Again, cross-posted on the travel blog… The featured photo was taken on the car ferry from Denmark to Germany, back in 2019.
Yesterday, I wrote about my apprehension about booking a cruise. I termed it a “true first world problem.” Aye– as my Scottish ancestors would say– that it is. Twenty-four hours ago, as I was pondering whether or not I wanted to spend big bucks on a luxury cruise in the Baltic region, I started looking for alternatives.
A friend of mine had suggested touring the Norwegian fjords on Hurtigruten, which is, of course, a perfectly good suggestion. However, if I had decided to go for the fjords, that would have completely negated using the champagne bucket to choose where to go. The Norwegian fjords are a place I’d love to see the right way, and a cruise is probably the right way to go. But it wasn’t one of the choices for this particular trip. Moreover, I never asked for alternative suggestions.
I still decided to look into the Norwegian fjords experience and found that besides Hurtigruten, there’s another line that does cruises along the fjords. Maybe at some point we’ll pull the trigger on that. I did look into short cruises in Norway for the days we’ll be there, but they aren’t very convenient to our plans.
After a short while, I stopped researching travel possibilities, and turned my attention to my guitar, which badly needed new strings. I don’t play it so often that I routinely change the strings. But, it had gotten to the point at which I had forgotten when I had last changed them. The old ones were starting to get discolored, and weren’t staying tuned well. So, as much as I hate changing the strings, but love the results of changing them, once they stretch, I knew it was a job that urgently needed doing. I had just put one string on when my phone rang.
It was someone from Regent Seven Seas Cruises calling. I felt confident in answering, since I knew Bill was already agreeable to my booking the cruise, once we confirmed the correct price. The cruise specialist, whose name is Andrea, is from Germany. She thought I was German too, and was speaking German to me, even though I had made contact in English. I didn’t realize it, but the voicemail on my phone is in German… No one ever calls me, so I didn’t know. I thought the call was coming from Germany, but actually, it was a U.S. based call that somehow looked like it came from Germany.
Andrea and I got to talking, and it turns out she lives in Florida, which is where Regent is based. She’s been there since 1991. I always find myself bonding with Germans in the U.S., since I’m an American in Germany. As we discussed the cruise, we talked about how we ended up in each other’s countries. In many ways, Germany is kind of like the U.S., but I find that the U.K. feels more like home to me than Germany does, even though people drive on the other side of the road and kids wear uniforms to school.
Andrea said that my request went to her, because I am in Germany. She handles all clients from Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, even though she’s based in Florida. It was still very early in the morning where she lives when we were talking– maybe 5:30AM! Nevertheless, she was wide awake and friendly. I guess she’s a morning person like Bill is. All of our documents are in German. Andrea says there’s nothing she can do about that, since I’m in Germany. Google Chrome will save us, I’m sure…
It didn’t take long for Andrea to sell me on Regent. I put a deposit on the cruise. I would have just paid for the whole thing, since the cruise is coming up in June, but I used my credit card with a lower limit, and the whole cruise costs more than the limit is. I used that card rather than the other one, because I knew it was less likely to get declined for “suspicious activity”. Both of my cards usually have zero balances. I rarely use them because it took me forever to pay them off when we were less affluent. The deposit didn’t raise any red flags, which made me feel confident.
Bill got home later and I proposed booking the flights. I was thinking of flying into Stavanger or Bergen, since we had never been to either of those beautiful towns, and we have been to Oslo. But it turned out there weren’t any flights that worked with boarding Noyzi and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Like… there was an attractive flight that would have worked, except it left at 10:30AM, and that wasn’t enough time to get Noyzi to the Hundepension and get ourselves checked in at the airport. So, Oslo it is…
I had no idea that Norway’s cities were so far apart. Stavanger looks like it’s not that far from Oslo, but it’s a seven or eight hour car ride or train trip. Bergen, likewise, is hours away by car or train. There are cheap flights available, and we may decide to avail ourselves of one, just so we can get a feel for a city other than Oslo. But, we did also enjoy visiting Oslo when we were there in 2009, and that was at a time when we had a lot less money.
Oslo is also closer to Stockholm, which is where we will be meeting the ship. We haven’t seen anything in Stockholm except the cruise port, which is where our first Baltic cruise in 2009 ended. It was a four night “short break” on Royal Caribbean, and we started in Oslo and stopped in Tallin and Copenhagen, then ended in Stockholm. We couldn’t enjoy the city, because Bill had a conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen the next day. So, we hopped a plane to Munich. I spent the next week taking tours out of the Edelweiss MWR Lodge while Bill tended to his Army duties. We had flown to Oslo from Munich, and when we got back to the parking garage, the car battery was dead, necessitating a call to ADAC. Plus, our bags didn’t make the flight, and had to be brought to us in Garmisch.
This time, we will end in Copenhagen, a city we’ve been to twice, but haven’t had much of a chance to really enjoy. The first time, it was on that short cruise, that only allowed a few hours in town. The second time was in 2019, when we were passing through on our way home with our new car and stopped for a night of rest as we continued onward to Rostock, Germany. This trip will at least give us a full day to enjoy Denmark. We’ll spend a couple of nights there before coming home on July 2.
So, off I went to Lufthansa to book our flights, after confirming with Bill which ones we wanted. I input all of the information, then tried to use my trusty credit card to pay. Sure enough, it was declined. I called up PenFed and explained that I was trying to book my vacation. I should have probably asked them to raise the limit on that card, too. Maybe next time I call…
The tickets are now booked. All I have to do now is decide on hotels in Norway and Denmark and maybe book transportation to Stockholm. A flight from Oslo takes an hour, but a train is much more scenic and is about five hours of fun. 😉 Oh… and I also need to choose excursions and restaurant reservations for the cruise, since they are included in the fare.
It’s hard to believe, just a few days ago, I was agonizing over all of this. It’s all coming together now, like magic. I wasn’t planning to do a cruise, but this may turn out to be a bit of a Godsend. If it turns out we really love any of the places we see, we can come back and do a land based tour, as I originally planned. They are now building a railway in the Baltics that will make it a lot easier to travel there. And I do want to go and spend more than a few hours. We already know we like Tallinn from our 2009 trip, and Bill enjoyed Riga when he went.
I know… first world problem, and maybe I should be ashamed of myself for writing about it. But, at least this isn’t a cranky complaint post about politics or similarly unpleasant topics.
For those who are curious, here’s a video highlighting the ship we’re going to be on. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s not like you don’t get a lot for the money. This is also not our usual style. We normally prefer much smaller ships, and that generally means the ships we’re on are usually much older. Splendor was built in 2020. Hebridean Princess, by contrast, was built in 1964 as a car ferry and later became a cruise ship in 1989. SeaDream I was built in 1984. I think Vision of the Seas is 1998 vintage, and I’m not even sure if it’s still in service.
Again, I chose this entirely for the itinerary, and the fact that it’s an all inclusive cruise. I’m not a Regent cheerleader, and I’m not sure we’ll give up small ships for this. But then again, maybe we will. We won’t know until we actually have the experience. At least now, I’ll have something new to write about on the travel blog!
Because this post involves travel, I’m going to cross post it on my travel blog. The featured photo was taken in 2019, when Bill and I went to Sweden to pick up our car and drove it on a Nordic adventure.
I’m in the midst of trying to plan a summer vacation/birthday trip for Bill and myself. Because of the whole COVID-19 odyssey, and the seemingly endless lockdowns that followed, we’ve decided that this year, we’d like to fly somewhere. And because there are a lot of places in Europe we still want to see, we decided to choose our destination using the “champagne bucket” method.
I’ve written about the champagne bucket method on my travel blog. Basically, I got the idea for it from “blind bookings” on Germanwings (now known as Eurowings). I’m not sure if Eurowings still does blind bookings, but Lufthansa does, and Lufthansa owns Eurowings. It basically involves booking a surprise flight, and usually paying a lower fare. You don’t know where you’re going until after you pay for the ticket(s). Bill and I have done it four times to great success. We visited Barcelona, London, Berlin, and Munich that way.
When we moved back to the States, I decided that it wouldn’t be hard to plan more of our vacations that way. Instead of relying on the airline, we just put our choices on slips of paper and put them in the champagne bucket. Then, Bill picks one of the slips out of the bucket.
I was really rooting for a trip to Armenia and possibly Georgia this summer. That was one of the choices, too. Bill was a bit reluctant, because of political and military issues going on in Armenia right now. We may still go there this year, but for a short trip to Yerevan, instead of an all out country tour. Then, I can show Bill where I lived, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, and sign him up for a more extensive trip. 😉
Anyway, when we did our champagne bucket challenge, Bill ended up choosing Finland. Neither of us has ever been there before. We have been to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia together. Bill has also been to Latvia a couple of times on business. Neither of us has seen Lithuania, but we’ve met people from there and Latvia on cruises.
Originally, I was planning for us to go to Helsinki and do a land based trip, then go by ferry to Tallinn, Estonia, stay a few days, and work our way south to Latvia and Lithuania, before flying back. Then I started researching and discovered, there’s no easy way to travel to Latvia and Lithuania that doesn’t involve riding a bus. We considered renting a car, but that seemed potentially risky.
So then I thought, maybe instead of trying to hit the Baltic capitals, I could go west. Visit Finland, do a day trip in Tallinn, then head west toward Norway, which we know we love. Then I thought, maybe it would be better to start in Norway, and head east to Finland, then go to Tallinn and spend a night or two…
Then I realized how expensive flights would be… plus the stress and inconvenience involving finding transportation, hauling bags, and booking hotels… and although I’d already looked for cruises and initially didn’t see any I liked, I kept getting ads for Regent Seven Seas on Facebook. And Regent is– or was– considered a luxury line, although it’s a much bigger ship than we usually go for when we cruise.
I noticed they had a cruise available during the time we plan to travel. It starts June 23 and ends June 30, and hits ports in Sweden, Helsinki, Estonia, Latvia, and Denmark. We could still go to Norway and do a land based trip, working our way to Stockholm, a city we’ve been to, but didn’t really get to explore at all in 2009. Best of all, the cruise in question is on sale. It’s still expensive, but doable for us. We wouldn’t even have to stay in the cheapest stateroom. I pitched the idea to Bill, who liked it.
I started making a booking request. It took about a half dozen times to finally get registered. I mismatched my email address, or added one too many dots in the address, or the passwords didn’t match. Finally, I had my account, and started to make the request.
But the stateroom I wanted was listed as twice as expensive than was advertised. While we technically could do it, I’d rather spend that much money on a new car or a down payment on a house. So I stopped making the request, and sent an inquiry to Regent, asking them to confirm that the cruise is on sale.
About an hour later, I got a phone call through my iPad, which I wasn’t prepared to answer, as I was reading something to Bill. I also got a message, written in German, indicating that the cruise is on sale, and inviting me to call between 11am and 8pm today. I sent a message back in English, asking if I have to call to get that rate, and clarifying that I’m American and can’t speak German worth a damn. 😉
Then I went on Cruise Critic and started reading reviews and comments on the messageboards. The consensus is, the ship I’m looking at booking is beautiful, although Regent has “gone downhill” in recent years. Bill and I have done cruises on Royal Caribbean, SeaDream, and Hebridean Island Cruises. SeaDream and Hebridean, like Regent, are considered luxury and are all inclusive. However, they are much smaller ships. So Regent would be a different cruise experience for us, and it would offer some convenience, as we’d be hitting places we want to visit– albeit for a shorter time than we would personally plan for ourselves.
I truly am attracted to the cruise because of the itinerary and the time the cruise is going. I don’t have particularly high expectations of great service or being treated like royalty. A cruise just offers a convenient way to cross some items off our bucket list.
On the other hand, I was kind of looking forward to a deeper dive into the areas, and exploring more on our own. Also, there’s less chance of running into people with whom we don’t mesh when we do land based trips, or getting sick from any number of viruses on ships. I like to plan trips and look for interesting places to stay. I guess the pre cruise travel to Norway would offer that, but I was kind of wanting to get more of a feel for Finland.
Either way, this trip is going to be expensive. Good thing Bill got a generous raise this year. We do have the money, too… at least for the cruise. I’m just not used to having that, either… being somewhat well-heeled is kind of a new experience for us.
Sigh… a trip to Armenia would be a lot more economical. On the other hand, if I develop a bleeding stomach ulcer, I’d feel better about seeking treatment in a nordic country. 😉
This is truly a first world problem. I’m sure I should just go for it and see what happens. We’ve had some great times on cruises and made some friends. And a bonus is, since Regent ships are a lot bigger, there’s less chance I’ll get seasick this time.
We’ll see what happens. I may scrap the idea of the cruise. It is tempting, though… Regent is probably more comfortable than the Stockholm to Helsinki ferry.
Those of you who read this blog regularly, probably know that I grew up in the 1980s. As a child of that era, there are certain cultural phenomenons that are etched in my personal history. Personally, I think the 70s and 80s were great decades for coming of age. Most of us were too young to remember Richard Nixon. We got to be kids at a time before everybody was so plugged in to their electronic devices. We had a lot of freedom to come and go– I can remember running all over my neighborhoods— even when I was very young— and exploring to my heart’s content. And there was some really great– non auto-tuned— music in that era, to include an iconic band called The Cars, fronted by the late Ric Ocasek.
Ric Ocasek was 80s model Paulina Porizkova’s long time husband. When Ocasek died in September 2019, they were in the beginning stages of getting a divorce. Although they were splitting up when he died, Ric and Paulina still shared the house they purchased together when they first got married in August 1989. Paulina had envisioned them staying close and being “best friends”, maybe living in apartments near each other. But it was not to be. As Ric recovered from surgery for “stage 0 cancer”, he suddenly and unexpectedly died in the bedroom he and his third wife used to share. He’d also been suffering from heart disease and emphysema.
It was Paulina who discovered him, as she carried a cup of coffee to his sickbed at about 11:00 AM. It was made just the way he liked it, with three quarters of a teaspoon of sugar and just enough milk in it to turn it a very specific shade of beige. This part of the story resonated with me. My husband, Bill, knows how I like my “beige” coffee, too, although I prefer half and half over milk.
My sisters read fashion magazines regularly, but as an adolescent, I spent most of my time in a barn, tending to my horse. I’ve never had the figure, the bank account, or the desire to wear high fashion. I will admit that I used to like to watch America’s Next Top Model, and I did learn about models and fashion in the process of watching that show. But I really watched ANTM more for the drama, not because I care about haute couture. When Paulina Porizkova became a Top Model judge during Cycle 10, she quickly became one of my favorite people on the show. I liked that she was down-to-earth, intelligent, and basically kind… or as kind as she was allowed to be, anyway. As a music fan, I admired The Cars, and thought it was cool that Paulina was married to one of the co-founders of that band. I was pissed off when Paulina was fired from ANTM after Cycle 12. I thought it was a huge mistake. In my opinion, the show went downhill after she left. Paulina was also very briefly on Dancing With the Stars, but she was voted off very early. I didn’t watch her on that show.
As someone who grew up at a time when a lot of us were terrified of being invaded by the Soviet Union, I also find Paulina Porizkova’s personal history very interesting. Paulina was born on April 9, 1965 in Prostějov, Czechia, which was at that time, Czechoslovakia. In 1968, when she was three years old, the Soviet Union invaded and occupied her country. Her parents, Anna and Jiri, did not like the idea of censorship, being forced to work menial jobs for little pay, or standing in line for hours for a loaf of bread. So they left the country on a motorcycle and settled in Sweden, leaving Paulina behind in Czechoslovakia with her grandmother.
Life was difficult in Paulina’s homeland. The Soviets decided the house her grandfather had inherited was too large for one family. They divided it into three apartments and moved in a single lady and another family. There was one toilet for the whole house, and it was on the veranda. Meanwhile, Paulina’s parents were making a lot of noise about their daughter, who was separated from them. The sympathetic Swedish press wrote a lot of stories about Paulina, causing her to become famous. Still, Paulina didn’t mind, because she didn’t know what she was missing. She loved her grandmother, and wanted to be a good communist, as she was being taught in school. She even had aspirations of visiting Lenin in his tomb, and becoming a “Young Pioneer”, complete with a red kerchief. Below is an anecdote of something she and her cousin did in an attempt to win one of those red kerchiefs…
When Paulina was seven, her pregnant mother, Anna, came back to Czechoslovakia in disguise. She wore a wig and glasses. The police found out who she was, and she was jailed. But she was seven months pregnant, and the Swedish press continued to put pressure on the Czech government. Anna was then given house arrest with her family. The police moved into an apartment across the street, so they could watch her and make sure no one visited. Anna told everyone in the family about the good life in Sweden, which was diametrically opposed to everything the Soviets reported. Anna spoke of how clean, beautiful, and safe the country was, and how she could eat a banana or an orange anytime she wanted one. Paulina wasn’t sure if she should believe her, but she soon found out firsthand, as the Czech government deported Anna, Paulina, and her baby brother from the country. She was told she could never return to her homeland, and was forced to leave her beloved grandmother behind. Then, when she got to Sweden, her father decided to leave the family and marry his girlfriend.
Life in Sweden was also challenging for Paulina. She was bullied in school because she was different. Unlike the blonde girls whose families had plenty of money, Paulina was tall with dark hair. She wore outdated clothes from thrift stores. Some of her classmates called her a “dirty Communist”. One Swedish girl, in particular, was especially mean to fourteen year old Paulina, who one day dared to wear new clothes she’d bought with her own money after working hard all summer. I wonder how that Swedish girl felt the following year, when fifteen year old Paulina was invited to Paris by model scout, John Casablancas, and launched her career as a bonafide top model. I hope she felt like the dumbass she obviously was.
Modeling was a lucrative career for Paulina, but she didn’t particularly enjoy the job. Sexual harassment toward the models was rampant among the photographers and clients. She had to wear hot clothes when it was hot outside, or strip down to nothing when the weather was freezing. She saw a lot of beautiful young girls wash out of the business before they even got started, many times owing a lot of money to the agencies who had paid for them to get their teeth fixed or skin issues treated by dermatologists. Paulina was fortunate, as she was successful and made a lot of money. And, in 1984, when she was 19 years old, actor Timothy Hutton, who was directing The Cars’ music video for their hit song, “Drive”, cast her as the love interest. That was how she met Ric Ocasek, who was married to his second wife, Suzanne, at the time.
Paulina was struck by Ric’s turquoise eyes, which she describes in great detail, as he often wore dark shades that hid them from public view. She writes reverently about his naturally slender body and extreme height, and his shocking mop of black dyed hair against his pale skin. She immediately noticed his Czech surname, even translating it for readers. It was more poetic than her own surname, which she also sort of translates, as much as possible, anyway. She agreed to date him, even though he was married and had two young sons at the time… as well as two older sons with his first wife. She was still in her prime when they married in 1989, but she decided to mostly give up her career to be Ric’s wife and the mother of their two sons, Jonathan Raven and Oliver. She would occasionally model and take approved acting gigs, always approved by Ric, and never interfering with his schedule. Even though she made a lot of money when she was a model, she let him be the breadwinner… and they did not sign prenuptial agreements, even though their financial advisors strongly recommended it. That decision came back to bite Paulina firmly in the ass when Ric suddenly died, having disinherited her for “abandoning him”, as well as his two eldest sons. She had to go to court to get what was hers and, for a time, was left quite destitute and dependent on friends as she rebounded, now as a woman of 54.
I found No Filter to be a very quick and engaging read. I managed to finish this book in less than two days, and yet I came away with a lot of fresh thoughts and new perspectives. Paulina’s story has given me a lot to think about for many reasons. I could relate to much of her story, simply because of the time I’ve spent in Europe and the former Soviet Union, and because, like her, I’m now a woman of a certain age. 😉 I realized in reading Paulina’s book that we really aren’t that different, even if no one wants to take pictures of me in the nude. 😀 Also, she displays a fine sense of humor, and provides some comic relief in the form of wry anecdotes that are very disarming and show her humility. I do not get the sense that Paulina is vapid or arrogant, at all. In fact, she seems to be quite the opposite!
Paulina Porizkova has an evocative writing style, and she uses a lot of vivid and vibrant language to bring her story to life. In fact, even though I don’t typically read a lot of novels anymore (with the recent exception of A Stopover in Venice, by James Taylor’s second ex wife, Kathryn Walker), I decided to download Paulina’s novel about modeling, A Model Summer. I actually think she might be even better at writing novels. She uses a lot of colorful imagery and descriptive devices such as similes and metaphors to figuratively “paint” a picture in readers’ minds. I suspect A Model Summer might also be revelatory, because I have a feeling it’s based on her story, just as A Stopover in Venice is obviously based on Kathryn Walker’s marriage to James Taylor.
I remember on Cycle 12 of America’s Next Top Model, a very successful contestant named Marjorie Conrad commiserated with Paulina, as Marjorie is originally from France. Other contestants would rag on Marjorie, and fellow European contestant, Elina (from Ukraine), for being too “negative”. Paulina understood why they were like that, as she’s Czech, with dual U.S. and Swedish citizenship. And, having lived in Europe/the former Soviet Union for about fifteen years of my life, I kind of understand it, too. Europeans have a different mindset than a lot of Americans do. They aren’t as “toxically positive” about everything, and take a more realistic, and often pessimistic, view of most things. I mention this, because I noticed that Paulina is often quite negative in this story about her life, in spite of all of the money, fame, and success she’s had.
Again, life was legitimately hard for Paulina as a poor little girl in Czechoslovakia. It was hard for her as a transplant in Sweden, where she stood out for being too tall, too dark haired, too poor, and coming from a “commie” country. It was hard for her as a model, who was quite successful, but didn’t really enjoy the industry that much for a lot of reasons. It was always “just a job” for her, and not a very interesting one, at that. She caught a lot of shit for frankly stating that, too. I’m sure Americans, in particular, think she should appreciate having been a model, even though she was expected to tolerate egregious and outrageous sexual harassment and very personal and often negative comments about her body. Below is a quote from early in the book:
Life was also hard for Paulina as Ric’s wife, as it turns out that he had some rather controlling behaviors that young Paulina had misconstrued as love. She was very young and inexperienced with men when they met. She’d had a tumultuous and difficult childhood that was fraught with abandonment, poverty, and abuse. She probably would have been better off going to college and finding work in which she could use her formidable brain. Instead, she fell into work that exploited the genetic jackpot she inherited by sheer chance. At one point in the book, Paulina writes about how people will usually encourage children who are smart and/or talented to develop and use their gifts. A smart child will often be encouraged to study hard and earn higher degrees, for instance. A musical or artistic child will be encouraged to improve their techniques so that their arts can be shared with the world. Beautiful women, though, are often judged harshly for using what they have, especially when they are “older”. Below is a quote Paulina got from a follower on her Instagram:
Easy for you to complain about the system now that you aren’t an “it” girl—but you had no problem making millions of dollars, enjoying your celebrity, and making millions of young girls feel ugly and unworthy for decades. NOW you are aware of how fragile self-image is???? You played a big role in creating the machine that makes people feel worthless if they aren’t “magazine beautiful,” and now you are crying because the system is making you feel like you made everyone else feel. The hypocrisy is incredible.
In her chapter, “The Responsibility of Beauty”, she writes:
People seem to understand that being beautiful is neither an accomplishment nor a fault. It is a gift. Generally, if you are given a gift or something of great value, your responsibility is to make use of it. When a person is born with an athletic or artistic ability and becomes a celebrated athlete or artist, we don’t shame them for using their gift. If a child is intelligent, we encourage them to get an education, to study hard, to develop their gift of intelligence as much as possible, and then use that gift out in the world. Developing their gift is seen as their responsibility. Wasted talent is a waste of potential. But when your gift is beauty, developing it is considered vain and narcissistic. Trying to maintain it is likewise shameful, whereas in athletics it’s practically heroic. An older athlete who strives to maintain their athleticism and compete with younger athletes is regarded as brave. An older model who strives to maintain their beauty and compete with younger models is often regarded as unnatural, embarrassing.
I think the above commentary is very astute. It’s true that Paulina Porizkova was part of an industry that causes a lot of girls and young women heartbreak and misery. When she was in that industry, Paulina was, herself, young and arrogant, and unaware of her “responsibility” as a model. She writes about a reporter who asked her what she thought her “responsibility” should be. Would she model fur, for instance? Or “blood diamonds”, just for the money? At the time the question was asked, young Paulina didn’t know how to answer. Over thirty years later, the question still haunts her, but in spite of being a “dumb” model (which she obviously never was), she manages to write some very intelligent commentary about the subject. I found it very intriguing, so I’m including a few samples below:
I had become a model at fifteen and made a great deal of money because people thought I was beautiful. I was also an arrogant asshole. Give a teenager loads of money, no rules, and lavish praise for her ability to look stunning and fit into sample-size clothing, and moral responsibility probably isn’t what she spends most of her days thinking about.
…somewhere along the way, we pick up the message that we can’t be beautiful and intelligent. That if we want to be taken seriously for our intelligence, we have to downplay our beauty. Right before I moved to Paris, I thought of myself as ugly and smart. Once I started working as a model, I was suddenly beautiful and stupid. When I called my dad to tell him I was staying in Paris to model full-time, he said, “Oh, now you’re going to be a dumbass.” When I arrived in Paris I got a reading list from a university and decided to read all the books listed in the English literature syllabus, notbecause I necessarily liked them or would choose them on my own, but because I wanted to make sure people knew I was intelligent.
I struggled with shame across my forty-plus-year career as a model. While a woman seeing a photo of me in an ad might have felt shame for not looking like me, I had been shamed for not having the body of Elle Macpherson. And the boobs of Cindy Crawford. And the teeth of Christie Brinkley. When the standard you are being held to is physical perfection, none of us can compete. I just quietly envied those other models and decided I surely had other, more important attributes. I was smarter, I could play the piano and draw, and I was certain I read way more books. I cut other women down in my mind so I could feel, if not superior, at least equal. I turned around and shamed those women after feeling shamed myself.
In my experience, no one shames a woman as often and as effectively as other women. We are all in the same boat, wanting to go the same way, yet instead of working together to get there, we knock one another off the boat. Do we not understand that the fewer of us there are to paddle, the slower we advance?
Yeah… this is not a dumb woman, at all! I can see why Paulina is sometimes negative about her life. She’s being honest, but a lot of Americans can’t respect honesty. They’d prefer bullshit. I also loved what she wrote about fame, and how people want to project themselves onto famous people. She explains that famous people are very well known, and yet very few people actually know them at all. Reading her comments reminded of how, when I was at James Taylor’s concert last month, some guy yelled out that his father “loved” him, and James reminded the guy that his father didn’t even know him. I got the sense that, like Paulina, James might be uncomfortable with people calling him by name and acting as if they’re somehow friends. If you think about it, it really is pretty weird, because we only know about the “famous” parts of these well-known people. We don’t actually have a personal knowledge of them at all, other than how what they do makes us feel. Paulina also reminds us that people in the press often make up or embellish things to sell their wares. I was also reminded of actress Justine Bateman’s book about her experiences with fame and how strange it must actually be for famous people… at least the ones who aren’t complete narcissistic assholes. Below are a few more quotes from the book to highlight what I mean…
On the other hand, Paulina Porizkova is also a believer in palm readings, tarot cards, and psychics, and she writes a bit about her experiences with her beliefs in her book. I don’t judge her negatively for that, especially since, in her experiences, they’ve actually been correct. Or, at least that’s what she claims. I know some people will probably think that’s kind of dumb or sacrilegious, though… or too much “woo”. And I know some will also judge her for being “the other woman”, and for the fact that she dated another man while she was still technically married. But, in fairness, Ric was also seeking the company of other women.
To sum things up…
I’m sure you can tell that I really enjoyed Paulina Porizkova’s book, No Filter. I am probably a bigger Paulina fan now, than I was when she was on ANTM. I hope this book helps her make some money, since she was left in quite a legal pickle when Ric Ocasek suddenly died. I still admire him as a musician and love his music, but now I think he was a bit of a narcissistic jerk. It’s too bad Paulina didn’t use her formidable common sense to protect herself from the situation he left her in when he died in 2019, but she trusted him and, sadly, he got to her when she was very naive and inexperienced.
There’s a lot more to this book that I didn’t cover, in spite of the long length of this article. So, if I have piqued your interest, I would highly recommend reading about Paulina Porizkova’s life. She’s led a very interesting one, so far… And I do hope that she will, one day, find that true love and acceptance she thought she’d had with Ric Ocasek. There are still some very good men out there. I know, because I managed to marry one myself, even though I am definitely no model. Like Paulina knew how Ric loved his coffee, my Bill knows how I love mine. I bet he’s not the only guy out there who’s like that… I think Paulina deserves someone who will fix her some coffee the way she likes it, and appreciate her very fine mind over her still gorgeous body.
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Now, more than ever, I think it’s important for people to stay out of other people’s faces. For obvious reasons, it’s a good idea to be distant. But since it’s also election season, I’ve seen a lot of people figuratively getting up in other people’s faces. I wonder if these people have given any thought to how they come across to others… or if they even care.
Here’s an example of what I mean. I have a bunch of cousins on my dad’s side of the family. One of my uncles married a very opinionated woman who is now deceased. My aunt was one of those people who loved to argue, even if a lot of her opinions were very one-sided and lacked perspective. My uncle, likewise, enjoys arguing. Both of them were heavy drinkers back in the day. My uncle is probably still a drunk. I don’t know, because I haven’t spoken to him in over three years, mainly because the last time I did, he called me a “nut case” because I disagree with him about Donald Trump making America great again.
My aunt and uncle produced four sons, all of whom are also very opinionated. They have cousins on their mother’s side who are just as opinionated. When I was still Facebook friends with most of that part of the family, I used to regularly see heated arguments, as my aunt’s family has a lively mix of extremely liberal and conservative people within it and they would publicly clash with each other on social media.
My cousin’s daughter, my first cousin once removed, is intelligent, sensitive, and very liberal. Lately, she’s been posting a lot of things about #BlackLivesMatter. That has inflamed her family members on both sides. Her grandfather’s side (my uncle’s side) of the family is conservative enough, but there’s also a cousin on her grandmother’s side (my aunt’s side) who is extremely conservative and has no problems opening verbal fire on anyone who enters a discussion with her.
I left a comment on this meme my cousin shared…
Another cousin had angrily posted that the above meme was “wrong”. This was his comment:
This is ridiculous. Race and audience are irrelevant and this insinuates police did this out of malice and there is no justifiable reason that this could ever happen. Garbage.
An argument ensued, and the same cousin posted this additional comment to the one above:
…there are justifiable reasons to shoot a man in the back. For example, someone running and firing a weapon at you. Or, in a case like this, fending off police with a knife to keep them at a distance then saying you’re going to get your gun out of your car and running out of an area they can deter you non-lethally. Having your kids there does not protect you from their right to self defense.
He has demonstrated the means and intent to kill the police and every second they didnt take action put them further at risk.
If it was about blasting a black man in front of his kids, they wouldn’t have had to wait until he said he was going to get his gun to shoot them.
You can call me a coward on the street, but if someone told me they were going to get their gun out of their car and shoot me after threatening me with a knife, i wouldn’t wait for him to turn around with a pistol.
My comment was this:
I have a hard time imagining someone running AWAY from someone while also trying to accurately fire a weapon. That sounds like something on TV or in the movies, not something from real life. Either way, shooting someone in the back SEVEN times is excessive.
I based my comment on my own experience firing weapons. It’s pretty hard to be accurate with a gun, even when you’re standing still. Imagine being scared, loaded with adrenaline, and running away from someone while also trying to fire a weapon and actually hitting the target you want to hit. It doesn’t seem plausible to me.
I noticed I got a notification from my cousin’s female relative on my aunt’s side. I didn’t even read it until just now, though, because I had been observing the way she was interacting with other people who weren’t on her team. This was what she posted to me. I wholeheartedly disagree with her comment, but I’m still not going to respond, because I’ve seen her in action with other people. I know it would be a waste of time. I will give her credit, though, for not calling me “honey” or going ad hominem, as I have seen her do with other people.
“excessive” perhaps, but imagine if you were one of the officers trying to subdue this man. He told them he was getting his gun from his car to shoot them. Now imagine the 14 yr old that he raped was your daughter… he wasn’t an upstanding citizen. He resisted arrest. He should be thankful he’s still alive.
Regardless of what the man said, or my hypothetical 14 year old daughter who might have been raped, I still don’t think police officers should be killing or seriously injuring people as often as they do. This isn’t a huge problem in other countries. It shouldn’t be a problem in the so-called “best” country in the world, either. I understand the reasons why it’s a problem. We have a huge issue with racism in the United States, as well as free access to guns and a society where many people glorify violence.
We have a political party that is all about protecting the right to bear arms as it also wants to force women to stay pregnant, while not making pregnancy and childbearing feasible and affordable. This party hates the idea of killing the unborn, who aren’t even conscious and have no concept of life, death, or terror; but they have no issues with killing the babies who have already been born, by employing their pro-violence, pro-racism policies.
And if you’re a white guy with a bright future, like former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, you get a pass when you rape someone who is drunk and unconscious. All because you might one day make a lot of money, and no one wants to see your bright future “ruined” by something as “trivial” as raping an unconscious woman behind a Dumpster. /sarcasm
If Brock Turner had been a man with darker skin, you bet your ass he’d still be in prison. Perhaps he might have even been killed as he was caught red-handed by two Swedish graduate students, sexually violating Chanel Miller, who was intoxicated and unconscious at the time. But he wasn’t. He was arrested, tried, and spent a laughably short amount of time in jail. Funny I should mention Sweden, too. That’s a country where police brutality is quite low, despite the fact that many refugees from Middle Eastern countries have settled there. Yes, it’s different in Sweden for many complex reasons that I don’t want to get into in this particular blog post. But the main difference I see is that basic decency among citizens and their leaders is expected.
In a news article about the off duty Swedish cops who, back in 2015, subdued a homeless guy in New York City, Swedes were reportedly unimpressed by the cops’ heroics. Here’s a screen shot from the news article, in which Swedes explain that it’s part of their culture to help rather than harm.
“Statistically, I look at our prison population and I see that there is a disproportionately high number of African-American males in our prison population for crimes, particularly for violent crimes. So statistically, when a police officer sees a brown man like my Jude walking down the road — as opposed to my white nerdy kids, my white nerdy men walking down the road — because of the statistics that he knows in his head, that these police officers know in their head, they’re going to know that statistically my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”
“So the fact that in his head, he would be more careful around my brown son than my white son, that doesn’t actually make me angry. That makes that police officer smart, because of statistics.”
Wow… so she thinks that people with brown skin are automatically going to be more violent and more likely to commit crimes, simply because of the color of their skin? She’s never heard of “gentle giants”? She’s never heard of nerdy white guys who sit in their mothers’ basements and eventually get so antisocial that they decide to shoot up schools? I could probably fill another blog post with many paragraphs about the “nerdy white guys” who have killed innocent children– former unborn babies that Johnson supposedly wished to protect before they entered the world as separate beings.
Think about Sandy Hook– 28 six year olds who just wanted to learn something in school– murdered by a nerdy white guy named Adam Lanza. Adam Lanza was just one such “nerdy white guy” of many, who have toted weapons into schools and killed innocent children. But Abby Johnson thinks her brown skinned son, Jude, is a bigger threat “‘cuz statistics”. Okay, then. If cops haven’t figured out that “nerdy white guys” can be threatening, then the cops are pretty damned stupid. And, by now, I’m sure people like Dylann Roof and Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, and Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and all the other “nerdy white guys” should have leveled the statistics about nerdy white guys and “being dangerous” somewhat by now!
Anyway… I could certainly get into it with my cousin’s relative on her grandmother’s side about this… and it would likely get very heated, and one of us might resort to sarcastically calling the other “honey” or “punk assed bitch” or something stupid like that. It becomes uncivilized and unproductive in a hurry and raises my blood pressure.
In fairness, it’s not just the right wingers who are like this. On RfM, once one of my favorite places to hang out when I need a break from Facebook, there are several posters who are aggressively liberal. One of them recently called me a “rape apologist” because I have empathy for the late Mary Kay Letourneau and her former student and ex husband, Vili Fualaau. Whether or not I condone with Mary Kay Letourneau did, she and Vili were married, and he apparently still had much regard for her. I don’t know why he loved her. But he evidently doesn’t consider himself her victim, even if other people do. I think his opinions about Mary Kay Letourneau are much more important than mine are. Moreover, even though these women think his life was “ruined” by Mary Kay’s actions, it’s clear that HE doesn’t think so. And his opinion is more important, in my view. How would those people like it if some unknown stranger in Internetland declared their lives “ruined” without even knowing them personally? I know I wouldn’t like it. Acknowledging that Vili Fualaau might be genuinely sad that his ex wife died, doesn’t make me a “rape apologist”. That’s ridiculous.
You can see two of those posters at work in this recent thread on RfM. Personally, I immediately got what the OP was posting about… people going around “baiting” other people into behaving badly, getting it on video, making the video go viral, and then trying to score a payday or fifteen minutes of fame. I think it does happen. But God forbid someone point this out in a forum on RfM, where a few prominent posters seem to have taken over with their overbearing points of view. I won’t even engage with them anymore, because I simply don’t have the time for it.
Ditto to the COVID-19 mask crusaders who are extremely rude and intolerant toward people who object to wearing face masks. They routinely shut down any discussion whatsoever, even if it has merit (for instance, my example regarding the man who was missing parts of his ears due to going to war). You can’t have an exchange with them without being attacked, insulted, and vilified. So I just don’t bother with it. I’d rather just write a blog post where I can write my thoughts on my own space. But some people don’t even like that I do that, even though they’re in the business of working for the United States government, where freedom of expression is supposedly a “thing”. Only if you express what they want to “hear”, right?
Well… this post is causing me to have to repost a couple of old blog posts/book reviews, so I’ll stop here and get to that. Suffice to say that I have my opinions. I will share them, but I don’t have to defend them or argue with other people about them. I still have a right to them… and other people might think I’m stupid or clueless or call me things like a “rape apologist”. But if I see someone habitually going on the attack or am on the receiving end of an attack, I won’t be wasting my time in the fray.
Yesterday, I ran across today’s featured image. At first, I thought maybe it was shared by a Trump supporter. But then I looked closer at the photo. It looks like the driver of the truck is from Europe, or at least lives in Europe. Those appear to be EU license plates on the truck belching filth into the air and displaying a sign that reads, “Fuck you, Greta”.
I can only assume “Greta” is sixteen year old Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who recently visited the United States for the first time and delivered a scathing speech to the United Nations. Greta did not fly to the United States. Instead, she arrived on a zero emissions boat. Greta doesn’t fly anymore because of the emissions poured into the atmosphere by the aviation industry. Greta’s mother is an opera singer who has quit flying for the same reason. She now performs in musicals instead of operas in a bid to help save the climate.
In her lilting British accented English, Greta chastises world leaders for “stealing her childhood” and being more focused on money than saving the planet by protecting the environment. I think she’s very impressive. I remember being sixteen years old and, at that age, I could not conceive of doing what Greta is doing. She’s clearly very upset, yet she maintains composure enough to clearly tell off the world in a language that isn’t even her mother tongue.
Naturally, because Greta is so articulate, some people seem to hate her. A few seem to pity her, claiming that she’s being exploited by older people who are pushing a false agenda. Plenty have mocked Greta Thunberg on social media, questioning her mental health and motives. Some have even put derogatory signs on their personal vehicles. Quite a few have their heads firmly lodged in their assholes, denying that climate change is a real thing. Below are just a few of the memes I’ve seen on social media, slamming Thunberg for standing up against climate change deniers. Some of the memes I’ve seen are truly offensive and hateful.
I’ve been around for 47 years now. When I was a child, we had regular snow in the winter. By September, temperatures in Virginia were coming down. We didn’t have so many devastating hurricanes, and the idea of visiting Antarctica or the Arctic Circle was a pipe dream for most people. The climate was just plain too brutal. How things have changed since my childhood. Every day, I read about ice melting, starving polar bears who can’t find food in their natural habitats, ever more powerful hurricanes that destroy lives, and ever warming temperatures in places that used to be more temperate. Hell, even twelve years ago, when we moved to Germany the first time, I remember we had snow in November. Even though that was strange for someone from Virginia, my first German neighbor said that when she was a child, there was a whole lot more snow. It’s noticeably warmer here now.
But people don’t want to believe the warnings. They want to label Greta Thunberg as “crazy”, a “spoiled brat”, or a “puppet” controlled by adults. How can people listen to this amazingly articulate, brave, intelligent young woman and come away with the idea that she doesn’t think for herself? My guess is that the haters simply haven’t been exposed to anything beyond their own bubbles out there in Trumpland. Don’t these people enjoy breathing non-polluted air, eating good food, drinking clean water, and being comfortable? Don’t they care about anyone but themselves and their own convenience? I guess not.
I don’t expect to live as long as my grandmother did. In fact, I hope I don’t. I had always wanted to have children of my own, but having seen the state of the world these days, I’m kind of glad I never did. I would worry very much for them. I don’t blame Greta Thunberg for wanting to do something about climate change. I think she is extraordinary, even if her efforts don’t amount to anything substantial in terms of law changes, although personally, I think she’s already influencing people. She’s clearly extremely intelligent and has shown tremendous resilience… and best of all, she is not a hypocrite. She practices what she preaches.
I think the “haters” should pull their heads out of their asses and wake up. Sadly, it may already be too late.
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