that sounds more like Heaven to me. Ditto if I’m surrounded by books and music and maybe enjoying the company of my favorite person, Bill.
Maybe this perfection doesn’t exist. Maybe death just means cessation of life. In that case, it means there’s no more pain or problems. That’s not a bad thing for the person who’s gone. It’s bad for the people who miss that person, left here on Earth, stuck in a cumbersome body that eventually fails for everyone. But eventually, everybody gets an invitation to the Heavenly Thanksgiving Party. Or so I’d like to believe. And I find it comforting to think of my relatives and friends enjoying their time at the Heavenly Party, waiting for the rest of us to join them in the fun.
As for our 2020 Thanksgiving celebration, it promises to be as quiet and peaceful as the last five have been. We’re just not going to cook. This year, we’re ordering a Thanksgiving takeout meal from a restaurant. It makes sense– less cleaning up and leftovers, and we do our part to keep the restaurants going until we can get a vaccine against the dreaded COVID-19 virus. I expect our 2020 Thanksgiving will be much like our anniversary was yesterday… kind of boring in some ways, but extraordinary in others. Bill’s daughter wished us a happy anniversary yesterday and even sent us a gift. Up until a few years ago, I never thought she would speak to Bill again, let alone acknowledge our anniversary. So even though our 2020 celebration had no naked dips at Irish Roman baths or palatial accommodations, it was remarkable just the same. We had originally planned to see Keb’ Mo’ in concert in Mainz. Naturally, that concert has now been rescheduled twice, thanks to COVID-19. I expect we’ll still be here when it finally does occur… at this point, in September 2021.
The featured photo is my dad and his mother… looks like maybe it was taken at my sister’s wedding, which was also a pretty epic celebration at Granny’s house.My dad died just seven years after he lost his mother, so they probably had a pretty awesome reunion in 2014.
Have you ever heard that saying, “If God leads you to it, He’ll lead you through it?” I’m not a very religious person, but I will admit that sometimes I have flickers of spirituality. I was probably more religious when I was younger, but as the years have passed, I’ve become less impressed by the mysterious ways of the Almighty. Bill is a lot more in tune with God than I am. He has more reason to have faith. He’s been through some major shit in his life. My shit, by comparison, is relatively small potatoes. I have never been to war. I have never been at war with an ex spouse hellbent on destroying me. I have never had a near death experience. I have never been divorced or had children. I have never been a child of divorce, either.
For some reason, despite never having these challenging, life altering experiences, I often feel exhausted and embattled by life. My challenges have been different than Bill’s have been, and we have learned different ways of coping. One of my methods of getting through tough times is by turning to creativity. I think maybe it would have been easier if I had been an artist, like my sister is. Pictures can be upsetting, but they probably aren’t as upsetting as the written word is. It usually takes longer to paint a picture than write an essay.
I’m also a singer, although I mainly do that as a form of self-therapy. I don’t share my music nearly as much as I do my writing. I doubt most people take it seriously, even if I do. Maybe it would be better if I simply made music rather than write… although I am finding this week that writing could end up saving me.
The past few days have been very challenging. Some of you are aware that Bill and I escaped the rental house from Hell last year. I didn’t initially think of the experience as “hellish”. What started out as having to deal with an eccentric, overbearing, nit picking landlady has turned into sheer craziness. I used to write about my frustrations dealing with her, but then it became clear that she had a negative advocate stalking my blogs and probably reporting back to her. Not that I wrote that much about her, mind you… and I certainly never identified her. 99.9% of the people reading my old blog and the scattered posts in which I mentioned ex landlady would never know who she was. Moreover, there were also posts in which I praised her. At first, I was sincere in my praise, because she had initially seemed nice. Later, I wrote those posts only because, in my gut, I knew they could be significant later. Two years ago, it became clear to me that we were going to be where we are now… on the brink of a lawsuit in a country that is foreign to me.
Bill has never sued anyone. Neither have I. I don’t plan to be a party to this lawsuit, mainly because I didn’t sign the lease and wasn’t responsible for paying the landlady and her husband. In fact, I’m not officially the reason we’re in Germany. I’m tagging along, because Bill got a job here and I’m his wife.
Several months ago, when it became clear that my blogs were being monitored by former landlady’s ex tenant, I decided to move my writing to a more secure location. I removed any questionable posts, but left the old blog open. It has a lot of good information in it that has served a lot of people, including students in universities. I happen to know that at least one of my posts was used in a criminal justice course at Drexel University. Now… no one ever asked me about it, but I could see the hits and where they came from. And people had left comments letting me know that a book review I’d written was useful. So I left the old blog open for those people, even though I needed a more secure place for my new posts.
All spring, I anticipated the reaction to the bomb Bill planned to drop on our former landlady. I knew she was going to go ballistic. I mentally prepared myself for the fallout. I had a feeling she’d threaten us with legal action, too… because how DARE we hold her accountable for ripping us off? Our ex landlady is apparently obsessed with money and feels entitled to blatantly take what she thinks she has coming to her. Other people’s perspectives and opinions seem not to matter to her. She seems to have an astonishing lack of shame and self-awareness. She’s “right”; you’re wrong, and if you argue with her, there will be HELL to pay.
In February, Bill contacted ex landlady about our deposit. We knew she was going to deduct charges. The day she showed up to do the final check out, she made it clear that she was deeply dissatisfied with the days of cleaning we did. I knew very well that she would be. I knew that despite cleaning as best I could, she would find multiple issues. I resigned myself to it, even though my body ached from the effort of trying to turn her sow’s ear of a duplex into a silk purse.
I was in Wiesbaden on the day Bill checked out. I felt it would be best, since I can barely stand the sight of ex landlady. I had to put up with multiple incidents of verbal abuse and false accusations from her, and I had finally reached the point of saturation. The last time we had a real conversation was the day she stood in the living room of our old house and shouted at me because her 17 year old awning had collapsed on my watch. She was pissed off because it couldn’t be fixed and a brand new one would cost 2800 euros. But… I had told her the awning was listing and instead of hiring a technician with specific expertise related to awning repair, she sent her very handy husband. She later told us the fix was likely temporary, but it was repaired for the time being. Indeed, it did look like the awning was fixed, so I used it on an especially hot day to block the sun from the living room. There was a sudden gust of wind and the damned thing collapsed with a thud.
I wasn’t sitting under the awning when it fell. She claims that makes me “negligent”. Because if I had been sitting under it, I would have noticed the windy conditions and rolled it up before it collapsed. But… the wind was powerful and sudden, and although I have a lot of capabilities, I have not developed the ability to predict it. And if I had been sitting under it, the awning would have injured or possibly even killed me (if it had hit my head). It was very heavy and supported by metal. Ex landlady apparently hasn’t considered what would have happened if I had been sitting under her awning when it collapsed. She obviously doesn’t care.
So, on that September day in 2017, she berated me for the awning’s collapse. Then she berated me for an electric Rolladen that wouldn’t come down. She claimed it was because I didn’t use it often enough. Later, it was determined the Rolladen was not properly installed. No apology was forthcoming from her for accusing me of being “negligent” in that instance.
She also complained about a clump of dog hair in the doorway. She claimed it was “encrusted”. It certainly was not “encrusted”. It took two seconds to clean up, and if I had known this was going to cause her to have a meltdown, I surely would have made sure it was cleaned away before her tirade.
The weeks following that incident were awful. I wanted nothing more than to move away from that abusive bitch. But Bill didn’t want to move. He said it would cost too much and we had no guarantee that a new landlord wouldn’t be worse. So we kept living there and paying her, putting up with her passive aggressive hostility. I soon hated her and her house. Our insurance company gave her 300 euros because her awning was so old. That’s how insurance works. They don’t give you enough money for a brand new items. It’s meant to defray costs, not totally cover them. Prior to the payout, she had written in an email to Bill that she agreed that the collapse was caused by an “act of nature”. When the payout was so low, suddenly it was entirely my fault again.
Fast forward to February 2019. She clearly meant to keep our entire Kaution, but when Bill pressed her, she decided to give us 666 euros. I noticed that the amount she kept was about what a new awning would cost, minus the 300 euros the insurance company gave her. How very noble. She did not list the awning as a charge, but instead levied a lot of nitpicking charges for petty things, with no proof that she’d actually spent money to fix the items. She sent charges for things that were beyond the statute of limitations and charged us full price for things she’d decided to replace for arbitrary reasons. She also charged us to remove the awning, which she had no right to do.
She also sent us a receipt for what she spent to have her the roof of her carport cleaned. We hadn’t been expected to clean that, but she wanted us to know that she had already spent a lot of money. And dammit, she and her husband are pensioners and aren’t wealthy. We should be ashamed for demanding our deposit to be properly accounted for and returned to us. When Bill complained, she became progressively more hostile and shaming. She basically said we were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had and that we lived in filth. But… we were also the tenants she had the longest and she never once got a late payment from us. And over four years, it was clear to us that money was what mattered most to her. She never once asked us to leave her shitty house, although she did offer to find us a housekeeper (like I needed having someone spying on us and reporting back to her).
So in June, our lawyer sent her a demand letter. It was devoid of emotion and bluster. Our lawyer demanded our Kaution, as well as a refund of our Nebenkosten (money for trash, lawn care, and other costs) for four years, since she never did the required annual accounting of it. Now… Bill and I didn’t really expect to get the Nebenkosten returned to us. However, our lawyer pointed out that in Germany, the law states that landlords must do an annual reckoning of the Nebenkosten. Ex landlady never once did this, so legally, we are entitled to request that she refund that money. Over four years, it amounts to a lot of money.
As I predicted, ex landlady went absolutely batshit nuts when she got the lawyer’s letter. Pretty soon, I noticed her friends and family members stalking my blogs, hitting certain posts repeatedly. I started to think she might try to accuse me of Beleidigung (insult). In Germany, it’s illegal to insult someone. I have never named ex landlady or posted a picture of her, but former tenant had been reading and knew whom I was writing about. Sometimes, she’d leave comments defending ex landlady or agreeing with me, but then she’d delete her comments. That practice left me realizing that she was up to no good.
Ex landlady had her lawyer send us an outrageous letter alleging that we had “destroyed” her house. As Bill translated it, I could practically hear ex landlady’s shrill voice through the lawyer’s bluster. And she demanded even more money from us, tacking on truly ridiculous charges. She’s trying to force us to replace her laminate floor and her carpet (at least 18 years old). She demands the fees for her lawyer, and the real kicker is, she claims we stole her refrigerator. Of all of the things she’s bitching about, the refrigerator claim amazes me the most. Apparently, she thinks the refrigerator I bought for us is her refrigerator, and the piece of shit German one that was in the house when we moved in was one we abandoned and– get this– it’s an “inferior American brand”. She evidently doesn’t realize that we have different voltage in the United States and would not be able to use an American fridge without a plug converter and transformer. The fridge that was left there is German and has a European style plug… and thanks to Amazon.de, we have proof that the fridge we took belongs to us.
Ex landlady also claims that we agreed that she didn’t have to do the annual Nebenkosten reckoning. That can’t be true, since before a few months ago, we didn’t even know that was the law in Germany. There’s no way we could have agreed not to hold her to that requirement. Our lawyer has seen our lease, so I’m certain that if it was buried in the language there, she would have noticed it. We used a standard military lease, same one we did for this house and the house we rented in 2007-09. I can’t think of a single reason why a military lease would exclude the Nebenkosten reckoning. And I know Bill never verbally agreed to it or even discussed it with ex landlady. As a German, she must know this is a standard thing. But she never did it and now she’s busted, so she’s claiming we agreed that she didn’t have to do it. Why would we ever agree to something like that? It wouldn’t be in our best interest to do that.
Now… I have been reading up on lawsuits and I know ex landlady does not stand a chance in hell of forcing us to pay for all she demands. I am pretty certain that she’s simply trying to scare us into capitulating. In fact, her claims are so completely asinine that I question her lawyer’s competence. It’s obvious that her case is weak. She never so much as did a real check in with us, probably because her former tenant was there on the day we moved in and still had crap she was cleaning up when we took possession. There is no proof of what the house looked like when we moved in, because ex landlady never did her due diligence. I know for a fact ex tenant didn’t get the thorough scrutiny we got when we moved out. I am absolutely certain that we are being blamed for things her ex tenant did, but because they’re friends, they feel perfectly fine in pinning all of this shit on us. And ex landlady has the nerve to claim we’re being “unfair”. Seriously? My husband is one of the kindest, most accommodating people I have ever met. In fact, I think that’s why she’s taking this hard line. She thinks he’s a wimp and has no respect for him.
Naturally, I’m pissed off, but I’m also horrified. Our lawyer sent us a letter encouraging us to file a lawsuit, since it was clear some of her assertions are “fictitious” and she won’t willingly compromise. I’m furious, of course, because it just feels like one more insult from her. I resent that we have to take her to court to force her to do the right thing. It will be expensive, inconvenient, and to make matters worse, we have to see her ugly face again. But now that she’s made her demands, we can’t let this go. Clearly, she also needs to be reported to the housing office in Stuttgart, because if she’d do this to us, she’ll do it to other people. I’m also angry because I feel like my privacy has been violated, and my hard work has been RUINED. And much of my work is good stuff. I know it’s helped people. Thanks to the ex tenant and her need to pry into my business, I can’t share that work with others… at least not until this mess is sorted out. And I think that could take a long time.
I don’t even care about the money. I want her to be held accountable for her absolutely deplorable conduct. Especially now that she’s falsely accused us of theft! She can’t expect to get away with this! This could affect Bill’s livelihood! And if she honestly didn’t know that fridge was hers (or someone else’s), how can we believe she knew the condition her house was in back in 2014? She didn’t do her job and now she’s being called on it, so instead of growing up and owning up to her laziness, she’s claiming we’re dirtbags. Once again, the familiar refrain, “We’ve never had any problems with other tenants.”… but she doesn’t realize we’ve never had problems with other landlords.
This would be enough. This shit with the ex landlady, comical as it may seem years from now, would certainly be enough. But now my beloved Zane has lymphoma that promises to kill him soon. Many of ex landlady’s complaints stem from the fact that we had dogs. She blames them for most of the issues in the house. She forgets that ex tenant had a dog, and the people before her had cats, and everything in that house is old. It was certainly not pristine when we moved in. In fact, I have an early blog post in which I lament the smell of the carpet and former tenant admits that many pets had been hosted in that house. It was one of the few comments she didn’t delete.
I know things could be worse. I know I have friends and family dealing with much worse. I also know that ex landlady’s case is so ridiculous that if we do go to court, chances are good that she will be humiliated. That’s probably why the lawyer sent such a strongly worded letter to us. He’s trying to scare us into letting this go, because if a fair and impartial person with a lick of sense hears this story, it’s likely they’ll lose in a big way. We’ve been assured by three lawyers and a housing official in Wiesbaden that our former landlady is completely out of bounds on this. But what if the judge is as wacko as ex landlady is? It’s a possibility.
I try to reassure myself that this will be okay. I try to focus on Zane, who has temporarily improved on the prednisone I’m giving him. It’s borrowed time. When he goes, he’ll take a piece of my heart with him. Ex landlady won’t care about that. She doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but herself and her money. I’m tired of her abuse and her bullying tactics. It’s time to open a can of whoopass and teach that bitch that it’s not smart to engage in a war with people who make war their business. Even if we lose, I relish the idea of making her sweat and spend money on this, even if it’s just the deductible for legal insurance. I’m not sure she knows we are insured, too. And we intend to see this through. God led us to it… and maybe if He’s real, he’ll lead us through it. But I have a feeling that my sheer hatred for her and my resolute unwillingness to tolerate more abuse from her is what is really going to see us through this situation.
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