Bill, family, funny stories, LDS, memories, narcissists, nostalgia, Virginia

Spend some money on yourself… it’ll be good for you!

Yesterday was an interesting day. After I posted yesterday’s YouTube related blog rant, I dozed off for a short while. When I woke up, I suddenly thought about a woman I knew of when I was in college. She may or may not appreciate me using her real name in my blog post, but I’m going to do it, because she’s somewhat famous in certain circles and could be considered a public figure. And, as I found out yesterday, she’s currently trending.

Her name is Cullen Johnson Hill. I know of her because we both went to Longwood College (now Longwood University), and she won the Miss Longwood pageant when we were students there. I didn’t know her personally, but she knew some of my friends. After Cullen graduated from Longwood, she went on to win the 1994 Miss Virginia title. She competed in the 1995 Miss America pageant and was the first runner up. I distinctly remember watching Cullen on national television in September 1994. It was at a time when I still didn’t mind watching beauty pageants. I used to think they were kind of fascinating. I especially loved Miss Universe, since the contestants came from all over the world. I thought the international contestants were fascinating; especially the ones who needed interpreters.

The moment of truth…

I was sad that Cullen didn’t win the Miss America title, because naturally, I was rooting for Miss Virginia and a fellow Longwood alum. But I can also understand why Heather Whitestone won the title. Not only was Heather very beautiful, but she’s also deaf. Whitestone was the very first Miss America with a disability. She was also able to perform a beautiful dance solo, in spite of her disability. So, I do think Heather was the right choice for Miss America that year, but I also think Cullen would have been a wonderful Miss America. She really had the look for it, as well as grace and poise.

Time went on. The following year, I wasn’t able to watch the pageant, because I was living in Armenia, working with the Peace Corps. I never really forgot about Cullen, though, and every once in awhile I’d wonder how she was doing. I saw old newspaper articles about her pageant career, including one in which she mentioned a “halo effect” in which people who overcome the biggest obstacles win. It was not a very politically correct observation, although I personally believe there’s a lot of truth in it. This link doesn’t lead to the offending newspaper article, but Cullen’s comment rankled enough that she was mentioned in a SF Gate op-ed.

So anyway, for some strange reason yesterday afternoon, I randomly thought about Cullen. And because I have a lot of time on my hands, I Googled. And there it was… posted on EOnline, December 5, 2023. Cullen had uploaded a rather shocking TikTok video about her struggles with alcoholism. Fresh from a thirty day jail stint, sporting a black eye, and looking unrecognizable from the beautiful woman I remembered from my college days, Cullen was telling everyone like it is for her. She says she’s been an alcoholic since she was 24 years old, and is now on a journey back to sobriety. She says she’s been there before, and it’s “wonderful”. And she’s lucky enough to have a husband and a son who love her very much.

I see that some rather sketchy “media” outlets have picked up Cullen’s story. The TikTok video has been reposted on YouTube by fake news channels that use AI to generate ad revenue. I saw at least one TikTok user reacting to Cullen’s video. I shared the EOnline story on Facebook, because I know some of my friends know Cullen. One friend in particular is a true friend of hers, describing her as a very sweet person. She said she hoped Cullen can restore her health.

I’m not going to throw any shade at Cullen, because honestly, but by the grace of God, I could have easily gone the same way. Like me, Cullen grew up a military brat. Her father, Jay Johnson, was a very high ranking Naval officer, and after he retired, he continued his very successful career in the business world. Johnson had the distinction of taking over the Chief of Naval Operations job from Jeremy “Mike” Boorda, who had a memorable exit from the role when he committed suicide over being accused of “stolen valor”. I don’t know Cullen’s father, but I have been around military folks my entire life, including the high ranking. I imagine she was under tremendous pressure to look and behave in the “right” ways. Alcoholism is a family disease, and it thrives on secrecy and image protection.

I know I could be wrong… and God knows, it’s not easy to live with people who suffer from addiction. But I also know, having grown up with an alcoholic father, that the addiction usually comes from somewhere very painful. Substance abuse is often less about having a good time, and more about trying to dull significant pain through self-medication. My father was himself the son of an alcoholic. My grandfather was described as a great guy when he wasn’t drinking, but when he drank, he became violent and abusive. My dad was only occasionally violent; he was a high functioning alcoholic. But that didn’t make him easy to live with. He and I didn’t have a very good relationship, although I did love him.

On her TikTok video, Cullen wrote in the comments that she doesn’t speak to her father anymore. She also mentions finding her mother passed out once, when she was very young… Again, as a fellow child of an alcoholic, I can relate to that, too. I found my dad passed out more than once. There were a couple of times when he tried to work with fire while he was very drunk. Once, he tried to grill a steak and forgot about it on the grill… My mom, who didn’t know how to use the grill, had me bring the charred piece of meat into the house and leave it in the sink for him to find. Seeing the burned steak had no effect on his behavior. Another time, he tried to burn trash and brush in our backyard while he was drinking. He forgot about the fire and it almost torched his business.

Anyway, seeing Cullen’s TikTok video was a mindblower. I wish Cullen all the best as she recovers. I think she’s very brave to share her story, and I hope she doesn’t encounter too many trolls. My heart goes out to her… and I appreciate that she still has a sense of humor, which she showed in the TikTok video. She did make a less than politically correct comment in the video, and I know some people will drag her for that. I’m not going to, though, because as I mentioned yesterday, I’m not into cancel culture– especially over comments that are simply deemed not “PC”.

While I certainly don’t condone drunk driving, or the fact that Cullen was in jail because she got caught doing that a second time, I also know that alcoholism and other addictions really are diseases. It’s not as simple as just quitting drinking or using drugs. Conquering addiction is a lifelong process that requires strength and diligence. And just like people who have cancer or heart disease sometimes relapse, so do people with addictions.

Which brings me to the title of today’s post…

I remembered mentioning Cullen on my old Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. I went there this morning to see what I wrote. I found the post from September 16, 2013, in which I wrote about how I preferred to watch The Miss America Pageant instead of The Big Lebowski. Bill loves The Big Lebowski, but I am not a fan of that film. I’ve tried to watch it more than once, but I don’t like it. Believe it or not, I don’t like it because of all the swearing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind curse words, but I don’t like listening to a two hour stream of them. I also mentioned that Donald Trump had made the pageants unwatchable. That was in 2013– before we knew how he’d make the office of POTUS an international joke. I only mentioned Cullen by name in passing on that post, and made an unnamed reference to her on an earlier post, and apparently never posted about her again.

I clicked on the previous day’s post, which was titled “Things Bill does now that he never did when he was LDS…” In that post, I wrote about all the fun stuff Bill does now that he didn’t do when he was a Mormon. I made an actual list, and some of the stuff was pretty epic. Then, at the end of the post, I wrote about how I once had to order Bill to buy himself some new undershorts. Thanks to life with Ex, he wasn’t in the habit of spending money on himself… even on true necessities like underwear. Below is the excerpt about when I made Bill buy new skivvies…

Now, for the underwear story… When we first got married, we were pretty broke.  Bill had purchased some cheap knit boxer shorts from KMart.  I was sitting on our bed when he walked into the room.  The boxers he was wearing were not quite large enough to cover him.  I turned around and was just about eye level with his penis, which was poking out of the hole in the front of the boxers.  I gasped and blushed in surprise and covered my eyes, then said “For God’s sake, cover yourself!”

He blushed.  I wasn’t used to seeing a naked man and wasn’t expecting to see that…  Oddly enough, his ex wife declared me “unsuitable” and a “bad influence” for not being Mormon.  Apparently, I’m not moral, even though the sight of my husband’s penis was a shock to me when we first got married.

I then declared that we were going underwear shopping.  The first thing he was going to do was purchase some decent boxer shorts that he liked and that fit him properly.  It was stark contrast to his ex wife’s style, which was to tell him he should be spending all his money on his family or the church instead of his own basic needs.  She would have begrudged him even purchasing decent underwear… because as a Mormon, he should be wearing church approved skivvies anyway.

I later told my Granny the underwear story.  She was in her late 90s at the time and thought it was hysterical.  She was the mother of nine, so I’m sure such a sight would not have made her blush.

…Some people might say that Bill gave up pleasures of the next life for pleasures in this one…  Somehow, I feel like if there is a next life, the same admonishment might come into play.  Some higher evolved being would tell Bill not to enjoy life now because it will ruin the “next life”.  Is there something beyond this life?  I don’t know.  Bill “knows” more than I do, since he has had a near death experience.  Was it just his brain protecting him?  I don’t know.  But it changed who he is and made him more spiritual, despite all he’s been through.  It has helped keep him from becoming bitter and angry. 

It sure has been fun watching him enjoy living and helping him discover new things.  

Well… yesterday was Bill’s younger daughter’s birthday. I sent her a Jacquie Lawson e-card and a $200 gift card that can be used at a variety of places. I told her I hoped she’d use the gift card on herself. But I also know, since she’s Bill’s daughter, that she might not do that. She’s a very kind and generous person, like Bill is. She’s about to be a mother of four, and she was raised by her mother not to be “selfish” and think of her own needs, even though her mother very selfishly refused to share younger daughter and her sister with their father.

I’m sure Ex would be very angry if she knew I had given her daughter such a generous gift. She’d probably accuse me of “horning in”, or whatever, or trying to “buy” younger daughter’s affections. I’ve only met younger daughter in person ONCE in my lifetime. But I’ve gotten to know her online, and I’m relieved that she’s like Bill. And since she’s like Bill, my guess is that her needs tend to come last. I truly do hope she will use that gift card to get herself something she really wants or needs. Self-care is good for the soul.

Well, that about does it for today. We’re going to a Christmas party tonight… and taking a cab. 😉 I’ve got to get my dreaded Thursday chores done before that happens.

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family, funny stories, humor, language, memories

The unusual glory of being a “cusser”…

I’m ashamed to say this, but swearing is one of my many shortcomings as a human.  I cuss like a sailor.  Always have, and probably always will, although I’ve mellowed somewhat in my old age.  Although deep down, I am a lady, to most people, I come off as crusty as a crab cake.  I don’t even like crab cakes. 

Despite my cranky, bitter, and petty demeanor, I still have quite a few true friends who have known me for many years.  I made a lot of those friends in my freewheeling college days.  College was a pretty good time for me, although I spent those years fairly hampered by social anxiety and depression.  I still managed to have a great time at Longwood, despite those handicaps.  I left that school with lifelong friends and mostly good memories.  It was a really nice place to go to school.

One of my friends is a woman I met during the very first week of our freshman year.  In those days, Longwood College (as it was then called), had its bookstore in the basement of the much venerated Ruffner building.  The bookstore wasn’t that big, so one often had to stand in line to get in there at the beginning of each semester.  It was a chore that could take awhile.

I was standing in line, waiting for my turn to load up on overpriced textbooks, and somehow struck up a conversation with the striking redhead standing next to me.  She was a fellow freshman, dressed in denim shorts, a t-shirt, and a beautiful cardigan, which was very stylish in 1990, although curiously, I would imagine it would have been hot as hell to wear that during a typical Virginia August.  It’s also possible that my memory of what she was wearing isn’t quite accurate, although I do know she loved colorful cardigans and pearl necklaces.  What I do remember very clearly is that I noticed the redhead’s well-coordinated, stylish outfit and her brilliant red hair.  She was friendly, confident, and funny.  Her name was– and still is– Donna, a fitting name for her that means “lady”.  Donna is very ladylike and hilarious, to boot. 

We stayed friends throughout college and shared a suite during my traumatic sophomore year of school.  We were both English majors; she also majored in Spanish.  She joined Sigma Alpha Iota, the honorary music fraternity, and I was her big sister.  We were both members of Camerata Singers, which was Longwood’s auditioned choir that included a lot of liturgical, classical, and Broadway music. 

I lost touch with my friend after we graduated.  Then, one day in 2006, I got an email from her.  It was out of the blue.  She had included an adorable picture of her then three year old daughter, who was pretty much her clone.  Donna’s daughter has the same flaming red hair her mother has.  Not long after that, Facebook became a thing, and we reconnected that way.

This morning, as I looked at Facebook memories, I was reminded of something really funny that happened eleven years ago. My old college friend, Donna, was having dinner with her super bright and funny daughter. They had the following conversation:

Tonight over dinner, [her daughter] C says, “Your friend Jenny is a cusser!”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

C: “Your friend Jenny on Facebook. She’s a cusser.”

Me: “Why are you saying this?”

C: “Because every time I get on the computer, your Facebook page is up & she posts pictures that have the F-word by them. She’s a cusser.”

My friend continued…

Okay, so I just scoured your wall & I only saw one picture with the “f-word” near it & it was posted by [our mutual friend] Chris. HE’S the cusser! LOL!

It really is sad how she ended up a crack-baby & all. Especially since I never did any crack.

Donna is a dear friend, and we’ve known each other since 1990. Her daughter, C, is now a student at our alma mater, Longwood University. I’m sure she’s making her own hilarious memories at our school. Every year, on November 7, I see that funny post from 2012 and have a good laugh. What’s even funnier is that as of 2012, C hadn’t yet met me in person.

In 2014, just a few months after we moved to German, Bill and I flew home for my family’s annual Thanksgiving reunion. We were there to memorialize my father, who had passed away in July of that year. The memorial service was held in November so more people could attend. That’s also why I got married in November, although it turned out we couldn’t get married over Thanksgiving weekend. We probably should have done the deed in October. The weather would have been nicer.

Anyway, on that trip to Virginia, we met up with my college friends, Joann, Donna, Donna’s husband, and their hilarious eleven year old daughter, C, who had correctly identified me as a “cusser”. She was just as cute as she could be!  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her.  As we were about to finish our visit, I said “Do you really think I’m a cusser?”

I treasure my true friends, and their clever offspring…

The girl blushed scarlet and hung her head in shame.  I laughed and asked for a hug, which she willingly gave me.  That day was probably my favorite of the whole visit, since it had been so long since I’d last seen Donna and Joann, and it was the first time I got to meet Donna’s husband and daughter and they got to meet Bill.  Sometimes I think if I lived in Virginia again, I might even have some semblance of a normal social life.  On the other hand, maybe I wouldn’t, because I’m kind of a recluse most of the time.

It’s getting close to Thanksgiving again.  I recently got an email from my aunt announcing the annual shindig, which she blasts to everyone in our humongous family every year.  Although I complain a lot about my family, they’re mostly very good people.  I don’t agree with most of them politically– quite a lot of them are diehard Trump fans and conservative Christians.  But they’re fun to see when there’s a wedding, reunion, or funeral.  Despite being a huge family, we’re somewhat close, thanks to the annual reunion at Thanksgiving.  Some family members are closer than others.  

Lately, I’ve felt like an outcast, but then I live pretty far away now, and have altered my views on religion and politics.  I no longer have the patience for long-winded arguments that I used to have, particularly with southern white men who are convinced that liberal politics are the pathway to Soviet Union style communism.  I might have agreed with them if I hadn’t spent so many years in Europe, which does have some socialist policies that work pretty well and doesn’t resemble the former Soviet Union in the slightest.  Having lived in the former Soviet Union just a couple of years after it fell apart, I feel as though I can speak with some authority about what it was like there.  Europe is not like that at all.  Since we are related, we all seem to have inherited a penchant for arguing to the death.  And some are more insistent about it than others.

In just a few days, I’ll be visiting Armenia, a former Soviet territory, for the first time since 1997. When I arrived there in 1995, it was still pretty Soviet in most things. Today, it’s a lot less like that. Every year, there are fewer people who remember what the place was like when it was a Soviet country. I wasn’t there when it was part of the Soviet Union, but I did go there less than five years after it became independent. And I can tell people I know– especially my conservative Christian southern relatives– that I have yet to see any place like that in my travels, even in countries that have “socialist” leanings. But they don’t listen to me either, because I’m not very religious; I don’t worship Donald Trump; and I am a CUSSER. Somehow, it seems like my love of swearing is the worst of my sins.

Many of my relatives who would argue with me about this are people who have not been outside of the southern United States, let alone “across the pond”.  They don’t respect my experiences or education, and stubbornly insist that they’re exactly right, no matter what, refusing to even acknowledge a perspective that differs from their own.  They don’t seem to understand that even though I’m a woman who is a bit younger than they are, I’m not stupid, inexperienced, uneducated, or in need of “special help”.  I simply have a different viewpoint based on actual things I’ve seen and done.  

I find it frustrating to engage in conversations with a lot of my family members, so I keep my distance. And they avoid me because I curse a lot.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not fond of most of my family members.  I wish them well and would happily break bread with them, if I was in a place where that was easy to do.  Maybe there will come a time when that’s the case again.

Once again, I feel compelled to share this classic song by Paul Thorn, who expertly sums up how I feel about some people who are my kin…

In July 2014, I discovered Paul Thorn’s hilarious song, ” I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love”, as my dad was dying.  It’s a really perfect description of how I think of some of my family members.   I do love them, but I can’t spend a lot of time with them… and yet, I’d like to see them for an evening, maybe… as long as we don’t talk politics and/or religion.  Ah– never mind.  It won’t happen.  But I still wish them well. And I actually do love most of my friends– the ones who know me well, and accept me for exactly who I am.

Anyway… it might be worth it to go home to Virginia again, if only to see a few friends and eat some genuine American style junk food.  Seriously… I was looking at the menus of some of my favorite crappy chain restaurants in the States… places where there’s nothing at all healthy on the menu.  I certainly don’t need to be eating any of that stuff, but I still kind of miss it sometimes.  

November always makes me think of being home in Virginia.  I do sometimes miss being “home”.  I haven’t seen most of my friends and loved ones in years.  I think it’s having an effect on me.  I also miss really good southern fried food that will send me into a diabetic coma.  *Sigh*…  guess I’ll have to settle for Armenian food this weekend.  I’d probably rather have fried chicken, American style pizza, or ribs.  It’s probably just the hormones talking, though… which will later be silenced by my cranky digestive system. Isn’t it fun getting older? 😉 I think I’ll cuss about it some more.  

Incidentally, today is Election Day in the USA… so please go out and vote, if you can.

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communication, condescending twatbags, first world problems, social media, stupid people

“You better tell that girl to shut up…”

Back in the early 1990s, I was a college student who worked at the campus radio station. In the beginning, I loved being a deejay. I was pretty good at it, as I have a voice that sounds good over a microphone. I used to make commercials for my parents’ business and announce at horse shows, so it was only natural that I would enjoy being a disc jockey at the campus radio station. Another reason I liked being a deejay was that I would get exposed to music I wouldn’t ordinarily hear on my own. One band I was introduced to in those days was called Transvision Vamp.

The alternative band, which hailed from Merry Olde England in the 1980s, is now defunct. But they had one funny number that I still enjoy listening to called “Tell That Girl to Shut Up”. The song was a hit in 1988, when I was in high school, but I became familiar with it when I was a Longwood (College) University student in the early 90s. And I’m thinking of that song this morning as I think about something that happened last night. Some of you who read this are going to think it’s ridiculous that I’m writing about this topic today, but it’s Friday, and I’m not quite ready to review Jill Duggar Dillard’s new book. So here goes…

Yeah, you tell her… STFU.

Below are the lyrics to “Tell That Girl to Shut Up”:

Well you got that girl and she lives with you
And she does just want you want her to
And when I call you on the phone, she says you’re not there
But I know you’re home-

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Well we used to be the best of friends
Now all that’s gonna have to end
But there’s just one thing that I can’t see
How she’s got got you hanging up on me

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Well I guess you’re like that all of the time
But it takes more than that for me to lose my mind
Don’t you know that I don’t care?
Maybe if I hit her, maybe if I pulled her hair
Oh oh hey yey yeah

Well, she likes to seem intellectual
And to be a musician she goes to school
And the way she acts is so uncool
I just can’t stand her

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Ooh you better tell, yeah you better tell, oh
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Girl, girl, girl, girl, girl, girl

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl to shut up!

This is a really catchy song written by Holly Vincent, and it captures the mood sometimes. Mind you, I don’t condone violence, nor would I ever beat someone up, unless they somehow provoked me into physically defending myself. But sometimes the urge is there to just slap the taste out of someone’s mouth, because they are deliberately being an asshole, and trying to stir up shit, when all you want to do is just be in the world.

Such was the case last night, as Bill was having an online session with his Jungian therapist. I was sitting alone at the kitchen table looking at Facebook. I had meant to be reading Jill Duggar’s book, but just never got around to it. I happened across a post by Bitchy Waiter.

Granted, no question has been asked, as there is no question mark.

I don’t often post comments on Bitchy Waiter’s page, or any other page, for that matter. Far too often, I’ve run into rude cretins who just want to start trouble with strangers. But last night, I did choose to comment. This is what I wrote.

I preferred food service because it paid better. Also, I had better bosses.

Nothing wrong with that comment, right? It’s actually pretty boring. I wouldn’t have expected it to attract a rude comment, but hey– it’s Facebook– and confrontational jerks abound there. Someone named Pattie tagged me and wrote something along the lines of “That wasn’t the question.”

I gave Pattie an orange anger emoji and wrote, “Shut up!”

Maybe I should have just posted this video.

I had a feeling she’d come back, even though I think I was clear that I wasn’t interested in engaging with her. Sure enough, she didn’t disappoint. She came back and wrote something along the lines of, “Shut up? How old are you?”

I blocked her, because there were just too many answers I could have given that would have turned our conversation into a huge spectacle. For instance, I could have told Pattie to “go fry herself.” Or maybe she should “go flame broil herself.” Or maybe she should go be an all beef pattie somewhere else, with someone who has a grill big enough to accommodate her. I wasn’t in the mood to flame her ground up standard cuts into taco filling.

Pattie just wanted to pick a fight with someone, and she’d decided to try it with me. It takes two people to fight, though, and I wasn’t interested in giving her narcissistic fuel supply or wasting energy on an online confrontation with her, especially since I’d been drinking. So I hit the block button and ended the pain. But I was left wondering if this was really what she wanted. Was it Pattie’s goal to be blocked by me?

Then I was left with more questions. Does Pattie work as a server? Did she ever? Is being confrontational how she interacts with her tables? With people she meets on the street? With her friends and family? They say something innocuous, and she comes back with a confrontation or an insult? Why do people feel the need to be so rude and hostile to people they don’t even know? Pattie and I have at least one thing in common, and that is the fact that we both follow Bitchy Waiter. Why is that an invitation to be rude to me? There was nothing about my comment that called for her to address me in the way she did. She very quickly showed me that I don’t want to talk to her, hence why I advised her to shut up.

I’ve actually been thinking about unfollowing Bitchy Waiter, though, because I feel like I’ve outgrown the bitterness I’ve had after the experience of waiting tables. I also get tired of reading constant demands for people to tip their servers ever increasing amounts. I think restaurant owners should pay their staff appropriately, since they are the people who ultimately hire the servers. Customers who wish to tip should certainly do so… or not… since tips usually aren’t mandatory.

If the owners were paying their staff, it would mean that the staff is definitely compensated for their hard work, instead of relying on the kindness and generosity/guilt complexes of strangers. And maybe people could enjoy an evening out without constantly being pressured to order more than they want or need. Dining out in America is a stressful experience, mainly because servers are pressured to get people in and out as quickly as possible, with a bill that is as high as possible, so the tip is as high as possible. I like how it’s done in Europe, where people get paid appropriately regardless, have adequate time off, and are grateful when someone tips them.

That’s just my opinion about tipping, even though I’ve worked in the industry and completely understand why the system is the way it is. It doesn’t mean I need someone to explain why I must tip, nor do I need a primer on how things work, or a hostile lecture about why I’m “wrong” about the practice of tipping. This is just my view, and it’s not been formed in ignorance, nor is it up for debate. Opinions aren’t facts, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt. I know my view isn’t popular, but it’s how I feel.

That being said, of course I tip properly and generously, especially when I’m in the United States. I know that most servers don’t really get paid anything but tips. But I still think the system sucks. I don’t want to argue about it, because I’ve thought about it long enough to know how I feel and why I feel that way. If someday, I get new and compelling information about why tipping is better than employers actually paying their staff, I may change my mind.

Because I don’t want to argue about subjects like the importance of tipping, I don’t often comment on Bitchy Waiter’s page. I find him entertaining, and I think he’s got multiple talents. He’s worth paying attention to sometimes. That’s why I follow him. But I don’t agree with constantly pressuring people to tip more and more, so I don’t engage too often with him. When I do comment, I try to keep my comments banal.

Last night’s comment was pretty boring; so why did it attract Pattie? I don’t know. When I saw Pattie’s confrontation, my actual first instinct was to tell her to “shut the fuck up”. But, instead of posting that the f-bomb, I simply wrote the marginally more polite “shut up”. Most people know what that means, but I guess Pattie didn’t. It’s basically an invitation to go away, because I don’t owe her a conversation or a defense of my comments. She didn’t accept my invitation to leave me alone, and came back with negativity. So now we won’t be interacting at all. It’s probably no big loss to her. I know it’s no big loss to me.

I do wonder what the hell happened to Pattie to make her think it’s okay to approach people in such a way. Maybe that makes me a late 80s relic. I don’t think today’s people even think about this stuff. Younger people have apparently skipped the part of home training that includes basic manners and engaging people with respect and dignity. However, I also realize that I’m becoming a crotchety old hag with no patience. I’ll own that, as I tell that girl to shut up…

The older I get, the less patience I have for people like Pattie… total strangers on social media who, for whatever reason, feel the need to be egregiously aggressive and rude to people they don’t know. I wouldn’t tolerate it offline; so I don’t tolerate it online.

I’ll bet Pattie is pretty cheesy, too…

May deformed all beef Pattie be turned into Wendy’s chili meat.

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controversies, history, language, lessons learned, social media, Virginia

If the old name means that much to you, shouldn’t you know how to spell it?

Happy Saturday morning, folks. Bill is home again from his latest business trip. He brought me flowers and candy, in part because I was in a noticeably bad mood on Thursday night during our nightly chat. In fact, I was in such a pissy mood that I went on YouTube and covered “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band. The lyrics are for a man singing about a mean woman, but I changed them to a feminine perspective.

Sorry, no makeup… I wasn’t going to put it on for this occasion. And I don’t care if people don’t like it. It helped keep me from being self-destructive. As for the song choice, you can take a girl outta the South… 😉

Naturally, I was kind of kidding. Bill isn’t a mean man at all. Sometimes, he’s just a little clueless, as we all are at times. I was upset because I wasn’t feeling well, and I was stressing about the idea of seeking local medical care before it turns into an emergency situation. Being home alone in a foreign country, not knowing much about accessing the healthcare system, is stressful. Yes, I know how to call 112, but I’d like to avoid doing that if I can. He thought I was just upset because he was out of town. And instead of asking me what was wrong, he made small talk about a topic I didn’t care about at all. I realize I should have been more direct with him, but I was home alone and feeling kind of crappy and depressed. I just wanted him to ask me if I was okay… or even a simple “Why are you being so bitchy?” But he wanted to talk about some people from Kazakhstan he met who had moved to Germany. I couldn’t have cared less.

When he brought me the pretty red carnations and Lindor Truffles, I put the flowers in water and we cleared the air. I explained to him why I was so short tempered and ended our chat early. I just plain wasn’t feeling well and was upset about the prospect of doing something about it. The insistence on making small talk was pissing me off. Adding insult to injury was the fact that I had a cold this week that turned out to be very minor. It was over in a matter of three days, which is shocking to me. He kept harping on the cold, telling me he’d be making me chicken soup and hot toddies. I kept telling him the cold wasn’t a big deal, and still he went on about it. Meanwhile, I have this annoying dull cramping in my abdomen that doesn’t hurt, but really bugs. I had told him about it before, but he was still focused on my vanquished cold. The argument is over now. Maybe my next cover will be a Rick Astley number. Don’t be surprised if I try it.

So… what about today’s title?

I was thinking about writing a more serious post today about a topic that sort of relates to my current source of angst. But then I decided I’d rather not… simply because yesterday’s post was so gruesome. So I’m going to address something I noticed the other day on my alma mater’s Facebook page.

Seems innocuous enough, right?

Longwood University is a public institution in Farmville, Virginia, founded in 1839. The high rise buildings at the end of the double rainbow were recently renovated such that they really no longer resemble the buildings they were when I was a student at Longwood from 1990-94. Below is a photo from the era when I was a Longwood student. I lived in Frazer for my first week at Longwood, but then had to move because of the roommate from Hell. I’ve written about that in this blog, for those who care.

This photo was uploaded to Flickr by a user named tommy. Incidentally, tommy is another person guilty of the subject I will address today… He writes that he scanned this photo from a postcard.

Judging by the way this photo is positioned, I think the picture was taken facing campus. That would mean the building on the left is Frazer, and the building on the right is Curry. When I arrived at Longwood, they were considered the most “modern” of the dormitories, as they had air conditioning. None of the other residence halls had AC, which was no fun during Virginia summers. They were built in 1969-1970, I believe, so they were just slightly older than my age. 😉

In his description of this photo, tommy wrote this:

Curry and Frazier Residence Halls

Longwood College, Farmville, VA

These 10-story, high-rise residence halls are named for Dr. J.L.M. Curry, who drafted legislation for Longwood to become Virginia’s first Normal School for female teachers in 1884, and Dr. Robert Frazier, president of Longwood from 1897 to 1902.

Like a lot of people, tommy misspelled the name “Frazer”. But he uploaded his photo in 2006, when Curry and Frazer still existed. Today, those two buildings are very different looking. A few years ago, Longwood totally renovated them, right down to their skeletons. And now, they are known as Moss and Johns. Why? Because the men behind the names Curry and Frazer did things that are no longer considered honorable. And the people behind Moss and Johns are local civil rights heroes who have done a lot for the community. Three years ago, the buildings got their new names to go along with their brand new makeovers, but old habits die hard.

I’m going to be honest. It’s hard for me to think of those buildings as anything but Curry and Frazer. However, given that they no longer resemble the old Curry and Frazer, except for the fact that they’re ten stories high, I don’t think it’s wrong that the names were changed. They really aren’t the same buildings anymore. In fact, I read an article about the renovations and was SHOCKED by the photos of the interior, which show how beautiful they are now. I can tell you, having lived in Frazer for a week, the old buildings were very sterile and utilitarian. The new ones are absolutely gorgeous.

A view of the newly renovated and named digs… No more cinder block walls!

If you know anything about Longwood University, and Prince Edward County, Virginia, you know that the area was particularly problematic during the civil rights era. In 1951, local student Barbara Johns, whose name now graces one of the renovated residence halls, and had moved to Prince Edward County from New York, organized a student led walkout at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville to protest its overcrowded conditions and poor facilities for Black students. With legal help from the NAACP, students at the Moton School filed Davis v. Prince Edward County , which was the lone student initiated lawsuit that was later rolled into the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, a 1954 Supreme Court case that declared “separate but equal” public schools unconstitutional.

In 1959, locals in Prince Edward County closed public schools for several years to avoid integration. A private school named Prince Edward Academy was opened to educate white kids, and when I arrived at Longwood in 1990, it was still open… but on its last legs. In 1992, former resident and businessman J.B. Fuqua infused a large donation of cash into Prince Edward Academy so that it wouldn’t go under. It’s now called Fuqua School, and is no longer reserved for white kids. But, check out what Wikipedia has in its article about Fuqua School (when it was still known as Prince Edward Academy):

In a 1982 interview with the Los Angeles Times, headmaster Robert Woods said that the school had an open admissions policy, but that no blacks had been admitted since they were less intelligent than whites. Woods added that the school did not “teach segregation or integration” because that was “for the parents to do”.

1982 wasn’t really that long ago…

Nevertheless, I distinctly remember arriving at Longwood in 1990 and hearing about Barbara Johns and the Moton School. I sat in Jarman Auditorium with lots of other freshmen taking the then mandatory “Longwood Seminar” course (which I think is now defunct) and listened to several local Black leaders speak about the special civil rights history from Farmville, which I had not heard of in high school. I do remember learning about Brown v. Board of Education— I think it was in a high school sociology class, of all things. But no one ever educated me about what was going on in Farmville in the 1950s… not until I went to Longwood as a college freshman.

As for Dr. Gordon Moss, he was a faculty member at Longwood in the 1950s and 60s who was instrumental in supporting civil rights in Farmville and Prince Edward County. Dr. Moss taught history from 1944-1969. My late aunt was a student at Longwood in the 1940s, graduating in 1948, just before the name changed from State Teachers College to Longwood. I wonder if she knew Dr. Moss. Anyway, Dr. Moss was very outspoken in the 1950s and 6os about the need to reopen the schools in Prince Edward County and support justice and equality for everyone.

So yeah… Johns and Moss are certainly worthy of being honored. But who were Curry and Frazer? Well, they were both men who promoted education, which certainly makes them notable, especially at a college where so many great teachers are trained. Jabez Curry advocated for developing public education in Virginia and the rest of the South. But he was also a member of Confederate Congress. As for Dr. Robert Frazer, he was a former university president for a few years when Longwood was known as Female State Normal School, back in the late 19th century. And he was also a Confederate soldier when he was a young man.

Virginia has recently made a lot of progress toward moving beyond the Confederate era. That includes taking down lots of monuments that celebrated Confederates, changing some names, and promoting more progressive attitudes. Plenty of people are still mired in the past, though, and they stubbornly resist change, even when it makes them look ignorant on many levels. Such is what I noticed on Facebook, when that beautiful photo of Moss and Johns was posted. There were many comments from people arguing that those high rise buildings will ALWAYS be Curry and Frazer to them.

Below is a sample of the comments left by alums who refuse to evolve:

OHHHH you mean CURRY AND FRAZIER!>>>>>???????😠😢

soooooo Does RE writing History make folks TODAY actually feel better????? LIVE better????

I have so many thoughts but don’t want to be in FB jail.😡

I lived in Frazier. It will always be Frazier. When you keep changing names people have no attachment to them.

Yep. And if there’s nothing familiar, why would I ever visit? Or make an alumni donation?

I lived in Frazier, too.

Rainbows over Curry and Frazier

That would be Curry and Frazier 😉

Curry and Frazier

It will always be Curry and Frazier !

And it goes on and on, with a couple of snarky comments directed at those who point out that so many people keep misspelling the defunct building name they seem to hold so dear. When you realize that the majority of these folks are college graduates, or at least former Longwood students, it seems especially ridiculous. I mean, do you WANT to look ignorant, or what? How hard is it to spell the name correctly? It’s one less letter. And if you’re arguing that the name shouldn’t have changed, it really seems like you should damned sure know the actual spelling of the so-called sacrosanct name. I wonder how many people who object to being educated about proper spelling would be annoyed if people kept misspelling their own names? Doesn’t it seem like a matter of basic respect, not just for the person behind the name, but for oneself?

Some of them are also pissed because the Ruffner building– which is where the famous Rotunda is– is now just called Rotunda. Again… hard to imagine that building as not being called “Ruffner” anymore, but in light of recent progress, the change was warranted. Below is a passage from a Farmville Herald news article about the history of Ruffner:

I don’t really have any strong attachments to the old names. Longwood has changed so much since I graduated in 1994. A lot of old buildings are now gone, with brand new ones to replace them. They really needed to be demolished and upgraded, to remain competitive with other universities, and for basic health and safety reasons.. Even the Rotunda is different now. On April 24, 2001, just before Longwood College became Longwood University, the original Rotunda burned down. But even though the place has dramatically changed cosmetically, it’s still a place I hold dear in my heart.

I still have so many warm memories from Longwood, and there are even a few people still working there who remember me. I left that school with an excellent education and so many friends. I will be forever grateful. So, I’m all for progress and change for the better at Longwood– a place that, even after 184 years, is still evolving, preparing great leaders, scholars, and professionals, and doing things that make for a better world for everyone— especially the students and alums.

I’m also all for proper spelling, because I was a Longwood English major, dammit. Spelling counts sometimes, especially if you’re trying to make a successful case for honoring long dead people who fought to continue the enslavement and oppression of Black people. Think about it. You should have learned how to do that when you were a Longwood student. Or, at least, improved your skills somewhat.

By the way… Longwood is also where I started singing. You can take that as a good thing or a bad thing. 😉 However, I can honestly state that learning to sing and embracing music changed my life significantly. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity at a big school. So, for that alone, Longwood will forever be a special place to me, regardless of any name changes, renovations, new buildings, or other progress…

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celebrities, controversies, ethics, mental health, music, politics, social media, Virginia, YouTube

A few more thoughts about “Rich Men North of Richmond”…

When I wrote yesterday’s post about Oliver Anthony’s popular anthem, I didn’t know much at all about him. I was simply reacting to the lyrics of “Rich Men North of Richmond.” Consequently, my post, based solely on my first reactions to his popular song, may not have been as accurate as it could have been. I have since learned more about Oliver Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford.

According to Wikipedia— admittedly not always the best source for information– Oliver Anthony is between 29 and 31 years old. He comes from Farmville, Virginia, which is a town I know well. I went to college in Farmville, home of Longwood University (Longwood College when I went there). Anthony might have been born when I was still a college student in his hometown, a place where there is poverty and lots and lots of funeral homes. In all seriousness… I remember there were quite a few nursing homes and funeral homes in Farmville, when I lived there. Maybe that’s changed, though. Longwood has certainly changed a lot since my college days.

I read that Mr. Anthony dropped out of high school and later got a General Equivalency Diploma. He worked a lot of industrial jobs in Virginia and North Carolina. Farmville isn’t too far from the North Carolina border. Evidently, while working at a paper mill in North Carolina, Anthony suffered an accident that fractured his skull and left him unable to work for six months. He’s suffered from mental health issues and alcoholism. Much to my surprise, he claims to be “non-partisan”, saying “I sit pretty dead center down the aisle on politics and always have.”[8][50]

If it’s true that Oliver Anthony is non-partisan, how is it that he’s become such a darling of the conservative, “anti-woke” crowd? I noticed a few of his other videos on YouTube. He’s written and sung a lot of songs that are about the plight of the working man. Indeed, he recorded most of his songs on a cellphone, singing near his off the grid camper. In the wake of his supposedly stunning debut, he’s made history, having become the first songwriter to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with no prior chart history.

Record companies are reportedly clamoring to sign Oliver Anthony. He’s “brushed off” $8 million contracts, claiming he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, nor does he want the trappings that usually come from success in the music business. If that’s true, I commend him. Just like light bulbs, people who burn really brightly tend to burn out quickly. I think it’s good if Anthony is grounded enough to realize that losing what’s led to his relatability would be a mistake.

I also think that jumping into sudden wealth can quickly lead to disaster. Many people get caught up in the idea of living in mansions and driving fancy cars, but they forget about the associated negative things like taxes, fairweather friends, unscrupulous business associates, gold diggers, and criminals who suddenly take notice, and unhealthy interest.

I don’t have any personal experience with this phenomenon myself, but I have read and heard a lot of stories about overnight sensations who become the hottest thing in town without proper support from honest people. Next thing you know, they’re hooked on drugs and/or alcohol, suffering from severe mental health problems, and have fallen among the down and out. Mr. Anthony has already admitted that he has issues with alcohol and his mental health. Like a lot of people with mental health issues, he’s shown extraordinary talent that speaks to a lot of people. I would hope there are people near him who are looking out for his well being.

Now… about that song. Personally, I am still not a big fan of it. I mostly explained why yesterday. It reduces a lot of very complex and serious issues into a three minute song that, I think, blames some of the wrong people. I especially don’t like that Mr. Anthony, while trying to represent the working people of America, throws poor people under the bus, especially as he alludes to personal responsibility. I think those particular lyrics, reposted below, are hypocritical and ignorant.

I wish politicians would look out for miners
And not just minors on an island somewhere
Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat
And the obese milkin’ welfare

Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds
Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds
Young men are puttin’ themselves six feet in the ground
‘Cause all this damn country does is keep on kickin’ them down

I get being a “salt of the earth” person, and I might even agree, on the surface, that taxes shouldn’t pay for junk food. However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s rant, what seems simple to so many people, isn’t actually simple at all. A poor, obese person using a SNAP card and eating fudge rounds is likely facing a lot of problems. Many of the problems they face are not so different than the ones Mr. Anthony has faced, and tried to drown with alcohol. Moreover, someone who weighs 300 pounds at 5’3″ probably has a legitimate eating disorder.

A lot of people scoff at the whole idea of eating disorders… especially folks who come from a lower middle class background (or poorer). Many people have also only heard of the most famous eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Those are the ones that get the books, TV specials, and movies, especially when someone famous suffers or dies after having been afflicted with them.

But there are many other eating disorders out there, and they are comorbid with a host of physical, emotional, and mental health problems. They aren’t fun to have, and they can have devastating effects on people’s lives and livelihoods. The deleterious effects of eating disorders don’t just negatively affect the person suffering from them, either. Their family members, loved ones, and friends also suffer, as does society as a whole.

It seems like common sense for someone who is very obese to just quit eating so much and start exercising more. I also know that plenty of people, lucky enough not to be bothered by eating disorders, will add that fat people shouldn’t be eating junk food. And, you know, people with obesity really shouldn’t eat junk food… nor should anyone else, really, be eating junk food. But it’s so easy to think or say what people should or shouldn’t be doing, especially when you know nothing about them, their lives, or the issues they’re facing.

People develop eating disorders for different reasons. Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes, it happens because of trauma. Sometimes a person uses overeating, purging, or starvation as a means of coping with stress or even pain. Sugar rushes temporarily make people feel good. So do endorphin and adrenaline rushes. Fat consumption can be very comforting to some people, not to mention flavorful. Food that tastes good makes people feel better… for a short while, anyway.

When I was a lot younger, I used to skip meals a lot in an attempt to lose weight and, if I’m honest, get attention from others. Doing that usually made me really bitchy (more so than usual, that is), but sometimes I’d get an endorphin rush not unlike the ones I’d get after cutting myself or maybe hitting my head (or another body part). That rush can feel really good, especially to someone who is in some kind of pain or distress. I hasten to add here, I didn’t deliberately cut myself to get endorphin rushes. I’m merely mentioning that rush I’ve experienced after accidentally hurting myself somehow.

Deliberate cutting is an associated behavior for some people with mental health issues seeking stress or pain relief in unconventional ways. Sometimes people cut themselves on purpose as a means of distracting themselves from another kind of pain, such as replacing physical pain and bleeding with psychological pain. And the bonus is that rush of endorphins that sometimes happens when a person is hurting physically.

As a side note… I just started entering search terms on Google and it somehow knew I was going to ask about eating disorders. I typed “Why do people develop”, and it immediately suggested “eating disorders” as the top result. Obviously, I’m not the only person who wonders about it.

The truth is, there’s no one definitive reason why a person might develop problematic eating patterns. But, impoverished people often have had a lot of trauma in their lives, and food is a cheap and readily available way to soothe bad feelings. What makes a food addiction especially problematic is that people have to eat to survive, and food (especially junk food) tends to be ubiquitous. And as I mentioned yesterday, it isn’t always easy for everyone to simply eat good, nutritious food.

I imagine that Mr. Anthony, who reportedly has himself been living off the grid, would know that firsthand, just as he apparently knows about being an alcoholic. I’ll bet Oliver Anthony doesn’t like it when people point at him and claim he’s the source of a complicated societal problem. And I’ll bet the poor people who eat fudge rounds don’t like that, either. It’s not a crime to be poor, and lobbing abuse and hate toward people unfortunate enough to need welfare assistance is neither productive, nor fair. Moreover, if a person is going to sermonize about personal responsibility, they really ought to start by taking a good hard look at themselves and their personal responsibility for their own situations before pointing fingers at other people.

No matter what, though… individual welfare recipients are not directly responsible for keeping the working poor in poverty. It’s probably more likely that Anthony’s song title has the true culprit within it. That is– wealthy people who make many times what the workers make, and are more interested in keeping investors and shareholders happy are probably the ones keeping down the working folks who are just scraping by in life. Add in the fact that basic necessities like health insurance cost so much– again, because healthcare is a business, rather than a human right.

A few days ago, I mentioned my college friend who was doing well enough to recently take a vacation in Hawaii. Just after she came home from that trip, she was in a catastrophic car accident. She may never fully recover from that accident, and there’s now a crowdfunding effort to help her family accommodate her needs when she’s discharged from the rehab hospital where she’s spent the summer.

While I don’t mind helping my friends, and I did help my friend’s cause, she’s in this situation because she was in an accident. Why should she depend on the kindness of family and friends to get the care she obviously needs? Especially when there are American people who have made so much money that they’ll never be able to spend it all in their lifetime, yet they’re constantly trying to find ways to avoid paying taxes. And you know as well as I do that the vast majority of those super rich people didn’t get rich without a lot of help from the much less wealthy.

Anyway… I’d like to see Oliver Anthony dig a little deeper into the issue. And if he really is non-partisan, I’d like to see his lyrics focus less on shitting on people who are already down, regardless of their body size. We all have problems. Everybody has a story. While a lot of people can relate to “Rich Men North of Richmond” and think it’s perfectly fine that Anthony specifically calls out fat people on welfare, personally, I’m not very impressed by it. It seems like a really cheap shot to me. Maybe some more reflection and empathy are in order.

Just my opinion, folks… perhaps I should write a song about it, too.

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