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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music, narcissists, social media

“I hope you know that I’ve had the time of my life raising you…”

My Saturday got started very early today. I woke up at about 4 AM, needing to take care of business. It took some time for me to fall back to sleep, so I read some more of my latest book. I miss the days when I could zip through books with ease, but I’m afraid they might be gone forever. Either I have trouble seeing the print, or I fall asleep!

I did manage to make some good progress this morning, though. I guess the best time of day for me to try to read books is when I’ve just woken up, as long as I’m not still sleepy. And anyway, as the sun rose this morning, I did wind up snoozing for a bit longer. I had a nice, vivid, colorful dream, too.

Bill has to go away next week, so I’ll be home alone. I may try to record some more songs. I did a song yesterday, in honor of Tony Bennett, who finally passed the bar at age 96. I heard “Because of You”, his duet with k.d. lang, the other day for the very first time. I enjoyed it, and thought I’d like to try it. So I downloaded the tracks, including one that has a male singer.

But then yesterday, when I heard that he’d died, I decided to try Tony’s solo version, which I successfully recorded within about an hour. I changed the key. It might not be the best key for me these days, as my soprano range grows more reclusive. I tend to do best when I stick to one part of my range– either in my head, soprano, or down in the chest, alto. This key is just at the edge of both vocal landscapes. Still, I’m rather pleased with this song.

Maybe if I’d spent two hours on it, it would be better…

There was a wine stand last night, but we opted to stay home. It looked like it might rain, plus I just didn’t feel like hanging around a bunch of other people. Talking with Bill over dinner and libations often means deep discussions, and as he was putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, I remembered a conversation he had with his daughter when he visited her.

Younger daughter had taken note of how happy Bill was to help her when he stopped in to see her in Utah, last time he had business in the States. He was helping her cook, and wash and dry the dishes, all without being requested to help, and without complaint. Something dawned on younger daughter when she said, “When you were married to my mother, you did all the work, didn’t you?”

And Bill said, “Pretty much.”

Younger daughter said, “I knew it. Whenever she comes here to visit, she basically sits on the couch with her phone and complains. She never helps.”

That led them to have a conversation about what Bill’s daughters were expected to do when they were growing up. I believe younger daughter when she says that they both did all of the cooking and cleaning, and more than once, Ex took their money to pay for things for the house. Younger daughter specifically mentioned giving up birthday money to pay for her younger sister’s diapers. Given that she is about ten years older than her sister is, that would mean that her mother took money from a child to pay for something that was solely her responsibility to buy.

There have been other stories, of course. I’m sure there are quite a few we haven’t even heard yet, but there have been enough that we kind of know that childhood wasn’t a lark for Bill’s daughters. Ex often wasn’t even satisfied with their efforts to help her. She acts like motherhood was a dream experience for her, and yet anyone who knows her offline, knows that she has often had complaints, even when her children were being dutiful and attentive.

The girls would wash and fold her laundry and put it on her bed, and she’d tell them they should put her clothes away for her. They’d cobble together a hot dinner with whatever food was in the house, and she’d throw a tantrum and refuse to eat what they’d cooked. And even when younger daughter got married, on the night of her wedding, Ex was calling her on the phone, wanting her to come to the hotel and play in the pool with her, instead of spending her first married night alone with her new husband.

Because Bill was once married to Ex, and was treated in much the same way– like her servant– he knew his daughter was being truthful about her experiences. He’d been through most of the same treatments, and sometimes even worse. Now, those shared memories of being at Ex’s behest is a source of bonding for them, although most of the time, they talk about much happier things, like food and the grandkids.

Bill’s daughters were pretty seriously parentified, meaning they were expected to meet their mother’s needs when they were still children. My guess is that all of Ex’s children, save for her youngest, who has “severe autism”, are parentified to an extent. They were there to “parent” their mother, rather than be parented by her. Making matters worse is that she really doesn’t allow much input from her children’s fathers, who mostly spent their time working to support Ex and her many expensive habits.

So… seeing that she’s posted the above meme on social media makes me think she’s living in delusion… or she just wants to promote a facade. She never was one much for actually “raising” children. That was pretty much left for her older kids to do. Older daughter is 32 years old and still lives with her mother, in part, because she doesn’t trust her mother to take proper care of her brother– Ex’s youngest child.

I’m sure, on some level, Ex has had the “time of her life” having those kids. Because they’ve been like little servants for her, serving her as if she’s a queen bee. She wants to be waited on and adored, even if she hasn’t necessarily done much to deserve either.

She’s also constantly looking for shortcuts to getting what she wants. That means trying to engage strangers on the Internet, including celebrities. Looking on her Quora account, I noticed a few things…

Two very telling questions she’s asked:

Which is better, Credit Settlement through a litigation firm, Credit Consolidation through an NPO, or bankruptcy… if you are unable to get creditors to work with you to lower payments enough?

I’m surprised she doesn’t already know the answer to this question. I know for a fact that she’s had at least one bankruptcy and, according to younger daughter, had a couple more after the one she had with Bill.

And…

Where can I get funding for an autism service dog’s training? It will cost approximately $10k USD.

I guess she eventually gave up on the autism service dog idea. Good thing, too, if she’s considering declaring bankruptcy again.

But then, she posted this in May 2023:

I live in the states. My family is from Scotland and Ireland and England. I want to come ‘home’ and regain a place as a citizen of the UK. I want to work with the foundation set up to improve the lives of children… set up by the Prince and Princess of Wales. Long live the King.

Lofty goals, indeed. But she’s not actually an altruistic person, nor does she even enjoy taking care of her own children, let alone other people’s children. I suspect she sees children as easy targets for her manipulative bullshit. And her own children… bless their hearts! They’ll always be extensions of her, and she’ll always be keeping a scorecard, expecting them to pay her back for basic things that all parents are supposed to provide for their children.

Anyway… she’ll never change, so there’s no call for outrage or surprise. But it sure is interesting to watch this crap from afar… and thank goodness Bill’s daughters are grown now. I wish we could have had them together, instead. Ah well. At least I think the grandkids will have a better time. Younger daughter is a wonderful, attentive, appropriate mom to her children. That’s a skill she definitely didn’t learn from her own mother.

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Bill, love, marriage

Just a quick check in today…

It’s a nice Saturday, and I’m hoping to get out of the house for a little while. But it’s already just after 11:00am, which means we need to get a move on if we’re going to go anywhere or do anything.

Bill lost his brand new brown cap (pictured yesterday) while he was gone on his trip. I ordered him another one, plus one in olive, since he liked the first one so much. Maybe I should put his name in the caps, too, since it looks like someone made off with the last one. It would have been nice if the person who found it had dropped it off at the lost and found.

While Bill was away, he quit shaving. I think it was because he worked overnights, and shaving was just a chore after a night of working. He is currently sporting facial hair for the first time since 2016. Bill actually looks really good with a beard. He grew one before we went to Ireland for the first time, around the time of our 14th wedding anniversary. But I don’t really like kissing his beard, and I guess he prefers the clean shaven look. He got rid of the beard and hasn’t grown another one until now.

Last night, I joked that he looked a bit like the old cartoon character, Snuffy Smith. I used to love reading Snuffy Smith in the Sunday comics. Looking back on it, I’m not sure why I enjoyed reading the comics so much when I was a kid. It probably had to do with the colors and simple language. 😉

A screenshot of ol’ Snuffy…

Looks like 8 o’clock shadow…

Bill says he’s going to make a video for younger daughter, so she can see him with a fuzzy face. After that, he’ll probably shave. Below is a photo of him with a beard, back in November 2016.

He wears it well…

Not everyone can pull off a beard. I have to admit, I think he looks debonair with facial hair, so I won’t protest if he keeps this look– even if I prefer to kiss him without the hair. It’s his face, so whatever he wants to do is up to him. I just look forward to seeing him looking a little less unkempt. A good night’s sleep has already helped, though. He was pretty tired last night.

Anyway… I know this isn’t the most exciting blog post. I don’t have time to do a deep dive. It’s Saturday, and I desperately need to get out of the house for awhile. So I think I’ll close this post and get on with the day. Enjoy your weekend!

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Bill, dogs, family, first world problems

When Bill is away, steroid mad Arran drives me CRAZ-AY!

Holy crap. Tomorrow, we’ll be halfway through December already. I haven’t even gotten to a proper Christmas market yet, although we did get a little snow the other day. They’re calling for some today, but we’ll see if it happens. It’s certainly cold enough!

Bill has been “TDY” this week– that is “temporary duty yonder”, for those of you who aren’t up with typical military jargon. Bill had to go to Bavaria again, as he did for two weeks in October. He used to go on more interesting temporary duty assignments when he worked for AFRICOM and EUCOM down in Stuttgart, but his current job mostly takes him to Bavaria or Poland, with rare exceptions. He has gone to Vegas a couple of times, too. Sometimes I go with him on his trips, but I haven’t done one with Bill since 2019, just before COVID became a global nightmare.

In October, when Bill was last at “Graf”, I was very worried about our old dog, Arran, who was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was actually very concerned that Arran might die while Bill was gone, as untreated lymphoma can kill quite efficiently. But we decided to do chemo for Arran, and in many ways, that has been a miraculous decision. Some long time readers might recall that our dog, Zane, died in 2019 of a type of lymphoma that I think was much more aggressive than what Arran has. It came up while we were on vacation and killed Zane a mere week after he was diagnosed. Arran is our fourth dog to get cancer, and the first one we’ve been able to treat in any meaningful way, other than giving painkillers. Treating him has definitely been educational on many levels.

I am not usually one to want to do extreme treatments. I thought of chemo for a 14 year old dog as “extreme”. I don’t anymore. Arran’s treatment has been pretty minimal, when it comes down to it. For the past eight weeks, he’s gotten weekly IV Vincristine infusions at the vet’s office. He got Prednisolone and Endoxan (pill twice a week), and not even every day. So far, we’ve spent about 1000 euros for everything– vet visits, meds, and consultations. The IV appointments take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The rest of the time, he eats, sleeps, takes walks, poops, pees, snuggles, jumps, and even plays a bit. He still stands guard at the door when someone comes with a package or wakes me from my naps, wanting me to sign up for a service. 😉

I’m starting to think of his lymphoma as more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, as we ease Arran into his final golden days. For his ten years of love and companionship, we think it’s worth it. And starting this week, he doesn’t have to go to the vet weekly for IV drugs. Now, we’re in phase two, which means he only goes every other week, and takes the Endoxan (pills) every other week, and takes Prednisolone every other day. I know the cancer will eventually kill him, but we still have him for now. We’re going to enjoy him for as long as possible… even though that means putting up with some annoyances and inconveniences. That’s what I’ve been dealing with this week.

The Prednisolone Arran takes is lifesaving, and has had some miraculously beneficial effects on his well-being. It also has some annoying side effects. It gives him some really rancid farts that would easily a clear a room of the unindoctrinated. It makes him need to pee a lot, so that has resulted in some household accidents. Arran has never been 100 percent reliable when it comes to his housetraining, anyway. For some reason, he never has learned to tell us when he needs to go outside. He has, though, learned very well how to tell us when he wants to eat. And Prednisolone makes him want to eat a LOT and more often. He’s already mostly beagle and almost all hound, so eating has always been one of his favorite things to do, anyway.

Arran has also become unreliable at home alone, so I’ve found myself spending more time at home, just to keep him from tearing up anything that smells like food. Twice, he’s broken into our makeshift pantry in the basement and made messes (most German homes don’t have built in pantries). He also gets up several times during the night to pee and demand food. Bill often finds himself feeding him at 3:30 AM, just so he can sleep a couple of hours. Today, I made him wait until 4, after he’d already gotten me up at 1:45 for a potty break.

If we were in the States, I might keep Arran in a crate when he can’t be supervised. But we left our crate in Texas, and haven’t seen too many of them for sale over here. Germans don’t tend to leave their dogs at home alone a lot… not that I would need to do that, since I mostly stay at home, anyway. Arran also tends to howl a lot when we aren’t home, and that could be worse in a crate… although it’s also likely that he’d see it as his den and calm down.

If you’re reading this and wondering how Arran gets into the basement to raid it, here’s my answer. Like most German basements I’ve seen, the basement in our house doesn’t have a door. There are just steps that go down to the lowest floor. We bought a pet gate when we lived at our former house, which was originally a communal home. The steps to the basement in that house weren’t conducive for using a spring-loaded gate, because there was a wall and just a metal bannister with no wall to brace against. I also didn’t want to do any “construction” in that house, because our landlady was extremely anal retentive and always looking for a reason to be critical of me, in particular. And, as we found out when we moved, she also looked for every reason to charge us.

The stand alone pet gate worked for a long time. Until very recently, Arran mostly respected the gate and stayed out of the basement. But the steroids make him a demon from Hell, when it comes to wanting and pursuing food. Fortunately, this house has two walls at the basement stairs, so we will probably invest in a more secure gate to thwart his attempts to steal food. The benefit to having such a gate is that it can be open and shut, so I won’t have to step over the gate anymore in the mornings, when my muscles are stiff and unreliable. Even if we lose Arran very soon, the sturdier gate will still come in handy if and when we get another dog. Noyzi is, seriously, a perfect gentleman, so we worry a lot less about him. He didn’t even need to be potty trained when we got him! Can’t believe he was born on the streets of Kosovo!

Needless to say, taking care of Arran has been more challenging than usual. But other than looking after his increased needs for food, potty breaks, and supervision, I’ve found myself kind of bored as I wait for Bill to come home from his latest TDY. I spent a lot of years living alone, so it’s not like I can’t cope with it. I miss him when he’s gone, though… even though I tend to eat and drink less when he’s not home. I’ve mostly passed the time by watching movies. I was thinking I’d like to add my thoughts on the movies to this post, but now I think maybe they should get their own posts. I have a lot to write about them, and this post has gone on long enough… And it’s mostly about Arran, so my thoughts on made for TV movies are out of place here. I could probably write an entire book about Arran!

So, I think I’ll start a new post… write that, practice guitar, put fresh sheets on the bed, and if I’m lucky, maybe even score a nap. I think I could use one, after all these nocturnal disturbances.

As you can see from the featured photo, Arran is worth it, in spite of being a little shit sometimes. That photo was taken the other day, as Arran copied his deceased beagle brother, Zane, and tucked himself into bed. He almost never does that, so I wonder if Zane was paying us a visit. I’m weird like that.

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Bill, disasters, lessons learned

Bill is finally back from Bavaria!

He got on the road at 5:00am and was home before 9:00am. It’s so great to see him… the dogs were super excited. Even Noyzi, who is kind of scared of Bill, was happy to welcome him. The weather is cold and yucky today, which means we’ll probably have a cozy afternoon… even though Germany is slowly reawakening after lockdown. I don’t mind, really… it’s just another week of the same shit, only I don’t have to do it alone. This month has been unusually cold and rainy, anyway. But as of Thursday, Bill will have his second shot, and I will follow on June 9th. And then, look out, world!

I spent yesterday thinking more about my old Peace Corps colleague, Matt, who just died. It’s not lost on me how completely crazy his exit from life was. Here’s a man who spent over four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in two developing countries, helping people learn to speak English. I’m pretty sure he had a doctorate, and I know that he wasn’t about making a lot of money or owning material things. He valued art, music, travel, languages, and relationships. And he was taken out by someone recklessly driving a Rolls Royce, which is a product at the height of ostentatious consumerism. I just looked up the price of a 2021 Rolls Royce. Google tells me they cost between $245,000 and $382,000! A very nice home could be purchased for that amount! It’s like something out of an absurd novel or movie. It’s definitely an unusual and unexpected way to go. What are the odds? And what a horrible and terrifying fate… to be hit by someone driving a car that is the antithesis of what he stood for. They didn’t even have the decency to stop. They just left him to die. It’s heartbreaking to think of it… I hope Matt didn’t know what hit him.

I don’t think I have ever seen a Rolls Royce in person. I have only seen them in movies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black Rolls Royce, either– the ones I’ve seen have all been silver or champagne colored. I can’t even picture a black Rolls Royce. Granted, Matt was in Brooklyn when this happened, but it seems like something like this would have happened in Manhattan or Boston. It’s just bizarre… and very sad, because he obviously was much beloved by his family, friends, and colleagues. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in years, and his death has touched me, all the way over here in Germany. I have so many good memories of knowing Matt. It’s tempting to write something trite, like he was needed for a higher calling or something like that… but I don’t think Matt was much into religion, nor am I. Really, what I think it comes down to is a terrible tragedy that took someone out of the world much too soon, although what happened to Matt has already influenced me in a potentially positive way.

When Bill sent me a message last night from Bavaria, debating on whether or not he should drive back to Wiesbaden last night, he admitted he was tired and had a headache. So, while I told him I wanted to see him and it was up to him as to whether or not he felt like driving, I encouraged him to stay at the hotel and rest. I know Bill very well. He’s not a night person at all, although he is a very safe and careful driver. But he’s only a year younger than Matt was, and he’s already had a dangerous encounter being hit by a car… only his incident happened when he was 16 and the car rolled over his chest. If he hadn’t been a teenager, though, chances are good that he would have died. As it was, he had a near death experience.

I think Bill would have made it home last night if he’d tried to drive back, but I had Matt’s accident in mind when I asked him to wait until morning. Bill is much more coherent in the morning, and there was sure to be less traffic on the Autobahn on an early Saturday morning. He was originally talking about coming home starting at 4:00am, but then he said that technically, that would be violating the COVID-19 curfew that is still going on. People are supposed to stay home from 11:00pm until 5:00am, unless they have a good reason for being out. Of course, Bill could have told any cop who stopped him that he was on his way home from work. That would have been the truth. But waiting until morning was the more responsible thing to do. I’m glad he did that, since he probably would have been too tired to do much last night, anyway.

Bill worked so many hours in Bavaria, that he’s just going to work a few hours on Monday and take the rest of the week off. It’s too bad we can’t take a trip, but we can get some things done… he can rest up and get over whatever side effects come after he has his second COVID shot. I still have a faint red blotch where my first vaccine was given, but there’s no pain. I have a feeling the second shot will probably lay me out. Good thing no one depends on me for anything… unless you count the dogs.

Matt’s car accident is a grim reminder that you just never know when disaster will strike and you’ll be the victim of a senseless accident. So it’s a good thing to try to mitigate risks, if possible, although fate also could have played a part. Bill had already paid for the apartment he was staying in, anyway. He still has one more meeting to do for this latest exercise– it happens this afternoon from home. Then he can take a much needed and well deserved rest, and we can think about where we might go when we’re finally “free”… or as free as a person can be during the whole COVID-19 nightmare.

In other news… just days into his latest TDY, Bill’s windshield on his rental car was struck by a rock. I guess it’s a good thing he was driving a rental car, rather than his own car. I’m also glad he wasn’t hurt when that happened. Below is the reception Bill got from the dogs when he arrived home this morning. I was glad to see that Noyzi was just as happy to see Bill as Arran and I were! And it looks like the marathon TDYs from Hell will be over, for the time being.

Daddy’s finally home!
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