A few days ago, when Bill and I were heading home from our trip to the Black Forest, I looked up and noticed a road sign for a town called Hirschberg. Google tells me that Hirschberg is a town in the northwestern part of the German state of Baden-Württemberg (as well as a place in Thuringia). I’ve never been there, and before Monday, I had never noticed that sign. But seeing the name of that town brought back some very old memories from my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia.
This is something I’ve noticed in Europe and the United Kingdom. A lot of the place names here, and in my home state of Virginia, come from surnames. A lot of places in Virginia, especially, are named after places in older establishments. Take, for instance, the town of Kilmarnock, Virginia. It shares that name with a place in Scotland. I guess people from Scotland settled the town in Virginia and named it after their original hometown across the pond. I have to agree, having been to both places, the landscapes are kind of similar.
In any case, when I saw the name Hirschberg, I was immediately reminded of a tragic story from my childhood, over 40 years ago. The date was March 23, 1981. I was eight years old, and a third grader at Botetourt Elementary School. In March 1981, I had only lived in Gloucester for about nine months. My parents bought their business, The Corner Cottage, in the spring of 1980 and we moved to Gloucester on June 21st of that year, the day after my 8th birthday. I experienced quite a culture shock in Gloucester, because we had come from Fairfax, Virginia, which is a MUCH more populated place. And we’d only been in Fairfax for two years; prior to that, we lived on Mildenhall Air Force Base in Suffolk, England. In 1981, I still felt kind of like a foreigner in the United States, having spent three of my conscious years abroad. I wasn’t fitting in very well in Gloucester and, truth be told, I hated it there.
My next sister, Sarah, was sixteen years old on March 23, 1981. She was soon going to be 17 years old, and she attended eleventh grade at Gloucester High School. I would graduate from there myself in 1990. In 1981, 1990 seemed like a million years away. And in 2022, 1990 seems like it was yesterday.
In 1981, the principal at GHS was Mr. Donald W. Hirschberg. I didn’t know anything at all about him, but I do remember Sarah talking about her life at GHS. She probably mentioned the principal, too. She seemed so grown up to me at that time. I remember she was studying French and was even allowed to come to Botetourt to “teach” French to some of the gifted kids. At the time, one of my friends was one of Sarah’s “pupils”.
I don’t think Sarah was at Botetourt on Monday, March 23, 1981, though. That was a day that is still remembered by a lot of my peers because it was the day that Mr. Hirschberg’s wife, Nancy, and their twelve year old daughter, Julie, would die in a horrific car accident. I’m not absolutely certain, but I think another child also died in that crash. I make that assumption because I found a Facebook post about the accident that mentioned another girl who died. Strangely, I don’t remember hearing as much about her.
I was still very new to Gloucester in 1981, so I never had the pleasure of meeting Julie. She was three years older than me, and went to what was then called Gloucester Middle School and later became an elementary school (after I had finished GMS myself). I do remember the accident, though. It happened at a time when Gloucester had very few traffic lights. I know it’s a cliche, but in 1981, that county was still very much covered in farmland. We had a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut that served the whole county. Gloucester Courthouse, which is about a mile or two from where I lived, had really disgusting water that tasted like sulfur. Our house had well water, which was only marginally better. I remember turning on the taps and seeing rusty water.
I’m not totally sure where the fatal intersection was, but I know I drove past it many times. Route 17 runs from north to south through Gloucester. It’s the main artery through the county, and it’s virtually impossible to avoid driving on it if you’re traveling through Gloucester. I actually think the intersection was one very close to my home. For years, there was nothing but a stop sign there, where people would wait as traffic coming down Route 17 barreled down the highway. Since 1981, the farmland has been turned into a huge Walmart complex. People probably don’t zoom past that intersection anymore, because it’s now heavily moderated by traffic lights. If that wasn’t the intersection, then it was one not far from there, and I would have passed it many times over the 19 years Gloucester was my actual home.
So there I was on Monday, October 3, 2022, speeding down the Autobahn, suddenly remembering Gloucester in the early 80s. I saw that sign for the town of Hirschberg in Germany, and it made me think of twelve year old Julie… a girl I never knew, but heard a lot about when I was growing up. Knowing how Gloucester was in the 80s, I feel very sure we would have probably met at some point. Back then, Gloucester was the kind of place where most people knew each other. I don’t think it’s like that anymore, though. I do still know a lot of people who live there, as a number of my classmates either never left or have returned with their own families.
I got curious about Mr. Hirschberg, too. So I looked him up, and discovered that he died in 1998. He had moved to Poquoson, a city not far from Gloucester, and remarried a woman with the same first name as his late first wife’s. Mr. Hirschberg, at age 61, wasn’t that old when he passed. I wonder if he never got over the grief of that terrible accident. People on Facebook were still discussing it as recently as 2011, with some saying they would never forget that night. A few said it was the first tragedy of their lives, and the first funeral they ever attended. Some said that they still think of Julie and the other girl who died every time they go through that intersection.
I think about the fact that Julie was just three years older than me, and it appears that she was a very popular girl with a lot of promise. She was involved in many community activities and probably would have gone on to live a very productive life. It amazes me that her life ended the way it did– so suddenly, tragically, and randomly, it seems. It could have been any one of us who met that fate. I wonder what she would think about me– someone who never met her, but was one of her contemporaries– thinking and writing about her 41 years after her death, reading about her on the Internet, which didn’t even really exist for regular people back in 1981. I wonder what she would think about people in the “You grew up in Gloucester” Facebook group, still remembering her in 2011 and posting about that dreadful day in March 1981. Julie never experienced Facebook, but I bet she’d know it well if she had lived to see adulthood. I never knew Julie, but I knew a lot of her friends, and they still miss her so many years later. That amazes me.
I haven’t been to Gloucester since 2010, when my mom finally sold the house I grew up in. I was astonished by how different Gloucester was then. It was weird to walk through the house and see things I hadn’t seen since we moved in back in 1980. Our house was old, and kind of weird, so there was a big plumbing pipe coming up through the floor in the tiny room that had served as my bedroom in the early 80s. It had been covered by my twin sized bed for many years. Now it was laid bare, looking as strange as it did in 1980. Even our house is very different now than it was in 1980. My parents doubled its size in 1984, when they added on a new kitchen and a knitting and needlepoint “shop” for my mom to run. My dad had a new custom picture framing “shop” built in 1997, knocking down the weird building that was erected there some decades before. Now, it’s owned by the lady my dad hired in 1989 to help him frame pictures.
Isn’t it funny how the most random things can cause a person to fall down a rabbit hole of memories? Or, at least that’s how it happens for me. I used to wish I was born in 1968, so I could be closer in age to my sisters and have more of a relationship with them. But now I’m glad I was born when I was. I think it was the right time. I don’t know why my mind takes me on these tangential rides, but I have a feeling someone else out there still remembers Julie. I’ll probably be “visited” here by people from Gloucester, who can recall the spring of 1981, too. I am not a Gloucester native, but I know a lot of people are, and they have long memories.
I was pretty fortunate to grow up in Gloucester, even though I hated it in the 80s. My sisters were all Air Force brats, so they were moved constantly. I don’t know if they really feel like they have a “hometown” like I do. They’ve settled in different places, but their childhoods were nomadic. I used to be envious of them, but then I became an Army wife and experienced that lifestyle myself. I think it would have been hard for me as a child. It’s hard as an adult. It’s nice to know that there is a place where people remember me, even if no one in my family lives there anymore. I’m glad to have some roots… although I doubt I’ll be moving back there. I don’t think I fit there anymore. It’s like the old Neil Diamond song, “I Am… I Said”, when he sings:
Well I’m New York City born and raised But nowadays I’m lost between two shores L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home New York’s home But it ain’t mine no more
In 1983, a band called The Police, fronted by the ever lovable Sting, released an album called Synchronicity. That album has always been kind of important to me, even though I wasn’t necessarily a Police fan in 1983, and some people think it’s their “weakest” work. Personally, I disagree. Maybe Synchronicity wasn’t as edgy as some of the other albums done by The Police, but it legitimately had some incredible songs on it that still sound amazing in 2022. I actually gifted this album on vinyl to my ex best friend, and it was probably through her that I learned to love The Police before Sting went solo. It could have just as easily been my older sister who influenced me, since she’s the one who turned me on to Kate Bush.
As I sit here writing this blog post today, I’m reminded of the wise and intelligent lyrics penned by Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland all those years ago, when I was still a kid, and some of the most important people to me were on the brink of starting their adult lives. I hope you’ll indulge me this clumsy foray into creativity today. Sometimes the clumsiest attempts can eventually lead to grace. Of course, this post could also turn out to be totally cheesy, non-sensical, and stupid crap. We’ll see what happens.
I was sitting on my bed last night, watching my new Facts of Life DVDs, pretending it was the early 80s again. I was a bonafide child in the early 1980s, while Bill was a young man about to embark on his career. Although I didn’t have the greatest childhood, sometimes I like to watch old TV shows from that time in my life. I also love the music from that time, even the really shitty stuff. There’s something about it that comforts me and makes me feel– temporarily– like I’m still young, with my whole life ahead of me. Then I’m jolted into reality as I realize that in a few short months, I’ll be 50 years old. And there’s still a lot I’ve never managed to do. Maybe watching shows like The Facts of Life temporarily make me feel like I still have a lot of years left. So does listening to albums like Synchronicity. But then, Sting is a master songwriter, so his work probably holds up much better than The Facts of Life does.
Tea in the Sahara
The sky turned to black Would he ever come back? They would climb a high dune They would pray to the moon But he’d never return So the sisters would burn As their eyes searched the land With their cups full of sand
As I was soothing myself with the best seasons of a successful sitcom last night, I suddenly remembered my friend, Matthew Jensen, who was killed last May, just hours after celebrating his 58th birthday with family and friends. It was just after midnight in Brooklyn, New York on May 18th, and Matt was walking home from his own birthday party. He had almost reached his abode, and was crossing a dangerous intersection, when a man driving a black Rolls Royce mowed him down in the street and left him for dead.
Every Breath You Take
Since you’ve gone, I’ve been lost without a trace I dream at night, I can only see your face I look around, but it’s you I can’t replace I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace I keep crying baby, baby please
I’ve written about Matt a few times, and I’ve thought of Matt many more times since his death. Although it had been years since we last spoke, Matt left an indelible impression on me. I was legitimately devastated when I heard about what had happened to him. I hated the thought that the person who is responsible for taking him out of the world was still free to harm other people. Since last May, I’ve been watching the news to see if anyone was being held responsible for killing my old friend and colleague. Every time I looked for updates, I was left disappointed that there hadn’t been any new news about the case. I was beginning to lose hope, so my searches had become less frequent. I don’t even know why I thought of Matt last night, in spite of the impression he made on me. Life goes on, even after someone interesting dies.
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
When Matt’s memory inexplicably and suddenly popped into my head, I found myself dutifully searching for news about his case. As usual, I didn’t have much hope that there would be any new developments. And then, there it was. Someone finally got arrested. At 8:45 AM, Brooklyn time, a 30 year old man named Tariq Witherspoon turned himself in to the 94th Precinct station house. Mr. Witherspoon, who was employed for eleven years as an Emergency Medical Technician for the New York Fire Department, is being charged with criminally negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless endangerment, and speeding. Was it intuition that caused me to look for that news? I don’t know. Maybe it was synchronicity.
Murder By Numbers
Once that you’ve decided on a killing First you make a stone of your heart And if you find that your hands are still willing Then you can turn a murder into art
In the early hours of May 18, 2021, Matt was crossing the notoriously dangerous McGuinness Boulevard against the light. Mr. Witherspoon had a green light, but the speed limit was 25 miles per hour. Mr. Witherspoon was reportedly changing lanes at 50 miles an hour, when he and Matt had their tragic meeting with fate. And then, in spite of being an experienced EMT who should have been among the very last people who would commit hit and run, Witherspoon sped off into the night, evading responsibility for Matt’s death for over nine months.
Now if you have a taste for this experience If you’re flushed with your very first success
Then you must try a twosome or a threesome You’ll find your conscience bothers you much less Because murder is like anything you take to It’s a habit-forming need for more and more
You can bump off every member of your family And anybody else you find a bore
According to an article published by the NY Daily News, Tariq Witherspoon has been sued several times for other accidents he’s either directly caused, or been involved in, over the past ten years or so. He seems to have a curious fondness for expensive cars. He allegedly hit Matt with a 2010 black Rolls Royce that he’d borrowed, but other accidents involving Witherspoon have involved a Porsche and a Mercedes-Benz, either driven by, lent by, or struck by him. For some reason, in spite of being repeatedly sued after seriously injuring several other people in accidents involving motor vehicles, Mr. Witherspoon has inexplicably been able to maintain his employment as an EMT. However, in light of his arrest, he’s now suspended from his job without pay. He is currently being held on $75,000 bail or a $15,000 cash bond. ETA: NBC says Witherspoon has posted a $15,000 cash bond.
O My God
Everyone I know is lonely With God so far away And my heart belongs to no one So now sometimes I pray Take the space between us Fill it up some way Take the space between us Fill it up, fill it up
Witherspoon is a Brooklyn resident. He must have seen how much Matt’s community has suffered since he so callously mowed him down last year. There were many memorials for Matt, including one in which former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $39 million to “fix” the dangerous intersection on McGuinness Boulevard where Matt and others have been injured and/or killed.
I was involved in a much smaller memorial for Matt last July. It took place on Zoom, but there were people from around the world who were there to remember him. I will never forget the sincere grief expressed, particularly by the Armenians Matt worked with when we were in the Peace Corps together. One Armenian man was in tears as he remembered the tall, blond man who helped him get a job with the Peace Corps and showed him a world beyond Vanadzor, the city where Matt worked. I’m sure he was just one of many. My heart breaks for Matt’s students, who reportedly adored him. And then there were his family members and friends who are now left without his presence… as well as two cats.
Well the telephone is ringing Is that my mother on the phone? Telephone is ringing Is that my mother on the phone? The telephone is screaming Won’t she leave me alone? The telephone is ringing Is that my mother on the phone?
Matt was a much beloved person by many people around the world. He was incredibly charismatic, and he had a true gift for teaching and presenting. Matt wrote letters, and he had many friends in influential places. He loved to have fun, and he had many quirky interests that made him truly fascinating. He loved ABBA, royal families, and being irreverent. In the weeks after Prince Philip died last year, Matt wrote letters of condolences to Queen Elizabeth II and her daughter, Princess Anne. At the time of his death, Princess Anne had written back to him. Queen Elizabeth’s response, sadly, arrived after Matt was already gone.
I have always remembered Matt as a hilarious, warm, and talented guy, and back when I first met him in 1995, he bore a resemblance to the famous rock star, Sting. He was fun to dance with, and we had many memorable evenings in Armenia enjoying low sodium meals involving beets, lentils, and cabbage. He once told me that he’d learned to cook low sodium meals because his mother had high blood pressure. He also told me a hysterical story about how his mother had once watched a “sickening” Mother’s Day special involving Kathie Lee Gifford. Obviously, I drank in his stories, as did a lot of our colleagues and friends. He was just that kind of person. Unique, magnetic, and just unforgettable.
Walking In Your Footsteps
Hey mighty brontosaurus Don’t you have a lesson for us You thought your rule would always last There were no lessons in your past You were built three stories high They say you would not hurt a fly If we explode the atom bomb Would they say that we were dumb?
I learned later that Matt was affecting his friends, students, parents, and family members the same way he’d affected me, as he worked as a much beloved and highly respected teacher in Brooklyn. I take some comfort realizing that Matt managed to influence people around the world. At our small online memorial last summer, a man from Armenia wept as he talked about how Matt had influenced him. Later, a woman who had worked with Matt in Brooklyn spoke about how Matt had helped immigrant children fit in at their new school.
Fifty million years ago You walked upon the planet so Lord of all that you could see Just a little bit like me
I know for a fact that Matt spoke Armenian and French. It wouldn’t surprise me if he knew other languages, or at least tried to learn a few words, just to help welcome innocent children to their new home in New York. Everybody knew him, whether or not he was their teacher. He had a towering presence and an infectious energy that was impossible to ignore. He stood six feet four inches tall. And yet, Tariq Witherspoon allegedly hit him at 50 miles per hour and just kept going. For nine months, he’s been evading responsibility for exploding the atom bomb in so many people’s lives… especially the students left behind, some of whom aren’t from the United States and really needed Matt’s comforting presence.
Wrapped Around Your Finger
Devil and the deep blue sea behind me Vanish in the air you’ll never find me I will turn your face to alabaster When you’ll find your servant is your master
Why did it take nine months for Tariq Witherspoon to be arrested? I don’t know. But I do know that he’s about to face judgment. I would not be surprised if there are many people who will want to attend his court sessions. There will be people who will want to speak about the man who died because of his careless actions in a black Rolls Royce. Imagine the absurdity of it. A teacher who had served twice in the Peace Corps killed by a careless man in a very expensive status symbol.
Matthew Jensen was a man who dedicated his life to teaching people, helping them make better lives for themselves. He served in the Peace Corps twice– in Senegal and Armenia– and he worked with children in New York who didn’t speak English. He taught university students. He taught other Americans who were going to carry on his legacy in Armenia, teaching youngsters how to speak English. It was a great loss to the world when Matt Jensen died… but at least we know that someone is finally going to answer for this crime.
King of Pain
There’s a little black spot on the sun today It’s the same old thing as yesterday There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top There’s a flag pole rag and the wind won’t stop
I have stood here before inside the pouring rain With the world turning circles running ’round my brain I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain
I don’t know what kind of person Tariq Witherspoon is. I can only make assumptions. I don’t know what made him choose his line of work, which is supposed to be based in mercy and decency. He’s supposed to save lives, not end them. Based on his record of hitting people in cars, hurting them, and being sued for negligence, I can’t help but wonder if Tariq Witherspoon could have used another session with a guidance counselor.
Don’t tell thedirector I said so But are you safe Miss Gradenko We were at a policy meeting They were planning new ways of cheating I didn’t want to rock your boat But you sent this dangerous note You’ve been letting your feelings show
Are you safe Miss Gradenko Miss Gradenko are you safe
I’m glad to know that someone is finally going to answer for Matt’s death. I hope the police have the right guy, and that the charges will stick. I don’t wish pain or torture for Mr. Witherspoon. I just want him off the streets. My unmarried niece lives in Brooklyn now. She doesn’t have a car. I don’t want Tariq Witherspoon to be involved in any other accidents. I don’t want him tending to my niece if she’s ever in need of an EMT. He needs to be taken out of commission for awhile… and hopefully, he’ll learn.
Another suburban family morning. Grandmother screaming at the wall.
Wehave to shout above the din of our Rice Krispies We can’t hear anything at all. Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration, But we know all her suicides are fake.
Daddy only stares into the distance There’s only so much more that he can take. Many miles away something crawls from the slime At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake.
Bill came home from taking our Kosovar refugee dog, Noyzi, to the vet for booster vaccines. I had just read about Tariq Witherspoon’s arrest when he walked into our bedroom. I looked up at him and said, “I don’t know why, but I just looked up Matt Jensen to see if anyone’s been arrested for his death. And someone was today, just HOURS ago. It’s so weird that I would think of him today– out of the blue– and someone got arrested.”
Bill is about Matt’s age, and he’s one of the kindest, most decent people I’ve ever met. For the past year, he’s been studying the psychologist, Carl Jung. He’s been in analysis with Jungian psychologist, and is even taking courses at the Jung Institute out of Zurich. The concept of synchronicity is one that fascinated Jung. Synchronicity, put simply, describes a situation that seems meaningful, but lacks a causal connection. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I see important connections in things that might mean nothing to other people. What made me think of Matt last night, all of a sudden? Was there something in the universe– my subconscious? Maybe it was the ghost of Matt himself, tapping me on the shoulder. Who knows?
Later, we were in our dining room eating dinner and listening to music. My music collection is incredibly eclectic. There’s no telling what will play. I have everything from L.L. Cool J to Beethoven in my playlist. Last night, as I sipped a lovely Italian red wine, the strains of a familiar piece from Gabriel Faure started playing. When I was in college, I took many music courses. I was also in a choir, and we performed a number of pieces by Faure, to include parts of his Requiem and the ethereal Messe Basse. Messe Basse is one of my favorite works by Faure.
Then it occurred to me that Faure, was a French man, and Matt spoke French and had spent time in France… and next week, I hope to be in France, too. Just like I was at around the time Anthony Bourdain died. In fact, I was in the area where Bourdain died just a couple of weeks before he passed. Matt wasn’t unlike Bourdain, in terms of his influence or his very “New York” personality… And then I was reminded that back in the spring of 1994, our choir went to New York City at the end of our spring break and performed Messe Basse in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Synchronicity again!
And suddenly, I’m reminded of how much I miss college… singing in choirs… traveling… hanging out with friends over bland foods that make me fart… sitcoms from the 80s… I am reminded of how important it is to always appreciate the people in your life who make it special or wonderful, because you never know when they will make an exit. I don’t know if I have ever affected anyone the way Matt affected me, and all of the other people in his life. I’m just grateful that the police in Brooklyn have done their jobs, as The Police from the early 80s do theirs every time I need to think about simpler days, or the complex concepts coined by Carl Jung. Somehow, it all seems to come together, at least in my head.
I’m reminded of these lyrics by Sting… and Matt, a man who always reminded me of Sting… Somehow, we’re all connected.
With one breath With one flow You will know Synchronicity A sleep trance A dream dance A shared romance Synchronicity
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
If we share this nightmare We can dream Spiritus mundi If you act as you think The missing link Synchronicity
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
We know you They know me Extrasensory Synchronicity A star fall A phone call It joins all Synchronicity
A connecting principle Linked to the invisible Almost imperceptible Something inexpressible Science insusceptible Logic so inflexible Causally connectible Nothing is invincible
It’s so deep, it’s so wide You’re inside Synchronicity Effect without a cause Sub-atomic laws Scientific pause
This morning, I read an interesting Facebook comment thread on an article by The New York Times about CNN’s decision to fire employees who ignored their COVID-19 vaccine mandates. CNN, like many private businesses in the United States, has directed employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before returning to its offices in the U.S.
The Cable News Network has been relying on the “honor system” to enforce its rules about vaccination. However, apparently three former employees are unfamiliar with the expression, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The powers that be at CNN became aware that the three former employees were unvaccinated and defiantly continued to report for work, in spite of the vaccine mandates. The CNN bosses responded by firing the rule breakers.
I usually read articles before I read comment sections. I guess this morning, I was still a bit drowsy from the early hour and the cool, rainy weather we have today. It’s also getting darker in the mornings, which is a sure sign that fall is coming. In a month, we’ll probably need jackets again. In any case, I ran across a comment left by a woman named Margie. She wrote:
It’s interesting how so many people think “freedom” only works for them but not for others. I guess it’s that same lopsided rationalization that concludes that assault rifles arenecessary for freedom.
I like Margie’s comment. I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s no secret that we have a serious problem with weapons in the United States. So many innocent people have died of gunshot wounds while doing ordinary things like going to school, worshiping, shopping, attending a concert, or watching a movie at a cinema. And now, so many people are dying of COVID-19. Most of the people who are dying of COVID are people who are vehemently against vaccines and have even taken to mocking them on social media. Interestingly enough, many of the people who are against the vaccines are also people who support the right to bear arms, no matter what the cost is to others.
Sadly… or maybe not so sadly… some of those gun supporting folks are ending up ruing the decision to mock vaccines. For instance, proud Republican H. Scott Apley was 45 years old and the father of a newborn when he died of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Mr. Apley was a very conservative member of the Dickinson County Council, and had taken to social media to lambast COVID-19 vaccine mandates. He cheered about a “mask burning party” that happened in Cincinnati in May, writing that he wished he’d lived in the area, and he claimed that Baltimore’s former public health commissioner was an “absolute enemy of a free people.”
In the end, Apley maintained his “freedom” not to be vaccinated. He caught the virus. And now, he’s dead. His wife, Melissa, who is also COVID-19 positive, is left to raise their infant son, Reid. Reid is currently in his grandmother’s care, because unlike her late husband, Melissa seems to realize that COVID kills people. I sincerely hope she’s smart enough to get the vaccine so that baby doesn’t lose his other parent to willful ignorance. I am also legitimately sorry for Melissa’s and Reid’s loss. It didn’t have to be that way.
In any case, Margie, who had commented on the article about CNN, had a point that resonated with a lot of people. At this writing, there are 890 likes on her observation about the concept of freedom in the United States. Some people don’t seem to realize that freedom applies to everyone, and there’s civic responsibility that comes with that privilege. But, as we all know, some people just “can’t. understand. normal. thinking.” and they have to show everyone their ass. Such was the case with the response left by a man named Rick, who wrote this:
The fact you said “assault rifle” already tells me everything I need to know….
Margie came back with an impressive response that really should have shut up Rick. She wrote:
…does it? Would it surprise you to know that we have many guns, including some semi-automatic guns, in our home? That my husband conceal carries? So, what is it you think you know about me?
Rick wrote: There’s a reason why “assault” was in parentheses….try to follow along champ.
Then, Rick continued to show his ass by lecturing a guy named John with this beaut of a comment:
Its a common term among you leftists who have no fing idea what your talking about when it comes to firearms.. Thats the issue. It’s not a common term amongst people who have an ounce of knowledge of firearms. Trust me…its worth belittling…since by “assault” you mean “fully automatic”….which with like ten fing seconds of research will tell you have been banned for nearly 30 years. So yes…you now know I know at least basic knowledge of firearms. Congratulations.
A guy named Bill (not my Bill) wrote this for Rick:
An AR 15 is an assault rifle bro. No matter how you sugarcoat it
And Rick insisted that he knows better and responded thusly:
No it isnt….people are afraid of how it looks. It’s a fing rifle…..like any other semi auto hunting rifle. They just “look” scary. An “assault” rifle in the sense that people are so adamant against it would be anything that can lay down fully auto…added with huge like 75-100 round drums. Big diff. Those are already illegal. There litteraly is no difference between a Ruger ranch rifle and an AR-15 for example…..other than ones black and scary…which is kinda funny and ironic….One is acceptable by even left wing anti gun nuts for hunting purposes and the other one is ostracized….even though it’s the same thing. People are litteraly afraid of aesthetics. (He can’t spell either, can he?)
At this point, I was scratching my head. Rick must not have much to do in his personal life, since he was hanging out in the comment section of a notoriously left leaning newspaper that is known for its excellence in journalism. And instead of engaging with people on an adult level, he was resorting to insults and bragging about his knowledge of firearms. Obviously his vast knowledge of firearms doesn’t extend to knowledge of basic English grammar. Reading and writing are still considered fundamental skills, aren’t they? And yet, here he is in the comment section of a respected news source, taking on people who are clearly intellectually and developmentally superior to him, so he has to bring his “guns” to the fight. What a big man!
Rick, being a typically stubborn and obtuse sort of person, continued to engage. He was clapping back at everyone with personal insults and condescension. So I decided to leave him a comment, having noticed that he apparently doesn’t know the difference between quotation marks and parenthesis. I wrote:
I like how you can’t tell the difference between parenthesis and quotation marks or “your” and “you’re”. And I like how you belittle and name call to make your points. That tells me all I need to know about you, “Champ”.
Rick’s response to me? Unsurprisingly, he tried to insult me, too…
I like how you think men are actually looking for a booty call from you
Wow… LOL. I thought that was funny on many levels. You see, in order for Rick to make that comment, he had to visit my Facebook profile. He was referring to my latest tag line, which is: “Not looking for friend requests or booty calls from strange men. I’m also NOT German.”
Several weeks ago, I posted that tag line in response to the tons and tons of unsolicited private messages and creepy comments I was getting from scammers. I’ve actually written about those messages in this blog, and have included screen shots of the more entertaining ones.
The scammers were writing icky messages about how “beautiful” they think I am. To be clear, I know the people (male or female) behind those messages are just shady fuckwads who have ripped off other Facebook users’ profiles. My own profile was also ripped off recently. Those lowlifes are ultimately just looking to scam money, and trying to use flattery to do it. I was getting a lot of these messages. So I posted that tag line to express my irritation, not because I think men actually believe I’m “hawt” or “fuckable”. Even if they did, I’m a happily married woman, so other men’s opinions about my appearance are irrelevant.
‘Ol Rick decided to zero in on that tag line to insult my looks, which is typical of people like him. What he fails to realize, though, is that the fact that he took the time to visit my profile instead of just blowing me off tells me that he found me attractive on some level. Maybe I’m not his “type”, but my comment obviously got to him. Otherwise, he would not have responded to me at all. That implies an attraction of sorts. Remember, negative attention is still attention, and the fact that he took a moment to check out my profile means that he noticed me.
Rick also seems to think I care that some random guy on Facebook apparently thinks I’m ugly. LOL… hell, my own father regularly criticized my appearance! So Rick’s opinion about my attractiveness is irrelevant, and frankly, pretty juvenile. I mean, that’s the kind of thing people say on the playground. “You’re ugly!” Well, I know you are, but what am I, Rick? 😀
Anyway, I laughed at Rick and wrote, “Thanks for creeping my profile, you strange man. Why don’t you run along now and play with your assault rifles.” I was going to add the word “loaded”, but decided that I didn’t need to encourage more gun violence. For all I know, Rick might take my suggestion.
A kind man named Stephen wrote, “…yes it is not worth engaging him in conversation. He seems to love insulting and using words he doesn’t understand.“
So I wrote this:
Thanks for that. I don’t actually care that Rick apparently doesn’t think I’m cute. I’m married to a wonderful man, and he’s the only one whose opinion I care about regarding my attractiveness or lack thereof. Besides, I figure ‘ol Rick must have found me interesting on some level, since he took the time to stalk my profile. Like I said… creepy… just like the booty callers who send me random PMs.
Some people reading this might think I shouldn’t be writing this blog post. Why give guys like Rick a second thought? But I’m writing this because Rick actually did give me something to think about this morning.
There was a time when I was much younger that Rick’s comment might have hurt my feelings. Back in the days when I was less secure, had lower self-esteem, and cared more about what people thought of me, it actually did sting when someone insulted me on a personal level– especially when they criticized my appearance.
I think that comes from having family members who cared a lot about image, and what others thought of them and our family. When the people responsible for bringing you into the world– the people who were your first “love”– criticize things like your appearance, or your laugh, or they tell you that no one will ever love you, that tends to make you think that everyone feels that way. After all, they made me. You’d think they’d love me unconditionally for that alone. But they couldn’t love me unconditionally, because they didn’t even love themselves that way.
My parents are/were good looking, talented, and intelligent people, and they expected their four daughters to be the same. I think we all did turn out alright. I may not always be camera ready, but I clean up fine. I’ve never had a problem turning Bill on, and he’s the only one who matters. I mostly hang around with him and my dogs, and my dogs think I’m awesome because I’m the one who feeds them and walks them. I value their opinions a whole lot more than I do Rick’s.
I’m old enough to know that it’s not true that my parents’ opinions of me are reflections of what all others think. The world is full of people, and they all have opinions. I’ve been around long enough to know that no one is everyone’s cup of tea. I know I’m not… but I’d rather be someone’s double shot of tequila, anyway. Thanks to Bill, I know that I AM someone’s double shot of tequila! That makes me pretty blessed.
Besides, my mom is a lot more appreciative of me now, especially since she doesn’t have to look at me. 😉 My dad is dead, so his opinion is irrelevant, too. He was wrong, anyway. I found someone who genuinely loves me, even though my dad often said I never would.
I don’t have to be physically gorgeous to turn Bill on. He was very attracted to me even before he saw me in person. And when he saw me in person, it only confirmed that we belong together. I can simply write something erotic, sing him a siren song, or touch him in a certain way and he’ll get a “raise”. We have a lot of chemistry, and always enjoy being together. I am very fortunate because a high quality person loves me no matter what; but I would be okay, even if I were still single.
I could gain twenty pounds, get hit in the nose with a football like Marcia Brady, or look like death warmed over from illness. Bill would still love me. That’s what makes him vastly superior to cavemen like Rick, who are only interested in big guns, conservative politics, and what his eyes superficially see in a photo. And again, HE’S the one who came to my profile, looking for something to criticize. Why would he do that if he didn’t find me attractive on some level? If he didn’t find me interesting, he would have ignored my comment and kept scrolling.
What a guy like Rick thinks of me is completely immaterial. The fact that he criticized my looks as a means of shutting me down is pathetic! Obviously, he had nothing of substance to say, but had to say something to defend his pitiful male ego. He needs a big GUN to defend himself, too, which tells me all to know about his so-called strength and resilience. What a small-minded man he is… and I’d venture to guess that he’s not very satisfying in the booty call department, either. 😀 That’s why he plays with big guns. They make him feel bigger and more powerful than he actually is.
Anyway, I’ve concluded that Rick is just another guy who Can’t. Understand. Normal. Thinking… Read between the lines on that one. It’s sad that he has to resort to insulting and belittling people on social media rather than engaging in respectful and meaningful dialogue with others. He must live a very limited life.
I’m happy to report that Facebook finally seems to have done something about the PM issue. Or maybe the scammers don’t like my most recent profile photo. I haven’t been getting those PMs recently. It might even be time to change that tag line. Maybe I’ll write one that says, “Creeping my profile to find ways to insult me simply proves that you think I’m interesting.”
Hope you all have a great Friday. It’s time for me to find something constructive to do. Maybe I’ll drink some tequila and watch the below video again, simply because it’s hilarious!
Actually… some messages are useful and some are entertaining.
Regular readers may have noticed that lately, I’ve been reposting a lot of old book reviews and articles from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife, which I discontinued in 2019. Those who also follow my travel adventures might remember that last year, I spent several months updating old posts from Blogger. The travel blog wasn’t so huge that I couldn’t migrate it to WordPress. Unfortunately, doing so led to massive formatting problems. I spent a lot of time updating and reformatting posts that were years old. That process is mostly finished now, save for the odd hiccup. I did have to edit a couple of old posts yesterday, which I only noticed because someone hit them on Statcounter.
I was not able to migrate the Blogspot version of this blog to WordPress. I think it’s because the file was simply too large. I started my blog in March 2010, so that was a lot of material to move. The system just flat refused to do it for me. I’m actually kind of glad, too. Some of it was stuff that doesn’t need to be reposted… non-sensical drivel I posted while bored or uninspired, or posts about time sensitive issues that aren’t relevant now. There were a few other posts that I didn’t repost because I wrote them when I was angry and they are potentially hurtful to others.
After spending months reformatting the travel blog, I decided I didn’t want to have to do that with the original OH blog. That thing had over 3000 posts over a span of almost nine years! By contrast, the travel blog had maybe a third as many. Reformatting is very tedious and thankless work. I think it’s better to just repost the stuff that I think might be interesting.
Some people might wonder why I would repost anything, especially book reviews that are very old. It’s mainly because I’ve discovered that people get nostalgic and look for information about things that may no longer be covered online. I’ve found myself listed in bibliographies, often by Internet handles. I get a kick out of that. But really, the book reviews of titles that are now out of print can be valuable to some users. In some cases, what I (or others) have written in book reviews may be all the information that can be found of books that have gone out of print. Book reviews are pretty evergreen and, as you’ll see below, some of the better articles, especially about true crime, are legitimately useful to readers. My angry rants about very personal or insignificant issues, or people no longer in my life, are much less so. 😉
I also like to preserve my own thoughts and memories, especially when there’s a news story involved. For example, on my travel blog, I reposted an article I wrote several years ago about a trip to the Eastern Shore that I took with my parents in the early 80s. On the way home, we stopped in Chincoteague, and I ended up visiting a water slide that was owned by a guy who, years later, made the news for being a sex offender who castrated himself while he was in jail. That true crime case is now many years old, but I guarantee there are people out there who remember it and want to read about it. I could have put it on this blog, but when it comes down to it, that story is ultimately a travel tale, and the travel blog needs some love. I do mostly try to keep the mood light on that blog, but not every travel story is delightful. I like to keep things real, if I can.
In the wake of all of the reposts I’ve been doing, I’ve been getting some strange comments and messages from people. Sometimes, I get communications through the contact form. I mostly appreciate the ones that aren’t spam, since most people who contact me are respectful. Sometimes the spam messages are hilarious, like the one I got today. Check this out…
Sometimes, I’m left scratching my head as to why someone would contact me about something. The other day, I got a message from a very decorated academic. I looked him up on LinkedIn, per his suggestion. He invited me to contact him if I ever wanted to know about Title IX and suicide on college campuses. I was puzzled, since I don’t think I’ve ever written about that subject. I consulted Statcounter to see which article the guy had accessed me through, looking for a clue as to why he’d written to me. The article he hit had nothing to do with the topic he was proposing. It was something I’d written about an advice column about divorce. But maybe the guy thought I could cover that subject or would be interested in it? I’m not sure, because he didn’t explain.
I got another recent communication from someone who wants to know more about a true crime story I wrote about years ago and had reposted. I didn’t actually know that much about the crime itself; I just happen to know someone who knows the perpetrator because they grew up in the same town. In fact, my friend had once brought him to our college and I actually met the guy. But at the time that I met him, I didn’t know he had killed someone, and I am not from the small town where the murder happened. I just know someone who knows him. Somehow, the commenter thought I knew more than I do, so she was hoping to glean insight from me. I ended up directing her to my friend, who is more in the know. I thought our exchange was over until this morning, when I got this message…
I might be good at podcasts. Once upon a time, I did radio, and I was relatively good at it. I’ve been told I have a good voice for the airwaves, although I don’t like listening to it myself. Maybe someday I’ll try it, just for fun. We’ll see if my ego can take it if no one wants to listen to me.
One thing I would like to mention to those who do send me a message– bear in mind that unless you explicitly tell me, I won’t necessarily know what you’re referring to when you make a comment on the contact form. Those messages aren’t linked to any specific posts, so unless you are clear about which one you’re referencing, I am left to guess. Sometimes, it’s obvious, but other times it’s not. The message from the academic was a head scratcher. The one below was easier to figure out, but still not 100 percent obvious.
The WordPress version of my blog is about 2.5 years old now. I’m glad I changed formats from Google Blogspot. I’d been wanting to do it for awhile, since the Blogspot format feels kind of limited and dated. I hesitated for a long time because I was enjoying a pretty good presence on Blogspot. When I discovered that someone was deliberately stirring up trouble for me offline, I decided that it was finally time to move the blog somewhere else and use a platform that would allow me more control over my content. WordPress allows me to password protect certain posts, so that invited readers can access them, but the general public can’t. On Blogspot, I could either make posts open to everyone or make them open to just me. Or, I could make the blog open only to invited readers, which I didn’t really want to do. Not every interested reader wants to be a member of an invite only blog.
I know Blogspot has been revamped a lot since 2019, and maybe what I’ve observed about its shortcomings is no longer true. I do keep my Dungeon of the Past blog on Blogspot, but I seldom update that blog and may discontinue it once my AdSense finally hits $100. I’m getting close.
It was painful to move this blog. Moving from Blogspot meant losing the somewhat robust readership I had, as well as earnings from Google AdSense and Amazon. The money wasn’t a necessity, but it was a nice perk. I would like to be able to earn some money on my own, you know. It’s a point of pride… even if all I earn in a year is enough to buy me a six pack of beer. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who supports me in all ways. He certainly doesn’t have to do that, but it’s nice for me that he does, given our lifestyle.
Since I moved the blog, it’s steadily been getting more readers. I have found that, by and large, I like the people reading now more than I did a lot of the readers of my original blog. People who are reading now tend to actually care more about the content. I don’t get nearly as many rude or abusive comments on this blog. Of course, I also moderate comments here, while for the longest time, I didn’t do that on Blogspot. I’ve found that moderating comments cuts down on hostile drivebys. I require people to identify themselves, so they must really want to say something to me if they comment. When I didn’t moderate, people would be more willing to comment, but many of the comments were mean spirited. I have feelings because I’m a person, too. Also, comment moderation cuts down on spam, although as you can see from the first screenshot, I still get spammers via the contact form! I still would like to know where Wilton gets the idea that I have drug addict criminals to send to his rehab. How strange!
Anyway… I do have a few current events in my mind that I might write some fresh content about today. Or I might repost more stuff from the past. I hope those of you who are annoyed with the reposts will continue to have some patience. People are interested in some of that old content, and sometimes I get inspired to make fresh content based on the comments I get on the throwback stuff. This post, for example, is one of those that wouldn’t have been written without reposts. Some might find it a boring read… but I know I have at least one regular reader who was amused by Wilton’s offer to host my drug addict criminals. You see? People are interested in all kinds of stuff. Luckily, so am I.
The other day, I was sitting on the patio drinking beer in the late afternoon sun. It occurred to me that Little Orphan Annie had a lot in common with Maria von Trapp. Both were musical theater heroines from musicals set in World War II (edited to add: Annie was set in the Great Depression— thanks to mphtheatergirl for catching the error). Both came from poverty– Annie was an orphan who lived in an orphanage, while Maria was a young novitiate at a convent. Both were spunky and friendly, as they turned the households of wealthy men upside down with their charms. Both were musical and used their musical gifts to brighten lives.
So I mentioned this on social media, and a friend who is into musicals piped up, saying her “musical theater brain just exploded”. Actually, she used an exploding emoticon to make her point. But I got the idea that she hadn’t thought about how similar the stories of Annie and Maria are kind of similar.
And now, as I sit here writing this, I realize that both of those stories also have something in common with Pretty Woman, a 1990 film that starred Julia Roberts as a woman named Vivian who went from being a prostitute to being Richard Gere’s character of Edward’s main squeeze. And Pretty Woman was kind of My Fair Lady— man turns woman from the wrong side of the tracks into something better and classier. Of course, Vivian and Annie also had red curly hair in common, and lots of spunk and positivity. Julia didn’t sing as Vivian, so I don’t know if they also had music in common.
In all of those stories, the cultured, wealthy, crotchety men are ultimately charmed by females who show them that they just need a little more love in their lives. It’s an appealing story, which is probably why it gets told in various ways so often. We all like the Cinderella story, featuring scrappy young women who climb out of adversity and onto something bigger and better. But then, each of these stories are not just about women making it on their own. They’re also about men who have a higher station, pulling them up. Maybe they would have pulled themselves up eventually, but being attached to a wealthy older man has its advantages, I guess.
So why am I writing this now? I’m not gonna lie. It’s mostly because I can’t stand to look at that screenshot from my duet video yesterday. This was something intriguing that floated through my mind a couple of days ago and I wanted to write it down. It occurred to me that a lot of formulas of popular stories are really the same story set with different characters and situations.
I first thought about how similar Annie and Pretty Woman were a few years ago, as I was watching Pretty Woman on Netflix. I listened to Vivian giving Edward a pep talk and realized that she was only supposed to stay with him for a week– just temporarily– so he could seal a business deal. Annie, likewise, was only supposed to have a week with Daddy Warbucks. He’d even wanted a boy instead of a girl. But in the course of a few days, both of these characters had won over their wealthy male benefactors in a heartwarming Cinderella story in which they live happily ever after. Maria von Trapp, likewise, was supposed to be a temporary governess for Captain von Trapp’s seven children. She ends up charming everyone, despite being annoying to the captain at first. And Eliza Doolittle, initially annoyed with her Cockney accent, manages to win over Henry Higgins as she catches on to what he’s trying to teach her and becomes a beautiful young lady… a diamond in the rough, just like Vivian the prostitute, Annie the orphan, and Maria the nun in training.
Isn’t that interesting? Maybe I should log off and watch some of these warm and fuzzy movies today. In a matter of days, we’ll probably be emerging from our house, at long last. I might not have the time or inclination to hang out watching movies a week from now…
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