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

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

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

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

The moment of truth…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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lessons learned, nostalgia, silliness, TV

Life lessons from The Love Boat…

I love watching cheesy TV shows from the 70s and 80s. I especially enjoy watching them when I’m laid up in bed and in need of comfort. Although I’m mostly over the virus that kicked me in the butt all weekend, I was still a touch under the weather for most of Monday. I did experience sort of a second wind later in the day, but not enough of one to call myself “well”. I managed to find the energy to wash all the bed linens and turn on the robot mower 😉 , which I forgot to check on, and later found stuck in the corner of the backyard. I even summoned the energy to walk the dogs in the afternoon, which they both appreciated. But then I came back, hurled, and spent more quality time on the toilet.

Yesterday, I watched The Love Boat, an Aaron Spelling/Douglas Cramer television show that aired on ABC throughout most of my childhood. Someone on YouTube uploaded a bunch of episodes from the 1982-83 season and I found myself glued to them for most of the afternoon. Although most of the plot lines were completely ridiculous and implausible, it was still kind of fun to watch. There are even a few pearls of wisdom within the episodes.

Yes, I did have to suspend belief when I watched the late Eva Gabor (born in 1919) playing the mother of a teenaged boy in the early 80s. It was a bit jarring to see Connie Needham (born in 1959), playing the fiance of her mother’s ex boyfriend Gene Barry (born in 1919), only to have her mom steal him back. I’m sure Alan Hale, Jr. and Bob Denver, both of whom were best known for their roles on Gilligan’s Island, had a great time on the show. It’s a trip to watch the crew members romancing the passengers as they live in huge, sumptuous quarters that I know are not the reality for actual cruise crew members. But still, I remember yesterday afternoon, actually stopping in my tracks to ponder when Dr. Adam Bricker (played by Bernie Kopell) said something unexpectedly profound. Or, at least I thought it was profound when he said it… I wish I could remember what he said at this moment, but alas, the thought has passed. Oh well, next time, I’ll make a note of it.

It’s always a treat to see Charo perform. Seriously– Charo is a very talented entertainer, especially when she plays guitar. She was a staple on The Love Boat, though, and I don’t think I ever need to watch her sing “Physical” again. My respect for Charo came when she was on The Surreal Life around 2004 or so. Even though that was a silly show, Charo showed everyone that she’s a lot smarter than anyone ever gave her credit for in her heyday, and she can REALLY play guitar.

Granted, this is supposed to be tacky and obnoxious, but it kind of goes beyond the pale. Charo later said she “cuchi cuchi-ed” all the way to the bank! I think I see a little Las Vegas era Tina Turner in this performance.

The Love Boat also did a couple of on location two-parters during that time period that were fun to watch, especially since Bill and I have been to some of the places they went. In 2013, we did our last SeaDream cruise from Rome to Athens, which included pre-cruise stops in Venice and Florence. The Love Boat, which usually focused on cruises to Mexico, went to Italy and Greece. They did one two-parter based on an Italian cruise, and one was based on a Greek cruise. I noticed they had some pretty high ranking guests for those episodes, too. Both specials made me want to travel! I have wanderlust anyway, but COVID-19 has made it more intense.

I’m sure all of the footage for the Italy and Greece episodes was filmed at the same time, production costs being what they were. I came to the conclusion they were filmed at the same time because I noticed that Lauren Tewes’ hair was the same “Sun-In” bleached blonde in both of the specials, plus they used the same footage of a TWA plane taking off. Forty years later, I’m amazed that people in the 80s thought that orange hydroxide look was attractive. Lisa Whelchel, who guested on the Greek special, had the same bleached hair with brassy overtones. It was pretty ghastly. As I watched the show, I realized it was work for everyone involved. But it also looked like a lot of fun to film.

I know this is a common phenomenon, but it seems like life was a lot more fun in the 80s… I know it probably wasn’t, for many reasons, but I was a kid back then. Actually, looking back on it, the 80s were hard for me, personally, because that was when I was growing up, and I didn’t have the greatest childhood. But we had all these feel good TV shows that were light entertainment. The Love Boat always had happy endings, with people falling in love, getting married, or discovering a new path in life. The staff on the ship was caring, friendly, and always invested in seeing that everyone had a good time. The Love Boat and Fantasy Island were great shows to watch on Saturday nights when I was growing up– at least until we had The Golden Girls, which was a much better show on all levels.

Granted, The Love Boat definitely jumped the shark around the time they kicked Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie McCoy) off the show because of her cocaine addiction and other issues, but it always featured old movie stars alongside up and coming stars of the 80s. It was great fun to watch when I was a kid, and probably more fun to watch now for entirely different reasons. I could imagine someone turning it into a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type of show, where there are snarky comments made for every ridiculous scenario, cheesy band number, or godawful evening gown. Also, I noticed all the women wore dresses no matter what, many of which were pretty frumpy and uncomfortable looking, even if they weren’t having dinner.

As a child, I was oddly enchanted by evening gowns and fancy events. It’s probably because I used to love reading fairytales. I also used to love watching beauty pageants, not because I believed in evaluating women by their looks, but because I loved the evening gowns. I liked the colors and designs. But times change, and just like The Love Boat and silly shows like it, beauty pageants have also gone out of style. Even Miss America, which was probably the most prestigious pageant, has changed its focus more toward promoting scholarship and community service than beauty. I think that’s a positive thing, but I must admit that as a kid, I loved the glamour of 80s television. It was fun to revisit it over the past couple of days, watching The Love Boat, a televised intellectual equivalent to empty calories.

Having now been on some cruises myself, I now realize that there’s a price to be paid for wearing fancy duds, and not just at the cash register. I have a few sparkly dresses, but I don’t wear them well. I find them uncomfortable, and I never want to spend a lot of money on dresses that I won’t wear more than a time or two. Consequently, I don’t really look smashing in an evening gown. Even if I had a really cute figure, I think I would rather just wear a nightgown with no bra, rather than a hot evening dress that is always too long for me and heavy with sequins. And that is exactly what I did yesterday, as my stomach and intestines launched into a few more revolts. I did feel markedly better yesterday, but I wasn’t quite all the way…

Well, I’m happy to report that today, I feel 100% better. I have a spark of energy, and I managed to eat a banana, toast with butter, and drink two cups of coffee with cream without feeling like I needed to puke. I’m sure there will be some residual crud from the virus my body seems to have vanquished, but I think I’m on the mend. It was the first time I’ve been sick in ages. In fact, I don’t remember the last sickness I’ve experienced since moving to Wiesbaden. I was sick more often in Stuttgart, probably because Bill was always traveling to Africa and exposing me to exotic pathogens.

One thing I’ve learned from being sick for the past few days is that I needed a reminder that I don’t enjoy the experience of sickness. In fact, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that I definitely don’t want to catch COVID-19. I have no idea how I got this stomach bug, which I’m guessing is less contagious than COVID is. But being sick for the past few days has SUCKED, even though I was somewhat functional the whole time. Maybe if this bug has done anything, it’s renewed my resolve to stay healthy.

Will I watch more Love Boat today? Maybe… I was watching the second part of the Greek two-parter when Bill got home. He worked late last night and stopped by the store to get me some OTC meds and food. I might watch the second part, just to finish. I could tell I was getting better, though, because as the day wore on, I was getting more tired of the lame storylines. I may need to view something with more substance today, if I choose to watch television at all. It’s amazing the boost one gets when that initial post-sickness energy surge hits.

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silliness

Sweating to Bible Verses!

Yesterday, right after my daily nap, I happened to run across a funny video someone compiled of a Christian aerobics teacher who had a show called Believercise. The compilation was all kinds of crazy. It made me laugh out loud to see the 80s era outfits, hairstyles, and crazy eyes. Then there was the music… Check this out!

I love a little Amy Grant with my stirrup tights. As she jumps, I half expect her foot to slip and send her crashing to the floor.

In this clip, she looks like Sandy Squirrel or something. Look at those shorts and socks!

Sweating to Bible verses.

Not for nothing, though… I like Amy Grant. I think she is genuinely a very talented musician. I like her even better since she went secular and married Vince Gill. Some of her Christian songs are genuinely good, even though I don’t generally like Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) at all… especially 80s era CCM.

Oh lord… I just can’t with this. I see the comments were disabled on this video. Wonder why…

The compilation video was even funnier than these clips are, mainly because whoever did the editing found the craziest of the crazy parts and strung them all together.

Yeah, she really brought the crazy!

After I watched a few of these cringeworthy videos, I went looking to see if any other “Christian” aerobics videos from the 80s exist. Sure enough, I found one. It’s called Blessercise, and it stars the ever perky Mary Chapian. I’m not sure if her name is Mary or Marie, because when I went looking for more information about her, I found a lot of references to a Christian writer named Marie Chapian. Marie looks a lot like Mary and is about the right age to be making this video (she’s 80 now)… but maybe they’re twins.

Nice crotch shot! You can barely hear her chirpy voice over the cheesy Christian pop.

I wonder where this was distributed. Was it shown on a Christian TV station like CBN or PTL? I grew up near CBN’s headquarters and we had a local channel called WYAH that aired on regular TV. They did air exercise shows. I seem to remember they used to have “Morning Stretch” with Joannie Greggains on in the wee hours of the morning. They did not air this show, as far as I can remember. Seems like this would have been perfect, though. Christians could get up in the morning and get their Jazzercise on, listening to peppy God inspired tunes. On an unrelated note, I miss independent TV stations. You never knew what you’d see. Same thing with independent radio stations. Nowadays, everything is owned by a big corporation and syndicated.

It looks kind of like Mary and her minions tried to dress modestly, but I don’t think they quite pull it off. The leotards they’re wearing are really not much less revealing than regular leotards would be. But back in the 80s, it seemed like people were more moderate than they are now. Or, at least that’s how it seems to me.

According to a YouTube comment, this video is called “Take Charge with Cheryl & Friends“. Cheryl Prewitt was Miss America in 1980. The video was made in 1986 and it looks like some of Cheryl could shave off some free time by spending less time shellacking her hair.

I wonder if JimBob Duggar has considered having his daughters make an exercise video? I wonder what they’d wear. They’ve released an album, written books, had TV shows that bored the masses, so why not have an exercise video for Christians who want to work out with fundies? It would be interesting to see what they’d wear… and what music they’d use. Boob doesn’t like dancing or music with a beat that might lead to anyone beating off. But banning those things in his household didn’t stop his son from molesting Boob’s daughters. Why not loosen up on the music “standards” and get the girls in leotards? I bet some guys would buy the videos simply so they could watch them, a la Alyssa Milano’s video from 1988.

Ahh… the 80s were a fun time to be alive… I think my favorite of the Christian aerobics videos is the one done by the Believercise lady. Her name is Cathi Stout and she’s from Texas. She made her videos in the 80s, starting in her living room. They went “viral” 80s style. I guess people took them seriously back then. Maybe some people still do. They just make me laugh. Exercise is a good thing. So is laughter. I think I’d rather take a walk, but if some people want to Blessercize, Believercise, or Take Charge of Their Lives, more power to ’em. I’ll just sit here and giggle.

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