complaints, poor judgment, psychology

She’s down with O.P.M.!

“Wah! Why won’t my boyfriend’s parents financially support me?”

Okay… so you should already know that I don’t have a boyfriend. I am happily married to Mr. Bill, who already supports my unemployed ass without complaint. Today’s blog post title comes from therapist Lori Gottlieb’s column in The Atlantic. The powers that be at The Atlantic decided to rerun one of Lori’s posts on Facebook this morning. I happened to read it before my eyes were fully opened after this morning’s nightmare, which involved Bill bringing home a bag of snakes. I ended up killing two of them with my bare hands! Naturally, that was traumatizing. Thank God it was just a bad dream. Bill has already tried to interpret it, though. He’s very Jungian that way.

A little old school mood music for this post… although O.P.P. is not quite the same thing as O.P.M. is…

Anyway, the post I read in Lori Gottlieb’s column this morning was originally published on December 24, 2018. A woman named Zoe, writing from Edinburgh, Scotland, writes that she’s involved in a long distance relationship with a man who has a twin brother.

Zoe’s boyfriend, whom she’s been dating for five years, but isn’t yet ready to marry (as of 2018, anyway), has a doctorate from a “top” university. He has a job and is “doing right” in life. The boyfriend’s brother, on the other hand, is apparently aimless and shiftless. He doesn’t have a degree, and has bounced from college to college. He moved to Florida, married an “older” woman (horrors!), and now has a baby girl with his wife (double horrors!).

Zoe’s issue is that the twin brothers’ very wealthy parents are “lavishing” money on the “aimless” twin, his wife, and their baby. But Zoe, as the long suffering “girlfriend” of the more established twin, is “out in the cold”. She is, herself, in a doctoral program and claims she will not be ready for marriage or child bearing for some time. And she feels it’s unfair that her boyfriend’s rich parents aren’t sharing their piece of the pie with her.

In other words, Zoe’s down with O.P.M. (other people’s money), and they aren’t getting with the program by sharing the wealth with her. She clearly feels like she has her shit together and is worthy of some renumeration from the boyfriend’s rich parents for being the girlfriend of the “good” twin, who also apparently has his shit together… except for the fact that he has terrible taste in girlfriends.

Perhaps mitigating what sounds like an outrageous attitude of entitlement to me, is the fact that Zoe’s family of origin has been “torn apart” because Zoe’s Granny didn’t share her money equitably with her children. And now, people in Zoe’s family all resent each other. She makes it sound like she’s worried for the twin brothers and their relationship, rather than just feeling greedy and entitled to O.P.M.– that is, other people’s money.

Zoe’s boyfriend has told her that she needs to zip it about this issue, since “the financial matters should be between him, his brother, and his parents.”

But Zoe, who has been dating the guy for five years but “isn’t ready” to put a ring on it, says “… if we are planning to spend our lives together, shouldn’t I also be able to voice an opinion on these things?” Uh huh… she’s definitely down with O.P.M.

Zoe writes that she would be “grateful” for any advice, since she’s so upset and jealous that she can barely think. And that is sure to be having a deleterious effect on her studies in her “doctoral” program, which is very important to her. Not that there’s anything wrong with being committed to higher education and finishing what one starts, of course.

Okay… well, I was glad to see that Lori Gottlieb rather gently and constructively pointed out what is blindingly obvious to all but the most obtuse of us. Zoe’s boyfriend’s parents are entitled to spend their money as they see fit. It’s their money. What the potential parents-in-law do with their money is none of Zoe’s goddamned business, especially when she has no legal ties to their family. But even if she and twin doctoral guy were married, it would still be O.P.M., and none of her business how the in-laws spend their dough. It’s their money!

I can’t believe that someone who is supposedly smart enough to be pursuing a doctoral degree doesn’t understand this basic fact. I wonder how Zoe would feel if, years from now, she’s made a nice living for herself and has a pile of money saved. And then some person dating one of her hypothetical offspring has an “issue” with how she doles out her largesse. There’s no legal requirement for parents to give their adult children any help whatsoever, financial or otherwise. Certainly the girlfriend isn’t entitled to anything from her boyfriend’s parents. If they choose to give her anything, she should be extremely happy about it and STFU. If they choose not to give it to her, she should also STFU. Access to their money is not her right, even if she and their son have been dating forever.

Maybe it’s just me, since I don’t expect much of an inheritance myself. My parents didn’t inherit anything but furniture and an old car from my mom’s dad, when he passed in 1979. When my Granny died in 2007, I don’t remember my dad, who was then 74 years old, getting anything from her estate. My mom has been living in a really beautiful senior assisted living apartment since 2009. It’s not a cheap place to stay. I don’t expect much of anything from her estate, when she dies. I’m just thankful that she’s still able to take care of herself, financially and otherwise.

My mom was pretty smart, as she gave me and my sisters special heirlooms as we were growing up. But I can’t imagine having the nerve to tell my mom, who is feisty, opinionated, and brooks no nonsense, that she needs to “share the wealth” with me. My mom hasn’t been the most demonstrative mother in the world, but she and my dad were always financially generous when they could be, and my mom, in particular, helped me a lot when I needed it. I’m simply grateful for that. As for my in-laws, I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of expecting either of Bill’s parents or his stepmother to give me a dime, especially when we were just dating.

That being said… having been through graduate school myself, I understand how financially stressful it can be. I lived on the proceeds of student loans and part time jobs– a graduate assistantship that paid $10 an hour and had limited hours I could work, and a job waiting tables at a country club with very occasional tips (but free food and a pretty decent hourly wage). I remember some stressful times during those three years, and I worried a lot about how things would be paid for. I was blessed in a number of ways when I was in school, though I sure wouldn’t want to repeat those lean years. Still, I handled my own business back then. I didn’t start mooching off of Bill until we were married and I started putting out.

Actually, given the financial havoc wreaked on him by his ex wife, I feel lucky that Bill trusts me and shares access to his good fortune with me, at all. It did take a few years after we married before he did start trusting me, and that was because he went to war in Iraq and I had to handle the bills. Since then, I have repaid his trust by investing some of his money. At this writing, the money I’ve invested on his behalf is about equal to what he paid for my education– we’re even about $10,000 ahead. It’s his money, though, and I’m grateful that he shares it with me, even as he insists that he considers his earnings “our money”. And I sure didn’t expect him to share it when we were dating, especially after what he’d already been through in his first marriage.

I guess I can kinda see why it’s distressing for Zoe to have a long-term, but unofficial, relationship with her boyfriend and feel jealous that his twin brother married an “older” (HORRORS!) woman who is getting so much financial help from the parents. But if she’s expecting the same level of generosity as the twin brother and his wife are getting, she will probably have to make the relationship official by way of marriage, at the very least. Even then, there’s absolutely neither a guarantee nor a requirement for her boyfriend’s parents to give either of them any cash. It’s entirely up to the boyfriend’s parents how they spend their money. And I’m not even sure, based on Zoe’s letter, that the boyfriend even wants to marry her. Maybe he’s smarter than we realize.

Zoe would do well to figure out how to make her own money, if it’s that important to her. If she marries her boyfriend, they can decide together how money matters will be handled. Even then, his parents shouldn’t be a part of the equation or expectation for support. If they do decide to contribute, Zoe should simply be grateful and zip it, other than to say “Thank you” to the in-laws for anything they do for her.

Frankly, I think Zoe ought to consider breaking up with her boyfriend, if this problem is really that upsetting for her. Or, really, I think her boyfriend, who sounds a lot wiser and more sensitive than she is, should consider breaking up with Zoe. She sounds like an insensitive clod. At the very least, I think Zoe should have an empathy check and, perhaps, put herself in her boyfriend’s shoes. I’m sure it’s embarrassing and irritating to him that his girlfriend is creating an issue over how his parents spend their money. He’s obviously a smart man, with a doctorate from a “top” university. He could probably do better. And then Zoe can quit obsessing over other people’s money (O.P.M.) and focus on building her career, which is obviously more of a priority for her right now (or at least in 2018) than family matters are.

You’d think someone smart enough to earn a doctorate would know better, right? But there are plenty of people with Ph.D.s who are down with O.P.M. πŸ˜‰

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mental health, movies, musings

Shut up before we really give you something to cry about!

For years, I’ve heard people mention the campy 1968 sci-fi flick, Barbarella. Jane Fonda was the star of that movie, which I finally watched last night. It was another cheap download from iTunes. I’d never seen it, but heard references to it. I decided last night, I’d find out what the hubbub was all about. I watched it and found it rather hilariously weird. I wished I had some pot. I think marijuana would have made watching it even more bizarre.

I was born in 1972, so the first movie I ever saw starring Jane Fonda was 9 to 5. I actually saw that one in the movie theater when I was about eight years old. I saw it countless times on HBO when I was growing up, and later bought a download of it, because I love watching movies from the 80s… especially when I’m bored or stressed out. The last few weeks have been boring and stressful.

This is a WEIRD film.

To be honest, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the plot for Barbarella. It reminded me a lot of some of the soft porn flicks that used to be aired on The Movie Channel during the late 80s and early 90s. The Movie Channel was a lot more liberal about what they aired than HBO was, and in those days, there weren’t multiple cable movie channels like there are now. In a way, I’m kind of glad I was a kid in those days, when things were simpler. I’m glad my childhood was pretty normal and free range, and I got to do a lot of things that young people today can’t do… things I think are pretty essential to becoming a functioning adult, like going to the store by myself at a young age.

Today’s youngsters have an especially raw deal. This past year has really sucked. It’s sucked for everyone, but it’s sucked worse for some people than others. My year hasn’t been that bad compared to some people’s years. But, for sure, I am glad I’m not a teenager these days. So many of the things that make life worth living aren’t allowed right now. And when you’re a teenager, things probably seem a lot more important than they really are. All of the stuff that makes being a teen fun are on hold. Or they have to be done while masked and socially distanced.

Even those who are lucky enough to be able to have team sports sometimes have to contend with assholes who ruin the fun. Case in point, this jackass announcer who uttered racist and derogatory comments because some of the players at a high school game decided to kneel when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played. When the announcer, name of Matt Rowan, was rightfully called out for his disgraceful comments caught on a hot mike, he blamed it on a sugar spike caused by his Type 1 diabetes. I feel sorry for the youngsters who had to hear that. It was totally uncalled for, especially at a high school game.

Friday, I watched Pretty in Pink, which was released when I was in the 8th grade. Just a few months after it came out, I entered my freshman year of high school, which was kind of a mind blower. Back then, there was no Internet, but we had some really cool music and interesting fashions. It was just before everything went online– kind of the fetal phase of the Internet. I had a nerdy friend at that time who ran up huge phone bills using her modem to chat with guys in Ohio, even though we lived in Virginia. She posted on bulletin boards and developed this whole social life that was so mysterious to me. And look at us now. Where would we be without the Internet? Hard to tell…

In some ways, the Internet made things better. I can keep in touch with some old friends who are still fun to be friends with. On the other hand, some people you’d rather not be in touch with anymore and being online makes it easy for them to find you. And thanks to the Internet, people can still kind of function, which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective. Some people are thriving. I would be fine with distance working or learning. Others need to be in an office with others… or working in groups. They hate being stuck at home and aren’t as productive there. And some people, who ordinarily would never be home because of work and are enjoying the family time they’re getting, would rather things not go back to “normal”.

I don’t know when we’ll get the vaccine. Germany has been very slow rolling it out, and I doubt we’d be able to get it here anyway, until more citizens have gotten it. The U.S. military has also been really slow with roll out… and I heard some gossip indicating that some powers that be are not being fair about its distribution. If we were in Hawaii, Japan, or Korea we’d probably be inoculated by now. I don’t necessarily look forward to getting the shot(s) or their potential side effects, but I do look forward to ditching this lifestyle. Everything is so gloomy. Good thing we have guys like Randy Rainbow to make us smile…

Too right, as the Aussies say.

But it’s hard to keep smiling, especially when you’re subscribed to periodicals like The Atlantic and they keep posting depressing articles with even more depressing headlines. Twice, I’ve seen them post an article about mourning our “normal” lives and accepting that things will basically suck from now on. There are endless articles about how awful everything is. As a matter of fact, here’s a list of fifteen of the articles featured on their Facebook page right now:

  • Modern Life Has Made It Easier For Serial Killers to Thrive
  • Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think
  • The Relentlessness of Black Grief
  • High School Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This
  • 3 Miles from Martha’s Vineyard is an Island Full of Bombs
  • People Are Keeping Their Vaccines Secret
  • Renting is Terrible. Owning is Worse.
  • Texas’s Disaster is Over. The Fallout is Just Beginning.
  • When Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Go Away
  • Giraffes Edge Closer to Extinction
  • The Republican Party Isn’t Going Anywhere
  • The Pandemic Has Given Women a New Kind of Rage
  • Why Do So Many Men Watch Lesbian Porn?
  • Cone Snails are Liars and Murderers
  • We Have To Grieve Our Last Good Days

These articles have been run over the past couple of days. I feel like I need to take a prophylactic antidepressant before I look at their Facebook page. There have been a few that weren’t depressing, but on the whole, it seems like The Atlantic is in a depression and wants to share the wealth. Add in the headlines from other papers, and it does seem like spring is going to be bleak, even though it’s traditionally when things come back to life. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the vaccine works to slow the spread of the disease. The latest South Park, which hilariously shows elderly people living it up while the rest of us hide away at home, shows how weird things are… I’d almost feel like I’m Barbarella myself, minus Jane Fonda’s smokin’ hot body circa 1968 and the sexual pleasure machine.

I got bored the other day and ended up on a porn site. It was an interesting place… it included videos that were homemade as well as a few that were cheesy professional ones. I get a kick out of some kinds of porn. It’s definitely not a genre for the high minded. Sometimes people upload clips from kinky mainstream TV shows and movies. I clicked on one that was in a foreign language… and I realized that I understood some of what was being said. It turned out someone had uploaded a clip from an Armenian soap opera or movie. The environment was weirdly familiar, too. I was hoping we could have visited Armenia by now, but the pandemic messed up those plans.

I ended up watching the whole clip from the Armenian show. I had a good laugh and was pleasantly surprised, because it was relatively well done compared to what was available when I lived there in the 90s. There was really nothing particularly pornographic about the clip. I mean, it was totally PG mainstream, something you might see on prime time television. I could post it here and not be embarrassed or ashamed. I just thought it was funny that I randomly clicked on a video on a porn site that happened to be from Armenia. I doubt the same could be said for the German clips that get uploaded.

I don’t usually watch whole porn clips, because I find them way too cringey. Some of it is just too raw for me. I don’t like looking at nudity or violence. I don’t like bad acting. Watching people having sex is boring– especially when it’s porn sex, which has no element of reality to it whatsoever. I’d rather read something fascinating and a little kinky rather than watch it. But when you’ve been alone for weeks, sometimes you get desperate for entertainment. I think the Sims should make an R or even X rated version of the game for old people like me.

My parents had this album on 8 Track. That’s how old and obscure it is. I uploaded it a few years ago, since I don’t think anyone else had at the time. Glen Campbell was very accomplished on the bagpipes. He should have made more music on them.

At least there’s music… like this gorgeous bagpipe arrangement played by the late Glen Campbell (incidentally, a distant cousin of Bill’s). I suspect I’ll be listening to a lot of music today, as I pass the historically dullest day of the week… Sunday. In Germany, Sunday is even duller, since everything is closed. But everything is closed anyway, so it’s like everyday is Sunday. Actually, that’s not quite true. The grocery stores, flower shops, hair salons, and book shops are open. I think you can buy garden supplies. And maybe in two weeks, more stuff will open up.

Anyway… just a few more days until Bill comes home. Until then, I’ll keep watching old movies, the odd porn clips, and listening to obscure music. Maybe I’ll come up with something interesting to write about. Maybe I’ll even resort to writing fiction. Perhaps now is the time to start a fiction blog, now that the stalker has finally fucked off. Or… put it this way… I no longer care what she reads. Legal remedy is complete… for now.

Gentle Bill turned me on to The Bloodhound Gang.

Perhaps there really is something to that old saying, “Shut up before we really give you something to cry about.” I used to hear that a lot when I was growing up. And I often ended up crying, anyway, either because my feelings were hurt or my ass was sore and smarting from a “spanking” (which was more like an enraged beating). I don’t cry much anymore, though. Don’t have the hormones or the tear ducts anymore. LOL… funny enough, I wouldn’t mind getting a spanking today. As long as it was Bill who delivered it. He’s gentle and I’m bored and frustrated… and a trifle kinky. But not kinky enough to cry while I give someone a lapdance. And the world heaves a collective sigh of relief…

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divorce, Ex

A long, strange trip…

This morning started like any other morning, nowadays. I woke up at about 4:00am. I thought maybe Arran needed to go out, but apparently it was just my internal alarm clock. About a half hour later, I got up to let the dogs pee and feed them. I prefer to feed them a little later, but they were obviously ready to eat. Then I went back to bed to read up on current events.

A couple of hours later, I came across a column in The Atlantic written by Lori Gottlieb, a therapist who has also written several books. I read one of her books years ago. It was called Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self, and it was a surprisingly entertaining account of her experiences with anorexia nervosa. Which isn’t to say that I think Gottlieb’s book is the best one on the subject. I do remember writing a review for Epinions.com and not giving it a glowing review, even though I thought the writing was kind of oddly quirky and sometimes even funny.

Anyway, Gottlieb, who grew up in California, is now a columnist for The Atlantic and works as a psychotherapist in New York City. This morning, there was a link to a column she posted on January 28, 2019. The post was entitled “Dear Therapist: I’m Dating a Divorced Man With Kids, and It’s Harder Than I Thought”. This was written in the days before the fucking COVID-19 pandemic happened. As such, it seems oddly normal.

The letter writer explains that she’s 33 years old and her boyfriend is 48. He is divorced, while she’s never been married. He has three kids from his failed marriage. Letter writer has none. Right off the bat, I connected. I am almost eight years younger than Bill is, and of course, he was divorced and had two kids with his ex wife. He also has an ex stepson that he’d always treated (and paid for) as his own son, although it later became clear that ex stepson didn’t see Bill the way Bill saw him. Maybe his sentiments have changed with age, but he hasn’t spoken to Bill since 2009, when he got busted red-handed trying to pull a fast one over Bill’s money.

The letter writer explains that she is fed up with her boyfriend’s ex wife, who is very needy, dramatic, and apparently a leech. Letter writer is having trouble coming to terms with having the ex in her life. She texts the boyfriend for all manner of things including discipline of the kids. Letter writer feels intruded upon and although she loves her man very much, the ex looms in the shadows. And every time the phone goes off, the letter writer feels violated.

I know how she feels. For most of my marriage to Bill, I have had a deep resentment and outright hatred for his ex wife. I’m not going to sugar coat it, because that’s truly how I’ve felt, and it hasn’t been without reason. However, unlike the ex in the letter writer’s situation, Bill’s ex was infinitely more toxic and hateful. She made it impossible for Bill to have any relationship whatsoever with his children as she bled him dry financially. She told baldfaced lies to the children about how Bill and I met and told his parents lies about his behavior toward her. For years, she had Bill’s stepmother believing that he was a wife beater. My husband’s stepmother actually asked me if Bill abused me like he did Ex. I actually laughed out loud at that notion because it was so ridiculous.

The first few years of our marriage were truly “broke” years, as Bill sent half his salary to his ex wife, who treated him like shit. I blame my husband’s ex wife for the fact that I never had children. I don’t think I’m wrong to blame her, either. Bill had a vasectomy because she demanded that he get one. Then she divorced Bill and had two more children with her third husband. Meanwhile, we were too broke to be able to afford reproductive assistance at the time when it would have been the most likely to be successful. Bill did, at least, have the vasectomy reversed by the Army. That felt like taking back a bad decision that Bill was bullied into making. I wish we could have had a baby together… but as I’ve said recently, maybe it’s a blessing that we didn’t.

As we’ve gotten older, our financial situation has markedly improved, but I had to let go of the idea of being a mother. Meanwhile, Bill’s daughters disowned him and refused to speak to him at all for about fifteen years. I can’t tell you how many times Bill cried over being shut out of his daughters’ lives. It was extremely painful and totally unnecessary. What can I say? She’s more interested in maintaining control and hurting people than doing the right thing for her children.

As time went on, the resentment simmered… until early 2017, when Bill and his younger daughter started to reconnect. I was beginning to think I would always have rage toward my husband’s ex wife and daughters. I didn’t trust younger daughter when she started talking to Bill. I didn’t want her in our lives, because I was under the impression that she was like her mother. For the first fourteen years of our marriage, they were always in the shadows, looming over everything. I was tired of the drama and the intrusions, especially on holidays. Ex had made it clear that she only wanted Bill’s money and to blame him for the way her life was. The children wouldn’t speak to him or even acknowledge him as their father. I wanted them to cut ties once and for all and just leave us alone.

It turned out that younger daughter isn’t like Ex at all. In fact, it turns out that she’s really Bill’s daughter in terms of her looks and her behavior. A year ago, Bill was in Utah visiting her for the first time since Christmas 2004. A year ago, I wrote a scathing blog post about the revelations that came out after that visit. I was seething with anger about what had happened… but this time, it wasn’t just for Bill. It was for his daughters, too… and everyone else who suffered because of Ex’s lies and manipulations.

The writer of the letter in Lori Gottlieb’s column doesn’t have it nearly as bad as Bill and I did. Although in her case, the ex is certainly a nuisance, it’s clear that the ex lets the children see and speak to their father. She may be needy and intrusive, but it doesn’t sound like she’s purely evil. I’m sure that column will get a lot of rude comments from the masses who have no empathy for women who date men with kids. People always expect women to have endless compassion, patience, and love for the children in a relationship, even if it’s impossible, undeserved, or even undesired.

Lori Gottlieb gave the letter writer sensible advice, letting them know that when you date a man with children, the ex is often part of the package. In most cases, so are the children. I remember being fully prepared to accept Bill’s children, although not being a child of divorce myself, I couldn’t necessarily relate to their trauma. But I had an open mind and an open heart, and I was prepared to do what I could… at least in the early years. When they were at their most alienated, I will admit I closed myself off. I was really fed up with the bullshit and it was the only way I could stand it.

I’m glad Bill didn’t close off his heart. A year ago today, he saw his daughter in person and they shared a long hug and spent two solid days talking. It was a very good visit, overall. Bill met his son in law and grandchildren. But, as it always is whenever Ex is involved in anything, there was a lot of time spent debriefing and clearing the air. I’ve visited Bill’s late dad’s house three times. All three times, we basically sat around and talked about Ex and her crazy shit. Bill’s dad never got a chance to really get to know me before he died last year. So much time and energy was spent trying to deal with the crazy shit she threw at us. The same went for Bill’s two short days with his daughter, with whom he faithfully Skypes and emails now. Older daughter remains estranged, to her detriment.

This morning, I changed the privacy settings on those two posts I wrote about last year’s visit. The first one is very raw and profane, because I was extremely angry about how Ex had gotten away with torturing her family for so many years. The second one is less intense, but I had it protected anyway. A year has passed and the pain is much less intense now… with a year, comes perspective. Bill and I know we can survive, and our love has stood some pretty horrible stuff. I’ve come to respect Bill’s younger daughter. I can’t say I love her yet, because we’ve still only met in person once. But I’m willing to try, because I know Bill adores his daughters. Nothing would please him more than to have both of them in his life.

I used to have a flaming hot rage toward Ex. I truly hated her with a passion. I was obsessed with my hatred for her and my outrage at how she got away with blatant abuse that other people tolerated. I know that hating her was harmful to me, but I just couldn’t help it. She was just a despicable, horrible, abusive woman. And people would blame me for her shit. I couldn’t even talk about it without risking comments from the uninformed, trying to blame it on me. Listen… I am plenty willing to accept responsibility when I screw up. But I honestly had nothing to do with my husband’s divorce from his ex wife, and I never had the chance to screw with his ex wife or their kids. All I did was encourage Bill to be strong and assertive. Abusive liars don’t like that, of course. It makes them angry.

This sums it up.

I can say now that these days, I pretty much don’t care about Ex and rarely think about her anymore. I mostly see her as pathetic now. I hate what she did, and I was extremely angry to hear about the things she did… the lies she told… and the way she treated her children like possessions to be jealously guarded or cast out, as the mood suited her. Ex isn’t a threat to me personally anymore, though, so I don’t really give a shit what happens to her, as long as she stays the fuck away from us.

I pretty much feel the same way about toxic ex landlady, too. As long as she and her flying monkeys don’t mess with me, they are safe from ever having to see or talk to me again. It’s taken me a long time to move past these traumas, but at least I know it’s possible. For a long time, I wondered if I’d ever be able to calm down and stop feeling so agitated about the way we were treated.

I guess what I’ve learned from dealing with that type of person is that you can’t let them get away with their shit. Or, best case scenario, you have to leave them in the dust and go no contact. Sometimes it’s sad or difficult to do that– if the person is a relative or an old friend. Sometimes it’s impossible to go no contact, such as when you have to co-parent and your children haven’t been completely estranged. Other times, it’s nothing but a relief, even if you spend years waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

It’s always regrettable when a relationship goes sour. In some ways, maybe it’s a blessing that Bill didn’t have to deal with his Ex much when the kids were growing up, other than a few very dramatic incidents and sending her so much money every month. But now the girls are women, well over the age of 21 and living their own lives. We don’t have to deal with Ex ever again. Bill and I finally have our peace… for the most part, anyway. I could do without these marathon TDYs.

I guess if I could advise the woman who wrote to Lori Gottlieb, I would tell her that eventually, children grow up and have their own lives. It may seem like the years are stretching ahead, but in our case, they flew by. I can remember thinking how, back in 2004, we would have so many years of dealing with Ex. Before we knew it, those difficult early years were gone. If you love your partner and are determined to hang in there, this situation can pass. It did in our case. In fact, it’s turned around in a very unexpected way. Ex used to infuriate me. I still find her infuriating, but I rarely think about her and mostly pity her on some level. She’s mentally ill and tragic. And she is not a threat.

On another note, I’ve been watching the whole Harry and Meghan drama. I didn’t see their interview with Oprah Winfrey, because I’m not in the USA. But I have read about it… I’m not sure where, exactly, the truth lies. I have a feeling there’s stuff from all sides contributing to the sad situation of today. I do think it’s too bad that Harry and Meghan felt they needed to leave Britain with Archie. All of this stuff is embarrassing and dysfunctional, but in a way, it sort of humanizes the British Royal Family. They have their family dramas, idiosyncrasies, and dysfunction too. It looks like Harry is very alienated right now, and whether or not it’s his fault, I feel for him. Bill’s situation with his daughters has given me more empathy toward children of divorce. It’s much worse when your life is as public as Harry’s has always been.

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complaints, lessons learned, rants

READING IS FUNDAMENTAL, Y’ALL!

It’s no secret that I have a long list of pet peeves. I often vent about them in my blog. One topic that occasionally comes up in this rag I write, is how irritated I get when people chime in on things they haven’t deigned to read. As a matter of fact, I wrote about this topic in December 2019, and I KNOW I’ve written about it multiple times on my old blog. Well… I’m about to write about it again, because goddammit, I get pissed.

Yesterday, I read a poignant article on The Atlantic about a man who spent 306 days in the hospital after contracting COVID-19. Yes, that’s a really long time to be hospitalized. After I read the beautifully written article, I looked at the comments, and so many people were aghast at how large the hospital bill must have been! Comment after comment was left about the hypothetical size of this man’s medical expenses.

BUT— the man in this story was not from the United States. He lives in Britain. In Britain, they have the National Health Service, which covers the costs of everyone’s healthcare (although one can also pay for private care). So no, there was no huge hospital bill for him or his family to pay.

I must have read over a dozen comments about the perceived size of the guy’s medical debts until I finally saw a comment from a woman who commented on the size of the bills, and then openly admitted that she hadn’t read the article because she didn’t want to pay for a subscription. Against my better judgment, I left this comment for her…

“Why would you comment on something you haven’t read?”

I know… it probably comes off as peevish and bitchy to many people, but it seemed like a fair enough question to me. I didn’t use exclamation points or all caps. I didn’t swear at her. In fact, it was a perfectly reasonable query, in my opinion. ESPECIALLY since she could have taken a minute to read just a few of the many comments on the Facebook link and found out that the man was from Britain and didn’t have huge hospital bills. Even if, as an American, someone doesn’t know that most countries don’t have an insanely and inhumanely expensive healthcare system like ours, he or she could have gotten that information about Britain’s NHS system by simply reading a few comments left by those in the know.

But you know what she did? She went to my Facebook page and noticed my tag line, which reads “My life is basically one long Maalox commercial.” I used to have “Wake me in 2021” there, but changed it after Biden won the election. Anyway, after visiting my Facebook page, she wrote:

“Oh, go take your Maalox.”

Well… that WAS a bitchy comment, wasn’t it? So I responded thusly,

Why don’t you support journalism by purchasing a subscription to The Atlantic and reading before posting. Then, your uninformed comments won’t prompt me to need Maalox.”

Which leads me to my next point. Why did she feel the need to stalk my Facebook page just because I asked her why she’d comment on something she hasn’t read? My question to her wasn’t that unreasonable. I mean, she openly admitted she hadn’t read the article and, apparently, didn’t even bother to read any of the many wrong comments about the guy’s “huge” (and non-existent) medical bills, which were corrected by more informed readers. And yet, she still felt she had something to add to the conversation. Tell me. Why should anyone read and respond to her comment if she hasn’t read theirs, OR the article that has prompted the discussion? What makes her so goddamned special?

I suppose she was disappointed that there’s not all that much public on my page. I think my last public post was one from a few months ago, asking former colleagues the recipe for the savory cheesecake we used to sell at the restaurant where we worked. Not all of my former colleagues are Facebook friends, so I made the post public to allow non-friends to respond. That post has been liked by two creepy guys who tangled with me in the comment sections of political posts. I blocked both of them, not that it matters.

The lady I ran into yesterday also went looking for information on the public part of my Facebook page. I wonder what she seeking? Was she wanting to know my political proclivities? Did she want to know if I breastfeed zoo animals or take opium rectally? Was she looking for evidence that I live in a cave? I mean, I’m just an ordinary person who gets irritated by people who think they need to comment on things they haven’t read. If you haven’t even bothered to read what you’re commenting on, why should I read your thoughts?

After getting good and annoyed by that exchange, I decided to research the Internet to see if I’m the only one who gets irritated by non-readers who spread their stupid egotistical shit in comment sections. Sure enough, I found several impassioned articles about this sad epidemic of a phenomenon. The first one I read was especially interesting.

Back on April Fool’s Day in 2014, NPR decided to play a trick on its readers by an article entitled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” That is a very provocative title, isn’t it? The people who came up with it knew that it would prompt discussion. Sure enough, it did.

Indeed, what HAS become of our brains?

I hasten to add, however, that Amelia Tait, the writer who quoted the NPR article in her article, got the NPR article’s title wrong, calling it “Why doesn’t anyone read anymore?”. I guess she’s not a careful reader, either.

Notice that there are over 2200 comments on that original post. If the people who commented had bothered to read before opining on the headline, they would have read this.

Ha ha ha!

Notice in the directions, it says “If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it.” Sure enough, of the many of the people who did bother to read, quite a few didn’t follow directions. Or, I can also assume, they didn’t care what the directions were, like to ruin practical jokes, and spoil other people’s fun. πŸ˜‰

I decided to experiment on my own page with this article. I shared it, and not five minutes later, I got a comment from someone who offered an opinion, admitting that he hadn’t read the article (props to him for that, at least). Then he read it and promptly ruined the joke. I decided not to delete his comment, though, because I wanted to see if other people chimed in without reading the comment section. Someone did, although, she wasn’t tripped up by the fake article. However, she also didn’t follow directions, and commented when she was requested to only react to the link.

The next person simply liked the post, which earned her the grand prize. In this case, the grand prize is my admiration, respect, and good wishes. It occurred to me that if I were a teacher, this exercise might make a great object lesson in the classroom. Because, if you think about it, it’s the rampant liking, commenting, and sharing that people do WITHOUT reading first that helps get dangerous idiots like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump elected and conspiracy theories started. THIS IS HOW FAKE NEWS AND MISINFORMATION GETS SPREAD, PEOPLE. The NPR April Fool’s article probably just made people feel foolish. Imagine how some of the people who fell for QAnon and later regretted it feel (sadly not all of them yet realize QAnon is total bullshit). Doesn’t life present you with enough opportunities to feel foolish without making a basic mistake like not reading before reacting or commenting?

I totally get that we live in a hyper-paced world right now. People are busy, stressed out, and broke. People are also kind of lazy, and don’t want to spend their precious time reading things, especially when they could be writing lengthy posts about something completely non-sensical and irrelevant. But they DO want others to read what they write, otherwise why would they comment? And it seems lost on them that if they don’t even take time to read whatever has prompted the discussion, it’s pretty arrogant and disrespectful to opine about it.

Actually, no I won’t. I want people to read because they’re genuinely interested. And I want people to comment only if they’ve read first.

As someone who writes and has actually made money doing so, I am asking you, for all that’s good and holy, at least take a minute to read a few comments before popping off with a comment that makes you look dumb and/or lazy. I realize that not everyone has the money or the desire to subscribe to every magazine or newspaper whose content they want to read, but a lot of times, there are people who HAVE read and left comments, and you can glean a more informed opinion or at least have some of your misconceptions corrected before you post something irritating. I think Annie Reneau, who wrote this excellent piece for Scary Mommy, sums it up nicely. I encourage you to read and heed her fabulous rant, which is NOT behind a paywall.

Also… journalists have to pay bills, too. You don’t work for free, do you? So don’t expect them to work for free. Show some respect. If you didn’t read, please try not to comment. Or, at least take a minute to read a few other comments before you chime in and post something ridiculous. My Maalox swilling lifestyle will improve if you do.

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complaints, expressions, healthcare

That “Karen” stigma can actually be dangerous…

Good mornin’ y’all… it’s another day here in COVID-19 paradise. As much as I would like to escape the reality of the virus, it’s pretty much impossible if you read the news. And as you know, I read the news a lot.

I did play Sims 4 yesterday. It was the first time in months. I laugh at myself now, because when I lived in Germany the first time, from 07-09, I used to waste hours playing Sims 2. It kind of makes me sick to think about it, especially since those were the heady days before the COVID-19 plague hit us. I should have been out enjoying Europe instead of living in a fantasy world. In those days, I also wasn’t on social media and was spared a lot of drama… I also didn’t blog back then. Hmm… maybe it’s time I delved back into Sims life.

Anyway, on with today’s topic. I was going to write about how COVID-19 is starting to remind me of a bizarre BDSM themed novel. I was inspired by that thought when I read about how people in China are now getting their anuses forcibly swabbed to test for COVID-19. I first learned about this new phenomenon when one of Bill’s very right wing friends mentioned it. He heard about it on the radio, but now the news is making the rounds. Apparently, the virus lives longer in the anus than the respiratory tract, so anal swabbing for the common good is becoming a thing. Isn’t that just typical? COVID-19 is a pain in the ass… literally!

But think about it… we have lockdowns, extended isolation, forced face masks, which some people think look like gags, wristbands that monitor one’s movements to make sure they quarantine, and the overall stern attitude and tendency to lecture others that many people have adopted. It is a little kinky, particularly if you’re also in a car, wearing a seatbelt. And now, we have anal swabbing too? Not to mention all the latex gloves… and if you’ve spent any time around kinky people, you know that latex is a very popular thing in certain circles. I sure hope no one invents a COVID-19 PPE suit made of latex. When you’re as fluffy as I am, latex is not your friend. I’ll bet some people have gotten spankings over not properly masking, too. In fact, I bet someone’s written a dirty story or made a porn video about it.

I could go on about the BDSMification of COVID-19. In fact, I could probably have a lot of fun with that topic. But I’m not going to go any further with that right now, which I’m sure will disappoint the many secretly kinky readers among us (seriously, I get tons of hits on my posts about kinky stuff- especially the naked spas– even got one from Baghdad today). Instead, I want to trot out one of my tired old topics… that much maligned insult, “Karen”.

I have repeatedly written about how much I despise the trend of hijacking people’s names and turning them into pejoratives. I have even been bold enough to state it out loud a few times. I often get a bunch of shit from other people, who think it’s their right to use perfectly good first names that were popular years ago to insult others. As I wrote yesterday, a lot of people refuse to think beyond the box, so they won’t consider why calling someone a “Karen” could be a really bad thing. They will simply insist that the “Karen” pejorative is here to stay and it’s their right to use it instead of coming up with something more original and clever on their own. And the end result is that now, lots of people live in fear of being labeled a “Karen”, which in the era of COVID-19 can be a deadly mistake.

Consider today’s article from Dr. James Hamblin, a medical doctor who is also a staff writer for The Atlantic. Besides being a physician, Hamblin is also a public health lecturer for Yale University’s School of Public Health. I ran across his advice column this morning as I was drinking my coffee. It was about a letter he got from a woman from Georgia with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. She writes that the lady who runs the drive in pharmacy where she picks up her medications refuses to wear a mask properly. She wants to say something to the technician, but doesn’t want to be labeled a “Karen”. She asks how she should confront this situation.

Dr. Hamblin’s response is a bit long-winded… and, in fact, annoyed me quite a bit. He writes about how masks are supposed to be a show of empathy and unity, as well as acting as a medical device. Personally, I’ve about had it with people who want to preach about empathy and unity when it comes to wearing face masks. Given what happened at our Capitol a couple of weeks ago, I think promoting mask wearing as a way of showing people how “nice” you are is kind of misguided and pathetic. I’m sure a lot of the maskless people who stormed the Capitol are perfectly nice folks when they aren’t breaking the law for Donald Trump. I really mean that. There’s no telling what gets someone so upset that they decide to storm the Capitol. Some of the protestors were clearly bad actors, but a lot of them were probably normal folks who were simply misguided and misinformed. Many Trump fans truly are basically good people. Conversely, there are lots of liberals who are legitimate jerks. Believe me; I’ve met them. I disagree with the idea that whether or not a person is wearing a mask is a direct measure of their quality as a person, and I refuse to get on that particular bandwagon.

I think people should simply wear masks to slow the spread of the disease. I prefer to leave the preachy platitudes and moral judgments about them out of it. A person can be a perfect asshole and yet wear a face mask without complaint. Or, a person can be sweet, generous, and loving, and not want to wear a mask for whatever reason. I don’t see it as having much to do with the type of person someone is… it’s just something we’re doing for now, and I can definitely do without the lectures on morality or assumptions about a person’s character. As long as the person complies with the rules, what difference does it make? And if they don’t comply, I’m more likely to just get the hell away from them, if I can.

I took a look at the Facebook comments on this post, and ran across several responses from people who do NOT want to be called “Karens” and, in fact, are so afraid of being labeled as such that they don’t say or do anything when someone is breaking the rules. I’m going to be honest and say that there are times when I don’t mind speaking up when something isn’t right. There are other times when I don’t bother. Scratch that. There are MANY times when I don’t bother. Confronting people is often exhausting and futile at best, and in the United States, it can actually be very dangerous. You never know who’s unhinged and packing heat or looking for a fight.

One woman wrote that last summer, she’d politely asked someone at the grocery store to pull up her mask so she could get around her. She claimed that at the time, she had been taking care of her father, who was then very ill and, in fact, recently passed away of Parkinson’s Disease. But, the commenter wrote that instead of politely pulling up her mask and letting the commenter get around her, the maskless woman then went ballistic and complained about her to the store manager. She claims that the maskless woman “told a bunch of lies”. The manager then called the police, who confronted the commenter as she was trying to drive away. Now, the commenter laments, her name is permanently logged on a police record, all because she’d decided to speak up at the grocery store. And, to add insult to injury, the police officer who approached her also wasn’t masked. It would seem to me that this story is one that might discourage someone from being confrontational about masks.

Lots of people were telling this lady to “lawyer up”. I thought that was funny, since people don’t seem to realize that lawyers cost lots of money, and unless there is money to be made, suing someone is a lot of stress and expense for, perhaps, not the greatest payoff. I will admit that it was satisfying for us to sue our ex landlady. She blatantly ripped us off and needed a knot jerked in her, because I suspect she’s done it to other people. But Germany’s legal system is more reasonably priced than America’s is, and you can get legal insurance here to defray the cost (although it’s still expensive). Also, I have my doubts that the commenter’s account may not have been entirely truthful. Let’s face it. When someone relates a story, it’s often embellished to put the storyteller in the best light. The situation she described made it sound like she was the only rational one involved. Maybe it happened exactly the way she reports it, but I have my doubts.

There were a lot of other responses from people who wrote that confronting people over mask wearing is not really “Karen” behavior. And I would tend to agree with that. However, enough people obviously think of being confrontational in any situation as being entitled and annoying– in short, being a “Karen”. The definition of a “Karen” is a middle-aged, usually white woman who is overly demanding and complains a lot. And given how polarized people are over face masks, and the fact that many Americans, as a whole, don’t like to be confrontational or considered high maintenance, the threat of being labeled a “Karen” could deter them from doing the “right” thing. What you consider the “right” thing to do, in this situation, depends on who you are.

It’s true that hanging around someone who isn’t masked could potentially be very dangerous, so it’s not unreasonable to speak up. On the other hand, I can also understand why many people would prefer not to. No one wants to end up on the news or YouTube for a situation like that. And even if some people don’t think speaking up about improperly worn face masks is stepping into “Karen” territory, not everyone will agree that it isn’t. Some people would prefer to avoid the temporary drama, potentially at their own peril.

I mentioned a couple of paragraphs back that in this situation, I think I would simply find a new pharmacy, or barring that, I would get my meds through the mail. Since I have Tricare insurance, getting regularly dispensed meds by mail is probably the way I’d get them regardless. It’s cheaper, and the military/government prefers to do it that way. I might, or might not, send a letter or email to the pharmacy explaining why I moved my business elsewhere. The reason I wouldn’t automatically do it is because the pandemic has been going on now for about a year and if people haven’t gotten the message about masks yet, a complaint from me probably won’t make that much of a difference. The original letter writer for The Atlantic’s article mentioned that she lived in a small town in Georgia. It does occur to me that maybe there aren’t other pharmacies. Or maybe no one in that town cares about masks. Either way, if the pharmacy tech hasn’t yet been confronted by her boss, there’s a good chance that complaining probably won’t change her behavior.

I have never used a drive in pharmacy myself. Are they like drive in tellers? If so, is the technician even in direct contact with anyone? Wouldn’t you be staying in your vehicle anyway? Is it like getting food from a fast food place? Or is it more like making a deposit at a bank? If it’s like getting food, I could see why not wearing a mask is problematic. If it’s like going to the bank, it would seem like it’s less so, since banks have drawers and/or canisters that they put the stuff into.

I agree, wearing a mask is the right thing to do in a healthcare setting, to include pharmacies, where you would be coming into contact with sick people. But it seems to me that a technician alone in a room dispensing medications maskless might be less risky than working the desk in a store, where people are coming up to pay and pick up their prescriptions perhaps without benefit of a window. I don’t know. I mean, yes, the germs can aerosol into the air and land on things, but that’s probably happening anyway.

However, I also know that many people feel better when they see others properly wearing a face mask. And conversely, many people hate the fucking things and are creeped out by them. I would imagine that in Georgia, more people are creeped out by them than not. I base that on having lived in somewhat rural Georgia for a relatively short spell. Nice people, but they don’t want to be told what to do. I can’t blame them for that, even though I’m smart enough to know that the fucking plague isn’t going to go away if we just ignore it. Personally, my solution is just to avoid people as much as possible, but I know not everyone can do that.

Anyway… this post has gone on long enough. I’m rambling like Dr. Hamblin. I’ll close by saying that I’m happy to be weathering this particular storm in Germany, where people are more sensible and there are fewer guns. And no one calls anyone “Karen” unless it’s their name… Fun fact, in Armenia, almost all Karens are men. Know why? Because in Armenia, Karen (pronounced Car-en) is a masculine name. Now you’ve learned something new and useful! Have a great day, and try to avoid being anal swabbed!

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