communication, family, memories, mental health, narcissists

That’s not really how I remember what happened…

Bill left for Bavaria yesterday afternoon. Before he left, he made me lunch and started the dishwasher. I swear, I have the loveliest husband. It makes me wonder if people think I’m a shrew. It seems like the best guys end up with the most complicated women. A lot of very kind, considerate men are pretty co-dependent, meaning they go to extremes to people please and not speak up for what they want or need. There was a time when my husband was a lot like that, although he’s definitely much better now. He’s been seeing some great progress in his work with a Jungian therapist, but I also do my best to reassure him that he doesn’t have to be a people pleaser to keep me in his life.

I’m not lying when I say that Bill is a very considerate guy. However, I don’t think he’s like that solely because he’s desperate to keep the relationship going. I think he knows full well I’m not going to leave him. I truly adore him, but I also know that if we ever did break up, I’d probably end up living in a cardboard box. 😉

The truth is, Bill is a very service oriented person. He genuinely enjoys taking care of people. I am the lucky recipient of his attentions, and our relationship just works. That is an amazing thing. It’s a great thing to still be able to laugh heartily with your spouse after almost twenty-one years of marriage. We really miss each other when we aren’t together.

That was the mindset I was in last night, as I tried to decide how to spend my evening. I was watching political videos on YouTube, but they were annoying and distressing me. I can barely stand to listen to Donald Trump speak, never mind the rest of the idiots who comprise today’s Republican party, even when what I’m watching is a critical video. YouTube now has so many ads to get through… it can be a very frustrating exercise to make it through any commentary video. Even the really good content providers– the ones who have scored product endorsement deals– are annoying these days. You get the YouTube ads, plus their plugs in the videos.

I ended up looking at the movies I downloaded to see if I could find one I hadn’t yet seen that would appeal. I decided to watch The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021), which is a dramatized retelling of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s life story. I remember watching a documentary by the same name that came out in 2000 or so. The documentary was interesting, although I haven’t seen it recently. I remember Jen from Fundie Fridays praising the 2021 movie, which was why I downloaded it some months ago. So last night, I decided to watch the movie, which was very good and surprisingly moving. I mean, at the end, I had a lump in my throat. Tammy Faye seemed like a genuinely Christlike person. What a shame she got tangled up with Jim Bakker.

Then during the credits, Tammy Faye’s daughter, Tammy Sue, sang a song her mother had made famous. I was absolutely delighted by Tammy Sue’s voice. I’d heard her sing before, but it was when she was much younger. The song she sang for the soundtrack of The Eyes of Tammy Faye was really beautiful. And anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t issue those kinds of compliments easily.

I was feeling pretty good as the credits rolled. I noticed the time. It was about 9:30 PM. I wondered if maybe I might like to watch something else, when I got a private message from one of my sisters. She was writing to let me know that she was thinking of going to a birthday celebration for our mom next month. It’s being arranged by my other two sisters.

The day before my own birthday last month, I was invited to attend, but the notice was too short. And… well… I just don’t enjoy family gatherings much. They’re too toxic for me. The last thing I want to do is spend thousands of dollars and fly eight hours to spend several days fighting with my relatives. So, I declined the invite.

My mom later told me that she’d asked my sister to invite me, even though she knew I wouldn’t come. I have repeatedly explained to her why I don’t like our family gatherings. They usually require a few days of recovery, and often add unpleasant fight memories to the big bank of them I already have in my mind. But even if I wanted to go to Virginia, it simply isn’t feasible during the summer when I have to arrange for Noyzi to be boarded. The Hundepension books up quickly for summer dates, especially in August. We also just took a big vacation, which cost a lot and used up a lot of Bill’s leave.

Sometimes I feel sad that I don’t want to go home anymore. I do love my mom. I love my sisters, too. I just don’t want to be around them all at the same time. It always devolves into traumatic episodes. Most of the time we’re all together, and we’re alone and not, say, at a family reunion with the extended family, there’s a big fight. I haven’t had one of those in a long time. I don’t miss the fights. But I do wish we all got along better. It would be nice if we could. It’s not only up to me.

The last time I did a “reunion” with the immediate family was at Christmas 2003. I’ve written about the incident a lot. It marked a turning point for me, and what I’m willing to tolerate, now that I’m an adult and have the freedom to opt out of the drama. The short version of the story is, my sister– the one who messaged me last night– asked Bill and me to give her a ride to our parents’ house. I reluctantly agreed, but I told her ahead of time that if there was a fight– no matter who started it– we would be leaving. If she was okay with that, we would give her a ride. She agreed.

We went down to Gloucester, and sure enough, there was a fight. It involved me and another sister, who criticized me for talking about Ex. I had only been married for a year at that point, and I was still shocked and amazed by how incredibly toxic Ex is. So I was talking about it, and my sister proceeded to sanctimoniously lecture me, even going as far as to tell me about how important it was to “be a good Christian” and forgive Ex (as if I really care about that). Naturally, that really pissed me off, because I thought it was mean, discounting, and disrespectful.

Bill and I were also relegated to a very uncomfortable pull out couch in the “office” in my parents’ former home (a converted garage). I had started my period, and was feeling yucky, and now I was angry with my sister for chastising me. I decided that I just wanted to go home.

The sister who had gotten a ride with us had other plans. She wanted us to take her to Williamsburg, where there are lots of outlet stores and restaurants, and drive her around all day. Bill and I had no extra money for shopping at that time, so we couldn’t shop with her. Also, having spent plenty of shopping days with my sister, I knew the day would involve watching her put salespeople through their paces, until she either ran out of energy or money. I wanted no part of that, so I reiterated that we were going to go home the next day.

She then immediately tried to talk Bill into changing my mind, which he wouldn’t have been able to do even if he’d actually wanted to do that. It occurs to me that it’s another level of disrespectful for my sister to actually think my husband would listen to her over me. He shares a bed with me! She must have a pretty low opinion of me to assume Bill would want to please her over his own wife.

The next morning, my sister was still in bed as we were loading up the car. I told her we were going to go. She proceeded to throw a HUGE tantrum. She was screaming at me like a petulant child, and had the nerve to try to make demands. I remember looking at her and calmly saying, “You’re not in a position to make demands of me. It’s my car, and I want to go home.”

She started yelling about needing to dry her hair so she wouldn’t catch a cold. She stomped out of the room to get the hair dryer. I realized that waiting for that would mean she’d be in my car for several hours, angry and rude because she hadn’t gotten her way. I turned to Bill and said, “Let’s just go.” And we left. My other sister later laughed about that incident and said my temper tantruming sister had been furious that we’d left her in Gloucester. But then, apparently, she’d said something indicating that she was impressed that I had a backbone.

At first, I was really upset about leaving my sister. But then, after about a half hour or so, I calmed down and realized that what had just happened was another major victory for me in the fight against being abused and manipulated by my family members. We got home without incident and had a much better time in our own space, and in our own bed. My sister resumed speaking to me about a year later.

The following year, when Ex tried to manipulate me into agreeing to spend Christmas with her at my father-in-law’s house, I had the strength to say no. It was because of what had happened the year prior. I realized that I didn’t even want to spend the holidays with my own family members. There was no way in HELL I was spending it with my husband’s ex wife in my in-laws’ house. And although there was tremendous pressure to surrender to Ex’s delusions, I found the nerve to do what I wanted to do– stay home… which turned out to be the right thing to do. I can pretty much promise that if I had attended that Christmas with Ex, it would not have gone well. And it’s not because I wouldn’t have tried to be civil, but because she’s a narcissist who has to have everything her way.

Back around 2015, I was thinking about this chain of events while chatting with my sister. I thought she might be mature enough to talk about it. I even tried to frame that incident in a positive way. Ultimately, what happened at my parents’ house in 2003 was a good thing, because I finally stood up to people who had manipulated me my whole life, and left me nursing deep psychological wounds. Because I did that, I had the strength and wisdom not to give in to Ex’s crazy demands.

It was a monumental decision for me to refuse to attend that Christmas with Ex. That decision might have even been instrumental in making sure my marriage to Bill would be successful. Because if I had given in to Ex and attended that Christmas, there might have been a huge fight… or, even if it had gone “well”, she would have have a precedent to suggest doing it again. The definition of the gathering’s “going well” would have entailed my keeping my mouth shut the whole time while Ex made disrespectful comments to Bill and me, monopolized everyone’s time, and hovered over Bill’s visitation with his kids.

Who’s got the time and the money for that experience, especially since no one going to that fiasco, except Bill, even liked me? Why would I want to spend time and money, on the biggest holiday of the year, in that miserable situation? Ex is a NARCISSIST, and her aim is to control everyone. Those who can’t be controlled are jettisoned. My being there would just give her information and supply her with fuel. Or, it would tempt me to commit a felony. 😉

In 2015, I had wanted to explain all of this to my sister. I wanted to tell her that the fight we had in 2003 had, in a weird way, actually turned out to be constructive for me. But, when I brought it up, she got very angry… and she framed a narrative that I didn’t recognize at all. She made herself the victim of the whole thing. According to her, our other sister, who had lectured me about talking about Ex, was the one who should have been “punished”, not her.

She conveniently forgot about the HUGE tantrum she threw, complete with insults and swearing. She was entitled to speak to me that way, because it wasn’t her fault that there had been a fight between me and our sister. But I had told her from the get go that if there was a fight– and I didn’t care who started it— I would be leaving. She had agreed to those terms. And when the fight happened and I tried to enforce the terms we agreed upon, she tried to change them. When that didn’t work, she became toxic. And when I refused to acquiesce to her tantrum and left the house without her, she became pathetic. When I wanted to talk about it with her in 2015, she got mad at me for reminding her of that painful incident in which she ended up having to take a bus home. She plainly considered herself a victim. And when I told her that our other sister had said tantrum sister been “proud” of me for leaving her, tantrum sister turned that into a victim situation, too. She denied saying that, and blamed our sister for “telling lies” to me. (Um… I don’t think she lied…)

Well, last night, tantrum sister brought up that 2003 era fight again. She was ranting about our mother and our sisters, telling me outrageous stories about crazy, “toxic” things they have supposedly said and done to her over the past few years. Granted, if there is any truth to what she said, it is pretty fucked up stuff. However, experience has taught me that this sister has a very skewed view of things. She embellishes and twists and takes things out of context. And she ALWAYS makes herself out to be the aggrieved one.

Tantrum sister never mentions her part in these conflicts she has with others. In her stories, she’s always the innocent victim, being “picked on” by everyone else. Once again, she blamed our sister for being “toxic” and causing her to be punished. I didn’t bother trying to tell her that– no– she got left in Gloucester because of her decision to throw a huge tantrum when things didn’t go her way. Yes, the fight with our other sister had set up the reason why I wanted to leave early, but she had to take a bus home because of HER bad behavior and blatant and disrespectful attempts to manipulate Bill and me.

I have learned that correcting my sister’s memories isn’t a productive exercise. It will only lead to pain. I can’t change the fact that she won’t assume responsibility for her conflicts with other people. Trying to confront her over these discrepancies generally turns into a fight, and fighting with her online was the last thing I wanted to do on a Sunday night, after having just watched a good movie. So, I let her rant a bit, then told her it was getting late, and I was going to go to bed… And then I thanked God for the ocean that separates me from my sisters.

I did gently push back, though, when she started trying to tell me our mom is a narcissist, and making tentative comparisons of her behavior to Trump’s and Hitler’s. I know a thing or two about narcissists. My mom isn’t one. However… I do think that perhaps my sister could be one. She thinks she’s an empath. She’s actually said this to me and been completely serious. I know a little about empaths, too. I’m married to one. She and our mom have never gotten along. I do get along with my mom. My mom is far from perfect, but she’s not a narcissist. Sending me a birthday card with a heartfelt note in it is not an example of “love bombing”, nor do I think this is an example of our mom trying to make me into a “flying monkey”. In fact, our mom mostly tries to stay out of conflicts; she doesn’t create them.

Why am I writing about this? It’s mainly because it helps me keep the craziness straight. My sisters must think I’m stupid and the easiest target for gaslighting because I quit trying to offer my perspectives. But no, I’m not stupid… I have an excellent memory and normal intelligence, and I remember very well what happened at Christmas in 2003. We each had a part in that fight– that is, two of my sisters and me (the eldest wasn’t involved, because she was smart enough to book a hotel room).

In 2003, I should have known that I can only talk to my sisters about innocuous things like the weather (although even that topic is becoming contentious these days). My being upset about the shit Ex was pulling when Bill and I were newly married in 2003 wasn’t something my sisters wanted to hear about, and they felt quite free to tell me to STFU and demand that we sleep on an awful pull out couch for two or three nights while I bled from my private parts. That tells me that I don’t need to waste time hanging out with them. They don’t even treat me with as much respect as they might treat a friend. I don’t think any of them would choose me for a friend. And the reverse is also true. I don’t think I’d pick any of them, either.

See… I would hope for sisters who are good friends and care enough to listen to me when I have struggles, just as I would listen to them. Instead, they just want me to show up and shut up, so the whole family is together and it looks nice. When the conversation is about something they don’t want to talk about, instead of asking to change the subject in a respectful way, they resort to criticism and lecturing. Quite frankly, I don’t value their company enough to have them tell me what I can and can’t talk about, or demand that I look or behave in a certain way. So, I’ll just stay away, thank you very much.

My sister told me she doesn’t really want to go to the “birthday bash” next month. For my mom’s sake, I think it would be good if she didn’t go. But my mom would like her to be there… because in spite of what my sister thinks, our mother does love her and is proud of her. She’s hoping that, for once, there will be a nice visit with three of her daughters and the grandchildren. Maybe it will happen. Experience has taught me, though, that this “bash” may actually end in blows. Especially if there’s any booze involved. I’m glad to stay in Germany and just hear about what happened later. 😉

Oh… and by the way… it’s also not lost on me that this sister probably shit talks me, too, with our other sisters. However, I can’t control that, so I don’t really give a shit. I’m just gonna tune out.

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condescending twatbags, politics, poor judgment, true crime

File this under winning stupid prizes…

I probably should have written about the latest insurrectionist dumbfuck yesterday, but I felt too compelled to write about that Missouri pastor who think women need to “pretty up” for their fat-assed, sexist, evangelical Christian, Trump loving husbands who smell like week old smegma. But now that I’ve written about Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark and gotten all of that out of my system, I need to move on to another Republican shithead. You know who I’m talking about…

And before I get too cranked up, I want to apologize in advance for the cursing and name calling that will happen in this post. I’m highly irritable right now, for a number of reasons… and people who think they need to be cut a break when they’ve clearly been in the wrong are people who are not getting much of my patience or sympathy these days. But I don’t like hypocrisy, even when I’m guilty of it. I often preach about civility in my blog, but this guy just makes me feel decidedly uncivilized…

Damn… I love the way Rachel Maddow talks about these assloaves…

Remember January 6th? That was the day thousands of Trump supporting chuckleheads showed up in Washington, DC, prepared to storm the Capitol. These idiots came wearing red MAGA hats, bearing weapons, and sporting bad attitudes as they forced their way into one of our nation’s most venerable and recognizable buildings. They were intent on disrupting Congressional proceedings to oust their orange hero out of office and stop his maniacal assault on the United States and its allies.

Among those morons was a sixty year old man from Gravette, Arkansas named Richard Barnett. You’d think a 60 year old man would know better, right? But no, Richard Barnett was full of piss and vinegar on January 6th. And he invaded Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office while wearing a cattle prod-like stun gun, sat in her chair, and put his fucking feet up on her desk. He stole her mail, took selfies, and basically acted like a fucking jackass, then shared his dumbassery with the world.

Well, now Barnett is sitting in jail cell. He’s really pissed off about it. And a couple of days ago, he had a virtual court hearing regarding his case. Mr. Barnett is apparently not so tough anymore, having sat behind bars for awhile. The moment he was taken into custody, Mr. Barnett campaigned to be released on bond. At this point, he’s been unsuccessful in his bid to be freed, if only temporarily. And when he had his hearing with Judge Christopher Cooper, a federal judge in Washington, DC, he lost his temper and had a full on tantrum! That’s right– a sixty year old man with balls big enough to storm the Capitol can’t hack being in prison. He says “it’s not fair”, because other people who were involved in the attack have been released.

Judge Cooper seems to have been quite polite and respectful in his dealings with Mr. Barnett, at least based on the way Rachel Maddow describes it. He says “please” and “thank you” and is courteous toward Barnett, who is in the process of replacing his attorneys. The judge says he would like a continuance until May 4th. Barnett then unmutes himself and has a bonafide fit! He screams that he’s been in jail for a month! And it’s NOT FAIR! According to The Daily Beast:

“They’re dragging this out. They’re letting everyone else out,” Richard “Bigo” Barnett yelled during his Thursday court hearing, insisting that “it’s not fair” that he is still in jail while a slew of his fellow rioters have been released pending trial.

“This has been a bunch of crap,” he added. (um… yes, crap that you could have easily avoided by not raiding the Capitol, you racist fuck.)

Barnett could end up going to prison for years for what he did. I would suggest he learn to deal with his situation. As it stands today, Barnett is facing several charges, including theft. He proudly posed for an infamous photo in Pelosi’s office, shared it publicly, and armed himself with a stun gun as his fellow MAGA morons attacked the Capitol while Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

It’s true that Barnett was one of the first of at least 300 people to be arrested for participating in the riots, and is among the few to remain in jail. But what the hell does he expect? There’s no question about his guilt. This man took it upon himself to go to Washington, DC armed and dangerous. What was he going to do with that stun gun? How would he like it if someone broke into his place of business and took selfies of themselves violating his work place? Barnett bought a 950,000-volt stun gun walking stick at a Bass Pro Shop in Arkansas five days before he traveled to Washington. That was proven by prosecutors who did some checking. What would a 950,000-volt stun gun to do a human being? I don’t want to find out.

Barnett was also bitching about how others had been let out– mainly because they were not being accused of violent offenses and judges deemed their offenses unworthy of incarceration. I don’t think Barnett was planning to be peaceful. If he was, he wouldn’t have brought a stun gun with him. Originally, the Magistrate Judge wanted to put Barnett on home confinement, but prosecutors rightly objected because Barnett was seen carrying a stun gun. They successfully argued that he might be dangerous.

Screenshot of Richard Barnett in Nancy Pelosi’s office. He ain’t smilin’ anymore, folks.

Barnett has also referred to himself as a “white nationalist”, and in another photo, was shown with an envelope addressed to Nancy Pelosi. Barnett took the envelope from her office. According to The Daily Beast, he explained himself thusly:

“I did not steal it. I bled on it because they were macing me and I couldn’t fucking see so I figured I am in her office. I got blood on her office. I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t fucking worth it,” Barnett told one news outlet, according to the complaint. “And I left her a note on her desk that says, ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.’”

A couple of months ago, I was willing to cut Skylar Mack a break for breaking the law in the Cayman Islands. Skylar has youth on her side, and she owned up to what she did while sincerely apologizing. Richard Barnett is just a spoiled brat who doesn’t want to face the very real consequences for breaking the law. Consider the man is 60 years old, acting like a toddler. You would have thought he would have been raised better. Play stupid games. Win stupid prizes. Enjoy your time in the big house, Barnett. You earned it. Oh… and FUCK YOU.

Weird Wilbur, who probably would like Richard Barnett fine, has words of wisdom for him…
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musings

“Add Title”…

I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to write about yesterday. I’m tired of the usual topics, even if they’re always on my mind. There are some things I would like to write, but I can no longer be free about some subjects because certain people feel compelled to meddle in my personal business. I figure most people are tired of the usual headlines. I know I’m tired of them.

I miss the days when I would spontaneously come up with topics that popped into my head. But right now, things are so weird that it’s hard to come up with fun stuff… and even if I did, a lot of readers don’t seem to appreciate them. Well, maybe with the exception of Alexis, who is probably too busy to read daily anymore.

On days like yesterday, it’s good to have a book review from the original blog. Over the years, I’ve reviewed some very interesting titles. Unfortunately, a lot of my reviews are lost in space. When my first iMac and its external hard drive both died, I lost access to some of my best stuff. As I get older, it gets harder to breeze through books the way I used to. And I also find that I no longer have the inclination.

I did post a well-received comment on Dan Rather’s News & Guts Facebook page last night. There was an article about Trump supporters wanting Kanye West on the ballot, no doubt so he can siphon off votes that would go to Joe Biden. I don’t understand the insane devotion some people have to Donald Trump staying in the White House. It makes no sense to me… although I can understand that there is a group of people who are tired of being lectured by the politically correct among us. I can even admit to feeling that way myself a lot of the time. But I am a lot less irritated by political correctness than I am outright insanity, stupidity, and incompetence. Trump exhibits all three of those “qualities”.

Last night, I posted that I think that there should be a requirement for presidential candidates to have had some experience in an elected position before they are allowed to run. Being the President of the United States is not an entry level position. We have seen all too well what happens when someone incompetent is put in charge. I really think we need to put into place a law that excludes wealthy, narcissistic, mentally ill celebrities like Donald Trump and Kanye West from fucking with our elections. The office of POTUS is much too important to put someone who is not serious about leading and doesn’t care about the citizenry to do the work.

Frankly, I also think there should be an independent psych evaluation of potential presidential candidates. All of the successful candidates have some narcissistic qualities, but we should never have another malignant narcissist in office again. It’s too dangerous.

I got many, many likes on that comment, and lots of positive comments. One or two people disagreed. One guy shrugged and said that my idea would require a “Constitutional Amendment”. To that notion, I responded “So?” The Constitution can be amended. It’s not engraved in stone. As times change, so do laws. I’d like to see more candidates who have done real service, too… Military or Peace Corps or Americorps… any kind of service that shows they can humble themselves to work among regular people and live in austere conditions. I have had my fill of men who shit on golden toilets as they eat Big Macs and fries representing us in the White House.

Aside from my discussion on News & Guts, I also made a music video. Most people aren’t as interested in my music stuff, but I like to do it because it’s just about making something pleasant. There’s nothing in my videos about politics; there’s no profanity or airing of dirty laundry. It’s mostly just pretty stuff. I enjoy the emotional release of making music and the creative process. I would just as soon make recordings without any photos in them, but people like to look at stuff when they watch a video. I don’t necessarily want them looking at me, though. I’m kind of camera shy. I did “meet” another guitar guy last week. I really enjoy his playing, but he’s more interested in acapella harmonies. Unfortunately, I like his playing better than his singing.

Tomorrow, we’re going to pack up the car and head off on vacation. Hopefully, neither of us will get sick as we get a glimpse of life outside of Germany for the first time since February. Well… Bill did go to the USA in March. But other than that, we’ve been stuck in Deutschland. Not that it’s a bad place to be stuck, mind you. I’m just ready to see the Alps and eat some really good food.

I guess I’ll bring my guitar with me, too, so I can practice… I don’t think I want to take a whole ten days off. I’ll bring along my laptop, so I can write and upload new pictures. My desktop has been giving me issues this week. My keyboard and mouse randomly disconnect at the same time and I have to shut off the computer and reboot. And sometimes even that doesn’t fix the problem. This computer isn’t even two years old yet, so I’m not sure what’s up with the bluetooth. It’s an irritating problem, but since we’re going on vacation, I can forget about it for awhile.

I did mean to write yesterday. I stared at the empty WordPress template for hours. I kept looking at the “Add Title” prompt in the title space. Nothing came to mind, other than wanting to rant about something that I can’t rant about publicly, at least for the time being. So I took the day off and reposted a book review– a good review on an important topic. I think people really should think more about whether or not every ugly incident needs to be recorded and made viral.

For instance, a couple of days ago, I ran across a video on YouTube involving a kid– maybe ten or eleven years old– in the back seat of his mother’s car having an extremely epic temper tantrum. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was screaming and grabbing at his mother as she tried to drive. Someone was filming this for posterity. I saw it on at least three channels, although people had turned off the comments.

I shared the video with friends. Maybe I shouldn’t have, under the circumstances. More than one of them wondered why the kid was being filmed. I wondered why Mom hadn’t pulled over until the tantrum ended. What destination was so important that she needed to keep driving while her out of control son was flailing around, kicking, screaming, and being demonic in the back seat?

To my friend who was opposed to the filming, I remarked that nowadays, everyone has a phone, and people feel compelled to film every little thing. Watching that video is a good reminder that not everything needs to put out there for posterity. I don’t know who the boy is or how old the video is, but it was just a few bad minutes of his life. Makes me glad there were no cellphones when I was his age.

Well… that does it for today. I’m going to go do some reading, practice guitar, walk Arran, and do my much dreaded Thursday chore of vacuuming. Cheerio. And for those who want to see the video I did yesterday, here it is…

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true crime

Really giving her something to cry about…

Yesterday, I decided to spend the day catching up on my reading. The weather was cold and snowy, and it was dark outside. It was the perfect weather for finishing my latest book, Rachael Denhollander’s What is a Girl Worth. I’ll probably review it later, if I don’t have any technical issues with the blog. For some reason, I’ve been having some technical difficulties this morning.

Anyway, while I was reading my book, I happened to catch one of Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook posts. She shared a news article from the Orlando Sentinel about a shocking incident that occurred in September of last year. Reporter Grace Toohey wrote about the horrifying arrest of six-year-old Kaia Rolle, who attended Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy last fall.

Kaia suffers from sleep apnea that causes her to act out. School staff members were aware of Kaia’s condition and working with her to overcome it. On the day of her arrest, Kaia had a pretty serious temper tantrum at school, possibly brought on by her sleep apnea. Kaia had punched and kicked three school employees. But she later calmed down, and was quietly listening to a story being read to her by a staff member when former police officer Dennis Turner and a colleague arrived on the scene.

When Kaia saw the big cop with zip ties in his hands, she asked “What are those for?”

Turner said, “They’re for you.” He handed them to his colleague, while Kaia figured out what was about to happen.

The other officer tightened the zip ties around Kaia’s wrists as she started crying, begging, and screaming for help. Then, former Officer Turner marched the little girl out of the school and put her in the back of his police car. She was charged with misdemeanor battery, though the charges were dropped the next day. That same day, Turner arrested a six year old boy at the same school for the same crime, although the boy’s arrest was stopped by superiors before he’d gone through the whole process. Kaia was actually taken to a juvenile center, fingerprinted, and mugshot. She was so tiny that staff had to get her to stand on a step stool so her photo could be taken.

I’ve found the body cam video for this incident several places on the Internet, but almost all of them cut off the end. The most accessible videos only show Turner putting Kaia in the back of a police SUV, probably without a booster seat. She’s clearly terrified and traumatized, but that part was somehow less shocking to me than the very end of the video, which is visible on the Orlando Sentinel’s article. Supposedly, Turner arrested Kaia because one of the school’s staff members she’d punched and kicked had wanted to press charges. School officials denied that was ever the case.

On the longer video, we can see Turner going back into the school and speaking to staffers. The school officials were clearly concerned about Kaia. They asked Turner if it was really necessary to restrain the girl with zip ties. Turner said that if Kaia had been bigger, she’d be wearing regular handcuffs. Then, as if to boast, he said he’d arrested over 6,000 people and the youngest one was about seven years old. When he was told that Kaia was six, he said with a touch of amusement that she’d “broken the record”. He wasn’t the slightest bit dismayed or concerned as he made his statement. He actually sounded kind of proud of himself. None of the staff members tried to stop the arrest, although they did seem rather non-plussed by it.

As horrified as I was by the news story, I was especially shocked as I watched the video. The child is tiny, and Turner is a very large man who had backup. No wonder Kaia was petrified. While I understand that the police have a dangerous job, especially nowadays, it really seems like overkill that such a little girl had to be restrained in that way. There’s no way she was a physical threat to anyone.

When I listen to Kaia speak, I’m surprised by how bright and articulate she is. I can’t imagine, at that age, having the presence of mind to beg a police officer for “a second chance”, or even knowing what zip ties are. I remember seeing little kids meltdown when I was that age. I probably had a few tantrums in school myself. But back in those days, there weren’t “zero tolerance” policies that required arresting small children for age appropriate temper tantrums. When I was a kid, the principal would handle the discipline. Granted, that might mean getting paddled. I don’t necessarily approve of that, either. But at least most young kids had a fighting chance of getting through grade school without a police record.

Fortunately, Dennis Turner has been dismissed from his job, even though Florida has no minimum age for arrest. Turner had violated his department’s policy, which requires officers to get approval from a supervisor before arresting anyone under age 12. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Turner retired from the Orlando Police Department last year, after 23 years on the job. He was employed by the OPD’s Reserve Unit, which is made of retired officers who do part-time work for the agency. However, despite Turner’s long tenure as an Orlando cop, his record as a police officer is troubling. Prior to retiring last year, Turner was disciplined seven times for violating department policies. The complaints ranged from unsafe driving to a child abuse charge involving his own seven-year-old son. In 2009, he was accused of sending threatening text messages to his ex wife. He’s also been accused of racial profiling. What the hell was this man doing on the police force? He should have been fired many years ago!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised and dismayed that Dennis Turner enjoyed such a long career as a police officer, particularly considering that he was working in Florida. I must admit, though, that reading this story really upset me. I don’t even recognize the United States anymore. It’s turned into a place where there is no more common sense or decency. The police are required for every intervention and it seems like the only response is to arrest people and put them behind bars. It absolutely ridiculous, particularly when an incident involves a small child like Kaia.

The Orlando Police Department is now doing serious damage control.

Kaia Rolle no longer attends Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. She now goes to a private school, because she refuses to attend a school with a police officer on campus. I’m sure Kaia is left with a lingering fear of the police, which could turn out to be tragic for her if she ever needs their help. These kids are so young, and they have their whole lives ahead of them. What has happened to our society that we have people wearing badges and carrying weapons, thinking this is an appropriate response to a small child having a temper tantrum at school? It seems like a scary number of Americans have completely lost their sense of humanity and common sense. It makes me glad I don’t have any children.

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musings

Tantrums and “fightin’ words”…

Yesterday afternoon, as winds blew fiercely through our ‘hood, I got bored and started checking out YouTube. Someone uploaded a video of a young girl having a massive tantrum back in 2016 (or possibly earlier).

I don’t know why, but I started watching this… and quite clearly heard the other girl, apparently filming all of this for posterity, say “Fuck you!” while their mom was outside of the car. Mom buckles the girl into her seat and they start heading for home as the child continues to wail and flail. At one point, the other girl yells that her sister has somehow hurt her, and she yells at her little sister to “get off her”.

I know it’s kind of rotten of me, but I laughed pretty hard when the girl said “Fuck you.” It’s as if she’s heard it a lot of times and it means nothing more than a childish oath to her, like “buzz off” or “go suck an egg.” My guess is that the older child either watches a lot of cable TV or has frequently heard older people say that. I decided to share the video with friends because, honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d heard her clearly. Had she really said “Fuck you!” on camera? Yep… she had!

I couldn’t help but remember what it was like for me when I was that age. I HATED seatbelts with a fiery passion when I was a child, even though in those days, they were just lap belts in the back seat and we were not required by law to use them. I hated riding up front especially, on the occasions I was forced to wear a seatbelt (which wasn’t that often, really), because the shoulder belt would always hit me in the face. I remember throwing tantrums whenever I was required to buckle up– usually by my dad, who was sometimes a stickler for safety and always wore his seatbelt, but was inconsistent about making me wear them. Usually, he’d make me wear one if he was feeling especially controlling. Mom was the same way, although she generally would rather let me go unrestrained than listen to me scream, cry, and yell. How times have changed!

Another thing that struck me was that if I had ever thrown a tantrum like that, especially at that age, my dad would have really given me something to cry about. And if I had said the word “fuck” in front of him, particularly at that age, there would have been a beating. I’m not exaggerating about that. My dad hated swear words, even though he spent over 20 years in the Air Force.

Bill once made him turn seven shades of red when he explained the expression “Charlie Foxtrot” to him. Dad was unaware that it was a euphemism for “cluster fuck”. Bill whispered, “You know, Sir… ‘cluster fuck’.” My father looked like he was going to pass out right there on the spot. I think he didn’t like swearing because his father cursed a lot, and my dad didn’t have a good relationship with his dad. So anytime someone cursed– even my mom– he’d get uncomfortable or even upset. And unfortunately, I have always enjoyed cussing, so I sometimes got in trouble for dropping four letter words. Dad would usually respond in a physical way or lecture me about how unladylike/unrefined/”lazy” cursing is. (I don’t agree that it’s any of those things, and I don’t let men tell me what to do anymore. I have a great vocabulary. I simply enjoy cussing.)

When he was angry, my dad could be very scary. His face would turn beet red and he’d lose control. Then he’d take out his rage on my tender ass. I remember one time, I said “Hey! You! Shut the **** up!” and he was in the next room. It was something I’d heard on TV and I thought it was funny. I hadn’t even said the word “fuck” , and he came over and knocked me upside the head. Then he yelled at me, causing me to want to keep saying “fuck” over and over again. I generally hated my dad when he disciplined me in that manner. Years later, I still deeply resent him for hitting me. The last time he did it, I was almost 21 years old. I told him if he ever laid a finger on me again, I would have him arrested for assault and battery. I meant it, too. Anyone who hits me now better kill me.

Them’s fightin’ words… better watch your step when you use them.

As you can see, I learned nothing from those discipline sessions. I still use the word “fuck” with wild abandon. I never understood why it was such a big deal not to use it. I think most “taboo” words are stupid. Yes, it’s important not to use language to hurt other people, but by and large, they’re mainly just words. I’m much more concerned about the intent behind using certain words than I am the words themselves. The child in the above video said the word “fuck”, but it didn’t come across to me that she was being truly hateful. She was simply annoyed by her little sister’s outburst. She probably didn’t even know what “fuck” means.

This is what Bill says to me…

I think if I were that girl’s mom, I might have her look up the word “fuck” and use it properly in a sentence. Then, I’d tell her to be more careful about when and where she uses that word, and consider whether or not it’s the word she really wants to use in any given situation. Because… when it comes down to it, some words are “fightin’ words”, and if you use them in the wrong place or in front of the wrong person, you could really come to regret it. On the other hand, I say this not as a mother myself. As irritated as that mom sounds as her other child is filming, I give her credit for not exploding. She seems upset at first, but then calms down and drives the girls home, even though the younger child is still freaking out. Some might debate whether or not she should have kept driving during the girl’s fit, but my guess is that the mom just wanted to be in her home, rather than a hot car. I also wonder if she knows all of this is on the Internet for the world to see.

And this is my response.

Looking on YouTube, I see that there are a lot of videos of children having tantrums. I guess some people are amazed by them and start filming, then can’t resist sharing them with the world. It makes me glad YouTube didn’t exist when I was a small child, although I’ll admit, sometimes tantrum videos are fascinating, funny, and/or disturbing. Personally, I think it’s very risky to share such things online, but that’s probably because of my social work training.

I do think that tantrums need to be addressed in children, although it’s best to do that when the parent is somewhat calm. Otherwise, the child can grow up to behave like this woman…

There’s no telling what led up to this outburst… It was widely publicized a few years ago and I think I read that these two eventually broke up.

I wonder what led this guy to film his wife. I guess she had a habit of freaking out like this, because otherwise, why would he be prepared? He thinks it’s funny, which, of course, makes things much worse. On the other hand, I can’t blame him for laughing at his wife because she does look and sound ridiculous. As I wrote the other day, when someone is making a scene, it’s not the calm one who is going to be stared at and judged. And that’s certainly true in this case, although I’m sure some people probably think the guy is a jerk for filming his wife and laughing at her. God bless him, though…

This behavior in me would probably prompt Bill to shop for ballgags. Fortunately, I did eventually outgrow tantrums, even if I never outgrew swearing. Either way, I prefer swearing to physical violence.

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