karma, lessons learned, musings, narcissists

When “obsessed fans” are also obsessed with their own privacy…

Wednesday has arrived, and my nose has finally stopped acting like a faucet. So far– knock on wood– the skin under my nose isn’t completely destroyed. I’m a bit congested and tired. I slept for most of the afternoon yesterday, and then through the night, with one potty break. I ordered some tissues and ointment from Amazon, even though I live within walking distance of both a pharmacy and a grocery store. I threw in some mini Reese’s Cups to boost my morale, although maybe I should shop for a new Apple Watch. 😉

I am experienced enough with life to know that I should hold off on being too optimistic. Maybe this will turn out to be a brief cold, though. I hope it will. The weather is positively glorious in Germany this time of year. Very soon, it will turn to shit for months on end. I would like to enjoy the last days of summer 2023.

Last night, just to pass the time, I went Googling and soon ended up on LinkedIn. I haven’t used LinkedIn in years, and actually thought I’d deleted my account. But no, I do still exist on that site, albeit with a very naked profile using my maiden name. I went on the site because I was curious about someone I met only once in person, but who, along with his late wife, has had a profound effect on me since we moved to Germany. I don’t think I’ve ever written about him, mainly because I only met him the one time. I wasn’t all that impressed by him on that day in late August 2014. He’s former tenant’s husband, a guy who gave Bill a fake name and basically lied to our faces about how “wonderful” the landlords were.

I found him on LinkedIn last night, and for the first time since 2014, saw his face in a photo. He’s leaving the Army and looking for work. I would imagine retiring is now a necessity, given that he has a couple of kids to raise on his own. The specialized work he did required a lot of dangerous, classified travel to exotic lands. I took a look at his profile and passed it on to Bill, who basically deciphered it for me. Some of the words he was using were code for certain activities in the military… things that civilians wouldn’t necessarily understand at first glance, but Army folks know very well.

I didn’t spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, in spite of my curiosity. Seeing that guy’s profile just made me feel icky. I do wonder, though… I think it’s only natural.

Ever since I found out that former tenant died by her own hand last year, I’ve been left with all kinds of questions. I’m sure a lot of people might think that’s weird, or I’m just being nosy. I guess that’s a fair enough assessment. On the other hand, since she left me with this weird legacy, I figured I’m owed a little wonder. Thanks to her, I went through some pretty significant psychological trauma. Yet, I barely knew her. She knew– or thought she knew— a lot more about me than I did about her.

The only reason I even know about former tenant’s death, or have any questions about her whatsoever, is because for the four years we lived in our ex landlady’s house, she was monitoring my blogs. She had led me to believe she liked my travel blog, but she’d also found her way to my main blog, and she regularly took issue on the rare occasions that I wrote anything about ex landlady or the absolute psychological shitshow our time in that house eventually became. Former tenant would leave me blog comments, then delete them. Later, she unabashedly wrote that ex landlady’s daughter was also reading my blogs, as she chastised me for my content. In her last missive to me, she insinuated that I was “unhinged”. And yet, here I am still among the living, with no young children mourning my absence in their lives.

She shamed me over some fiction I’d written, but not yet had the chance to develop. She thought I was going to “trash” the family… who, frankly, totally would have deserved it. But, for the record, that wasn’t my plan at all. It was a fiction piece— yes, based on people I know, but most of the people who read this blog don’t even know me online, let alone off. And the story itself was a complete and obvious fabrication. Aside from that, she presumed I was writing about the ex landlady’s daughter; a woman I have never met in person, and whose first name I never even knew, until former tenant mentioned it in her final message. Ex landlady had never deigned to introduce me to her daughters. I guess she didn’t want me influencing them. 😉

Just because I’ve written snarky stories in the past, that doesn’t mean I ALWAYS write snarky stories. Moreover, the piece I’d started writing was barely developed. There was no outline to the story. It was maybe a page or two, with no significant plot development. I didn’t even know what the plot was, myself. It also never entered my mind that my actions in late 2018– in my new home– were of any concern whatsoever to a woman I had met one or two times in 2014. If I wasn’t “unhinged” at that point, I sure started to feel that way in February 2019, when it felt like I still had a “bug” in my home.

All the while, former tenant would stress how important her “privacy” was. She used different names for every comment, most of which she later deleted. She apparently assumed a lot about me, and what kind of person I am, simply by reading and judging my blog entries. I think she also wildly underestimated my intelligence, as it soon became obvious.

When former tenant was still living, I didn’t stalk her online. I didn’t so much as look her or her husband up on Google. I tried to be respectful of her privacy, even as she clearly had contempt for mine. I tolerated her complaints and even edited for her at least once or twice. Meanwhile, she must have been assuming I am a complete lunatic. I wouldn’t mind that so much if she’d kept it to just thinking I was crazy. Lots of people who don’t actually know me have thought that about me, over the years. But she was, apparently, sharing her thoughts about me with the landlady, and then later boldly admitting it to me, as she shamed me for having the nerve to be pissed. Somehow, this was all supposed to be my fault.

It all came to a head in February 2019, when I read that final private message from former tenant about how cruel and hurtful I was to her “friends”, and demanding to know what they had done to deserve such “mean” treatment from me. The reality is, they were the ones who were cruel to me. All I ever really wanted was to be left alone. You don’t have to like me, or even respect how I live my life. Just leave me alone. Otherwise, yes… I may be inspired to write about you in an ambiguous way. The difference is, you don’t have to read what I write. It’s a conscious choice– one that is usually brought about by being a nosy busybody with a complete lack of respect for boundaries.

Folks… the reality is, I didn’t actually write that much about ex landlady. I vented a couple of times toward the end of our tenancy, mainly because she was driving me crazy. She kept accusing me of doing things I didn’t do, yelling at me in my own home, and treating me like a five year old. She’d complain about ridiculous things, like a clump of dog hair in a doorway, declaring it “filth”. She’d show up unannounced when I wasn’t prepared to receive her, then look at me with disdain when I wasn’t dressed properly. She was extremely rude to Bill, and when we moved out, she tried to rip off our deposit as she declared us the worst tenants she’d ever had. She refused to negotiate over anything, and then threatened us when we had a lawyer write to her, reminding her of German law. She also falsely accused us of theft. And all of this was happening as we were losing our beloved Zane, one of the beagles who kept me sane when I lived in that house.

Meanwhile, former tenant got a pass, because they were “friends”, even though I know very well that at least some of the stuff ex landlady was complaining about were things that happened when she and her husband lived in the house. Fortunately, I DID have those blogs, which served as a record of events, since ex landlady never did a proper check in or check out between us. I also had photos and a few comments from former tenant that helped us prove our case when we later successfully sued ex landlady. So, we were vindicated in the end, although it still left me fuming at the violation and the gall they all had. It could have so easily gone the other way, with us stuck with the bill for upgrading ex landlady’s rental house and looking guilty.

Bill and I have had a few less than stellar renting experiences, but we have NEVER been treated with the level of disrespect and unfairness as we were when we left our last house. And never before did I have someone affiliated with a landlord or landlady monitoring and reporting on my blogs. Especially not someone who simultaneously demanded privacy for herself.

I’m pretty sure former tenant had people in her family monitoring my blogs, too. I could tell by hits I was getting from certain parts of the country, which stopped when the case was settled. I imagine she told her family and friends that I was some sort of mad blogger, trying to ruin people’s lives. That’s not true at all. I just enjoy writing, and I write about things that affect me. It’s sort of my vocation. She made me out to be some kind of crazy person, when all we were doing is asserting our rights to be treated fairly under German law. I’m sure to those people, Bill and I are just crooks who ripped off a kindly elderly couple in Germany. I guess it doesn’t really matter, since I’ll probably never meet those people, anyway. It still smarts a bit, though… because former tenant accused ME of spreading lies, when the opposite was true.

I tried really hard to block former tenant from my mind, but it was hard. The lawsuit took about 18 months to settle, mainly due to COVID. By then, it was around August 2021, months after we reached an agreement– our lawyer had to send former landlady another letter demanding payment, because after she agreed to settle, she never bothered to pay. Hopefully, the lawyer charged her for that letter, too. Former landlady finally sent the money to the lawyer, who then forwarded it to us. Pure contempt, straight to the end!

Once all that awful stuff was finally over, I tried to put it behind me, even though it was pretty infuriating and left me feeling violated on many levels. For three years, I had former tenant blocked on Facebook, and never so much as did an online search of her name. But then in late May last year, Bill told me something that made me curious. Since former tenant had worked for the same company Bill did, he noticed when she was no longer on the roster of employees. He also didn’t see her working for the government.

I decided to search her name on Google, just to see where she was. That’s when I found several detailed obituaries for her in at least two states, as well as a couple of memorial services on YouTube. She’d committed suicide several months earlier. So much for her privacy. She left behind her husband and two sons, as well as a host of family and friends who obviously loved and missed her, and grieved her decision to end her own life.

Here I am, years later, still ruminating on this. I think it’s because it’s September, and that was the month we moved into that house. I remember thinking from the get go that we may be in for a difficult time, but I was so glad to be back in Germany and settled somewhere. The summer of 2014 had been absolutely terrible for us. So I was just glad to be in a home, even if the former landlady had seemed obsessed with monitoring us and was very untrusting. Never did I ever conceive of being in the situation we found ourselves in a few years later.

As a person who likes to read and write stories, maybe some people can understand why this situation is still in my head. It reminds me of a Lifetime movie. All we wanted was a place to live. We ended up with a situation that I could probably turn into a made for TV movie screenplay, if I was so inclined… and maybe if it was the 90s, and people still watched such things on TV.

Sigh… well, at least it’s Wednesday, which means it’s a light chore day. Maybe I’ll find another diversion. I started reading a new book, which promises to be interesting and fun to review. And there’s always trashy TV. That might cause me less trouble than writing blog posts. 😉

Anyway… as my literature loving husband, Bill, likes to say, “Murder will out…” Or, maybe in this case, “Self-murder will out.”

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complaints, condescending twatbags, overly helpful people, pests, social media

“… and that’s OKAY…” Very glad you think so, lady.

I had kind of an annoying experience yesterday. It was early evening, and I was binge watching Audit the Audit videos on YouTube. They’re very addictive and educational, you know.

While I was watching the videos, I was sort of half-assed looking at Facebook. At some point recently, I started following a chef/author called Culinary Anarchy. He’s kind of entertaining and snarky. He posted something that made me pause…

Sometimes, this is true. Sometimes, it’s not.

I get that the good chef posted the words “generally speaking”. But then he wrote, “I’ve run this page for over a decade now and this is the case more often than not…..”

I know… I should have just kept scrolling, but I couldn’t help but remember that cursed day in August 2008, when I first got on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t have many good pictures of myself. We lived in Germany at the time, and I didn’t own a cell phone. I didn’t need one, because those were the early days of the iPhone, and no one ever called me… Free, public WiFi wasn’t yet a thing (especially in Germany), and we didn’t want to get tied down with a cell phone contract. Turns out that was a good plan, since we didn’t quite make it to our second anniversary during that first stint. As it was, Bill had a really cheap phone that was very primitive. I finally got my first iPhone in 2009.

I was not a Mac user until around 2011, and my HP computer didn’t have an internal camera on it. If it did, I didn’t know about it. And even if it did, I really didn’t know how to take selfies. I also didn’t like it when other people took pictures of me, especially when they were unflattering and the photographer insisted on sharing them. One of my pet peeves is when I’m trying to eat dinner or something and some photographer wants to take a photo and sell it to me. I mostly find having my picture taken kind of mortifying.

So, for the first couple of years that I was a Facebook user, I didn’t really use pictures of myself on my profile. I think the first time I used a photo of myself was in the summer of 2009, when we went on a Royal Caribbean Baltic cruise (our first cruise, and the only one we’ve ever done on a big ship). On that cruise, the photographer did get a somewhat decent shot of Bill and me. We bought it, and I took a picture of it, because I didn’t have a scanner. That served as my profile pic for awhile. I think I used another selfie in 2011 sometime, when I bought my first Mac, and discovered the camera function.

I remember some friends being kind of excited by that photo. One friend wrote something along the lines of, “It’s you. It’s YOU! You’re lovely!” I was dressed up because Bill and I were going to an event in downtown Atlanta. Some people in the state of Georgia had organized a fundraiser for the country of Georgia. We thought it might be interesting, so we went. And I took that opportunity to take a new selfie.

Slowly, over the years, I got braver about taking selfies. For the longest time, I wouldn’t use my phone to take one, but now I’ve finally figured out how to flip the image so I don’t look deranged. So now, there are more photos of me available for people to look at, if they are so inclined to do that. But I still don’t go out of my way to have my photo taken, and I wouldn’t say I change pictures very often. Mostly, it’s because I hate putting on makeup.

Recently, I started videoing myself for my YouTube videos. I still can’t bear to watch myself on camera, but I’ve been told it’s better for engagement. It’s also a lot easier to make videos with a video recording, rather than using still photos. I can just take the whole thing and paste it in, rather, than adjusting for timing and putting in transitions. I much prefer not having to put photos in videos on my creaky iMac, which will be retired in the coming days, as I just ordered a new computer yesterday. Adding still photos tends to make my machine freeze.

You may have gotten the idea by now that I don’t think of myself as particularly appealing to look at. I feel self-conscious. I still don’t use the video function when I make recordings on SingSnap. I don’t like doing video calls with people. In fact, I don’t even like making or receiving phone calls, anymore (that wasn’t always the case). And I have also come to dislike most chat, too… even with Bill. In short, I’ve become kind of a reclusive curmudgeon.

Anyway, when I saw that post by Culinary Anarchy, I decided to comment. I wrote this:

I did it because I was ugly.

I was actually kind of being facetious. I know I’m not an “ugly” person, at least not in the physical sense. I don’t actually think there are a lot of truly “ugly” people in the world, literally or figuratively. But I didn’t feel the need to explain that to the peanut gallery.

It didn’t take long before someone left me a response. I actually liked what this guy wrote.

…that’s my current dilemma. Hit a certain point in my life where I don’t even wanna look in the mirror so I don’t post selfies much anymore and I don’t wanna post old pics of me.

Yes… this guy totally gets it. There comes a point in your life when you don’t want to be reminded of what time has done to your face and physique. It has nothing to do with being stalked or stalking other people. Some people also just don’t feel the need to put it all out there, regardless. Even in this age of social media saturation, some people still like their privacy.

So then I wrote, “I don’t photograph well and it took a long time before I learned how to do selfies.”

If I can control the camera, I can avoid the half lidded, half blinking look, half dozen chins, big zits, gin blossoms, wrinkles, or whatever else is distressing for me to look at. Maybe that’s vain of me, but life is tough enough without that burden, right?

There were a couple of kind and complimentary comments, which I appreciated, but wasn’t necessarily fishing for.

And then came the comment from that person… you know the kind– the person who assumes too much. Here’s what she wrote:

as my kid would say, you look normal.

Most of us look normal and not like models or social media influencers and that’s ok.

Ahem… Maybe it’s me, but I found this to be a pretty obnoxious and presumptuous comment. Where did this person get the idea that I hoped to look like a model or a social influencer? Especially since I now have a photo of myself on my profile. I obviously overcame my hesitation, right? But even if I hadn’t done that and was still using a picture of a grey heron as my profile pic, would this lady be assuming I want to look like a model? Or I was being stalked by someone? The point is, some of us don’t like how we look in photos, and we’re all too aware of not looking like models.

So I wrote this:

Yeah, I eventually got over it. Never expected to look like a model or a social influencer. I just didn’t want to cringe.

I noticed that I certainly wasn’t the only one who posted that I didn’t use a profile picture of myself because I felt “too ugly.” So I don’t know if Culinary Anarchy’s theory necessarily holds up as much as he assumes it does. Still, I was a little irritated by that woman’s comment about models and social influencers. I know… I have an ego issue. Prick me and I bleed. The older I get, the more people bug me.

I tell you what… I probably would have been less annoyed if the woman hadn’t ended her comment with “and that’s okay.” I think of strangers telling me “and that’s okay” as the catchphrase for the “overly helpful.” It’s as if she thought I was angsty and needed her consolation or reassurance. Actually, I think she needed a hearty “Fuck off and die” or something more colorful like that…

Back when I first posted my original selfies, I had a few “overly helpful” people on my friends list. I was a lot “nicer” in those days, so I was pretty tolerant of their irritating attempts to boost themselves by offering lame observations or attempts to be unsolicited “helpers”.

Overly helpful types of people tend to act like other people need their sage wisdom to get through life. They offer unwelcome advice, play “devil’s advocate”, or armchair psychoanalyze. In fairness, a lot of us do the armchair psychoanalysis thing, but it’s pretty annoying when people are bold enough to do it, unasked for, to someone else’s face. Feeling comfortable enough to do that, especially to someone one has never even met in person, often indicates a lack of respect.

Respect is a big deal to me. I spent too many years not being respected by people who supposedly loved me. So now, if someone is disrespectful to me, I tend to form a negative opinion and remember it for a long time.

So then I asked my friends this question:

Why do people feel the need to make assumptions about total strangers based on innocuous Facebook comments? I said I didn’t have a FB profile photo for awhile because I was “ugly”. I then explained that I don’t photograph well and once lacked selfie skills. Some person accused me of wanting to look like a model or a social influencer, then helpfully added that most of us don’t look like that, “and that’s okay.” 🖕

Nah, I never expected any of that. I just don’t like cringing at my visage.

That question invited more compliments and protests about my self-evaluation of my appearance. Again, I was genuinely asking the question, not looking for compliments. Okay, I was also annoyed and venting a little bit, too.

So I finally wrote this:

I think Bill is a handsome man, but he had the same problem I had. I am good at taking his picture, though, because I love him and make a point of catching his best features. Most people who photograph me (Bill included), get my multiple chins, cellulite, and beer gut. 😉 I just don’t want to see that in a photo of me. If I want to see that, I’ll look in the mirror. 😆

It’s true. I am legitimately very good at taking pictures of Bill. It’s not exactly an easy thing to do, either. He’s a very good looking man, in my opinion. However, he often doesn’t photograph well, because he’s camera shy and self-conscious about his appearance. He also has sensitive eyes and blinks easily. I have figured out a way to get him to look his best. It usually involves my telling him a dirty joke and making him laugh, then having laser sharp reflexes. Even with that method, sometimes I fail and catch him mid blink or slouching too much. I delete those photos, which he appreciates. I have gotten some pretty great shots of him, much to his mom’s delight.

Alas, Bill hasn’t caught on to using that trick for me. Or maybe he’s just better looking than I am. 😉 However, I have noticed that some of the best photos of me are the ones with him in them. He genuinely makes me smile, so I don’t look fake. When I take a selfie and try to smile, it often doesn’t look right, because it’s too posed. Lighting is also important. I look best in natural sunlight.

I know some people think all of this sounds vain… and maybe it is vain. But since I probably look at and notice my profile picture the most, I figure I should have one that doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t mean I want to be a model (Jesus Christ, really?). I have no desire to be a social influencer (and I’m 50 fucking years old, so that ain’t happening.) What other people think of my visage is really none of my business. I just don’t want to look like Ziggy. I’m much less concerned about my friends laughing at my photo at home, than I am about having to face that reflection myself.

… and that’s okay… (BARF)

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healthcare, law, politicians, politics, Reality TV, sexism

“Activist judges” in South Carolina have defied the right wing alpha MALES, and I am so here for it!

Featured photo is in the public domain.

Yesterday was an interesting day. After I wrote my too long and too opinionated review of Jamie Lynn Spears’ book, Things I Should Have Said, I waited all day for the Amazon guy to show up with my latest toys. I bought an Amazon Echo Dot for my bedroom, as well as a couple of “smart” power strips that I can’t figure out how to configure. I was inspired to make that purchase because Bill bought me an Echo Dot for my office. I don’t really need one for either place, since I have so many other devices, to include my big desktop iMac computer that is outfitted with Siri. But they are nice to have… and it’s kind of fun when Alexa gives me a notification that turns its ring yellow. Makes me think of all the 70s era space travel shows I missed when I was a kid.

While I was waiting for my delivery, I noticed some exciting news coming out of South Carolina, the state where I spent three years earning my “overeducated housewife” status. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the six week abortion law is unconstitutional. The law has been struck down, as the majority of the five justices determined “that the law that restricted abortions after detectable fetal cardiac activity [is] ‘an unreasonable restriction upon a woman’s right to privacy’.” Thanks to the 3-2 decision, abortion is now, once again, legal in South Carolina until 20 weeks gestation. This ruling comes almost two years after current South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into law the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act. That law made abortion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, except in limited situations such as pregnancies that would endanger the pregnant person’s life or were caused by rape or incest.

I was heartened to read the comments by Justice Kaye G. Hearn, who wrote the opinion of the majority. She stated, “Few decisions in life are more private than the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy. Our privacy right must be implicated by restrictions on that decision.”

Naturally, some people were rattled by Justice Hearn’s statement. I noticed the ones who were quoted in the Washington Post article link I unlocked were all MEN. Governor McMaster tweeted, “Our State Supreme Court has found a right in our Constitution which was never intended by the people of South Carolina. With this opinion, the Court has clearly exceeded its authority. The people have spoken through their elected representatives multiple times on this issue.

McMaster added that he “look[s] forward to working with the General Assembly to correct this error.”

I find McMaster’s wording very intriguing. He wrote, “Our State Supreme Court has found a ‘right’ in our Constitution…” That’s right, Henry. It is a RIGHT. I lived in South Carolina and worked in maternal and child health and healthcare policy there. I know about South Carolina’s moronic and ineffective approach to preventing unintended pregnancies… Just tell the girls to abstain.

Well, it’s not their public health approach, really. I found the public health folks working at the Department of Health and Environmental Control to be quite intelligent and informed on the issue, including why it’s important that women have access to abortion healthcare. It’s the right wing MALE legislators who have their heads firmly lodged in their asses. These same folks have no desire whatsoever to do anything to help people who find themselves unintentionally pregnant. They don’t give a damn about making sure those babies are born healthy to people who are prepared to raise them. It’s all about fear and shame, and telling women to keep their mouths closed and their legs crossed. Ridiculous… and completely unrealistic.

I don’t see how McMaster’s comments square with what happened to our federal rights to have abortions. For fifty years, women all across America had that right, and it was unceremoniously taken away from us by Trump’s trio of pro-life “activist judges”. Now, McHenry is accusing his own state’s Supreme Court judges of “exceeding their authority”, simply because he doesn’t agree with their interpretation of South Carolina’s Constitutional law. They were doing their jobs, Henry. You should do yours, and work for the betterment of ALL South Carolinians, not just your hyper-male, conservative, Republican buddies. 😉

The other quote in the article comes from another Republican male, Jeff Duncan, who says he’s “extremely disappointed” with the decision made by “activist judges” in South Carolina. Sounds to me like these judges are compassionate, Jeff. Do you have the same level of compassion for women who, for whatever personal, private reason, do not wish to be pregnant? Do you value the right to privacy for all people? Why should a woman who finds herself unintentionally pregnant have to justify terminating her pregnancy to ANYONE? It’s her BODY, Jeff; not yours. You will never face this choice. You will never have to deal with the multitude of changes that happen when someone gets pregnant. So kindly develop some compassion for the already born, and do what you can to make life better for them. Maybe then, your constituents might not feel like they need to have an abortion for reasons you don’t deem “acceptable”.

It seems to me that people who don’t like abortion should simply not have one. They should not lobby to take that right away from other people. Developing embryos and fetuses don’t have a concept of abortion, nor do they experience pain until quite late in pregnancy, beyond when the vast majority of people would consider having an abortion. And those who do, almost universally do so because the alternative to having one would be much worse.

Even MAGA idiot Donald Trump has recently opined about the foolishness of being extreme about taking away women’s abortion rights. He was recently complaining about the Republicans’ poor showing during the midterms. He said on his very own Truth Social:

“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the midterms.” Then he added, “It was the ‘abortion issue’, poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother, that lost large numbers of voters.” Then he finished with, “Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.”

Those comments are now prompting anti-abortion groups to fire back, and indeed, a bunch of Trump’s former supporters are turning on him. I guess they’re finally seeing what some of us have noticed all along. But, in this case, Trump is actually right. A lot of people in the United States are legitimately angry about abortion rights being taken away. And many of the pissed off among us are women who would ordinarily vote Republican. Those women, many of whom are business people whose livelihoods could be adversely affected by unintended pregnancies, don’t want to be forced back into the kitchen. Quite a few of the rest of them are, like I am, disgusted by the idea that they would have to explain to anyone why they want or need to have an abortion. It’s, quite frankly, no one else’s business, no matter what the reason is. And basic privacy is, if not a right, an expectation, especially when it comes to healthcare. Abortion is healthcare for the already born women who need it, even if it’s not for the developing embryos or fetuses who have the potential to be born.

I, for one, am so ready for this issue to be settled, once and for all. This constant back and forth ping ponging about abortion is ridiculous, and it’s preventing actual work from being done to help the rank and file already born people who are actually struggling to survive. When a person is having trouble paying their bills, the last thing they want to be is unexpectedly pregnant, especially when they live in a state that is notoriously stingy about funding social welfare programs. And I am SO SICK of MEN inserting themselves in this issue, especially since a lot of them don’t even know the first thing about pregnancy or even female anatomy. They just want control over women. It’s plain and simple. Of course, some of the idiot Republican males who are claiming to be “disappointed” about this decision would not hesitate to provide access to and pay for abortions for their knocked up daughters or mistresses, would they?

Moving on…

It was totally random that I reviewed Jamie Lynn Spears’ book yesterday, and she is now participating in a new Fox reality show called Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test. I heard about the show yesterday, which also includes actress Beverley Mitchell, gymnast Nastia Liukin, Kate Gosselin (who has already washed out), and Dr. Drew Pinsky (also already eliminated). The first two episodes dropped on Wednesday, so I downloaded them yesterday and watched. I have to say, I found the show kind of boring and hokey. But… the cast mix is kind of interesting, given that it’s a mix of a lot of different kinds of people, to include reality TV stars, Olympic athletes, and actresses. I’ll probably watch the whole series and groan the whole time.

Yes… they’re REALLY going to let these “household names” die on TV. What bullshit. They must have really needed the money.

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blog news, family, social media, stupid people, technology

I’ve got new DNA results!

I believe the featured photo is of my mom’s father’s family tartan…

Bless Ancestry. com and 23andMe. I was having some trouble coming up with a topic to write about today, mainly because I don’t feel like complaining about Trump, and he’s making up a lot of the news lately. But since both Ancestry and 23andMe just updated their DNA results, and my results changed a bit, I can now write about that! And it will be soooo interesting, too. To me, anyway.

According to Ancestry.com, I’m now even more Scottish than I thought. The updated results now have me at 58 percent Scot. That would probably make Ex green with envy, since she fancies herself a Scot. The rest of the results were also interesting, as according to Ancestry, now I’m only 28 percent English and otherwise northwestern European. They also report that I have 3 percent Welsh ancestry, which I can certainly believe, given how many of my ancestors were from the British isles and Ireland. Ancestry.com also reports that I still have Scandinavian ancestry– Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. Again, that’s totally believable. I am as white as they come.

Interesting… and probably pretty accurate.

Now, my 23andMe results are a bit more surprising. I did the 23andMe test before I did Ancestry’s, so it’s changed a few times since I first got results in 2017. Overall, 23andMe agrees with Ancestry that I’m mostly from the British Isles and Ireland. But they added some spice to my heritage, which is also believable. Behold…

23andMe classify their results somewhat differently, grouping Scotland, England, and Ireland together. They used to report Norwegian DNA, but replaced it with Finnish. And Ancestry doesn’t report Finnish DNA, but does report Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian.

Some might be surprised to see the Spanish and Portuguese results, but to me, they make perfect sense. I probably picked up that DNA thanks to the Spanish Armada. Some people from that dramatic event in the 1500s inevitably got together with Irish and Scottish people, forever changing their DNA. I was glad to see French and German again, since I know for a fact that I have some German heritage, and likely have French, too, somewhere deep in my genes. I also know that there were a few Native Americans from Virginia who got with my family, since they appear in my family tree. I was surprised to see the Levantine result, which has origins in Jordan, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. But, I guess if we go back far enough, that makes some sense, too. Most people probably have some genes from the Middle East. I got a kick out of the photo 23andMe uses for the French and German section. It’s actually a photo of Hallstatt, Austria.

This is a screenshot from 23andMe’s Web site. I’ve been to this town and have my own photo of this view. It’s unmistakable as a famous Austrian town, where many Chinese tourists visit and wear dirndls and lederhosen.

What’s funny is, I just talked to my mom about our ancestry. She really doesn’t know much about her family of origin– especially on her mother’s side. I’ve told her a lot that she didn’t know, mainly because of these DNA tests and interacting with distant relatives. She never knew her maternal grandparents, since they died within three months of each other, before her second birthday. She was surprised when I told her I went on FindAGrave.com and found photos of her grandparents’ graves, as well as an entry for my dad, which was not put up by a family member. My Uncle Ed, who died just over a month ago, has an entry already, although no one but family is allowed to develop it until a year has passed. I think FindAGrave is kind of freaky, but it does provide interesting information about my long lost relatives.

Like my mom, I never got to know my maternal grandparents. My grandmother died when I was five, and we were living in England at the time. My grandfather died when I was six, and he was extremely senile and didn’t know who any of us were. I do remember living in his house briefly, back in the summer of 1978, because we had just come back from England, and my parents were purchasing a home in Northern Virginia, where we lived for just two years. He died months later, after having been court ordered to move into a facility, because he could no longer take care of himself.

The only grandparent I really knew was my father’s mother, who was affectionately known as “Granny” to just about everyone, even those who weren’t in the family. She lived to be almost 101 years old. My father died only seven years after she died. He was 81 years old, and had only lived without a parent for seven years. That is astonishing to me. Granny was mostly a wonderful lady, although she wasn’t as perfect as some people made her out to be. She had a mean streak. But mostly, she was full of stories, and made wonderful bread. I am glad Bill got to meet her and knew her for five years before she finally passed.

I find genealogy fascinating, especially since I grew up not really knowing my mom’s family too well. I knew my Uncle Glenn, who died in 2015, and I knew his daughter, although I haven’t seen her since my wedding day in 2002. She and I have the same blue eyes, inherited from our grandmother. Well… she got hers from Glenn, too. He had beautiful blue eyes. My eyes are probably my best feature.

Anyway… I’m glad to see the update from both DNA registries, even if Bill’s results are more interesting than mine are. He has African heritage.

Moving on…

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an irate private message I got from someone who was angry about an eight year old blog entry I reposted regarding an extremely violent murder in their family. This person was threatening, and complained that I had mentioned the name of one of the victim’s children, who is still a minor. They acted as if I had invaded their privacy to find out the child’s name, and threatened legal action against me. It was not a nice thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning. In my post, I was pretty sure I had only included information that was already openly reported in the news, circa 2014.

I did some sleuthing yesterday, mainly because I wanted to block this person from ever contacting me again on Facebook (or anywhere else). I managed to find the person’s profile(s) and block them. However, in the course of doing so, I found out some new things.

I discovered that my memory was correct. The child’s name was included in several newspaper articles, most of which are online today. Furthermore, I found a wide open Web site, where what looked like some of the child’s schoolwork was openly posted for all to see. There was an essay there, revealing the names of the child’s parents, birth date, birth place, and the names of many family members, to include other minors. I even learned what kinds of food the child likes to eat, what the child’s career goals were at the time the essay was written, and where the child lives. So much for maintaining the online privacy of a minor.

I would suggest, to the person who contacted me, that before they issue legal threats regarding privacy of a minor, they might want to do some more Googling of the child’s unusual name. I learned a lot more about this child than I ever wanted or needed to know, simply by typing the name into a basic search engine. I suspect that their claims that I invaded their privacy would go nowhere, mostly due to this fact, but also because of the First Amendment, and the right to freedom of expression, which all Americans still enjoy, at least for now. If you want to come at me because I posted your minor relative’s name, you might also want to have a go at the reporters who originally covered the case. Because that is where the child’s name was originally shared, and that content is still freely available eight years later. And I had nothing to do with that.

In spite of being quite pissed off about that hostile PM, to the point at which I am deleting the blog’s Facebook page, I have removed the offending content as a courtesy to the person who contacted me. I did so because, frankly, no one else was reading that post anyway. Also, I removed it because, in spite of their false accusations toward me, I’m not a terrible person who is just out to make money by blogging. Likewise, I don’t want to cause people unnecessary distress. But even if I were just trying to make a buck, what would be wrong with that? There’s no crime against earning a living, right? Writing is a perfectly respectable career choice, even if some people don’t like the things that get written.

This blog isn’t a source of significant income for me. It’s more something I do because I enjoy writing. Moreover, I didn’t do anything wrong, and the claims that I violated anyone’s privacy are baseless and false. There is no law against writing or opining about things that are in the mainstream news. I do understand that people get upset when people talk or write about true crimes that affect them personally, but I don’t think that threatening to trying to censor people is the answer.

Finally… something a little ridiculous…

This graphic of stereotypes was posted in the Duggar Family News group…

Apparently, the above photo is circulating in certain parts of social media. It’s pretty disgusting. I would also say that it’s not very accurate. I’m not sure fundie women keep their figures when they’re eating things like tater tot casserole and barbecued tuna fish. I’ve also seen quite a few fundie women sporting heavy makeup, colored hair, and ridiculous perms. Moreover, I don’t think Jesus Christ would approve of the judgmental and negative attitude displayed regarding “The Godly Tradwife”. Jesus supposedly loved everyone, and helped those in need. It makes me sick that genuine Christian values have been co-opted and bastardized by hypocritical Republicans, who just want to quash anyone who isn’t like them, and doesn’t want to keep white, conservative men in power.

I might write more about this later… or maybe not. Hope y’all have a good Wednesday. Time to pick up my guitar.

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narcissists, poor judgment, psychology, YouTube

Gearing up for the big smear…

This morning, I watched a very interesting video by famed YouTube personality, Dr. Les Carter. I’ve written about his videos before, and I’ve reviewed two of his books. In fact, I am in the middle of reading another book by Dr. Carter that I hope to review before long. Maybe I’ll even finish it today, since the weather is dependably shitty for late fall in Germany.

The video I watched this morning is called “How Narcissists Build A Case Against You”. It’s all about the dreaded “smear campaign” that usually happens when a narcissist either wants to discard you, or get you back in line. Never forget that narcissists crave control, and they want to be in charge of the narrative, which will always be that they are never wrong, don’t make mistakes, and when something unfortunate does inevitably happen, it’s never their fault, and they are always the victim. On the exceedingly rare occasions when a narcissist takes responsibility, they will virtually always try to shift the blame somehow or make an excuse.

Really interesting viewing for a Sunday morning.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might know that Bill and I have both had our ins and outs with narcissists. Bill has had a worse time of it than I have, mainly because he has a tendency to be a people pleaser. I am not as nice as he is, so I don’t tend to attract narcissists, or if I do attract them, I turn them off pretty quickly. But because I’m Bill’s wife, I’ve had dealings with narcissists who have been attracted to him. Our most recent narcissistic dealings happened in our last town, where we were caught in an incredibly weird predicament in which our landlady and her former tenant were working together to shame us into letting the ex landlady illegally rip off our security deposit.

We were in a unique situation, because I am a blogger and I tend to be pretty open in the topics I write about. The former tenant was monitoring me, posing as someone who was actually interested in the subject matter, rather than just a common spy/flying monkey. But in retrospect, when I first met ex landlady and former tenant, I had a bad feeling. I ignored that feeling because the summer of 2014 was especially difficult for us.

Bill had retired from the Army that year, and we had been uncertain about his job prospects. Then we made an international move. My father had suddenly died, and we had somewhat fresh memories of our first move to Germany, which had involved living in a very basic and pretty horrible hotel for six weeks. We just wanted to settle somewhere and get back to a normal life. So, when we met ex landlady and former tenant, even though I noticed some things were “off” about them, I brushed those thoughts aside. A couple of months ago, we passed our anniversary of having moved into that house. I had posted on Facebook “The new landlords seem nice. Let’s hope it’s not just an act.” In retrospect, that was pretty damning… and even then, I pretty much knew that we were going to be in for a hard time.

It started off subtly and slowly, just as Les Carter describes it. Former landlady and ex tenant were both nice at first. However, I noticed from the outset that ex landlady was not trusting, and had some apparent control issues. I mostly chalked it up to the local culture. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. There was even a period during which I could even say she was likable. Former tenant had come off as a bit “oily”, selling us the stuff she didn’t want to take with her, which for all I know, was left there by former tenants. But she was otherwise basically pleasant, even if she was a bit weird about money. Bill had asked her about an energy bill and she was very adamant that it wasn’t her responsibility. Maybe it wasn’t, but her vehement reaction to his innocent question was more over the top than was necessary.

As time went on, I started making more connections and noticing things. Former landlady was becoming less reasonable. Some things went wrong in the house. I had been on the receiving end of more than one screaming tirade, rife with accusations about what an irresponsible person I was, how terrible my housekeeping is, and how they’d NEVER had problems like that before– which I don’t believe, and now know can never be true again. If ex landlady ever tells another tenant that, she will be lying. But it’s now my guess that she lied to me repeatedly, and unabashedly. Former tenant joined in the fun and games with lies of her own. A big red flag was that she’d often leave me comments on my posts, but then delete them. She didn’t want them biting her in the ass later. But she didn’t delete all of them, and her undeleted comments later came in handy.

Ex landlady’s behavior was very disrespectful and more than a bit puzzling. My husband is a well-regarded, highly responsible, and kind person. He was the one dealing with ex landlady, but she would often direct her abusive diatribes toward me. So yes, I was confused and anxious about the situation, because at first, I wondered if I really was the problem. I later realized that ex landlady was just trying to justify taking our money, and she and former tenant had both obviously learned from prior experiences that being accusatory and shaming toward “kind” people is an effective way to get what they want. And that was especially infuriating, because although landlord/tenant situations are almost always kind of awkward, we had never before been accused of the things ex landlady accused us of. Certainly not as a married couple.

The only exception for me, personally, was when I lived in Armenia and rented an apartment for about a year from a lady who had worked for the Peace Corps. As I was about to finish my Peace Corps service, she tried to accuse me of not paying her rent one month. That wasn’t true, and I could prove it, but she thought she could strong arm me into paying her for an extra month, because in those days I was a lot more easily upset than I am now. One Friday night, I came home from a night out to find her and her father waiting for me. They had let themselves into the apartment and were sitting there smoking when I came home, waiting to confront me over the month’s rent they claimed I didn’t pay. But her father came every month and I always paid him. I had proof, because I kept a daily journal and mentioned his visits. I also had receipts of the money I collected for rent from teaching English at an NGO.

She asked, “How do I know you didn’t just spend the money the NGO paid for the rent?”

But I could have asked her and her father the same thing. I gave him the money on her behalf, because she was studying in Hungary. He didn’t give me receipts, because that wasn’t how things were done at that time. How do I know what he did with the money after I paid him? The amount of rent we were discussing was just $100 a month, and she probably figured that as an American, that was chump change for me. But in those days, that was a lot of money for me, since I only got paid about $5 a day as Peace Corps Volunteer. My parents weren’t giving me money, and I didn’t have savings. And besides, she HAD been paid. She was just trying to intimidate me by shaming and humiliating me.

I think she saw me as a rich American who would simply pay her to shut her up. She did get me so upset that I hyperventilated in front of her, which made her so uncomfortable that she left. She obviously saw me as weak. But she was definitely wrong about my alleged weakness, and she did not get an extra month’s rent from me. Come to think of it, ex landlady acted a lot like my former Armenian landlady did. I heard the same complaints from both women about my housekeeping, since I’m admittedly a bit of slob.

Now, I’m not a dirty slob. I do take the trash out, wash the dishes, clean the toilets, sinks, and showers, change the sheets, mow the lawn, and pick up the dog crap (when I can see it). But I don’t dust compulsively, wash windows, vacuum every day, put my clothes away, or make my bed each morning. Ex landlady is evidently compulsively neat, and I think she was upset that I’m not like that. Former Armenian landlady had also noticed I’m not compulsively neat, because she would let herself in the apartment when I wasn’t there and let her son eat my food… and leave dirty dishes in the refrigerator, no less. If either of these women were that concerned about neatness, they should have mentioned it before agreeing to rent out their property. Or, they could have simply respected my privacy. That way, we both could have avoided heartache.

Anyway, one day, I wrote about the weird situation with ex the landlady on my old blog. It wasn’t so much that I had a habit of writing about former landlady. I would say that, until things went really south, on the rare occasions when I mentioned her, I mostly wrote positive things about her. It wasn’t until she started verbally abusing and accusing me that I wrote anything negative. But when she really started to behave offensively, I was legitimately confused and wondered about it. I mentioned it offhand in a blog post. I wrote about two or three sentences about the situation– mildly questioning and hardly accusatory, now that I think about it.

I thought about the sketchy story former tenant told us about why she and her husband were moving mid tour. They had a brand new baby, and claimed they needed to be closer to work. That, I could understand, since the house was pretty far out from the installations. But then she’d added that they needed to be closer to their babysitter, which sounded like a lame excuse. I probably would have been less suspicious of her story if she’d just said she needed to be closer to work.

At the same time, I noticed the former landlady was doting on the baby, and I knew, having been an Army wife for years, that the military typically doesn’t pay for people to move mid tour unless there’s a damned good reason, and it involves health, safety, or mission readiness. Also, she swore the landlords were “excellent” and like parents to her… and yet they couldn’t help her find a suitable local nanny so their very functional and family like business relationship could continue? Hmm…

After thinking about her story, I realized it was probably at least 95% bullshit. So I mentioned it casually in a very brief way in a blog post. I didn’t realize ex tenant was still reading the blog at that point. I didn’t even blame her for moving. Having dealt with the frequent unannounced visits and uncomfortable interactions I had with the ex landlady, I figured ex tenant had dealt with similar issues and wanted more privacy and professionalism. Nothing wrong with that.

Former tenant left me a sternly worded comment, which she later deleted, claiming that my speculation was all wrong. She shamed me for doubting her, and asked me to delete references to her involvement in our declining situation. I didn’t fight her on it, because I wasn’t wanting to argue with her. I just didn’t think things added up. But, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I knew she was concerned about her online footprint. In retrospect, I should have seen what she was doing for what it was… classic gaslighting. She was asking me to deny what I was seeing with my own eyes and knew from personal experience. She was very firm about it, and didn’t even seem to understand how I could have possibly come to the conclusions I had. But because I didn’t want a conflict with her, I allowed her to do that, and edited my post. That doesn’t mean I believed her story, or didn’t see that she was clearly up to no good.

Former tenant also claimed she didn’t want me to involve her in my speculation about what was happening. However, even though she didn’t want me to involve her by even casually mentioning her in a blog post, she was actually choosing to be involved and actively meddling in our business. She was sharing my blog with ex landlady and her daughter, and the three of them were probably gossiping and smearing the hell out of me, and coming up with ways to screw with us. She later even admitted to me that she was doing that, and was bold enough to think I would feel ashamed instead of extremely pissed off at her. She must have really taken me for a sucker. I could probably forgive her for gossiping, but having the audacity to admit it to me was a bridge too far, especially since she was so concerned about her own privacy and reputation.

The fact that she continued to monitor my blog, even years after she’d moved out of the house is a red flag, especially since she made it clear that she doesn’t like me and apparently doesn’t even think I’m a good writer. I base that last bit on the nasty private message she sent me, again shaming me for daring to object to the ex landlady’s abuse and false accusations, and the sarcastic remark she left about about my creative pursuits. If that’s how she actually felt about me and my writing, why was she still reading?

I think it’s because she wanted to deflect scrutiny from herself. I think ex landlady let her get away with not paying for damages that occurred on her watch. Ex landlady never did a check in with us, and I don’t think she did a check out with the former tenant, since we literally took the keys from her. She was still moving out as we were moving into the house. Ex tenant was likely worried that my speculations would cast doubt on her false persona as an honest and decent person, when it’s pretty clear to me that she’s a liar.

I also think that it’s possible that former tenant doesn’t respect me because, for whatever reason, she doesn’t approve of my lifestyle. I don’t have children or a regular job, so she probably thinks that makes me worthy of contempt. I suspect ex landlady agrees, and in fact, was probably put out that I was always at home, so she couldn’t come over at her leisure and snoop. More than once, she suggested things for me to do outside of the home, even though I never asked her for that kind of help. Neither of them seem to think that writing is a valuable use of my time. But I’m not sure why it matters, as long as the rent was being paid on time. What I do with my time is my concern, right? And even if someone thinks I’m a no-talent hack, shouldn’t I still be entitled to basic courtesy, respect, and privacy? Why is it their business if I write a blog? Of course now I know why they felt it was their business… but it’s pretty easy to stay out of my crosshairs if you aren’t someone who’s in the news. You leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.

Bill and I made convenient scapegoats for the fact that the house was in desperate need of renovation. The truth is, it was not very clean when we moved in. And because there was never a check in protocol done, when we moved out, there was no way to prove we hadn’t done the damage she claimed. On the other hand, there was also no proof that we had done the damage. I also had proof that ex landlady made false and defamatory accusations against us– again, because I blog, keep journals, and take many pictures. So much for being a no-talent hack. 😉

So… Bill sued, and ended up prevailing. But the whole situation was very stressful and upsetting. It brought us no joy to pursue legal action. It was the first time Bill had ever sued anyone, and it was definitely not something he enjoyed doing. However, we felt we needed to take that action, because it was so very obvious that we were being taken for suckers. The way we were treated was absolutely terrible and completely undeserved, and we did not want to let her get away with it, for our own sakes and those of people who came after us. Even now, three years after we moved, I’m still angry about it. Those people obviously had no compunction about blatantly ripping us off and defaming us, while trying to deny us the right to respond or process. We bent over backwards to keep the peace in that situation, and we gave the ex landlady every opportunity to settle the situation fairly without involving lawyers and court. She refused to cooperate, and in the end, it cost her.

It’s a mistake to assume someone is weak and stupid simply because they are kind and sensitive, and don’t like conflict. Especially if they make their living planning military exercises, which is what Bill does. It’s literally his job to plan battles. Moreover, while I don’t have a fancy business title, I am not a stupid person, and I’ve done a lot of work over the years to get over the need to “people please”. Anyone who requires “pleasing” and constant appeasement is probably, at best, an asshole who would never return the favor. They certainly aren’t worth the effort of pleasing. For all of her spying and compulsive study of my blog posts, former tenant apparently didn’t realize that. If she’s smart, she will not engage me again. Meanwhile, I will hold on to the lessons I learned in this situation and try to recover from the blows to my psyche that occurred because of this ordeal.

I realize that most people who have dealings with narcissists deal with them on a more personal level. A lot of people get involved in romantic entanglements with narcissists. I can’t even say for sure that we were dealing with two narcissists, or just one narcissist and someone with a different kind of mental health issue. What I do think is that at least one of the people we dealt with was not behaving in a normal or businesslike manner. If that’s the way she treats people who are in a business relationship with her, I can only try to imagine the psychological beating the people who are supposed loved ones likely suffer.

One last comment before I close this post. Former tenant tried to frame a narrative that I habitually drag people through the Internet mud. It’s true that sometimes I do vent, although I very rarely name names. I don’t go out of my way to harass people. You’ll also notice that I don’t write about my current landlord. That’s because he doesn’t give me a reason to vent. He’s our next door neighbor, yet he never bothers us, and as long as he gets his rent money, he doesn’t have a need to meddle. When we eventually move out of this house, I don’t think we’ll have any issues. If we do, I have every faith that they can be settled amicably and fairly. And hopefully, the next time we move, it will be into a home that we own.

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