Bill, mental health, Reality TV

A tale of two big CRASHES!!!!

Mornin’ folks. It’s a foggy morning here in Wiesbaden. The air is chilly and damp, and although it’s almost 8:00am, it’s still kind of dark outside. Yep… time for the time to change back to standard time. Bill came home yesterday, and this morning, when he went to work, I wished him a “good night.” Then I realized, it’s morning, and we still have the whole day in front of us. But, at least it’s Friday.

Arran had his second chemo treatment yesterday. I’m going to write the details of it on my other blog, but I will happily report that he tolerated the treatment just fine. While he’s not in remission yet– not that I was expecting him to be– his blood test results indicate that his body is fighting the cancer. And he is MUCH better this week than he was last Wednesday, the day before we started chemo. He was very happy to see Bill, too.

I was also happy to see Bill, because after two nights of very abbreviated sleep, I REALLY needed a full night’s rest. And that’s what prompted today’s blog post title, along with some news I read this morning. But first, I have to write about the “big crash”, because it’s kind of funny.

As some of my regular readers might know, Bill has been seeing a Jungian therapist for the past year or so. I can’t remember exactly when he started seeing his therapist, but the journey has been fascinating for both of us. Jungian therapy focuses a lot on dreams, which has always been an interest for Bill. And so, his work with his therapist includes a lot of talk about dreams and what they mean.

Because Arran has been on prednisolone for a week, he’s been suffering the side effects. And because he’s been suffering the side effects, so have I. The drug is wonderful in terms of how it helps him with his lymphoma, but it also makes him pee a lot and feel ravenous. So, during the two nights before Bill came home, Arran repeatedly woke me up to let him go outside, and for food. After I woke up the first time, I couldn’t fall asleep again. I was hoping for a nap yesterday, after we visited the vet for another dose of Vincristine, but there was no such luck. Just as I was about to doze off, Bill came home, and there was a joyful reunion between him and the dogs. I had to witness it.

Last night before bed, Bill told me he had some ZzzQuil, and maybe I should take some so I could get some rest. I often take an Advil PM before bed, but I ran out of them before Bill came home. I took a couple of those Zzzquil and, sure as shit, they knocked me out cold. At about 4:30am, Arran woke us up. I was in the middle of a very vivid dream that, apparently, had something to do with pastries and breads. I do remember trying to talk to Bill about the dream, which I thought was real. I was talking about a spinning wheel, made of breads with a bread handle on it. Even as I was mumbling about it, I knew on some level that I was talking about a dream, and yet it seemed very real at the time. I could not get the right words out to explain, despite trying several times.

Finally, I heard Bill say, “I think you’re coming out of a dream.”

I said, “I know… I’m not making any sense right now, am I?”

I tried a couple more times to explain what I was talking about, but then I went back to sleep and was out cold for another two hours. I woke up again at 6:20 when Arran flapped his ears. I know that I had a whole lot of dreams last night, most of which I don’t remember at all. But this is what happens when you finally sleep after not getting enough rest.

After I got up, I went down to the kitchen and Bill gave me some coffee that was vastly superior to what I made for myself while he was gone. He said he measures the beans by weight, rather than tablespoons. We talked a little more about what I had been trying to tell him about as I was recovering from my “big crash”. Then I looked at the news, and read the news about Kim Plath of Welcome to Plathville and her apparent “big crash”.

I’ve written about Kim Plath a couple of times. She’s the matriarch of the Plath family on TLC’s Welcome to Plathville, mother of nine living children, and owner of a dance studio in Cairo, Georgia, which is very close to the Florida border. I didn’t start watching Welcome to Plathville until it had been on for at least a season or two. I think I watched it because of pandemic boredom, and because huge, hyper-religious families are fascinating to me.

Anyway, in watching that show, I heard about how Kim had grown up with a neglectful alcoholic mother and, when she was in college, she partied way too much. Later, she met and married Barry Plath, who is very much a teetotaler. She then became sort of a fundie and, I guess, lost herself in being a wife and mother. During the most recent season of Welcome to Plathville, Kim announced that she and Barry were going to be ending their marriage. She opened a dance studio, then started drinking. I remember in one episode, she’s shown doing tequila shots with her model son, Micah. This was after years of abstinence.

The U.S. Sun was the first paper to report on Kim’s arrest for driving under the influence, property damage, and personal injury on October 20, 2022. She turned herself in at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office in Crawfordville, Florida at 2:08 am. The U.S. Sun reports that Mrskickstand on Tik Tok was the first to report of the arrest, which is not Kim’s first for an alcohol related offense. On April 7, 1991, Kim was busted for having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Sadly, it appears that she’s back to her old habits, but this time, someone got hurt.

@mrskickstand Replying to @aroszkuz #greenscreen #fyp #plathville #plathfamily #welcometoplathville #plathvilletiktok #plath #plaths #tlc #plathvillefamily #plathfamily #tlctv ♬ original sound – The Irrelevant Teen Mom

A link to the Tik Tok about this…

I don’t know a lot about what happened in this case. I haven’t had the chance to read much about it at this point, and I’m sure that people who care a lot more about this will write much more about it than I will. I do want to say that I feel kind of bad for Kim, not because I think there’s any excuse for driving drunk or that she shouldn’t be punished, but because I think she has a lot of internal baggage that she’s never dealt with. I am Kim’s age, and like Kim, I grew up with an alcoholic parent. I have an inkling of what that might have been like for her, although in her case, it was her mom who was the drunk. If memory serves, her father wasn’t around, so she had to rely on her mother to take care of her. And then, after some time being “crazy” during her college years, she hooked up with a man who promoted a lifestyle that would not be alcoholic.

Alcoholism is an illness that leads to a lifestyle that vacillates between control issues and complete chaos. My father was often a very controlling person. He was also very neglectful and abusive at times, and sometimes he didn’t give a shit about things that were very important. When you’re a kid growing up with a parent like that, it’s painful, because while their behavior has nothing to do with you, you’re a child, and you internalize the bad things they say and do. You think there is something wrong with YOU, when really it’s your parent who has the issues and is passing them on to you. I know this firsthand.

This is what happened to me and my sisters. I have seen and heard about it from other people with alcoholic parents. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but I think the vast majority of us with alcoholic parents can agree that this is a common pattern. And it doesn’t really matter if the parent abstains from drinking, if they never actually explore the issues that come from that lifestyle. They still engage in the destructive behavior patterns that a drinker does.

I think it’s possible that Kim was a “dry drunk” for decades, which may account for some of her extreme control issues. But that’s just a wild guess from me, coming from what little I know from her reality show. I think the money from the TV show opened up some possibilities that she never thought she’d have. She dove in, head first, and is now finding that she’s been missing out on a lot. Unfortunately, she has a genetic link to drinking, and it appears that she has gone a bit off the deep end. I hope she gets the help she needs, and people show her some mercy. Because, while I don’t excuse what she did, I see this as a sign that she really needs help. She is clearly in distress. And she still has kids who need her to be around for them.

Lots of people who don’t know me well have negative opinions about me. For a long time, it bothered me a lot. Now that I’m 50, I’m not as bothered about it as I used to be, because I know the truth, and the people who matter to me, know the truth. But I would be lying if I said there aren’t residual effects from growing up in a family system where one of my family members treated me like I had little to no value. I think being raised like that can cause people to turn to negative behaviors that they somehow think will make them feel better. Or maybe it’s just easier to engage in dysfunction than be honest with themselves and face the pain and humiliation of having a parent who is abusive and neglectful, and chooses alcohol over their own flesh and blood.

I’m sure a lot of Kim’s issues stem from this neglect and abuse that she probably endured as a child… and she tried to make people who would accept and love her unconditionally. Sadly, one of Kim’s own beautiful children died due to her own negligence. And obviously, that loss still weighs heavily on her. She probably drinks because of that loss– and the loss of her marriage, as well as her son, Ethan’s, estrangement. She’s trying to find new ways to feel better. Booze is very sexy, but it’s not a way out of that pain. I know this, and write this, even though I drink booze, too.

I suspect Kim is one of those people that has a lot of detractors. I know how she feels, in that regard. It hurts. Anyway, I hope this situation doesn’t result in her having to go to prison for a long time. I think she’d be much better off in a residential rehab, with serious work with a mental health professional who can help her unpack the huge burdens she’s been carrying since childhood. Yes, she absolutely needs to be held accountable for what happened, but it shouldn’t ruin her life. Just my take. Sometimes crashes are beautiful things. When they lead to much needed sleep, or much needed therapy and accountability, they can be life changing for the better.

Well, that about does it for today’s post. I think I will write about Arran’s chemo on the travel blog… then maybe, if the weather stays yucky, record a new song, even if Noyzi demands a walk, like he did yesterday. Have a nice Friday, y’all.

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blog news, narcissists, Reality TV

It’s so nice to be negative!

If you read this blog regularly, you probably already know I’m negative a lot of the time. But this time, I’m referring to COVID. I was still feeling kind of icky yesterday, but I decided to do a COVID test anyway, before I walked our dogs. Much to my surprise and delight, the test was negative. If I squinted really hard, I could see the faintest line on the test, which means that if I test today, it would probably turn up a totally negative test (today’s featured photo is of yesterday’s result). Bill did a test this morning, and his was also negative. So I guess that means that ours is a COVID free home once again!

I still have some residual gunk from the sickness, which doesn’t surprise me. It usually takes me awhile to completely recover after I’ve been sick, especially with anything respiratory. But my voice seems to be back, and I’m no longer so tired. Maybe I’ll get around to doing something musical today… or maybe not.

Right now, I’m about halfway through reading Tom Bower’s book about Harry and Meghan, Revenge. I’ve also been following H.G. Tudor’s YouTube readings of the book. I’ve noticed he’s not reading the whole thing, just the juiciest parts. He’s also adding his own observations about Meghan’s behaviors through the lens of narcissism. I am marveling at how easy it is to read Mr. Bower’s book, even though it’s a physical book, and not on Kindle. I do have to go outside to read it, since my bedroom lamps don’t put off enough light. But, Revenge is a quick and enjoyable read, and it confirms a lot of what I’ve observed about Meghan Markle. To be clear, I’m on the “Meghan is a narcissist” bandwagon. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt I am.

I hope to have the book finished very soon, so I can review it. I’m amazed at how much quicker and easier Revenge is to read, compared to Joshua Prager’s book about Roe vs. Wade. That one took me well over a month to read, but it was well worth the effort, and in many ways, every bit as juicy. I guess I just found the subject matter a lot more challenging… or maybe I need to read outside in a chair, rather than in my bed. When I read in bed these days, I invariably get drowsy and fall asleep. I also find it hard to read when I have my contacts in, probably because it’s long past time for me to get bifocals. But it’s not so simple, arranging a place to get an eye exam. Last time we did it, we had it done at the medical center on post in Stuttgart. Wiesbaden is a smaller post, with fewer facilities. We can obviously get it done on the economy, but that presents its own issues. We did buy our last glasses in Nagold, but there was a bit of a language barrier.

Be looking for a new book review very soon, those of you who enjoy them. I like to write book reviews, because they often take me away from the news cycle and comments people make on social media. I know I had at least one reader who didn’t like it when I posted about comments… and to that, I would say, this is my blog. If you don’t like it, you know where you can go, and what you can do there. I can’t please everybody, and would never try to do that.

According to Revenge, Meghan Markle had a blog for three years. She shut it down just as she was marrying Prince Harry. It was called The Tig. I never read it, and probably would never want to read it, because I don’t like the title. I had a college roommate who called herself Tigger, and I’m still traumatized by the experience, thirty years later. Meghan’s blog was named after her favorite wine, but I find her about as insufferable as I did that former roommate. To be fair, she probably found me just as insufferable. We really weren’t compatible. I’ll just leave it at that. 😉

I also don’t think I’d like Meghan’s blog, mostly because she comes across as very fake to me. From what I’ve read, Meghan’s blog was all about her trying to edify and uplift people, trying to teach them a more beautiful way to live. I don’t want or need someone giving me special lifestyle tips. I know some people live for that shit, but I don’t. I just want to sit here and grouse. I mean… people have said a lot about me over the years, but few people would ever call me “fake”. What you see is what you get, which I know not everyone appreciates. But I gotta be me! I know that some people hate me just because of what I called my blog. I figure that if they aren’t going to take the time to get to know me before dismissing me, that’s their loss. I’m really not so bad, most of the time. At least my dogs love me.

This post is a little cranky. I’m usually especially cranky when I’m dealing with the beginning or end of an illness. It’s probably because I want to get over the last residual sickness and get on with my life. Kind of like Kim Plath is…

I’ve been watching the latest season of TLC’s Welcome to Plathville. It’s been surprising to see how different that family is now, since a few of the kids have moved out and started embracing their own ideals. Kim decided she wants a divorce. She’s opened a dance studio, and now does liquor shots with her son, Micah. Moriah and Olivia are learning how to pole dance. Ethan still pisses off Olivia, and vice versa. I think those two will probably split up, too. And Barry… bless him. A lot of people think he’s weird and creepy. Actually, to me, he seems to be fairly understanding and decent. He does sort of have a Mr. Zip Code look to him, all wide eyed. I know some have said he’s controlling and inconsiderate. I don’t see it so much myself. I doubt we can really understand the true character of the people on Plathville anyway, as they’re on a carefully edited reality TV show.

A screenshot of Mr. Zip Code.
A screenshot of Barry Plath. He does look a little like Mr. Zip Code.

From what I’ve heard, the Plath parents haven’t yet filed for divorce. I think it’s sad that they’re talking about it, especially given how long they’ve been together, and how many children they’ve had. But I’m a big believer in people being as happy as possible. Sometimes divorce, like abortion, is very necessary and healthy. Maybe that’s true in the case of the Plaths.

Sounds like Kim isn’t happy anymore.
I can’t blame Moriah for being annoyed with Olivia. Olivia is a bit self-centered sometimes.

I did find myself feeling a little jealous that they have that beautiful farm, complete with horses. That’s what I aspired to have in my life. I got the jet set Germany lifestyle, instead. It’s not such a bad thing, I guess. Hopefully, tomorrow or Sunday, we’ll feel like going somewhere and enjoying where we live, now that I’m no longer infectious. And if we do that, I hope I don’t pick up the virus again, because that shit sucks. Glad it seems to have been kicked to the curb. Yea, immune systems!

Well, I think I’ll wrap up this post, play a little guitar, walk the dogs, and get back into my book. Hope y’all have a nice Friday… and I hope if you test for COVID, you’re as negative as I am.

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law, Police, Reality TV, TV, YouTube

My evening with crusty, stinky feet, and “stinking drunk driving” cops…

Bill left for Stuttgart yesterday, so I spent last night on the proverbial wagon, catching up on episodes of My Feet Are Killing Me, which is a pretty gross, but oddly compelling, TLC show about podiatry. TLC isn’t exactly the best channel for highbrow television, but watching that show has given me new respect for foot and ankle surgeons. I remember how Dorothy on The Golden Girls was unimpressed when her daughter married a podiatrist. There were gags aplenty about what an uneventful, boring, unsexy speciality it is. But watching just one episode of My Feet Are Killing Me can prove just how challenging the field can be for the right people. I can see that they really do make a big difference in improving the quality of their patients’ lives.

I watched four action-packed episodes of My Feet Are Killing Me, all of which featured people with various tumors, swelling, crusts, warts, and oozing lesions that were embarrassing and horrifying. Then I went back to YouTube, looking for something short to pass the last minutes before it was time to turn out the light.

I ended up on yet another police action channel. This must be the latest YouTube trend– people getting bodycam videos from police stations around the United States and uploading them to YouTube. I found myself on a channel called Real World Police. I’ve watched several videos on this channel and ended up subscribing to it last night, when I happened to catch the bodycam documentation of former Lower Township, New Jersey police lieutenant John Chew, when he was caught driving while under the influence of lots and lots of alcohol.

Below you can see the three videos that lay out this astonishing incident in detail. The first two pretty much detail everything, while the third is a short soundless synopsis of Chew’s booking. His arrest happened on the lovely spring evening of April 27, 2018. Chew, then 48 years old and off duty, was driving his black Chevy truck erratically enough that several people called the police to complain. One caller had said that Chew was driving at a high rate of speed, had run a red light, and crashed several times. Fellow cops quickly found Chew, and noticed that he wasn’t able to stay in his lane. After a couple of miles, Chew was finally pulled over, and he was clearly inebriated. He was so impaired that he needed to lean on his truck to remain upright.

After he failed the field sobriety tests, Chew was advised that he was being arrested for DWI. Chew then tried to sit in the front seat of the police cruiser, but was told he had to sit in the back. He was not handcuffed. Although his cop brethren were treating him with great respect, Chew behaved like he was enraged at getting caught while driving so obviously loaded with booze. Chew was a 23 year veteran of the force, and had even been promoted a few months before he was pulled over for DWI.

The officers who arrested Mr. Chew were put in a pretty awkward situation, as Chew had trained at least one of them.

Once they got to the police station, Chew was confronted by another colleague, also a lieutenant, who asked him questions. To each “yes or no” question, Chew raised his hand and extended his middle finger, to which the sober officer said, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’.”

The lieutenant who is handling Chew’s case tries so hard to preserve Chew’s dignity, telling Chew that he requested that his mug shot and other details not be uploaded to the agency’s Facebook page or Web site. News of the former cop’s arrest didn’t surface until a year after the incident happened, and only because the good people at Real World Police requested the public records regarding Chew’s case and reported on it. When officials at the agency were asked why the incident wasn’t publicized, Executive Officer Capt. Martin Biersbach explained “I requested it not be published at that time because an Internal Affairs complaint against Lt. Chew had been initiated and we are required by the Attorney General Guidelines to maintain confidentiality.”

As Chew is processed, his former colleague, the lieutenant, tries to reason with him, as Chew bellows that he intends to retire the following day. He is repeatedly told that he must go to the hospital. The lieutenant on duty repeatedly asks Chew to cooperate, warning him that if he doesn’t go quietly, they will have to “tie him down” and take him to the hospital. I assume that’s because they needed a blood sample, after several Breathalyzer tests indicated that Chew had a blood alcohol content of .36, which is EXTREMELY drunk. I also heard the lieutenant remind Chew of the police department’s policies, and then he said, “Frankly, I’m worried about your health.” Evidently, when suspects arrive at the police station with a BAC that high, they automatically go to the hospital for treatment.

In spite of being so wasted, Chew is able to stand up, walk, carry on a conversation… and sort of drive. That, my friends, is a professional level drunk. Chew obviously has an astonishing tolerance for alcohol. And believe me, I know of what I write. Most normal people who have that much booze on board are not coherent at all. According to the chart I linked, Chew must have had over a dozen drinks, and should have been about to drop into a coma. But, as you can see below, he was nowhere near losing consciousness. I was really thinking they were going to have to break out the restraints at some point. Chew kept insisting that he would NOT be voluntarily going to the hospital in an ambulance. He wanted the lieutenant to drive him, which was, of course, against policy.

Chew is handled with a lot of dignity and compassion… but he’s very belligerent, pathetic, and uncooperative. This second video is remarkable.
A shorter video with no sound.

On September 13, 2018, Chew pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was fined about $700, and required to use an ignition interlock for six months after losing his license to drive for seven months. He had to spend twelve hours per week at an intoxicated driver resource center. Mr. Chew was also suspended administratively from his job as police lieutenant, and later filed for retirement, as he was evidently unwilling to cooperate with the police department’s efforts to help him with his obvious problem with alcoholism.

Upon further investigation, I’ve found evidence that the incident from April 2018 was not Chew’s last experience with DWI. According to this link, he also got busted on December 28, 2020, this time while driving a 2015 white Nissan Altima. In that case, he was found sitting behind the wheel, slurring his speech, and stinking of booze. He was not wearing any shoes, but did have on a pair of socks. The police officer who approached him knew him, and Chew apparently felt he was owed a favor, as he asked the cop to either take him home, or follow him home. He repeatedly asked the officer to close his door, but the officer refused. When Chew exited the vehicle, he wasn’t able to stand upright. The officer arrested him, and handcuffed him in front, as Chew said he was in total pain all over.

After Chew was placed in a police car for transport to the station, officers noticed two bottles of Svedka Vodka in the front seat. One bottle was completely empty, and the other was partially empty. A third bottle was in the car’s console, with some vodka missing. At the police station, Chew initially refused to exit the vehicle, but was later convinced to cooperate. His breath was again tested, and that time, he blew a .33. Again– he should have been near comatose, and was very obviously impaired. And once again, he was taken to the hospital by ambulance for medical attention. I’m not sure if he protested as strongly the second time as he did the first time, back in 2018.

I wonder what caused Chew to imbibe so much. I know police work is very stressful. It’s hard on all levels, to include life at home, as well as on the job. Chew was a family man– a husband and father of two. I’m sure his work was hard on his family, especially his wife, who probably worried about him constantly. I hear him say, in the second video, that “life sucks” and to “fuckin’ take care of your fuckin’ marriage.” Chew’s wife probably had to deal with Chew in this state many times, along with the stress of his work. Maybe they were on the brink of divorce? It wouldn’t surprise me. As the daughter of an alcoholic, I also feel sorry for Chew’s kids.

Chew was a member of the SWAT team, which is definitely high stress, very dangerous work. Aside from that, I’ve been watching a lot of cop videos lately, and I’m astonished by what they have to put up with from members of the public. There’s a lot of disrespect and mistrust, which isn’t always unwarranted. But it is a dangerous and necessary job, and there is definitely a lot of danger and stress. I can understand why many cops drink. I also know, having been raised by an alcoholic, how devastating alcoholism is– for the alcoholic, and for all of the people who have to be around them. Then there’s the fact that alcoholism tends to run in families. It definitely does in mine. Maybe Chew has a family history of alcoholism, too.

I’m just glad Chew hasn’t killed anyone… yet.

I’ll probably watch more of the same kind of stuff tonight, as Bill will be gone until Friday. I also plan to keep trying to get through my latest book, so I can review it and move on to something a bit lighter. I could use a break from the doom and gloom that dominates the airwaves these days.

Incidentally, former TLC star Jill Duggar Dillard, has given birth to her third son, Frederick Michael Dillard. He was born July 7th, which is also Bill’s birthday. Looks like he was a little bit early, but otherwise basically healthy. Congratulations to Jill and Derick.

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Duggars, law, music, religion

A song leads me to ponder Christians and lawsuits…

Sorry in advance for those who are tired of this topic. I’m still working it out in my head. Also, please excuse me for taking so long to get to the point. 😉

A few days ago, I was working on my latest jigsaw puzzle. I had the music going, and a song came on that I think was by Paul Thorn. I can’t tell you which one it was, though, because I have a habit of downloading whole albums by artists I like, or even when I just hear a song I like. I don’t always get around to listening to the whole thing, like I used to when I was younger and poorer. I remember, when I was a kid, I would save my pennies for albums and listen to the whole thing over and over again, until I had the whole thing memorized. Nowadays, there’s just so much out there that I like, I don’t do that anymore.

In fact, just this morning, I was looking at songs by Stephen Bishop. I had heard his original version of the song, “Separate Lives”, which was made famous in the mid 1980s by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, who sang it for the film, White Nights. I was contemplating buying a live EP by Stephen Bishop, even though I already have a different live album by him. Then I noticed the Alan Parsons Project also had a song called “Separate Lives”. I have always liked the Alan Parsons Project… I’m nerdy like that, and I’m a bonafide child of the 80s. I ended up listening to a snippet, and liked what I heard, so I downloaded that. I’m now listening to that album. And I also bought an obscure early 90s album called The Law, which one of my college roommates had. I liked it back then, and it just popped into my head. So I bought that, too. I’m probably a record company’s wet dream of a customer. I’ll buy albums at the drop of a hat. It’s a good thing I gave up my obsession with horses, or Bill and I might legitimately be in the poorhouse.

Aha! I thought those backup singings sounded familiar. They also sing with the great Mike Farris, as well as on their own!

I am a recent admirer of Paul Thorn’s music. I discovered him when someone made a hilarious YouTube video using his funny song, “It’s a Great Day to Whup Somebody’s Ass”, speeding it up so it sounded like Paul was on helium. I found the original version and loved it. Next thing I knew, I was downloading shitloads of Paul Thorn’s music. His song, “I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love” was very comforting to me in 2014, when I lost my dad rather suddenly. I was listening to my iPod on the way to my home state of Virginia, and that song, which I had never heard before came on… and I could really relate to it on so many levels.

I know Paul Thorn is the son of a Pentecostal preacher. He grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and was not allowed to listen to rock and roll when he was growing up. He had to hide the two records he did own– one by Huey Lewis and the other by Elton John. It’s not surprising that some of his songs are about faith issues, even though his own career has involved rock and roll, and until recently, booze. Thorn has evidently given up the sauce… something for which I heartily congratulate him.

So anyway, this song came on, and it sounded like it was an indictment against lawsuits. I thought it was a song by Paul Thorn, but I could be wrong. I’m trying to find it now, but I haven’t been successful. I should have “Shazamed” it. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could do a topic search in my music library and find the song that way? I probably could do that, but lack the technical expertise to figure out how. The song got me to thinking, though. I have heard that Christians shouldn’t sue each other. But what if the lawsuit is for a good cause?

I am rather nominally a Christian myself. I was raised to be Christian, but I don’t go to church anymore. Even if lawsuits weren’t considered a “Christian” thing to do, I don’t think that would be a reason not to engage in litigation. I do think that people should only sue someone as a last resort. I don’t think lawsuits should only be about money, either.

One of the reasons my husband sued our former landlady was because we knew she courted junior members of the military– young, inexperienced couples who might not have the time or resources to hold her accountable. She was very proud of hosting several American families in her rental house, and according to her, they were all “perfect” tenants. Except for us, that is. She said we were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had.

Now, we aren’t perfect people by any stretch of the imagination. But we do pay rent on time– early, actually– and we don’t throw wild parties, get in fights with each other or the neighbors, purposely destroy things, or complain a lot. I may not be a great housekeeper, but I do keep a basically sanitary home. She made us sound like we were total pigs. And although she accused us of being irresponsible slobs who were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had, I noticed that she never once asked us to move out of the house. She never claimed Eigenbedarf (needing the house for herself or her family). In fact, we have many emails in which she thanked Bill for paying her promptly and for being so “considerate”, which he certainly is. Although I had plenty of reason to complain about her many unplanned intrusions, I rarely did, at least in the beginning. It was only after she became verbally abusive toward me in my own home that I became really angry.

How is it, then, that she justified keeping our deposit, only begrudgingly giving us 20% back when Bill insisted? How is it that she clearly broke German laws, and we were the shitty ones? The money she kept, we could afford to lose. But there was a time when her decision to keep our money would have been financially devastating to us. I couldn’t help but notice that she appeared to prefer a certain type of tenant. Her place was priced reasonably for the Stuttgart area, although until we moved to Wiesbaden, it was one of the most expensive rentals we’d ever lived in. It was more than what we paid for housing in Texas and Georgia, though we lucked into a fairly cheap place in North Carolina. None of those landlords had problems with us, either. She was the only landlord that ever dared to rip off our deposit in such an egregious way.

We figured that if she was willing to rip us off without any compunction, she would certainly do it to younger, less assertive people with less experience living in Germany. She would count on them having to leave the country and not having had the foresight to buy legal insurance. She would bet they would be too intimidated by the court system and the lack of German language proficiency most Americans have. Plus, she’s a total bully, and most people don’t enjoy confronting bullies. That’s why they can continue to be that way to other people for as long as they do.

So, although we definitely wanted to hold her accountable for ourselves, we also saw suing her as a moral obligation toward those coming after us. She may very well continue to try to rip off her tenants, but at least someone has refused to let her get away with openly breaking German tenant/landlord laws. I strongly suspect that the people before us realized that she was a dishonest person and, instead of having the integrity to deal with her themselves, they lied to us and left us holding the bag. And then, when I started to figure out what happened, they tried to shame me into silence. They wanted us to pay the price for things that happened on their watch… because I KNOW that they didn’t get the same level of scrutiny on checkout that we did… and I KNOW that the house was not as clean for us as it was when we left it, in spite of ex landlady’s claims that it was filthy.

Bill watched her carefully when they did the walkthrough. She obviously had to look pretty hard to come up with defects, although she did have the nerve to complain that we left the trashcans full, as they were when we moved in back in 2014. I wish he’d had the presence of mind to remind her that we had paid rent and Nebenkosten (other costs– eg. water, trash) for December 2018, when we weren’t even living there. We had every right to use the trash cans in November 2018. The lease was in effect until 11:59pm December 31, 2018. If she was so upset that they were dirty, she could have asked us to come back and clean them after they were dumped. She knew we weren’t leaving the country. Of course, that would have meant she needed to cooperate with us, which she plainly wasn’t willing to do.

When it became clear that she was trying to portray us as people we clearly aren’t, to the point of even falsely accusing us of theft and other illegal things, we decided that a lawsuit was in order. It brought us no joy or pleasure to sue her. In fact, I know I was very angry about having to take that step. But what choice did we have? We could sue her and pursue what was rightfully ours under the contract, or we could let her get away with what looks to me to be like her usual scam involving Americans in Germany. To me, it seemed immoral not to hold her accountable, because it would only embolden her to continue doing the same sleazy thing to other people. In that sense, I don’t think what we did was “unChristian”. She did finally end up giving us our money, but boy, was it obvious she didn’t want to do it. Months after the case was settled, she still hadn’t paid. We contacted our lawyer, who must have sent her a very strongly worded letter. And then ex landlady didn’t pay us directly. She paid the lawyer, who then gave us our money. It must have been very painful for her to do the right thing.

And then I think about so-called Christians, like the Duggar family, who have certainly used the legal system to get what they want. Four of the Duggar daughters sued over invasion of privacy when their information was leaked to the press. That case was eventually dismissed after a couple of years of wrangling. Of course, right now the legal system is having its way with their brother, Josh Duggar, who is going to have an extra couple of months cooling his heels in the Washington County jail. His lawyers successfully petitioned the court for more time before he is formally sentenced for his horrific crimes against children. I have heard that jails are a lot less comfortable than prisons are. They are set up for short term stays, which means they have less in the way of resources for inmates. But Josh probably prefers to be in Arkansas, close to his wife, Anna, who is able to talk to him by phone. Once he gets to prison, he may be less protected from harm than he is right now. But of course he’s going to have to go to prison at some point. Frankly, I think the sooner he accepts that, the better off he’ll be.

Speaking of the Duggars… there was another wedding yesterday. Jeremiah Duggar, twin to Jedidiah, who was married last April, got married to the former Hannah Wissmann in Nebraska yesterday. Some photos have already surfaced of the event, which was apparently relatively subdued for a Duggar wedding. There weren’t any weird pranks played, for instance. This was also the first wedding Josh didn’t attend, obviously. I don’t know where they will honeymoon. Since TLC isn’t paying, I guess it won’t be anywhere in Europe.

Anyway… if I ever figure out who sang the song that inspired this post or the song’s title, I’ll try to post a link and perhaps offer more commentary. Next time, I’ll be sure to Shazam. But, suffice to say, I don’t think it’s always wrong or immoral to sue someone. Sometimes, lawsuits are completely justified and, in fact, even the “right” thing to do. It’s only when they are solely about taking money for frivolous or greedy reasons that I think they’re immoral. Sometimes, filing a lawsuit is the only way to get justice. And, I know in our case, it was also about reclaiming self-respect and maintaining dignity. Turning the other cheek is a good thing to do sometimes. Other times, it’s much better to fight.

One more thing before I go… I just discovered the wonderful music of piano prodigy Ruth Slencynzska, who is 97 years old and is Rachmaninoff’s last surviving student. If you love classical music, I would highly recommend checking out her brand new album, My Life in Music. It’s gorgeous!

It’s better to focus on Ruth’s sublime artistry and musicianship than people who lie, cheat, and steal from others.
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Duggars, ethics, law, musings

“If you want the rainbow, you’re going to have to put up with a lot of rain…”

Yesterday, I got the news that after last year’s sad miscarriage, Jill Dillard and her husband, Derick, are expecting another baby. The blessed event is set to happen in July. The happy news was announced on their official Web site. It looks they’re going to get their “rainbow baby”. In the pictures on their Web site, Jill looks radiant. Her bump is already pretty pronounced, at about halfway through her pregnancy.

I must say, Jill looks very beautiful these days. I’m happy for her, and I hope her pregnancy goes well. I also hope she doesn’t attempt another home birth, but I think she’s smart enough not to try that again. It’s not that I necessarily have anything against home births as a general rule. It’s just more that Jill’s first two pregnancies were pretty dramatic at the end, and she ended up having to go to the hospital on an emergency basis. It would not be smart for her to try to birth at home again, given her history.

I still don’t necessarily approve of the transphobic and homophobic comments Derick Dillard made a few years ago. I think part of that was an attempt to cause problems for the Duggar empire, since Derick was allegedly angry with Boob for not paying them for their work. However, knowing how religious Derick supposedly is, I also suspect that he really believes most of the awful stuff he said and wrote about Jazz Jennings. On the other hand, I respect Derick for not putting up with Jim Bob’s bullshit and for, evidently, being a good husband to Jill… and not forcing her to continue to live by Boob’s ridiculous fundie Christian rules.

Today’s post title comes from a little wisdom I picked up after watching Dawson’s Creek back in the late 90s. I was in my mid 20s at the time, living with my parents, and trying to get my shit together after my time in Armenia. It was during that time that the WB network still existed, and I got hooked on 7th Heaven and Dawson’s Creek. It amazes me to think of how long ago that was. The years have flown by so fast!

Anyway, I remember that the character, Jen, played by the amazing Michelle Williams (who does a mean Gwen Verdon impression), had a grandmother who regularly dispensed trite advice. I really only watched Dawson’s Creek during the first season. I was pretty busy at that time of my life, and didn’t have much time for TV. But I do remember the episode that quote came from… as “Grams” was talking to Dawson and said her comatose husband used to say that “If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with a lot of rain.” And then she said to Dawson, “From what I’ve seen of you so far, you better buy yourself a good umbrella.” Sage words indeed, Grams. Hopefully, Derick and Jill and their sons will have a healthy new family member this summer. I also hope Derick has a good job, especially since TLC presumably won’t be there to film the birth.

Tomorrow, Bill and I will be going to Stuttgart to see our dentist. I look forward to being done with that little pesky chore. Afterwards, we will drive just over the border into France and spend the weekend. The dogs will be at the Hunde Pension. Hopefully, they’ll be okay for four nights. I suspect Arran will be annoyed at having to stay there. He’d rather come with us. If it was just him, maybe we would bring him, although he doesn’t do so well by himself and we’re going to dine out. Noyzi takes up the entire back end of our Volvo, so it’s not so practical to travel with him. He loves trips, though.

I’m looking forward to getting out of here for a brief respite, especially since we’re going to France. We haven’t gone anywhere in months. The weather has vastly improved, too. It’s still a little windy and chilly, but the sun has been out a lot. The days are getting longer. Pretty soon, it’ll be time to reconnect the lawnmower and haul the outdoor furniture up from the basement, so we can sit outside.

Although there’s a conflict going on in Ukraine, and it’s very troubling and scary, I can’t help but feel somewhat hopeful and optimistic. I’m not sure why I feel this way. I should be more scared, I guess… but I think the past two years have tapped me out on being scared.

I was sitting in my bedroom yesterday, thinking about how totally awry my life has gone. I mean, I’m very comfortable, but all of the things I planned for myself kind of went out the window. But then, I couldn’t have foreseen all that has happened over the past twenty years or so. Things that were so important back then, don’t really amount to much today. And now that Putin is talking about nukes, maybe it won’t matter at all before too long. So I feel like I just want to enjoy things for now, for as long as I can. Getting too upset about stuff I can’t control is a waste of time and energy.

I did get a little triggered last night, though. I happened across a Reddit Ridiculousness post about a person who accidentally damaged a “friend’s” laptop and offered to pay for a brand new one. The friend with the damaged computer then demanded an extra $500, because she wanted to upgrade… Can you imagine the balls on that bitch? Have a look.

That post was very satisfying to read. The ending was perfect. I can’t abide people who have the stones to try to get over in such a way. I can’t even imagine having the nerve to demand that someone buy me a brand new, upgraded laptop computer, when I negligently put the computer on a surface where people sit down. Good for that judge for holding the computer owner responsible for her own stupidity and carelessness. She probably did that on purpose, hoping to scam someone into buying her a new computer. I’m glad the really kind original poster did not give in to the extortionate demands of the thieving computer bitch. Good on her for letting the bitch sue her, and then allowing the judge to hand the bitch her ass. Serves her right.

As I read that post last night, I was reminded of our ex landlady’s attempt to force us to buy her a brand new awning. I’ve written about that sordid affair a few times and you can read most of long version of the whole awful tale here. The short version is, I had asked the former landlady to have the awning repaired, because it was leaning very low and looked like it was going to fall. She had her husband do the job instead of hiring a professional.

One really hot day, the wind was high, and the heavy awning finally collapsed. I wasn’t outside when it fell, and I couldn’t predict the wind, so ex landlady immediately accused me of being “negligent”, completely ignoring that it was her responsibility to have the thing fixed. She was VERY lucky no one was hurt or killed that day. But she focused on the fact that I wasn’t sitting under the awning when it fell. She claimed that it had been a “stormy” day. If you click the link to my first post about this, you can see that the weather was sunny that day– at least when the awning initially fell. It did storm later, but that happened after the great collapse. In the photos I took right after the awning fell, it’s clearly bright and sunny, with no signs of rain.

The insurance settlement she got from our liability policy was only 300 euros. That wasn’t enough money for her, even though the awning was 17 years old and she hadn’t had it properly repaired. A little over a year later, when we moved out, she came up with a bullshit list of reasons to withhold our security deposit. She wanted 2800 euros to buy a brand new awning. I guarantee you, though, that if the situation had been reversed, and we were the landlords, there is no way in HELL she would have paid for a new awning. I think she knows damned well that’s not how insurance works. She was trying to take advantage of my husband’s good nature, and apparently thought we were both weak and stupid people. I strongly suspect that she’s done this before, to other people… and especially other tenants. In retrospect, we should have held her completely responsible from the beginning, and refused to file an insurance claim, given that she didn’t have a professional fix the awning.

When Bill pushed back and asked ex landlady for a list of bills proving that she’d spent 2500 euros of our deposit to fix the house, as well as proof that we were responsible for the damage, she got really nasty, insulting, and unprofessional. She sent a few bills, including a couple for things that weren’t our responsibility, but were just intended to make us feel guilty for how much money she was spending (on anal retentive things like washing the roof of the carport). She grudgingly gave back about 666 euros or so, out of 3200, and flat out REFUSED to give us more. She falsely accused us of theft, and completely ignored that she did some things very wrong as landlady, as she demanded perfection from us. It was pretty clear to me, at least, that she was determined to take our money, no matter what. So Bill sued her. It took a long time, thanks to COVID-19, but in the end, she had to pay us back 73 percent of what she illegally withheld, and she had to pay our lawyer, her lawyer, and court fees.

In the end, she probably spent over twice what she tried to rip off. She also got off easy, because she didn’t follow several proper landlord procedures, according to German law. If we had been very stubborn, vindictive people, we could have nailed her for a lot more money. But we just wanted to hold her accountable, because we suspect she has a habit of ripping people off. There’s a reason why she prefers American tenants. We wanted proof of her shady practices, so we could provide it to the military installation and have a prayer of sparing other Americans from having to deal with her. Moreover, I was on the receiving end of her verbal abuse for four years, and I figured she had it coming. In spite of that sweet victory, I’m still really pissed off at her. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. I can’t abide narcissistic, abusive people, especially when they fuck with my husband.

Now, of course, we have a much better landlord, and a better house. And, for now, thanks to Putin, Bill has job security. Or, so it seems… I sometimes worry about the future, and where we’ll end up. I try to take steps to make sure we have an “umbrella” prepared for the rainstorms… and hope we’ll see rainbows. So far, we generally do get treated to better times when there are “storms”. But I know that’s now how life always works. I am a bit worried about the world’s problems… but I’m also looking forward to better times. Or, at least a time when problems will be beyond me, because I won’t be around for them. I have always been comforted by the idea that someday I’ll be dead, and I won’t have to care about anything anymore.

I don’t know how much writing I’ll be doing over the next few days. I’ll bring my laptop, making sure not to put it on a couch to be sat upon. But I hope we’ll have the chance to see a lot of stuff, eat some good French food, and enjoy the world a little bit more than we have been lately.

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