Germany, silliness

Greetings from the Schwarzwald… where pan pipes are considered soothing.

Yesterday was a very busy day. We woke up early, with plans to go to Stuttgart and see our dentist. We were long overdue in seeing our dentist, Dr. B. It had been over two years, mainly due to COVID-19, and the inability to travel with ease coupled with conflicts of schedules. Originally, I had planned for us to stay in Stuttgart, but our favorite hotel was totally booked. Then I remembered how much I liked visiting The Black Forest when we still lived near it. So, even though our hotel is 100 kilometers from our dentist’s office, I booked us in a very nice resort for four nights. But we spent most of yesterday in our old stomping grounds.

I am pleased to report that I had a good checkup. Bill was not as lucky. He’s been complaining about his teeth recently and, sure enough, as the dentist was probing, one of Bill’s fillings fell out. Bill has to come back to Stuttgart next week. He’ll just take the ICE train and do a one day visit. We both got very thorough cleanings that were much needed and appreciated. My gums are a little sensitive today.

After our dentist visit, we had a hearty lunch at a steak joint. Then we met someone in my wine group who was going to be picking up corks. I collect corks from our many bottles of wine to give to the crafters among us. After chatting with the lady from the wine group, we headed back to the hotel, spent a little time at the pool, and then I hung out at the bar, while Bill talked to his therapist online. It was a little strange sitting alone in the bar. This resort is loaded with German couples and families, most of whom don’t seem to speak English. I caught the bartender glancing at me, probably wondering where Bill went.

Over the sound system, they were playing music from the 80s and 90s. We’re talking Celine Dion, All 4 One, Boys to Men, and Phil Collins. It was actually a little depressing. For one thing, those songs were all hits when I was a lot younger. As I was listening, I was reminded of my 20s, when I was younger, healthier, and probably prettier, although you’d never know it by my non-existent love life in those days. I had images in my head of going to bars and feeling invisible and broke.

Add in the fact that while this hotel is very pretty and has old school charm, it’s also a bit dated. And so, I felt almost like I was in a time warp, accented by the outfits some of the people were wearing. Not that I can talk about that myself…

This hotel also pipes annoying Muzak into the halls and restaurant. It’s basically a step up from the horrible Muzak my dad used to force me to listen to on our car trips. Bill and I were eating breakfast and “Careless Whisper” by Wham came on, only it had been softened into a soothing version of the original. And that arrangement included pan pipes!

Who in the hell wants to listen to pan pipes in an 80s song about breaking up? It reminds me of the time I heard a Muzak version of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses.

I know… I know… who pays attention to the music piped into restaurants? I do. I’m obviously not the only one. I am a frustrated musician. Every time I hear pan pipes, I’m reminded of Zamfir. He used to be on ads in 80s and 90s, selling his pan pipe versions of the day’s hit songs. It made me want to tear out my hair.

Yikes! I guess I can see why some people like this kind of music… but it makes me cringe.

In college, I joined Sigma Alpha Iota, which is an honorary music fraternity for women (as opposed to a sorority). Pan pipes are part of SAI’s insignia. Members have pins they wear that have pan pipes in the middle of them. I appreciated being a sister of SAI, but I’ll be damned if I will willingly listen to pan pipes by choice. I’d rather visit the dentist, as long as he doesn’t play Zamfir’s greatest hits during the exam.

As Bill and I were discussing the pan pipe infused hit song, “Careless Whisper”, originally made famous by George Michael, somehow our conversation morphed into chat about patient privacy. Germans actually have a very interesting approach to privacy. Bill was lamenting about how our dentist, who was trained in the United States and is half-American on his dad’s side, doesn’t have any qualms about talking about other people’s issues. HIPAA does not exist in Germany. So Dr. B will tell Bill about my teeth, and he will tell me about Bill’s teeth. He doesn’t bat an eye… and in fact, he speaks loudly enough that anyone in the waiting room can hear him.

But… people who commit crimes in Germany are often not publicly named. Here, there exists the right to be “forgotten”. They don’t go in for canceling people. So, if someone commits a crime, he or she can do time and then try to rejoin society. Read a newspaper about a crime and you’ll see a photo of the alleged perpetrator, face blocked by a binder and first name and last initial used instead the whole name.

Germany also has an annoying Data Privacy law, which requires Web sites to state upfront that they use cookies. Every time I hit a site in Germany, I get a pop up that tells me about cookies… and any site that doesn’t want to comply is unavailable over here without the use of a VPN.

I’m sure there’s more to the privacy law than pop up ads. A few years ago, when I was having issues with quitting Hello Fresh, I read that if I wanted to make a big stink, I could remind them of the data security law to light a fire under them. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, although there was a lot of swearing involved with getting them to completely delete my account.

Anyway, no one screams about HIPAA here, because there is no such thing. Our dentist will happily talk about my last remaining baby tooth, which will turn 50 next year, should I live that long and it doesn’t get abscessed or anything. He’s probably told his other patients about it. Every time I see him, he mentions it. I think he said that prior to meeting me, the oldest person he had ever met with baby teeth was about 35.

Yesterday, as we were driving back to the Black Forest, we passed by our former digs… or, actually, we didn’t go by where we lived. We just passed the town, and where we used to turn to go home. It was a little surreal. We spent four years there. It was mostly a good time for us, except for dealing with our former landlady, who seemed determine to paint us as people we aren’t and make us pay for things that weren’t our responsibility. That experience kind of soured me a little… I would have preferred to have left on much better terms, as we have in almost every other living situation we’ve been in as a married couple. But I guess this kind of thing happens sometimes.

I tried to appreciate how truly beautiful the area where we lived is. It really was a naturally beautiful place. Where we are now isn’t nearly as idyllic, although it is also an attractive area. It’s just that the Black Forest is extraordinarily beautiful, even at the edges, which was where we lived. I miss being able to take off on weekends and be in the forest, where there are stunning views everywhere you look. And it’s nice to be back down here… Germany is different in this area than it is where we are now. God help me, if you were to ask me where I feel more at home in Germany, I’d have to say the Stuttgart area… as whacked out as it can be on many levels. I do love it here… and it’s great to be back. I hope we can do some more short visits. I guess if COVID keeps up, we may keep traveling within Germany.

Well… Mr. Bill has come back to the room. He’s excited, because the sun is out, and he wants to go for a walk. I suppose I owe it to myself to take a walk and exercise my old bones. It would be a good idea, since today is high falutin’ culinary day. We have reservations at two fancy restaurants today, since there are weddings tomorrow. So I’ll stop here… and try not to get too upset over the news… or pan pipes arrangements in piped in music from the 80s and 90s. The Schwarzwald is beautiful… but it probably appeals most to people of a certain age. Alas, I am reaching that age.

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musings

My blog is now more like Muzak…

A few years ago, when I was still writing on my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife, I wrote a post called “The blog equivalent to Muzak… on seeking a return to obscurity”. I was tired of the drama that often erupted on my old blog and wanted to go back to a less stressful outlet for my posts. Too many unfriendly people were reading the old blog and stirring up shit. The shit stirring was making it a lot harder to do what I love. When I first started writing my blog, I didn’t even share my posts with friends. I was pretty anonymous, mainly because my husband’s younger daughter was still a minor. I wanted to stay somewhat clandestine for that reason. I became more open once she turned 18; and that was fine, until we moved back to Stuttgart– which is a microcosm of American military types. That’s when all the drama ramped up.

In my initial “Muzak” piece, I lamented the drama that had erupted. I was so mindfucked at that time that I was apologizing to people who were offended by my writing. I now think I was wrong to do that. I can’t control how people react to what I write. It’s never my intention to be hurtful when I write. I mostly try to be honest, even though sometimes I dip into rants. Rants are fun to write and are probably entertaining for some people to read. But there’s often someone who gets offended. Sometimes, they leave me comments. I think of my blog as my “home”. People visit it because it’s open. But they can only do that because I paid for the space and left it open. Ultimately, it’s my “house”… and I shouldn’t have to apologize for what’s at my house, as long as nothing I’ve written is libelous.

At the time I wrote that post about blog “Muzak”, it was October 2018. We were about to move, and I was pretty stressed out about a lot of things. I’d say about 75% of the reason I was stressed out was because of our former landlady. I dreaded having to deal with her as we prepared to leave Stuttgart. She had gone from being somewhat annoying and intrusive in the earliest months of our time in her house, to being full on passive aggressive and hostile. She was trying to force us to pay for an awning that she’d neglected to have properly fixed by a repairperson. She blamed me for “negligence” when the wind blew it over, and added on a lot of insulting comments about my character for good measure. She didn’t seem to realize that she was negligent for not having the awning fixed by someone more qualified than her husband. She is damned lucky no one was hurt or killed when it fell. I resented the hell out of the disrespectful way she treated Bill and me. But I soon found myself unable to process those feelings on my blog, because a spy was sticking her nose in our business. I guess that’s an occupational hazard of blogging, especially when the writing is honest.

One of the people who had lived in the house before us was monitoring my writing. Now, I’m not that naive. I had a feeling she might be gossiping about me with her “friend”, the ex landlady. But then, months later after we moved, she later came right out and told me, quite brazenly, what she was doing, apparently expecting me to apologize to her. Then she tried to shame me for the content of my blog. She basically said I was being mean and cruel– having made totally wrong assumptions about some fiction content I’d written– and she put it all on me that Bill and I were leaving our former home on bad terms. I was both horrified and angry that this person felt the need to monitor and harass me– especially since I really hadn’t written anything that was that earth shattering. She was probably hoping we’d take the blame for damages done when she lived at the house. I also think I was correct when I suspected that she and her husband had moved out of that house early because ex landlady was driving them crazy, too. She once left me an indignant comment, claiming that my suspicions were way off base. She later deleted the comment. Why? Because she was being dishonest and didn’t want to leave the proof in plain view.

I hadn’t written anything directly accusatory; she’d objected to two sentences in which I wondered if they’d been completely truthful about their sudden mid tour move. In a comment she later deleted, she’d insisted that she’d told us the truth and that I shouldn’t assume anything about what happened. I think the real issue was that I’d actually hit the nail on the head. If she and ex landlady were that close, she shouldn’t have been worried about what I wrote. Rather than leveling with me about her bullshit, she decided to try to censor me and bully us into letting ex landlady illegally withhold our deposit. She made things so much worse than they needed to be by meddling. If she had just minded her own business and not tried to make trouble for me, it’s possible that we never would have ended up going the lawsuit route.

Add in the fact that a lot of other Americans in Stuttgart were reading my blogs. Granted, I had openly shared the travel blog, because I had lived in Stuttgart before and I enjoy writing. The travel blog is pretty benign, but it was connected to my mainstream blog. Sharing the travel blog ultimately led to unwanted attention from people reading the other blog. So, by October 2018, I had determined that I wanted to go back into obscurity. I just wanted to be able to write in peace. I determined that there’s a downside to being “famous”. I wasn’t really famous, per se, but I did become somewhat known in the Stuttgart military community, and that led to notoriety that I didn’t enjoy.

A few months after we moved to Wiesbaden, the flying monkey from our former house sent me a private message that led to my final decision to move the blog to where it is now. The funny thing is, I had blocked her the night before I saw her message. She must have sent it before I had her blocked, and I didn’t notice it for a couple of days. That’s unusual for me, but when I saw her message, it really offended me. She’d made accusations about some content I’d written that were flat out false, and decided to interfere in my personal business.

The truth was, I had been wanting to move the blog anyway, for several reasons. I had noticed that the more professional blogs weren’t on Blogspot, which seemed to get wonkier by the year. The WordPress platform has more functionality. I can make some posts open to certain people. I can make some private. There are also themes I can choose from with different features. Yes, it costs money, where Blogspot didn’t. But it has a nicer look and it somewhat easier to use.

I didn’t like having Google as a landlord. I own the domain for this blog, so I can write whatever I want without getting a nastygram from Google about “inappropriate” content. I once got dinged on Blogspot because I had a picture of a used pink dildo on a post about a woman who had decided to try to sell it on a yard sale page as a joke. I was informed that the photo of the pink dildo, which looked like a chewed up dog toy (and probably was used as one) was pornographic, even if there was nothing at all inappropriate in the story that accompanied it. It was a funny post about people getting uptight about the sale item.

I get fewer rude comments by drive by readers on this blog. Part of the reason for that is because I moderate all comments from new commenters on this blog. The other part is because this blog is only now picking up steam. It took some time for it to attract readers, which made writing here kind of painful at first. But now I’ve got more people reading… a totally different audience, actually, which is a nice thing. I have fewer immature people from the military community reading and more people who are actually interested in what I write and/or me as a person.

So… all in all, the move to this platform was a good thing. I buried a lot of toxic waste, too. The old blog has a lot of rants about personal issues Bill and I went through earlier in our marriage. While I found the writing kind of therapeutic and totally justifiable, strangers who don’t know us would think I was crazy or toxic and leave comments to that effect. Granted… I have my moments of toxicity, but I am nothing compared to my husband’s ex wife. She has done some truly diabolical things over the years… terribly hurtful things that have affected a lot of people besides Bill and me. I needed a place to put that stuff. Maybe I should have kept it private, but I felt that some people might be comforted that they aren’t the only ones dealing with a crazy ex… and some of what we went through was truly incredible.

Before I met Bill, I had never known anyone whose children were completely and unfairly turned against them the way Bill’s kids were. Bill is definitely not someone who deserves that treatment. I know some people don’t believe that, but it’s the truth. He doesn’t have a mean or irresponsible bone in his body. However, he is mild mannered and empathic, so he attracts bullies and people who think they can steamroll him. He’s come a long way in the years I’ve known him in being more assertive. For instance, I’m pretty sure our ex landlady thought she could take advantage of Bill because he was always nice and conciliatory toward her. He never raised his voice to her or got obviously angry. I think she assumed he’s a wimp. I also think she’s taken advantage of a lot of Americans. She found out the hard way that his being kind and nice isn’t akin to his being a chump. Also… while I’m not a mean person by nature, I am not as nice as Bill is… and he has to share a bed with me. Another important lesson she should have learned is that it’s not wise to wage war with someone who plans war for a living. And that is literally what Bill does.

For all of her complaints about me, one thing ex landlady can never say I did is sabotage her ability to get new tenants. I have noticed on Bookoo that landlords are starting to advertise their places and disgruntled former tenants are running warning ads. I’ve seen two of them so far. Both places were also blacklisted by the military housing office. We didn’t have ex landlady blacklisted before she got her most recent tenant. She’s probably blacklisted now, though, and for good reason. We got a judgment against her.

I guess I like the quieter, more Muzak, less drama oriented version of my blog. I don’t like dealing with people getting pissed off at me for expressing myself. I can assure anyone who reads my blog that I don’t deliberately try to upset people. I don’t wake up with the express intention of causing anyone problems. But if I can’t write freely, I can’t be authentic. And if I can’t be authentic, I really might as well be writing something as bland as Muzak. The truth is, I am not the kind of person who writes about hearts and flowers. If I tried to write that way, it would not be interesting or successful. I liken it to wearing shoes on the wrong feet. Maybe I could make it work, but it wouldn’t be comfortable for me or anyone reading. Besides, there are plenty of chirpy mommy bloggers out there. I’m not a mommy, nor am I “chirpy”. But I’m also not evil, irresponsible, or all that mean and cruel. I just don’t suffer fools or foolishness.

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