condescending twatbags, mental health, music, narcissists, psychology

Say goodbye, not goodnight…

Beth Nielsen Chapman has a really moving song in her catalog called “Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye”. I happened to hear it the other day while I was listening to my “comforting” playlist on iTunes. I have a bunch of playlists I made when iTunes was more functional and I was bored and feeling compulsive. One of the lists is called “comforting”, and it’s a collection of really poignant and beautiful songs that are easy to focus on as I write. A lot of Beth Nielsen Chapman’s songs are on that list. I think she’s a wonderful songwriter. I like to listen to her songs, but I also like singing them. “Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye”, is one I would love to do someday. But I suspect that will have to wait until I get good enough at playing guitar to manage it.

I wish I’d stuck with piano lessons.

I see from the comments on this video that this song appeared on Dawson’s Creek. I remember watching the first season of that show, but I got out of the habit because it was airing at around the time I was in graduate school and I didn’t have time to watch a lot of TV. I also seem to remember that show was on the WB network, and the cable provider in Columbia, South Carolina stopped carrying the WB at some point while I was living there.

This poignant song is about loss, but ultimately, there’s a promise that the separation isn’t forever. Someday, there will be a reconciliation. Maybe after death. It’s comforting to believe that after the pain of separation, there will be a reunion of some sort, whether it’s on Earth or in Heaven or wherever else we go after our time down here is finished. I know Beth Nielsen Chapman has experienced a lot of pain and loss in her life, to include the loss of her first husband, Ernest Chapman, to cancer. She’s managed to parlay those losses into the most beautiful music. Even now, having just listened to that song, I feel a bit verklempt.

You might have noticed that I changed the order of the words to Beth Nielsen Chapman’s song as my post title today. That wasn’t an error. Sometimes, it’s really best to just walk away forever. Most people are worthy of a reunion, if both parties are willing. But some people really aren’t. And sometimes they reveal themselves in really petty ways that are laughable. You realize that someone who is well into middle age or older has, emotionally speaking, never grown up beyond the age of twelve or so.

The older I get, the more I realize that some people are just not worth the effort. And I don’t have to go away mad… but I do have to go away. It hurts a bit– kind of like getting a vaccination, which is painful and inconvenient for a short time, but spares the worse pain that could come if one contracts the actual disease. Everybody has their own ideas of what’s beyond the pale in another person’s behavior. For me, it’s when a person is blatantly disrespectful to me or flies off the handle. I’ll forgive that reaction in people I know well. I don’t forgive it nearly as easily in people I don’t know well.

A few months ago, I had a casual acquaintance on YouTube. We had an okay rapport on the surface. It was friendly and complimentary, as we’re both music buffs and have similar tastes. We even had some successful collaborations. One day, I made an offhand and somewhat off topic comment on a music video he’d posted. He took huge offense to my comment. He proceeded to tell me off in a really over-the-top, insulting, embarrassing way. Then, he said he only wanted me to comment on the music and nothing else.

It wasn’t as if I knew that he had this policy regarding comments on his videos. He hadn’t specifically told me that he’d only wanted certain types of comments, nor was there any kind of notice on his channel that he didn’t like comments that weren’t simple praise for him. I had made the comment completely innocently and was truly shocked and offended by his reaction to it, which was to lecture and shame me about the genius of Paul Simon, and then demand that I ONLY comment on the music. I think it’s lame to get mad and tell people what their reactions must be or dictate what they can or can’t say.

Basically, he was saying that he didn’t want to hear from me unless it was to tell him what a great musician he is. That told me that he wasn’t interested in being friends or getting to know me. He just wanted adoring fans to up his subscribers and hit count. I thought it was overly controlling and ridiculous, but it’s his page; so I just left him to it. And since I was also a bit stung, I deleted my comment and quit interacting with him. I don’t think he realized or cared that what he said was humiliating, or that I was actually pretty hurt. And usually, when people are hurt, they tend to slink away and lick their wounds for awhile.

Time went on, and I quit thinking about the incident and kind of forgot about him. Then last night, I was sitting alone at my dining table, looking through some old postings. I remembered that this person had commented on a lot of them. Do you know that this guy went through and completely scrubbed every single comment? He didn’t block me, which I found interesting… but he did remove all of his comments, which seems like an awful lot of effort, especially since I didn’t even notice until months later. I was amazed… and then I was amused. Because obviously, my decision not to interact with him anymore had really upset him. Then after thinking about it for a moment, I also wasn’t surprised. I had a gut feeling that he would notice my absence and respond in such a way.

I started thinking about what this meant. I’ve spent many years of my life trying to appease people who think they have the right to say and do whatever they want, but they don’t want to grant the other person the same right. It’s happened to me over and over again. I’ve wasted a lot of time and effort on trying to smooth things over when I overstep some imaginary boundary that I never even knew existed. I now realize that people who are that high-maintenance are probably not worth the effort, even if they do play a mean guitar. Life is much too short to walk on eggshells. There are other mean guitar players out there who won’t act like that. In fact, with every passing day, I get better at playing guitar myself. Someday, I hope to get to a point at which I won’t need to collaborate with anyone, if I don’t want to.

Please note– I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with being assertive and telling someone when they’ve upset you or done something offensive. That’s how people get to know each other and determine what behaviors are acceptable. I’m writing about the practice of exploding at people over innocuous things, and then resenting them when they inevitably get offended by that over-the-top reaction. This would not have happened had he simply asked me what I thought of his music rather than belligerently shaming, belittling, lecturing, and demanding a specific response or deference to him. Especially when he never granted me the same courtesy. Let’s not have a double standard; one standard will do just fine.

There were other things I had noticed when we were still on “speaking terms”. Like, he’d often offer me unsolicited advice on how to run my channel. He’d tell me that I shouldn’t post more than one video a day, assuming that my goal is to get popular (it’s not). I often post videos that I make for my blog, so they go up when I need them for a post. Sometimes, I go weeks without posting anything. Sometimes, I’ll post more than one video a day. I also post them when I’m inspired. Would I like it if a lot of people liked my videos? I guess… although I have learned that being popular isn’t always a great thing. The more popular you are, the more shit you tend to get from trolls, creeps, stalkers, and negative people. In any case, I never asked for tips on how to run my channel. I suspect his goals are different than mine are, and that should be okay.

I also noticed that I would post every one of our collaborations on my page and promote his channel, but he only posted one of our collaborations on his page and didn’t promote mine. It got a lot of positive feedback, so I’m left thinking that maybe he didn’t want to share the limelight. It was a little Ike Turner-esque. And it’s not that he didn’t like our collaborations and was being polite by praising me but not sharing them. If that were the case, why would he keep doing them with me? He’d always leave me compliments on our collaborations on my page, but then he didn’t share the collaborations on his. So now I’m thinking he’s probably insecure and a bit jealous of any attention someone else gets, no matter how small. I’m sure it’s not just me, either. He probably does it to other people, too.

I notice a number of red flags…

In any case, as I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the many videos I’ve watched by Les Carter, a therapist who specializes in dealing with narcissists. I don’t know if my former YouTube acquaintance is a narcissist because I don’t know him personally. However, I do think some of his behavior is a bit narcissistic and transactional. He wanted me to be loyal and deferential to him, but wasn’t going to reciprocate. I’ve had my fill of dealing with those types of people. It never ends well. I suppose I could try to “make up” with him by leaving praise on his videos. Maybe he would respond in kind on the few I’ve recently done. But I think it would only be a matter of time before I upset him again and the same thing will happen. I don’t have time for it, and frankly I deserve better.

Anyway, I made another video yesterday. I think it’s okay. I’ll keep working on learning how to play my guitar.

I did this in one take. I kind of wish it had taken more time.

So… I’m saying goodbye, not goodnight. May we both have better and more satisfying interactions with others. There are plenty of wonderful, mature people in the world who aren’t simply about having transactional relationships. I’m going to focus on finding and interacting with those people.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants, social media, stupid people

“No means no”… being assertive is not a crime.

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about how I don’t apologize for occasionally being an “asshole”. Looking back on it, I think I should amend that title. You see, I was raised in an environment in which I was somehow taught that being assertive is an affront to other people. I’m not sure where it comes from, either. My mom and my sisters are all assertive people. My dad was, too. But I was the youngest, raised by a southern, conservative, religious, Air Force veteran who insisted that I needed to have “respect” for him. I am naturally a bit obnoxious and outspoken, and as a child, I often got chastised for being myself. I think the end result is that, as an adult, sometimes I hesitate to stick up for myself when it’s perfectly fine to do so. Sometimes, I even feel guilty for “talking back”.

In that “asshole” post I wrote the other day, I wrote about two incidents in which I found myself at odds with conservative white men on Facebook. The first incident was regarding a guy who, five days after I posted a response to a friend on her Facebook page, decided he needed to confront me about my comment. When he demanded an explanation from me, I responded “You should have asked me five days ago.”

Most people would understand from that comment that I am not interested in engaging. But this guy is clearly pretty dense. Because he came back with a snarky comment, not taking the hint that I wasn’t going to be arguing with him. Again, my response was very clear. I wrote something along the lines of, “I have zero desire to talk to you. Leave me alone.” Most people, having been firmly asked to leave someone alone, will back off and find someone else to bother.

That wasn’t enough for this person, though. He continued to try to engage, and asked me why I had responded to him. And I asked him, “Why did you? I responded to this thread days ago. Just let it go.” Again– clear as day. I was saying “no” to him. He engaged a fourth time and I wrote, “Give it up.” After the next comment, I finally hit the block button. I don’t actually like to block people, but sometimes it’s necessary. And yes, I realize I could have just ignored him, but that would leave him free to keep tagging me in posts.

The sad thing is, he probably thinks he’s “won” by being so annoying and disrespectful that I finally felt the need to force him to leave me alone. If that’s how he gets his kicks, I guess I’m happy to oblige in helping him. I have to wonder about guys like him. Why can’t they simply respect another person when they clearly ask them to stop harassing them?

Before I blocked him, I took a look at the guy’s page. People always do this, don’t they? You get into a scrape with someone and you check out their Facebook page just to see where they’re coming from. From a few seconds of looking at his page, I learned that this gentleman is conservative politically, lives in the Midwest, and is divorced. If this is how he treats strangers on the Internet, I can see why he’s divorced. He clearly doesn’t have any respect for other people. I suspect that he doesn’t respect women, especially. Anyone who isn’t a Trump supporter ranks even lower.

It might have been fun to resort to insulting the guy, but it was clear he was playing a power game with me. And I didn’t want to play. I made it very clear that I didn’t want to play, even before the temptation to resort to insults arose. I didn’t want to waste time and energy coming up with clever insults against someone who obviously doesn’t respect me as a person. I can see on the other thread he engaged in, he doesn’t respect other women, either.

Next thing I knew, I was ruminating about what kind of upbringing this guy must have had. What was his mother like? Where did he learn this habit of trying to force women into arguments with him, demanding that they defend their opinions when they’ve made it abundantly clear they aren’t interested? Is he like this when it comes to his offline relationships, too? Does he demand that his romantic partners engage with him, even when they’ve made it very clear that they want to be left alone?

This clearly applies to sexual assault and rape. It also applies to interactions online.

Maybe that might seem like a stretch to some. Men who are very overbearing and insistent toward women, hectoring them in an attempt to force them to interact, may only be that way in a verbal sense. But as I sat there pondering this person’s disrespectful actions toward me, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d go as far as to assault a woman for saying “no” to his advances. Assuming he’s not gay, I wonder what he does when she says she’s got a headache or isn’t in the mood. Is he going to keep nagging, whining, and badgering until he finally tries to take what he wants by physical force?

I suspect what this guy really wants is attention. He might even be horrified that I wonder if he’s capable of rape. It seems to me, though, that if a woman clearly says “no” and a man keeps poking, it’s not that much of a leap to assume that person has serious issues with boundaries, much like rapists do. If someone can’t respect a person who clearly asks to be left alone, even if it’s just online, what are they like when the objects of their attention are within an arm’s reach of them? Hopefully, they are a little less bold about “reaching out” in that case. I still wonder, though.

Maybe I should have asked him if he has boundary issues offline, too? Imagine the reaction I would have gotten if I had asked him if he makes a habit out of ignoring people who ask him to stop bugging them. What if I’d thrown in an insane or accusatory comment about sexual assault? He probably would have reacted with outrage, and there would have been a huge shitshow, which no doubt would have attracted a lot of lurkers and comments. But I suspect that would have only made me look unhinged and caused offense. I think it’s a fair question, though. If someone explicitly makes a reasonable request to be left alone, and another person refuses to honor that request, it says something loud and clear about the person who won’t take “no” for an answer.

Which brings me to my next point… One of the reasons I didn’t want to engage with this guy is because he was pestering me on a mutual friend’s page. I don’t know the boundary challenged guy at all. I also haven’t met our mutual friend offline, but she and I both like horses. That’s how we have a connection. We “met” on a second wives and stepmothers Web site we both used to frequent. I don’t pay much attention to most of her political posts, but the one that I did comment on had triggered me because of a grammar error. Otherwise, I let her post whatever she wants to about Trump and Limbaugh, without any input whatsoever from me. I’m mainly interested in her ponies, goats, donkey, and horses, and that’s about it.

Boundary challenged guy probably knows her personally, and they obviously have a stronger bond. I don’t feel comfortable having pointless arguments with mutual friends on other people’s Facebook pages. I figure that kind of drama should be hosted on one of the involved parties’ pages, unless the “host” gives their express permission. Also, it was pretty clear to me that his mind is made up on matters involving conservative politics. My mind is also made up. You will never convince me that Donald Trump or Rush Limbaugh have done great things for America. So there’s no point in having a discussion. But really, when it comes down to it, I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my opinions. When I say “no”, I mean it.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not still sometimes hard to say it. I still sit here after a confrontation like that and ruminate, asking myself “WTF?” I mean, if I had known that leaving a comment for my friend was going to result in an uninvited correspondence with one of her friends, I surely would have kept scrolling. I find myself scrolling a lot lately… which makes me wonder why I haven’t ditched Facebook yet. I stick around for the people I know around the world who I enjoy keeping up with. But every year, with every unpleasant or unnecessary negative interaction I have with some stranger online, I wonder again if keeping up with my friends is worth it. Then I contemplate kicking more people off my page. 🙂

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music

Was I wrong to buy Bill a guitar?

In the interest of not ranting about politics right now, I want to pose the question that serves as today’s post title. Was I wrong to choose a guitar for Bill? I ask, because I think I inspired the following post in Fender Play’s Facebook group.

I have to admit, I kind of get her point…

I was so excited about ordering the new guitars that I posted about it in the Fender group. I got many likes and loves, but few comments. It didn’t occur to me why I didn’t get a lot of comments. I just wanted to share the news in a group where people love posting about their guitars. Folks are encouraged to post about their “new gear”, after all.

But then I saw the above post as I woke up this morning and it occurred to me that I probably gave some people the heebie jeebies when I wrote about “surprising” Bill with a guitar. Some of them might have felt I stepped out of my lane, presuming to make that kind of a purchase. I can see why they’d feel that way… it’s kind of like when someone gifts you with underwear. How do they know your preferences? I sure wouldn’t want a thong as a gift, for instance. By the same token, it’s not generally a good idea to give someone a pet as a gift. I guess some people see guitars as like dogs or cats… there has to be a “fit”. I don’t think guitars are like pets. A guitar doesn’t have feelings and won’t die of abuse or neglect. I’ve seen a lot of people in that group posting pictures of all of their instruments, too. Who’s to say Bill can’t try this one and get something else on his own later? A guitar isn’t like a spouse that can be cheated on.

Actually, my decision to buy the guitar for Bill’s birthday wasn’t a surprise for him. We’ve talked about him trying the guitar. A couple of weeks ago, he asked me if I minded if he tried playing my guitar. I let him hold it and he played a few chords that I showed him. A few days later, he said he wanted to try taking online lessons, too. He’s been listening to me practice every day and I’ve made some notable progress, although I’m not quite ready to post a video. I guess it’s inspired him to give it a go, just as he’s been using Duolingo to brush up on German and Spanish while we wait out the pandemic.

Bill says he only ever tried to play one instrument. It was the violin. His attempt was many years ago, so he really doesn’t even know what he likes in a guitar. He has no experience with it. I didn’t have much myself until last month. The guitar I bought is fine, and I’m sure I’ll still play it once the fancier one gets to me. It’s a classical guitar, while the one I bought this week has a different sound. But it may turn out I like Bill’s new guitar the best… or he’ll prefer the one I’ve been playing. Who knows?

I also know Bill really well… and it did turn out that I picked the one he’d been attracted to. I knew he wanted a basic level model. I knew he’d like it in black. There aren’t a lot of colors available for the basic guitars on Fender, so it wasn’t hard to choose the one he’d pick. If I’d bought him the one I chose for myself, then it might be harder to get the one he’d pick out, since they come in more colors, shapes, and sizes. Either way, the guitar I got for him with a 10% discount cost less than 200 euros, which for us, isn’t a lot of money. There was a time when it would have been, but it’s not at the moment. So I felt okay in making the purchase. If he sticks with guitar and decides to upgrade, I’ll let him choose one for himself.

On a more personal note, I was happy to choose a gift for him that doesn’t have to do with food or alcohol. We’re running out of space for gadgets and God knows we have enough booze in the house. A guitar is something he can enjoy for years, if he takes to playing it. If he doesn’t take to it, at least he’ll have the chance to try it. It’ll be one more life experience for him… and something we might be able to share at some point, if and when we both get to the point that other people would want to listen to us play. I really liked the comment below, posted on that thread, by a man whose wife bought him a guitar…

So the guitar my wife got me was a starter guitar, I’ve played now for 14 years. I would have loved a Gibson / Epiphone les paul, she got me a squire strat with limited edition color.

Although it wouldn’t be my first pick, it was an unbelievably kind gesture showing she supports me getting back into music.

Plus it helps I’m not picky and feel comfortable with most guitars.

And I’m sure if the guitar wasn’t a right fit for me (playing wise) she’s be willing to go with me to exchange it.


Her and my mother-in-law are seeing my excitement with music and my preferences in equipment and they’re learning more about it to help support me and make more informed choices.

I see giving Bill a guitar as akin to opening the door to playing his own music. He usually sits by and watches and listens to me. I know he loves music as much as I do, but he wasn’t blessed with a nice singing voice. He’d be the first to admit that, and I would agree… although I think he could do better if he put his mind to it. But I have told him that I know a number of good musicians who don’t sing. Singing or not singing doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not someone can play music.

Another poster had this to say, which I related to:

My husband bought me my first guitar out of the blue about a year ago and it changed my life.

Yes, after a couple of months I upgraded from a starter guitar to something nicer. But if he hadn’t given me that gift, I wouldn’t be playing today. 

Now, though,…yeah, I’d like to pick out my own.

I knew a woman in college who played piano beautifully. In fact, she was a music major, and I remember being awestruck by how well she played complex classical pieces in recitals. But she was also in my voice studio and her singing was rather cringeworthy. One of my college roommates majored in organ, and I think she might have been the very last organ major at our school. She didn’t sing at all, but boy could she play the organ! My mom also plays organ and piano, but I have rarely heard her sing. I don’t know if it’s because she just doesn’t like to or because she thinks she can’t. No one would ever say she isn’t musically talented, though. Maybe Bill will turn out to be really good at guitar. Or maybe he’ll decide to try something else. We’ll never know if we don’t take the plunge, although maybe it would have been better if we’d gone to the music store in Wiesbaden. But if we did that, we’d have to wear masks, and I don’t wanna.

Anyway, I thought that thread was interesting. It seemed like a lot of people might have felt what I did was borderline offensive. I was glad to see comments like the ones above, though. And this was what I posted myself, since I have a feeling my post might have inspired the thread in the first place:

Ordinarily, I would agree… but I know my husband really well.  😀 In fact, when I showed him the one I bought for him, he said “That is exactly the one I would have picked out for myself!” He’s very easy to please, though. I buy most of his clothes for him, too.  

And, I want to add that he knows better than to pick one out for me, because I am a lot less easy to please. Instead, he takes me on trips or out to dinner.

Speaking of music… I was very pleased to listen to Immediate Family’s new song. Immediate Family is a band made up of some really incredible session players who have always been on the cusp of fame, even though they are every bit as talented as the headliners they back. Check this out!

Seriously… I love these guys! You can see how much they love what they do, too!

I may do a few songs today, since Bill has to go in to work. I like to do music when he’s not around, since I get distracted and self-conscious. But weirdly enough, I don’t mind practicing guitar when he’s home. Hopefully our new gear will get to us by Friday, since Bill is taking me out for my birthday on Saturday.

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