It’s Monday again, and Bill and I are hanging out in our deserted hotel. I mentioned in the previous post that there isn’t enough staff to run the hotel, so they closed it until tomorrow (which is a holiday in Germany, anyway). Because we rented an “apartment” (which actually looks more like a former suite with a kitchenette), we were allowed to stay and self-cater. The lobby is closed, but we can come and go through the garage and a side door with a chip activated key.
Yesterday was an amazing day. I described it briefly in my travel blog. We visited a different type of cave– one that is only opened on the first Sunday of the warm months– and we visited another cave site and had lunch. We didn’t go into the other cave, as we’ve seen it before. Instead, we just people watched and enjoyed beautiful weather and scenery. We also met another couple, who were curious as to what we were doing there. Caves don’t usually attract Americans, I guess.
Today, we’ll go into Stuttgart and have some lunch, then see our dentist. I’m sure the dentist will be shocked by the big hole in Bill’s mouth. He lost a tooth in August and had to have it extracted by a different dentist, since our regular one was on vacation. After that, we’ll head back for our last night in this beautiful old college town, then head out on our fall vacation to Czechia. I’m sure there will be lots of conversation, as there was a couple of days ago.
Saturday morning, as we were heading down here, I was talking about how I spent last week, while Bill was in Bavaria. I mentioned that I got really bored one day and ended up watching a really disgusting, but apparently legal, porn video. Bill looked amused as I explained. I said, “Well, it was a really dull afternoon, and I was missing you…”
So I started to describe the video to Bill, who was nodding his head and saying, “Uh huh, uh huh… Yeah, I know.”
And I laughed and said, “Oh, so you’ve seen that one?”
That made him bust out laughing. “No!” he protested, “I haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen enough of those types of videos to know where this description is going.”
I didn’t even watch the whole video because it was just too gross for me. If the truth be told, I don’t like watching those kinds of videos because they’re either boring or disturbing. I don’t enjoy watching graphic sex scenes, especially when they’re kind of violent, as that one was. So I only lasted about two or three minutes before I moved on to something less obscene. I’d much rather read something or even write something stimulating myself, than watch a video that is poorly acted, full of nothing but mechanics or acrobatics, or liable to give me nightmares.
I did think it was funny, though, that Bill and I could have an honest conversation about that video and end up laughing. We really are good friends, as much as we are husband and wife. And we always somehow manage to have a good time together, no matter what. Like, for instance, yesterday’s excursion… which ended up consisting of visiting a much less physically challenging cave, seeing some beautiful natural settings in gorgeous fall weather, meeting new people, and watching a huge flock of sheep being driven to a new pasture. It was kind of magic… and amazing that we could share it together. I’m grateful for the time I have with Bill. He is a wonderful partner– the perfect partner for me.
I’m ready to get back on the road tomorrow. I’ve been looking forward to visiting the Czech Republic again. It’s an amazing country, with a lot to see, neat people, good food and beer, and lots of art to buy. Or, at least there was the last time we visited. I want to buy some new stuff to put on our walls.
I don’t look forward to seeing the dentist today, but once it’s over, we can focus on having a lot of fun. I’ve been missing fun lately. And these kinds of trips are what really keep us over her, anyway. I love doing deep dives into Europe, and visiting places where most Americans never have a chance to go. Best yet, these trips keep me busy, so I don’t end up watching videos that Bill can describe without having seen them.
He did say he couldn’t wait to tell his therapist about that conversation. I’m sure the guy will get a huge kick out of it. He told Bill that I probably represent the most stable relationship he’s ever had in his life. I could probably say the same thing about Bill. He loves and accepts me for who I am. In fact, he actually prefers me to be who I am, even if I do sometimes venture onto questionable Web sites when I get bored. Anyway… at least I’m still interested in sex, right?
Featured photo was taken yesterday near the Nebelhohle (Mist Cave). I miss living near a lush forest. Especially at this time of year.
Today’s featured photo was taken from our car as we drove through Italy, on the way north. It’s a place called Silandro/Schlanders, and it’s in the Sud Tyrolean region. I’m thinking I’d like to go there with Bill, which I can easily do, since I’m a childfree homemaker.
Before I get too cranked up with today’s post, I want to thank those who took the time to read yesterday’s post, which did get some decent traffic. I got a few nice Facebook comments that were also much appreciated. Honestly, yesterday’s post was created out of my lack of a burning topic to write about, other than politics and religion. I just didn’t feel like going there yesterday, although I know there is a lot I could discuss.
Like, for instance, yesterday I did read a story about how some guy broke into a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse in Provo, Utah, where he proceeded to steal and eat four chicken nuggets. For this crime, he is now facing a third degree felony charge of burglary. Yes, it’s ridiculous, and yes I could rant about it… and maybe I eventually will.
The problem is, that kind of post has a limited shelf life. Moreover, while I could write about how ironic it is that the Mormons, who usually pride themselves on helping the down and out, are pressing charges against an apparently hungry man, I just don’t feel like it today. I do agree that it was wrong for the guy to break into the church and steal chicken nuggets. But I also hope the local prosecutor has some common sense.
Anyway, moving on to today’s actual topic…
Yesterday, I happened to see an Am I the Asshole (AITA) post on “God’s” Facebook page that made me pause. It was about a guy who asked if he was the asshole for mocking his date for wanting to be a “childfree housewife”. If you know me, you know why I stopped to read the post and its comments. Basically, that’s been my life situation since 2002.
Below is the original Reddit post:
I hasten to add, being a childfree housewife was never my goal. I did plan to have a career, and I also wanted children. That just isn’t how my life went. I realize that the way my situation turned out isn’t the norm, but it’s not completely unheard of, either. While I can understand why the guy on Reddit chuckled at the woman he was dating, I also think people who mock other people– especially when they clearly haven’t done a lot of thinking about the reason they’re mocking– are usually assholes. And in this case, I can see why this fellow is still looking for a wife.
I read quite a few comments, many of which seemed to come from men who claim that this arrangement would be totally unfair. Other comments came from women who seemed angry, and were kind of seething about it, as if they were envious. A few people were reasonable. One lady said she’d like to be a “stay at home dog mom” and wondered if that’s a thing. I’m here to tell her that yes, indeed, being a dog mom is a thing for some of us.
I didn’t really want to share my story, because I knew it would likely invite shitty comments from people. So I just wrote:
“It’s not a bad gig.”
And it’s not, in my case. I pretty much do what I like most days, although I do have housekeeping chores that I stick to. I’m not expected or required to do these things. It’s not like Bill will come home and scream at me if I forget to wash the sheets or something. I do the chores because they keep the house running smoothly and help us maintain basic hygiene. Bill and I aren’t neat freaks, but we do like our environment to be basically clean and pleasant. So yes, I do housework. So does he, when he’s available. He also does most of the cooking, although I taught him a lot of what he knows.
I woke up to a comment from some chick named Jodi who decided to tell me off. Here’s what she wrote, unedited:
Being stuck with no funds and under the financial control of someone who knows you depend on them to keep a roof over your head isn’t a great gig. Being a guy’s maid/cook/therapist/errand-runner/personal assistant and bang maid, all unpaid, sounds like utter hell. Dudes wouldn’t jump at this situation as much as they do, if they didn’t plan on taking full advantage of it and benefitting from it themselves.
Wow… I think Jodi’s been hanging around the wrong kinds of men. Below is my response:
It really depends on the situation and the people involved, doesn’t it? Not all men are like that.
I hadn’t planned to be a “stay at home wife” when I met my husband, but he was in the Army, and we moved constantly… I’m talking 5 times in 7 years! And we don’t have children because he had them in his first marriage and got snipped. Then we moved to Europe, where he works as a contractor, and it’s not so easy for a spouse to get a career type job if they don’t have a military background (which I don’t).
But we’re celebrating 21 years in November. We get along beautifully and have a great life. And no, I don’t sit on my ass all day and eat bon-bons, nor am I stuck with no funds and no say in anything. We are a partnership, and function as such. I know my situation is not the norm, but it’s probably not as uncommon as some folks on this post seem to think.
I mean, there’s a whole lot more to my story than that. If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably already know some of it. When I was younger, I certainly didn’t aspire to do what I do in 2023. I did want to be a writer, but I never expected that writing would actually be how I earn what little money I do make. I probably could make more money if I tried. In the past, I made over $40 an hour writing and researching for different organizations. But that was as a freelancer in the Washington, DC area. Obviously I don’t live there anymore, and when you move all the time, it becomes very difficult to make connections. I’m not proud of it but, with Bill’s blessing, I eventually quit trying. Much to my surprise, it’s all worked out fine.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about the future. Bill and I both know that things can change in a heartbeat. For that reason, I’ve been saving and investing money for years. With his blessing, every time Bill gets paid, I invest a few hundred dollars. What started as a one thousand dollar investment is now well over 50 times that. We have several certificates of deposits, a few savings accounts, life insurance policies for both of us, and at least one IRA (Bill handles that part). I also stay out of debt as much as possible. We paid off all of my credit cards and my student loans. I research things so Bill doesn’t have to. For example, it’s because of my insistence that we got German legal insurance, which certainly came in handy for us.
I wanted to have children, and we did try. Bill had his vasectomy reversed. It didn’t work out for us, and we couldn’t/didn’t want to spend the money for help with our fertility issues. In the early years, we struggled for money, and I couldn’t see going further into debt for the chance to have a baby– even though it would have been comparatively inexpensive through the military. However, going through IVF or another treatment also would have been very impractical, as in the years after Bill had the vasectomy reversal surgery, he went to Iraq.
Then, we moved to Germany the first time. That put us in proximity to the Czech Republic, where some Americans have gone for relatively inexpensive fertility treatments. I’ve read that the Czech Republic is actually one of the best places to get affordable and effective fertility treatments. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t want to go that route ourselves. More power to those who did have children that way. I think I just got to the point at which I was getting older and decided that the chance to be someone’s mother wasn’t a deal breaker in our relationship. Frankly, seeing how the world is faring these days makes me glad I didn’t have children, even if people negatively judge me for having that view.
Living in Germany has been good for us financially– Bill is paid well for what he does. He also has a military retirement that will not end for me if he predeceases me. We are also not going to get divorced. I know a lot of people say that, but if you know us, you know we ain’t gonna be splitting up, because we’re just way too compatible. Well… I probably shouldn’t say that, because you know– you should “never say never”, and I don’t want to tempt fate. But we do have a very solid marriage. We get along beautifully and have a lot of fun. Neither of us has any desire to ever date again. So, barring a completely bizarre situation, I highly doubt we’ll ever be divorcing.
The bottom line is, our method is working fine for us. That doesn’t mean it would work for everyone, nor would I necessarily encourage other people to do what we did. The way I fell into this lifestyle was completely ridiculous and very unexpected on every level. I didn’t aspire to be a housewife, nor did I think I’d be married to a guy in the military. I also never dreamed I’d marry such a kind and generous man. But I fell in love, and I wouldn’t trade my husband for a spot in a cubicle. He treats me like gold. I’d be a complete fool to sacrifice our relationship for the sake of my pride. Our lifestyle is simple, because there’s only one career to manage. That means it’s easier to take trips together, which gives me stuff to write about. It’s also easier when we have to move.
When Bill and I met, I was engaged in a dual degree graduate program that I hoped would finally lead me out of jobs in retail and restaurants. Had I not met him, I probably would be working in Atlanta or D.C. or somewhere else I could use my public health and social work background and international skills. Maybe I would have stayed in South Carolina so I could help turn the state purple with my liberal votes (I can dream, can’t I?).
Clearly, as you can see, that’s not what happened. I met Bill, and he was not in a job where we could choose to stay where I had a career, nor would we want to do that. Some military couples do choose to be separate for certain assignments, so they can both tend to their careers. For many reasons, we didn’t want to do that. The main one is that we enjoy each other’s company too much. And yes, I could get a job– probably even here in Wiesbaden– but it would certainly not be the kind of work I’d want to do… and honestly, we don’t currently need the money. However, there are other Americans in the military community here that do need the work. They can have the job I might have taken, if I’d decided to work somewhere.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about my lot in life. When you’re an overeducated housewife, you have the time to do that. 😉 People have judged me a lot for my choices. I’ve gotten a ration of shit from everyone– from people in my family, to complete strangers on the Internet. Some people think I’m an asshole simply for the title of this blog. They don’t know me, nor do they know the path that put me where I am.
The thing is, I can’t really complain about where I am. I live in a safe, beautiful country that is close to other safe, beautiful countries. I have a wonderful, kind, hardworking, compatible husband who loves me and treats me very well, in spite of my obnoxious personality and fluffy figure. We have more than enough for our needs. So, being a “childfree stay at home spouse” works fine for me… at least for now. I don’t think I made the wrong choices. In fact, looking at my life, I can’t say I’ve made a lot of bad choices. They just aren’t the choices we children of the 70s and 80s were told we should be making.
I’m not saying everyone can or should follow my example. I’m just saying there’s more than one way to get through life. Not everyone’s path is going to be the same. Some people are luckier than others are, and some people make the most of what they have to create good situations. I do think I was lucky, but I also do my part to give us a nice lifestyle, and I am every bit as involved as Bill is in the planning of our life together. It’s not all bon-bons, wine boxes, and daytime TV, you know… 😉
So, that’s my commentary for today. Now to finish this post and tend to Noyzi’s bedding… and maybe our own bedding. I’ve got things to do that don’t involve watching Dr. Phil or dining on Hot Pockets. I might do some music today, too. Catch you all tomorrow, barring anything strange or bizarre happening. 😉
Today’s featured photo is one of several great selfies Bill and I took on our trip. I have a hard time looking that happy in photos without him in them. We seem to light up when we’re together… not unlike fireworks.
I’m not really a super Katy Perry fan, but this song seems appropriate for today’s post…
Hmmm… I like Katy’s music. Maybe it’s time I listened to more of it.
Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day working on my travel blog. I still have a long way to go. Preserving memories is something I do for us, even though most people don’t seem too interested. I’ll be honest. I don’t read a lot of blogs myself. Why should I expect anyone to read mine?
It’s funny, because people will eagerly read message boards and social media posts, but they don’t often want to read a blog. However, I have an itch to write, so I do. Sometimes, I like going back and remembering what inspired my posts. So, even though the posts I spent most of yesterday writing have less than ten hits collectively, I’ll probably spend today writing a couple more of them. And I’ll keep doing that until I’ve covered the whole trip. Then, I’ll write other posts about related subjects, and I’ll write reviews for TripAdvisor or Cruise Critic or both… I really am a writer, even if others don’t think so.
I wrote something else yesterday. Just before Bill and I went on our big journey, I went back to the Recovery from Mormonism board. I had taken a couple of months off, because I was kind of pissed off at a couple of regular posters and needed a break. I don’t think that many people missed me, and I was wondering if maybe it was time to move on from that particular spot on the web. Yesterday, I realized that I still do have some things to add to the RfM community, although maybe I won’t be doing it as often as I used to.
Someone posted a thread titled “Sometimes bad decisions turn out to be good.” The thread was about how the original poster had made a poor decision when he married his first wife. But as bad as the initial decision was, and as much pain as the OP went through because of it, in the long run, the bad decision turned out to be a good one.
I couldn’t help but reflect on my husband’s history with his ex wife, and our subsequent love tale. I added a very lengthy response of my own to that thread. I actually hesitated before I wrote it, because I sense that maybe some people on that board don’t believe me… or they think I’m obnoxious or insufferable or whatever. In fairness, our story is pretty incredible. I’ve reread and done some minor editing of what I wrote, and I feel like our story sounds kind of like a made for television movie script. It’s almost contrived. But, I swear, it’s the truth.
It’s almost like Bill and I were destined to be together… but then I realize how easily we could have missed each other in this existence. If one or two things from our personal histories had been different, I might be a 51 year old virgin slogging away in a cubicle, and he might be single, or married to someone not as bad as Ex, but not as compatible with him as I am.
I’m not going to post here what I wrote there, because you can easily find the story in the blog, or you can simply click the link and read the whole thread. But I am going to ruminate on it a little and maybe add some more context to the story.
As lengthy and crazy as my post on RfM was yesterday, I really only scratched the surface of our story. I briefly mentioned that Bill was abused by his ex wife in all possible ways, but I didn’t come out and say that he was a victim of domestic violence. I’m sure Ex would deny that she abused him, too… but she did. And it wasn’t just emotional, financial, and mental abuse. She left actual physical scars in private places on his body, as she lied to other people about him. She told my husband’s parents and stepmother that he was an abuser who hates women, when really, the opposite is true. She is an abuser who, apparently, hates men.
Thankfully, Bill didn’t literally burn down any houses, as Martina McBride alludes to in her song, “Independence Day”. But, when Ex demanded a divorce that she didn’t actually want and he agreed, he did sort of figuratively “burn down the house.” That was the moment when the bad decision he’d made in 1990 started turning into a good decision.
In that thread, I shared a video of Bill and me on our Regent cruise. It was the first day, and we were sharing a bottle of champagne. This is the same video I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Bill not liking the sound of his own voice.
I think videos and photos are a good way of documenting things, and the above video offers people a means of seeing us in a way that my words can’t describe. Years ago, when I first discovered RfM, I tried to share our story, and a lot of people didn’t believe me. I got a lot of scorn and derision, with people openly doubting I was being honest. They figured Bill had to be more at fault for the failure of his first marriage than he was, because so often, it seems like men are the more guilty parties when a relationship fails. A lot of people thought I must be looking at my husband with rose tinted glasses, or just flat out lying.
It didn’t help that I’m his second wife, and a lot of people look at second wives with suspicion, and automatically assume they’re homewreckers. Conventional wisdom tells us that men are typically selfish jerks, and subsequent wives and girlfriends are scheming shrews. Just look at any good fairy tale, or popular movies like The First Wives Club. It took several years before people started to believe me. I think the fact that some people knew me on Facebook really helped. Like I wrote above, seeing photos and videos of people lends credibility. Also, I’ve been hanging out on RfM for over 20 years, and my story hasn’t changed.
I’ve also since learned that when relationships fall apart, no one is ever 100 percent at fault. Even Ex, as abusive as she was, isn’t entirely to blame for their disastrous union. The truth is, Bill made a bad decision that put him in that situation in the first place. He made that choice with the best of intentions, as he does almost every time he makes decisions. Still, he mainly married his ex wife because he had a poor self-image, and because he felt sorry for her, and her son. He believed her lies, and surrendered his critical thinking skills. That’s on him.
Bill is kind, considerate, empathic, and nice to a fault. His father was a very nice person who had a tendency to let people walk all over him. His mom is also a very kind person who made some unfortunate choices that had profound effects on Bill. All of that led to a perfect storm that made him especially vulnerable when Ex showed up in Germany with her toddler aged son in tow. He was ripe for the picking, and she knew it. She took full advantage, and he passively went along for the ride. That part is his fault, not hers. He paid a steep price for that decision, but he takes full responsibility for it. At least he eventually recouped the substantial loss with interest!
As easy as it could be to make Ex the villain, I also realize that what Bill did was wrong. No one wants to be married out of pity. Ex, like most everyone else, wanted to be loved. She lacked the maturity, commitment, and generosity of spirit that true love requires. In my view, unconditional love is a myth. Even parents and children sometimes fall out of love with each other. Everyone has a red line, where a person can go too far and the relationship is ruined. She didn’t want to allow Bill to have a red line. She demanded that he prove to her that she could do no wrong. It wasn’t a realistic thing to ask of him. She wanted a perfect machine, not an imperfect man.
I think Ex expected unconditional love, and she continually tested Bill to get him to show her how unconditionally he loved her. She also didn’t reciprocate. It was a plan that was bound to fail, because all things have a breaking point.
And, to be honest, Bill didn’t really love Ex… at least not in the same way he loves me. I know it sounds arrogant for me to write that, but it’s the truth. Their marriage wasn’t based on true regard or chemistry. It was based on pity, dishonesty, and anxiety over the prospect of being alone. They didn’t marry because they were best friends who loved being together. They married because he wanted a family, and he felt sorry for her and her son. She wanted a husband with a good job, and she was willing to have more babies to secure her spot in his future.
Bill and I got married because we genuinely love being with each other. There are undeniable sparks between us. We don’t need any fireworks on July 4th. They are in our eyes whenever we’re together. The one thing that both of us did right in our lives is marry each other. We just fit. As I struggle to wear fashionable clothes these days, I realize how rare it is to have a perfect fit like ours… 😉 We are very fortunate. And as much as I despise Ex, I realize that without her, and that terrible decision my husband made in 1990, we couldn’t have this. Somehow, we built a beautiful mansion out of what was originally a smoldering hill of crap.
I have made mistakes in my life, and I do have some regrets. I wish I had a less irritating, shocking, and outspoken personality, for instance. I wish I were more appealing to the masses and had an easier time making friends. However, if I were that way, I probably wouldn’t be the right woman for Bill. I may be “obnoxious as hell”, as my mom once put it. But there is no doubt in my mind that I am the right person for Bill.
It also isn’t lost on me that my own self-perception of how most people see me may also be somewhat wrong. My mom sent me a card and a letter for my birthday. In her letter, she wrote something that genuinely touched my heart and was the greatest birthday gift I ever could have received from her.
For most of my life, I was under the impression that my mom found me super annoying. My parents and my sisters used to criticize me a lot, for everything from my appearance to the way I laugh. I got a lot of shit from people about my laugh, which you can hear for yourself in the above video. My dad actually hated it, and told me so. He said I sounded like a witch cackling. My sisters used to tell me it sounded “fake”, when– sorry– that is honestly the laugh God gave me. I really can’t help it!
Well… in her recent letter to me, which was accompanied by a funny birthday card referencing dogs’ common obsessions with their own feces, my mom wrote this…
“I wouldn’t just send anybody this card! I started reading it and started laughing, remembering Rhonda and Ginger (two beloved dogs we had when I was a teenager) and knowing a dog lover would enjoy it– also remembering how you laugh at things– I miss that laugh!!!”
My mom has changed a lot since my dad passed away almost 9 years (to the day– he passed on July 9) ago. She’s no longer under so much stress, so she is much happier and kinder. I know she misses me. She might be one of the few. 😉 I’ll have to give her a ring today.
Well, I supposed I’ve prattled on long enough. Time to practice guitar, walk Noyzi, and write more about our trip. I hope this post made some sense… and, as for Ex, I reiterate the wisdom in this song, which I recorded some months ago…
And I just posted some photos on my travel blog, if anyone’s interested. If you know my travel blog, you know that there will be a blow by blow account of this trip when I’m able to do it from my computer. But the shorter posts help me remember everything that happens on these adventures. I like to be very detailed, for the days when I can’t travel like this anymore… or maybe even for Bill’s daughter and grandchildren, who might want to know about our fun times when we’re not here anymore.
It’s good to be on vacation, although my heart rate was elevated for hours. I’m not a particularly fit person anymore, but my heart rate is usually normal, albeit not ideal. Last night, it hovered around 99-104 beats per minute. But, as I type this, it’s at 73 beats per minute. I was probably just nervous, stressed out, and dehydrated.
I didn’t mention this in the travel post today, but I want to mention it here, so I don’t forget. Yesterday, after we dropped off Noyzi, we decided to go to the airport from his “hotel”. I had visions of a nice, quiet lounge to wait for our flight in… but it was not to be! The lounge at the Frankfurt Airport was packed! We ended up sitting on an uncomfortable stool at a table that wasn’t clean when we sat down. We stayed there for a couple of hours, because there was simply nowhere else to sit.
An older German couple sat near us. They looked like hikers. They wore matching vests and carried matching backpacks. I could tell that they were very comfortable with each other and had a great rapport, as they ate from the lounge’s buffet.
I noticed them noticing Bill and me. Maybe they noticed how much chemistry we also have… similar to theirs. I got the sense that they liked being together as much as Bill and I like being together. It was nice to see.
At one point, some people left a couch open and I was going to grab it. But someone else got to it before I did. I went, “Too late!” The older couple laughed good-naturedly… not in a mean way, but in a very amused way. It WAS kind of funny, even if my legs were cramping and my back was protesting. I think I just resigned myself to sitting on the stool, unplugged…
On the plane, I was very glad that I could fit in the seat. 😉 And I was also glad we booked business class, as that gave us plenty of room. The seats in business class on Lufthansa are the same as the ones in economy, but they keep the middle seat open. We can afford to book business fares on short trips, so that’s what I do whenever I can. The flight was late starting, but was very smooth and calm. It was one hour and forty minutes. I could have watched a movie.
Anyway, it’s great to be on vacation. The featured photo alone was worth taking the trip. Norway is very beautiful, even if it’s probably more expensive than Switzerland is. I look forward to relaxing a bit, if I can. Norway is very beautiful. Maybe I’ll have a chance to write tomorrow, although we have to get up early for a train to Bergen that will take all day. If there’s WiFi and a place to plug in on the train, I could be writing there. We’ll see…
Today’s featured photo was taken last night, at the edge of a vineyard. The photo looks idyllic, but there’s actually a very busy Autobahn next to the vineyard. It struck me as applicable to today’s post, which is about how things aren’t always the way they look to the naked eye. This post may be upsetting to some people. If you’re a relative of mine or Bill’s, and you don’t want to be alienated, you might want to quit reading right now…
My husband is one of the kindest, most sensible, most decent, most easy going guys I have ever met. In over twenty years of marriage, I’ve very rarely seen him genuinely angry. I’ve never seen him completely lose his temper. He’s never been violent or reckless, and he’s very slow to get upset. He’s like an oasis of calm. But, as they say, still waters run deep, and he is a very deep guy who, in his lifetime, has been influenced by quite an interesting array of characters.
I will be the first to admit, I am among the many odd characters in Bill’s life. My whole life, people have been calling me weird, peculiar, strange, obnoxious, outspoken, inappropriate and uninhibited. For some reason, instead of reining in my weirdness, I’ve mostly let it all hang out. I’ve found that many people don’t know what to do with it. Some people, on the other hand, seem to enjoy it. Bill is one of those rare and special people who likes me for who I am… and who has taken the time to look beyond what’s obvious. It’s one of his many gifts.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you already know he has a very unusual ex wife who is highly toxic, very manipulative, and just plain mean. I’m sure she would be offended that I call her mean, but what would you call someone who forces her children to divorce their fathers? What would you call someone who leaves a man with literal scars in places where the sun doesn’t shine? What would you call someone who does her best to ruin her husband’s relationships with his family of origin and friends, and spoils his career? When the inevitable divorce happens, instead of owning her part of it, she alienates the children to the extent at which they literally disown him and legally change their names. Yeah, she’s definitely leading the conga line of “interesting people” in Bill’s life.
Bill also had two stepfathers. One was a guy who looked like Charles Durning and wasn’t too bad, except when it came to money. When he had it, he was great. When he didn’t, he wasn’t great. The other was a very talented artist who married his mother because s/he was transgender and wanted her to teach him/her how to be a woman. Bill’s mom didn’t know her second husband was transgender when they married, nor was she aware that her husband resented Bill so much. Bill’s first stepfather used to tell Bill that talking to him was like talking to a brick wall. That marriage, which lasted for about four years, occurred right in the middle of Bill’s childhood, and it had a profound effect on him.
Bill’s mom had a friend who obviously thought Bill was gay. She’d tell him, straight up, that it was okay for him to be gay. However, Bill clearly ISN’T gay. He’s just very gentle and sensitive, and in tune with the softer side of his personality. Even if he was gay, it wouldn’t be appropriate for some random woman to tell him it’s okay to “out” himself, especially when he’s still a teenager. Sexual orientation is a very personal thing, isn’t it?
Bill has another close relative who is quite immature and emotionally manipulative. She’s been known to send him guilt trips via text message or voicemail. She was pretty homophobic for a long time, although I’m not sure if she still is. She once told Bill that she believed homosexuals go to Hell… and yet, her best friend and her daughter are both lesbians. I don’t know if her views have changed, but there was a time when she was very open about these views… which could just be from being an Old World American Catholic who lives in the mid South and was raised in the 50s and 60s.
Then there’s my family, which has its own parade of weirdness. Most people in my family appear to be very normal and accomplished. However, it’s a hotbed of dysfunction, with a smattering of extremely politically conservative people, colorful, artistic personalities, functional alcoholics, and deeply religious Protestant folks. Bill actually fits in better than I do, because he’s a military veteran from the South, and he has a very normal appearance in terms of his looks and demeanor. He doesn’t make waves the way I do. My grandmother once famously told Bill that his “charm” was wearing off on me. And yet, compared to some of the other people he’s known, I’m probably among the most “normal” of the bunch.
Bill’s life has been seasoned with a vast array of eccentric people, both in terms of his family of origin, and people he’s met along the way. Almost everyone is basically “good”, or at least mostly harmless. But they’ve sure been unusual and kind of fascinating. I could probably write an interesting book about some of these characters. He’s also been exposed to Mormonism, which a lot of people would truly consider a “weird” religion. I’m sure practicing Mormons wouldn’t because they’re in the church. But, if they were to look at it in a detached way, they might see that it’s weird to do baptisms for the dead, wear special underwear, or allow other people to dictate what beverages they’re allowed to drink and whether or not they’re allowed to masturbate.
Looking at it objectively, I could probably say that even Bill’s ex wife and his first stepfather weren’t all bad, although they both did some very toxic, damaging things to Bill… things that were completely uncalled for, and just plain wrong. They both grew up in terrible dysfunction and took it out on Bill, probably because he’s not very threatening (in spite of his military career).
This morning, as I was watching an old episode of 18 Kids and Counting (before Josie was born), Bill walked into the room and observed some of the smallest Duggar children sitting on the floor, barefoot. It was easy to see that their feet were pretty dirty, as they were kind of blackened. Someone had poured Cheerios on the floor, and the kids were sitting there, nonchalantly eating them. The older Duggar sisters shrugged and laughed as their baby siblings were munching on the cereal. I’m surprised Jim Bob allowed that to air, given how obsessed he was with his family’s image, before his eldest son, Josh Duggar, wound up in prison for receiving and possessing child pornography.
As we were watching this Duggar spectacle in dismay, Bill quipped, “That’s the kind of family where I’d expect the dad to take the kids to the landfill for a day of fun.” Bill told me that’s what Ex’s mother’s family would do… take the kids to play in the landfill. He added that she also had a relative who used to put his kids up on the roof and shoot at them with a BB gun. They would run around the roof, trying to dodge the BBs. It sounds crazy, and in this day and age, it no doubt would be reported if anyone ever saw it happen. But back in the 70s, it probably wasn’t considered a big deal in rural Texas, where her adoptive mother’s family were from.
I’ve seen some pretty redneck stuff myself, although the craziest thing we did in my family was ride in the back of my uncle’s pickup truck and go to the local swimming hole or go fishing with homemade rods and worms as bait. I did have some neighbors that did crazy redneck stuff, though… like the ones who would let their kids ride down the dirt road to their trailer on the hood of their car. That was deemed not so weird in the 80s, but I’m sure it would merit a call to CPS in 2023.
I don’t know if everyone is surrounded by people like this… I have read a lot of posts on the Internet in which people describe their families falling apart when someone leaves their religion, dies prematurely, comes out of the closet, or does something else that is considered taboo or devastating. Then I look at Bill, who has had a whole string of interesting events and eccentric people in his life. You’d never know it to look at him. He looks and behaves in a completely normal and sober way… He says that was the way he was trained to be, in order to avoid being abandoned.
Bill’s unusual background is probably why we’re so perfect for each other. He likes my inappropriate, uninhibited, eccentric side, even if I do make him blush sometimes. We always manage to have genuine fun. For proof on that, check out today’s travel blog post. We had a blast last night. I am always grateful to have him in my life, especially since he’s such a decent person. And I’m especially glad I didn’t meet him at church. 😉
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