I just wrote a piece for my travel blog, that details our Christmas morning. So far, it’s been a nice holiday. I asked for a new vacuum cleaner, and Bill delivered a cordless Dyson. I hope it will be less cumbersome and annoying to use than the canister vacuum I’ve had for the past seven years. I just tried it out, although it’s not yet quite fully charged. All I gotta say about that is that our carpets are pretty disgusting. A new vacuum was definitely needed and appreciated, even though one of my former bosses once told me that no one should get appliances for Christmas. She criticized me for giving my mom a new hand mixer. That boss and I didn’t get along, as you might have imagined. I’m one of those people that other folks tend to love or hate. 😉
I’m better at Christmas shopping than Bill is, because I know what he likes and needs, and he’s easy to please. I’m a lot harder to shop for, because I have a tendency to get what I want when I want it. The vacuum cleaner was an outlier. I’ve been eyeing the Dyson cordless vacuums for ages, but never pulled the trigger. One of the reasons I hate vacuuming is because it feels futile. The vacuums never seem to do a good job– even other Dysons I’ve had have not been very useful. But downgrading isn’t the answer, either. I used a Dirt Devil when we first got back to Germany, and it lasted about a year before it started dropping parts. Our dogs shed a lot, and Noyzi, in particular, leaves tons of hair. So I needed something lightweight and portable. We’ll see how long I like the new vacuum, but I suspect we’ll get a couple of good cleanings from it.
As usual, I bought a lot more stuff for Bill than he did for me… although he did get some higher dollar items for me. And a few of the things he got were kind of surprising. Like, he bought me a weighted blanket, even though I just bought two new duvets for the bed. But maybe the blanket will turn out to be something I didn’t know I needed. And he bought me three shawls in different colors, but with the same patterns and in colors I probably wouldn’t necessarily choose. I do wear a lot of shawls on the rare occasions when we go out. He also got me a new chair for my office, which has heating and massage capabilities. I do need a new chair! I wear mine out pretty regularly.
As I watched Bill put the new cover on the weighted blanket, it occurred to me… every day is a gift with Bill. I smiled, and blurted “You don’t really have to buy me anything for Christmas. You have already given me the best life.”
It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or where we are. Some places are better than others are, of course. I remember when we lived in our first slummy apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Christmas day, back in 2002. It was just weeks after our wedding, and we were pretty broke. We still had a nice celebration, with a tree and cheap ornaments from Rose’s, which was a discount store in the nearby strip mall. We had a nice meal and listened to music on the cheap CD player I owned that I had to weigh down with a jewelry box, because the lid wouldn’t stay down on its own.
The following year was full of challenges, as we lost our first rescue dog, CuCullain (C.C.) to a rare mycobacterial infection, my car got broken into, and Ex went on the warpath to try to get me under her thumb. We moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, into a Craftsman house that was meant to be “temporary” and came from a kit from Sears. I actually loved that house, even though it had its maintenance issues. We were there for three years, until we moved into a “brand new” house a mile away, where I mostly lived alone while Bill was in Iraq. We left that house after about eight months, as Bill finally rotated out of Virginia and into Germany. We had Flea and MacGregor, rescue beagles from BREW, a beagle rescue in northern Virginia.
Then, in 2007, we moved to a town near Stuttgart, Germany the first time as a couple, and we both fell in love with living here. We hoped to get three years, which is standard, but had to come back to the States a year early. We moved into a huge rental house in Fayetteville, Georgia, where we lost Flea to cancer, and added Zane to our family. Bill learned to brew beer. We spent two Christmases there, out in the woods with a family of deer, some black snakes, at least one armadillo, and chimney swifts who chirped incessantly for a month. I remember one of those Christmases was when I experienced my very first “White Christmas”.
Then, the post in Georgia where Bill worked closed down, so we had to move again. In 2011, we moved to North Carolina, where we had two more Christmases in different woods– one of those years, we visited my sister, who lives in Chapel Hill, not that far from Sanford, the town where we were living. We lost our sweet beagle, MacGregor, and adopted Arran, who is still with us.
In 2013, we moved to Converse, Texas, a San Antonio suburb, where I assumed we’d end up staying… but no jobs were forthcoming in 2014, when Bill retired. We moved back to another town near Stuttgart, where we spent four years, and now we live near Wiesbaden, and have been here for four years. Half our stuff is in storage in America. It’s hard to feel rooted, since Germany isn’t our official place of origin. And yet, as long as Bill is with me, I’m home and happy. And I can’t believe we’ve been in Germany for eight years. We lost Zane in 2019, but now we have our first non beagle rescue, Noyzi the Kosovar street dog!
We have worked together to make a great life, and we have succeeded, in spite of all the kvetching I do on my blog posts. I really do feel so fortunate for all we have, and the incredible man with whom I get to share my life. But honestly, we could be in a tent somewhere, and I think I’d be happy on some level, just because I’m with the right person… and he’s with me. I am amazed by all of the great stuff we’ve managed to do together, in spite of the pettiest of annoyances. And today, I was just reminded of that and just feeling so grateful… even to Ex, who divorced Bill. If she hadn’t done that, who knows where I would be? We make each other laugh, teach each other new things, and make life better for each other every day. I need to remember this feeling for when the going gets tough, as I know it will.
I know 2023 will have its challenges. I expect we’ll be losing Arran in 2023, because he has cancer. But we are lucky to live in a country where we can enjoy him for a little bit longer without going bankrupt. And there’s always the threat of something bad happening… but as long as I’ve got “my Bill”, it all seems bearable. No matter where we are, it “feels like home…” Today, I’m feeling really grateful, and I just wanted to share.
I might redo this song… maybe even today. Why not?
Younger daughter sent a video the other day while she was holding her newest baby. He was obviously hungry and was trying to get to her boobs, but he was so cute and good natured about it. I feel very grateful that she shares him with us, as well as her other two adorable kids. It’s so nice to have her and her husband back in our lives. It just goes to show that, in the long run, love always wins.
I hope you’re having a good holiday, if you celebrate. If you don’t, I hope you have a good day. Now, back to the festivities.
Before I get started on today’s post, I want to state upfront that I’m not upset about anything. I don’t need advice or consolation. This post is meant to be a matter-of-fact look at a phenomenon I’ve noticed when it comes to people who dare to “put themselves out there” or share their creative pursuits. It certainly doesn’t just affect me, either, from which I take some solace. I’m just hoping that people who read this will stop and think about it a minute. The world needs less cynicism and meanness, and more kindness and compassion, don’t you think?
Have you ever noticed that some people delight in watching the whole world burn? They enjoy taking a big dump on other people’s joy. They live for raining on everyone else’s parades. They love criticizing anything and everything, even if it’s just someone’s creative expression. They lack the ability to simply “scroll on”. Instead, they feel the need to be negative, judgmental, insensitive and, sometimes, downright MEAN.
As a blogger and very occasional musician, I’ve run into this particular phenomenon more than a few times. When we lived in Stuttgart, I used to promote my travel blog. I did so because I truly thought some of the posts might be helpful for some people in the community. It was our second time living in that area, and I was pretty seasoned as a military spouse, even though Bill had retired. While not everyone likes what I do, writing has sort of become my vocation. Being a writer can be a tough road to hoe, as one chagrined author recently found out when almost no one showed up for her book signing. She tweeted about it, and was soon consoled by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Jodi Picoult, and Stephen King, among others, who were similarly dissed at early book signings.
Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it. Especially as 37 people responded “going” to the event. Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.
Many people seemingly liked my blogs and, for awhile, they were pretty popular. I had a lot of regular readers. But there were also people in the community who seemed to hate my blog and apparently resented me for sharing it. Some didn’t like the name of the blog, assuming that I was “bragging” about my education. For the record, I’m not. I literally am overeducated for what I’ve done with my lifeso far. I spent seven years and many thousands of dollars on formal education that I’ve never gotten to use in a professional arena. While I don’t regret furthering my formal education, I mainly went to school out of a perceived need to do it– so I wouldn’t be waiting tables for the rest of my life. I’ve got nothing at all against people who wait tables for a living, but that’s a job that I really didn’t enjoy, even though I made good money doing it.
When I went to graduate school, I was hoping to launch a career that didn’t involve being abused on the daily and surviving on tips. I ended up meeting Bill, instead. The realities of life as a military spouse made pursuing my field problematic. I’ve always liked to write, so that’s what I do. I’m not the best writer, but I try. Some people enjoy my stuff. Some people don’t. I’ve made some money as a writer… actually more than I ever made doing social work or public health. And yet, I think if I’d been a public health social worker, I’d probably get a lot more respect for what I do.
I stopped sharing my blog in military communities, though, because I’ve found that people are triggered by it, for some reason. A lot of people– especially in military communities— find bloggers annoying, especially when they dare to call themselves “The Overeducated Housewife”. Personally, I think it’s because a lot of people in military communities are sexist, and too many of them disdain the spouses (really the wives). The more educated and accomplished the wives are, the less the servicemembers tend to like them, especially if they’re also liberal. And sadly, a lot of the spouses also buy into that limited mindset, willingly referring to themselves by derogatory monikers, like “dependa” instead of insisting on being treated with the basic respect one generally extends to human beings. So, because I don’t enjoy being ridiculed, and I don’t like to bother other people, I’ve decided that it’s better to let people find the blogs on their own.
I also stopped sharing my travel blog in military communities because of the weird, intrusive, psycho landlady situation we’d had in Stuttgart. A former tenant, who had lived in our home just prior to us, had found her way to my regular blog, and was using it to cause trouble with our ex landlady. The ex tenant got upset with me about one of my creative writing projects, which she had freely CHOSEN to read and falsely interpret. She’d actually been following my blogs for over four years, even though it was evidently a negative experience for her. She sent me a nasty message, mocking me for “intruding on my space” and interfering with my “creative pursuits”, clearly indicating that she didn’t appreciate my efforts, and basically calling me “crazy”. It was at that point that I decided to close the Blogger version of this blog and move it to WordPress. Then, I went right back to doing what I do. She, on the other hand, went on to commit suicide. I don’t know what led her to take that action, but I did realize, at that point, that I wasn’t the one with the worst issues. I don’t want a repeat of that bizarre situation, though, so I’ve gone back under the radar.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m not looking for sympathy when I write about this. I’ve come to understand that no one bats 1000 every time. Not everything a person does is going to be well-received. And even if you aren’t a creative type, chances are excellent that someone is going to dislike you, for whatever reason. Even if you’re the nicest, most considerate, most tolerant, least offensive person on the planet, there will be someone out there who is going to find fault with anything and everything you do. As painful as that kind of rejection can be, I’ve found it helpful to realize that in those situations, it’s almost always not about anything you’ve done or said. The negativity is usually about something intrinsic to the critical person– in other words, you might remind them of something negative, so they respond to you with negativity, even if you haven’t specifically done anything to them to cause that reaction.
Here’s an example. My sophomore year in college was rather traumatic. I spent it sharing living space with a woman who drove me crazy. We were very incompatible roommates. A few years later, I met another woman who reminded me a LOT of the first woman who drove me batty my sophomore year in college. Upon meeting her, I instantly had a negative reaction, even though we didn’t know each other. As time went on, I still disliked that woman, partly because she reminded me so much of someone I used to know who drove me nuts. It wasn’t her looks that reminded me of my ex roommate, but more her behavior that I found reminiscent. In spite of those similarities, I know she was, and still is, a good person. However, even if I had never gotten to know the first woman, I probably still would have found the second one annoying. The difference would be that I would have found her annoying solely because of things she’d actually done or said, not because she reminded me so much of someone else I hadn’t liked.
The same thing can happen in creative pursuits. A lot of people love the song, “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” by Meat Loaf. I don’t like that song, although it is in my musical catalog. It’s not that I don’t think Meat Loaf had talent, or even that the song isn’t entertaining. If I’d heard it in the 70s, I probably would have liked it a lot more. But it reminds me of an awful night in 1994, I spent at a party with my cousin. She had abandoned me to make out with her boyfriend, while her boyfriend’s extremely drunk father kept hitting on me. Before the evening went into full swing, I heard “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” for the very first time, while we were waiting for my cousin’s boyfriend in that yucky drunk man’s house. Drunk dad had wanted me to go back to his house with him, alone, to wait for his son and my cousin. He was so drunk he could barely keep his eyes open. When I refused, he called me a “bitch”. So now, whenever I heard Meat Loaf’s best known anthem, it reminds me of that guy. I am only now getting to the point at which I can disassociate that song with the memory of that gross guy who went to high school with one of my uncles and apparently wanted to deflower me.
Last weekend, I was feeling inspired to make music. I made two videos in one day, which is unusual in and of itself, especially since Bill was at home. I usually prefer to make music when I’m alone. I uploaded the videos. One has me on camera, and the other is set to photos. I don’t like to sing on camera, but I’ve found that people tend to find the videos with me in them more engaging. They don’t even seem to mind that I’m not wearing makeup or a bra.
One of the songs I did last week was James Taylor’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I was inspired to make the video by my former therapist, who loves James Taylor’s music, just as I do. He had mentioned that “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is his favorite Christmas song. So, I made a recording of that song and dedicated it to my former shrink. He shared it on his personal Facebook page and tagged me. One person commented, and said “I love that song too, but no one does it as well as Judy [Garland] does.” I noticed that the person hadn’t even listened to the song, and apparently never considered that I would read her comment, which was actually kind of thoughtless and rude. I wonder if this person thinks that no one should ever sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (a Christmas standard), simply because “Judy did it best”.
An old friend of mine said the same thing about “The Rainbow Connection”. I had used the song on a tribute video I made for our dog, MacGregor– Willie Nelson was singing it. I love Willie’s version, and the fact that I used it for a tribute video for a beloved dog makes it especially poignant to me. My friend, who even knew MacGregor, said that no one but Kermit the Frog should ever sing “The Rainbow Connection”. I found that comment thoughtless and insensitive; yet knowing her as well as I do, I realize that her thoughtlessness was entirely unintentional. I didn’t call her out about it. Still, it would have been nicer if she’d kept that thought to herself.
I later noticed that my Christmas video for my ex shrink/current friend, which hasn’t done nearly as well as the other one I did last weekend, had one dislike rating. Two people liked it, and one disliked it… giving it a score of 66% (a failure if we were going by school grading scales). It occurred to me that the “dislike” button is kind of worthless, since there’s no way to know what the person disliked about the video. Was it because I wasn’t on camera? Was it the music? Were they just being mean to me? It’s impossible to know. But I had made the video with love and good intentions, and had dedicated it to someone who helped me a lot when I really needed help.
I’ll admit, those two negative reactions to my version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” kind of hurt my feelings. But the wiser side of me realizes that the negative reactions weren’t really personal, since the people involved don’t know me. Everyone’s a critic, and even the best people get criticized sometimes, and the better a person is, the meaner the critics tend to be. Even James Taylor gets mean tweets! See the hilarious video below…
I’ve also noticed that some people feel like creative pursuits shouldn’t result in anyone making money. I’ve ranted many times in this blog about people who don’t think they should have to pay to read newspapers. They don’t seem to realize that journalists have bills to pay, just like they do. It takes time, money, and training to skillfully deliver the news. They bitch and moan about paywalls.
My mom ran a knitting and needlepoint shop for many years. She is very talented and skilled with needlecrafts. Lots of people felt that her time and talents weren’t worth paying for. Mom was also a church organist for 50 years, and some people felt that she should just be willing to play for the glory of God, rather than money to pay her expenses. It took a lot of time and energy to learn how to play the organ as well as she did… I’m sure she could play beautifully today, too, but she’s pretty much retired from playing the organ now. She’s still stitching, though. Below is my mom with one of her more recent creations, done even though she’s in her 80s. I love what my mom does, although I could never do anything like this myself. I’d rather write or sing… two things my mom doesn’t do.
Anyway… to wrap up this post, I’d like to add one more observation I’ve made. At this writing, I have 109 YouTube subscribers. That’s not a lot of subscribers. I’ve had my channel since 2009 or so, but I’ve never really promoted it. When I first started the channel, I mostly used it for uploading videos from our travels or other random stuff. It wasn’t until I’d had it for about three years that I started making music videos, which I never really shared. And it wasn’t until last spring that I ever showed myself on camera.
YouTube recently told me that I gained 20 subscribers this year, which is a pretty amazing thing. I recently uploaded a video and promptly lost two subscribers. I was feeling kind of sad about it, since I had only recently surpassed 100 subscribers, and YouTube had congratulated me for that. But then, I got seven more subscribers! I guess that just goes to show you that sometimes, even if someone takes a dump on something you put out there, other people will still like what you do. So the best thing to do is keep going and ignore the “haters”. Their negativity is usually much more about them, than you. And creative pursuits, especially when a person feels compelled to engage in them, aren’t for anyone or anything else than satisfying that itch to create… put something out there. Maybe it won’t be what everyone likes, but you still made the effort. And I guarantee, there’s an appreciative audience for everything.
Maybe a couple of people decided to crap on my version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, but the person it was meant for got it… and apparently enjoyed it. So that’s really all that matters. The rest of them can take a cue from Miley Cyrus’s reaction to “mean tweets”… See the featured photo.
This morning, as I was waking up to a brand new day, I scanned Facebook and noticed a post by someone in the local pet group. She has a ten year old Jack Russell terrier that she wishes to rehome. She wrote that the dog is good with kids and other animals, but has allergies that require medication. Fair enough. But then I saw the last sentence of her ad, and it kinda gave me pause…
We are looking to re-home our 10 year old Jack Russell terrier. She is great with kids and other animals (we have two cats and two children). She is house trained and super sweet. She does have allergies and requires medication. Gets motion sickness in cars. And please don’t pass judgement if you don’t know the reason why she is being rehomed. I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone.
Um… first of all, people are going to pass judgment, and they are going to infer things. You can’t avoid it, even if you say “please”. And secondly, when you pre-emptively leave a defensive comment like “I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone,” you kind of put off a difficult, bitchy vibe. I would hesitate to contact the person who wrote this post, because based only on that post, she doesn’t seem like a pleasant person. She’s asking people to consider taking in a dog who is already ten years old and has a couple of issues. She’s the one who is asking— other people aren’t necessarily clamoring to take the dog. In the long run, she may actually be doing someone a huge favor by offering them her dog, but at this point, she’s the one who needs help. She should probably consider that fact and behave accordingly.
I’m sure she has good reasons for rehoming the dog. I truly do try not to judge people who need to find new homes for their pets, unless they are egregious assholes about it. Every single one of our dogs in the past twenty years is with us because they were rehomed. And every single one of them has been wonderful, unique, and loving. Each one has enriched our lives immeasurably and taught us new things. We’re better off for having shared life with them.
I don’t consider someone inherently bad or guilty simply because they can’t take care of a pet. Shit happens. Sometimes, rehoming an animal is the kindest and most responsible thing a person can do. But when a person ends their request to rehome a pet with a pre-emptively defensive statement, it’s a bit of a turnoff. I don’t think it helps her case.
On the other hand, I can understand why someone would make a pre-emptively defensive statement like that one. People– especially in our overseas military community– can be immature and judgmental. Drama erupts for the stupidest of reasons, and that can have terrible effects on one’s mental health and self-worth. Believe me, I know about this firsthand. But if you’re asking someone to take your ten year old dog with allergies off your hands, and you leave a hostile statement demanding that people don’t “judge” you before you explain yourself, you kind of ask people to judge. And believe me, they will… whether you like it or not. But maybe some will skip leaving rude comments, even if they’re thinking them, or blogging about them. 😉
I’m not in the market for a new dog at this point. We still have Arran and Noyzi, although Arran will likely be crossing the Rainbow Bridge before too long. I don’t know when, or even if, we’ll be looking for a new dog. Given that we don’t know when we’ll be leaving Germany, and the high costs and hassles of moving pets, we may decide that one dog is enough for now. But if I were looking to take in a new dog, I would probably see red flags in the above ad. Because I think if you’re asking someone to take in another living creature, you really need to be upfront and honest about why you need to rehome them. And your attitude should be one of hopefulness, rather than defensiveness.
We had an experience about nineteen years ago with a woman who had found a cute little hunting beagle on the side of a country road. She named him Flea (after Fleagle, the dog in Banana Splits), and offered him for adoption through a beagle rescue in Northern Virginia. This woman lived near Richmond, Virginia, so the dog she was offering for adoption wasn’t really known by the people at the rescue, who were mostly in the DC area and Maryland.
Flea had been found in Chester County, very flea and tick infested and sick with heartworms and Lyme Disease. The rescue had given the woman money to treat Flea for his infestations. She had gotten the Lyme Disease treated, and had the first part of the heartworm treatment done– a labor intensive affair that required an overnight stay at a vet hospital and a month of crate rest. However, she neglected to bring him back for the second part of the treatment. She never told us that she didn’t get the second part of the treatment done. That was totally shitty on her part, since the second part of heartworm treatment is a lot less painful and invasive than the second part is. It just consists of the dog taking a big dose of ivermectin, or a similar drug, to kill off any baby worms that survived the first part of the treatment. My guess is that she was either too busy, or needed the money for her own purposes. Sad for Flea, and for us.
We adopted Flea, and at the time, we were pretty broke ourselves. We did have him tested for heartworms, and the test was positive, but the vet said that sometimes dogs might still have positive results right after they get treated. She wasn’t concerned, so we didn’t worry about it.
After we’d had him for a few months, we decided that Flea badly needed a dental. And he REALLY did– his teeth and his BREATH were atrocious– when he finally got a cleaning, four teeth fell out completely on their own. Fortunately, the vet tech at the hospital where we were going to have the dental done noticed that there was no record of his ever completing heartworm treatment. She called the animal hospital where the first part of the treatment was done, and they verified that the treatment was never completed. Sure enough, he was still very infested with heartworms. Going under anesthesia to have his teeth cleaned could have killed him.
We tried to contact the woman who had rescued Flea. She ghosted us. We contacted the rescue. Bill, who is usually very mild mannered, was very upset. We had just lost our first rescue dog, who came from the same rescue, to a mysterious and rare mycobacterial infection. We’d only had him for sixteen months when he died. Now here was Flea, heartworm positive, and us with no money to get him treated. We had been led to believe that Flea was cured, and now we felt “lied to” by this rescue. I think our vet quoted us about $850 for treatment, which at the time was prohibitively expensive for us. Bill was extremely pissed, and understandably so.
Fortunately, the rescue was willing to pay for Flea to be treated at their usual vet hospital, located some distance from where we lived. They were wonderful about coordinating the treatment, and we got him all fixed up.
We had Flea for six years, and he was an awesome character who was even more temperamental and crotchety than our sweet Arran is. Flea was certainly difficult at times, but I adored him, and I never once regretted taking him into our home. We brought Flea to Germany the first time we lived here, and he helped us break the ice with our neighbors, because he loved their toddler aged son. He was exceptionally good with children; especially little boys. One day, he saw their child and moaned as he strained to go meet the little boy. That was when they started talking to us! Flea was a true canine ambassador. Their little boy even named his stuffed dog “Flea”.
I think Flea would have lived longer if he hadn’t had untreated heartworms for so long. Ultimately he got prostate cancer, which was diagnosed by our old vets in Herrenberg (Germany), and like Arran, he proved to be quite a fighter, lasting four months with just palliative care. We brought him back to the US with us, and he died two months later in Georgia. A month after that, we adopted Zane, whom some of you know. But imagine what Flea could have achieved if his heart hadn’t been damaged, or the woman who rescued him had leveled with us and, at least, told us that he’d only been partially treated for heartworms. We could have had him treated sooner, and he might have been with us for longer than six years.
I’m not saying that the person offering up her dog is definitely or deliberately being dishonest. She probably has perfectly valid and reasonable reasons for rehoming her dog. But making a comment like, “I don’t have to explain, and I don’t need approval” makes me think she might not be as honest as she should be, and has an attitude that might make asking about the dog difficult. That could mean unpleasant surprises, like the one we discovered in Flea. Or worse, maybe she’s the type to smile as she hands you the leash, then ghosts you when problems arise. While pre-emptively making a statement to forestall negative comments and judgment is understandable, especially in the military community, it also raises some red flags that would warn me to steer clear. Just sayin’.
Aside from that, there are already enough unpleasant interactions to be found on social media. I don’t need to have one in person, too. I think those who know us, know that we try to take really good care of our dogs. But I wouldn’t contact someone whose very first communication to me is one that is bitchy and defensive, even if it’s a post for everyone to read. I would hope this lady would consider that protecting her ego is less important than finding a really excellent home for her dog to spend her last years, hopefully never to need rehoming again. It’s the least she can do.
Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I wrote three fresh blog posts. Two were about Josh Duggar, and one was a review of Naomi Judd’s book, River of Time, which was about her struggles with depression and anxiety. Interspersed within all the writing, there was also the news about the people who died in Uvalde, Texas… nineteen children and two teachers. I read last night that Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, who was killed during the school shooting massacre, died of a heart attack just a couple of days after losing his wife of 24 years. This morning, I read a ridiculous tin foil hat comment from someone who thought Garcia’s sudden heart attack was part of a conspiracy, since the police department in Uvalde were apparently unprepared to deal with a school shooting.
People are still arguing about COVID, abortion rights, gun rights, school safety, and all of the other political hot button issues that will probably never be settled in my lifetime. All I can do is shake my head. The world is really fucked… and yet, sometimes there are little flickers of beauty, humor, and wonder that make me think it’s worth trying to stick around for however much time I have left.
Last night, Bill came home with kind of a sheepish look on his face. He said, “Well, today got started on a rather ‘awkward’ note.”
I looked up at him, noticing that he looked a little mischievous. “Do tell.” I encouraged.
He said, “I was in the bathroom, taking a shit, and when I came out, I was confronted by my boss, who said he needed to talk to me. So we sat down and my boss said, ‘Bill, I have to ask you… are you alright?'”
And I said, “He was asking you this because he heard you taking a shit? Or he smelled the remnants of it?”
“No…” Bill said, laughing. “The shitting part becomes important later in the story.”
“My imagination is going wild.” I said.
Bill continued, “So my boss says, ‘The guys in the IT department noticed a questionable search string coming from your computer. It got flagged. And I have to ask you, are you okay? Are you considering suicide?'”
Bill said, “No! Of course not!” Taking a deep breath, Bill explained to his boss, “I Googled ‘when someone you know commits suicide’, because recently, two acquaintances committed suicide. One was a guy I knew in high school, years ago. He was a good friend in those days, but we weren’t close recently. We were just Facebook friends. And one day last month, he posted ‘Guys, it’s been a slice,’ on Facebook, and that was it. Next thing I knew, people were announcing that he’d killed himself.”
Bill went on, “The other was the woman who previously lived in the house my wife and I rented near Stuttgart, before we moved to Wiesbaden. She had worked for our company, and one day I noticed that her name wasn’t on the company roster anymore. And because she had kind of been ‘cyberstalking’ my wife, the fact that she wasn’t on the roster caught my attention.”
Bill paused, then continued, “I told my wife, so she Googled her name, and discovered that she’d died. It was a shock, since she was so young. So she did more investigation, and found out that the woman had committed suicide. We were both really surprised by the news. She seemed to have everything going for her. These two recent suicides were just really surreal, and suicide was on my mind only for that reason. So I did a quick Google search, but even as I did it, I realized that it might get me in trouble.”
Then Bill concluded, saying “I have everything to live for. I just took a wonderful trip, and I’m planning another for my wife’s birthday next month. And my daughter is about to have my grandson, any day now. So no, I’m not thinking of killing myself. But thanks for asking.”
Bill said his boss sighed with deep relief and said, “Okay… I feel much better now. Don’t worry. This is not going to be on your permanent record, or anything.”
Then Bill said that one of his work buddies had been looking for him before that conversation took place. The boss had asked where Bill was, and of course, at the time, he was taking a shit. His work buddy had said, “Oh, Bill is probably ‘hanging out’ somewhere…”, which seems like kind of an unfortunate choice of words, under the circumstances.
We talked about it a little more, marveling at how people are always watching what we’re doing, although they don’t always take action before it’s too late. I’m sure the IT guys at Bill’s company don’t monitor every search string, but when someone Googles something weird while on the clock, it gets flagged. Obviously they take any mention of suicide seriously, which is comforting, I guess. Why would someone in Bill’s line of work be searching for articles about suicide? It would make sense for me, since I have a background in public health and social work. But it doesn’t make sense for a guy who does what Bill does for a living. If anything, this serves as a reminder to watch one’s Googling while on the job.
As we were laughing about that, Bill noticed a message from his daughter. He clicked on it, and we were introduced to Bill’s new grandson, who was born a couple of days ago… At the time the message was sent, he was just 13 hours old. He’s tiny and adorable, and he serves as another good reminder that life goes on, even when there’s crazy and terrible shit going on everywhere. Bill’s daughter looked so beautiful, too, as she held her little son. I managed to snap a photo of Bill looking at the video, so happy to be “Papa” to another soul. Yes, I would say he’s got plenty to live for…
As I write this, a gorgeous song by Janet Jackson is playing. Her song, “Together Again”, is special to us, because we kind of see it as a message from Heaven. In December 2012, our beloved “bagel”, MacGregor, died of spinal cancer. MacGregor was a very special dog, and Bill adored him. He was especially devastated when we lost him. Then a month later, we adopted our beloved Arran, who immediately bonded with Bill. Arran even did something MacGregor always did to show affection to Bill… you can see him on his hind legs in the photo below. MacGregor used to do the very same thing, putting his paws on us while standing on his hind legs. And as Arran was doing that for the first of many times, “Together Again” was playing. It meant something to us… like MacGregor was sending us a message through Arran. And now, as I write about life and death, here it is again… and it’s followed by “Psalm 23” by Eden’s Bridge, which I would love played at my funeral someday.
We have been very fortunate to live a very good life together. Even when things seem absolutely bonkers in the world, we still have some happy news to share. I don’t know what life is going to be like for the newest grandchild, but I know he’s already much beloved by many people. And he has the most wonderful “Papa”, too. So no one should worry about Bill… “Papa” isn’t going to do anything drastic anytime soon. But thanks for asking!
I think I can now declare myself fully recovered from the stomach bug. In fact, this morning, I was back in business, doing my business. And that is a good thing, because this morning, there are two plumbers in the bathroom, fixing the shower and the fixtures on the bathtub.
When we moved into this house in late 2018, the main bathroom still had the original fixtures on the shower and tub. At first, we couldn’t even use the shower, because we couldn’t turn on the cold water spigot. It was completely immobilized by lime, caused by the hard water in Germany– land of no water softeners. The taps hadn’t been descaled in a very long time before we moved in, so we literally couldn’t turn on the faucet. The plumber fixed that by completely replacing the fixtures, but not before a couple of weeks had passed. We had to use the bathtub, which also had a problem. Water leaked copiously from under the faucet whenever we ran the water.
I kept bugging Bill to speak to the landlord about it, but he was still a bit traumatized by our last renting experience. Even though our current landlord is a very kind and reasonable person, Bill dreaded having to talk to him about something not right in the house. I can totally understand that, but it was a real pain for me when it came time to clean. Because the tub’s fixtures were so leaky, we didn’t use the tub at all, once the shower was fixed. And, although I don’t mind taking showers, it didn’t sit well with me that there’s so much rent being paid and we couldn’t really use the tub without water leaking all over the place.
Before anyone points this out, allow me to pre-emptively state that I know I could have spoken up… but because I didn’t sign the lease, and because I got blamed for everything in our last house, we decided it would be better if Bill deals with the landlord. I was the one who spoke up about the awning, and I got a ration of shit for it. This time, we’re doing things differently. I’m staying as uninvolved with the business side as possible. Maybe it’s not the best way to handle things, but that’s how it’s worked out. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of issues in this house.
Bill mentioned the tub a couple of times, and finally had a serious conversation with the landlord about it. The landlord brought the plumber over in late July to check out what needed to be done. Now, after a couple of months of waiting for appointment availability and new parts, the plumbers are here fixing the tub and shower. They don’t know it yet, but our next project is probably going to be the bathroom sink downstairs. I think the fixture on the sink is original to the house– they have an early 90s/late 80s look to them. It’s due to be replaced for the same reason the tub’s fixtures needed replacing. But the faucet on the sink doesn’t leak nearly as badly as the tub’s fixtures did.
I just took a look at the shower and I’m very pleased. We got a nice upgraded double shower head that is in the corner of the stall, rather than the middle. Maybe that will mean less water on the floor after our showers, too. And now I can offer an addendum about the sink. I just mentioned it to the landlord, since he came over to find the tiles for the bathtub. I was not expecting anything to happen today with that, but to my delight and relief, he was totally cool with it. The plumber just checked out the sink and it looks like that is going to be fixed, too. I thanked all of them profusely and told the landlord how happy I am! He really is a nice man.
The other business that needs attending today involves Arran. He has a few itchy bumps that are going to be removed. His surgery isn’t until noon, so he’s a bit grumpy, since he’s not allowed to eat. I fear the bumps are probably new mast cell tumors. Maybe I’m wrong, though I doubt it. Hopefully, they won’t be too high grade, and Arran will heal quickly and uneventfully. It’s hard watching him get older. He’s a very special dog.
We also thought Arran’s predecessor, MacGregor was a special dog, and he really was. MacGregor and Bill had a very unique bond. But Arran has turned out to have an even more devoted bond than MacGregor did. I’ve often thought that MacGregor sent Arran to us, to help heal Bill’s broken heart when we lost him to a spinal tumor in December 2012. When we brought Arran home in January 2013, Arran immediately took to Bill, and he’s been by his side ever since. They absolutely adore each other.
Meanwhile, Noyzi is firmly established as my dog. He doesn’t listen to Bill, although he has become less afraid of him. At night, when it’s time for the last pee break of the day, I have to be the one to get him to go outside. Luckily, he listens to my voice and basically does what I tell him to do. I think Noyzi is the type of dog who needs an assertive leader. It probably makes him feel secure and reassured. I told Bill it was time for him to use that Army trained command voice he used to tell me about when we were dating. I know he can do it, but he’s such a gentle person that he’d rather not.
In some ways, Noyzi reminds me of Zane. He has a very sunny personality. Every time he sees me, he smiles and wags his stumpy little tail. He likes to play, and he’s very friendly. But Zane was a much more confident, well-adjusted dog, and he was all about having a good time and being friends with everybody. Noyzi probably would have been more like that had he not been traumatized. However, every day, we see him getting to be a more confident dog. He’s even starting to misbehave a bit.
I’ll end today’s post with an anecdote about yesterday… I shared this status on Facebook yesterday.
Who wants to know why I am completely repulsed right now?
A couple of people liked the post, so this is my tale of woe…
Alright… so I have had a stomach virus for the past few days. I’m mostly better now, but still haven’t really managed to brave a real meal yet. I noticed a jar of applesauce in the fridge, which is recommended for gut health. I had slim hopes for it, since I didn’t remember when it was purchased. Bill doesn’t like applesauce. I opened it up, and there was about a half inch of gray sludge on the surface. So I threw it out.
Then I went outside, still kind of grossed out by the applesauce, took a look at the yard, and decided to turn on the robotic mower. To turn it on, I have to lift a panel. I had trouble getting it to go up the whole way. Then I noticed a HUGE slug stuck in the hinge. Lifting the panel only wedged the slug in tighter. There I was, with quaking guts, using a stick to try to pull the slug out, and it just kept getting fatter and more repulsive looking. Half its body was stuck. Finally, I managed to get it out, but then I had to get it off the mower, so I got my pruning shears and used them as tongs to pull the fat little bastard off my mower. It fell in the grass, where I hope it will be mowed.
I am hoping to be less grossed out by the time Bill gets home so we can eat a real meal.
I’m happy to report that last night, I finally did have a real meal. It was glorious… as was this morning’s real dump, which was somewhat normal. Hallelujah!
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