LDS, music, psychology, songs, videos, YouTube

Putting a face to the voice…

Last week, when I got the news that the great 60s singer Ronnie Spector had died, I decided to try one of her most famous songs. Mind you, I was not one of Ronnie’s biggest fans. I was born in 1972, which was after she was really famous. I didn’t know who she was until 1986 or so, when she and the late Eddie Money had a hit song called “Take Me Home Tonight”. I did like some of Eddie Money’s music, although I wasn’t one of his biggest fans, either. I also got really tired of “Take Me Home Tonight” when it was a hit. It was forever on the radio, and back then, we didn’t have streaming services.

The following year, the movie Dirty Dancing was released, and Ronnie Spector’s big hit, “Be My Baby” was made popular again. I thought it was a nice song, but never noticed how truly joyful it was until last week, when I got it in my head to sing it. So I sang it, and paired it with a video of Noyzi watching fox hunting videos with me on YouTube. I always do that. I don’t like to be on camera. Then I uploaded the video to YouTube.

I don’t share my music videos much, but sometimes I will put a link on the Recovery from Mormonism page. There are some good musicians that hang out there, plus I’ve found that a lot of the posters have really good taste in music. I’ve found several really great artists based on recommendations on RfM. I’ve also found some good books there.

So some people clicked the link and I got some very nice comments. I also got a suggestion. It’s one I’ve heard before, but have always resisted. One person, a guy who is a fellow guitar player and singer, wrote this:

“At this point, I don’t sing and play at the same time, but maybe someday I will get good enough at guitar to do everything at one time.” (quoting me)

Start doing this right away with very simple songs, and recording yourself; maybe use a click track from garage bad or a metronome. It’s good to get the skill of singing, keeping time and moving your fingers to different patterns than your voice is making. Also take video of yourself. Watch what you look like when you play, and practice playing in the dark or not watching your fingers when you change chords or do runs and fills.

You have an excellent voice, viewers on youtube want to see you perform, a good voice with simple backing is much more engaging than singing over commercial backing tracks.

OK enough of my armchair coaching … I needed to take this advice long ago.

I have to admit, I kind of inwardly sighed. It’s not the first time someone has given me unsolicited advice, nor is it the first time someone has suggested that I post a video showing myself. I know he’s right– people like to see who’s singing. I’m still working on feeling competent enough to put more of my guitar playing out there. What I usually do is record the track and pair it with photos, which may or may not have anything to do with the music, or sometimes video. It’s really more about the sound to me, rather than the whole package.

I tried to explain that I get super self-conscious on video. I don’t even like video calls, although those are less anxiety provoking and distracting than watching myself perform. I’m already preoccupied with perfection, but feel even less comfortable with looking at myself. I rarely put on makeup or a bra, and generally can’t be arsed to do so for a video. I’d honestly much rather perform live, with people watching me, than perform on video.

But then a couple of other people added encouragement. I thought about it some more, and realized what the hell? It’s not like there aren’t ugly people on YouTube. And nobody cares what I look like anyway… although that is precisely why I figured it shouldn’t matter if my face is on video. One poster wrote:

We often don’t give ourselves enough credit. I’ve always been the one most often behind the camera. Not only because I feel compelled to record family history but in order to avoid being the subject myself. Same reason – I have had no wish to immortalize myself. My sister sent me a photo not long ago of myself as her bridesmaid, one I’d not seen before. I told her it was the best picture, by far, I’d ever seen of myself. To the point I didn’t even recognize me! She said no, you always look like that. Alrighty then. So that one I’ll keep. 🙂

I think you look lovely in the video, knothead, and your voice makes it even better. I had to laugh – I’ve visualized you all this time as a tall, thin redhead. Why, I have no idea.

You can always put on a bit of slap for the camera once in a while, and about the bra – will anybody care? 🙂 (I’m assuming she means my photo, which is on my YouTube channel. I haven’t shown myself in a video yet.)

I had to laugh at how she pictured me. There have been times in my life when I’ve had red hair, but I’m a natural blonde… short, squatty, buxom, and rather fat. And now, at almost 50, my hair is kind of silvery blonde. It does look nice on my YouTube photo, although that picture is about three years old. But I realized again, she’s probably right. People probably won’t care about my actual appearance… and it might make for an interesting experiment. Not that I make any money on YouTube anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter how many or how few views I get, other than in terms of my ego.

I then realized that even if I wanted to video myself playing and singing at the same time, I couldn’t do it due to my mic set up. Until yesterday afternoon, I didn’t have a mic stand. So I ordered a mic stand, along with dog treats (they’ve gotten so expensive) and new “corn cob” lightbulbs for our new Tiffany nightstand lamps.

I bought the new lamps because the base fell out of my old lamp and shattered on the floor. The lamp still works, but I figured the fact that the base is plastic with some kind of heavy material inside of it to weigh it down enough to support the shade, was a sign that it was time to buy new lamps. And the ones I got, while made in China, are smaller and have 220 voltage and plugs. I am definitely happier with them with the new bulbs that didn’t come with the lamps. The old bulbs were too dim.

The lady who encouraged me to post my visage added this comment:

knotheadusc Wrote:
——————————————————-
> I am a short, squatty, buxom blonde/silver haired
> woman who will turn 50 this year. 😉 I spend most
> of my time in my nightgown, sans makeup and
> styling, because I mostly hang out with dogs.

Haha, thanks for the much-needed laugh today.

I wish I had the dogs excuse. I work from home, which I used to enjoy very much, but somehow with the relative isolation for various reasons, it feels empty like it never did before. Lately I have worked in my pink fluffy pj’s all day. The beginning of the end! Even if someone comes to the door they don’t linger and so it’s not a motivation for me to get properly dressed. Make-up, never. Hair, pony. It’s nice and not nice at the same time.

It would all be better if only I could play the guitar. I’ve always wanted to. Never took the time. My jr high band teacher imposed the clarinet on me – no such thing as personal choice back in the day. I didn’t enjoy the clarinet and it didn’t like me. Now, the sax, I love. But my bones are not musical other than to enjoy the talents of others and wish it were me. I recently watched a Welsh Choir Christmas concert online. The lady on sax was amazing and her sax was gorgeous – shining gold in the light. I’ve never seen a gold sax before.

I’ve always thought that music is perhaps the great peacemaker, something we can all come together around, because humans love music. Except then we’d argue over the genre, for sure.

Thanks again for sharing your talent. I really enjoyed your video and this ensuing discussion. As well as the music history videos I found due to your post. It’s amazingly fortunate that that sound has been preserved as well as stories of the lives of musicians we’ve never heard of before but who deserve to be known.

I agree with her about the value of YouTube videos. Lately, I have been so into YouTube. In fact, I probably look at YouTube more than I do Facebook, which is a really good thing. I love watching old TV shows and movies, as well as some of the very talented folks who put themselves out there every day. I still consider myself a writer, first and foremost, but I may decide to put more YouTube content out there. Bill and I have even talked about doing a podcast at some point, so he can put his story out there in his own words.

Anyway, I just read that Meat Loaf died. I was never a big fan of his. I think I’ve written in this blog why that is– it’s mainly due to the fact that his music, especially “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, always reminds me of a humiliating #metoo moment I had at a party back in the early 90s. However, I recognize that Meat Loaf was talented, and many people have enjoyed his music immensely. So I wish much peace and comfort to his family and friends. Maybe I’ll try “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” today. I don’t mind that song as much.

For those who are curious about my tribute to Ronnie Spector, see below.

First time I ever did this song. It never occurred to me… although I think I enjoyed it enough to try some of Ronnie’s other songs.

Thanks to Putin and the threat to Ukraine, Bill has to work tomorrow. He’ll probably work from home all day, which sucks. I think he has to go TDY at the end of the month, too…

I don’t have any specific chores planned for today. Maybe it will be a music day. Or maybe I’ll watch more dog grooming videos. The possibilities are endless.

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celebrities, lessons learned, music, musings, obits, YouTube

The first day of 2022…

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve 2021. Bill and I had a nice evening, marred only by the news that the great Betty White passed away. A lot of people reacted to the news of Betty’s New Year’s Eve demise with great sadness. She was a remarkable woman who was blessed with so much talent, beauty, and humor. When I think of how many people were touched by her, it almost overwhelms me. This was a lady whose career spanned many decades and generations, and she did it all– singing, dancing, acting, sales pitching, and especially comedy. She was the oldest Golden Girl, and the last one to leave us.

She was such an adorable and hilarious pro! God bless her, wherever she is… I hope she and her beloved husband, Allen Ludden, have finally reunited.

I loved Betty White as an entertainer. I admired her a great deal. However, I don’t feel particularly sad that she died, nor do I think of it as a tragic event. I think, as living and dying go, Betty White did it in grand fashion. As far as I know, she wasn’t seriously ill when she passed. In fact, she was even featured on People magazine’s cover this week, as she planned to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17th. She was still “with it”, and not bed bound. Yes, it would have been wonderful if she could have celebrated one last birthday, but 99 years is still a hell of a good run. What happened to her eventually happens to us all… and she had the good fortune to do it on relatively favorable terms.

I think this one was my favorite! Betty’s dusty muffins could not be matched.

So no, I’m not totally saddened by Betty White’s death. She died the same year as several of her co-stars on the Mary Tyler Moore show, as we also lost Gavin McLeod, Ed Asner, and Cloris Leachman in 2021. And all of them lived to ripe old ages, having been able to work, play, and be in the world pretty much the entire time. We should all be so lucky… and in fact, I think we’re all lucky that we were alive at the same time she was.

*Giggle* She was so funny!

MOVING ON…

A lot of people were also mentioning how much 2021 sucked. I’m sure it really did suck for a lot of folks. COVID-19 has really screwed up normal living for so many. However, one good thing I have noticed about the COVID era is that some people are reprioritizing their lives. Yesterday, I read an awesome Reddit thread called “Twas the night before my resignation”, about a guy who decided some years ago that he no longer wanted to prioritize his career over his family. He started taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2021, as usual, he scheduled that week off.

At the end of the year, a work emergency came up. It wasn’t something that should have affected his time off, and he did what he could to warn his employers that he would be taking that week off. But, as it happens, the company dragged its feet and the emergency, quite predictably, became dire as the guy’s week off approached… For best results, you really should read it for yourself. Suffice to say, the guy pretty much told his boss to pound sand, and was richly rewarded for his moxie. And to that, I say, “Kudos, and fuck those people!” I hate it when employers treat their employees like they own them. It’s nice to see that some workers have been able to claim some control over their work environments. I hope this is a trend that lasts, so that working conditions will improve for everyone.

I know… maybe it’s too much to hope for that there will be less greed and corruption in the American workplace. But I can dream, can’t I? Hell… if I were in the USA now, maybe someone would even hire me!

Bill and I actually had a fairly good 2021, in spite of COVID’s suck factor. We finally resolved our lawsuit, and it mostly went in our favor. I know it may seem like a small thing, but holding our former landlady accountable for her egregiously illegal actions, outright lies, and the really crappy way she treated us, was very satisfying. I think we learned a lesson from it, too. Hopefully, that lesson will carry over the next time someone tries to screw with us and shame us into automatically allowing them to have their way.

In 2021, Bill finally started working with a Jungian analyst, which is something he’s been wanting to do for a long time… and something I’ve felt he’s needed to do the whole time I’ve known him. The sessions have been very healing for him, but they’ve also been immensely rewarding and interesting. I didn’t know anything about Carl G. Jung when Bill and I met, despite my background. Social workers do study psychology, but it’s not really the bulk of what we learn, since social work is not psychology, per se. It’s been fascinating to learn more about Jung, and help Bill learn more. He’s been so intrigued by the process that he even started taking classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich. So far, the classes have been online, but we did get a chance to visit Zurich for the first time last summer. If we manage to stay here awhile, he may get to do some serious work.

As for my own successes… I’ve watched my relaunched blog explode. In 2021, I had over 560 times the hits I had in 2020, which was much more successful than 2019, when I moved my blog to WordPress. It really is picking up, and that’s been exciting to see, even though it took some time.

I felt pretty much forced to relocate the blog from Blogspot, although I had kind of wanted to do it for a long time. It was difficult and a bit depressing to start over in February 2019. I had a decent following on the original blog, even though it was a bit rawer than this one is. Moving the blog meant losing followers, as well as ad revenue. It’s not that I make a lot of money at all through ads, but it was kind of a nice thing to occasionally get paid by Google.

Well… that pretty much ended with a thud when I moved the blog, and for quite some time, I felt really constrained and nervous about writing. I know some people don’t think I have any talent… and some people think writing is a waste of my time, so they think nothing about messing with what I do… and some people just plain don’t like me, and want to cause trouble for me for selfish and dishonest reasons. This blog is NOT my life, but it is something I enjoy creating, and it gives me a purpose. So it was hard for me in 2019, when I experienced the setback that caused me to have to start over.

Two years later, I think my blog is better than it ever was. And I’ve been rewarded with new followers, and yes, more ad revenue. I only monetized the blog a few months ago, but pretty soon, I’ll be eligible to be paid. And I can only expect that this blog will be more successful than the original blog was, in terms of money, and quality content. The travel blog is a bit down in views lately, but hopefully COVID-19 will eventually be tamed enough so we can travel again. And really, I mainly write this stuff for myself, anyway, so anyone who reads and enjoys it is just icing on the cake.

I also found a new person with whom I can do music collaborations. In fact, I even uploaded our latest effort this morning! Music is something I do for fun and relaxation, so this is a rewarding development, too…

He lives in the States. We’ve never met, but we have similar musical tastes.

Another great thing that happened in 2021 was that Bill and I finally got to visit Croatia, and pay another visit to Slovenia. I already knew Slovenia was beautiful, but Croatia was magical. Although we didn’t have an “action packed” vacation in the fall, it was still probably one of my favorite trips yet. Just the sheer beauty of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as the time we spent in Austria (another favorite destination) was so awesome. I guess COVID has also made me a lot more grateful for ANY travel. Thank God for vaccines, too. I will be boosted in a few days, which may cause temporary discomfort, but will likely make my chances of dying from COVID lower.

We got to see a few friends, and make a few new friends… and the old friends who are real friends are still with us. We also didn’t lose any loved ones in 2021. In fact, in 2022, Bill will presumably gain another grandchild. And… our beloved Arran and Noyzi are still alive. Noyzi has even become a real part of the family, right down to loving on me when he wants something and showing up fashionably late to dinner! So that’s a blessing.

I have high hopes for 2022… I hope you do, too. To those of you who have been part of this blog, thank you so much! I especially want to thank my friends who have been here since the beginning. You are all a big part of the success, too!

2021 didn’t suck for us… but I know some people are really struggling right now. I don’t know what words of wisdom or comfort I can share. One friend mentioned how bad 2021 was, and I mentioned that I thought 2016 was worse– at least in terms of lost legends. She responded that she’d had a rough time of it in 2021, and compared 2021 to a few other horrible years she’d experienced.

I knew she’s been having a hard time, so I acknowledged that. And then I remembered one of my worst years ever– 1998. If I’m honest, there were a few times during that year that I seriously contemplated suicide. I was dealing with moderately severe depression, and I didn’t see how I was ever going to escape the situation I was in. It was NOT a hopeless situation by any means– which I clearly proved. But at the time, it felt hopeless… and my perspective was so blurred by depression and anxiety that I couldn’t see beyond the fog of despair and despondency.

But some very good things also happened that year. Yes, I was working in a restaurant job where I was abused daily, and I lived with my parents, who were kind of hostile and disappointed in me. I was young and basically healthy, but felt unattractive and unsuccessful. That year, I backed into some lady’s car in our driveway, because I was so upset… and that accident led me to finally seeing a therapist. Dr. Coe helped me so much, and I was eventually put on antidepressants that changed my life. To this day, I no longer feel as horrible as I did for most of my young life.

I eventually got pretty good at the restaurant job, and was able to make enough money to pay for the therapy and save up for an apartment. I bought a car. I had a terrible setback in November 1998– in fact, that was probably one of the worst months of my life. And yet, two months later, the medication was finally correct, and I started getting my shit together… and by November 1999, I was in a dual degree master’s program, proving to myself that I wasn’t as stupid or worthless as I had felt a year prior. That was also the month I “met” Bill online. By November 2002, we were married! And now, 19 years later, here we are… In 2022, I’ll presumably turn 50, and we will celebrate 20 years married.

So it’s good that I didn’t give in to my urges to off myself back in 1998. That would have meant missing out on some really wonderful things. That “abusive” job also led to meeting some truly great friends and learning valuable life and survival skills. In the long run, that turned out to be a good thing, too, despite the suffering that happened when I was still in that situation.

My point is, sometimes what seems like the shittiest times can lead to some pretty wonderful recoveries. So if you are struggling right now, I urge you to hang on as best you can. It can, and probably will, get better. But I also know that those words ring hollow when a person is really suffering. So just know, there are people who really do care, and have been through it, too… You’re probably more like them than you know… unless, of course, you’re Josh Duggar or Ghislaine Maxwell. Those two probably won’t be enjoying life for awhile.

And, with that bit of “wisdom”, I’m signing off for today… Got a few chores to take care of, and then it’s time to watch movies and concerts.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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ethics, law, obits, religion

Sarah Weddington’s death brings out the pro-life trolls…

Sarah Weddington has just died. She was 76 years old, and had been in poor health. Nowadays, some people might think that 76 is kind of young for a person to die, but Sarah Weddington had already made history by the time she was 26. She definitely led a full and impressive life, even if pro-lifers don’t think so.

Back in 1971, Sarah Weddington was a recent law school graduate from Texas who was having trouble finding work because she was a woman. That year, having never before tried a case, she and her co-counsel, Linda Coffee, began presenting arguments on what would eventually be a landmark victory that gave American women the right to have an abortion. The two went before the Supreme Court, and on January 22, 1973, the court ruled that a Texas state law banning abortion except to save the life of the mother was unconstitutional. Weddington’s work on Roe v. Wade was groundbreaking, and whether or not pro-life advocates want to admit it, that law has actually saved a lot of lives.

Weddington got involved with Roe v. Wade because she was friends with women who were helping university students and others find doctors who would illegally perform abortions, or directing them to countries were abortions were legal. One of the women involved with this effort asked Ms. Weddington if she knew if they could be held liable, and prosecuted as accomplices. Weddington did not know the answer to that question, but said she would research the matter for free.

That was when she got in touch with Linda Coffee, who was a fellow University of Texas law school graduate, and had more experience in the matter. It was 1969, and Coffee was representing Norma Jean McCorvey, a homeless woman who was seeking an abortion. In December 1969, Coffee wrote Weddington a letter, asking if she’d like to join forces as co-counsel for McCorvey’s case. The two met a couple months later. and the wheels of progress toward women’s reproductive choice in the United States began to turn.

It was in December 13, 1971 that Weddington and Coffee began to plead their case to the highest court in the USA. Weddington was a star who enjoyed the public stage. Linda Coffee, while brilliant, was not as impressive to look at and didn’t enjoy the limelight as much. According to The New York Times, Coffee could come off looking “bedraggled”, and Weddington was younger and prettier. She had blonde hair and blue eyes, which in those days, apparently made her more “optically appealing”. In those days, maybe being “pretty” was considered especially important for women. Come to think of it, sadly, not that much has changed in that regard. But at least in 2021, more of us recognize how wrong and unfair that mindset is.

But Sarah Weddington’s life wasn’t just about Roe v. Wade. She was a person in her own right, a woman who pioneered in a profession that typically favored men. She was a young woman at a time when women were expected to stay home, raise babies, and be help meets to their husbands. She chose to become a lawyer instead, which says something about her intellect, courage, and tenacity. One would think that people might respect her for the person she was, rather than just focus on her impressive landmark work on Roe v. Wade.

Of course I know that expecting people to be decent is probably hoping for too much. Weddington’s death has brought out the pro-lifers, who feel the need to voice their objections to allowing people to choose whether or not they wish to be pregnant and give birth. They love to bring up cardiac activity in a 22 day old embryo as a sign of life that should be respected. And yet, these same people so often have very little regard for people who have already been born, nor do they seem to give two craps about providing access to affordable and high quality healthcare to the people who are gestating those potential lives that are so sacred to them. One man wrote this:

…a fetus is not a baby…but it is a human life. It’s a separate being, with its own unique human DNA. That’s why there is such passion from the pro-life side of this debate…and why the pro-choice side is loathe to concede the humanity of the fetus.

I started to write the below response to the man who brought up the “humanity” of a developing fetus. I looked on his Facebook page. I see that he’s a fireman, and has probably saved a lot of lives. I commend him for doing that work. I do wonder, however, if he’s thought about what happens to the people he saves… I’m sure it feels good to help someone escape a burning building. But once they’re out of the building, then what?

Does he simply vote for “pro-life” candidates, even if they’re all about gun rights and keeping healthcare outrageously expensive? Does he support making birth control more accessible and affordable? Does he vote for paid time off for new parents? Affordable and accessible childcare? Affordable housing? Work policies that make it possible for people to raise their children? But anyway, I did not post the comment below, because I didn’t want to argue with a stranger, and I figured it wouldn’t make a difference, anyway, except to rally the like-minded.

Why don’t you have more regard for the people who have already been born and will be affected by the burden of gestating that potential life? Do you make it a policy to vote for leaders who want to make healthy pregnancies, anti-violence, affordable healthcare access, and family friendly work policies a priority? Or are you just concerned about saving that *potential* human life who has no concept of life or death?  

I don’t think most people who are vehemently pro-life actually care about other people. If they did, they might consider why a person might feel the need to make that decision and why it’s very personal and not any of their business. A person who feels the need to terminate a pregnancy may have very painful and personal reasons for making that decision. Many pro-life people care only about their religious convictions, and they want to impose their beliefs on everyone else.  

More often than not, it seems to me that MEN who are upset about abortion are really just angry that this is a decision that women can make without their input. They don’t think it’s fair. Well, a lot of women don’t think it’s fair when men have their fun in bed, but don’t actually do anything to support that *potential* life they’ve helped create. It’s not their name on the doctor’s bills. It’s not their body that is forever changed and potentially harmed by pregnancy. It’s not their life that is potentially upended.  

Unless you are the type of pro-life person who advocates for real change in US policies that support positive changes all of those babies being born, I’m not too concerned about your opinions regarding “humanity”. It’s sad that 50 years on, we’re still arguing about what should be a fundamental right for all pregnant people.  

According to The New York Times obituary, Sarah Weddington isn’t just a lawyer who argued for women’s rights to choose abortion. She was also herself the recipient of an abortion. In 1968, having recently graduated from law school, after having earned a college degree a couple of years ahead of the usual schedule, Weddington, who was then dating her husband, Ron Weddington, got pregnant. The two went to Mexico, where the former Sarah Ragle had a safe and legal abortion.

When she and Ron came back from Mexico, Sarah realized that she was very fortunate to have been able to get an abortion. Many pregnant people of that time period were not so lucky. Sarah became aware of women who had done terrible things to themselves in an attempt to abort. She wrote in the Texas Monthly in 2003:

I had had an abortion myself, during my last year in law school. I was not as sophisticated as I should have been about preventing pregnancy. I was seriously dating the man I later married, Ron Weddington, but I was determined to finish law school, and I wanted to put Ron through law school. There were a lot of considerations. And so we decided to have an abortion. You couldn’t look in the phone book then, but Ron found a name of an abortion doctor through a friend. We made an appointment and drove to Mexico. I will never forget following a man in a white guayabera shirt down an alley, and Ron and I having no idea where we were headed. I can still remember going under the anesthetic and then waking up later in a hotel room with Ron. Driving back I felt fine; I didn’t have any complications. But it made me appreciate what other women went through, who did not have someone to go with them or did not have the money to pay for a medically safe abortion, as I did.

Later, I heard stories of women who had not been so lucky. Some had beaten their own abdomens or jumped down stairs to try to induce an abortion. Others had eaten mixtures of chemicals and cleaning products. I’ll never forget seeing a photograph of a woman lying on a black-and-white checkered bathroom floor who had died from having an illegal abortion. Doctors told me about women whom they had seen hemorrhaging or in shock or with infections, who had stuffed all kinds of things into their uteruses because they were desperate to have abortions.

Don’t “pro-life” people care about the women who feel so desperate to have abortions that they’re willing to do things like take poison, stab themselves with coat hangers, or go to “butchers” who render them sterile, make them sick with infection, or even kill them? Don’t these people, so passionate about the “sanctity of life” and the “humanity” of developing embryos, give two shits about the situations facing the people whose personal situations don’t lend themselves to being pregnant? And who gets to decide when a person’s life is “threatened” enough that abortion becomes okay? And why should those situations be anyone else’s business?

Sadly, a lot of religious “pro-lifers” think that Sarah Weddington is now burning in Hell. One man commented thusly on Weddington’s obituary:

No, we’re not delighting in her passing. We’re simply stating that she will probably spend eternity with the Prince of Darkness. Even after her evil actions before the court, she could have repented and asked for forgiveness. I highly doubt she did either.

What the fuck?

I think about “Christian” people like Jim Bob Duggar, who recently lost his bid to become an Arkansas State Senator. His time as a reality star offers a treasure trove of proof of what religious people actually think about other people. Mr. Duggar’s wife, Michelle, famously counseled their daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” when Jill’s husband wanted sex, even if Jill was “big pregnant” and didn’t feel like having sex. Michelle told us all that being sexually available to her husband is a woman’s lot in life, and that no one else could righteously fulfill that need, other than a man’s wife.

Jim Bob and Michelle now, of course, have a son named Josh who is sitting in jail, awaiting sentencing for getting his sexual “needs” fulfilled illegally. Their son apparently didn’t get the message that his sexual “needs” should only be fulfilled by his wife– not that Anna hasn’t done her share. Jim Bob stated that he thinks rapists should be executed. I wonder if he’d like to start with his son, Josh… who was once a “precious” embryo in Michelle’s womb. Granted, even Josh has “value”, I guess. He is the father of seven, after all, and I’m sure his children deserve all the regard that any born person deserves. Life is about to get even harder for those kids and their mother, though…

I find it curious that Jim Bob Duggar, who is apparently so concerned about the rights of the unborn, thinks that already born people are expendable and should be executed for any reason… and that being truly “pro-life” can co-exist with also being “pro-gun”. Guns are literally devices that are intended to wound or KILL living beings, all of whom I assume were God’s blessings to someone or something.

As disgusted as I am about Michelle Duggar’s comments about being “joyfully available”, I also wonder how many times she felt forced to have sex with Jim Bob, a man with chronic halitosis and poor social graces, because his dick was stirring. And how much attention did Jim Bob pay to Michelle’s menstrual cycles, so he could force her to pop out as many of “God’s blessings” as humanly possible?

Seriously–there are men who are like this. Some of them even work(ed) for the federal government. And a lot of these men– many of whom vote for pro-life Republicans and screech about small governments and their personal liberties– don’t seem to realize that not so long ago, there were some communist countries that were all about forced birthing. And there are some countries where a woman can wind up in prison because she had a miscarriage. That doesn’t sound very “freedom-loving” to me. But even those countries are starting to understand that this is a decision that should be up to the person directly involved with being pregnant, not governments, law enforcement agencies, or MEN who will never have to face being pregnant.

The bottom line is that Sarah Weddington did a huge serve to many women when she took on the fight to allow women to choose. No one is forced to have an abortion in the United States. It’s a CHOICE. And it’s a choice that should be private, involving only the person who is directly involved in the pregnancy.

Whatever the pro-life men think of Sarah Weddington’s marvelously courageous work on allowing women to choose abortion, I think she was a brave and incredible person, and there was so much more to her life than Roe v. Wade, although that was VERY important work. She was a teacher, a traveler, and a brilliant woman who fought for other women. She has no reason to ask forgiveness for the very important work she did.

It’s too bad that some people think she’s gone to Hell, simply because she didn’t have the same views about religion that they do. More often now than ever before, it’s clear to me that a lot of religious people aren’t actually very good people, when it comes down to it. They care more about their “holy book” and religious platitudes than actually helping people. At least Sarah Weddington did not live to see the day when her work was ruined by Donald Trump’s stacked Supreme Court and so-called “freedom loving men” who only care about freedom for wealthy white people with dicks.

May Sarah Weddington rest in eternal peace. I’m sure wherever she is now, it’s better than down here.

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Military, obits, true crime

Rest in peace, Colin Powell…

Yesterday, the news reported that General Colin Powell died at age 84. He’d been suffering from multiple myeloma and Parkinson’s Disease, and then he got COVID-19, even though he was fully vaccinated. Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the body’s immune response by making plasma cells go haywire. So even though General Powell was vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease process made the vaccine less effective for him. Add in the Parkinson’s Disease and his advanced age, and it makes sense that he passed.

I’ve seen a number of people lamenting that Colin Powell died, with some blaming unvaccinated people. While I think any regular reader of this blog knows that I am for the vaccines, I don’t think it’s productive to blame the unvaccinated. The truth is, he was battling some serious illnesses even before COVID-19 struck. He was also 84 years old. Even if COVID never existed, his time was probably drawing short. I just hope his passing was peaceful.

General Powell lived a full lifespan, and he made great use of his time. Besides being a highly respected Army officer, Powell was also the United States’ first Black Secretary of State. And he had a long, loving, and enduring marriage to his wife, Alma, as well as loving relationships with his children, grandchildren, and friends. Personally, I think he was a great man, but even great men have to die someday. It’s just life.

Hearing about General Powell’s death reminded me of a very old friend of mine who died at age 21. Her name was Lisa Bryant, and at the time of her death, it had been years since our last visit. Lisa and I both lived on Mildenhall Air Force Base in Suffolk, England, back in the late 1970s. My dad was the base engineer there, and her dad was an Army officer who had gotten a special assignment at Mildenhall (or maybe Lakenheath– I’m not sure). Lisa had an older brother who was my sister’s age.

The Bryants were a Black family, but other than that, they weren’t all that different… or, at least it hadn’t seemed so to me at the time. I just remember that Lisa and I used to play together and attended the neighborhood birthday parties. Somewhere in my storage back in Texas, I have pictures from my fifth birthday party, and Lisa is there.

When our fathers were transferred, our families both moved to Fairfax County in Virginia. I remember going to Lisa’s house for another birthday party in Virginia. After that, we lost touch, mainly because my parents only lasted two years in Fairfax before they decided to move to Gloucester County and open their own business.

I never saw Lisa again, but if we had stayed in Fairfax, I would have definitely known who she was and probably would have known her well. She graduated from James W. Robinson Secondary School, the same school where one of my sisters and two of my cousins got their high school diplomas. My aunt also taught math there for years. Lisa was a big woman on campus in high school, having been homecoming queen for the class of ’89 and making top grades. Although we were born in the same year, she was a year ahead of me in school. If we had stayed in Fairfax, I would have gone to the same high school.

After she graduated high school, Lisa went to Princeton University. She was there on a ROTC scholarship, so she was required to fulfill a commitment to the Army post graduation. Lisa did big things at Princeton, too. She recruited students from the Washington, DC area and founded the cheerleading team. She graduated summa cum laude, and joined Delta Sigma Theta sorority. From what I read at the time of her death, Lisa meant to do her time in the Army and leave the service for a civilian career. She had big plans for her life. Sadly, she never had the chance.

Colin Powell was a close friend of Lisa’s father’s. They knew each other from their Army days. I remember reading that Powell had attended her wake, and his wife, Alma, went to Lisa’s closed casket funeral. The reason her casket was closed was because Lisa was murdered at Fort Bragg. She had gone there for a brief training course before she was to move to Germany for her first assignment. On the evening of July 9th, 1993, she had gone to a bar that was adjacent to her dormitory. That’s where she met Ervin Graves, who was a staff sergeant and ROTC instructor.

Graves had reportedly asked Lisa to dance with him. She said no, which was entirely appropriate. Not only was she an officer, while Graves was a non-commissioned officer, but she also had a boyfriend. Graves was also a married man. When Graves persisted in trying to get Lisa to dance with him, she decided to go back to her dorm. Graves was staying in the same dorm.

Lisa called her boyfriend, who was in California. She’d used the pay phone, because she didn’t want to bother her roommate. While she was on the phone, Graves attacked her, marching her to his dorm room where he meant to rape her. She managed to break away from him as he was attempting to restrain her. He responded by shooting her four times in the face with a 357 Magnum he inexplicably had with him in the dorm. She died in the hallway of her dormitory, right in front of the door to Graves’ dorm room.

Prior to the murder, Ervin Graves had been an exemplary soldier. He’d been a member of the Old Guard, where he had participated in presidential inaugurations, led parades, and been part of many ceremonies, both solemn and festive. His family was reportedly shocked that he was accused of a crime. His wife and sons were devastated. And Lisa’s family, especially her parents, were also extremely devastated. It had been many years since I had last seen Lisa, but even I was totally shocked when I heard about her death. She was a woman who was going to go places.

My mom called me at college to tell me about Lisa’s murder. I didn’t find out about it until a couple of months after it happened. People Magazine, which I used to read religiously, ran a story about Lisa. I remember later reading that Colin Powell and his wife were there to comfort the Bryants in their time of need. That always stuck with me, especially since Powell was such a powerful and famous man. But before he was an important man, he was also primarily a soldier, and when one of his brothers needed him, he was there.

In an article I read about Colin Powell’s death, Washington Post reporter, editor, and author, Bob Woodward, wrote that he’d spoken to General Powell in July. Powell reportedly said, “Don’t feel sorry for me, for God’s sakes! I’m [84] years old,” said Powell, who died Monday. “I haven’t lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I’m in good shape.”

Even up to the end of his life, Powell remained personable and friendly to Bob Woodward, even though his wife didn’t like him speaking to Woodward. He offered his thoughts on President Biden’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Powell wisely noted that we had to get out of Afghanistan eventually, and that with the massive drawdown of troops in recent years, it needed to be done expeditiously.

When Woodward asked who was the greatest man, woman, or person Powell had ever known, his response was immediate. He said, “It’s Alma Powell. She was with me the whole time. We’ve been married 58 years. And she put up with a lot. She took care of the kids when I was, you know, running around. And she was always there for me and she’d tell me, ‘That’s not a good idea.’ She was usually right.”

I know not everyone approved or appreciated Colin Powell’s politics or even his leadership, but I think of him as one of the good ones… While he had been a Republican throughout his career, he was not a Trump style Republican. He didn’t approve of Trump’s tactics. And when Woodward told Powell that one of his journalism students had asked, “What does the truth accomplish?”, Powell’s response was:

“This is scary… You just scared the hell out of me if this is what our kids are saying and thinking. Where are they getting it from? Media?”

I tend to agree with Powell. It IS scary that so many people are willing to overlook the importance of the truth, or the need to have good and decent– humane– people in power. Colin Powell was basically an honest man with integrity and strength, and he deeply loved and was loved by many. My heart goes out to his family, especially his wife, Alma, as they mourn their great loss. I’m sure the Bryant family is mourning, too… but maybe if there is a place after life, General Powell is with Lisa now.

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musings, psychology

Thanks (but no thanks) for the tips, and excuse me for living…

I haven’t had too much trauma being “socially isolated” over the past year and a half. I’ve come to realize that I find a lot of people really annoying. And, sad to say, a lot of people find ME annoying or in need of criticism, too, and have no compunction about telling me so. Sometimes, even when I’m being nice, someone feels the need to offer “constructive criticism” that I never asked for. It is annoying, but I try really hard not to be a bitch about it if I can help it. On the other hand, other people make me really appreciate my dogs. Dogs don’t feel the need to criticize others for being themselves.

Today, I was reading a post I wrote as a tribute to a person I used to know. She died in 2016. I remembered her to be a very lovely person who was always nice to me and super friendly. Below is my tribute to Naomi. It’s proof that I’m not a totally mean and cranky person all the time.

Remembering Naomi

A couple of nights ago, as I was sitting all alone in my house, I remembered a woman I used to work with about thirty years ago.  Her name was Naomi.  We both worked in the German (Rhinefeld) section at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I was in high school and she was a mother and wife.

I used to work in this building. And yes, we had the same music from 1989-92. I could probably sing it all from memory.

I didn’t work with Naomi directly.  I worked in the ice cream shop and she worked in the deli.  Naomi was what was known as a Level B supervisor.  That meant she was kind of akin to the boss of the Level A supervisors.  Level A supervisors were basically peons who had basic managerial powers over even bigger peons like me.

I was at the bottom of the barrel at Busch Gardens.  I worked there for four summers and never once got a promotion.  It was before I realized that I work best alone.  I was also very depressed and anxious at that time, and I admittedly had a horrible attitude, although I was often praised for being a hard worker and very reliable.

Despite my interpersonal demons with some other supervisor types at Busch Gardens, I always liked Naomi.  She was British, very friendly and kind, and always pleasant to be around.  I remember I’d come into the deli to drop off my purse and such.  That was where the lockers were.  There we were in our ugly fake lederhosen, looking rather ridiculous, but there to “put on a show” for paying customers.  She’d always say, “Hello, pretty lady!” in a cheerful tone of voice.  I remember she always made me smile, especially when she described the disgusting non-dairy topping we used on all of the desserts.  It was basically made of beef fat.  She described it as “dead cows” on the chocolate pudding.

Naomi was fun to work with and had a good sense of humor, yet she was quite assertive.  I remember one time, Naomi complained to Busch Gardens’ upper management about one of the bigwigs, an Italian guy named Frank who was verbally abusive.  He’d come barging into the deli and start hurling around criticisms and insults in a way that was very upsetting to the young people working there.  Naomi’s complaint got Frank sent to an anger management course.

Who knew that one day, I’d end up living in Germany for years?

I remember congratulating Naomi on her assertiveness and good leadership and she laughed and said, “They probably put him up in a luxury hotel and gave him an expense account.”  She’s probably right, but it was still pretty cool that she had the guts to complain, and Busch Gardens management actually did something.  She was a good boss, and I think, a good friend.  I even remember Naomi wrote a piece for Busch Gardens’ company newsletter.  It was about how her daughters had worked at Busch Gardens and she had decided to try it herself, to great success.

When I knew Naomi best, she was probably about the age I am right now.  That was thirty years ago, and I learned the other night that Naomi died in October 2016 at the age of 77.  She was a year younger than my mom is.  I don’t know how or why Naomi died.  I gathered from prowling around Facebook that she’d had some kind of medical crisis that was very serious, but didn’t initially trigger a death knell.  The crisis appeared to have happened over a year before she succumbed.  Whatever it was was clearly very serious.  It looked like she never recovered her health.

I quit working at Busch Gardens in 1992.  It was a good time for me to quit, because in my next job as the cook at a summer camp, I did get to be a supervisor of sorts… and I did get to make a lot of my own decisions and work independently.  I found it a less frustrating and less annoying job.  Best of all, I didn’t have to wear dirndls or fake “lederhosen” outfits of blouses with ugly suspenders sewn onto them, black tennis shoes, knee socks, or culottes that gave me constant wedgies.

Some enterprising chap did a walkthrough of Busch Gardens. When I worked there, Ireland didn’t yet exist. Where Ireland now is, there was a medieval town called Hastings. Yeah, it’s kind of schmaltzy, but I liked working there. Makes me appreciate the real Europe more.

I never forgot Naomi, though, or many of the other people I worked with.  I did find a lot of friends at Busch Gardens, many of whom I sometimes interact with on social media.

I do have one more memory of Naomi.  This one is more recent.

About twenty years ago, I was living with my parents in Gloucester, Virginia.  I was suffering from clinical depression and getting treatment for it from a therapist and a psychiatrist.  I also took voice lessons.  I find that, for me, singing is good for relieving depression.

One day, I arrived at Eastern Virginia School for the Performing Arts (EVSPA), which is where I was taking my voice lessons.  I happened to run into Naomi there.  She was directing a group of young people.  I overheard her talking about them doing a show.  I want to say it was Godspell.

I never knew Naomi was into the theater.  I was never really into the theater myself, although I’ve been known to sing show tunes, especially when I was taking lessons at EVSPA.  I don’t know if Naomi remembered me, but I do remember saying hello to her.  She looked much the same as she had when we’d worked together, and she was just as friendly and cool.  I remember being surprised to see her, since I never knew she was an actress.  I’m sure she never knew I am a musician.

I don’t know why she popped into my head the other night, but I looked up Naomi and discovered that she’d actually done a lot of good for young people in Williamsburg, Virginia.  She started a theater group called Backstage Productions.  It was open to all comers.  I have a feeling that Naomi’s vision was tremendously important to a lot of people at a tender age, looking for something constructive they could do… a place where they’d be welcome to try something new.

I wish I’d had the chance to know Naomi beyond working with her at Busch Gardens.  I’m glad I met her, though, and that her memory touched me enough to look her up a couple of days ago.  I’m not happy she died, but at least she died having done something amazing for countless people, from the youngsters who were able to perform with Backstage Productions to all of the people who watched their performances.  And that doesn’t even take into account people like me, who were touched by having the chance to work with her while wearing hideous fake lederhosen at Busch Gardens.

On another note, it occurs to me that the last thirty years have flown by… I probably should be more productive myself.  I tried being productive on SingSnap yesterday.  I decided to do some singing rather than open a bottle of wine, which is what I was somewhat tempted to do.  I try not to drink when Bill isn’t home, and he’s been away all week.  It’s been a sober few days, which hasn’t hurt me at all.  But I do get bored and lonely… and sometimes I succumb to temptation.  Drinking helps pass the time.  But it also gives me dry skin, hangovers, upset stomach, depression and anxiety.

Last night, I didn’t succumb to the temptation to open a bottle of wine, but I was feeling a little self-conscious because I can easily hear people outside my window.  I’m sure they can hear me, too, and wonder what the hell is going on in my house.  I can pull down the Rolladen, which gives me the illusion of more privacy, but I know the sound still escapes.  

I did a few songs, including a religious one.  I’m not a very religious person myself, but I like the song “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” (even if this particular arrangement is a tad schmaltzy).  So I decided to do it last night…  Of course, someone felt the need to offer me unsolicited tips about my “bravado” (vibrato?), which I will admit, kind of annoyed me.  It’s karaoke, not American Idol.  Besides, while my efforts may not have been perfect– and they never are– they’re just fine for my purposes.  The better person in me realizes that the commenter probably meant well… and maybe thought she was being helpful.

But anyway… I dedicate this to Naomi.  I have a feeling she’d be encouraging and kind about it.  I don’t know what happens after a person dies… maybe her soul can hear these things.  At least I know my soul can still connect with hers.

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Above, you see I linked to a “dedication” to Naomi. I sang “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” I had forgotten that I sang that song for Naomi, so I just clicked the link to check it out. Sure enough, I got some comments from people, which I mentioned in the original post. Most were very nice. But I also got a comment from someone who complimented me, but also wanted to play “voice teacher” on a karaoke site. She said she wanted to hear “more bravado” (vibrato?). Then she instructed me to use my diaphragm more. I suppose she meant I should “support” more with my diaphragm. I have a feeling she’s not an expert.

As I wrote in my original post, I’m sure the lady was trying to be helpful, but I must admit her comments were a bit irritating. If I had asked for advice, that would be one thing. But I hadn’t asked for any tips… and it’s just a karaoke site, anyway. She’s also making a lot of assumptions. What if I’m not someone with healthy lungs?

I’m not going to listen to the recording because, if I am honest, I don’t enjoy listening to my own stuff that much. I find myself criticizing it and wanting to redo it. But it’s entirely possible that I was emotional when I recorded that song. Or… what is more likely is that I didn’t go full out because it would have blown out the recorder. Sometimes, if I get too powerful, the sound cuts out. It’s frustrating, and after multiple redos, you just want to get on with it.

It strikes me, though, that if we were at a bar doing karaoke, I would not get a “do over”. No one would expect perfection. We would all just clap, right? But if you put up recordings on a karaoke site, you might get an unsolicited “lesson” from someone whose counsel and opinions you never sought.

So what does this have to do with today’s title? I just wanted to comment on people who are annoyed by me… and people who annoy me. I’m beginning to think that I’m just not cut out for interacting with others. Some people have the most amazing “people skills”. They are fun to be with and popular. And then there are people like me…

I was going to write a post today about an incident that occurred in the early 90s. I was in a choir and, back then, I was kind of loud and obnoxious. I wasn’t trying to annoy people, but I know I did. And some of them were not at all bashful about telling me so. I remember one guy, who had just made up a song about punching a guy for making him “feel like shit”, yelling at me because he found me “rude” and “obnoxious”. Remembering that song he made up about violence, I couldn’t help but realize it was the pot calling the kettle black.

Other times, people have criticized me for being who I am. Some have outright had the nerve to tell me to my face that I should change who I am to suit them. I remember it made me feel awful, especially since so few of those people ever took the time to get to know me. I’m actually a pretty good person most of the time.

Of course, as I’ve gotten older, I realize that I used to be more outspoken than I am now. And I am not entirely innocent, either. There have been people in my past who got on my nerves. I used to be less kind than I am now. Nowadays, I find myself not wanting to try to connect to people anymore. So many of them turn out to be disappointing… or I disappoint them in some way. I just want to be who I am. And I want to be able to sing a song on a karaoke site, dedicated to a long lost friend, without someone turning it into an unsolicited teaching moment.

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for other people’s opinions about me. I have much less patience for unsolicited advice and verbal abuse. As a matter of fact, one way to permanently get on my grudge list is through verbal abuse. I really can’t take it anymore… and so, that leads me to be kind of socially anxious. I don’t want to try to connect to people, because I feel like it will eventually lead to somewhere unpleasant for both parties.

I think age makes a lot of people set in their ways. I am no exception. I annoy people, and they annoy me… It’s a blessing that I don’t have to deal with people very much anymore. A lot of them make me sad.

I do have fond memories of Naomi, though. She was a very kind lady and, I can see, that she left quite a mark on the world. I’m sure people still miss her very much.

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