complaints

Why be “gleeful” when vaccines “fail”?

First thing’s first. I don’t believe the COVID-19 vaccines have “failed”. They were never intended to completely stop the transmission of the coronavirus. I just want to state that upfront before I launch into today’s rantings. As far as I can tell, the vaccines ARE working. But they were never intended to completely halt infections. Now… on with today’s topic.

This morning, after I read the depressing news about how Afghanistan’s government has completely collapsed in the wake of the U.S. troops’ departure from the country, I noticed another story about about Iceland and its COVID-19 vaccination results. The news article was headlined “Iceland has been a vaccination success. Why is it seeing a coronavirus surge?” Then, following the headline, was this:

“Vaccine opponents have gleefully pointed to Iceland as proof that the shots are a ‘failure.’ But contrary to online misinformation and conspiratorial social media posts, infectious-disease experts say Iceland’s outbreak actually illustrates how effective the vaccines are at preventing the virus’s most severe impacts.”

I must take issue with the use of the word “gleeful”. Why in the hell would ANYONE be gleeful about a vaccine failing? Particularly when COVID-19 is KILLING people and seems to be mutating into more and more dangerous forms? But, as I read on, I realized that despite vaccine opponents’ “glee”, they’ve got it all wrong. Yes, there has been a COVID-19 surge in Iceland. BUT—–

“Many of the country’s recent infections have occurred among vaccinated people, but they’ve been overwhelmingly mild. So even as new cases multiplied, Iceland’s rates of covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths have remained low. Of the 1,300 people currently infected, just 2 percent are in the hospital. The country hasn’t recorded a virus death since late May.”

According to the article, about 71 percent of Iceland’s residents are fully vaccinated. There are fewer than 360,000 people living in Iceland, and it has a nationalized universal healthcare system. People in Iceland started getting vaccinated at the very end of 2020 and have continued to get the shot(s) since then. Most folks have had the Pfizer two shot regimen, and Iceland’s health authorities are now saying that those who got the Johnson & Johnson shot should now get a booster eight weeks later. More from the article:

“Iceland has also had a sophisticated system for testing, tracing and sequencing the virus since early in the pandemic. That surveillance — the result of a partnership between Iceland’s health department and the Reykjavik-based human genomics company deCODE — led to some of the first important revelations about the way the virus spreads, including that many infected people have no symptoms and that children were less likely than adults to get sick. It continues to provide Iceland a clear picture of what it is facing, in contrast to a country like the United States, which is testing a far smaller share of its population.”

Because of the widespread vaccination efforts, Iceland started to normalize somewhat over the summer. Masks, social-distancing, limits on gatherings and operating hours of businesses, and testing of vaccinated travelers were curtailed. But then there was a surge. However, the people who have gotten infected are, by and large, surviving the illness and avoiding the hospitals and being intubated and ventilated. The people who are the sickest are, generally speaking, not vaccinated.

In other words, the vaccines ARE working. But they can’t completely stop COVID from spreading or people from getting infected. They only make the disease much less deadly. So, if people are going to be gleeful, they should be gleeful about that. I don’t understand the mindset of people being happy when a potential vaccine or treatment fails. Failure means continuing to live the way we have since last year, and the COVID-19 lifestyle sucks on many levels.

I will admit I haven’t hated all of it. I enjoyed having Bill working at home last year. I haven’t been too sad about missing the crowds, either. I like the fact that the pandemic will force employers to rethink how they do business and how much they pay their workers. But on the whole, I really miss being able to travel with ease and not having to worry about contracting a serious illness any time I go out somewhere.

Yes, I am fully vaccinated, and yes, I expect that I will eventually come into contact with the virus. I’m hoping that I won’t get horribly sick from it and wind up hospitalized, and I’m encouraged that the vaccine seems to be preventing that outcome. I would never be “gleeful” if it didn’t work, though. I think if the vaccines didn’t work at all, I would be pretty depressed about it. What kind of person would be “gleeful” about vaccine failure? I’ll tell you what kind of person– many people in the military.

Last night, I read an article in the Army Times about a new rule that requires families of Soldiers graduating from basic training at Fort Jackson (near Columbia, SC) to be vaccinated if they want to attend the graduation ceremony. There was much complaining about that new rule and, quite frankly, a lot of ignorance being perpetuated. I read lots of butthurt comments from guys saying that they wouldn’t be re-enlisting, because they don’t want to be forced to take a non-FDA approved vaccine.

I want to say to those guys– every vaccine was, at one time, not approved by the government. And we won’t make any progress toward changing this situation if no one is willing to be a “lab rat” of sorts. Many thousands of people have been vaccinated and are, for the most part, totally fine. Yes, there have been a few people who haven’t been fine, but they are in a very small minority. Moreover, anyone who joins the military is likely going to be in harm’s way at some point. Frankly, I would rather take my chances with an “experimental” shot than being shot at by insurgents.

And, by the way, the mRNA technology used to make the COVID vaccines has been around for about twenty years. The research that went into making the vaccines has been studied for awhile now. COVID simply forced our hand in making the technology available now. The shots will be FDA approved. When they are, you bet your ass the troops will be rolling up their sleeves, or they will be leaving the military. Which reminds me…. aren’t these COVID vaccine deniers the kind to NOT trust the government, even if they work for the government (and have a pretty socialist work environment, to boot)? So why are they so worried about FDA approval?

So guys were complaining about the shots and their families having to take them or not go to graduation ceremonies. Well… the world has changed, and we can’t have a bunch of people in the military getting sick with COVID-19. It’s not safe for unvaccinated family members to hang out with Soldiers, who may be living in close quarters, and then allowing the virus to spread among troops. Even those who are against the vaccines must know that COVID spreads, right? Or do they still think this is all a big political stunt to keep Trump out of office?

Sigh… I feel kind of bad for Joe Biden. He’s having to make some tough decisions right now. People are blaming him for the Afghanistan mess. That was NOT his mess. He is simply making the difficult decision to get America out of that sinkhole. Yes, it sucks that Afghanistan is falling to the Taliban, but we’ve been there for 20 years and it’s time to get out. As we’ve seen over the past year, we’ve got bigger problems to handle… and they include a virus that is really wreaking havoc. The virus, despite what some want to believe, is not just affecting the United States, and it has zero to do with politics.

I really wish people would just come together and do their part to stop this madness. Sadly, I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m just glad Bill is out of the Army and never had to go to Afghanistan. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking for people to see what their sacrifice has led to. I wish some of the crybabies who are bitching about vaccines at Fort Jackson would show some fortitude and stop whining about vaccines. They probably aren’t going to have to go to Afghanistan, are they? That’s one good reason to be “gleeful”. I would expect most thinking people would not be gleeful about failing vaccinations.

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condescending twatbags, healthcare, lessons learned

“You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that…” George Carlin

Yesterday’s post garnered more interest than I expected it would. I enjoyed writing it, but as I was writing, it occurred to me that dealing with stupid insults from clueless people– especially men– is a common theme in my life. The Internet has always been a place of less civilized behavior, but it’s gotten a lot worse lately. There are many reasons for that.

I think it started getting worse when Donald Trump became president. He did not win by a landslide in 2016, so there were many people who were angry about the election. They took to social media to vent. Meanwhile, Trump supporters gloated that “their guy” won, and a lot of them became kind of rude and nasty. Both groups had even less regard for others than they used to, say, ten years ago.

This morning, I read a post I wrote back in April 2020. A Trump supporter had posted a picture of Donald Trump flipping people off with both fingers with the caption “Still your president.” In response to that photo, I posted a picture of Trump with a frog superimposed on his chin. Yes, it was kind of saucy, but at least it wasn’t profane. After a couple more increasingly intense comments, the Trump supporter ended up calling me a “cunt”. Then, when I responded in kind, he blocked me. 😀

I know I should have ignored him. For the most part, I do try to ignore people who say and do provocative things. It never ends well, although I don’t mind being blocked by someone who called me a “cunt”. That’s kind of a low blow, even if I don’t know the person, so I didn’t take the insult personally. I did notice, however, that my less than offended response to being called a “cunt” seemed to really offend the guy. I mean, he was offended by a photo of Trump with a frog on his face after he posted a picture of Trump, as still president, flipping everybody off! Then, after trading insults with and finally going to “fightin’ words”, he blocks me when I give him what he was dishing out! It’s hilarious!

For some reason, a lot of men feel like calling women “cunts” is the ultimate power move. In my view, when someone resorts to calling a total stranger a word like that, that means they’ve lost the argument and need to hurl the worst insults they can think of. But I think that if the word “cunt” is the best word you can come up with to verbally slay someone, your shit’s pretty weak.

Likewise, yesterday’s encounter with “Rick” was pretty disappointing and uncivilized. Rick decided to go “ad hominem” in his argument with others. Anyone who disagreed with his comments was fair game for an ad hominem attack. In my case, he wrongly implied that men don’t want to have sex with me. He’s wrong, because as a happily married woman, there is at least one man in my life who loves having sex with me. There may even be others out there, too. In my experience, there are a lot of men who don’t even care too much about what a woman looks like if there’s a chance that they can have sex. They might not ever speak to the woman again, but by God, if she’s willing to put out, they’re showing up for it. 😀 So Rick’s comment was especially stupid… but it was also kind of mean, and unnecessary.

Lately, I think being “mean” is the order of the day. Because along with Donald Trump, and his campaign of being rude and insulting to people, COVID-19 also came along. COVID-19 is some very scary shit, and people who are taking it seriously are pretty fed up with the so-called deniers and rule flouters. And so, some of these folks have lost their basic sense of decency and civility and they’re posting things that are just nasty and, frankly, uncalled for, as well as occasionally just wrong.

For example, yesterday I read an article about vaccine refusers and a proudly vaccinated woman named Karen wrote that if she and an unvaccinated person both showed up at a hospital at the same time, she should be the one who gets medical care. Why? Because she did as she was told, and got vaccinated. Forget the fact that traditionally, when it comes to medical care, providers triage all comers. That means that if you’re not as sick as the other person because you got the vaccine, you will be waiting. That’s called following medical ethics.

It may not seem right or fair, but in the grand scheme of things, not providing the sicker person with medical care is still putting innocent people at risk. That unvaccinated person is going to spread the virus more than a vaccinated person will, and he or she will need more help. We can bitch and moan as much as we want about people who don’t want to get with the program, but when it comes down to it, it’s not ethically right to deny them care. Still, Karen, was insisting that we should just tell non-vaccinated people to go die in the street or something. I couldn’t help but think that Karen was aptly named. 😉 Although, as I have repeatedly stated, I hate the trend of using people’s first names as pejoratives.

I haven’t been in the United States since 2014, so I have missed all of Trump’s presidency, as well as the US version of the pandemic. Here in Germany, the face mask mandates for shops and public transportation never went away. Around here, people do hate the fucking things, but they mostly stoically cooperate with the rules. And, when the pandemic is tamed somewhat, local leaders have shown that they will amend the rules. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people rebelling or complaining, but we’re not seeing some of the sheer selfishness and rudeness here that I have seen described online in the United States. I will forever be grateful to Germany for letting me live here during these very strange times.

But… I do realize that while Trump and his supporters are pretty insufferable, some people on the other side are just as bad. People who laugh at those who get really sick and die, for instance, are just shitty. Because even if the person might have “asked” for it by not taking precautions, it’s still a pretty horrible way to die, and there are innocent people who will be impacted by it. You may feel better for a few minutes laughing at the father of a newborn who mocked vaccines and died, but he still has an innocent infant son who will forevermore be affected by the loss of his dad. Are you also laughing at that baby’s loss and eventual pain? If you are, shame on you.

Moreover, sometimes people don’t get vaccinated for legitimate reasons. I read an article in The Atlantic yesterday about how Americans are “getting it wrong” about the unvaccinated. Many people were commenting on it, but I don’t think most of them bothered to read the article. I think that’s a shame, because the article did have some good information. Like, for instance, there’s a reminder that some people haven’t gotten vaccinated because vaccines are not accessible to them, for whatever reason. Say you live in a rural area, but you don’t have a car. The nearest vaccination center is a stout walk. Maybe you won’t get a shot because of that. Or, say you’re a single parent who lacks access to affordable child care. You can’t leave your child alone so you can get the shot. Or, say you work at a job that does not offer paid time off. You can’t afford to take the time to get the shot or deal with the potential side effects.

Rhea Boyd, who is a public health advocate and pediatrician, was interviewed for the article in The Atlantic. She said:

Availability and access aren’t the same thing. If you have to walk the five miles, you’re going to rethink getting vaccinated, especially if you’re elderly, or you have chronic disease, or the round trip is interfering with other things like work. [Much of] our paid workforce doesn’t have flexibility about hours, or couldn’t take a day off if they wanted to. And if you don’t have paid sick leave to deal with the vaccine or the potential side effects of the second dose, you’ll skip it because feeding your family is more important right now.

Child care is also an enormous issue. If you don’t have someone to watch your children, then what do you do? Many of these things the Biden administration has tried to address. They have programs involving Uber and LyftChild-care organizations have signed on to help with vaccine appointments. There are tax breaks for companies that offer paid sick leave. These are incredible, but they may not filter down to your area. We need to think about local interventions to help stretch them.

See… I think this is good information and something that privileged people forget to think about when they criticize so-called “anti-vaxxers”. But we’re all so eager to run our figurative mouths about the “type” of person who stubbornly won’t get the vaccine. Boyd continues by stating that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by demonizing people who aren’t vaccinated. Because now, we can’t even have a civilized conversation about this. As I’ve repeatedly stated since this mess started last year, there’s a tremendous pressure to say and do the “right” things. And if you don’t, you can be assured of being browbeaten by patronizing people who can’t find it within themselves to listen and respond with empathy and understanding. Boyd continues:

The language we use around unvaccinated people comes with a judgment—a condescension that “you’re unvaccinated and it’s your choice at this point.” That attitude is papering Twitter. It’s repeated by our top public-health officials. They’re railing on the unvaccinated as if they’re holding the rest of us back from normalcy. But unvaccinated people aren’t a random group of defectors who are trying to be deviant. They’re not all anti-vaxxers. They’re our kids! Any child under 12 is in that group.

Just now, I looked at the comment I left on The Atlantic’s Facebook page about this article. I got a few laughing reactions, as well as a dismissive comment about how “bad” unvaccinated people are. I also got a self-righteous lecture from an ER nurse about how she didn’t “need” to read the article, because she’s on the front lines. I resisted the urge to offer her a cookie and reiterated that, yes, she DID need to read the article.

Frankly, everyone should read before they comment, rather than just react to headlines and featured photos. As Rhea Boyd pointed out in her comments in The Atlantic’s article, sometimes people really do have legitimate reasons why they haven’t been vaccinated. Yes, it’s true that some folks are being stubborn and willfully ignorant, but there really can be an issue with access for some people, as well as a lack of information and trust. These are REAL issues. Calling people names and not hearing what they have to say is not going to make them cooperate. But, in fairness, I do have an inkling of the frustration and burnout a lot of healthcare providers must be feeling right now. In fact, thanks to the below video, I got more of an inkling of it this morning.

This is a very powerful video by Dr. Catherine O’Neal. It makes a lot of good sense. But I also think there are people who simply need practical and logistical help in getting the vaccine.

I think things would get better if more people simply cooperated and, as hard as it can be, simply tried to give people the benefit of the doubt instead of just lashing out at them. If we stopped politicizing everything and focused on being decent to each other, I think it’s likely that the situation would improve. But people are frustrated, angry, and under pressure from their peer groups and families to pick a side.

I still have a number of Republican friends and loved ones. I don’t disassociate with people simply because of their politics. I do find Trump supporters puzzling, because most of my friends who like Trump truly are decent people, deep down. I don’t understand how decent people can support Trump. Conservatism, I get, but why not demand someone with basic ethics? Is it simply because people think Trump is the only person who can win an election? If so, that’s really sad, and it’s a bleak sign that our future is going to really suck.

Malignant narcissists do not make good leaders. They can’t be good leaders, because in order to be a good leader, one has to care about other people. And malignant narcissists, by definition, only care about themselves. That’s what makes them abusive, petty, childish, and damaging to others. That type of person cannot lead effectively. And Trump has shown us, time and again, that he’s a malignant narcissist. However, so many people have been blinded by his charisma and showmanship, and the fact that he has diarrhea of the mouth and they find it entertaining, that they forget their basic decency.

I can’t say that Joe Biden is the ideal person to lead the country, but I like him much, much more than Trump. The basic fact that he has regard for someone– ANYONE– but himself and his interests, makes him a better leader. I feel safer with him in charge than the unhinged orange turd who brags about molesting women. Trump is focused on making money, satisfying his pleasure center, and being glorified and admired by others. Those are not the traits of a good leader.

Anyway… I guess I’ve prattled on long enough… Comment sections are going to be the death of me. George Carlin was right when he said, “You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that.” Sometimes, it’s really best to keep scrolling and not respond. I do hope this situation improves soon. Because people are definitely getting meaner and less civilized. It makes me envy people like my friend Matt, who has already checked out of this world and moved on to a place where problems don’t exist.

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Ex

Enjoying the silence…

It’s not a punishment to be shunned by an asshole…

We’re coming up on a year in Wiesbaden. A year ago, we found the house we’re in, and it was about this time in 2018 that we were starting to plan our move. Even though the house we’re in is much better than our old one was, and our current landlords are much more mature and respectful, I remember being very anxious about the move for many reasons.

I knew that our former landlords would be screwing us out of our deposit. I knew that our ex landlady would be passive aggressive and angry. In fact, she’d been passive aggressive all year, probably because she was offended when Bill asked her to give us notice before she came over to the house. We were certainly entitled to notice. It was clearly stated in our lease. But when Bill politely asked her to let us know before she came over, she became belligerent. In an email to Bill, she made it plain that she would NOT be telling us when she was coming to do her yard work… which by then had become sporadic, even though we were paying her to do it. She claimed she was “too busy” to send us a four word text or email.

The message was that Bill and I are not busy… or, more specifically, I’m not “busy”. She has a life and I don’t; therefore, she had every right to disturb me whenever she pleased, even if I was doing something important or private, not dressed appropriately, sick, in the shower, having sex, etc. Because I don’t have children and wasn’t working outside of the home, I couldn’t possibly doing anything that shouldn’t be interrupted by her uninvited presence. I don’t have the right to feel disrespected and discounted. After all, I’m just Bill’s childless, seemingly unemployed wife. Who cares if my privacy or peace is violated? By the way… just because someone doesn’t work outside of the house, that doesn’t mean they aren’t working. For all ex landlady knew, I could have been working remotely. A lot of people do that. It wouldn’t have been any of her business, either, as long as she was being paid.

There we were, paying these people to let us live in their house. We were also paying them to do yard work, on their insistence. I will never again rent from people who insist on doing the yard work. It’s a sign that they will be intrusive and controlling.

Even though we were paying them, they were acting as if we were employed by them. They had the right to intrude whenever they pleased. They had the right to yell at me in my own home, accuse me of things I didn’t do, demand that I do chores, insult me, violate the lease, and become extremely defensive and nasty whenever something went wrong. I never heard them take any responsibility or give us the benefit of the doubt. I never heard ex landlady apologize when she falsely accused me of being negligent– such as when the electric Rolladen wouldn’t come down and she claimed it was because I didn’t use it enough. The real issue was that it wasn’t installed properly, and she later admitted to that fact. But she never apologized for blaming me for that issue. She wasn’t even concerned that I could have been seriously hurt when the awning that her husband didn’t fix properly suddenly collapsed. In fact, she blamed me, since I wasn’t sitting under it when it went down. I guess she wanted me to break bones or suffer a concussion on her property.

Then, when she predictably ripped us off, we asserted our rights. And she became even more vindictive, threatening to countersue for things she claims we damaged, but can’t prove we did… because she neglected to do basic landlord tasks like conduct a proper check in. We were expected to be perfect, but she was not. Why? Because she probably already thinks she’s perfect. Her behavior is very narcissistic and controlling. She gave us the silent treatment because we weren’t falling in line and giving her the deference she thinks she’s owed. I guess the silent treatment must have worked in the past. People who care about her must have acquiesced when she’s used that tactic on them. The difference in our case is, I don’t have that kind of relationship with the ex landlady. When she accused me of being irresponsible, negligent, filthy, lazy, a homewrecker, etc., I stopped wanting to appease her. I stopped wanting to even be in the same room with her, let alone talk to her. So I enjoyed the silent treatment and responded in kind. That’s not the best way to settle differences, but when one person refuses to cooperate, it’s probably a sanity saver. I don’t make time for verbally abusive people who refuse to behave in an adult manner.

Ironically, the last year in that house was probably our happiest overall, even though she was pissed at us and giving us the silent treatment. What she doesn’t realize is that it’s not a punishment to be shunned by someone who is immature, and engages in childish power plays in a passive aggressive attempt to get other people to change their behavior. I enjoyed the silence. It was a relief. Honestly, why would I want to talk to someone who acts like that? It’s not a punishment to be shunned by someone who behaves like an asshole.

And if there was ever anyone wondering why I penned frustrated, angry posts about her when this was going on, it seems to me that the reason is obvious. I could have yelled back at her. The thought crossed my mind. But I knew that if I started yelling, I might not be able to stop before I said something truly vicious. Besides, that would just be lowering myself to her immature level. So instead, I let my face do the talking and vented about it in writing. Apparently, I didn’t have the right to do that, either, since she’s clearly 100% right and I’m clearly 100% wrong. I got messages from her flying monkey about how wrong I was to be angry and vent on my space about the way I was being treated. She said this even though she’s got one side of the story… or, she doesn’t believe my side. It’s none of her business, anyway, is it?

It’s been a year, and I’m feeling somewhat better. I wish I were the type of person who could just flip my hair and be done with it. It takes me awhile to get over stuff. I own that. This is going to be resolved and things will be back to normal soon. We just have to go to court.

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memories

September 11th

It’s that time of year again. Ever since September 11, 2001, Americans go into memorial mode and recall the day when our country was attacked and life changed forever. I have shared this story before, but since it’s September 11th again, I’m going to write about how I spent that day and where it ultimately led me.

I am a firm believer that good things come out of almost every situation. Sometimes you have to look really hard to see the good in a situation. Sometimes things happen that you wish wouldn’t have happened, no matter what positive effect occurred. In my case, I think September 11th helped me find my way to the altar and, ultimately, a better life. I wish it hadn’t happened that way, but it kind of did…

Flashback to 2001… Labor Day weekend. I had just started my third and final year in my dual master’s degree program at the University of South Carolina. Bill had just been transferred from Leavenworth, Kansas to the Pentagon only a few weeks prior. We were both itching for a change of scenery, so I suggested we meet up at my grandmother’s house in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Prior to that meeting, we’d only had one other in person meeting, back in May of that year. The Army had sent Bill to Columbia, South Carolina on business, like they’d done the year prior. I missed Bill on his first visit, but caught him on his second.

I remember after our May meeting, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He seemed taken with me and repeatedly told me that it would be hard to go back to typing since he’d met me. But then all summer, we kept writing to each other. Seeing him again over Labor Day seemed right. He came down, met my aunt, uncle, and grandmother, and we spent a magical weekend together. We visited Goshen Pass and had a fantastic time…

I took this picture in November 2014, but we visited in September 2001, when it was hot enough for swimming. It was so much fun!

As Bill was leaving Granny’s house, she told me that I should marry him. Granny was, at that time, 95 years old and sharp as a tack. She loved Bill, and after that weekend, so did I. I remember practically floating all the way back to South Carolina. All week, I thought about our amazing Labor Day weekend in Virginia. And then came September 11th.

That morning was absolutely beautiful. The weather was warm and sunny, but not oppressively hot. I wore a short black skirt, bright blue long sleeved blouse, and black tights. Back then, I dressed up most days because I had to look professional. I was planning to actually be a professional, rather than an overeducated housewife. I had to go to my field placement at the Recovering Professionals Program. I was compiling data for a project I was working on when my friend, Jennifer, told me about the first plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t think much of it at the time. She’d heard about it on the radio, so had no visual appreciation for what had happened.

Then the second plane hit.

Next thing I knew, the Pentagon was hit… And I realized that Bill, unofficially my new boyfriend, was at the Pentagon. Bill’s office had just been moved to a different location. It was originally in the area that was hit by the jet airliner that crashed into the Pentagon that day. If they hadn’t moved his office, he probably would have died on 9/11. Then, another plane went down in Pennsylvania. It seemed like the world was ending.

All day long, I wondered if Bill was dead or alive. I was still calling him my “friend”, but I knew we had more than friendship. I’d been chatting with him since November 1999, when we were both making new beginnings. He had separated from his ex wife and I had started grad school. We’d chatted platonically for a few months before he told me about his wife and children. I remember being shocked and sad for him… and, if I’m honest, a little sad for me. I knew I liked him, even in early 2000. But, he was in Kansas; I was in South Carolina; and I never had any intention of ever meeting him offline, let alone marrying him.

But then Ex served Bill with divorce papers at his father’s house over Easter 2000. They were divorced by June 2000. She had a boyfriend living in the house Bill was still paying for, and he was playing “daddy” to Ex’s three kids– two of whom were Bill’s daughters. She gladly took his money every month, but pushed him out of their children’s lives. Bill’s replacement is still married to her and they have had two more children. We hear #3 doesn’t get treated very well at all, but back then, according to her, new boyfriend was practically perfect, and Bill was a bastard who had ruined everything. Ex told Bill no other woman would ever want him. She didn’t know about me.

Fate conspired to have us meet. It was as if the stars aligned for our unlikely union. My aunt’s brother, Ralph, met Bill at a National Guard convention just a few weeks before I met him in person. Ralph is a retired Guardsman as well as a retired Virginia State Trooper. He assured me Bill wasn’t a psycho. I felt safe in meeting him in May 2001 and again in September 2001. By the time Labor Day 2001 was over, I knew I could love him. By the time 9/11 was over, I knew I wanted to marry him.

My mom and I talked on the phone and she told me not to expect to hear from Bill for awhile. Mom is a very experienced Air Force wife, so she was giving me practical advice about Bill, even though she’d never met him and was hearing of my “boyfriend” for the first time. As soon as I hung up the phone, Bill sent me a message on Yahoo! Messenger, letting me know he was okay. He had tried to call me, but the phone number he had for me was one digit off. I swear it wasn’t on purpose that the number was wrong. I probably just forgot it myself. No one ever calls me anyway, even back in 2001, when someone might have a reason to call.

I was very relieved that Bill had survived the terrorist attack, especially since he could have been killed just for being at the Pentagon, and would have been killed if his office hadn’t been moved. And I told him it was time we came out of the closet and told our families we were dating, because if something had happened to him, I never would have been informed. Bill agreed. Weeks later, he and his mom joined my big family at our annual Thanksgiving party in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Bill told him mom he was thinking of proposing and his mom, who was never a fan of Ex, said, “I approve.”

A year later, on November 16th, 2002, Bill and I were married at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. My dad was a graduate, as is an uncle and several cousins. Another uncle and at least two aunts worked at VMI. It’s about fifteen miles from Natural Bridge, which is where my dad’s family calls home. Just last week, 23andMe introduced me to a long, lost relative whose biological father was my great uncle. He was from Natural Bridge, too. It’s fitting that we were married in Rockbridge County, since that’s really my home, even if I never officially lived there.

One of the things that went right on our wedding day.

Our wedding day was imperfect, to say the least. Although the ceremony itself was beautiful and meaningful, some things went horribly awry. The most memorable SNAFU involved Bill’s dad, who was also his best man, locking his knees and almost fainting before we said our vows. And then, after the wedding, we spent two weeks unofficially married, because somehow our marriage license got lost in the mail. It was put in a mailbox in Lexington just after the ceremony, but the Rockbridge County clerk’s office either never got it or misplaced it.

In 2002, Virginia law stipulated, and still stipulates, that newly married couples have five days to file their marriage licenses after the ceremony. Otherwise, the license is null and void. I was waiting for the official license to get to us, but it never did. Bill called the county clerk’s office and was treated very badly by the staff. Eventually, the county clerk got on the phone and told Bill that even if the license was somehow found, it would not be honored, since it got to them beyond the deadline.

Bill and I went to the court in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which was where we were living at the time. We explained our situation, but they told us there was nothing they could do, as we were already “married”. But we were not officially married, so we couldn’t take care of any personal business. And Rockbridge County was telling us that even if they received our license, the deadline had passed and they would not be honoring it. The court clerk was very uncooperative and unhelpful, and offered no solutions on what we could do to fix the situation. In fact, he became quite belligerent with Bill and accused him of being “abusive” (which is real laugh– good thing he didn’t speak to me).

I was shocked by this turn of events… especially since I’ve always known people in Rockbridge County to be nice and helpful, but then in the wake of our wedding, discovered that there are some real assholes living there. My family has been in that county for a couple hundred years and I am probably related to many people who live there and haven’t left… and a lot of people haven’t left. I’m sure some people think I’m an asshole, too, but I can’t imagine why that clerk wasn’t more sympathetic to our situation. What were we supposed to do? Was he on some kind of power trip?

Fortunately, Bill is used to dealing with assholes and he’s also a very tenacious, yet pleasant, polite, and even-keeled kind of guy. He called Virginia’s Attorney General’s office to find out who the Rockbridge County court clerk worked for. Next, realizing it was an election year, he called both our local representative and Rockbridge County’s representative, explained the situation, and told them that he was a 9/11 survivor. I couldn’t get a new Social Security card, military ID, or any other benefits until the clerk did the job the people elected him to do.

Both representatives lit a fire under the clerk’s ass and after our officiant sent him a copy of the license application, the clerk begrudgingly handed over our official license, albeit with a nasty letter falsely accusing Bill of being “abusive” and admitting that he hadn’t wanted to help him because, basically, his feelings were hurt. Seriously?

I don’t like to call people snowflakes, but that guy must be a big one if my husband hurt his feelings. Wow. I have a feeling that the guy was just angry that Bill didn’t let him bully him and demanded that the clerk do his fucking job. Seems to be a trend in our marriage… People mistake Bill’s kindness for weakness and think they can steamroll him, make threats and false accusations, and take advantage. But I know the truth. Underneath that pleasant exterior beats the heart of a true warrior… and anyone who crosses Bill should remember that he makes his living planning battles. Yes, he’s a super nice guy, but he’s neither stupid nor cowardly, and especially now, he doesn’t tolerate bullies (including Ex).

I won’t even get into what Ex thought of our nuptials. Oh, okay… I’ll say this. When Bill told her he was going to propose to me, she asked if I was LDS. Bill and Ex were “sealed” for eternity and, at the time, he was still Mormon. So she wanted to know if I was going to be joining the fold. He said I wasn’t. She said he must love me very much. She was referring to the idea that Bill was giving up “eternal glory” to marry a “Gentile” (that is, a non-Mormon with no plans to convert). We would not be “sister wives” in the hereafter, and she couldn’t use her position as Bill’s first wife and mother of his kids, or LDS “teachings”, to cow me into submission.

In November, we will have been happily married for seventeen years. They have been seventeen years well spent. Would we have gotten married if not for 9/11? Probably. But I think 9/11 definitely sped things along and forced us to admit our feelings and tremendous chemistry for each other. We’ve had our share of problems from the outside, but our marriage has always been rock solid. We get along ridiculously well, and work as partners.

There were some things in my life that I didn’t do right, but I did find the right life partner. And as horrible as 9/11 was, it did show me that I had found the right man and I didn’t want to lose him. So… while I will always feel somber for the many people who died or were injured due to terrorism on 9/11/01, I will also remember that day as the day my life changed for the better. But I will also always remember that it was also a very dark day, as it took away America’s innocence and, I’m sorry to say, its collective spirit of generosity. I truly hope we get some of that kindness back in my lifetime.

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