family, LDS, musings, narcissists

The pitfalls of being a “truth teller”…

It’s another beautiful May Sunday here in Germany. As I mentioned in my travel blog, I was hoping Bill and I could go do some really fun stuff this holiday weekend. But, thanks to a lack of planning and general laziness, together with raging allergic symptoms, we’ve kind of stuck close to home. It has been kind of a busy weekend in other ways, though. Bill and his daughter have been talking a lot, mainly because the youngest grandchild has just turned one year old.

We’ve been learning more about younger daughter’s college years and escape from Ex. Every time I hear more about what happened during that time period, I’m flabbergasted anew. I sense that younger daughter doesn’t want us to feel badly for her, nor does she consider herself a victim. I find that a very refreshing and admirable attitude to take. However, it still shocks me to hear about the challenges she faced during that time period. I do think a lot of her blessings came from being involved in her church, where people are encouraged to help each other. That’s one of a few things I do like about the LDS church. I especially find it funny that church people helped younger daughter so much, since Ex used the church as a parental alienation tool against Bill.

Anyway, as we were reacting to some of the revelations last night, I found myself trying to explain my reactions. I reiterated that I don’t think of younger daughter as a victim. I think she is incredibly resilient and resourceful. I just find it regrettable that it was more important for Ex to be hateful to Bill than do what was right for their daughters. Younger daughter didn’t have to go through what she did. Bill would have been so happy to help her. It would have been an honor for him to set her up for success at school. But Ex not only didn’t want to allow him to help their kids, she didn’t even want her kids to help themselves. I think she meant for her kids to all stay in her home, and those who try to flee the nest get punished.

It became clear as younger daughter was talking that Ex didn’t expect her kids to have ANY money of their own. At the time younger daughter was applying to school, Ex didn’t know that younger daughter had some money socked away, and she used it to pay the application fee for college and have her transcripts sent to her school of choice. She had just $80 of her own money— at age 18, no less. And she used it for higher education. Ex had not wanted her to go to school away from home and when she found out what younger daughter did, she got VERY angry with her. I think she was angry, not just because she’d applied to college (imagine being a mother upset about THAT), but because she’d secretly had the money in the first place!

I mentioned that I didn’t think Ex wanted her daughters to have money because money equals power. And, as I was talking, I explained… “Bill wanted very much to help you. He just didn’t want Ex to be part of it, because Ex always has to be part of the deal.” And then, before I knew it, I blurted out, “Your mom is a total psycho.”

And then I apologized… because “psycho” really isn’t the best word for what Ex is, at least not when I’m talking to Bill’s daughter. I didn’t want to offend younger daughter, either. But then it became pretty clear that she wasn’t offended by that comment.

I did explain at the end of our session that I am not the most politically correct person. I often speak my mind, sometimes out of turn. Often, I piss people off because I don’t tend to hold back on what I’m thinking, and sometimes I use language that would make a sailor blush. But… at least you know that what you get is what you see… as the great Tina Turner once sang.

Yeah… I am right there with you, Tina.

Once again, I am absolutely floored by how forgiving and kind younger daughter is. She doesn’t seem to have a drop of anger or bitterness in her. I’m sure it’s there somewhere, but I have yet to see it. I find that amazing… and very admirable. Maybe she has much to teach me. But anyway, she says that there are always people who have it worse. That’s true, but it doesn’t negate what she dealt with back in the day. She shouldn’t have had to struggle like that.

I’ll try to be a little more circumspect… or thoughtful about what I say. I suspect younger daughter’s husband, if he heard that comment, probably thought it was funny, though. I think he and I can commiserate about a lot of things. I don’t envy his position, when he has to deal with his mother-in-law. She is a challenge… or maybe she’s more like a trial. Whatever she is, one thing’s for certain. She is a psycho, and that is the truth.

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first world problems, healthcare, lessons learned, social media

Man dreams of dying by age 75… Internet goes berserk.

I ripped off today’s “clever” featured photo a couple of weeks ago, when I was engaged with the rude commenter who kept calling me “stupid” and “inane”. I think it’s a photo that invites a second look and says something unexpected…

We’re on the fast track to spring! Pretty soon, the trees and flowers will be bursting with new life. As beautiful as spring always is, it’s also the season when my allergies burst into new life. But at least there will be fragrant flowers, warmer temperatures, and longer days.

Welcome to March. This month promises to suck, as it usually does. Bill has a business trip next week, and part of the week after that. At the end of the month, we have a big trip to Stuttgart planned, so we can see the dentist and have procedures done. Meanwhile, Arran is still hanging in there. I will take him to the vet today for a treatment and exam. He really is an amazing dog with a strong will to live. As I’ve learned, after years of having dogs in my life, not all dogs are like that. Not all people are like that, either.

This morning, as I was waiting for Bill to come out of the bathroom, I noticed an October 2014 era article in The Atlantic that was reposted on Facebook. It was provocatively titled “Why I Hope to Die at Age 75”, and accompanied by the broadly smiling visage of a healthy looking man with glasses and grey hair. The author of the article, also the man in the photo, was named Ezekiel J. Emmanuel. He had subtitled his article with this thought: An argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.

I was immediately intrigued. To be very honest, I’m not one of those people who wants to live for a super long time. I have a tendency toward depression, which means I often look at the dark side of things. I also had an angst ridden childhood that, at times, has been hard to overcome.

I know my childhood certainly wasn’t as bad as some people’s childhoods are. In fact, I’d say I probably had a very privileged childhood on many levels, at least in terms of material comforts. However, I often felt like I didn’t belong, especially within my own family. I never seemed to live up to other people’s expectations of me. After awhile, I had the same high expectations for myself, which I rarely managed to meet.

Frequently hearing my mom say things like “If you didn’t look so much like my mother, I’d swear I picked up the wrong baby at the hospital.” or “I never meant to have a fourth child.” or “Where did you COME from?” wasn’t helpful. She made it seem like my presence– which she and my dad were responsible for– was a huge inconvenience to her. That sentiment came through to me loud and clear, and it colored my world view.

Of course, now I know that my mom is imperfect, as we all are. Her comments were borne out of frustrations that had nothing to do with me. I just happened to be on the receiving end of them, because I was a child, and had no other choice. I eventually got away from that shit, but the memories still linger. I don’t have children of my own, nor do I have a burgeoning career, except as a blogger who writes things that few people read. Why should I hang around to be 100, like my Granny did?

So I read the article in The Atlantic, which leads with this hooky paragraph:

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

This preference drives my daughters crazy. It drives my brothers crazy. My loving friends think I am crazy. They think that I can’t mean what I say; that I haven’t thought clearly about this, because there is so much in the world to see and do. To convince me of my errors, they enumerate the myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well. They are certain that as I get closer to 75, I will push the desired age back to 80, then 85, maybe even 90.

I’m not surprised that Emmanuel’s relatives are horrified by the statements he’s bravely uttered to them. It’s taboo to make comments indicating that one hopes for death at ANY age. Remember a few months ago, when Queen Elizabeth II died? She was 96 years old, and had lost her beloved husband less than two years prior. People were calling her death TRAGIC! Isn’t that insane?

Queen Elizabeth II lived for 96 years, a reigning monarch for 70 years in a modern country, surrounded by wealth, rubbing elbows with important people, and adored by so many people. She didn’t spend her last weeks languishing alone in a nursing home. She didn’t die at age 20, on the cusp of womanhood. She lived a full life, and it was simply time for her to move on. But people were calling her death tragic!

Emmanuel’s article was written in 2014, which was about six years before the whole world was caught in the grips of COVID-19. Countless elderly people died of the illness. People are still dying of COVID, although it seems like folks aren’t talking about it as much these days. Frankly, I’m glad they aren’t talking about it so much. I’m delighted there’s a lot less fighting over face masks and vaccines. Things are feeling decidedly more normal, although as I could see in the Facebook comment section for Emmanuel’s article, lots of people are still mourning the loss.

One lady bitterly wrote about how her elderly dad died “before his time” in a rehabilitation hospital, because people were fighting over wearing a “fucking mask”. I can tell she misses him. She’s still grieving his death. But did he really die too early? Or was COVID-19 just one of many diseases conspiring to end his life? She blames people for not wanting to wear masks, but even wearing face masks wasn’t going to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. All the masks could do was slow down the spread a bit.

I remember a couple of years ago, I wrote about the time I got a venomous private message from some guy who was upset when I took issue with a comment he made about an elderly couple who had just gotten married. The groom was 91, and his wife was 86. They wore masks during their wedding ceremony, but the wife’s mask happened to slip beneath her nose. Someone got a photo, and it was shared in the article about their nuptials. An all knowing MALE wrote that the bride’s improper face mask wearing was going to send her to an “early” grave.

In my post about this, I wrote:

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

Likewise, a couple of weeks ago, I got repeatedly insulted by an Irish Times reader who took issue with my comment that “life is 100 percent fatal”. We were commenting on an article about a woman who was publicly fat shamed for wanting to order a cheese course. The person who called my comments “inane” and “stupid” was pushing for health promotion, writing to me as if I’m completely ignorant on the topic. As someone with master’s degrees in public health and social work, I’m literally not at all ignorant about health preservation. I just don’t agree that life should be about denying oneself simple pleasures over fears of a heart attack or a stroke.

Moderation is the key, of course, but we all have our own ideas of what moderation means. For some people, the fear of a heart attack or another chronic disease is enough to make them want to avoid certain indulgences. Other people don’t feel that way at all. They’d like to enjoy their cheese course in peace. That doesn’t necessarily make them reckless, foolhardy, or stupid.

After trying to maintain decorum and polite discourse with the insulting commenter, I’d finally had enough. I ended up telling off the stranger, who had relentlessly kept insulting me as she pushed her health promotion point. I explained that I would rather eat what I want with my friends, and live a shorter lifespan, than not eat what I want, and have to linger on this planet with “miserable bitches” like her. Then, I asked her to “kindly fuck off and leave me alone”, which she kindly did.

Ezekiel Emmanuel, author of The Atlantic piece that prompted today’s post, writes:

I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

I see nothing wrong or controversial about what Emmanuel wrote here. I come from a long line of people who have lived for a long time. My Granny was almost 101 when she died. She was amazingly active and beloved in her golden years, but when it was time for her to go, I have no doubt that she was ready. Likewise, my dad, who was a very healthy and active man, died at age 81 after spending six years in the hellish cognitive and physical decline of Lewy Body Dementia. His brother, my beloved Uncle Brownlee, had a stroke in 2019 while he was out and about. Two weeks later, he was gone. Somehow, I think Brownlee’s death, albeit at a younger age, was markedly better than my dad’s.

Emmanuel further writes:

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

Again… he’s not wrong. And it’s not that he’s saying he’s planning to off himself. In fact, in the next paragraph, he even writes that he’s against assisted suicide. He claims people who want help killing themselves are usually suffering from depression. Personally, I disagree with him on that. I don’t think a person has to be depressed to realize that a progressive brain tumor or Alzheimer’s Disease is inevitably going to rob them of their dignity and self-determination. I don’t think a person who wants to pass on before that can happen is necessarily “depressed”. To me, it makes good logical sense to want to get help in dying, especially under those conditions. I’m not the only one who feels that way, either. Moreover, living with unrelenting depression is also miserable. In a case when depression won’t abate, maybe assisted suicide makes sense.

But then he continues:

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.

So basically, what Emmanuel is saying is, he’s going to stop trying to prolong his life beyond the age of 75. That means if a doctor finds out he has cancer or some other debilitating, chronic disease, he’s not necessarily going to seek treatment– particularly aggressive treatment. He might not bother with screenings. He recognizes that the older one gets, the more help they need into keeping going. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable observation. At some point, there are diminishing returns.

To read some of the comments on Facebook, though… So many people complained about ageism and devaluing the elderly. One person even compared the writer’s ideas to that of a Nazi, as the Nazis saw people in certain “undesirable or unproductive groups”, such as the elderly, disabled, LGBTQ, or those who weren’t white and Christian, as “useless eaters”. I saw more than one person complaining that the article was going to give people “dangerous ideas”.

All the guy did was share an opinion. No one is being forced to agree with or actively support Ezekiel Emmanuel’s ideas. They’re just food for thought. I see no need for offense or outrage on this subject. Emmanuel is not trying to say that all elderly people should have an expiration date. He’s simply sharing his thoughts, and perhaps stimulating other people to think about how they feel on this topic. He’s saying that when he’s 75, he hopes to die. It doesn’t mean he absolutely will die at 75. It doesn’t even mean that he can’t or won’t change his mind. It’s just a thought. Why are so many people afraid of people sharing their thoughts? And why do people have to be so critical and condescending when someone shares a thought with which they disagree?

One commenter wrote this, and I heartily agree:

Stunning how this article is being misconstrued by people with anecdotes about healthy old folk. I’m 77. Boringly healthy but I stopped all routine tests, pokings and proddings before I was 70. I may get some things done like cataract surgery since I am the family driver. However if I get something nasty I don’t plan on extreme measures. It’s in my will etc. For every healthy elder anecdote there are thousands of elderly getting major surgery when they cannot care for themselves at all. The “children” are desperate to …save Mom. Well, don’t save me (or the good doctor) if I can’t get to the bathroom by myself, thank you very much.

And others made really tone deaf comments, or complained when the tone deaf are rightfully invited to fuck off…

I don’t blame the first commenter for telling the second one to fuck off. What a dumb comment.

My Uncle Ed died last summer at age 85. I hadn’t spoken to him in some time, mainly because he’d slipped into Trumpian cognitive dissonance and labeled me a “liberal nutjob”. However, I did hear that Ed had a mass on his lung that he’d opted not to treat. Frankly, I can’t blame him for that. He lost his beloved wife, Nancy, in 2010. Donald Trump was no longer the president and the election wasn’t going to be overturned. What was the point of sticking around until age 86, when there were many loved ones who had passed before him? Maybe Heaven is real. At some point, it makes sense to pass on. Dying is part of living, and it’s something not a single one of us can avoid. If you were born, you will someday die. So you might as well live life on your own terms and enjoy it as you see fit, as much as you’re able.

I don’t have a problem with Ezekiel Emmanuel’s publicly stated thoughts about wanting to die at age 75. It’s just something to think about. Doesn’t mean any of us are going to actually do something to make death happen at a specific time. I don’t feel anger or fear in reading that idea, because in the grand scheme of things, that’s really all it is. Maybe it makes sense to him, even if it doesn’t make sense to other people. He should be allowed to speak his mind, and other people should have enough faith in themselves and other people to be able to hear his thoughts without feeling threatened by them.

Don’t tell people to “shut up”, simply because they dare to convey an idea that you can’t yet fathom. Be brave enough to hear them out. Maybe you’ll even learn something new.

These are just my thoughts, though. Please don’t take them as gospel… not that I expect anyone would.

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complaints, Military, rants, stupid people

Repost: Slow down there, Dependa…

Hi folks. Happy President’s Day. I am still trying to come up with today’s fresh topic, so here’s a repost from December 31, 2018. It’s a little dated, as Trump was still president when I posted it… However, the basic idea is still valid, as a lot of insecure people still have derogatory opinions about people who aren’t like they are. I posted fresh content on the travel blog, and maybe later, I will do so here, too. I just need to come up with something.

Last night, I was reading the comments on an article posted by the Army Times (I had linked it, but the link doesn’t work now) about retired General Stanley McChrystal, who warns about Trump’s plans to cut troops in Afghanistan.  I honestly don’t know why I read the article, since this isn’t really a topic that interests me.  I think I read it because I recognized McChrystal’s name.  But anyway, as usual, I ignored the little voice in my head that always tells me to avoid reading the comments on news articles posted on Facebook, particularly by military types.

It’s no secret that a lot of military folks are die hard Republicans, even though the military lifestyle is a study in socialism.  The government provides servicemembers all sorts of benefits ranging from housing to medical to educational.  And yet, many of these people are typically politically conservative.  While there are many military servicemembers who are intelligent and thoughtful, and they vote for people over political parties, there are a lot of others who are doggedly persistent in voting for parties over people.  Consequently, we end up with immoral and incompetent morons like Donald Trump as our president.

Adding insult to injury is the pervasive stupidity and sexism among some servicemembers.  I see comment after comment, typically by insecure men, demeaning people whose opinions don’t line up with their world views.  More than one male laments how the Army Times is becoming “liberal”, simply because like most other legitimate news sources, it doesn’t heap praise on Donald Trump or his cronies.  And if one points out some of Trump’s many shortcomings, the insults fly with wild abandon, particularly if the other commenter is female.

One comment that I frequently see on publications such as the Army Times is, “Have you served?”  It seems that according to some Facebook users, one must have signed up for the military to make a  comment about any topic regarding the military.  It doesn’t matter if one has been around military people from birth.  A person’s experiences working with the military, being married to the military, or having been raised by the military means nothing to these lunkheads.  Time after time, I see these uninformed folks bringing up the “oath” they recited to protect and defend the Constitution.

I bet a lot of servicemembers would be very surprised that I, as a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, took the very same oath on August 22, 1995 that they did when they joined the service.  Thirty of my American colleagues were with me that day, as I swore “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  Servicemembers are not the only ones who take that oath, nor are they they only ones who serve their country.

So what’s bringing on today’s rant?  As I was reading people’s thoughts on General McChrystal’s comments regarding Trump’s leadership, I noticed an intelligent and coherent comment made by a brave woman, who wasn’t quick to dismiss McChrystal’s warnings.  The man she was engaging immediately responded with, “Slow down there, Dependa!”  I almost wish she’d responded with, “Speed up there, Numbnuts.”

For those who have not read my previous rants about the term “dependa”, and don’t know what it means, allow me to offer a quick explanation.  “Dependa” is short for “dependapotamus”.  It’s in reference to the term “dependent”, which is government-ese for the spouse and children of someone who is serving or has served in the military and receives benefits.  There is a pervasive and specific stereotype of woman this term refers to.  It’s generally a very uneducated woman who’s fat, ugly, and willing to put out for marriage to a military guy who will give her his benefits.  She typically spends all his money, pops out babies, doesn’t have a job or go to school, and thinks her “job” is being a “proud military wife”, to the point of wearing t-shirts and putting “proud Army wife” bumper stickers on her SUV.

I have been around military folks my entire life.  In truth, I haven’t run into too many people who fit the “dependa” stereotype, save for Bill’s ex wife.  Last night, I read this very disrespectful article about the so-called “dependa” phenomenon.  It kind of pissed me off, but at the same time, I have to admit Bill’s ex does fit the description quite well, at least when they first got married.  And Bill, bless his heart, did fall for her bullshit, in part, because he was lonely.  It’s true that I despise Bill’s ex wife, but if I’m honest and objective, she was a high school dropout; she has five kids by three men– all three of whom were once in the military; she did drain Bill’s bank account; and she was very interested in his benefits.  But never mind that…  I’m sure there must be others like Ex, since this is such a pervasive insult among military types. 

What makes me sad, though, are the people who automatically label any spouse or family member a “Dependa”.  It doesn’t matter who she is (and it’s almost always a she).  She could have a full time job and make more money than her husband does.  She’s still a “Dependa” in the eyes of some of these boneheads.  She could have never had children, wear a size four dress, and be working on her Ph.D.  She’s still a “Dependa”, if she’s married to a guy in the military.  And as a Dependa, her comments are irrelevant and easily dismissed.  Actually, a woman with education seems to be even more offensive to some of these folks.  They complain about uneducated, unemployed women who act like leeches, but God forbid you go beyond a simple bachelor’s degree.  Then, you don’t know your place and need to be knocked down a peg or two.

Anyway, I noticed that the guy who wrote “Slow down there, Dependa” must have been threatened by the intelligent remarks made by the woman he was addressing.  I think if you must immediately insult a stranger in a retort to them, you must not be very sure of your own standing.  To the woman’s credit, she defended her decidedly “not Dependa” status, clarifying that she has a degree and earns as much money as her husband does.  And she called him an “ass” for insulting her with that degrading label.

I would have included their exchange in this post, but by the time I went back to find it, it had disappeared.  I wonder why.  I haven’t noticed the Army Times deleting offensive comments, so maybe the guy who wrote “Slow down there, Dependa” felt badly for writing it.  He should feel bad about that.  Are there any women in his life that he loves?  Would he want them to be called “Dependa” or some other derogatory name, simply because of where her spouse works?

Some people probably think of me as a “Dependa”, although I’m not uneducated and never had children.  I suppose it’s less offensive to me to be called that by people who’ve met me or even know me online.  In fairness, I do sponge off of my husband, although I don’t spend his money on Coach bags or abuse the Tricare system. 

But this was an exchange between two strangers.  The guy who immediately tossed out the “Dependa” insult didn’t even pretend to take the woman’s comments seriously.  He simply made those comments because she’s female and married to someone in the military.  And, it was very obvious to me that she way outpaced him in the intelligence department.  That’s probably why he felt he had to insult her.  He clearly couldn’t hold a candle to her mental acuity and couldn’t stand the idea that she’s obviously smarter than he is. 

This is certainly not the only time I’ve written about this subject.  Unfortunately, I’ve read a lot of sexist, demeaning, insulting, and downright nasty comments from men who lack the ability to be civilized on social media.  It won’t change.  I shouldn’t read comments on the Army Times… but on the positive side, at least this kept me from reading more blog posts by Roosh V.

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communication, condescending twatbags

Sometimes a little Gouda is “good-a” for the soul…

A few days ago, I wrote a post about a piece I read in the Irish Times. My post about the fat shamed woman who dared to share her story is spawning a few related entries by yours truly. This may not be the last time I mention that particular post, but I feel compelled to write again, so here goes…

In my original post, titled “Be careful, now. Nobody is “too fat” for a knuckle sandwich,” I wrote about my reactions to the original Irish Times piece written by Róisín Ingle. Ingle had gone to a celebratory luncheon and dared to inquire about a cheese plate. One of her companions very publicly yelled at Ingle not to order cheese, because she thought Ingle was “too fat” to be allowed to peacefully eat it. She even had the gall to say, “No cheese for you!” like some kind of cheese shaming Nazi.

I read some of the Facebook comments about that story. I wrote about one of the worst Facebook commenters in my original post. There was another commenter who was almost as bad as “Mel O’Brien”, Russian troll extraordinaire (see the original post for more on that). The other commenter, name of Pamela, was leaving nasty comments for people who expressed empathy for Róisín Ingle.

Pamela seemed to me like, quite frankly, a raving bitch. She responded with bile toward people who weren’t agreeing with her anti-fat stance. I noticed that she left a scathing response for a commenter who took issue with the “cheese shaming” old bat in Ingle’s story.

She wrote:

“I don’t care what anybody thinks of my body or my Gouda consumption.”

Good for you. Let’s see how empowered you feel when you get diabetes or chronic heart disease.

I noticed her comments toward those who disagreed with her were quite acid. I didn’t tag her in my response, which was “Life is 100 percent fatal.”

Days later, Pamela responded to me. She tagged me, writing “Inane comment.”

I “laughed” at her and wrote, “No, it’s the truth. Everybody dies at some point.”

She came back at me immediately.

Pamela: No shit. Would you rather die at 60 or 65 after years of debilitating ill health, or live a full and active life well into your 80s?

I was tempted to write about how my friend, Matt, suddenly died in 2021 at age 58. I’ve mentioned him before, but here’s a reminder for those who have either forgotten or missed those previous posts.

Matt was a healthy man who should have had another twenty years or so. In the wee hours of the morning on the date of his death, he had just left the company of friends and family. They were celebrating his 58th birthday. I’m sure he had no idea that, on his way walking home, he was going to get hit by a car traveling at a high rate of speed, and then be left so grievously injured that he would die.

I truly hope that before his meeting with a speeding black Rolls Royce, Matt ate plenty of birthday cake. I hope he ate and drank with much gusto with his dear friends and loved ones at that last birthday celebration. Those people who were with him to celebrate his last circle around the sun are now, like me, only left with memories of him. Skipping the cheese certainly wouldn’t have saved him on the day he died.

But, not wanting to write Matt’s story, I decided to take a more measured approach. Below was my response to Pamela.

Maybe if you ate more Gouda, you would be a more pleasant person. Just a thought. 😉

As for when I’d prefer to die, I am ready to go whenever the time comes. Sometimes death comes even when a person does everything right. Shit happens.

I hoped that would be the end of it, but she came back hours later… like a bad case of genital herpes.

Pamela: Wow, I didn’t think you could surpass the stupidity of your previous comment but you keep outdoing yourself. “Whenever the time comes”, as if your lifestyle has no influence in how long you live and it’s all just a matter of fate. Antediluvian head-in-the-sand nonsense.

I probably should have just blocked her, but I couldn’t resist leaving a parting shot. She obviously has the personality of steel wool, and requires harsher treatment than the genteel niceties one usually reserves for Sunday afternoons. So, I responded thusly…

Me: Wow, you really are a very nasty person, aren’t you? Why would I want to hang around this Earth when insulting and rude people like you are in it? If there’s a choice between eating what I want to with my friends and dying young, I would take that over living longer and having to be around miserable old bitches like you. Now kindly fuck off and leave me alone, please. 😉

Seriously, though. I don’t have children or grandchildren, so why would I want to live until I’m in my 80s? I’ve seen what happens to the elderly. My husband is almost eight years older than I am, so he may be the one who goes first. Pamela doesn’t know a thing about me, but she’s calling my comments stupid and inane, and swearing at me. Is this really supposed to be an appeal to live healthier, or just a really disgruntled person showing her ass to a perfect stranger?

One never knows what the future holds. I know my friend Matt intended to live a long time. It didn’t work out that way for him. I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch your weight or exercise moderation when it comes to eating and drinking, but sometimes Gouda is good for the soul. No matter what, it’s never appropriate to publicly humiliate people who are simply hoping to enjoy themselves with their friends and family.

I don’t know about you, but my own life keeps me pretty busy. I don’t need to mind other people’s business. I’ve got plenty of my own to tend. I don’t know what other people are dealing with in life, so why would I begrudge them that simple pleasure? Especially when I’m not a doctor?

Anyway… Pamela can have my Gouda. It’s not something that brings me joy. Bill just proposed having a Martini. I think I’ll join him. Don’t mind if I do.

As they say in Ireland, “Sláinte!”

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communication, dogs, Germany, social media

No need to shoot the messenger…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

go out into the yard for pee & poo

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

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

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

Hello everyone,

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

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

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

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

Oh wow. 

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

We have lived in Germany over 6 years. 

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

We are not stupid. 

Get a life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great night all!

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

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

It’s 12:50 am right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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