controversies, lessons learned, musings

Judging a “lemon” by its rind…

I tried to stay pretty busy yesterday, and I mostly succeeded. I got off to a somewhat late start, as I woke up after 6:00 AM, which isn’t so common for me anymore. Then I made coffee, fed and cleaned up after Noyzi, and started a load of laundry. I did a longer cycle so I could focus more on yesterday’s rambling post that wasn’t particularly tight. While I’ll admit it was a stream of consciousness type post, it did turn out interesting, at least for me. As I read it, I had all of these memories of my younger days, when it seemed like I had forever before I would be considered “older”…

I actually needed some help getting started writing yesterday. There’s a lot I could write about, but I don’t feel knowledgeable enough at this point. And it’s not really what’s on my mind, anyway… I mentioned yesterday that I went down “Memory Lane”, starting with reading old posts about our move to Wiesbaden. I’ve written about that a lot, but I don’t know if I’ve conveyed just how totally difficult that move was to make. It seems like it was just a bad landlady/tenant situation, but it was really so much more than that.

That situation with our former landlady really drove home to me how easy it is to fall into true mind fuckery when you’re dealing with an abusive person. They can make you feel like you’re worthless, as if everything is your fault… or as if you don’t deserve better. It’s hard to break out of that mindset once you enter it. It’s so hard when you trust someone and they betray you, or they turn out to be someone totally different from the person they seemed to be.

Granted, in ex landlady’s case, I did have a subtle warning. There was something about her demeanor that tipped me off at our first meeting. Under normal circumstances, I might not have been so eager to rent her house. Actually, I wasn’t that eager to move into the house, as I was to finally be settled. The summer of 2014 was a very difficult one for us… from Bill’s Army retirement, to my father’s somewhat sudden death, to the very rushed international move to Germany after we found nothing viable in Texas… We were vulnerable.

In August 2014, we still had sharp memories of September 2007, when we spent six weeks in a grubby German Gasthaus in Vaihingen, where there was visible mold on the bathroom ceiling and the place reeked of stale cigarettes. Today, I would have insisted that we move to a better hotel, but we had much less money and experience in 2007, and Bill was fresh from the war zone in Iraq (which he spent with a narcissistic boss). Besides, that particular hotel was in walking distance of where Bill was working, and it was very dog friendly. So we stayed for six weeks. It wasn’t all bad, but I certainly didn’t want to do it again.

So, when we met former landlady, even though I had some mental misgivings about her, I took the former tenant and her husband at their word that she was “great” and my gut feelings weren’t “right”. That was a mistake.

Although it wasn’t all bad, just like our six weeks in a really crummy Gasthaus in 2007, it’s not an experience I’d ever want to recreate. Never before had we ever had such an intrusive situation with a landlord/landlady, even though I’ve seen lots of videos and written plenty of accounts of nightmare property managers, landlords, and landladies. We’ve have had other rental situations that sucked somewhat, but none as personally soul crushing as dealing with our previous landlady. What made it very different and so much worse was the former tenant.

It was one of those perfect storm situations… I’m a blogger, and I made the mistake of sharing my posts in a somewhat small community. People in the military community– I’m sorry to say– are not always the most open-minded people you’d ever meet. You’d think they would be, given how much and how often military folks move to places worldwide. I don’t mean to say that people in that community aren’t diverse, nor do I mean to say that everyone is an asshole. But there are a lot of people who have rigid mindsets about things. Someone who dares to write a blog called The Overeducated Housewife is automatically going to catch shit. πŸ˜‰

I do know that some people down in the Stuttgart community got some good things from my writings. Quite a lot of people told me they tried restaurants I reviewed, or they visited places I wrote about. But there were so many who just wrote off my efforts because they didn’t like the name of the blog and lacked the desire to find out why I titled it the way I did. How dare someone refer to themselves as “overeducated”, even if they literally are for what they do every day? πŸ˜‰

I don’t actually think I am “overeducated”. There is obviously a whole lot I don’t know. I also don’t believe that being “educated” is the same as being “intelligent” or “smart”. I just didn’t need to spend seven years in college to be a housewife. If I had known this was going to be my future, I wouldn’t have bothered with college or grad school… but then, I probably never would have met Bill, either. THAT is why this blog is titled as it is… and it came into existence several years before I started engaging with military folks who might be offended by it. In fact, the beginnings of my blog were very humble, as I didn’t even share my posts on Facebook. It took a long time before it evolved into anything people read on a regular basis.

Former tenant probably wouldn’t have been so involved in our situation if I hadn’t been a blogger. Our situation with ex landlady might have turned out like every other situation in which someone hands off a “lemon” to someone else.

Here’s a for instance. Back in 2003, Bill and I adopted an adorable beagle named Flea who had been abandoned in rural Virginia. Flea was a very fancy beagle. His original owner likely paid a lot for him. But, he got separated from the pack when they were hunting. When Flea was eventually found on the side of a road, he was skinny, covered in fleas and ticks, had Lyme Disease, and heartworms. The lady who rescued him got him cleaned up and offered him to a beagle rescue, as she also fostered him for them. The beagle rescue gave her money to get Flea treated for heartworms and Lyme Disease. When we met her, she’d seemed so nice and committed to Flea. But then it turned out she’d never completed his heartworm treatment. Instead, she pocketed the money for the second half of the treatment. So, when we adopted him, we were unaware that he still had heartworms.

Months later, when we discovered Flea’s heartworms weren’t all dead, we tried to contact his rescuer… who then promptly ghosted us. Flea also turned out to be quite a bit older than she’d said he was. Flea wasn’t a “lemon”, per se. He was actually a fantastic dog. But we got stuck dealing with his problems, because someone lied to us. Fortunately, the beagle rescue paid for him to be treated a second time for heartworms. However, heartworm treatment isn’t easy on dogs. I think it took a toll on his health in the long run. We had him for six years before he got prostate cancer, which eventually killed him.

Just like the situation with Flea turned out to be, I guess that former tenant felt the need to get out of her rental agreement with the ex landlady. And she was eager enough to get away from her that she wasn’t entirely truthful or forthcoming about her when we showed up looking for a place to live. We were sitting ducks… because we really needed a place to settle after a tough summer. Former tenant probably figured there was no harm in what she did… I’m sure she totally justified it. Fair enough. Maybe ex landlady really was as wonderful to her as former tenant claimed, and she really did just need to move closer to her job. There was probably even an element of truth to what she told us… but it wasn’t the *whole* truth.

I figure that if I weren’t a prolific and somewhat well-known blogger in the Stuttgart military community, former tenant would have just ghosted us, too. Ex landlady would have been “our problem”, even though the two of them were “friends”. Ex landlady probably would have complained and gossipped to her about us, but former tenant could have just laughed it off. She wouldn’t have been at all concerned about what I was thinking, saying, or writing. But because I was a somewhat well-known blogger, and she had loved Germany and was still following the community on social media, she couldn’t stop herself from following me… and she got upset that I was candid about our experiences.

Instead of realizing that I have the right to my opinions and perspectives and simply unfollowing me, former tenant felt the need to try to control me from afar. Not only did she deceive me, she also tried to silence me… and she seriously misjudged and underestimated me as a person. To her, I guess I was just a sucker who had the “audacity” to label myself “the overeducated housewife”. She probably thought I was just some silly twit– certainly not a match for her. She tried to take advantage of the fact that I’m basically a good person, using shame, obligation, fear, and guilt as a means of trying to fix the narrative. I complied with her for a time, but then wised up about what she was doing.

The irony is, if I weren’t a blogger, Bill and I probably would have been stuck paying for another lemon. Writers are recorders, so I had photos, blog posts, and bits of history that I could show proving the ex landlady’s version of events wrong. We probably would have won, anyway, but it wouldn’t have been quite so handily. Still, when all of that was going on, I felt like shit. I certainly had no desire to be on bad terms with anyone, nor did we want to sue anyone. But I’m also not about to be someone’s patsy.

As if that situation wasn’t bizarre enough… then I looked up former tenant last year. Curiosity killed the cat. I should have learned my lesson about not following people who show me who they are. That’s when I found out that former tenant took her own life. That makes me wonder about a whole lot of things… and it’s also left me with a burden.

All we had wanted to do was find a place to live in 2014. Now we’re left with this very strange chapter in our lives. We’ll probably always think about it and talk about it, and other people probably won’t understand. Some will even try to blame us, even though I only met former tenant in person a couple of times in 2014. Any interaction we had after we rented that house was initiated by her, after she read my blog. I doubt I had anything to do with her decision, but I don’t know. All I can think is that she had a lot of issues that led her to make a tragic decision. Her decision had ripple effects beyond her immediately family and friends that she’ll never even realize.

I never thought I’d ever be a blogger. I did like writing and likely would have loved a “real job” as a writer. But even when I was a teenager, I didn’t really let myself hope writing was how I could earn a living or make my way in the world. I used to have a lot of ideas and dreams about what my “adult life” would be. I figured I’d have a career and probably a family. As I got older, it seemed less likely that either convention was going to be in my future. I didn’t really date much, nor did I have great luck at impressing employers that would pay me a salary on which I could live comfortably.

Granted, after I finished graduate school, I might have managed to find a job to support myself properly. I didn’t really have a chance, as just after I graduated, I moved in with Bill, and six months later, married into the military lifestyle, with its constant upheavals. I was familiar with it, since my mom was an Air Force wife. But by the time I came along, my dad’s career in the Air Force was winding down. I didn’t know the realities, because my parents ran their own business for over half of my childhood.

I think marrying Bill was the right decision, and the best choice I could have made. But it definitely derailed the plans I tried to make for myself. I don’t think they were the right plans, anyway… but they were MY plans. And now I’m sitting here in Germany, writing this blog, wondering where it all went.

Yesterday’s post was a meandering stream of consciousness piece. It started in one place and ended somewhere else I hadn’t really meant it to go. Alex’s first comment to me kind of took me aback. He’d offered me consolation, which kind of distressed me. But, looking back at it today, I can see why Alex left a comment of reassurance. The end of yesterday’s post was about how I felt after reading the post that had inspired it. I was so very angry about the audacity of our ex landlady, treating us like we were the worst kind of people. It pissed me off anew, and brought up some old feelings of shame and worthlessness passed to me from someone whose opinion used to mean a lot to me.

No, I don’t mean ex landlady. I mainly did what I could to appease her, which I now realize was far too much. I mean my dad. I don’t think he hated me. I think he even loved me on one level. But he often treated me badly, and acted like he didn’t like me very much. He took out a lot of his frustrations on me, and treated me like an embarrassment. When I was a young woman, I realized that he was very often abusive to me, and that treatment shaped how I felt about myself. Some of that stuff still comes up today, as I try to stay out of trouble and hesitate to engage with people. I figure they won’t like me… and when some of them don’t, I get bitter and more reluctant to get to know people. When people treat me poorly, I remember it forever and hold it against them, even if their bad attitude doesn’t even have that much to do with me, personally.

There were a lot of times when ex landlady reminded me a lot of my dad. As a grown woman, I can now react in ways that weren’t safe when I was a child. I can speak out, for instance. So I often do. But doing that didn’t fit in with former tenant’s agenda, and I suspect she thought she could manipulate and control me. So she tried to do that, and I tolerated it for awhile… until I didn’t anymore, and the shit hit the fan. She took issue that I figured out what she’d done… passed off her lemon to Bill and me and expected us to see it as a favor. She wanted me to shut up and pretend I enjoyed the sourness of what she’d done. Because it suited her, and her agenda. Who cared about how it affected us?! We’re just a couple of suckers and losers, right? Obviously, if ex landlady didn’t like us, it was entirely our fault, and it was our responsibility as Americans to make her like us

What a load of shit that is. Seriously… I can’t even believe it! We’re supposed to tolerate abuse and PAY for the privilege, because former tenant is/was friends with the ex landlady, and she doesn’t want to offend her or anyone in her family. If there’s a problem, it’s not because of anyone but me… and it’s entirely my fault. Again… it’s a lot of bullshit that doesn’t even have the courtesy of smelling lemony fresh! I can’t believe we wasted a single year on that crap, let alone four!

Well… at least it’s over now. We did prevail. But, like the proverbial lemon, that situation left a sour taste in our mouths. I’m left a lot more wary than I once was. I don’t share things like I used to. I’m not eager to get to know people like I used to be. I trust people less. The memory of that ordeal leaves me a bit depressed on some level. And the fact that former tenant killed herself makes it all the worse, because now it seems like I should feel sorry for her. Or at least act like I feel sorry for her. Really, I’m just angry with her on many levels. I’m sorry she felt the need to off herself, but I also realize that I spent weeks agonizing, feeling totally traumatized and fucked up, and the truth was, I wasn’t the fucked up one at all!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a believer in destiny… We were probably supposed to meet these people, and these experiences were probably supposed to happen. We’ll just have to learn from it, move on, and either keep our lemons to ourselves or be honest about them. Sometimes lemons are a good thing, after all. In the grand scheme of things, this particular lemon at least taught us to be wiser, and we got to see some beautiful parts of the Black Forest. So that ought to count for something, right?

Standard
communication, family, memories, mental health, narcissists

That’s not really how I remember what happened…

Bill left for Bavaria yesterday afternoon. Before he left, he made me lunch and started the dishwasher. I swear, I have the loveliest husband. It makes me wonder if people think I’m a shrew. It seems like the best guys end up with the most complicated women. A lot of very kind, considerate men are pretty co-dependent, meaning they go to extremes to people please and not speak up for what they want or need. There was a time when my husband was a lot like that, although he’s definitely much better now. He’s been seeing some great progress in his work with a Jungian therapist, but I also do my best to reassure him that he doesn’t have to be a people pleaser to keep me in his life.

I’m not lying when I say that Bill is a very considerate guy. However, I don’t think he’s like that solely because he’s desperate to keep the relationship going. I think he knows full well I’m not going to leave him. I truly adore him, but I also know that if we ever did break up, I’d probably end up living in a cardboard box. πŸ˜‰

The truth is, Bill is a very service oriented person. He genuinely enjoys taking care of people. I am the lucky recipient of his attentions, and our relationship just works. That is an amazing thing. It’s a great thing to still be able to laugh heartily with your spouse after almost twenty-one years of marriage. We really miss each other when we aren’t together.

That was the mindset I was in last night, as I tried to decide how to spend my evening. I was watching political videos on YouTube, but they were annoying and distressing me. I can barely stand to listen to Donald Trump speak, never mind the rest of the idiots who comprise today’s Republican party, even when what I’m watching is a critical video. YouTube now has so many ads to get through… it can be a very frustrating exercise to make it through any commentary video. Even the really good content providers– the ones who have scored product endorsement deals– are annoying these days. You get the YouTube ads, plus their plugs in the videos.

I ended up looking at the movies I downloaded to see if I could find one I hadn’t yet seen that would appeal. I decided to watch The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021), which is a dramatized retelling of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s life story. I remember watching a documentary by the same name that came out in 2000 or so. The documentary was interesting, although I haven’t seen it recently. I remember Jen from Fundie Fridays praising the 2021 movie, which was why I downloaded it some months ago. So last night, I decided to watch the movie, which was very good and surprisingly moving. I mean, at the end, I had a lump in my throat. Tammy Faye seemed like a genuinely Christlike person. What a shame she got tangled up with Jim Bakker.

Then during the credits, Tammy Faye’s daughter, Tammy Sue, sang a song her mother had made famous. I was absolutely delighted by Tammy Sue’s voice. I’d heard her sing before, but it was when she was much younger. The song she sang for the soundtrack of The Eyes of Tammy Faye was really beautiful. And anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t issue those kinds of compliments easily.

I was feeling pretty good as the credits rolled. I noticed the time. It was about 9:30 PM. I wondered if maybe I might like to watch something else, when I got a private message from one of my sisters. She was writing to let me know that she was thinking of going to a birthday celebration for our mom next month. It’s being arranged by my other two sisters.

The day before my own birthday last month, I was invited to attend, but the notice was too short. And… well… I just don’t enjoy family gatherings much. They’re too toxic for me. The last thing I want to do is spend thousands of dollars and fly eight hours to spend several days fighting with my relatives. So, I declined the invite.

My mom later told me that she’d asked my sister to invite me, even though she knew I wouldn’t come. I have repeatedly explained to her why I don’t like our family gatherings. They usually require a few days of recovery, and often add unpleasant fight memories to the big bank of them I already have in my mind. But even if I wanted to go to Virginia, it simply isn’t feasible during the summer when I have to arrange for Noyzi to be boarded. The Hundepension books up quickly for summer dates, especially in August. We also just took a big vacation, which cost a lot and used up a lot of Bill’s leave.

Sometimes I feel sad that I don’t want to go home anymore. I do love my mom. I love my sisters, too. I just don’t want to be around them all at the same time. It always devolves into traumatic episodes. Most of the time we’re all together, and we’re alone and not, say, at a family reunion with the extended family, there’s a big fight. I haven’t had one of those in a long time. I don’t miss the fights. But I do wish we all got along better. It would be nice if we could. It’s not only up to me.

The last time I did a “reunion” with the immediate family was at Christmas 2003. I’ve written about the incident a lot. It marked a turning point for me, and what I’m willing to tolerate, now that I’m an adult and have the freedom to opt out of the drama. The short version of the story is, my sister– the one who messaged me last night– asked Bill and me to give her a ride to our parents’ house. I reluctantly agreed, but I told her ahead of time that if there was a fight– no matter who started it– we would be leaving. If she was okay with that, we would give her a ride. She agreed.

We went down to Gloucester, and sure enough, there was a fight. It involved me and another sister, who criticized me for talking about Ex. I had only been married for a year at that point, and I was still shocked and amazed by how incredibly toxic Ex is. So I was talking about it, and my sister proceeded to sanctimoniously lecture me, even going as far as to tell me about how important it was to “be a good Christian” and forgive Ex (as if I really care about that). Naturally, that really pissed me off, because I thought it was mean, discounting, and disrespectful.

Bill and I were also relegated to a very uncomfortable pull out couch in the “office” in my parents’ former home (a converted garage). I had started my period, and was feeling yucky, and now I was angry with my sister for chastising me. I decided that I just wanted to go home.

The sister who had gotten a ride with us had other plans. She wanted us to take her to Williamsburg, where there are lots of outlet stores and restaurants, and drive her around all day. Bill and I had no extra money for shopping at that time, so we couldn’t shop with her. Also, having spent plenty of shopping days with my sister, I knew the day would involve watching her put salespeople through their paces, until she either ran out of energy or money. I wanted no part of that, so I reiterated that we were going to go home the next day.

She then immediately tried to talk Bill into changing my mind, which he wouldn’t have been able to do even if he’d actually wanted to do that. It occurs to me that it’s another level of disrespectful for my sister to actually think my husband would listen to her over me. He shares a bed with me! She must have a pretty low opinion of me to assume Bill would want to please her over his own wife.

The next morning, my sister was still in bed as we were loading up the car. I told her we were going to go. She proceeded to throw a HUGE tantrum. She was screaming at me like a petulant child, and had the nerve to try to make demands. I remember looking at her and calmly saying, “You’re not in a position to make demands of me. It’s my car, and I want to go home.”

She started yelling about needing to dry her hair so she wouldn’t catch a cold. She stomped out of the room to get the hair dryer. I realized that waiting for that would mean she’d be in my car for several hours, angry and rude because she hadn’t gotten her way. I turned to Bill and said, “Let’s just go.” And we left. My other sister later laughed about that incident and said my temper tantruming sister had been furious that we’d left her in Gloucester. But then, apparently, she’d said something indicating that she was impressed that I had a backbone.

At first, I was really upset about leaving my sister. But then, after about a half hour or so, I calmed down and realized that what had just happened was another major victory for me in the fight against being abused and manipulated by my family members. We got home without incident and had a much better time in our own space, and in our own bed. My sister resumed speaking to me about a year later.

The following year, when Ex tried to manipulate me into agreeing to spend Christmas with her at my father-in-law’s house, I had the strength to say no. It was because of what had happened the year prior. I realized that I didn’t even want to spend the holidays with my own family members. There was no way in HELL I was spending it with my husband’s ex wife in my in-laws’ house. And although there was tremendous pressure to surrender to Ex’s delusions, I found the nerve to do what I wanted to do– stay home… which turned out to be the right thing to do. I can pretty much promise that if I had attended that Christmas with Ex, it would not have gone well. And it’s not because I wouldn’t have tried to be civil, but because she’s a narcissist who has to have everything her way.

Back around 2015, I was thinking about this chain of events while chatting with my sister. I thought she might be mature enough to talk about it. I even tried to frame that incident in a positive way. Ultimately, what happened at my parents’ house in 2003 was a good thing, because I finally stood up to people who had manipulated me my whole life, and left me nursing deep psychological wounds. Because I did that, I had the strength and wisdom not to give in to Ex’s crazy demands.

It was a monumental decision for me to refuse to attend that Christmas with Ex. That decision might have even been instrumental in making sure my marriage to Bill would be successful. Because if I had given in to Ex and attended that Christmas, there might have been a huge fight… or, even if it had gone “well”, she would have have a precedent to suggest doing it again. The definition of the gathering’s “going well” would have entailed my keeping my mouth shut the whole time while Ex made disrespectful comments to Bill and me, monopolized everyone’s time, and hovered over Bill’s visitation with his kids.

Who’s got the time and the money for that experience, especially since no one going to that fiasco, except Bill, even liked me? Why would I want to spend time and money, on the biggest holiday of the year, in that miserable situation? Ex is a NARCISSIST, and her aim is to control everyone. Those who can’t be controlled are jettisoned. My being there would just give her information and supply her with fuel. Or, it would tempt me to commit a felony. πŸ˜‰

In 2015, I had wanted to explain all of this to my sister. I wanted to tell her that the fight we had in 2003 had, in a weird way, actually turned out to be constructive for me. But, when I brought it up, she got very angry… and she framed a narrative that I didn’t recognize at all. She made herself the victim of the whole thing. According to her, our other sister, who had lectured me about talking about Ex, was the one who should have been “punished”, not her.

She conveniently forgot about the HUGE tantrum she threw, complete with insults and swearing. She was entitled to speak to me that way, because it wasn’t her fault that there had been a fight between me and our sister. But I had told her from the get go that if there was a fight– and I didn’t care who started it— I would be leaving. She had agreed to those terms. And when the fight happened and I tried to enforce the terms we agreed upon, she tried to change them. When that didn’t work, she became toxic. And when I refused to acquiesce to her tantrum and left the house without her, she became pathetic. When I wanted to talk about it with her in 2015, she got mad at me for reminding her of that painful incident in which she ended up having to take a bus home. She plainly considered herself a victim. And when I told her that our other sister had said tantrum sister been “proud” of me for leaving her, tantrum sister turned that into a victim situation, too. She denied saying that, and blamed our sister for “telling lies” to me. (Um… I don’t think she lied…)

Well, last night, tantrum sister brought up that 2003 era fight again. She was ranting about our mother and our sisters, telling me outrageous stories about crazy, “toxic” things they have supposedly said and done to her over the past few years. Granted, if there is any truth to what she said, it is pretty fucked up stuff. However, experience has taught me that this sister has a very skewed view of things. She embellishes and twists and takes things out of context. And she ALWAYS makes herself out to be the aggrieved one.

Tantrum sister never mentions her part in these conflicts she has with others. In her stories, she’s always the innocent victim, being “picked on” by everyone else. Once again, she blamed our sister for being “toxic” and causing her to be punished. I didn’t bother trying to tell her that– no– she got left in Gloucester because of her decision to throw a huge tantrum when things didn’t go her way. Yes, the fight with our other sister had set up the reason why I wanted to leave early, but she had to take a bus home because of HER bad behavior and blatant and disrespectful attempts to manipulate Bill and me.

I have learned that correcting my sister’s memories isn’t a productive exercise. It will only lead to pain. I can’t change the fact that she won’t assume responsibility for her conflicts with other people. Trying to confront her over these discrepancies generally turns into a fight, and fighting with her online was the last thing I wanted to do on a Sunday night, after having just watched a good movie. So, I let her rant a bit, then told her it was getting late, and I was going to go to bed… And then I thanked God for the ocean that separates me from my sisters.

I did gently push back, though, when she started trying to tell me our mom is a narcissist, and making tentative comparisons of her behavior to Trump’s and Hitler’s. I know a thing or two about narcissists. My mom isn’t one. However… I do think that perhaps my sister could be one. She thinks she’s an empath. She’s actually said this to me and been completely serious. I know a little about empaths, too. I’m married to one. She and our mom have never gotten along. I do get along with my mom. My mom is far from perfect, but she’s not a narcissist. Sending me a birthday card with a heartfelt note in it is not an example of “love bombing”, nor do I think this is an example of our mom trying to make me into a “flying monkey”. In fact, our mom mostly tries to stay out of conflicts; she doesn’t create them.

Why am I writing about this? It’s mainly because it helps me keep the craziness straight. My sisters must think I’m stupid and the easiest target for gaslighting because I quit trying to offer my perspectives. But no, I’m not stupid… I have an excellent memory and normal intelligence, and I remember very well what happened at Christmas in 2003. We each had a part in that fight– that is, two of my sisters and me (the eldest wasn’t involved, because she was smart enough to book a hotel room).

In 2003, I should have known that I can only talk to my sisters about innocuous things like the weather (although even that topic is becoming contentious these days). My being upset about the shit Ex was pulling when Bill and I were newly married in 2003 wasn’t something my sisters wanted to hear about, and they felt quite free to tell me to STFU and demand that we sleep on an awful pull out couch for two or three nights while I bled from my private parts. That tells me that I don’t need to waste time hanging out with them. They don’t even treat me with as much respect as they might treat a friend. I don’t think any of them would choose me for a friend. And the reverse is also true. I don’t think I’d pick any of them, either.

See… I would hope for sisters who are good friends and care enough to listen to me when I have struggles, just as I would listen to them. Instead, they just want me to show up and shut up, so the whole family is together and it looks nice. When the conversation is about something they don’t want to talk about, instead of asking to change the subject in a respectful way, they resort to criticism and lecturing. Quite frankly, I don’t value their company enough to have them tell me what I can and can’t talk about, or demand that I look or behave in a certain way. So, I’ll just stay away, thank you very much.

My sister told me she doesn’t really want to go to the “birthday bash” next month. For my mom’s sake, I think it would be good if she didn’t go. But my mom would like her to be there… because in spite of what my sister thinks, our mother does love her and is proud of her. She’s hoping that, for once, there will be a nice visit with three of her daughters and the grandchildren. Maybe it will happen. Experience has taught me, though, that this “bash” may actually end in blows. Especially if there’s any booze involved. I’m glad to stay in Germany and just hear about what happened later. πŸ˜‰

Oh… and by the way… it’s also not lost on me that this sister probably shit talks me, too, with our other sisters. However, I can’t control that, so I don’t really give a shit. I’m just gonna tune out.

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communication, condescending twatbags, fashion, first world problems, language, musings, narcissists

Your body is telling me to GTFO of here, pronto!

In my first travel blog post today, I wrote about a non-verbal interaction I had with a fellow cruise passenger during our “free” hotel stay in Stockholm. In my post, I issued a disclaimer that my impressions of that non-verbal interaction might have been off base. Sometimes, I do get things wrong. However, I don’t think I was wrong in this case. I’ve “heard” the same thing from other people who later issued similarly offensive communications in verbal form. It usually starts with someone glancing at you and looking like they just smelled shit.

I sort of expect these kinds of situations to erupt, especially when I’m among the especially privileged. I’d say anyone lucky enough to be cruising on Regent Seven Seas Splendor is among the most privileged of people in the whole world. Bill and I certainly aren’t wealthy, but we can afford nice things, and we do partake in luxury sometimes. However, we don’t necessarily look the part of the rich and fabulous. Consequently, sometimes we’re on the receiving end of disdainful looks from the more polished and obviously prosperous.

One thing I’ve noticed on luxury American cruise ships is that there tends to be a gamut of people. You’ll see super wealthy and successful types aboard– people with trophy wives (and husbands) and all of the trappings of success. And you’ll see a lot of much younger people who don’t look like they should be able to afford such a vacation. Experience has taught me that those folks usually work in the travel industry. My British “friend” who works in the travel industry tells me that people in that field can score insanely good deals on travel, allowing them to experience exotic and luxurious trips with the wealthy. You’ll also see people like Bill, who work hard and earn a decent wage for what they do– and don’t necessarily own beautiful homes, fancy cars, or memberships at country clubs, but are able to splurge on luxury cruises or hotels.

Not everyone who has money is an asshole, of course. Bill and I have met many really wonderful folks who have truly been blessed– both with wealth, and with fabulous personalities. But luxury travel also attracts a lot of self-entitled jerks who automatically look down their noses at others without knowing a single meaningful thing about them. This post is mainly about those types of people, who are fortunately probably in the minority.

One thing I noticed when I was on this particular vacation is that I suddenly don’t care that much about shallow, vain types of people. I certainly didn’t waste any time trying to impress them. I used to be more offended by that kind of behavior– snobby, disdainful, judgmental, and flat out rude. Now, I just think it’s kind of sad… and perhaps a little bit amusing. Imagine going through life looking down your nose at everyone just because you think they’re somehow beneath you, based solely on qualities as fleeting as how they look!

Most of the time, when I’m just at home with Noyzi, I look like warmed over crap. I don’t wear makeup. I usually don’t wear a bra unless I’m going out in public. I don’t fix my hair. I dress for comfort instead of style. Even at my youngest and freshest, I didn’t have a particularly nice figure. And yet, my husband shows me every day how much he loves and adores me. We always have a good time together, and never run out of things to talk about. There’s an endless stream of inside jokes and shared memories between us. And we clean up quite nicely, too.

Maybe it’s wrong for me to say that I don’t care about this “disdain” I sense from others when I’m out and about. I guess I do care, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post. It’s just that this time, instead of feeling pissed off and outraged about it, I noticed that I was actually more amused. Because I think of some of our favorite memories, especially when we’ve been traveling, and they don’t include people like the guy in the hotel lobby in Stockholm. They typically include more down-to-earth folks like the hilarious Spanish bum we encountered in Seville back in 2014.

The most interesting and memorable people I’ve ever encountered are people who might get a disapproving glare from the “gentleman” we encountered on our cruise. Even the narcissistic guy on our second SeaDream cruise– who actually told Bill “Now I can see why you’d love her…” after hearing me sing– was at least open-minded enough to look beyond the surface. The guy we ran into on the ship will likely never know truly awesome people, because he’s apparently mostly interested in superficial things like a person’s outward appearance and attractiveness. And yes, I do think that’s sad and very limiting for him. What’s the point of traveling if you don’t want to encounter people who are different? He might as well stay home and hang out at the country club. I guess Regent could be considered kind of a country club at sea. πŸ˜‰

Ah well… I suppose we all do that kind of judging from time to time. It might even be called a form of self-preservation. We size people up based on their appearances. Someone who looks clean, well-fed, and employed might seem more trustworthy than someone who looks dirty, unkempt, and in need of assistance, even if the clean looking person is a notorious cheat, and the homeless person looks the way they do because they gave a friend the shirt off their back. Most of us feel most comfortable around people who are like us on some level. And to be honest, I’m doing a fair bit of judging myself, based on that guy’s apparently negative attitude. For all I know, he only looked like he smelled shit because he actually did step in some while strolling around Stockholm.

One thing I noticed on our trip is that I no longer really feel like an American, even though I definitely am one on every level. I think when we go “home” again, I’m going to feel out of place, and there’s going to be a hell of a culture shock to adjust to… I’ve experienced it before, although the last time, I was actually looking forward to going “home” to America. This time, I dread the idea. And yet, it’s still my home, and there are people, places, and things I still miss there.

Well… I’m not sure how much sense this post makes, or even if it’s offensive on some level to some people. It was just something on my mind today. Travel has a way of erasing prejudices for most… at least those who are open to new experiences and meeting different kinds of people. It’s good for the soul, and good for opening minds and hearts. And I totally realize that maybe a luxury cruise isn’t the best place to be preaching about such things. But even on a luxury cruise, there’s a class system, and on some level, it is kind of hurtful to be deemed lower class… especially when it’s evidently only based on something as superficial as physical appearance (and by this, I don’t include what is written on a person’s facial expressions or revealed within their body language).

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, time to have some lunch and get back to writing up our trip!

(The featured photo is of me on the first night of the cruise, freshly scrubbed, made up, and coiffed… I was probably still too ugly to be in the presence of the shit smelling man in Stockholm… Somehow, I’ll have to find a reason to keep living. πŸ˜‰ )

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condescending twatbags, family, music, narcissists, politicians, politics

Pseudogranny and Ron DeSadist both strike again!

Today is turning out to be a slightly better day than yesterday was. For one thing, I think I’m FINALLY done moving most of my music collection. So far today, I’ve spent a little under four hours on this project. BUT– it does appear that I might be about done with the job, at long last. I may run across a few greyed out songs or whatever, but there are a lot fewer now than there were even 24 hours ago.

For another thing, younger daughter sent the most adorable video this morning. Back in late March, Bill and I visited Hohenzollern for the second time in our lives. Hohenzollern, for those who don’t know, is a beautiful castle in the hamlet of Hechingen, near Stuttgart, Germany. After our visit, I told Bill I thought we should see if they had any cute souvenirs for his grandkids. We picked up a few items, but it took several weeks before Bill finally managed to mail the box. It arrived yesterday, so younger daughter videoed the kids opening the box and reacting to the gifts.

We bought a little stuffed hedgehog for the youngest, who just turned one. Hedgehogs in the wild aren’t really a thing in the USA, but we have them in Europe. In fact, there’s one who lives in our backyard and appears every August.

For the granddaughter, we bought a purple and white princess dress. It has a metal ring hoop, so it’s poofed out. Younger daughter says her daughter is very girly and has lots of costume dresses, but she probably didn’t have one that came from an actual castle (actually, it came from Canada, according to the label). Anyway, she put it on and loved it. It looks like she has some growing room, too, so that’s a good thing!

And finally, for the oldest, we got a wooden sword and shield. The shield says “Hohenzollern Berg” on it. When he saw it in the box, he grabbed it, closed his eyes, and hugged it to his chest with a big smile and an exclamation that he’d been wanting a sword. His reaction was just so adorable! Younger daughter said that he’d been wanting a sword, but we didn’t know that when we were at the castle. It was a lucky guess. Pseudogranny strikes again! πŸ˜‰

We also sent Haribo candies– gummies and whatnot. That made younger daughter excited! There was also a 3-D postcard in there, but hopefully it didn’t get tossed out. I don’t think she noticed it, because it was in the bag with the hedgehog. Bill had quite an ordeal trying to send the box. The postal system has gotten a lot stricter about the labels on packages going through the APO system. Probably the best part of the gift was the bubble wrap Bill used.

So… that video put me in a good mood. I like to see the grandkids happy!

Then I read about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, aka Ron DeSadist… Well, technically, what I read wasn’t about ol’ Ron. He hasn’t officially taken “credit” for the second plane full of migrants that landed in California yesterday. The planes were reportedly affiliated with a Florida based company called Vertol Systems Company Inc. The contractor that carried the migrants was participating in the migrant transportation system administered by Florida’s Division of Emergency Management.

Now, it would be sketchy enough if the migrants had come from Florida, but they were actually picked up in Texas and brought to New Mexico, where they were put on planes to California’s state capital, Sacramento, and dumped at a church. Again, DeSantis hasn’t commented on this situation, but his hands are all over it.

Ron DeSantis has pulled this shit before. Last year, he was behind sending a group of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts from Texas. Some governors think this is an appropriate way to protest what they see as Joe Biden’s lack of action in stopping illegal immigration. When I read or hear about these political stunts, it just makes me sick. I would NEVER vote for a politician that thinks this is okay, even though those people who were sent to California are probably going to be better off in the long run. The more I hear about this shit, the more I think most Republicans are not only brain dead, but they lack heart, too. They certainly aren’t behaving like Christians.

Does DeSantis not realize that these are human beings he’s using as political pawns? These are people who are looking for a better life. Very few Americans can claim that they originated in the United States. Most of us are descended from immigrants. I think it’s reprehensible that DeSantis and his like minded political pals find it acceptable to round up people and send them to places where local officials aren’t prepared to receive them.

Personally, I think Ron DeSantis and his like minded pals should be arrested and prosecuted for human trafficking. He certainly has no business being president, either. I am SO SICK of the political shit show instigated by Trump, his MAGA moron posse, and all of the wannabes, like DeSantis. I hate the idea of any of them leading the United States. I would like to see some REAL CONSEQUENCES handed down to these idiots who use human beings in this way, just to rile up the people who still think Trump is some kind of god.

I really think that living in Germany has made me more empathetic toward immigrants. I know my situation isn’t quite the same as theirs is, but I am struck by how welcoming most Germans have been to Bill and me. I think of how I would feel if some political asswipe decided to send me to some other German city just to make a point to political rivals. That just sucks… and it’s shameful. I hope the new arrivals will be treated with more kindness and humanity, in any case.

Of course, now Pence has also joined the fray… I think 2024 is going to be an epic political shitshow. I probably need to see a doctor soon, but honestly, I’m so tired of this crap that I think I might just let the chips fall where they may. The sooner I get beamed up, the better.

But, at least the grandkids had reason to smile, right? And my music library is mostly fixed. So those are two good things that happened. Now, I think I will take Noyzi for a walk… try to burn off some of my beer gut… πŸ˜‰ (and yes, Susanne, walking can help burn off a beer gut.)

Featured photo is a shot of the video we watched. That was the shield we got for oldest grandkid. It came with a sword.

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documentaries, Duggars, narcissists

Wow! So abuse victims are supposed to just shut up and “keep sweet”, then?

It’s been awhile since I last wrote about the Duggar family. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about them, though. Tomorrow, a brand new series is going to be released on Amazon Prime. It’s called Shiny, Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, and it’s a four episode documentary about the Duggar Family and The Institute in Basic Life Principles, founded by Bill Gothard.

I realize not everyone knows who the Duggar Family is. You may be among those who have never seen the enormous family on their TLC reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, followed up by Counting On, a reality show that was supposed to focus on the adult children after eldest Duggar “kid” Josh Duggar was outed as a sex pest. Or, maybe you just don’t care about the Duggars, which is a very fair sentiment. In fact, I think it would be best if fewer people cared about that family. Family patriarch, Jim Bob Duggar, has been cashing in on his and his wife, Michelle’s, astonishing ability to reproduce for much too long.

I wish I didn’t give a shit about the Duggars. I have long been interested in large families, though. My father was one of nine children, so I grew up with a lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I always thought I wanted a large family of my own, but clearly that didn’t work out for me. I think religion is interesting, too… although I tend to be pretty critical of extreme beliefs. The Duggars are pretty extreme in the way they follow Christianity. Moreover, they turned out to be massive hypocrites. The squeaky clean image Jim Bob Duggar tried so hard to promote turned out to be 100 percent manufactured bullshit.

I don’t want to write too much about the Duggars today… although the quote that is serving as today’s featured photo did give me pause. Yesterday, I learned that yet another Duggar sister is publishing a book. This time, the book is coming from Jill Duggar Dillard, who is reportedly “on the outs” with Jim Bob, as she and her newly minuted attorney husband, Derick, sued him because they were never paid for their work on Counting On. Jill also participated in the making of Shiny, Happy People, and has been somewhat outspoken about how her brother, Josh, victimized her and three of their sisters.

I remember, back when the original show was popular, thinking that Jill was the biggest fundie “Kool-Aid drinker” of the whole family. She seemed to be a bit of a tattletale, which seemed to endear her to Jim Bob. But then she got married, and the truth about Josh was revealed to the masses. Jill was supposedly forced to help do “damage control”, to save the show so that the money train could keep rolling… Keep in mind, Jill wasn’t even really being paid for this, at least not a regular, guaranteed salary, paid to her, and later, Derick, directly by the network. Instead, the couple had to rely on Jim Bob, who doled the money out as he saw fit.

I’m not a big fan of conservative Christians, and Jill and Derick still qualify as such. However, they do seem to genuinely love each other, and I have enjoyed watching Jill blossom into a modern woman with the guts to stand up to her obviously narcissistic father. I applaud her decision to speak out to the masses. Hell, after all she’s been through, why shouldn’t she try to “cash in” on her experiences as a Duggar? I sure would!

If you read my blog, you may already know that I don’t mind speaking up, and speaking out… and sometimes that pisses people off. Some people would rather that other people just shut up and color. And if you’re a writer, you do face the danger of having people object to what you put out there. I’ve faced that situation myself a number of times. Writing takes a certain amount of bravery, because you never know how people are going to take what you write. Some people may like it, or even love it. Others may hate it, and hate you, even if they don’t even know you. Celebrities face a similar problem on a larger scale, although many of them at least make some money for their troubles. Jill Duggar was a celebrity who didn’t really profit from her celebrity status… and she was never asked if she wanted to be on TV.

I have never read any of the Duggar books. Jinger Duggar Vuolo published a book criticizing Bill Gothard a few months ago. I didn’t read it, because I had a feeling that her book was more about promoting faith. I’m not interested in that. I’d rather read some “tea”. I don’t know if Jill’s book is going to deliver the truth we’re all curious about, but if it does, sure I’ll buy it. I think the Duggars should realize by now that most people aren’t buying their facade anymore. They might as well come clean.

This morning, I was in the Duggar Family News Group, and someone posted the above quote, which was on Jedidiah Duggar’s Instagram page. Jed had “liked” the comment, and he was promptly taken to task by another follower, who posted this:

Yes, it’s harsh… but I think the poster is spot on, minus all the religious stuff.

Jed, who seems to have replaced Josh as Jim Bob’s “golden boy” son, posted this response…

It’s not necessarily wrong to point out that this is “no one else’s business.” But Jim Bob Duggar pretty much sold out his family’s privacy when he turned them all into public figures for money. Moreover, I think it’s likely that a lot of strangers know more about the Duggars than the Duggar “kids” themselves, do.

It seems that Jed wants things both ways. He wants the trappings that come with fame. I noticed this morning that he and his wife, Katey, put out a video about their recent trip to Hawaii. I don’t give a fuck about that, because I suspect they put it out there to distract people from the new documentary. But yes, they seem to expect people to care about their trip to Hawaii before the birth of their latest kid, a daughter who will reportedly be called Nora. However, the scandalous news about Josh Duggar, which proved that their image was fake, is “100% no one else’s business”.

Josh Duggar has proven that he’s a danger to other people, especially children, who are the most vulnerable of all! If that doesn’t make this story other people’s business, I don’t know what does. Moreover, Jill was one of Josh’s victims. Of course she has the right to be heard! And again– if she wants to sell her story for profit, I don’t see why she shouldn’t. Jim Bob sold her out for years! When she finally protested, his response was to ostracize her! So I say fuck him, and fuck his wife! Hopefully, by now, there’s no more chance that Michelle will be knocked up anew. πŸ˜‰

Katie Joy’s latest video about Jill… interesting how such a conservative guy like Jim Bob would stand for his kids needing a “socialist” program like SNAP…

Aside from Josh being a pervert who preys on children, Jim Bob has been outed as a less than honest businessperson, not just in terms of how he treated his children, but also in terms of how he’s dealt with people in his community. I certainly wouldn’t say that his dealings have been particularly Christlike. What I’ve observed is a man who uses extreme religion to make money. He’s no different than any narcissist, really. You can easily see how they operate. They don’t subscribe to any particular religion or political movement; they just use those movements to promote themselves. Meghan Markle does it by being a supposed liberal feminist. Donald Trump does it by being a supposed Republican. And Jim Bob does it by being a supposed Christian. It’s all part of the image, which is supposed to get unsuspecting people to trust and follow. The reality is, the whole thing is fraudulent, and only meant to get people under control, working for their aims.

I hope this new book gives Jill some much needed income and a platform.

Jill’s book will be released January 16, 2024, and it will be ghostwritten by Craig Borlase, who is a credible writer who has worked with some well known outlets, such as The New York Times and the Sunday Times. Derick Dillard is also credited as an author. I don’t know how much of the book will be about their religion, which I’m not interested in reading about at all. My guess, though, is that this book is not going to be like the others. Jill, who had always seemed to be the biggest Kool-Aid drinker, is likely going to be the downfall of Jim Bob’s empire. And good for her.

Here comes the tea!

Someone recently uploaded some of the old Duggar episodes on YouTube. I watched a couple of them and couldn’t help but cringe, especially of the shows that highlighted Josh. What a total farce.

Anyway… I can understand not wanting to alienate one’s family members, especially when one or more of them are narcissists. But, I know from personal experience that breaking away from abuse requires bravery, and that means telling the truth. I would absolutely believe Jill’s truth over Jim Bob’s. And it’s high time she spoke up, and spoke OUT, about whatever she wants. She’s been silenced for much too long.

If I were Jed, I think I’d be boning up on my job skills… because he’s probably going to have to find work outside of working for Jim Bob and being on social media before too long. I hope a lot of people will pay attention, too… especially going into the election season of 2024. Bill Gothard and his ilk would like nothing better than to see the United States turn into a fundie Christian dystopian theocracy. Be very careful who you vote for.

Now, off to create some music and do my dreaded Thursday chore. Cheerio!

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