book reviews, celebrities, narcissists

A review of Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors, by Tom Bower…

Not long ago, I wrote that I had been following H.G. Tudor’s deliciously snarky YouTube videos about British investigative author Tom Bower’s brand new book, Revenge. I hadn’t been planning to read Revenge, but Tudor, who has a velvety British accent and a hilarious sense of humor as he narrates, made me give in to temptation. I ordered the book last Friday; it arrived on Monday, and I’ve just now finished it. I’ve also been continuing to watch Tudor’s narration videos, which include his interpretations of the book through the lens of what he called Meghan’s “narcissistic behavior”.

To be clear, I agree with Mr. Tudor that Meghan Markle is probably a narcissist, although not having met her personally, I can’t say that for certain. Tom Bower, likewise, seems to think Meghan is an incredibly selfish, self-serving, and despicable person. Bower is the author of at least 25 books about famous people, to include members of the British Royal Family. He is known for being a very thorough reporter, and claims that he interviewed over 80 people for his book. Of course, a lot of what he writes about was also covered in the press. Overall, having read this book, one gets the sense that Meghan Markle is bad news for the British Royal Family and a real threat to the monarchy.

When I ordered this book, it was not yet offered on Amazon.com. I had to order a physical copy of it from Amazon.de. I don’t read a lot of actual books these days, preferring to read stuff on my Kindle, because it’s cheaper, more convenient, and doesn’t require me to find a place for the book when I’m finished with it. Now that I’ve read the book, I wish I’d held out for Kindle. It’s now available in the Amazon.com store, and much less expensive. But, as I’m not always the most disciplined when it comes to small impulse buys, I decided not to wait. Bill doesn’t mind that I do this. His first wife had a habit of buying cars, landscaping, houses, and furniture when she felt the impulse to buy things.

So anyway, I wasn’t expecting that much from Bower’s book. I read that he had worked for The Daily Mail, which is one of Britain’s biggest tabloids. I knew it would be salacious, and it was. I don’t mind salacious books. I do mind typos, though, and there were a few in this book. Bower brings up Meghan Markle’s work on Suits frequently, and at one point, he even wrote about how Princes Charles and William wore suits to Prince Philip’s funeral, to avoid embarrassing Harry, who wasn’t allowed to wear his uniform, and Prince Andrew, who was recently stripped of his honors. Instead of writing “suits”, as a common noun, Bower wrote “Suits“, as if he was writing about Meghan’s USA Network show, Suits. In another spot, he referred to Kate Middleton’s “Alexandra McQueen” outfit. I think he meant Alexander McQueen. And in still another, he refers to Pennsylvania as part of New England, and it’s not. These are a few examples I can think of offhand. They aren’t a huge deal, but I did notice. Better editing and fact checking is indicated. But then, this book is over 500 pages long and exhaustively researched, cited, and furnished with lots of endnotes. There were bound to be a couple of mistakes somewhere.

Bower starts at the beginning, detailing Meghan Markle’s birth to parents, Doria Ragland, who is Black, and Thomas Markle, who is White, in Los Angeles, California, on August 4, 1981. She was the only child between her parents, although Thomas Markle had two children from his first marriage, Samantha and Tom Jr. Samantha was originally named Yvonne, but she changed her name to Samantha. She is in a wheelchair, because she has multiple sclerosis. Her brother, Tom, reportedly has issues with bankruptcies and alcoholism, and has a son who is estranged. Doria Ragland is presented as kind of a “hippy dippy” yoga enthusiast who later became a social worker. They divorced when Meghan was young, but stayed in touch and even had amicable dinners together as Meghan came of age. Meghan was reportedly called “Flower” and treated like a princess, her every whim catered to, especially by her father. Sadly, Meghan and her father are now famously on the outs… My husband can relate to that, since he’s on the outs with one of his daughters, too.

Bower continues detailing Meghan’s life with astonishing comprehensiveness, covering old boyfriends, old school friends, old agents and colleagues, and frequently shedding light on some of the stories we’ve heard since Meghan burst onto the international scene in late 2017. As Bower paints it, Meghan was looking to get ahead, and constantly used people, discarding and/or ghosting them when she was finished with them. As someone who studies narcissism, this pattern is very familiar to me. I suspect the same thing will one day happen to Harry… but maybe I’m wrong. In fact, I hope I am, for their children’s sakes. The overwhelming message, though, is that Meghan craves money, success, prestige, and power. And, as Harry famously stated as wedding preparations were being made in 2018, “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.” I think, in the coming years, those words could end up haunting Harry.

It must be heartbreaking for Her Majesty, the Queen, to see her grandson’s fall from public favor. I might even blame Harry, except I don’t think he was particularly savvy about Meghan’s type. He seemed lonely and aimless, and other women he had dated had wisely steered clear of joining the British Royal Family. Sure, there are a lot of perks that come from being royal, but with that privilege comes huge responsibilities and lots of rules and protocol to follow. Harry’s other girlfriends hadn’t wanted to live life in a fishbowl as a condition of being famous and wealthy. Meghan, on the other hand, seemed to want to take Harry’s mother’s place as the “People’s Princess”. Or, at least that’s how she seemed to want people to see her. Unfortunately for Meghan, she doesn’t have a scintilla of Diana’s charisma or instinctive way of relating to regular people. In fact, Meghan is merely an actress, and not a very good one, at that. She plays at being a caring, loving, compassionate role model, as she jets around in private planes, holds her children hostage from their extended family members, and never does anything without a camera crew. And anyone who calls her out for that behavior is quickly labeled a “racist” or a “misogynist” or even a “racist misogynist”.

Bower writes about the infamous Apple TV interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey last year, and adds more details to that story. It was quite a betrayal to the British Royal Family, and probably one of the main reasons why Harry and Meghan were so frozen out at Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in June. The Royals don’t want Harry and Meghan using them for their Netflix and Spotify careers, nor for Harry’s upcoming memoirs, which will probably be very humiliating for the whole family… including Harry.

I mostly found Tom Bower’s book, Revenge, interesting and a quick read, which was nice after my last book, which took weeks to finish. I’m glad I read it, because H.G. Tudor hasn’t been reading the whole chapters… or, at least I don’t think he does. Reading it on my own helps me make sure I get the whole sordid story. 😉 There are photographs included, some of which are from Meghan’s somewhat less glamorous childhood. I definitely noticed a distinct pattern in the tales Bower shared, which are very familiar to anyone who has had dealings with narcissists, or just really self-centered people. I don’t know if Meghan Markle is a certified narcissist; I am not qualified to diagnose her, nor have I ever met her. But I will say that the patterns of her reported behaviors are very recognizable to me, and they are that of diagnosable narcissists. If even half of what is reported in this book regarding her problematic behaviors is true, she definitely is a high conflict person.

I give Meghan props for becoming rich and famous, against all odds… but I have a feeling that, like most alleged narcissists, she’s headed for a big, embarrassing, fall. I just hope that by the time it happens, Harry has moved on. I like Harry, in spite of his recently bratty and petulant behavior. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I think he’s caught in a web. It happens to the best of people. But again… just my opinion… and lots of people are still on Team Meghan and think she’s the real victim. Even George and Amal Clooney seem to think so. So there is that.

I think I’d give Revenge 3.5 stars out of five, but don’t expect highbrow reading. I suggest downloading the book, watching any of the narrated videos on YouTube (others besides H.G. Tudor are doing them), or checking Revenge out from a library. My rating is probably more generous than some reviewers’, but I like a good juicy read. Fair warning that those who like Meghan and Harry probably won’t like this book.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, controversies, Germany, healthcare, law, Reality TV, true crime, YouTube

Strong women sure do scare weak men…

Sorry about this super long post. I have a lot on my unusually clear mind this week. 😉

The week is grinding on, and I’ve been doing my best to stay occupied as I eagerly wait for Friday, when Bill returns from Stuttgart. As much as I complain when Bill is out of town, I have to admit it’s not all bad. For one thing, it gives me a chance to catch up on shows like My Feet Are Killing Me. I binged a few more episodes of that show last night. Thankfully, none of them gave me nightmares, although some of the issues people present with on that show are heartbreaking. I imagine the pain I’m in when I wear shoes that don’t fit well, knowing that when I take them off, the pain will go away. The people on that show have to deal with excruciating, unrelenting pain. It must be so rewarding for the podiatrists when they see their patients walk with less agony and/or better looking feet.

In some ways, I find My Feet Are Killing Me a less annoying show than Dr. Pimple Popper, because there are several doctors. “Dr. Brad” gets on my nerves, though, because he comes off a bit like a frat boy to me. And, maybe I’m a cranky old broad, but I don’t like it when doctors introduce themselves with their surnames, but call their patients by their first names. I’d blame it on living in Germany for almost 8 years, but I didn’t like it in the States, either. However, I would be preferred to be called by my first name than some cutesy pet name like “hon” or “sweetie”. If I’m going to be paying you out the ass for healthcare, you can call me Ms. or Mrs. And get offa my lawn, while you’re at it.

I’ve also been teetotaling while Bill is away. I usually try not to drink alcohol when he’s not home. There are a few reasons why I do this. The main one is to give my poor old body a break. Another reason is that in case of an emergency, I don’t want to be under the influence of booze. If I had to take one of the dogs to the vet, or had some kind of medical or other emergent issue, I wouldn’t want to be the slightest bit bombed. And finally, I like to remind myself that there are other ways to spend my time. It’s also comforting to know that I can still choose not to drink, given my family’s alcoholic history and my own enjoyment of the “sauce”. 😉

Watching videos of people in the United States getting busted for DWI is one way to remind myself of how things can quickly spin out of control after a drink or two. Germany is stricter about drinking and driving than the US is. The blood alcohol limit is .05 here, and if you get busted, they can and will force you to give a blood sample. There’s also a 500 euro fine for a first offense, and other penalties I won’t get into with this post. I almost never drive, but if I am alone, I might need to go somewhere, and I’d rather not go by bus. At least here, there are a lot of options for those who need a ride. We don’t have train station in our town, but we do have plenty of buses and taxis. However, anywhere I’d go would probably require me to drive, because I’d most likely be taking my dogs.

I spent a good portion of yesterday watching footage of people being arrested. Most of the videos were entertaining enough, but there was one guy who really gave me pause. This guy was a real character– memorable in EVERY way. After watching him interact with the cops incidents in both Vermilion and Lorain, Ohio, all I could do is feel sorry for this man’s family… especially his wife and kids. In fact, his stepson even commented on one of the videos, confirming to everyone that stepdad is a real jackass most of the time, with a few exceptions. Behold, Dorsey Fields…

Bwahahahaha… he’s loud, profane, and just plain embarrassing. Look at that gaping maw!
God help the people who have to deal with him. He’s belligerent, entitled, and probably needs medication other than alcohol.

The video below was actually from an earlier incident in a neighboring town. It happened maybe a month before the above video footage was taken. In the below video, Mr. Fields was busted for impersonating a police officer. As he was being arrested, he protested the officers scratching his 2004 model car. That beard, too… It’s too much.

He must have quite the rap sheet!

As I was watching Dorsey Fields in action, I couldn’t help but think he was naturally entertaining. Under different circumstances, maybe he could have been a character actor. He has a good voice for acting or speaking– it’s clear, distinctive, and doesn’t have a strong accent. He has personality, although it’s not a very pleasant personality, based on these videos. He’s also often hilarious, whether or not he means to be. Throughout his many rants in these videos, I can see glimmers of a gentler person… maybe when he’s totally sober and medicated, he’s even a very nice or otherwise redeemed person. According to his stepchild’s comment, Fields is bipolar. This was posted about 14 months ago or so.

Izzy (2 months ago): This is my step dad, I currently live with him and he acts like this everyday. I just recently turned 18 but ever since I was 11 we always fought. I have no remorse for him. After everything he’s done to degrade me, make me feel like shit and emotionally manipulate our family this is deserved and i’m glad people are seeing how much of an asshole he is. He also knows about the video but refuses to watch it, I read the comments to him but he still doesn’t think he’s a total asshole. Also he doesn’t own any businesses, my mom owns two restaurants that he didn’t contribute to. He isn’t a CEO of anything either and the car isn’t his. He is bipolar but I don’t think that excuses him being an asshole since he’s pretty much always been like this. I hope this video and these comments help him realize he needs serious help.

EDIT: Thank you for all the positive comments, support, and advice. I wasn’t expecting a lot of sympathy, but regardless I deeply appreciate it!! I genuinely hope his mental health, attitude, and behavior improves. Honestly sometimes he’s a cool dude and we have a lot of memories together, but most of the times he’s a total POS which sucks. Hopefully one day we’ll see his positive side more.

Poor Izzy. Wonder what his or her mom sees in Dorsey. She sounds like a very ambitious, hard working person, and she deserves better treatment than what this guy obviously delivers. I have to admit, though, these videos were the highlight of a hot afternoon. Which brings me to my next topic, and the subject of this post. I’ll bet most guys like Dorsey Fields aren’t very nice to their women. Strong women scare weak men. It’s obvious to me, especially in the comment sections of news articles about abortion. I’ll bet ol’ Dorsey is a Republican, too, and he comes from a state that strongly wants to deny women the right to terminate their pregnancies. Honestly, I think the existence of guys like Dorsey Field are one of the main reasons the ability to get abortions should absolutely remain legal.

Last night, I was reading an article in the Washington Post about how Democrats are working to come up with ways to get around Republican oppression regarding women’s health and access to abortions. On Rachel Maddow’s show, I heard about pro choice groups creating bulletproof vans that provide abortion services and can be driven to borders near anti-choice states. I think it’s sad that such a personal procedure might have to be done clandestinely in a motor vehicle, just so people can maintain control over their own reproduction. On the other hand, bravo to those who are not taking this shit lying down and FIGHTING BACK against zealots who want to force women to be pregnant when they don’t want to be.

Oh, but the comments from some of the men are so very telling. On the article I read last night, there was a really nasty character named Max who was leaving disgusting, insulting, and downright racist comments toward an atheist woman from Tunisia who argued for choice. He wasn’t the only one making vile comments to her; there were at least two other guys who were being overbearing, rude, and MEAN to this brave woman who dared to express an opinion. I got so disgusted by Max’s comments that I blocked him, even though I didn’t engage him. I also reported him for racist hate speech. I know I’m not the only one.

I wish Max’s vile commentary against pro-choice women was an anomaly in the wake of the reversal of Roe v Wade, but it isn’t. Every day, I read more insulting comments from MEN who claim to be pro-life and lament about “murdering” babies. But they have no thought whatsoever for the horrible, dehumanizing, demeaning, and cruel comments they deliver to living, breathing, former fetuses. Most of these men also expect women to find them attractive enough to fuck. George Carlin once famously asked his fans if they’d ever noticed that people against abortion are people they wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place. I’m here to tell you, I find most pro-life men utterly repulsive, not because they claim to be against abortion, but because they are usually just mean spirited, insufferable, uncaring dickheads.

Take, for instance, this op-ed that appears in The New York Times today. The piece is called “Please Laugh About My Abortion With Me.” Lots of men are commenting. Most probably didn’t bother to read the article, written by Alison Leiby, who does stand up comedy and has had an abortion. She has a comedy show called “Oh God, a Show About Abortion.”, which she performed the evening of June 24, 2022, which was the day Roe v Wade was overturned and millions of American women lost significant rights to their privacy and bodily autonomy. One wouldn’t think this would be a subject we should laugh about, regardless of how one stands on the abortion issue. Leiby has actually been performing this routine for a few years, having found that writing jokes helped her process the experience of having an abortion.

I’m a big fan of turning trauma into something creative. I do it all the time on my blog. Not everyone enjoys what I do. That’s to be expected, of course. But it is one way of taking back my power, and maintaining my mental health. For example, a few years ago, when our former landlady was driving me batshit crazy, I was writing short stories about her. I figured that was better than doing something violent. Her former tenant, who has since committed suicide, sent me a very shaming private message, mocking me for calling what I do “creative”. That’s the thing about creativity, though. It’s very subjective, and it doesn’t have to be “good” or “popular” to be healing. You don’t have to like someone else’s creative pursuits. Other people might like it and be helped, or even healed by it. The beauty of creative pursuits is that reactions often vary, and as long as the work means something to the creator, it’s worth doing on some level. I thought Alison Leiby’s article on joking about abortion was outstanding. Sadly, a lot of people will comment on it without reading, simply because their minds are firmly closed.

Maybe if the former tenant had been more open to good old fashioned venting in a blog, or turning her trauma into some other form of creativity, she might still be alive today. And it’s not that I don’t empathize with her, either. I’ve felt suicidal many times in my life. I think if I didn’t have a creative spirit fighting to get out, I might have one day done the ultimate anti-life thing, like she did. In fact, when I was suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety in the late 1990s, I studied voice. It helped me stay afloat when I saw no other reason to stay on this shitty planet, where an anti-choice total stranger once told me I should be forced to give birth, as they also called me a fat, murderous, “CUNT”. No lie– someone actually said that to me– and no, I have never been pregnant or needed an abortion. He said it because I’m a woman with an opinion he didn’t like. Why would I want to birth a baby in a world in which my child could possibly come into contact with a hateful, disgusting, rage-filled, disrespectful moron like him? He can’t even restrain himself from calling a perfect stranger a “CUNT”, and he thinks innocent babies should be brought into a world where he is on the loose, ready to hurt them with his vile misogynistic views?

Why is it that the most disgusting, reprehensible, sexist, racist, power hungry men are usually the ones who insist on making women stay pregnant, as they shame the women for getting pregnant and insist that it was a 50/50 decision. You can’t tell these guys that women often give in to men who want sex… or they are FORCED to have sex. And the ones who want to get birth control or even have sterilization procedures, often have to deal with doctors who don’t want to fulfill their requests.

So there I was last night, reading the comments about women’s rights to abortion care in the news. I was bewildered by men who were passionately railing against women who “murder” their babies, yet had no trouble totally trying to destroy and dehumanize the women who disagreed with them. These were already born people– folks who were once fetuses themselves, whom these guys claim they care so much about today. All I can do is imagine these angry, horrible, hateful men cursing out a beautiful baby girl, calling her a slut or a murderer or any other vile name… who someday might be knocked up by one of their grandsons, and might fervently wish to end the pregnancy for whatever reason, that is absolutely none of their business. As long as it’s HER body, it must be HER choice. That’s the way it WILL ultimately be, no matter how much yelling, threatening and cursing these guys do. It would so serve them right if many more women of childbearing age simply stopped having sex with any man who doesn’t embrace her absolute divine right to control her own body.

Anyway… I really liked Alison Leiby’s op-ed. I think people should read it, so this link will take you to her unlocked article. Like George Carlin before her, Alison Leiby has figured out that we really can joke about anything. Sometimes telling jokes can be very healing. Sometimes reading and writing profane rants is healing. Sometimes singing– even if it’s terrible singing– is healing. Dancing can be a wonderful way to relieve stress and make something constructive out of something damaging, as is practicing any form of art, no matter what it is. Yes, you can laugh about abortion if you want to, and it won’t send you straight to Hell. Just open your mind and use it for thinking, instead of judging.

There’s no need to be scared, weak and misogynistic men of the USA. This isn’t your fight; it belongs to women, because women are strong enough to fight for their rights. And in spite of what so many scared, hateful, horrible anti-choice men think, strong women WILL prevail in this fight. I hope some of the women who are married to belligerent drunks who drive while intoxicated will also have the courage to leave… and maybe embrace masturbation or celibacy, while they’re at it.

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bad TV, healthcare, social media

Things I try not to say on Facebook…

When I stop myself from responding to some comments on social media, I think of my conscience as Dorothy Zbornak, covering Sophia Petrillo’s mouth before she says something everyone regrets…

It’s Thursday, and I’m currently in allergy hell. Yesterday, I went outside briefly, hoping to enjoy the warm, sunny weather, and had to come back inside within minutes because my nose was running like a faucet and my eyes were swelling. I took a couple of Benadryl, which really helped, but not before my eyes took on the appearance of two cherries in a glass of buttermilk. They still look pretty bad today, and I’ve been coughing, sneezing, and sniffling since I crawled out of bed.

I mentioned this issue to some of my Facebook friends, many of whom responded with empathy. A lot of us are suffering right now. One person said she was ready for the trees to stop having sex. Yes, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? I think a lot of men should stop having sex, too. They obviously can’t handle what sex can cause. Aside from that, there is currently a formula shortage in the United States, and a lot of men seem to think it’s a simple thing for women with starving babies to simply start breastfeeding.

Spotted this on THE BEER PARTY’S Facebook page. Too funny!

Guys… not all women can breastfeed. Start with the fact that some women don’t have breasts because of cancer or some other health issue. Some people take medications that would make breastfeeding dangerous for the baby. Some don’t make enough milk for their babies; that was an issue for my sister, who had to switch to formula when her son was a baby. There are any number of other reasons why breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone. Aside from that, this is simply another issue that the vast majority of men don’t have a clue about. But, even though they don’t know about periods, pregnancy, or PMS, a lot of guys think they can offer a simple fix to the baby formula issue. Just pull out your breasts, ladies. Right. I wish I could lactate at will, and squirt some of these guys in their faces with some breast milk. A lot of them would enjoy it, though.

I decided to go to the original source of the above post, put on social media by a comedian. A cranky old man took him to task. I noticed that both the comedian and the cranky old man use misogynistic terms in their comments about feeding babies. Old guy refers to “bitching”, which is anti-woman, since in the human definition of the word “bitch”, bitches are usually either women or effeminate men. Comedian uses the term “d-bag”, which is an abbreviation of a word that refers to something women use to clean out their nether regions. While I do like the comedian’s “meme”, I do think he might want to consider that when a man uses misogynistic language like “bitching” and “d-bag”, especially when they are claiming not to be sexist, as they discuss issues that mostly pertain to women, they kind of lose a little credibility. But, that’s just my opinion.

I do think cranky old man needs to get a clue and realize that many women are tired of men trying to tell us about what it’s like to be female. The last comment, by the way, wasn’t made by me. However, I do agree wholeheartedly that on this subject, a lot of men need to STFU.

I don’t usually take offense to the words “bitch” and “bitching”, even though I probably should. However, I truly don’t like the word “douchebag”, or any incarnation of it. I think it’s nonsensical to call someone a “douche”, especially when one claims to be sensitive toward women, or a feminist. To me, using the word “douche” as an insult is also stupid, because in many countries, a “douche” is a shower. But in America, we know that douching is kind of nasty, and douchebags are mostly used by women. So if you’re a comedian commenting on the cluelessness of “Trumpanzee pro-lifers” and calling them “d-bags”, maybe it’s better to choose a different insult than one that is basically sexist.

I’m not going to point out this logic discrepancy on Facebook, though, because it will only invite eyerolls and comments about how I need to “rent a sense of humor” or “lighten up”, or whatever… Moreover, the vast majority of people aren’t going to change their minds from reading comments on Facebook. Actually, it seems to me that a lot of people, based only on what they post on social media, are miserable jerks who are more interested in being rude and insulting, than actually contributing to a discussion, or being social. I can admit to being kind of a jerk myself sometimes, but it’s often in response to some of the snark I read daily. I do stop myself from posting a lot of times, though. It just isn’t worth the butthurt.

Last night, for example, I found myself commenting on an article about COVID, and how some people think face masks could save humanity. I pointed out that in Germany, we have only JUST started being allowed to be in some places without masks. And here, people were expected to wear the oppressive FFP2 masks, which are akin to N95s. People still got COVID, in spite of the “high quality” masks. COVID is going to spread, whether or not we wear masks. That is a proven fact. Given that most people do NOT wear the masks properly, replace them frequently enough, wash their hands, or cover their eyes, we should expect that infections will continue. What is more important is keeping people out of the hospitals, which is where effective vaccines come in. Vaccines are helping in that regard.

I know I should have kept that thought to myself, but it was late in the evening, and I lost my resolve. Sure enough, a bunch of people jumped on my case about it. One woman proudly told me I was wrong because she works for the CDC. My response was, “Good for you, working for the CDC. I have a MPH myself, so I respect your work.” (as someone who works for the CDC, one would hope that she might realize that not every educated person is going to agree).

Another person commented that Germany’s COVID infections are among the highest in Europe, and implied that it was because the mask rules were mostly dropped in April. He or she might be right. To tell you the truth, I didn’t bother to check. However, Denmark dropped masks weeks before Germany did. I would have been more impressed with their comment if they had brought up how Denmark is faring, coupling it with more than just anecdotes. Denmark has been maskless longer than Germany has. Moreover, I assume this person is in the USA, where masks were dropped even longer ago.

My point is, Germany still has plenty of COVID infections, in spite of more people masking with higher quality masks, and more mask compliance as a general rule. People in Germany still got COVID, in spite of wearing masks. The masks had nothing to do with whether or not the resulting sickness was more or less severe. Masks are supposed to stop viruses from spreading; but if you get the virus in spite of masking, you might still get deathly ill, if your body isn’t prepared to handle the infection. The goal shouldn’t be preventing infections, so much as it should be keeping people from dying and/or taking up all of the hospital beds. And again, vaccines do help with that. At this point, I am sure I will eventually get COVID, and it might be really bad. But I suspect I won’t get so sick that I die, because I am triple vaxxed. To read some of the comments, the minute one person takes off their mask, disaster will certainly strike. As the old song goes, “it ain’t necessarily so.”

A third person blessed me out for daring to doubt the efficacy of wearing face masks forever, then signed off with the hashtag, #wearamask. To which my very southern response was, “Bless your heart.” If I’m not hanging out around people and I’m fully vaccinated, there’s much less of a need for masking, right? Staying away from people is a guaranteed way to lower the risk of getting sick. I’d say it’s much more effective than wearing a stupid mask. Aside from that, I don’t live anywhere near the vast majority of these people, anyway, so my conclusions and decisions stemming from them, won’t affect any of them. Why be so rude? Critical thinking skills are nonexistent among some people these days, aren’t they?

Finally, a woman told me to “take a hike” because she got sick from the Astrazeneca shot. So I replied, “Taking hikes is a healthy thing to do. I wouldn’t mind taking one; thank you.” Especially if it means getting away from the likes of her. Based on her online persona, she’s probably not someone I’d want to know. I don’t particularly enjoy hiking, but I’d probably rather do that than have a conversation with someone who is rude to me right off the bat.

I think people should be able to wear masks if they want to. I also think it should be a valid personal choice not to wear them. There are reasons why masks are problematic for some people, and those people should be allowed to contribute to the conversation, too. It would be nice if people would be more open-minded about these things, and think longer about the issue, instead of immediately shooting down those who have a different viewpoint. Except, of course, when it comes to “pro-life Trumpanzee” men, who continually refer to abortion as “murdering babies” and try to comment with authority on things with which they have no possible personal experience, like having periods, birthing babies, and breastfeeding.

Incidentally, I finally lost my most recent Facebook red badge of shame today. I got dinged a month ago for referring to “dumb Americans”… but my God, it sure is hard to resist when there are so many fine specimens of homegrown American stupidity on the prowl.

And finally, there’s one last subject I want to bring up today. This has nothing to do with the rest of this post. I just found it amusing.

While I was waiting for Bill to come home from work, I started watching a mid 80s episode of the medical drama, Trapper John, MD. Now, I know Trapper John, MD was not the most factually or medically accurate show. However, I did do a double take on the episode, “Going, Going, Gonzo…”, in which Gonzo Gates (Gregory Harrison) has a stroke. While he’s recovering, they show a montage of him getting therapy. In one shot, a doctor is using a Hitachi Magic Wand on him. See below…

I would not expect a physician to be doing physical therapy on anyone, even if it is the Great Gonzo Gates. And that massager he’s using is clearly a Hitachi Magic Wand, which many women use for sexual stimulation purposes. I used to own one myself, having purchased it when Bill was in Iraq. I got a huge kick out of it, especially since the directions never indicated that the wand was a sensual device, but one could buy attachments that were clearly for that purpose. Also, the person who wrote the directions was obviously not a native English speaker, so some stuff got lost in translation.

Incidentally, I got rid of my “magic wand”, because it didn’t do anything for me.

In that episode, Trapper John also lectures/shames stroke ridden Gonzo for wanting to take antidepressants. I don’t know about you, but I would think that having a stroke would make a person depressed. So I would not fault Gonzo for wanting to take medication to help him deal with his new reality. Trapper mentions the “side effects”, which in fairness probably would have been bad in the 80s, since the drugs we have now were not available in the 80s. I didn’t take antidepressants in the 80s, but it’s my understanding that the side effects were pretty brutal. However, those drugs also saved people’s lives. Trapper ends his soliloquy by putting down the pill cup and telling Gonzo that if he wants to take them, he will have to do it by himself. Seems like a strange attitude for a doctor to have. I guess it was good for the story, though.

Anyway, now I have to repost my blog entries about the Hitachi Magic Wand. Hopefully, they won’t inspire any unwanted correspondence. Stay tuned!

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law, modern problems, politics, true crime

Do I even want to go “home” again?

The featured photo was taken on May 18, 2014, when Bill and I took a last Space A Hop to Germany, ahead of his military retirement. At the time, we didn’t know we’d be coming back to live in Germany just weeks later. We’re still here… and we no longer really want to go back “home” again. It definitely gives me some empathy and a unique perspective toward people who flee other countries for the United States…

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of an old Peace Corps friend of mine. I wrote about Matt last year, a few days after I found out about how he was senselessly killed by a reckless driver in Brooklyn, New York. Matt Jensen was a very special person. He had dedicated his life to teaching English as a foreign language, and students of all ages benefited from his natural acumen in the classroom. Matt was born to teach, and he had loads of charisma and a wonderful sense of humor. Although we hadn’t spoken or seen each other in many years, I was genuinely heartbroken when I heard about his sudden death last year. It just seemed so incredibly unfair.

For months, I watched the news to see if anyone would ever be arrested in connection with Matt’s death. Finally, in February, just as I was about to give up on justice, I was inspired to do one last search of the news. Sure enough, that very day, I found out that the police had taken a suspect into custody. I wrote another post about how I felt about that. I didn’t expect a lot of people to get it, since it was one of my more “creative” efforts… but to me, the post I wrote about Matt’s killer’s arrest set to the Police’s 1983 album, Synchronicity, made a lot of sense. When I knew him, Matt bore a resemblance to Sting.

I’m still watching for updates on the case involving Tariq Witherspoon, the 30 year old New York Emergency Medical Technician who is being held responsible for mowing down Matt with a borrowed black Rolls Royce last year. Every time I think about how Matt died, it seems more absurd to me. This was a man who served in the Peace Corps twice. He had devoted his life to helping people, especially those who wanted to learn English and improve their lives. To think that he was taken out by an over-the-top status symbol driven by a man who supposedly devoted his life’s work to saving other people’s lives! It’s completely ridiculous.

Every day, there are more news articles about how absolutely insane the United States has become in recent years. From the relentless attack on women’s rights, to the senseless gun violence at schools, churches, and supermarkets, to the abhorrent racism on every common street corner, I’ve become a lot less impressed with my homeland. Last night, I was reading a sickening story about a nine year old White boy who brought a whip to his Black neighbor’s house. He was captured with a Ring camera, whip in hand, visibly seething with rage as he banged on the neighbors’ door, demanding that their daughter come out. Why? Because they’d had an altercation at school, and he wanted to “finish” it with a fucking whip! Below is a video of the incident, along with follow up footage of the Black girl’s parents confronting the whip wielder’s father. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that the boy’s father came to the door with a gun in his hand. I can see where this kid’s rage comes from; his father is clearly a toxic and dangerous person.

What the HELL is wrong with people?

What is especially sad to me is that this is a nine year old child. He probably has no idea about slavery in America, and how enslaved Black people were whipped, beaten, raped, and murdered so that rich White people could get richer. I hate to think that this child, at just nine years old, has this much hatred for others. I see how angry and violent he already is at age nine. What will he be like at 19? I hope he gets some competent help from a therapist before he winds up arrested on felony charges, as his dad was after he fired a weapon at the Black couple who confronted him about the whip and the damage the boy allegedly did to their car.

Amid stories like the one above, there are so many angry people in the United States. I read another story this morning about how Spain is considering allowing women paid time off when they suffer severe period symptoms. I think the idea is very progressive and humane. While my own periods have mainly just been annoying and inconvenient, I know women who literally get sick every month when they have their periods. I have known women whose cramps were so bad that it hurt to walk, and they spent days vomiting.

What a contrast this policy is, especially in a country as Catholic as Spain is, to the anti-women legislation being considered in the United States right now. I grew up believing that the United States was the epitome of a “free country”. But if the Republicans have their way, abortion will be outlawed, and women could find themselves at risk of being arrested when they have miscarriages. That seems extreme, but consider that Lizelle Herrera, a woman in Texas who miscarried, was actually arrested recently and accused of “murdering” her unborn child. Thankfully, good sense eventually prevailed, and she was released after what was surely a very stressful and horrifying ordeal at the Starr County Jail. I hope the American Civil Liberties Union helps her sue the fuck out of the people who reported her to the authorities and arrested her. What is especially scary about Herrera’s case is that she had gone to a hospital for help, and wound up being accused of “death of an individual by self-induced abortion”. If we don’t do something about the right wing anti-abortion zealots, this is a fate that could affect a lot of women. And it may lead to miscarrying people not getting medical help when they really need it, for fear of being arrested and charged with murder.

Mama Doctor Jones spells it out for all of us. Outlawing abortion in the United States will result in a lot of morbidity and mortality.

Naturally, the comment section for the article about Spain’s proposed legislation included many awful comments from American males, who have NO idea what it’s like to have periods, be pregnant, or deal with the aftermath of childbearing. Having lived in Europe for almost eight years, I’ve admired the family and community focused laws here. No, it’s not perfect, and people here pay a lot of taxes, which I know would not be popular in the United States. But Europeans recognize that children need their parents. Women who have babies in Germany get a very generous paid maternity leave before and after their pregnancies, as well as other benefits. Fathers are also granted time off to bond with their babies.

In the United States, we have people screaming about fetal rights, yet denying citizens the means to give babies and children a healthy start in life. When someone points out this discrepancy, they are sure to receive a snarky, unempathetic reply, usually from a Republican male, who obviously cares more about money than fellow human beings. This is what one typically tone deaf man– a man who claims he’s a doctor, no less— had to say about Spain’s proposed legislation:

Great. How do you prove that you have severe period symptoms compared to moderate ? How can you control for abuse of taking time off and differentiate between authentic cases and fictitious ones?

This was what a woman said in response to the “doctor”, who doesn’t have much regard for women:

Wait, you claim to be a physician? It seems horrible that this would be your level of compassion for a patient. There have been days out of every month for the past 40 YEARS when the pain was so severe I was vomiting and in tears. I spent the time with a heating pad or in a hot bath, trying my best to even prepare a meal for my family or perform the most basic tasks. This began when I was 12 years old. I was never diagnosed with any specific problem, and often told (mostly by male doctors) that it was just like that for some women and to “push through.” How does one prove such a thing?

Lots of people took on this supposed “doctor of misogyny”, as he continually mansplained why this law could be problematic. According to him, there are a lot of women in Spain who are just waiting to game the system and take off work when their period pain doesn’t warrant it (in his opinion, anyway).

I also saw a comment from a man who probably votes for pro-life candidates, but harangued a woman who pointed out how misogynistic the United States is. He told her to “get a new job” and exercise “personal responsibility”. When she came back and told him she was a member of a union and got decent benefits (for the United States, that is), the guy told her to “stop crying”. In his mind, she already had hers and needed to STFU. He couldn’t see why she’d want to advocate for others, who aren’t as fortunate. Does this man have women in his life? Does he care about them? Based on his comments, I’d guess not.

The pervasive self-centeredness and selfishness in the United States is just awful. It really doesn’t make me want to go home, even though I know I’m going to have to at some point. We have some unfinished business that needs to be handled. But do I want to move back there permanently? I have to be honest. I don’t think I want to. The United States has changed noticeably since the Trump years. I think Trump’s presidency has awakened and emboldened some of the worst people in our society. It will be years before the United States is back on track. It hurts to see how awful it is from afar.

Meanwhile, here in my little Hessian village, people are community minded and focused on doing things for the environment. Our local Facebook group shared a new “bee feeding vending machine” that is available now. Someone repurposed an old gumball machine so that it sells “bee bombs”– bee friendly flower seeds that can be planted in gardens to provide bees with fuel. Here in Germany, it’s illegal to kill bees. The government has wisely realized that without bees, we’d have no food. Similar legislation and efforts to save bees in the United States would probably garner nothing but derision from the clueless.

Well, I know it’s inevitable that we’ll go home at some point. Does it mean we’ll stay there for good? More and more, I’m thinking that maybe we won’t. My Italian friend, Vittorio, was right when he told me some years ago that America has a “weird-o-rama” culture. He was spot on. I didn’t see it when I was in the thick of it, but after years in Europe, it’s as plain as day. And it’s truly heartbreaking.

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celebrities, LDS, movies, reviews

Repost: Just watched I Am Elizabeth Smart… 

I wrote this post for the original Overeducated Housewife blog in November 2017. I am reposting it as/is, so pretend it’s five years ago.

We got snow this morning and it’s been flurrying all day, so we decided to stay in and watch TV.  I recently read Elizabeth Smart’s comments about the Lifetime movie that was made about her experiences in captivity after she was kidnapped from her bed on June 5, 2002.  I still remember Bill telling me about the kidnapping.  We were engaged at the time, living in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  His daughters are a few years younger than Smart and Mormon.  They were in Arizona.  I remember Bill was concerned.

Well, we all know what happened to Elizabeth.  She was eventually found and reunited with her family.  She went to college, went on a mission, and got married to a returned missionary from Scotland.  They have two beautiful children and Elizabeth’s work is about helping victims.  While I would never wish what happened to her on anyone, I think it’s laudable that she’s been able to turn her ordeal into something good.

Trailer for I Am Elizabeth Smart.

As for the movie… I have to admit, it made me a bit emotional.  I read Elizabeth’s book a few years ago, so I knew she was raped repeatedly, starved, forced to eat garbage and drink alcohol, and kept shackled to a tree out in the wilderness.  The movie featured Smart narrating while an actress portrayed her. 

I saw the first TV movie about Smart’s case; it aired in 2003, just nine months after she was rescued.  I remember it was on TV the same night a movie about Jessica Lynch aired.  I was interested in both movies, so I flipped back and forth.  The first Smart movie was more from her parents’ perspective; it was based on the book Bringing Elizabeth Home

In I Am Elizabeth Smart, there seemed to be much less emphasis on Smart’s family and the LDS church.  In fact, I noticed when the actors portraying Barzee, Mitchell, and Smart didn’t even pray the way Mormons do, with their arms crossed.  The church wasn’t even really mentioned, which is kind of a pity, since I think Mormon teachings are, in part, to blame for Smart’s trauma.  The film is instead kept sort of blandly religious.  Smart speaks of her faith in God and in how she saw God in everyday miracles, like when it would rain.  Smart explains that she was always thirsty, because they never had enough water.  It was very hard to get water.  When they did get it, Mitchell would make her work for it.  Basically, that meant submitting to his repeated sexual assaults. 

Smart says in the film that when Mitchell raped her, she felt shattered into a million pieces.  In speeches she’s given, she’s mentioned that she learned object lessons in the church about the importance of being “pure”.  She learned that having sex before marriage made her akin to a chewed up piece of gum, worthy of being thrown away.  Although she did mention feeling “shattered” in the film, she did not provide the context that made rape even more horrific for her.

The actors in the film were very good, although the part of the movie that I found most compelling was when Elizabeth spoke.  It seemed almost like she wanted to set things straight with the public.  She addressed the many cynical comments she must have read or heard from people over the years, including the claim that she had Stockholm Syndrome.  Toward the end of the film, she has a glint in her eye and a victorious edge to her voice when she tells viewers that Mitchell had raped her for the last time.  I also noticed that Elizabeth looked really pretty.  I have seen her wear very heavy makeup, but whomever did her makeup for the film did a really good job.  She looked natural and beautiful, not garish.

By the time the movie ended, I was feeling pretty verklempt.  She was so incredibly lucky to survive and not endure years with those people.  And, honest to God, while I’m not generally someone who enjoys violence, I do hope Mitchell gets the shit beaten out of him regularly for what he did to Elizabeth… and frankly, Wanda Barzee, who is also horrible, but was his victim for over fifteen years.

I think I Am Elizabeth Smart is pretty decent, especially for a Lifetime film.  It is ultimately a triumphant film.  I’m not sorry I watched it.  I’m sure they deliberately downplayed Smart’s LDS beliefs for many reasons.  Maybe it was to make it appeal to a larger audience or give more time to the story of Smart’s captivity.  But personally, I think the church helped traumatize Smart when it taught her that sex outside of marriage makes someone worthless.  As horrifying as rape is, it’s got to be much worse when the cornerstone of one’s spiritual beliefs teaches that a woman who has sex before marriage is akin to a licked cupcake or chewed up piece of gum. 

Looks like the “Licked Cupcake” is about to become theater.
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