I’ve been doing some thinking about this blogging business lately. I wonder why I bother writing it. Sure, I tell myself I write it for me, and I do… but it’s not like I have any descendants who are going to care about it when I’m dead. Besides, since I’m posting this on WordPress, someone has to pay for it to exist. Once I’m dead, no one will be around to do that.
I think Bill likes the blog, but he’s about eight years older than I am and he’s a guy. So chances are, I’m gonna outlive him. I actually kind of hope I don’t, and given my aversion to medical people, there’s a good chance I won’t. But I do expect to outlive him, because I have a lot of relatives who continue to live for a long time. My mom, for instance, turned 85 yesterday. Even my dad, who was an incorrigible alcoholic, lived to be 81 years old. His mother died at almost 101; my father spent just seven years without his mother in his life, and for most of those seven years, he wasn’t in his right mind, anyway.
Some of my posts are popular, but they tend to be about true crime or celebrities. The deep thinking posts usually go largely unread. At least I know, though, that sometimes even really talented, popular people go through the same thing. Check out this song by Tim Minchin, who is just amazing…
Not that I would ever compare what I do to what Tim Minchin does… he is genuinely and insanely talented on so many levels. He’s a great singer, songwriter, keyboard player, beatboxer, entertainer… I could go on and on. I write silly blog posts that are sometimes serious or helpful. Sometimes, I get paid. Like, I just got a $102 payment from WordPress for ad revenue. That was cool. It took a long while, though.
I guess I write this shit because it’s my way of making a mark on the world. And it’s better to write about it in my blog than on social media, because if I write about it on Facebook, it’s more likely to offend or annoy. I know a lot of people don’t like it when folks get on a soapbox, even when they do it on their own Facebook pages. So, I put this stuff in a blog, where a person has to make a conscious decision to visit. But not that many people do visit most of my posts. The ones that get traffic tend to be about specific subjects, some of which are pretty creepy.
For instance, when I first started writing this version of my blog, I wrote a post about wife spanking. That post gets a ton of hits. I could write more about that to generate more hits, but the types of people who go looking for those kinds of posts are probably not the audience I’d want on this blog. Still, it was an interesting topic to write about once or twice. I was a little creeped out, though, when I noticed people looking at my “about” page after spending several minutes on that post. Yikes!
I also get lots of hits on certain opinion posts, especially if they’re about true crime cases. A few of my book reviews are good performers, although most barely get noticed. It occurred to me the other day that my YouTube channel now tends to get more views than the blog does… I mean, it’s not more popular on a daily basis, because I don’t post videos every day. But individual posts get more views than most of my blog posts do. I expect that if I keep posting videos, my channel– which doesn’t even have a compelling name– will outperform my blogs. Most of my newest videos have well over 100 views, which is a lot more than most of my blog posts have. Because I post more often on the blog, my overall hits are higher here.
I hate to even think about the travel blog, which was legitimately popular for awhile. Yesterday’s post currently has two hits. Why bother with it? I know that there will be a day when I don’t travel so much anymore… at least in Europe. The blog will be a reminder in the future– of the good times and the bad times. But won’t it also be depressing? Isn’t this just a waste of time? Wouldn’t it be better if I did something more constructive?
And then there are the occasional rude, nasty, hateful comments I get… although I will admit that turning on comment moderation helps a lot with that. When I was still using Blogspot, I didn’t really moderate comments. Consequently, I got some feedback that was downright vile. I usually turn nasty comments into blog posts. Sometimes, I even get really creative and turn them into songs! I haven’t done that in awhile, though.
I did recently write about this phenomenon, how failure is a part of trying, and sometimes failure is necessary for success. But hell, I’m getting to be an old lady. Maybe it’s time I took up bowling or something.
I guess it’s a typical Monday, isn’t it? Poor Bill is getting the week off to an unpleasant start. He’s currently at the dentist’s office… not our usual place, but a local one in Wiesbaden. He broke a molar last week and has to have it extracted so he can eventually get an implant. Come to think of it… we were talking about this last night. Bill was irritated because he called our dental insurance carrier and was told implants aren’t covered. I told him to look up the benefits and, sure enough, they ARE covered at 50 percent. But then Bill said, “Hell… it doesn’t matter. I have enough money to pay for the implant outright.”
“But we pay for dental insurance, so they need to pay their part.” I said.
It occurs to me that when we first got married, this situation would be extremely stressful. We didn’t have the money for expensive dental procedures. Bill was climbing out of financial hell, thanks to his marriage to Ex and their subsequent divorce. I was trying to get a job. Now, we have a pretty comfortable lifestyle. So, maybe we’ve done some things right, even though I spend my time writing blogs that people either don’t care about or want to blast me for writing. 😀
Maybe I’ll make a song today, although Mr. Bill will soon be home from his dental visit and will probably want to rest… So, I think I’ll end this post and play with my guitar… or just keep adding new songs to my “funny ditties” playlist while I wait for the laundry to finish drying. And I’ll probably be back tomorrow, even though there’s no bloody point to any of this. 😉
ETA: I haven’t hit publish yet, and Bill is already home… they had to cut his tooth into three pieces because it was below the gum line. Ughhh!!! But he’s okay.
This morning, as I was waking up next to Bill, I looked at my Facebook memories and came across today’s featured photo. It came from a page called A Debt Paid In Ink: The Writing Of Clyde Hurlston. I liked the quote, which comes from novelist Anne Lamott. I don’t know anything about Anne Lamott. Like most people on social media, I didn’t take the time to explore her history when I saw her quote. I don’t know the context of why or how she came up with that thought. All I know is that it really resonates with me.
A very quick look at Anne Lamott’s work on Google tells me that the quote probably came as a way of encouraging fledgling writers. I see from this link that in 2019, she did a TED Talk called “12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing”. I’m reading it now, and I would encourage you to read it, too, if you have the time and inclination. Anne Lamott is a very wise person. Today’s quote sort of comes from her list of twelve things she’s learned, but the other eleven things she learned are just as important and insightful, and they’re worth sharing. So I hope you will take a moment to consider the rest of Anne Lamott’s list.
Today, though, I would like to focus on that one thing in the featured photo…
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
This particular quote doesn’t appear verbatim in Anne Lamott’s list. She writes “…the two most important things about writing are: bird by bird and really god-awful first drafts. If you don’t know where to start, remember that every single thing that happened to you is yours, and you get to tell it. If people wanted you to write more warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better…”
If you’re one of my regular readers, you might know that I’ve pissed off a few people by writing about them in my blog. The most recent incident happened in May, when I vented about a relative by marriage who kept giving me false compliments about my looks. I had shared a post on Facebook that included a photo of an overweight woman. This person who was on my friends list thought it was me, and said I looked “great”. I got annoyed, because the person had completely missed the point of my post. Then, when I pointed out that I wasn’t the woman in the photo, instead of an apology, I got an “oops” and an emoji giggle. That reaction struck me as disrespectful and kind of demeaning.
My choices in that scenario were to: call out the offender on my Facebook page, possibly starting a shitshow for all of my “friends” to see. Swallow the embarrassment and disappointment and suffer in silence (or vent privately to Bill or other people). Process my feelings in a blog post from which other people might get something useful. I chose to write the blog post. I think it got a total of nine hits. One of those hits came from the “offender”, who was so upset about it that they hit the block button. I guess things might be awkward at the next family gathering, if we’re both there.
I suppose I could have sent a private message to my former friend, but I didn’t feel like that would have been productive. Given their reaction to my blog post, I can see that they weren’t really a friend, after all, and never really cared about me. A person who cared would have wanted to have a conversation to preserve the friendship, especially over something as ultimately trivial as that situation was.
Moreover, I don’t think I started the conflict. I shared a post that resonated with me, and my former friend didn’t read it carefully and responded inappropriately. I was legitimately offended, both by their initial response, and their discounting response when I pointed out their mistake. Maybe some people might think I shouldn’t be offended by something like that… but I was. My way of processing the offense was to write about it. Their way of processing my writing was to banish me from their life. To quote the great Kurt Vonnegut, “so it goes.”
Anyway… not to rehash that business. It was just one example of my using things that happened to me to generate content. I write every day. It’s possible to write every day, because something happens every day. Sometimes, the things that happen are mundane. Sometimes, they’re not. I think that was mostly Anne Lamott’s point, that you can find content in everything that happens to you. And if someone inspires a less than flattering account, that’s not necessarily your fault.
Not everyone is a writer, though. Some people process things that happen to them by engaging in another form of creativity, like painting, composing music, dancing, or singing a song. Some people do something athletic. They go for a run, play basketball, or hit the slopes. Some people read a book, watch television, talk to friends and family, or get drunk or high. There’s an endless list of ways people can process things that happen to them, whether those things are good or bad.
For me, personally, writing works very well. In fact, those of you who have known me awhile, might remember that a few years ago, I was having a terrible drama involving our former landlady, who, from my perspective, was treating us very badly. Complicating matters is the fact that I blog, and the landlady’s former tenant was following me and, apparently, sharing my blog with the former landlady and her daughter. Former tenant would, on occasion, ask me to change things I’d written in my blog. One time, I mused about how she and her husband had left the rental house halfway through their three year Germany stint. I wondered if they left because former landlady had been abusive to them, too. It was maybe two sentences in a pretty long post, but those two sentences really upset former tenant, and she told me so. So I edited for her, but I became pretty suspicious, and I started making plans for what we’d do after we moved out of that hovel. And I realized, then, that the former tenant was a liar. I don’t know why she was so concerned about being friends with the landlady, or why her friendship with the landlady had anything to do with me. It’s all moot now, anyway, as the former tenant exited life last year on her own terms.
Sure enough, though, ex landlady tried very hard to steal our deposit. She was quite shameless about it, and flagrantly broke several laws. We sued her, and she ended up settling the case. She had to repay most of our deposit, and she was responsible for paying court fees and lawyer costs (although she tried to get us to pay for our own lawyer). It ended up being a very expensive lesson for all of us, but especially her. One of the main reasons why we were so successful, though, was because I blogged most every day, and I had comments from the former tenant that she’d forgotten to delete (she had a habit of “dirty deleting” things). I also had a lot of photos. A couple of the photos were pretty damning, and the ex landlady must have realized that if we went to court, she would definitely lose. She had accused us of stealing from her, and we had proof that hadn’t happened. So, in that case, writing my story was a very positive thing.
For me, writing is a way of preserving history… and making sense of the crazy. I write about Ex a lot, because she has a way of revising history and promoting false narratives. She gaslights. When I document things she says and does, I provide evidence against the lies she spreads. And sometimes, that evidence comes in handy.
I was curious about other people’s reactions to the post shared on Clyde Hurlston’s page. Quite a few people posted negative reactions to Anne Lamott’s quote. Below are a few examples of what people wrote in the comments:
“Folks generally have a different perspective on events. Maybe you think they wronged you and maybe they think you wronged them. If you don’t want to talk it out like adults, just walk away. What would be the point of spreading just your version of the truth about another. Plus we all have our bad days & are far from perfect.“
There’s some truth in what this person wrote. However, there’s nothing to prevent the other person from writing about their perspective. Maybe it would even be helpful in resolving the conflict. I find that writing helps me clarify things. But I know, not everyone writes. Besides, not everyone is capable of just “walking away” from conflicts. Sometimes, it’s crucial NOT to walk away. In the case of our ex landlady, it felt like a duty to sue her, because we got the sense that she had treated other tenants in the same despicable and abusive way she treated us. And Bill and I have both been doormats for other people way too many times.
A lot of people seem to be projecting their own bitterness or frustrations onto the OP. I took it as an encouragement to actually writers for including their personal experiences in their work. For some people writing is the way they work through things. Or life experience inspires their stories. I did not take it as an encouragement to just go around telling anybody and everybody about every time anyone has ever looked at you wrong. That’s silly. We all have a limited perspective and we have all harmed others.
I like what this person wrote. This is kind of my take, too. Writing helps me maintain my mental health. Yes, I could keep what I write private, and sometimes I do that. But keeping things private means that I don’t get the opportunity to learn from other perspectives by discussing things with impartial people. Sometimes, the things I write are helpful to others who can relate, or are in a similar situation.
Forgiveness is a thing too. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve the person who hurt you from their actions. Forgiveness sets you free from hate, and allows you to be even stronger than before! Try forgiveness…When you live in the past, you stagnate.
You can forgive someone and still write about what happened. The two actions are mutually exclusive. The writing doesn’t have to be angry or bitter. It can be matter-of-fact, or funny, or even spun in a positive way. Like, for instance, my recent post about how ditching my sister at our parents’ house gave me the strength not to stand for Ex’s bullshit the following year, when she tried to force me to spend Christmas with her. At the time we ditched my sister, it was a very negative event. Years later, I realized doing that was a building block for dealing with Ex and the former landlady. And those experiences will be building blocks for dealing with other people who try to bully and exploit us for their own gain.
Lol you mean “you own everything that didnt happen to you. Tell your lies. “So many people are either complete drama queens adding in lies to make the story sound better or more in their favor, or complete compulsive liars. Our society has very few truths anymore. Its all rewritten history and fabrications. The truthsayers are shit on and are treated poorly.
Well, this person just sounds like an empathy challenged asshole. Glad I don’t know her.
I lost a job over this – how dare I *speak* about how I was being treated by coworkers. I have a lot of emotions over it and keep going between what could I have done differently and they were gaslighting bullies and I’m better off. Definitely sucks.
Sounds like a toxic workplace, anyway. You deserve better. Get away from the gaslighting bullies and find somewhere healthier to work. And write your story, if you want to. It’s your right.
Some things are better left unsaid. Memories are past experiences. Don’t manifest the negative ones into your present life. Instead, move on to allow for wholesome positive experiences.
You can move on and still write your story. The most important thing is to learn and grow from your experiences. And sharing the experiences can help other people grow and learn, too, as long as you’re being constructive.
There was one more comment from someone who responded to a person who agreed with Anne Lamott’s quote. The person– who appeared to be a male Hispanic– wrote a very discounting comment that I can’t find at the moment. But the gist of what he wrote was, “That sounds ‘bitter as fuck’.” He implied that the woman he was responding to was wrong for reacting to a slight by writing about it. He seemed to be promoting “toxic positivity” by encouraging the person he was responding to to not be “bitter” and just turn the other cheek.
The Hispanic guy’s comment is what inspired today’s post title. That is– sometimes being bitter is better than “keeping sweet”. In our culture, we are often pressured to keep quiet when someone does us wrong. We are encouraged to accept bad behavior and disrespectful treatment, let bygones be bygones, and forgive and forget. Sometimes, that’s not bad advice, as some things are not worth causing a fuss over. But… when it happens repeatedly, and the behavior never changes, there’s a problem. Speaking up about abuse or bad behavior isn’t wrong, as long as it’s done honestly and constructively.
“Keeping sweet”, as a lot of people– especially women– are encouraged to do, can be very harmful. It can keep people trapped in bad situations. Owning and writing one’s story can be healthy and liberating. Besides, everyone has the ability to share their own stories. So, if someone has shared a story that from their perspective that misses the mark, there is nothing to prevent the other side from being shared. As long as people are basically honest and not trying to destroy others with their tales, it shouldn’t be wrong to write them. Of course, it’s probably wisest to obscure the details, to protect the innocent… or the guilty.
The featured photo is of a beautiful loaf of bread Bill made yesterday. He’s become very accomplished at baking bread. It’s a skill he’s learned, and shares with younger daughter… It reminds me somewhat of my writing “career”.If you’re a regular reader, you might want to skip to the subheading.
Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been kind of losing my mojo. I look at the number of posts that actually get read by more than a few people, and I wonder why I keep writing. I have some posts that are very popular and get read by hundreds, or even thousands, of people. And I have some posts that get read by just one person. I’ve been wondering if maybe it’s time to quit blogging and do something else. What’s the point of writing if people aren’t interested?
Granted, it’s not that often that I only get one hit on a post. I also genuinely enjoy writing, especially when I’ve found an especially interesting or “juicy” topic. My blogs have also been useful in unusual capacities. (and apologies in advance to those who already know about the story I’m, once again, relating…)
Like, for instance, when we lived in our former house, and our ex landlady tried to accuse us of committing theft of a refrigerator. Thanks to my blogging and propensity to take lots of photos, I was able to prove that her allegations were false.
Ex landlady had claimed we dumped the fridge on her, and “stole” her nice one… which I had documented was one I purchased several days after we moved in on September 1, 2014. I had a receipt for it, because I bought it on Amazon.de. I had also blogged about that situation, back in 2014, before I realized what a mistake it was to rent that house. Former tenant had been following my writings and commented. Unlike later, when she’d leave comments and delete them, former tenant didn’t remove those early comments… which were much more conciliatory toward us. They came in handy years later, when ex landlady was trying to force us to fund her upgrades. If I hadn’t been a blogger, she wouldn’t have left those comments, and I probably wouldn’t have those photos.
I don’t know if ex landlady really believed that we stole her refrigerator and dumped an old American one on her. But, because on September 1, 2014, I had taken a photo of the crappy little refrigerator in the kitchen on the day we moved into her house, I could show that the old fridge she’d claimed we “dumped” on her was there the day we moved in. We could also prove the fridge wasn’t American, as it was plugged directly into the wall. American appliances have different plugs and use 110 voltage as opposed to 220.
Even though that whole situation was ludicrous, it was still very unpleasant to have to go through it. We were just looking for a place to live, and expecting our landlady to leave us in peace. Apparently, she had different ideas about what was reasonable and appropriate behavior on her part, and she expected us to simply give in to her accusations and demands.
Later, when things really started going south, former tenant was acting more like a flying monkey. I was not as aware as I should have been, and former tenant would leave comments and erase them. I’m not totally sure, but I assume she was stoking the situation– making it much worse than it needed to be. I don’t know what her motive was. Maybe she was simply getting her kicks, enjoying causing problems for us. Maybe she was jealous that we lived in Germany… or maybe she just didn’t like me, personally, or didn’t appreciate that I was a blogger instead of working at AAFES. She might have simply hated the name of my blog, assuming that I’m a narcissistic asshole just based on that. Who knows? I can’t ask her now, because she’s no longer among the living.
What I do know is that former tenant’s interference, coupled with ex landlady’s abuse, did some real damage to me. For a long time, I wondered if I should quit blogging, because she was using my blogs to stir up shit. I had legitimate trouble writing for awhile. I was feeling paranoid, and was, for a time, literally afraid to share my thoughts. It also took me months to feel comfortable in my current home, thanks to that situation with former tenant and ex landlady. I almost quit blogging back in 2019, when things got very intense and Bill decided to pursue legal action against ex landlady.
In the end, I forced myself to keep writing, even though my writing felt kind of “constipated” for awhile. I didn’t want to give those people the satisfaction of forcing me to quit what I enjoy doing. I especially wanted to send a hearty “fuck you” to former tenant, as I hadn’t planned on having an unofficial “minder” included in our rental contract when Bill signed the lease in 2014. Seriously… I don’t know why she was so determined to be involved in our business, but it was truly a bizarre situation. Maybe someday, I’ll even write a book about it. 😉
Things gradually got easier, and I eventually relaxed… I stopped engaging so much with the local military population, which made things much better. Although there are people from all walks of life in the U.S. military community, I’ve found that most of them seem to think I’m weird, annoying, or obnoxious. I am occasionally all of those things, but I don’t go out of my way to bother people. Some people want to assume that I do, though, and stir up drama, and as of 2019, I simply didn’t have the time for it anymore. I left high school in 1990, but some military folks are apparently still there, years after their graduation days.
I’ve since found that it’s much better to simply let readers find their way to me, rather than trying to promote the blog. Contrary to what people might believe, I don’t do this for “fame” or money. But I do sometimes get a little burned out… and I do worry, sometimes, that someone will get angry or upset about something and cause problems I don’t need. Dealing with former tenant reminded me that some people have alternative agendas… or are simply unhinged. So now, I’m much more cautious… and yes, sometimes I do consider whether or not writing is still worth my while.
Which brings me to today’s title…
I used to keep a Facebook page for the blog, which worked okay most of the time, but occasionally resulted in unpleasant and uninvited interactions with people who didn’t agree with my opinions and lacked the courage to comment publicly. I’d usually get those messages first thing in the morning, which would get my days off to a bad start.
Last year, when I got one too many wacko private messages from someone who didn’t even follow the blog or read what she was commenting on, I decided to delete the page. I had already deleted the blog’s contact page ages ago, mainly because people were leaving comments on things, but not including information about the content they were commenting on, which would leave me confused. A few people were also being insulting and chastising me– which, sorry, I don’t have to tolerate. If you want to leave a comment like that, you can do so publicly, so everyone can respond. And that’s only if I deign to approve the comment.
Yesterday afternoon, I received a really nice email from someone who must have been very determined to find my email address. I purposely don’t provide direct contact information on my blogs anymore, mainly because I don’t want to deal with crazies, like former tenant. Not everyone likes what I do, but some people have the wrong idea about me, and my motivations. I try to present truth as I see it, which doesn’t always make people happy. I still have the right to express myself without harassment, so long as what I write isn’t defamatory or libelous.
Making it harder to contact me directly also means that I miss out on positive feedback, like the email I got yesterday. The person wrote that she was very grateful that I had written about British gymnastics coach, Monica Phelps, and her sex offender husband, Brian Phelps. Apparently, the emailer was someone who had experience with the Phelpses, and she and others had read my post(s). And, although I don’t think I was nearly as negative about the Phelpses as I should have been in that first post, they were apparently glad someone had written something.
The crazy thing is, I wrote that first post about the Phelpses in December 2020, during the height of the pandemic. I was just bored one day, and ran across some “funny” YouTube videos someone had made about Monica Phelps and her oddly “verbal diarrhea” style of gymnastics commentating. Phelps made all kinds of appalling, shaming comments about gymnasts’ bodies. These weren’t gymnasts she was coaching, either– not that that would have been appropriate. They were simply girls and young women who were competing in the sport. Monica Phelps was comparing them to stick insects and making very belittling and insulting statements about them as they were performing very dangerous and physically demanding routines on television.
I am a singer, and I have sung in public. I know how nerve wracking that is. Adrenaline courses through the body as you face the audience, hoping you don’t forget words or your voice doesn’t crack… And yes, those things have happened to me before, and when they happen, they are mortifying. But… when you mess up as a singer, it generally doesn’t mean that you could be permanently injured or killed. Gymnasts, especially at the elite level shown on television, can really hurt themselves if they mess up. In many cases, what they’re doing is physically incredible, even if they aren’t at the level of Simone Biles or Sunisa Lee.
It was shocking to me to listen to Monica Phelps talk about what the gymnasts look like, and say some of the insulting things she said. I must admit, when I wrote that first post, I hadn’t really stopped to think about how very damaging it must have been to gymnasts who later listened to her comments. My initial reaction was laughter at the funny videos, but I admit that it should have been more like horror.
As I was completely unfamiliar with Monica Phelps in December 2020, I had no idea whatsoever that she had coached gymnasts, and that there were allegedly a lot of abuses in her facility. It wasn’t until February 2022, when I noticed a lot of hits on that first post, that I read more about Monica and Brian Phelps, and the terrible things that were alleged to have happened in their gym. I suspect that soon, there may be another huge women’s gymnastics scandal, this time originating in Britain, instead of the United States.
Yesterday, when I had “writer’s block”, I sort of took the day off of this blog, and just wrote on the travel blog. Sometimes, I need to do that, to give my brain a chance to recharge. But, as I was looking at the interaction for my latest posts, I wondered why I keep doing this… and making my writing public. Then I realized that sometimes, posts take off later, when they get tracked on Google. And I also realized that a lot of people do read and like what I do. They just don’t always take the time to say so… and there have been times when people have appreciated my efforts. I would say there are more readers like the one who contacted me yesterday than people like former tenant.
And anyway… I have always liked to write. I’ve been doing it since I was a child and had terrible handwriting that no one could read. I’ve always loved writing stories. It’s something I’m good at, and do well. It’s also easier for me to write original stuff for reading, than sing original stuff, although once my guitar skills are better, that could change.
So, I’ll keep blogging… and be grateful when anyone reads my posts, especially when they comment. I don’t even mind criticism, as long as it’s delivered in a civil manner. And thanks again to the ladies who appreciate my posts about Monica Phelps. I’ll be looking for more developments on that story, and probably writing about them.
Hopefully, some will find my efforts interesting… but I think it’s most important that I still find the work worth doing. And right now, I still do… whether you choose to read it, or not.
This week, I’ve been writing about some learning curves I’ve been handling as I’ve tried to make our house “smarter”. The “smart house” project has invariably left me feeling dumber, as I’ve repeatedly run into roadblocks in my quest to “modernize” and “simplify” my life. Life will often show you that sometimes trying to make things easier invariably leads to making things more complicated.
I did manage to solve a couple of annoying and persistent problems, though. For instance, we weren’t awakened at midnight by the lamp in the bedroom turning itself on, as it did the first two nights after I installed “smart light bulbs”. I figured out what was causing the light to turn on by itself and toggled the switch in the opposite direction. I won’t know if I was successful with the downstairs lamp that was doing the same thing until later today. I do have a feeling the issue is now fixed, though. I might as well think positive, right?
Yesterday, I was flummoxed by an issue with my blogs. My friend Thomas mentioned that he wasn’t able to comment. Since I don’t usually comment on my own posts, I was unaware of the problem. I thought my writing was just sucking unusually hard lately. Even my other friend, Alex, who is probably the current number one commenter, was as silent as the grave. I know Alexis, who is a long time reader, is very busy with her life right now, since she just got married and has embarked on her career.
I tried to summon help via WordPress. I clicked on the “support” button and was engaged in a chat, but then got knocked offline. Later, when I was back online, I couldn’t find the chat, so gave up on that. I resigned myself to trying again later, when I was in a better mood. What really annoyed me is the fact that I had just spent $500 to renew the site for two more years.
In the process of trying to troubleshoot my comment issues, I accidentally ended up deleting StatCounter from my site, which made it look like no one was reading the blog. That made me think about something that happened a few years ago, when we first moved to Wiesbaden. I think of that time as a low point in my “blogging career”.
At that time, we were having serious issues with our former landlady trying to bully Bill into letting her keep most of our security deposit. I think she had actually planned to keep all of it, but Bill protested, so she gave us about 660 euros (out of 3200). She made some false accusations to support her attempt to “take the piss”, as the Brits and Irish like to put it.
What made matters worse is the actions of the former tenant, who had lived in the house just before us, and was, unbeknownst to me, monitoring my blogs. She sent me a mocking private message, shaming me for being so “mean” to the former landlady. This person didn’t actually know me very well. She’d met me offline twice, back in 2014, and had otherwise formed her (apparently negative) opinions of me on what she’d read in my posts and heard from the ex landlady. She basically implied that I was a loser and my blog sucked. It was a sentiment that was echoed by other people in our community, although I know not everyone felt that way.
As you might imagine, ex landlady’s behavior really pissed us off. I vented about it in a couple of posts, though I never named any names. Former tenant disagreed with my assessment of my own situation and, for whatever reason, decided to try to intervene on our ex landlady’s behalf. Because I didn’t really know her very well, it was hard to determine if she was just trying to cover her own ass, or if she really thought I’m an awful person. She also made a false accusation that was pretty hurtful.
We eventually sued the former landlady, and I moved my blogs to WordPress, which required another learning curve. Then we got hit with COVID-19, which pretty much killed my once vibrant travel blog. Taking that action meant starting over, to some extent. I think WordPress is a better platform, current technical difficulties notwithstanding. Starting over has also been good, for the most part, although it has meant reposting a lot of stuff.
Back in late 2018-2019, I was feeling legitimately sad for several reasons. Bill and I had really enjoyed living in the Stuttgart area. It was our favorite of his duty stations when he was on active duty in the Army. In spite of our housing issues during our second stint, we still delighted in living in that area when we came back to Germany.
I made the mistake of getting too involved in the local military community, especially with a blog called “The Overeducated Housewife”, which seemed to really trigger some people. I wasn’t a blogger when we were in Stuttgart the first time, and Facebook was still in its infancy. In the five years we were back in the States, the community became overrun with Facebook groups. I joined way too many of them, which led to unpleasant interactions with strangers. It wasn’t unlike spending all day on a Facebook comment section for a major newspaper, if you catch my drift. Add in the fact that there were a lot of bloggers who were “competing” for readers and the odd “professional jealousy”. It wasn’t fun, although I had a lot more readers back then.
Regardless of the dysfunctional military community and my place within it, the Stuttgart area still held a lot of appeal for us. I hated that we were leaving Stuttgart on bad terms with our former landlady, whom we really had tried to appease on multiple occasions. I was also genuinely sad to be leaving Stuttgart. In spite of everything, we had loved living there. I actually still miss it. I don’t miss the drama, though, nor do I miss dealing with mean people.
Four years later, I’m now extremely glad we moved. For multiple reasons, Wiesbaden has been a big improvement for us. We have a much better house, and a landlord who is genuinely kind and respectful. Yes, we pay a lot more rent, but we get treated like adults. We enjoy our privacy, and I don’t feel like I have to keep everything to our landlord’s standards. He likes our dogs, and has outwardly stated that he wants us to be happy. Our community is very inclusive and friendly.
I didn’t join a bunch of local Facebook groups, so I am not immersed in local dramas. Wiesbaden is a smaller installation, and the people who come here are mainly older Army folks, rather than people from all of the services. Stuttgart had a lot of young and immature people, and sometimes it felt very high school.
Although we are happier in Wiesbaden, sometimes I still feel like writing my blogs is a waste of time. Few people bother with the travel blog. I can’t blame them, since we have been traveling less due to COVID and Arran’s lymphoma. Writing my main blog sometimes feels pointless. I wonder why I still do it, especially when people can’t comment… or don’t want to. Or I come off like an asshole, even though I’m just writing about what’s in my head at the time.
Then a few months ago, Bill got curious about the former tenant who had been trying to interfere and had caused me so much angst in 2019. I unblocked her and found out that she’d committed suicide. While I hadn’t had any interactions with her whatsoever since 2019, I still felt bad about her decision to kill herself. I wondered what led to it. I couldn’t help but wonder if the former landlady blamed me for it, as irrational as that thought might seem. She seemed to blame me for everything else.
Former tenant and former landlady seemed to have this weird “mother/daughter” relationship going on. All I was looking for was a place to live. I ended up unwittingly becoming part of a strange “triangle” of sorts, as former landlady and former tenant were apparently talking shit about Bill and me, and invading our privacy. Then, when it finally went south, former tenant seemed to want to justify her interference. I could probably write an interesting short story about it… if I didn’t feel so weird about writing fiction now. Again… courtesy of former tenant, who felt the need to mock me for that, too.
So all of this shit came up last night, as I was lamenting dealing with the blog’s technological issues, and the fact that I felt like I was throwing messages in bottles in the blogosphere. Suddenly, I felt frustrated. I said to Bill, “I really don’t know why I keep blogging.”
Bill said, “I like what you write. You are a great storyteller. You have a way of turning any subject into something conversational.”
Then I smiled, remembering that Bill met me in a chat room. He used to read my erotic stories. I wrote them when I was in graduate school. They were cheap entertainment for both of us… a good distraction from public health and social work courses and internships. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my programs. It’s more that I’ve always had an innate need to write. I’ve always done it. I was always good at creative writing in school.
In the same way, I make music… or, I sing other people’s songs… at least for now. I’m still working on becoming a better guitar player. Maybe when that happens, I’ll write an original song. That could be a goal. My YouTube channel has picked up more followers lately, although I still don’t have that many. My song covers on YouTube are less controversial than my blog posts are. 😉
So, I guess the meaning of all of this is… I write because I’ve got nothing better to do, other than scrubbing lime stains out of the toilet, picking up dog shit in the backyard, and doing the laundry. I’m not a super happy housewife, but I’m probably happier doing that than working in a dead end job or waiting tables. I tell myself the blog is for me. If anyone else reads and enjoys it, so much the better. I actually like to read old posts, because they remind me of times past. I especially like the book reviews. But does it make me a worthwhile and productive person? Who knows? If people can’t or won’t comment, I can only guess.
It’s still easy to get discouraged, though. It’s discouraging when you rent a place to live, and the former tenant acts as a tattletale/spy and then kills herself. It’s discouraging when people are shitty because they don’t like the name of the blog, even if they’ve never even read it. It’s discouraging when no one can comment or wants to comment… or it looks like no one is even reading. It all starts to feel really pointless and dumb.
If I didn’t have my blogs, though, I’d probably still spend my time doing equally pointless and potentially destructive things. Blogging, in a sense, keeps me out of trouble and forces me to use my mind. But then, I post something that gets me into trouble… Maybe it’s better to write these things than say them out loud.
Ah well. I’ll probably have to engage the WordPress support people again soon. But for now, I hope some people are able to post comments, if they wish. I also hope those who do post comments remember that there’s a person behind the screen. Be gentle.
Today’s semi-fresh content comes, in part, courtesy of the video below, which recently came up in my Facebook memories.
I found today’s repost about a LDS woman getting slammed for breastfeeding in public a couple of days ago, after I saw the above video in my memories. I made a mental note to repost that blog entry from 2018. As I was doing that this morning, I also remembered Alyssa’s interview with Wendy Williams, and realized that it kind of went with the public breastfeeding repost. I was going to just include it with the repost, even though Alyssa Milano isn’t LDS and her campaigning for breastfeeding acceptance isn’t based so much on religious bullshit.
But then I remembered something else. Years ago, someone quoted my blog in a college paper about Alyssa Milano. They basically claimed that I was an Alyssa “hater”. I was pretty amused by that revelation. I certainly don’t hate Alyssa Milano. I never have. I don’t love every acting project she’s ever been involved with, but I most definitely respect her as a peer and an actress. I loved watching her on Who’s the Boss when I was a teenager, and on the original Melrose Place when I was a young woman. Hell, Alyssa Milano taught me about hickeys! And I got a huge kick out of watching her workout video, too!
So why did someone claim that I don’t like Alyssa Milano? It was because they found an old Writer’s Corner piece I wrote for Epinions.com many years ago and later rehashed on my original blog. In fact, I want to say I wrote that piece in January, because along with weight loss ads and gym membership plugs, January is also the prime time for various charities to run their guilt tripping fundraising campaigns.
In January 2012, eight years after I wrote my original Writer’s Corner Epinions piece about people like Sarah McLaughlin, Sally Struthers, the late Bonnie Franklin, and yes, Alyssa Milano, begging for donations for organizations like UNICEF, Christian Children’s Fund, and the ASPCA, I retooled the original essay into something semi new. A lot of people read it. The original stats for that rehashed post about charities netted almost 1700 hits, which for me, is a lot. To give you some perspective, most of my blog posts never crack 50 hits, although I seem to be getting more popular lately. I guess people are reading blogs more, given that they’re being encouraged to socially distance.
Anyway, I had written this retooled post about the annoying charity ads. In that post, I snarked on Alyssa Milano’s shilling for UNICEF, in which she begged viewers to send in “just 50 cents a day” to save children in developing countries. I found the ad very annoying and dared to say so in my rant.
Now, I never said I didn’t otherwise enjoy Alyssa Milano’s work, nor did I say anything disparaging about her as a person. I don’t even know Alyssa, after all. If I did know her, I’m sure I’d like her fine. I just didn’t like that ad, nor do I enjoy viewing others like it done by other celebrities. I’m all for raising money for good causes, and am happy to help when I can, but I don’t enjoy guilt trips or emotional blackmail, even if they are often employed as effective fundraising methods. I know January is when people start thinking about their taxes, and maybe that’s why these ads tend to hit a fever pitch in January. I just don’t like the melodrama.
In my 2012 post, I included a portion of my original 2004 era Writer’s Corner rant, which I will admit was a bit snarky and obnoxious. I was trying to be funny, I guess, since a lot of people enjoy a good snark fest. The Writer’s Corner pieces on Epinions were strictly done for fun and entertainment. We didn’t get paid for them. So I was just cutting loose a bit. I do remember that the 2004 post generated some really interesting comments and discussion. Epinions was good for that, since there were some genuinely talented writers there back in the day. In 2012, my blog wasn’t all that popular and, like today, I was probably searching for a compelling topic. That was during the time at which I didn’t even share it with anyone I knew. How was I to know that post would generate so much controversy several years later?
Anyway, fast forward to January 2016. I decided to check my hits on Statcounter. In those days, I would type in the first letters of my blog to find the Statcounter Web site. Although it’s not my policy to look for comments about me or my blog, on that particular day, I decided to look for results beyond the first two. I noticed that there were a few other blogs called “The Overeducated Housewife” or something similar, all of which were aborted after the first few posts. Those blogs were all started by women who, like me, had gone to school for a long time and wound up keeping house for whatever reason. I guess they all eventually got “lives”.
Then I noticed a few hits down, my blog was mentioned on a Tumblr fan site called CharmedXConfessions. It appears to be a fan site for the old show Charmed, starring Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, and Shannen Doherty. I noticed that the mention of my blog on the Google results indicated that I’m “snarky, sarcastic, and condescending”. Then I discovered that someone had written a college composition called Alyssa Milano College Essay- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Below are portions of the essay, cut and pasted exactly as I found it, that pertain to me and my controversial blog post.
In contrast to this positive publicity, Alyssa Milano’s television pleas for UNICEF have also drawn detractors. One blog particularly singles out her commercials and those of Sarah McLachlan for the SPCA as “melodramatic pleas for donations…when I watch those ads I feel manipulated, emotionally blackmailed…even shamed” (Overeducated Housewife 1). This blog dissects and raises issues about the pictures/techniques used by UNICEF and other international children’s charities that form the backdrop for Milano’s and other pleas. The blog says these commercials show:
—the depiction of fly-covered, malnourished children with large eyes and anglicized names
—the plea for only 50 cents or the cost of a cup of coffee daily
—the shaming technique of repeatedly asking what’s your excuse for not calling
NOW to pledge support
This blog questions the use of charitable dollars to pay for expensive television advertising. It also asks whether the celebrity spokespeople are paid for these commercials. Finally this blog raises the question of whether these celebrities personally donate substantially to the causes they are asking others to support. A defender of Milano on Overeducated Housewife points to her $50,000 donation to UNICEF and challenge to corporations to do the same. But questions about the appropriateness of wealthy celebrities pleading for the disadvantaged, the use of charitable dollars for self-promotion, and the lavish staff salaries paid to the leadership of some of these charities (i.e. the CEO of UNICEF makes $454,855) remain and are echoed on UNICEF’s Facebook page, in other blogs and in circulating emails. Milano’s association with UNICEF could, in some circles, taint her as minimally naive or even worse, as complicit in these questionable uses of charitable dollars.
The Overeducated Housewife blog in general features a number of snarky, sarcastic and condescending articles on a broad range of topics. The majority of articles seem to be critiques of writers, celebrities or other public figures who the blogger does not like. The blog links to a Facebook page with the name “Knotty” (a pun on Naughty? A reference to the knotty issues it covers?). The face is blurred on a number of images including the profile picture so it appears this blogger is choosing to remain anonymous. Her motto on the blog is “just another boring blog about being a boring housewife.” This motto and the blog’s tone seem to define its audience as educated women who feel they are overeducated for the boring job of being a housewife. The critics of Milano’s involvement with UNICEF, in general, come across as whiny, rude, privileged and nit picking people who are criticizing both a charity and a celebrity who are seeking to impact some of the world’s most pressing and recalcitrant problems. They are not seen as positing positive alternatives, but simply as critiquing and seeking to tear down others’ efforts.
Back in January 2016, I was pretty amused by this person’s observations about me and my blog. It appears that he or she was really offended by my comments about celebrity fundraising ads. I don’t think the person spent very much time reading or exploring my blog. It’s hilarious that this person felt it was appropriate to use my comments in an attempt at writing a “scholarly paper” for a university course. I guess I should be flattered… or maybe I should just feel sad. Anything you say or write can and will be used for something, right?
For the record, I certainly didn’t devote an entire post to how annoying I think Alyssa Milano is. On the contrary, for many reasons, I admire Alyssa Milano very much. In fact, I also admire UNICEF and the good work it does to make the people of the world healthier and happier. I just didn’t like that particular UNICEF ad. I also think the commenter completely missed the point of that post.
It’s not that I object to celebrities who do fundraising for charities. I object to the manipulative ways they go about doing that work. As a rank and file viewer, I find those types of slick ads tasteless and shameless, even if I do think the cause is overall a worthy pursuit. When I wrote that post, years before I was quoted in that paper, I didn’t even think anyone cared about my opinions. I certainly never thought they’d wind up quoted in a paper. I have since found myself used as a reference in multiple Wikipedia entries, too. Isn’t it funny that someone listed me in a bibliography as “knotty” the Overeducated Housewife? I have finally arrived!
My apparently controversial thoughts about Alyssa Milano, which were eventually mentioned in a college paper, were written before Alyssa Milano helped coin and popularize the #MeToo movement, I will admit, I was not initially on board with the #MeToo movement at all. I don’t like catchphrases, and I thought that hashtag movement would peter out, much like the pink vagina hats did. I was wrong about #MeToo, though, and I have since changed my mind about it, and its relevance. Like most women, I can definitely use that hashtag myself, as I have been harassed by men on occasion. I think Alyssa Milano is great for using her platform to give women a voice in that regard. And I applaud her for raising awareness for breastfeeding, as well as money for children in poor countries. I just don’t like guilt tripping, manipulative ads. What’s wrong with saying so on a personal blog? I AM still allowed to share my opinions as a regular person, aren’t I?
The following paragraphs appeared in my January 2016 rant about being misunderstood by a college student who thinks I’m “snarky, sarcastic, and condescending…” They are still how I feel in 2022, and include some information as to why I call myself “knotty”, why I named my blog what I did, and why my picture is “blurry”.
Celebrities who do good deeds are to be commended. I think it’s great when someone with money and influence is able to effect positive changes in the world. I don’t have a problem with anyone involved with charitable organizations, especially if they happen to be public figures. However, as a bored housewife who sometimes watches too much TV (at least when I’m stateside), I am often irritated by the melodramatic, guilt-mongering, begging commercials for charities. That’s just my opinion, and I feel free to state it on my personal blog.
I didn’t realize it was my duty to always be uplifting, positive, and looking for ways to make the world a better place. But I am flattered that the person critiquing my blogging efforts apparently feels that I am important enough to have that role. It’s funny, because only on my blog has anyone seemed to care much what my opinions are. Past commenters have chastised me for being too negative and reminding me that I have a “wide audience” out there in Internetland. According to them, I have a “responsibility” to always be fair, kind, honest, and positive when I write my posts. Ha! Actually, I find the above comments about my “overly critical” attitude toward Alyssa Milano’s UNICEF commercials kind of rich. Isn’t the author of the English composition guilty of the same thing?
My nickname “knotty” is short for knotheadusc, which is an Internet handle I came up with around 1999 or so. Originally, I just wanted to call myself “knothead”. That was what my dad used to call me all the time when I was a kid and it seemed appropriate to call myself that at the time. Others had the same idea, since I frequently found that name taken when I tried to register it on different Web sites. Since I was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina at the time, I added the letters USC to the end of “knothead”. After awhile, people who got to know me online started calling me “knotty”. When I started this blog, I was trying to stay somewhat anonymous, mainly because I didn’t want trouble from my husband’s ex wife or others I vent my spleen about. So I called myself knotty on my blog. The nickname “knotty” is not a play on the word “naughty”, though some people might think it fits. They’d probably be right. Honestly, had the paper writer just asked me, I would have gladly explained it.
Anyway, now that my husband’s kids are adults, I don’t care so much if people know who I am. My real name is Jenny. I have even mentioned it a few times on this blog. Call me that if you think it’s more appropriate than “knotty” is. The blurred pictures the commenter mentions are probably more because I’m a shitty photographer and feel too ugly to show my face, than a real desire to stay anonymous. But even now that you know my name, wouldn’t I still kind of be anonymous to most people? What difference does it make what I call myself or if I show my photo, if you don’t actually know me personally? This blog was never intended to be used as a professional source for anything or anyone. Moreover, it doesn’t look like the paper writer was interested in knowing the real me, since he or she made many disparaging assumptions about my character and never bothered to engage me to find out if they were valid.
As for the title of the blog, I named it so because I spent seven years in college and I am a housewife. It’s not because I think I’m “too good” to be a housewife. On the contrary, I actually feel like even if I wanted to find a full time job, no one would want to hire me. And yet, I do have all this formal education, which is not required for me to do what I do every day. I am not bragging about my education. As a matter of fact, I sometimes wish I’d been smart enough to just stick with my bachelor’s degree. It would be nice not to have to pay so much for degrees I don’t use (although Bill paid off my education loans in 2018). I surely don’t look down on housewives. How could I? I have been one myself for a long time. I’m not even a very good housewife.
Most people who read this blog are drivebys looking for information on specific topics. The person who thinks I’m snarky, condescending, and sarcastic clearly only read my post about UNICEF, and maybe glanced at a couple of other posts to get a very basic idea of what this blog is about. This blog has existed since 2010, and has posts about a huge array of topics. I don’t think the commenter got the most accurate picture of The Overeducated Housewife’s contents, nor did they seem to care much about fairness or accuracy.
I was a student once, too, and I’m pretty sure the author’s ideas about me and my blog were not at all personal and were gleaned very quickly. Shucks! He or she probably just wanted to finish their paper, and used my comments about charities as something to flesh out their required essay. And it’s also not lost on me that I’ve done the same thing with today’s blog entry.
Folks, let me remind you that I’m just a regular middle-aged woman living life. If I come across as snarky, sarcastic, and condescending and you find that offensive, I do apologize. I am just being myself. Not everyone likes me, but that’s true for every living person because it’s impossible to please everybody. This blog was more or less originally meant as a place for me to vent. Contrary to apparent belief, my blog is not that popular. I do have some readers who lurk and read everyday, but there really aren’t that many. Even fewer bother to comment.
I hope the composition earned a good grade, though if I really wanted to be snarky, sarcastic, and condescending, I could probably rip that paper to shreds using my overeducated English lit skills. I won’t bother, though, because I have better things to do with all the time on my hands. I think I’ll go troll YouTube and see if there’s anything there begging me to write one of my “snarky” blog posts. Bonus points for something I can rag on posted by a public figure. For those who are curious, below are a few somewhat recent pictures of me. I don’t put on makeup very often these days, so I usually look more like the third picture.
This scenario is why I don’t make it a habit to look myself up on Google. Most people think the worst of others, and never take the time to learn the whole truth. But, just in case anyone wonders, no, I don’t hate Alyssa Milano. I think she’s basically an excellent actress and role model. But I am glad I am not in the US, watching her ilk beg for 50 cents a day, either. What’s wrong with that?
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